Asexual erasure

For discussion of general issues pertaining to asexuality.
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Olivier
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Asexual erasure

Postby Olivier » Fri Jan 23, 2009 2:34 am

So....

there I was wikisurfing around (having started out trying to find out who coined the term "pomosexual" when I ended up the page for "Bisexual erasure". I'm familiar with the concept but I thought I'd read it anyway, who knows where it would lead, afer all? :)

And a whole lot of it really struck a chord, like this:

In some cases, gay commentators in the American and British media have portrayed individuals caught in scandals involving same-sex affairs as homosexual, despite bisexual behavior and lifestyle. As do gay commentators and the gay media, the mainstream media also tends to lump anyone identified with any homosexual partners as gay; in some cases, even those who specifically identify as bisexual or have a clear history of significant experience with both same and opposite-sex partners.

It's the good old chestnut of trying to define orientation from behaviour, often very selectively, and highlighted for me again the difficulty that asexuals who have sex may have in getting anyone to acknowledge their asexuality, or even to acknowledge it themselves. Even on the next level down, there are those who insist that masturbation, fantasy or fetish all exclude you from being a "true" asexual - a meme that comes up again and again from non-libdoists, therapists, and armchair psychologists alike.

Again from the wiki:
In its most extreme form, bisexual erasure can include denying that bisexual people actually exist.

And for all sorts of well-meaning reasons even some (not all) asexual visibility work veers into this territory. Whether it's keeping things simple for people utterly new to the concept, or editing decisions beyond the control of asexual spokespeople, time and again the message goes out that asexuals don't have sex, don't form sexual relationships, don't get anything (emotional or sensual or vicarious) from sex if they do have it. And so the message is that if you indulge in sexual behaviour, you're sexual, despite any other evidence of asexuality - just as indulging in same-sex sexual behaviour is assumed to imply that you are homosexual, even despite other evidence of bisexuality.

Anyway, I don't know what the point of that musing is, other than that I've developed a fondness for the term "asexual erasure" to cover the denial of the asexuality of those asexuals who have sex, or in a more extreme form, the denial of the asexuality of any asexual who has any libido at all regardless of whether it's directed by sexual attraction. Anyone who understands the term "bisexual erasure" should have no problem understanding the asexual equivalent.

What do you think? Like it? Hate it? Think it might come in useful? Have any particularly egregious examples to share?

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wintermute
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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby wintermute » Sat Jan 24, 2009 12:45 am

That's an interesting article. It seems to be in human nature to need someone to exclude from a group, but that whole "true asexual" thing is honestly taking it too far.

I don't actually agree with you in this part
time and again the message goes out that asexuals don't have sex, don't form sexual relationships, don't get anything (emotional or sensual or vicarious) from sex if they do have it. And so the message is that if you indulge in sexual behaviour, you're sexual, despite any other evidence of asexuality


In fact I'd say, in my experience, the exact opposite is true. The only people saying that you can't masturbate and be asexual are the same people who believe that they're the elite members of the more-evolved and enlightened no sex club, and that sex is dirty and wrong, i.e. the sort of people who have issues to work out before they should be dispensing advice.
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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby Olivier » Sat Jan 24, 2009 1:17 am

wintermute wrote:I don't actually agree with you in this part
time and again the message goes out that asexuals don't have sex, don't form sexual relationships, don't get anything (emotional or sensual or vicarious) from sex if they do have it. And so the message is that if you indulge in sexual behaviour, you're sexual, despite any other evidence of asexuality


In fact I'd say, in my experience, the exact opposite is true. The only people saying that you can't masturbate and be asexual are the same people who believe that they're the elite members of the more-evolved and enlightened no sex club, and that sex is dirty and wrong, i.e. the sort of people who have issues to work out before they should be dispensing advice.

I know that's what everyone says when they're amongst understanding people, but the message that goes into visibility efforts often gets to simplified to "Meet David Jay. He could have sex but he doesn't want to - he's asexual and doesn't see the point." Or most of the Montel episode, where people were at pains to point out that they didn't have sex and were ok with that, or had had sex but didn't anymore because they didn't like it.

Admittedly some of the subtleties of certain undirected sexual behaviour often come up in the seemingly mandatory discussion of masturbation, and sometimes the distinction between behaviour and orientation is made really well, such as in the Guardian piece.

But then there's just plain ignorant crap like this:
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/the-psyc ... ality.html
I would consider a proper asexual to be asexual both in theory and practice. Thus if a person engages in sexual activity mechanically and does not derive sexual pleasure from it, the very fact that he or she engages in sexual activity, makes him sexual. Even if a person does not engage in sexual activity and remains a celibate if he or she has complete sexual feelings towards the same or opposite sex or even towards no one in particular, he will not be considered asexual. Autoeroticism or autoerotic pleasure through masturbation and similar means does not imply asexuality but rather autosexuality, as the person seems to have complete sex drive but that is not directed towards any person and turned towards self. This may have something to do with homosexuality or narcissism and narcissists could be autosexuals or repressed homosexuals.

When taken to task over this, her reply was unrepentant:
http://saberiroy.blogspot.com/2009/01/a ... nswer.html
You see there have been many letters and comments sent to me and people suggested that they can have sex and still be asexual or they can masturbate and still be asexual simply because according to the definition of psychology 'they are not sexually attracted to anyone'. This is like having your cake and eating it too! You can't call yourself an asexual (and I know many people simply like to project themselves as asexuals because it's different)and still have a sex life.

That attitude that behaviour trumps orientation is the mild form of asexual erasure. When coupled with the hypocritical stance that in the case of celibacy orientation trumps behaviour, and you're looking at a systematic exclusion of recognising asexuals' orientation, using behaviour as your excuse. That to me sounds like pretty much exactly what's going on with bisexual erasure.

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wintermute
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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby wintermute » Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:36 am

Alright, I see what you mean now. I think I misunderstood you, I thought you meant there was a large number of anti-sexual elitists hanging around putting a spanner in the works.

I think the problem is slightly different for asexuality than for bisexuality - although we're both being "erased" as you describe - the problem is having no sexual attraction is SO alien and different to most sexual people, I think that's the reason that we get told you've just not met the right person / late bloomer / you'd like it if you tried it and all the other old chestnuts.

I don't honestly thing it's something I'd worry about though - in my mind it seems like a problem that is going to both fix itself with greater understanding, and at the same time always be with us in some small capacity - just as even now there are (a minority of) people who think you can cure homosexuality, but the greater population accept that it is just another facet of the sexual spectrum.
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Nathan
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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby Nathan » Sat Jan 24, 2009 9:37 am

I wonder if most people really do think that acts determine orientation, or if it's just that they're being lazy and taking a shortcut. For sexual people, having sex is the obvious manifestation of their sexuality. It's reasonable for them to assume that other people doing the same thing are thinking about it in a similar way, so they say that people who have sex (as they do) are sexual (as they are). But, if they think about it, I think sexual people know that their sexuality permeates many aspects of their daily life and relationships. And that's the important part -- how a/sexuality affects people's lives! Someone who doesn't have sexuality threading through their life is clearly asexual, regardless of whether or not they happen to have sex. I'll repeat this quote from Nora Dye, just because I like it so much: "The physical act of having sex is such a small part of sexuality for almost everyone – I mean, I haven’t met anyone for whom that’s it, that’s the end of their sexuality is the physical act of having sex."

Examples like "if a gay person has hetero sex it doesn't mean they're not gay" are fairly removed from most people's experience. Maybe a more interesting way to refute the acts-->orientation view is to draw on the (sexual) person's own experience, by pointing out how sexuality is a part of their life far beyond the times when they're actually being sexually physical with someone.

Most people, I'm sure, take their sexuality for granted and don't think about it much, but if they realize how big a part of their life it is, they might realize how unimportant sex itself is in determining it; by imagining how their life would be not simply without sex but without all of their sexual thoughts and interaction, they might also see asexuality as more legitimate. And, too, if hard-line asexuals know how big a deal sexuality is for sexual folk, they too might realize that having sex or not really isn't the point.

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ily
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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby ily » Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:10 am

If sexual orientations were like a big family tree, I would see bisexuals as our closest relations. I do like the term.

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wintermute
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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby wintermute » Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:40 am

ily wrote:If sexual orientations were like a big family tree, I would see bisexuals as our closest relations. I do like the term.


I don't follow your reasoning, surely there are asexuals who like the opposite sex, are ambivalent, and who favour the same sex for whatever company they are looking for.

Without doing a full census to find out who likes to spend time with whom, I would see asexuality as being a mirror of the family tree.

Unless you mean the link is because we're also least-well understood in which case rock on!
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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby pretzelboy » Mon Jan 26, 2009 7:17 am

I kind of like to think of sexual orientation in terms of the Storms model, which, in a way, makes bisexuality the opposite of asexuality. Yet, being the a sort of opposite to asexuality makes for some interesting parallels.

One reason the Storms model was proposed was the fear that the Kinsey scale would smash asexuals and bisexuals together because (presumably) both lack a gender preference as far as sexual partners are concerned. (This isn't entirely accurate because some asexuals have romantic preferences, and some bisexuals have gender preferences for certain kinds of attractions and no gender preference for others. Other bisexuals find certain things about women particularly attractive, and different things about men attractive. Other bisexuals have a sense of being attracted to the person, not the gender.)

Another particular interesting similarity, already mentioned, is that bisexuals and asexuals have been accused of not existing--something that isn't true so much of hetero and homosexuality. I sometimes wonder, if this isn't so much because of innate similarities between them as in their relation to gay identity politics. Both get accused of being gay and in denial about it.

Perhaps the biggest factor leading to asexual errasure is that sexual orientation is best defined in terms of personal feelings. But only I can feel my own feelings. They are private and not accessable (and usually not visible) to other people. Behaviors are visibible; feelings are not. People can see if you're in a "relationship" with a guy. They can't see how (if at all) you're attracted to him.

People can see if someone doesn't date at all (sort of) but they can't see the reasons for that. Anyway, I guess I'm just repeating what's already been said.

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ily
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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby ily » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:35 pm

I think part of the reason I relate to bisexuals is because my favorite definition of asexuality is "interested in neither sex [sexually]". Sometimes things that are opposites end up being weirdly alike. I hope no one minds this copy-paste from my blog where I tried to explain this awhile ago:

To me, asexuality and bisexuality are like two sides of the same coin, and I think we have more in common with bisexuals than with any other orientation. If some people are sexually attracted to either gender, it would only make sense that others are attracted to niether. We have a nice yin/yang thing going on. I would also venture to say that we have MORE in common with bisexuals than not. Sexual desire is only one thing, and I've come up with 5 ways that we are similar. I know there are more, but let's start off:

Invisibility. You can't tell if someone is bi or ace by looking at them. And if one of us is with a similarly-gendered partner, the first assumption will probably be that we're gay.
Visibility. When was the last time you saw an openly bisexual character in a movie or TV show? Or even read about one in a book? The only one I can think of, off the top of my head, was Peter Sarsgaard's character in "Kinsey". (After reading the Wikipedia entry on bisexuality, I'm reminded of the show "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila"...it's still a pretty sad selection.)

Relationships. Since many aces date sexual folk, we both contend with the issue of often dating people with different orientations than ours. If I dated a man, for instance, everyone would see me as straight-- but I'd still be queer as ever.

Organizing. Nicole Kristal, author of The Bisexual's Guide to the Universe, learned that "organizing bisexuals was similar to herding cats". Are bisexual-themed events frequent or even in existence in your area?

Stereotypes. Although a few people think everyone's a little bisexual, many seem to tell you that bisexuality is just a phase, or an easier way to accept being gay. I even heard someone say once, "Bi now, gay later!". The awfulness of the pun aside, there seems to be that same old idea: "Your orientation doesn't really exist". And that's something all aces are familar with.
And here's a bonus:

I think we have important messages to share. Bisexuality seems to say that love isn't sharply delineated over gender, and that people can have a greater freedom over whom they love. And asexuality seeks to inform people, for one, that we can have meaningful relationships without sex. If our culture caught on to both of these views, our world might very well be a nicer, more relaxed and open place to relate to others.


I suppose "invisibility" is what we're calling "erasure" here.

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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby wintermute » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:28 pm

that's fairly interesting reasoning - I must admit I'm still not convinced myself that asexuality is similar to bisexuality, I'm still of the view that it's not even a subset of "sexuality", but I can see where you're coming from there.

In a way, if it got greater awareness of asexuality pushed into the mainstream I'd be happy to be lumped in with bisexuality
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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby Witch of Wapping » Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:52 am

Oh, good, Apositive lives, this is interesting! I’m having problem with my internet connection so I hope this works.

I think the main way in which this is useful to me is Olivier’s original example – some of our sterner Aven kindred do challenge the credentials of those of us who muddy the waters – not exclusively those who call themselves “repulsed” or “antisexual” – it’s fairly generally said on Aven that some asexuals have sex to please a partner, as if there are all sorts of brave little acts of martyrdom going on, rather than these more subtle distinctions between what we choose to do and who we claim that we are.

The stuff that interests Nathan makes me doubt myself more, and I can’t for the life of me pinpoint why. I suppose I’ve long been familiar with the idea that sexuality permeates everything a person is, and automatically included myself in it. I think I still do, although I might not use the word “sexuality”, at least in asexual company, to mean the same range of feelings, ideas and expressions about how I relate to everybody, to beauty, to being tactile, etc, as I would have done in the past. Can’t put this into language at all actually, but I can’t see it as a gulf between myself and other people.

OK – the side discussion about bisexuality. Since I’m one of the asexuals who has a powerful sense of myself as more drawn to one sex (as a lesbian), the parallel doesn’t really work for me. I get the “invisibility” aspect, but all non-heterosexual communities have lived through that, some of them longer ago, and subsequently fell into the same trap of denying other people’s claimed identity to firm up their own. Anything that makes the world Ily's "nicer, more relaxed place" by challenging heteronormativity is good, but the world is very resistant to that.

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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby wintermute » Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:11 am

The natural way is to resist change and protect the status quo, and following on from that to make a club that I can be in and you can't. I don't think we're going to get away from that until we get away from being human beings.
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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby Harmony » Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:28 pm

This is a good thread that I would like to discuss further. Any takers?

and highlighted for me again the difficulty that asexuals who have sex may have in getting anyone to acknowledge their asexuality, or even to acknowledge it themselves.


Why do sexually active asexuals need to have anyone acknowledge their asexuality?

Even on the next level down, there are those who insist that masturbation, fantasy or fetish all exclude you from being a "true" asexual - a meme that comes up again and again from non-libdoists, therapists, and armchair psychologists alike.


And some of those armchair psychologists are sexuals on sex forums -- not so much discussing what a "true" asexual is, but what sexuals do. "If you do this and that just like us, then you are one of us...".

And so the message is that if you indulge in sexual behaviour, you're sexual, despite any other evidence of asexuality - just as indulging in same-sex sexual behaviour is assumed to imply that you are homosexual, even despite other evidence of bisexuality.

The outside world looks at behavior. Two partners in a sexual relationship are considered sexual. Two partners indulging in same sex sexual behavior are considered homosexuals in a homosexual relationship. It makes sense to me and applies to that particular relationship.

who has any libido at all regardless of whether it's directed by sexual attraction


Do you think libido follows sexual attraction? (this is a curiosity question more than anything else...)

I know that's what everyone says when they're amongst understanding people, but the message that goes into visibility efforts often gets to simplified to "Meet David Jay. He could have sex but he doesn't want to - he's asexual and doesn't see the point." Or most of the Montel episode, where people were at pains to point out that they didn't have sex and were ok with that, or had had sex but didn't anymore because they didn't like it.


What if they had said they were celibates instead? Would Montel's and Joy's reactions and questions been different or the same? Would it have been easier to accept the message?

Who really benefits from the concept of "asexuality"??

I would consider a proper asexual to be asexual both in theory and practice.... <snip>


In reading her entire article, I believe she is questioning the psychology definition of asexuality "does not experience sexual attraction". I am not aware that this is psychology's definition, but one of many definitions ... this particular one appearing on AVEN front page. Whatever the case, if Ms. Roy would deem a particular person not a proper asexual, then how would that change that particular person's view of themselves and the world? Would they suddenly become erased?

That attitude that behaviour trumps orientation is the mild form of asexual erasure. When coupled with the hypocritical stance that in the case of celibacy orientation trumps behaviour, and you're looking at a systematic exclusion of recognising asexuals' orientation, using behaviour as your excuse. That to me sounds like pretty much exactly what's going on with bisexual erasure.


What is interesting is that the homosexual media implies that a particular bisexual person was posing as hetero and now his homosexual affair proves who he really is. Ms. Roy says almost the opposite: if you pose as sexual, then own it -- that is who you really are -- no asexuality cake too for you! In coming up with her own definition of asexuality; however, she is still verifying that it exists.

An even more interesting point is the one made about celibacy ... that orientation trumps behavior. To the outside world, the sexual orientation of a celibate is of no concern. A celibate is not going to have sex with you or me, so issues of orientation are irrelevant. Does everyone have to have a sexual orientation? If so, why? What is the purpose of sexual orientation?

Harmony

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ily
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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby ily » Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:47 pm

<i> "If you do this and that just like us, then you are one of us...". <i>

The funny thing is, asexuals who have sex or masturbate aren't doing it just like sexual folks. But that's the issue of behavior vs. intent again. No, I don't think people should have to choose a sexual orientation. For me, my purpose in identifying as asexual was to feel less alone, better understand myself, and find other people who had similar views on sex and relationships. I think some peoples' orientations aren't as clear or static as other peoples'. And it's not fair that those people have a much harder time with it.

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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby Dargon » Tue Feb 24, 2009 2:08 pm

Harmony wrote:
and highlighted for me again the difficulty that asexuals who have sex may have in getting anyone to acknowledge their asexuality, or even to acknowledge it themselves.


Why do sexually active asexuals need to have anyone acknowledge their asexuality?


Simple. Society takes as fact that /all/ people are sexual. On the grander scale, getting people to acknowledge the existance of asexuality will make it so that asexuals are no longer viewed as "broken." On perhaps a smaller scale, it might make it so people stop trying to get me laid.

Acknowledgment needs to happen before acceptance, and acceptance before understanding.

And so the message is that if you indulge in sexual behaviour, you're sexual, despite any other evidence of asexuality - just as indulging in same-sex sexual behaviour is assumed to imply that you are homosexual, even despite other evidence of bisexuality.

The outside world looks at behavior. Two partners in a sexual relationship are considered sexual. Two partners indulging in same sex sexual behavior are considered homosexuals in a homosexual relationship. It makes sense to me and applies to that particular relationship.


I think the OP was speaking moreso about those who say "you had sex, and thus you are..." Applying the label to the relationship makes sense, and by extension it could be applied to the person, but it does not necessarily apply to the person. Much as a friend might ride a roller coaster with me in order to spend time with me and make me happy despite not liking roller coasters, an asexual might engage sex to spend time and make a partner happy, despite not actually liking sex. Most people have no qualms with the first example, but the second seems to bother them.

who has any libido at all regardless of whether it's directed by sexual attraction


Do you think libido follows sexual attraction? (this is a curiosity question more than anything else...)


Speaking for myself and not the OP, libido and sexual attraction are two separate things that are often, but not necessarily closely related. It is possible to experience one without the other.

I know that's what everyone says when they're amongst understanding people, but the message that goes into visibility efforts often gets to simplified to "Meet David Jay. He could have sex but he doesn't want to - he's asexual and doesn't see the point." Or most of the Montel episode, where people were at pains to point out that they didn't have sex and were ok with that, or had had sex but didn't anymore because they didn't like it.


What if they had said they were celibates instead? Would Montel's and Joy's reactions and questions been different or the same? Would it have been easier to accept the message?

Who really benefits from the concept of "asexuality"??


Celibates made a choice. I feel that while most could not understand said choice, they could accept it, much as they accept when people give things up for lent.

As for the benefit, once again, it comes down to society accepting asexuals are not broken, so they can stop trying to fix us.

I would consider a proper asexual to be asexual both in theory and practice.... <snip>


In reading her entire article, I believe she is questioning the psychology definition of asexuality "does not experience sexual attraction". I am not aware that this is psychology's definition, but one of many definitions ... this particular one appearing on AVEN front page. Whatever the case, if Ms. Roy would deem a particular person not a proper asexual, then how would that change that particular person's view of themselves and the world? Would they suddenly become erased?


It is commonly accepted that if a gay person were to have sex with the opposite sex, they would likely not enjoy it (or at least not enjoy it as much as with the same sex) and would still indeed be gay. However, the aforementioned article seems to say this concept does not apply to asexuality.

That attitude that behaviour trumps orientation is the mild form of asexual erasure. When coupled with the hypocritical stance that in the case of celibacy orientation trumps behaviour, and you're looking at a systematic exclusion of recognising asexuals' orientation, using behaviour as your excuse. That to me sounds like pretty much exactly what's going on with bisexual erasure.


...

An even more interesting point is the one made about celibacy ... that orientation trumps behavior. To the outside world, the sexual orientation of a celibate is of no concern. A celibate is not going to have sex with you or me, so issues of orientation are irrelevant. Does everyone have to have a sexual orientation? If so, why? What is the purpose of sexual orientation?


I suppose "orientation" could be simplified to simply "sexual" vs "asexual" in the case of celibacy. What is important in the case of celibacy is that the celibate is still experiences sexual attraction, and is thus a sexual, who, by choice, is not having sex. The very concept of celibacy tends to revolve around voluntary denial of sexual relationships. We tend to consider only those who enjoy drinking but refrain from doing so as practicing temperance, and similarly, only those who enjoy sex tend to be considered celibate when they refrain. As such, going back to the sexual/asexual definition of orientation, it is completely relevant.

As for everyone having an orientation, by the definitions commonly used in the asexual community, it would be impossible not to have an orientation. If you do experience sexual attraction, you are sexual, and thus have an orientation. If not, you are asexual, and thus have an orientation. Why? Because society likes labeling people.

As for the purpose, I am not certain there is one, aside from sating society's love of labels. I suppose that wearing the label that fits can help you find someone you are sexually compatible with, and thus serves some purpose, but aside from that, I don't see it having any greater purpose.


[Edited to fix minor formatting issue]

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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby pretzelboy » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:02 pm

The said article uses "psychology" and (as I recall) some unnamed "psychologists" to invoke scientific authority for her opinions. (but without, like, you know, actual data and stuff.) There are actual psychologists that do crap like this.

Not long ago, a professional sexologist decided to change the opening of our wikipedia article.
Asexuality is the lack of any sexual orientation, according to researchers.[1][2][3] There are asexual individuals, however, who have claimed that asexuality is itself a sexual orientation.[4]
I had to kick his ass with some counter citations (and point out that he had misinterpreted some citations, which he probably hadn't actually read.) If anyone is curious about the rather awkward new opening to that article, it was done as a salvage act on my part. Anyway, said sexologist got an earful from me. He hasn't touched the asexuality article since.

So I guess my point is that there are some people that like to use "science" to establish their opinions as more authoritative than people's lived experiences.

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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby Olivier » Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:53 am

Harmony wrote:This is a good thread that I would like to discuss further. Any takers?
and highlighted for me again the difficulty that asexuals who have sex may have in getting anyone to acknowledge their asexuality, or even to acknowledge it themselves.

Why do sexually active asexuals need to have anyone acknowledge their asexuality?

The people that it's important acknowledge their asexuality are the sexually-active asexual themselves, and their partner. Maybe important isn't the right word, because I'm sure some a/s couples get by fine working out their own solutions without even knowing of asexuality, but it's helpful for any that don't want to reinvent the wheel by falling into all the pitfalls of each partner assuming that their partner approaches sexuality in a similar manner to themselves.

Harmony wrote:
Even on the next level down, there are those who insist that masturbation, fantasy or fetish all exclude you from being a "true" asexual - a meme that comes up again and again from non-libdoists, therapists, and armchair psychologists alike.

And some of those armchair psychologists are sexuals on sex forums -- not so much discussing what a "true" asexual is, but what sexuals do. "If you do this and that just like us, then you are one of us...".

And that's fine if that's as far as it goes. I'm not sure if you're referring to a particular thread (now deleted) on sexforums.com where a whole heap of asexual erasure was going on in the name of "discussing commonalities". Discussing commonalities is great, but when an asexual mentions that, for example, they find masturbation to be non-sexual, it's not discussing commonalities anymore if you call them a liar - insisting that your assumptions about what masturbation is like trump their lived experience. I wish that thread hadn't been deleted, as it was a great example of what I'm talking about. Actually, the fact that that thread that started as a plea for visibility got deleted because it had devolved into an argument on whether asexuality even existed is also a good example of a more concrete form of asexual erasure.

Harmony wrote:
And so the message is that if you indulge in sexual behaviour, you're sexual, despite any other evidence of asexuality - just as indulging in same-sex sexual behaviour is assumed to imply that you are homosexual, even despite other evidence of bisexuality.

The outside world looks at behavior. Two partners in a sexual relationship are considered sexual. Two partners indulging in same sex sexual behavior are considered homosexuals in a homosexual relationship. It makes sense to me and applies to that particular relationship.

I think it's ironic that in a thread drawing a parallel between bisexual erasure and the asexual equivalent, you choose to defend/justify asexual erasure by committing bisexual erasure. Was it deliberate?

Harmony wrote:
who has any libido at all regardless of whether it's directed by sexual attraction

Do you think libido follows sexual attraction? (this is a curiosity question more than anything else...)

Like Dargon, I think libido is something separate to orientation, and both inform (but do not determine) sexual behaviour.

Harmony wrote:
I know that's what everyone says when they're amongst understanding people, but the message that goes into visibility efforts often gets to simplified to "Meet David Jay. He could have sex but he doesn't want to - he's asexual and doesn't see the point." Or most of the Montel episode, where people were at pains to point out that they didn't have sex and were ok with that, or had had sex but didn't anymore because they didn't like it.

What if they had said they were celibates instead? Would Montel's and Joy's reactions and questions been different or the same? Would it have been easier to accept the message?

I don't know. Maybe. But it would have been a different message, so it's not a very interesting question to me.

Harmony wrote:Who really benefits from the concept of "asexuality"??

Who really benefits from any knowledge? The term asexuality has not been coined to provide people with a benefit, but rather to express what people perceive as a truth about the world as they experience it. On a less esoteric level, I personally have benefited from understanding asexuality, as it has helped explain certain dynamics within my marriage that never quite fit when combined with the assumption that my wife was heterosexual, such as how she could masturbate, but not want sex.

Harmony wrote:
I would consider a proper asexual to be asexual both in theory and practice.... <snip>


In reading her entire article, I believe she is questioning the psychology definition of asexuality "does not experience sexual attraction". I am not aware that this is psychology's definition, but one of many definitions ... this particular one appearing on AVEN front page. Whatever the case, if Ms. Roy would deem a particular person not a proper asexual, then how would that change that particular person's view of themselves and the world? Would they suddenly become erased?

Well in a broader sense, yes. Many asexuals, my wife included, were very, very late to realising the nature of their sexuality because in the world they grew up in, asexuals were erased from all discussions of sexuality. That changed my wife's view of herself and the world, and caused over a decade of unnecessary stress in our relationship as both she and I struggled with attempts to fashion an orthodox heterosexual relationship for ourselves. We're not trying to do that anymore, and are happier than ever.

Ms Roy's article reinforces the understanding that we had before we discovered asexuality. We had sex, so we were both sexual. That set of understandings just about wrecked our marriage, and everything we had worked for in our lives together. It is inferior in every way to us to our present understanding of asexuality, which is completely in tune with our observed reality. Any attempt to cling to that model, in the face of many, many people's direct experience of that model's inadequacies, is a step backwards as far as I'm concerned, is harmful, and should be resisted.

Harmony wrote:
That attitude that behaviour trumps orientation is the mild form of asexual erasure. When coupled with the hypocritical stance that in the case of celibacy orientation trumps behaviour, and you're looking at a systematic exclusion of recognising asexuals' orientation, using behaviour as your excuse. That to me sounds like pretty much exactly what's going on with bisexual erasure.

What is interesting is that the homosexual media implies that a particular bisexual person was posing as hetero and now his homosexual affair proves who he really is. Ms. Roy says almost the opposite: if you pose as sexual, then own it -- that is who you really are -- no asexuality cake too for you!

No, Ms Roy says that if you claim to be asexual, but have sex, then the asexual claim is just a pose, and your sexual behaviour "proves who you really are". Exactly the same. "If you're a man screwing a man, you're homosexual. Own it! -- that's who you really are -- no bisexuality cake for you". Exactly the same.

Harmony wrote:In coming up with her own definition of asexuality; however, she is still verifying that it exists.

But by defining asexuality as being contingent on celibacy, all she is doing is verifying that celibacy exists. In the case of sexually active asexuals, she's saying: "asexuality exists, but you're not asexual". That's not exactly helpful. If I come up with my own definition of bisexuality as only applying to people who have had multiple long term sexual partners of both genders (just one of each, or short-term flings could be "experiments" after all), then while I am still accepting that bisexuality exists, I am putting my own definition above the self-knowledge of all those bisexuals out there who may not fit my terms, but know full well that they feel sexual attraction to both men and women.

Why insist on asexuals needing to conform "in theory AND in practice"? Does she apply a similar standard to other orientations? Are virgins told that they can not be heterosexual, because they have not practiced heterosexual sex? Of course not. It's hypocritical and illogical.

Harmony wrote:An even more interesting point is the one made about celibacy ... that orientation trumps behavior. To the outside world, the sexual orientation of a celibate is of no concern. A celibate is not going to have sex with you or me, so issues of orientation are irrelevant. Does everyone have to have a sexual orientation? If so, why? What is the purpose of sexual orientation?

Self-knowledge?

I mean, surely the celibate themselves has an interest in understanding their own sexuality. And so why shouldn't that knowledge be part of our communal understanding of how sexuality works? How it IS? Why should our understanding of sexuality be limited to understanding the sexualities those we may potentially screw?

Dargon wrote:It is commonly accepted that if a gay person were to have sex with the opposite sex, they would likely not enjoy it (or at least not enjoy it as much as with the same sex) and would still indeed be gay. However, the aforementioned article seems to say this concept does not apply to asexuality.

I have friends who are also in a mixed-orientation marriage. He's gay, she's straight. They both wanted kids, they're great friends, she thinks he's sexy, and they have sex for her benefit, and also in the past had sex to get pregnant. He's happy with that - likes the fact that sex makes his wife happy, and still feels sexually attracted only to men. For all the "experts" out there who want to pick out behaviour like this and say "it's impossible that he's actually gay", people are just doing what they've always done, and proving that by using our free will, pretty much anything is possible, and screw what the "experts" think.

But it would be nice if we could get to a point that where people like my wife could say "I'm asexual, and I'm in a sexual relationship with my hetero husband" or my friend could say, "I'm gay but I have a perfectly satisfying sex life with my wife" and not be called a liar, when they know perfectly well what sexual attractions they feel, and both know that the real lie would be to claim heterosexuality.

Edited a few times for formatting, typos, and clarity :roll: It's late here. :)
Last edited by Olivier on Thu Dec 08, 2011 10:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Asexual erasure

Postby Olivier » Mon Mar 02, 2009 4:51 am

Oh, and Google Cache FTW: Anyone interested in the sexforums.com thread I was talking about can find it here:

http://209.85.175.132/search?q=cache:qt ... 61542.html

It wasn't cached at the time, but it is now. Don't know how that works, but hey, it works. :)

EDIT: And now it's gone again. I wonder if that's because I posted it here and someone requested its removal? Anyway, I saved a copy and may post some examples from it later.