Everyone needs sex to be happy
Sex is often described as bad (unhealthy) or good (healthy). Healthy sex is presented as a vital part of being a happy fulfilled human being, and having a ‘successful’ relationship. We can see this in the way that somebody’s sexuality is seen as a key aspect of their identity as a person. Also there is stigma around people who remain a virgin into their twenties or thirties. Not wanting sex is presented as a problem to be fixed (low desire) or a sign of depression. Sex is seen as the cornerstone of a relationship, indeed when we say somebody is ‘in a relationship’ we generally mean a sexual relationship. Not wanting sex in a relationships is often regarded as a reason to break-up or seek therapy.
Media representations which assume that people should be sexual may well actually contribute to sexual problems. We know that the best thing for people, sexually speaking, is for them to be able to tune into what they really want sexually, to figure out which – if any – of these desires they want to share with others, and to be able to communicate openly about these with partners. The pressure to have a certain kind of sex, at a certain frequency, in order to prove that we are normal, happy and healthy, and that our relationships are good, actually takes us further away from this ability to communicate with ourselves and others about what we really want. It has to be possible to say ‘no’ to sex in order to really trust a ‘yes’ (whether it comes from ourselves or a partner). And to be able to say ‘no’ we need to know that it is okay to not want sex today, tomorrow, this week, this month, or this year. Otherwise it is likely that people will sometimes have sex when they don’t want it, which is potentially damaging both for them and for the person they have sex with.
Many people in asexual communities are raising awareness that it is quite possible to not be sexual and still to be a happy, functioning human being who has good relationships with other people. Psychological research has supported the fact that asexual people are just as mentally healthy as anybody else. It would be good to represent the full range of sexuality from those who don’t feel sexual at all to those who are highly sexual. It would also be good to emphasis that sexual desire ebbs and flows, rather than being consistent over a lifetime, and that relationships can be great whether or not they are sexual. One common issue is when people in sexual relationships end up wanting very different amounts – or types – of sex, and it would be good to see media considering all of the ways in which such issues can be dealt with, without one person being pressured to have sex that they don’t want, or one person remaining sexually unfulfilled.