Hey guys, remember that study that started floating around back when we were arguing with theamazingatheist? The one that proves that we exist? Do any of you know where that is? I want to put it on Ace Talk. It has come to my attention that we are often called upon not just to justify, but to prove our existence, and I would like to be able to respond to people who make these demands with “I can do that!”
… I wasn’t happy with that study. I felt it actually erased some asexuals by it’s way of testing. For example, I know I would have failed their “test”.
All I remember is that in the case of females, it measured vaginal blood flow.
I wouldn’t recommend using those kinds of measures to determine whether or not individual people are asexual, but couldn’t it still be useful when dealing with people who want us to prove that asexuality is A Thing?
But the study itself wouldn’t have, really, anything to do with asexuality, wouldn’t it? Because it was just about arousal, not attraction. And you can be aroused by somebody without being attracted to them.
Christina has hit the nail on the head. I, for one, am quite glad the study found in favour of the asexuals studied, but just because I knew what the study was doing, because I had shit going on down there and because, on top of that, they were like HERE SEXY PICTURES I would’ve been aroused.
Entirely against my will.
It’s a study of arousal, not attraction. I don’t think there is a way to measure attraction. Even if you look at shit like pupil dilation, I could have a million other reasons to appreciate pictures of naked people, or of people in general.
So the study might SAY it proves asexuality, but I say it’s a farce. So yes, it is useful to shove in people’s faces, but I am altogether uncomfortable with that prospect.
So out of curiosity, how do you guys define sexual attraction, then? Because for me, the whole reason I believe I’m asexual is that I have never, ever been aroused by an attractive person. Ever. I just don’t have any sort of physical response to that kind of stimulus; the image goes into my head, and sometimes I think “that person is quite good-looking,” but it doesn’t make it any further than that. I guess the message gets intercepted somewhere between brains and body. I don’t even drool.
I know that there are people out there who define it as wanting to have sex with that person, but there are a lot of reasons you might want to have sex with someone; sexual attraction is just one item on the list. And that explanation erases aces who do choose to have sex, not just to please a partner, but because they want to, for reasons of their own. Maybe they want to know what it’s like; maybe they want to feel closer to their partner; heck, maybe it just feels good to them.
So if neither of those are the answer, I’m interested to hear your perspectives on what sexual attraction is. Both of you, if you’re up to it, or neither of you if you’re not.
Sexual attraction is a feeling not related to libido that one experiences reliant upon senses (primary sexual attraction) or upon knowing them personally (secondary sexual attraction).
When I say, I would look at a picture, and be aroused, it is because of the connotations that picture carries. If the picture is framed in such a way as to be obviously sexual in nature, or is presented to me in a way that is meant to test my sexual response (ie. the test) I will respond with arousal against my will by responding to the forbidden nature of it, by doing what I’m not supposed to do, shouldn’t do, etc. I am aroused while watching porn not because the people are attractive, but because the activities are sexual in nature.
I have a libido, and arousal is a facet of my existence I can’t get rid of without putting my health in danger. I am not aroused by people, I am aroused by ideas and situations and forbidden things. I don’t like it, and as far as I’m concerned, the arousal is actually probably really really low if one could compare it to someone who is sexual … it’s just enough to annoy me, and just enough to be there and make me fail the test.
I think sexual attraction is something beyond mere arousal, and further, it is a response specifically to a person and their body and/or their personality … which I don’t feel. I never respond to a specific person, and it is always base arousal, the kind that doesn’t make me masturbate to a fantasy in my head. It’s about sensation and abstracts.
ETA: IF I DID NOT KNOW what the study was about and IF I DID NOT have measuring junk up my va-jay-jay and IF THE PICTURE/VIDEO was presented in a non-sexual manner, I would not fail the test. I would fail it through over-thinking.
Ahh, that makes sense — over thinking yourself into arousal. I’ve done that, in fact. Actually, it was part of my whole trying-to-be-a-normal-sexual-person phase: I’d focus on ideas or images (of people, as I recall) that were supposed to be sexy and think about what arousal felt like, and try to make myself feel aroused in response to those things. And it even kind of worked a couple of times, but more because I was thinking so hard about what arousal feels like than because of the actual material.
And yeah, I get your point about how you wouldn’t be aroused if you didn’t know it was about sex. I would actually consider that a flaw in the study: the subjects were aware of what the study was about, which would obviously affect their reactions somewhat.
Looking at the comments here, I think most people haven’t read the actual study, so I’d like to clarify a few points about the study: It was NOT a study claiming that asexuals did not experience arousal. Rather, it showed that, in women at least, physical arousal had no impact on a/sexual orientation.
Also, I would not necessarily recommend using this as a broad proof of “asexuals exist.” At the time, I mostly brought this up in response to amazingatheists demands for physical testing of arousal, as proof that such testing had been done, and that it did not refute the existence of asexuality. So, it’s mostly useful in refuting that specific claim. However, other than proving that asexuality is not a dysfunction, and invalidating the arousal argument (at least for female aces), it doesn’t really address the general question of whether asexuals exist. So while you could still include it, I’d recommend some more general statistical studies on asexuality too.
More details about the study below.
First of all, a little background information: previous studies with lesbian, bi, and straight women have shown that subjects all experienced physical arousal in response to various forms (straight, gay, etc.) of pornographic material, - . Specifically:
“lesbian and heterosexual women showed the same degree of increase in vaginal pulse amplitude (VPA; the more sensitive and specific index in vaginal photoplethysmography), regardless of their stated sexual orientation and irrespective of the stimuli shown—whether heterosexual, homosexual, or non-human primate (Chivers, Rieger, Latty, & Bailey, 2004; Chivers, Seto, & Blanchard, 2007)”
Basically, it shows that measuring physiological arousal cannot be used to determine orientation in women.
Also, the purpose of this study was not to prove whether or not asexual people exist - it was run with the assumption that they do. The goal was more to determine whether asexuality should be considered a sexual dysfunction. (The conclusion: it’s not)
This study ran the similar kinds of tests, but added asexuals to the mix. This study took a small sample of asexual, straight, lesbian and bi women, and recorded their levels of physical and subjective arousal in response to heterosexual pornography.
The results of the study included the following:
-The asexual women experienced phyiological arousal (increased blood flow to the genital region, etc.) at similar levels to other women, reg, indicating that asexuals are not incapable of physical arousal, and thus that asexuality is not a kind of sexual dysfunciton. (remember, as mentioned before, arousal was noted to not be an indicator of orientation in women)
-the study found “greater interoceptive awareness of genital excitement in asexual women” - basically, asexual women were more aware of whatever physical components of arousal they were experiencing, which is proof against the idea that asexuals are just “confused” or “in denial”.
-the study also found “self-reported sensuality-sexual attraction in response to the erotic film was significantly lower among the asexual women, as expected” and that asexuals alone did not experience an increase in “positive affect” after viewing the pornographic material.
-the study also found that there was no difference in “negative affect” and levels of anxiety between asexual and non-asexual women - so asexuals are not necessarily “afraid” or “inhibited” - just not interested.
There’s a lot more nuance to the results, so if you can get access through a university or a library, I highly recommend reading it. Also, I’m always happy to discuss stuff like this, so if you have any questions/comments, feel free to message me!
Asexual Awareness Week presentation tomorrow (all right- later today) at Drew University.
Am I prepared?
You’ll be great! It’s not like we don’t all have the 101 stuff pretty much memorized anyway. Lack of sexual attraction, romantic orientations, no we don’t reproduce by budding, etc. etc. etc. You can do this, no problem. :)
So I just finished giving my first ever asexuality 101 workshop for QSA today! Nerve-wracking, but also pretty fun. There were some parts that could use improvements, but at least now I know better for the next time!
Overall, though, I think it went pretty well. And I got to meet some new aces, which is always cool!
It’s cool to have these numbers. If I recall correctly, most or nearly all of the options were ticky boxes and not radio buttons (which is good), which makes any sort of number-crunching difficult. However— why was there no option for biromantic/panromantic? These seems like a glaring omission, and one that I didn’t notice at the time, since I was too busy navel-gazing about my own romantic orientation or lack thereof.
Instead of bi/pan/a/homo/hetero/wtf-romantic options they had two separate options: gender identity, and who you are attracted to. I don’t know whether they have the means to combine those to determine romantic orientation, though.
As for why it was omitted, I can think of two possible reasons:
1. They intended for it to be covered by the previously mentioned questions, only to realize that recalculating all the data would be too difficult
or 2. They were trying to avoid problems that arise from heter/homo etc. models when you add non-binary folks to the mix.
I’d be interested to from someone actually involved though.
So I’m putting together a workshop for AAW at my campus, and I’d like to avoid having it just be me blabbing about my thoughts on asexuality, so I’d like to maybe mix in some other mixed media. I’m looking for a couple main things:
-video/audio/quotes from articles/etc. representing how asexuality is viewed in the media - both good and bad.
-video/audio/other representing other aces’ thoughts on specific aspects of asexuality (especially if anyone knows any good explanations of demisexuality)
-also, perhaps material on aces’ experiences with the queer community/thoughts on the relationship between the two?
I have limited time, so if people could mention their favorite section of a clip (like….2 min?) or quote from an article, etc, that’d be awesome. You can message me links or just reblob or whatever.
Asexuality and sexuality are not black and white; some people identify in the gray (spelled “grey” in some countries) area between them. People who identify as gray-A can include, but are not limited to those who:
experience sexual attraction and drive, but not strongly enough to want to act on them
people who can enjoy and desire sex, but only under very limited and specific circumstances
Similarly, some people who might technically belong to the gray area choose to identify as asexual because it is easier to explain. For example, if someone has experienced sexual attraction on one or two brief, fleeting occasions in their life, they might prefer to call themselves asexual because it is not worth the bother of having to explain these one or two occasions to everyone who asks about their orientation.
The most common term used to refer to the gray area is “gray-A”. Other terms that have been used for the gray area include “hyposexual”, “demisexual”, “semisexual”, “low sexual intensity”, “asexual-ish”, and “sexual-ish”.
Some of these terms refer to specific parts of the gray area rather than the entire gray area.
Hyposexual can be used as a catch-all term for the gray area, and is commonly mistaken believed by asexuals to be a standard medical term. The actual name is Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, which is classified as a sexual dysfuction in the DSM-IV-TR.
Demisexual is used, generally, to describe people who only experience sexual attraction to a romantic partner or partners.
Ok, most of this is good but I’m really uncomfortable with the idea of using “hyposexual” as a catch-all for gray-As. Hyposexual has rather specific connotations of being a low-to-nonexistent sex drive or libido (as in the opposite of hypersexuality); since for many grey-A’s their identity is based more on attraction than drive, and they may not have a lower than normal sex drive, it’s an inaccurate and misleading term. It may be an appropriate term for some grey-As, but certainly not all. It’s also a very clinical word, and while it is very useful in describing levels of sex-drive it unfortunately often has rather pathologizing connotations, which also make me uncomfortable.
Ok, so I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback that’ll be really helpful. There just remains one issue:
I need a good, 1-sentence or less definition of demisexuality!
I currently have this:
There are also some people who identify as being part the asexual spectrum without being fully asexual, such as grey-asexuals (who experience only very rare, weak, and/or ambiguous sexual attraction) and demisexuals (who experience sexual attraction only after a strong emotional bond is in place).
but I’m not sure if that describes it well. thoughts?
(also, I’ve heard “does not experience primary sexual attraction”, but that doesn’t make sense unless you know the primary-secondary attraction model, which my target audience will not)
Great poster! This is really pedantic, but the way you’ve defined celibacy, it isn’t really possible for asexuals to practice it. Some asexuals are celibate sure, but not because it is “a conscious decision not to act on sexual attraction” because they don’t experience sexual attraction to begin with! Maybe celibacy is a “a conscious decision to abstain from sex”?
ah, yeah, that’s actually a very good point. I’ll change that.
Hey Tumblr, ‘sup. So I’m in charge of chairing tonight’s LMU GSA meeting, and the subject is erasure/discrimination within the queer community and within queer-friendly (supposedly) media. I have a little by way of media (videos and such) and I have some discussion questions for the group, but…
There’s good post here about an article that mentions asexual erasure, and similarities to/differences from bisexual erasure here. An excerpt:
Although it was published in Jan. 2000—before the birth of the asexual community—the author was clearly aware of asexuality and the issue of asexual erasure….Not only does he recognize the issue, but—even without there being an asexual community—he has considerable insight into the matter:
“My regret is made keen by the convergences between bisexual and asexual erasure, most notably the refusal by both self-identified straights and self-identified gays to acknowledge either category. Thus asexuals, like bisexuals, are prone to being accused of duplicity or false consciousness, or, more specifically, of being closeted gays.
The decision to defer a discussion of asexuals for another day, however, is supported by the undertheorized divergences between bisexuality and asexuality, which suggest that the two topics deserve separate analysis. While both doubled and absent desire appear to threaten straights and gays, they do so in quite different ways. To take one crude cut at that difference, consider the disparate ways in which the time-honored conflation of sexuality and sin ramifies across bisexuality and asexuality. If this conflation leads some to view bisexuals as particularly culpable because of their “promiscuous” desire for both sexes…it leads some of the same people to view asexuals as particularly pure.”
Also, I’m not sure if it’s exactly what you’re looking for, but there’s an excellent paper about bisexual erasure from the San Francisco Human Rights comission that has a detailed analysis of Bisexual erasure, and many of the points are applicable (with slight adaptation) to many other forms of erasure. For Example, take the following list of examples of bisexual erasure:
Assuming that everyone you meet is either heterosexual or homosexual.
Supporting and understanding a bisexual identity for young people because you identified
“that way” before you came to your “real” lesbian/gay/heterosexual identity.
Automatically assuming romantic couplings of two women are lesbian, or two men are gay,
or a man and a woman are heterosexual.
Expecting a bisexual to identify as gay or lesbian when coupled with the “same” sex/gender.
Expecting a bisexual to identify as heterosexual when coupled with the “opposite”
Believing that bisexual men spread HIV/AIDS to heterosexuals.
Believing that bisexual women spread HIV/AIDS to lesbians.
Thinking bisexual people haven’t made up their minds.
Refusing to accept someone’s self-identification as bisexual if the person hasn’t had sex with
both men and women.
Expecting bisexual people to get services, information, and education from heterosexual
service agencies for their “heterosexual side” and then go to gay and/or lesbian service
agencies for their “homosexual side.”
Feeling bisexuals just want to have their cake and eat it too.
Assuming a bisexual person would want to fulfill your sexual fantasies or curiosities.
Thinking bisexuals only have committed relationships with “opposite” sex/gender partners.
Being gay or lesbian and asking your bisexual friends about their lovers or whom they are
dating only when that person is the “same” sex/gender.
Assuming that bisexuals, if given the choice, would prefer to be in an “opposite” gender/sex
coupling to reap the social benefits of a “heterosexual” pairing.
Assuming bisexuals would be willing to “pass” as anything other than bisexual.
Believing bisexuals are confused about their sexuality.
Feeling that you can’t trust a bisexual because they aren’t really gay or lesbian, or aren’t really
Refusing to use the word bisexual in the media when reporting on people attracted to more
than one gender, instead substituting made-up terms such as “gay-ish.”
Using the terms phase or stage or confused or fence-sitter or bisexual or AC/DC or switch-hitter as
slurs or in an accusatory way.
Assuming bisexuals are incapable of monogamy.
Feeling that bisexual people are too outspoken and pushy about their visibility and rights.
Looking at a bisexual person and automatically thinking of her/his sexuality rather than
seeing her/him as a whole, complete person. Not confronting a biphobic remark or joke for fear of being identified as bisexual.
Assuming bisexual means “available.”
Thinking that bisexual people will have their rights when lesbian and gay people win theirs.
Expecting bisexual activists and organizers to minimize bisexual issues (such as HIV/AIDS,