It's easy to see the ways that American society punishes sex, especially non-procreative recreational sex. During the height of the great Birth Control Wars that erupted when the Department of Health and Human services required that all American women have access to birth control, everyone's favorite radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh had this to say about birth control advocate Sandra Fluke:
Isn't he charming? I just know all of you non-American readers are just seething with jealousy here. Putting aside the carefully researched, factually vetted nuances of Limbaugh's reasoning, the more interesting defense came from people who claimed that many women "don't even take the Pill as birth control." This is true; there are many other uses to oral contraceptives other than contraception. But the way this fact was framed was that the "good" women who use hormonal birth control for health reasons shouldn't be lumped in with the sluts who use it to prevent pregnancy. Another example is something a bit closer to home for all of us. We all know the rabid homophobia that pervades the American south and midwest. And how many times have you heard the justification "It's unnatural, because a man and man or woman and woman can't bear children!"
On the other hand, because a woman's value has been historically tied to her either willingness or unwillingness to put out, sex is painted as a necessary activity for complete social integration. While "pickup aritists" hawking cheap psychological tricks "guaranteed" to trick some poor woman into sleeping with you claim to be the last word when it comes to women and sex, they seem to conveniently overlook trivialities like consent, communication, and safety. Sex sells, and women are decorations used to sell cars and alcohol. More importantly, people who don't enjoy sex or don't participate in it as often as others would like are "frigid", "psychologically damaged", or "selfish", even if the person and their loved ones are not badly affected.
The "psychologically damaged" label, I think, is the most damaging. But the definition of a mental disorder, straight from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5,
A Mental Disorder is a health condition characterized by significant dysfunction in an individual’s cognitions, emotions, or behaviors that reflects a disturbance in the...processes underlying mental functioning. Some disorders may not be diagnosable until they have caused clinically significant distress or impairment of performance...Neither culturally deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) nor a conflict that is primarily between the individual and society is a mental disorder unless the deviance or conflict results from a dysfunction in the individual, as described above.
In regular English, to be a mental disorder, a behavior or thought process has to be a danger to a person or others. It has to (by its nature and not through cultural disapproval) cause distress and impair several areas of a person's life. And while I'm sure that a lot of people don't engage in sexual activity due to medical or psychological problems, most of the asexuals here seem pretty content. Plus, one's ability to work, parent, and grow as a person doesn't seem to be affected by sexual attraction or lack thereof.
And let's not forget all the other people who were considered mentally unsound or inferior, including but not limited to people of color, women, immigrants, petty criminals, moody teenagers, and most familiarly to my dear readers, the queer community itself. Our transgender sisters, brothers, and others seem to be fighting this a lot more than the rest of us, but as more and more science comes in, that misconception seems to be on its way out as well.
A common accusation against asexuals is that they are prudes. Well, let's take a look at that. Prudes pass judgment on other people for engaging in activities that harm no one and concern no one. And while there are people like that of all queer types, and indeed a little bit of that in us all, as far as I am aware asexuals kind of just want to live their own lives unmolested by the majority. Is that really so much to ask? Isn't that what we all want?
Prudes want to make it harder for people to live as they want if the way they want doesn't fit the way things are "supposed to be". Well, asexuals don't live the way they're "supposed" to. Chances are if you're reading this site, you don't either. And the second society at large stops having this preconceived notion that there's only one right way to live your life, the Way of the Mean, the way that the statistical average person behaves, and starts taking into account the vast universe of human sexual and emotional diversity, we'll stop bitching about it.