Demisexual

Demisexual. n. (neologism) Someone who can only experience sexual attraction after an emotional bond has been formed. This bond can be but does not have to be romantic in nature.

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Demisexuality falls on the spectrum of Asexuality. Asexual is defined as someone who does not experience sexual attraction. (Asexual Visibility and Education Network or AVEN.) Most demisexuals feel sexual attraction rarely compared to the general population, and some have little to no interest in sexual activity (Demisexuality Resource Center).

 

Etymology.

The label gives people who identify with this orientation a sense of community and a stronger sense of self. Particularly on the internet and in online forums, demisexuals can find like individuals or simply learn that there are others like them out there and that there’s a community to support them. (Demisexuality Resource Center.)

demisexual 2Demisexuals are characterized by a lack of sexual attraction toward any person unless they become deeply emotionally or romantically connected with a specific person or persons. The level of connection it takes for sexual desire to form is dependent on how close the relationship is rather than initial attraction. It is an orientation that is not chosen.

Demisexuality does not refer to the active restraint or repression of sexual desires or actions. Demi- is a prefix meaning half. This is used to mean halfway between sexual and asexual. The term originated in the asexual community, specifically within the Asexual Visibility and Education Network. (Urban Dictionary.)

demi-, prefix.

Used with the senses ‘half, half-sized, partial(ly), curtailed, inferior’. (OED.)

sexual, adj.

Of, relating to, or arising from the fact or condition of being either male or female; predicated on biological sex; (also) of, relating to, or arising from gender, orientation with regard to sex, or the social and cultural relations between the sexes. (OED.)

  1. 1650 W. Charleton tr. J. B. van Helmont Ternary of Paradoxes (new ed.) 128 There was no sexual impress [L. nota sexualis] [in the soul itself], but onely in the cortex or shrine.
  2. 1874 A. H. Sayce Princ. Compar. Philol. vii. 249 We may take, by way of illustration, the question of gender. What..was the source..of the sexual relation of nouns?
  3. 1946 Mod. Lang. Rev. 41 268 The attempt to erect an educational psychology on the notion of innate sexual qualities of mind she characterized as ‘so puerile as not to merit a serious refutation’.
  4. 1957 H. M. Hacker in Marriage & Family Living 19 232/1 Individuals who..feel inadequate in fulfilling their part of the sexual division of labor may become confused in their sexual identification.
  5. 1998 Cosmopolitan (U.K. ed.) Sept. 88/2, I don’t like sexual stereotypes, but men just don’t get shopping.
  6. 2006 Woman’s Art Jrnl. 26 23 Her exposure of the social construction of sexual difference..challenged the traditional paradigm of analysis.

 

Sociolectal Information.

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Many demisexuals grow up feeling different from those around them. Most people have their first instance of sexual attraction in their preteen years. From that point on, sex becomes a topic of curiosity and interest for them, and they eventually look forward to pursuing it. For children and teens in school, there is a lot of talk about sex—what it’s like, what it’ll be like, etc. This becomes more prevalent as they approach college and early adulthood.

Demisexuals often feel alienated by these conversations because they aren’t interested in sex, they don’t find people sexually attractive, or both. When the conversation turns to hot celebrities, for example, demisexuals may feel confused, and wonder what it is their friends see and feel. They wonder if they will eventually feel it too, and some even end up feeling “broken.” Knowing that there are others like them helps demisexuals feel less alone.

 

Survival Predictions. I think demisexuality will continue to be used as long as there are people who identify with this label. It is possible that another word may emerge to replace this one, but right now the term demisexual gives many people a sense of ease. It makes them feel accepted and like they have a place in a community. Although I have not seen it used or mentions outside of internet spaces, I know that it is beginning to be talked about more. Both on the internet and in feminist communities the label has given people a word to describe how they feel. As long as it keeps being useful in those communities, the word demisexual will stick around.

 

Lexopinons. This is an important term because it fills a gap. People who identify as demisexual fall somewhere between asexuality and experiencing sexual attraction to the same extent as the majority of the population. For them, demisexualty is not only a useful term but a necessary one. It gives them a label with which to identify and describe themselves. And it gives them a way to create a community and to find and connect with other who share the same feelings.

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