In chapter 4 of Understanding Asexuality, Bogaert discusses was one of the reasons that non-asexuals believe that aces can’t possibly make up 1% of the population:
A second explanation is that this skepticism reflects, at least partly, a human tendency to believe that everyone must be just like us. Social psychologists have labeled this bias the false consensus effect (e.g., Ross, Greene, & House, 1977). Thus, if I feel sexual, then everyone else must be sexual too, or just as sexual as I am. So, it is an understandable reaction that some people can’t believe in asexuality, because everyone, at times, is prone to these kinds of false consensus reactions. We all live in our little insulated worlds, and it is sometimes hard to imagine that something very different exists beyond it.
I got to thinking as I was reading this paragraph, and realized something: I’ve also experienced the false consensus effect…but from the exact opposite angle.
For the longest time, I thought that everyone else must be as asexual as I was. Of course, I eventually started figuring out that that wasn’t the case, after seeing more and more incontrovertible evidence to the contrary…but it only truly ‘clicked’ in my brain once I started encountering other aces online and discovering, yeah, the way I experience things with respect to sexuality really isn’t the norm. (And even now, I have to keep reminding myself that no, 99% of people aren’t in fact asexual, but perhaps that’s more autistic stubbornness than anything. :-p)
I know I’m not the only one who’s had this experience. It’s common enough that Redbeard included the following in Possible Signs of Asexuality, Part 3:
You thought that everyone else was just pretending to be interested in sex.
Many asexuals describe having a sort of “Emperor’s New Clothes” view of sex at some point in their lives: That everyone else is just pretending to like it simply because everyone else seems to like it, and they don’t want to be the only one who speaks out and says “No, I’m not really into that.” In this view, a sexually charged culture enforces conformity.
…Y’know, someone ought to do a survey on the false consensus effect among asexuals. I’d love to know how common this experience is.
Yeah, that happened to me. I couldn’t understand why my peers were so interested in sex, when I was a teenager, and in the heights of my teenage snobbery decided it was so they could be popular.
Same with me