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What Does It Mean to Be Androsexual?
There are a few definitions, though one is much more common.
Since sexuality and attraction are so much more than just black-and-white, it makes sense that there are increasingly specific words to add to the lexicon to help better express those identities. Here, Dr. Jay Irwin, associate professor of sociology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Monique L., 37, who identifies as androsexual, break down the term.
1. There are a few definitions of the term "androsexual." Dr. Irwin says, "The most common definition of androsexual is a person who is attracted to individuals on the masculine side of the gender spectrum. Sometimes this is interpreted as individuals who are attracted to cisgender men (that is, people who were assigned male at birth and also identify as a man), but that binary-based definition is typically too narrow for how individuals who identify as androsexual see their sexuality." The second, less commonly used definition of androsexual refers to people who feel sexual attraction to nonbinary people. Of course, it's important to remember that gender and sexuality are not black-and-white things, and that neither is language. Each person may have their own interpretations of androsexual.
2. The term is of Greek origin. Dr. Irwin says while the history of when the word began to be used as a personal identifier is unclear, the roots come from "andro," the root word for "male," used in the context of sexuality.
3. You might hear it being used interchangably with "androphillic." Dr. Irwin says they technically mean the same thing, but he tends to think of them as slightly different terms. "Androphillic sounds more clinical and thus can be off-putting to some folks. It also may be used more to refer to genital preferences rather than gender identity/gender presentation preferences. But, since language is messy, those definitions are up to some amount of personal interpretation."
4. Heterosexual women are not by default necessarily considered androsexual. Dr. Irwin says androsexual is a more specific label, although there may be straight women who identify that way. "It’s a bit dangerous to classify people into a category that they don’t self-identify with so I would tend to shy away from that. Self-identity is super powerful and salient for people, so I would say labels that we adopt as individuals should be used if at all possible."
Monique identifies as androsexual and says to her, that means being sexually attracted to males. "For some, it may include transgender men; for me, it applies to cis males only." Monique explains further, "I am attracted to every aspect of masculinity and men-behaviors, smell, touch, feel, height, etc. I think this is why I prefer taller men — it accentuates the masculinity I find so appealing. Ironically, or maybe not, masculine gay men are not out of my range of attractiveness I feel toward men either."
5. A cisgender straight woman using the term "androsexual" to describe herself could potentially be seen as appropriating a genderqueer term. Dr. Irwin says this could be up for debate. "If the cis straight woman in question was also interested or open to dating trans men or [a] more masculine-presenting genderqueer or nonbinary person, the label of 'androsexual' may be appropriate. If the cis straight woman is only interested in cis straight men, there would be some in the LGBTQIA+ community who could see it as an inappropriate label and in fact possibly appropriation." The term is usually more commonly associated with the queer community.
6. The term moves beyond the binary, gendered language of terms like "heterosexual" or "homosexual." Someone who is attracted to the same people as androsexuals but identifies as homosexual also likely identifies as male. "Someone who identifies as androsexual may identify as nonbinary (that is, someone who identifies outside the binary terms of male or female) or genderqueer (again, outside the binary identities society tends to push people toward), but is still sexually and/or romantically attracted to people who identify as men, male, or people who are more masculine in presentation." But, of course, language is complex, and it is still possible for someone to identify as androsexual and homosexual or heterosexual.
7. Being androsexual isn't limited to mean sexual attraction. Monique says she hopes people know that being androsexual is more than just sexual — "it's attraction to every essence of a male; physical, mental, emotional, sexual."