In a recent investigation (MacInnis & Hodson, in press) we uncovered strikingly strong bias against asexuals in both university and community samples. Relative to heterosexuals, and even relative to homosexuals and bisexuals, heterosexuals: (a) expressed more negative attitudes toward asexuals (i.e., prejudice); (b) desired less contact with asexuals; and (c) were less willing to rent an apartment to (or hire) an asexual applicant (i.e., discrimination). Moreover, of all the sexual minority groups studied, asexuals were the most dehumanized (i.e., represented as “less human”). Intriguingly, heterosexuals dehumanized asexuals in two ways. Given their lack of sexual interest, widely considered a universal interest, it might not surprise you to learn that asexuals were characterized as “machine-like” (i.e., mechanistically dehumanized). But, oddly enough, asexuals were also seen as “animal-like” (i.e., animalistically dehumanized). Yes, asexuals were seen as relatively cold and emotionless and unrestrained, impulsive, and less sophisticated.
Perhaps the reason that there isn’t more obvious bias against asexuals is simply that most people have never heard of asexuality to be biased against it. I very strongly recommend reading the whole article.
(h/t next step cake)
I also personally suspect that actual rates of discrimination in practice may likely differ for a few reasons:
1) Asexuality is relatively invisible - short of an explicit “I’m asexual” most people will not be able to know if a given person they interact with is asexual, and as such will likely not treat them differently. This is further influenced by the fact that many people have not heard of asexuality, and thus would not even think about whether someone might be ace.
2) Many people tend to not believe in asexuality anyways - I would interested to see if this sort of prejudice would apply with a person who identified as asexual but who the subject still considered something else (perhaps heterosexual), or only when they actually accept the asexual’s identity.
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