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What is Allosexism?

Allosexism means having a prejudice, hatred, or hostility against asexual people.

Allosexism means having a prejudice, hatred, or hostility against asexual people. A person who describes themselves as an allosexist is generally physically or verbally violent towards asexual people. It can also look like excluding them from representation.

The term allosexual is not commonly known due to the underrepresentation of asexual people in the media and pop culture. Asexual people are also excluded in sex education curriculums worldwide. 

What is Asexuality?

In our previous article, All About the LGBTQ+ Acronym: What is Asexuality? we describe asexuality and everything you need to know. In its most basic definition, being asexual is when you have no sexual attraction to other people or a lack of desire for having sex. However, being asexual is different for every person. 

People who identify as asexual could experience their identity in various ways. They may not feel sexual attraction, but they can feel other forms of attraction like:

Romantic attraction – wanting to experience a romantic relationship with someone else. 

Aesthetic attraction – having an attraction to someone due to their physical appearance. 

Sensual or physical attraction – wanting to experience physical contact with someone like hugging or cuddling, for instance. 

Platonic attraction – wanting to have a friendship with someone. 

Emotional attraction – wanting to share an emotional connection with a person.

Asexual people can experience all these types of attraction, which does not necessarily mean they don’t experience attraction. Like other forms of sexuality, asexuality can exist on a spectrum. 

Some people may feel no sexual attraction, some sexual attraction, and others may have a lot of sexual attraction.

There are also those folks who identify as graysexual. – sometimes spelled as greysexual. These individuals don’t often feel sexual attraction, or they feel it with low intensity. It is generally a midpoint between sexuality and asexuality.

How Does Allosexism Come Into Play?

Allosexism is the norms, stereotypes, and practices in our society that assume all people experience or should have sexual attraction.

It gives privilege to folks who experience attraction and ultimately creates prejudice and erasure of asexual people.

Allosexism is an ideology that promotes the idea that experiencing sexual attraction (as allosexual people do) is better than not being able to experience it. It can also say that desiring sexual activity with others is better than not desiring it. 

As a result, this ideology invalidates asexual-spectrum identities and orientations. It is separate from heterosexism (discrimination against gay people based on the idea that heterosexuality is the norm), although heterosexism can be involved. 

Allosexual vs. Asexual

Allosexuality and asexuality are known as opposite terms. Allosexual people feel sexual attraction to other folks, while for the most part, asexual people do not. Even though both allo- and asexual people can have a romantic interest in others, it is different from sexual attraction. 

For instance, an allosexual person may be romantically and sexually attracted to a person, meaning that they want to have a romantic relationship and engage in sexual acts. By contrast, an asexual person may want to be in a relationship due to their romantic attraction but not to perform sexual acts with their partner.

What’s the Difference Between Allosexual and Sexual?

People have campaigned against using the term “sexual” to describe people who do not identify as asexual. Here is why that is:

Avoiding any confusion. The words “sexual” and “sexuality” already have different definitions, which can be confusing. For instance, when talking about allosexuality, we’d have to use the word “sexuality,” which is generally used to describe something related but different.

Some people may be uncomfortable with it. For example, calling a person “sexual” could be interpreted that you view them as a sexual object or that they are being sexualized. This can be uncomfortable for people with past experiences with sexual assault or who are deemed hypersexual in our society.  

Associating sexual activity with sexual orientation. The term sexual could suggest that someone is sexually active. However, being allosexual and being sexually active are two separate concepts. Some allosexual people don’t engage in sex, and some asexual folks do have sex. Therefore, the label should be applied according to your orientation and not the behavior. That being said, some people use the term sexual when they mean allosexual. 

What’s the Difference Between Allosexual and Non-Asexual?

Some people use the term “non-asexual,” but this term excludes graysexual people. 

As previously mentioned, graysexual people often don’t experience sexual attraction or do so with low intensity. Some grey sexual folks feel they are a part of the asexual community, while others don’t identify within this community.

On the other hand, the term “allosexual” implies everyone, except for those who don’t identify as graysexual or asexual.

How Does Allosexism Impact Asexual Folks?

For the most part, many assume that sexual attraction and desire are universal for every individual in Western cultures. As a result, asexual people, even if they are heteroromantic, are bullied by others due to their sexual orientations. They can experience harassment and struggle with mental health outcomes as a result.

Why Might Someone Opt to Use One Term Over the Others?

Some people do not like the terms “non-asexual” or “sexual.” However, some people dislike the term “allosexual” as well. 

Here are some of the reasons why people don’t like this term:

  • “Allo-” is defined as “other,” which is, in fact, not the opposite of “a-.”
  • The term can be confusing to some, whereas “non-asexual” seems to be more obvious.
  • Some people don’t like the way it sounds.

In Summary

It is important to note that none of the suggested terms seem to be accepted by everyone in today’s society. That’s why the term allosexual and allosexism is such a controversial topic to this day.

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Billie Olsen

MODEL: Billie Olsen

Billie Olsen (she/they) is a lifestyle writer, disability justice advocate, and cozy femme located in Kelowna, BC, Canada. Their works have appeared in Metro News, Discorder, Sophomore Magazine, the Post-Feminist Post, DINE Magazine, and NerdReader.