Paris Hilton thought she was asexual for a while in her life. The socialite and former reality TV star, 42, said in a Interview with Harper’s Bazaar posted Wednesday: “I was known as a sex symbol, but anything sexual terrified me.”
Hilton said that as a result of her horrific sexual experiences (including a 2004 sex tape and being groomed by a teacher when she was young), she struggled to maintain boyfriends and was instead known as of “kissing bandit”.
However, “it is only when (husband Carter Reum) that I’m ultimately not like that,” she told the outlet with a laugh, “I like hanging out with my husband.
Hilton’s thinking is not uncommon, experts say. But fear of sexual intimacy, sexual repression, or avoidance of sex due to trauma are not the same as being asexual.
What is asexuality?
Asexuality is a sexual orientation, just like heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality. Many people in the LGBTQ community view sexuality as a spectrum. Asexuality is only one end of the spectrum with identities (gray areas) in between. An asexual person may not be sexually active but still masturbate. Or they may be attracted to people but don’t desire sex.
This means that a person can be asexual but also identify with another LGBTQ label, such as lesbian, gay or bisexual. About 1% of people are asexual, according to The Asexual Visibility and Education Network.
Why asexuality is misunderstood
Sex educators say asexuality is often confused with other things. Sometimes people mistakenly use it as a synonym for low libido. Other times it’s supposed to be a choice, like abstinence or celibacy. The reality is that asexuality is a complex identity. It depends on how someone is wired.
What is asexuality KJ Cerankowski, an assistant professor of comparative American studies and gender, sexuality and feminist studies at Oberlin College, calls it a “discovery process,” a process “unique to each individual’s experience and needs.” .
For example, Catherine Esperanza, who identifies as asexual, previously told USA TODAY that “there are a lot of asexual people out there who want to have relationships and have sex and they like it.”
“But a lot of times when they reveal to someone that they’re asexual, especially in a relationship, their partner is like, ‘oh, well, you don’t want to sleep with me. I don’t want to be with you.’ But some asexuals like sex… There are others who never want to have sex, have no desire. For others, it kind of depends on the day. The common denominator is just that ‘they don’t experience constant sexual attraction.’
Sexual trauma and identity
Asexuality is also often confused with sexual repression, which involves restricting your natural desires and urges. Or sexual aversion, a reluctance or intentional avoidance of sexual relations. Asexuality is also confused as a result of sexual trauma.
While some asexual people may experience trauma, these experiences ‘do not delegitimize us,’ says Julie Sondra Decker, member of the asexual community and author of “The Invisible Guidance.” Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can experience trauma, but these negative experiences do not determine their sexuality.
“Most of us have spent our whole lives wondering who hurt us or what happened to us. But for a lot of us the answer is nothing,” Decker said.
Asexuality awareness is essential
In her book, Decker suggests those who think they are asexual to consider their views on sexual attraction to others.
Instead of focusing on Why someone is asexual, experts encourage people to think “more broadly” about what it means to be asexual.
Talking about asexuality and what it means is an important step, Aubri Lancaster, a sex educator who focuses on asexuality, previously told USA TODAY, “The more we make asexuality visible…the more people people are going to see this and start to understand and recognize if there’s something about it that they see in themselves.As far as helping them on the path, it’s really just a lot of myths to dispel.
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Sex educator Emily Nagoski:Everything you need to know about sexual health, porn and pleasure
Voluntary celibacy:Why saying “no” can be empowering for some
Help, I’m in an asexual marriage:What to do if you and your partner have incompatible libidos
Need advice?:How to communicate your sexual desires with your partner without feeling uncomfortable
Contributor: David Oliver and Alia Dastagir, USA TODAY