Trend: Saying no to sex
Young, attractive, gainfully employed, socially active - and uninterested in sex: Surveys indicate incidence of asexuality in population is 1 percent. Sexologist Dr. Michal Zaides believes it’s closer to 10 percent of adult population. Is asexuality new social trend, or was it always there and just now coming out of closet?
A popular Israeli entertainer, recently interviewed by a women’s magazine admitted she has not had sex for more than a year because she doesn’t date and doesn’t have a steady boyfriend.
She is pretty, has a nice figure, interviewed well and does not see her current solitary status as a big deal or something requiring therapy. She is also not embarrassed that she is sexually abstinent at this time.
Teri Hatcher, one of the stars of the successful American television series, "Desperate Housewives," admitted in an interview: “I have had no time in the last half year for a sex life. I am busy with filming and don’t date. It’s OK with me. I am not upset about it.”
And Mrs. Bush? What did Laura really mean when she recently said in front of scores of television cameras that her husband goes to bed early, like 9 p.m., and leaves her alone opposite the television?
"Cosmopolitan" views asexuality as a new social trend that has come out of the closet. In its last issue it quoted a number of film stars, models and businesswomen who said that they have not had a sexual partner for months. They did not speak about a lack of passion or emotional suffering but simply that, "this is the situation at this time."
Angelina Jolie told the reporter that “I have had many periods without sex. Even now, I am in a kind of interlude. I have no energy to be with any other man but my son.” Even Madonna admitted that she goes to bed now with a good book.
Do all these interviews indicate that these woman are going through a dry spell or more reflecting the fact that sex is no longer a priority for a growing group of people?
Asexuality is not just a woman’s issue. David Jay, an American from Missouri, set up an Internet forum for people who believe they are asexual. He explained that this was a new concept. He said everyone is healthy of mind and body.
They work and have social lives but have no desire to have sex with others. He denied that they were monks or are celibate for religious or other reasons.
“We just don’t feel that a sex life is that important or at least not a priority,” Jay said.
The Internet site started with 50 people and now has some 2,500. A month ago it launched a dating site with one condition: Applicants can hug, even kiss and fondle, but no sex please.
Fear of failing
Cosmopolitan quotes two surveys done last year in England indicating that 1 percent of those asked said they are not sexually attracted to anyone.
“Only 1 percent?” says Dr. Michal Zaidas, psychologist and sexologist. “I believe the incidence of asexuality in the West and including Israel is as much as 10 percent.”
Zaidas differentiates between two types of asexuality: The first is among people from 18 to 50, who have never had sex or masturbated. This may constitute 1 percent of the population. Then there are those people of the age when they are supposed to be sexually active, who don’t have sex for long periods of time - 10 years and more - often because of a personal crisis. Among this group are many married couples.
“From my experience,” said Zaidas, “there are many people over 30 who abstain from sex. I am not including people with problems or people who suffer from depression. I am talking about active people, who work, study and are successful. They function very well, belong to different social groups and have no sex in their lives.”
The main reason for avoiding sexual relations is the fear of failing.
It happens to 20-25 year olds as well. If on the basis of a failed attempt, a man has fears that he isn’t good at sex - he will prefer to pass on the entire business. Zaidas says that, “in a way, it reminds one of the person with two left feet who won’t dance because he is afraid of everyone laughing, or those who would not dare to try painting because they haven’t got a stick of talent. The abstinence from sex is a kind of emotional impotence. They are people with deep performance anxiety and prefer not trying at all. Slowly, the body gets used to this and adapts itself.”
Zaides dispels the myth of sexual frigidity. She says its possible to check testosterone levels and determine if sexual abstinence is based on low levels of hormones. In her opinion one’s sexual temperament develops when we believe there is a chance for sex.
“We all have the potential to experience sex - but if you are convinced you are going to be a total failure, then you don’t even try,” she says.
Women who avoid
“Many women are afraid of rejection,” says Zaidas. “Even young women - maybe because of an early negative experience or pain. They avoid sexual relations in order not to humiliate themselves. Regarding famous women mentioned in the article - they know the expectations of them, to be sex kittens. They cannot allow themselves to fail.”
Abstinence as ideology
“It becomes an ideology,” Zaidas says. “It’s the reason people go into deep denial regarding their sexuality. They are not opposed to sex, quite the contrary. They see sex as important but they are not willing to settle for something less than fantastic. There is a reverse ideology at work here: At first, they attach great importance to sex, exaggerated even. It has to be superlative. When it isn’t and it's just bodily functions between two people more or less successful, they have to emotionally equip themselves to handle it and conclude that sex is not their thing. They just rationalize it away.”