Invisible Orientation: An Introductoin To Asexuality Review – Part 2 ctd

Today, I’ll be talking about the section of the book “Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality” by Julie Sondra Decker, continuing with Part 2.

After discussing the LGBT communities and discrimination, Decker talks about the asexual community and the diversity of ages in the group. Unfortunately, most data and forums that are available about asexuality are skewed to young people, probably mostly under 30. Some of these reasons might be obvious, like most of the discussion surrounding asexuality tends to happen online, something that many older people may not be involved in.

As Decker pointed out, young people have become somewhat more open about their sexuality than in the past, which in turn, has had younger people admitting or at the very least, realising that they may not experience any sexual attraction at all.

There is data to suggest that people are “coming out”, whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, a lot younger than in the past. In the past, gay people didn’t come out until they left home and gained independence, around the age of 16. Today, teens and even preteens are identifying as LGBT and coming out much earlier. (I want to talk more about younger people coming out as asexual later).

The fact that asexual people who are more likely to be open about asexuality has its drawbacks; that people mistaken asexuality as a phase, something that people will “grow out of”, or will “change their mind on” once they have had sex. This is contrary to much research that indicates that many people experience  and start to work out their orientation in early to mid teens,either with or without sexual experience. http://www.case.edu/lgbt/resources/safe-zone-resources/truth/

Asexual teens and young adults can experience alienation from most of mainstream media and their peers, where sex and sexuality are often main talking points. I can relate to this personally, especially before I identified as asexual. I actually tried to avoid all conversations about sexuality at this time. That got frustrating and lonely. To be perfectly honest, Personal Development (or as it’s called in Australia, Personal Development/ Health and Physical Education or PDHPE) classes didn’t really help in Year 10 because of a no real talk about sexuality outside the gay/ straight binary, the assumption that everyone knew whether they were gay or straight by the age of fifteen (I didn’t) and no distinction made between sexual and romantic attraction. I didn’t get any real dismissive comments about my age, although some did say that I was still young. On the other hand, a lot of it was the opposite. Because I was sixteen at the time, I was expected to have worked out who I was and the fact that I hadn’t identified as gay by then (or before), some people just assumed I was straight. So, I was straight… and felt no attraction to men… yeah, it made perfect sense… not. Just to be clear, I don’t begrudge anyone about this. I come from a small town and went to high school in a small town (not the same one) and, as I’ve written before, the discussion about LGBT and the complexities of sexuality can be limited.

Just another point about teens. It can be particularly for adolescent boys to acknowledge their own lack of sexual attraction. Society bombards young men with the idea that men are supposed to be “full of testosterone” and “getting laid”. The stigma surrounding lack of sexual attraction can be stigmatised by both people who are straight and the gay community. So much of how masculinity is viewed is largely based on sexual performance or the desire to make sexual conquests. I can’t help but think that this can only lead to low self – esteem in young asexual men, and other problems.

There is a tragic paradox when it comes to older asexual people. On one hand, society likes to desexualise older people, yet older people who are asexual are often ignored. Children get “grossed out” if an older couple visibly displays affection or talk about sex. Conversely, older asexual people, especially women, are often looked down upon if they are not partnered by a certain age. Now, this is according to Decker. I know a few older people (who aren’t asexual to my knowledge), but they are single. I haven’t heard any negative comments about them. What does plague women though, especially over thirty, is the “ticking” of the biological clock. Women are told to hurry up and seek a partner/ spouse before it’s too late to have children. I find that annoying, to be honest. I get that it can be harder for older women (especially over 35) to fall pregnant, but just telling women to “hurry up” isn’t necessary going to help. And, what about men? Just saying. It takes two to tango, right? Then again, there are IVF, fostering, etc that is open to single women and same – sex couples in some States (I think NSW is one of them). Just putting it out there. I get that it’s often controversial. I’ve talked about both sides of the gay parenting/ adoption debate before.

Funnily enough, according to Decker, women in their 30’s who identify as asexual are often referred as “late bloomers”. No kidding? That’s late… except of course that as I pointed out before that sexual orientation is often (not always) discovered in the teenage years, including asexuality.

I just want ot talk about the desexualisation of older people. In aged care, it’s now expected that workers acknowledge the sexuality of their clients, including those who are LGBT. All community service workers are expected to acknowledge and respect the fact that elderly people are (often) sexual beings. It’s actually unlawful under anti – discrimination legislation to prevent couples to express affection to each other in aged care facilities. This includes same – sex couples. I hope that this doesn’t put undue pressure on people who don’t want to seek or engage in sexual activity or be partnered, regardless of whether they identify as asexual or not. I’m hoping that it’ll be discussed more in the future and, ultimately, respected.

 

There are asexual people who don’t, or didn’t realise they were asexual until after they married or entered long – term relationships. For these people, their lack of sexual attraction is pushed aside and there is a lot of compromise in the relationship; more than what would’ve happened if the asexual partner would’ve known or acknoweledged their asexuality. This has lead many people in long – term relationships to be frustraed and the asexual partner internalising harmful beliefs about them and the relationship. There does seem to be a very damaging perception that people “owe” sex to their partners (or anyone).

I get sex can be seen as an important part of a relationship to most people, but I think it’s gotten to the point where dangerous attitudes have been accepted by society, such as if a partner/ spouse doesn’t get sex, then the other partner deserves to be cheated on. I get that deliberately withholding sex in a relationship, especially out of spite is not the best idea, but the load shouldn’t all be on the asexual person either. Both parties should take part in voicing their needs and desires and work out individually what compromises can be made (if any). If a compromise can’t be met, then they may make the decision to break up. But it’s not up to everyone else to decide who should do what.

 

Asexual visibility is relatively new. It’s clear that the lack of visibilty and acceptance of asexual people has affected people across all age groups. Overtime, I hope this will improve (I’m quietly optimistic).

 

 

Invisible Orientation: An Introduction into Asexuality Review: Part 2 Ctd

Back again. Continuing reviews on Part 2 (I know, it’s long).

The part I’m talking about is titled “Society, Discrimination and Queer Communities”. In it, Julie Sondra Decker discusses the asexuals’ link to the LGBT communities and discrimination that asexual people themselves face. Homophobia, in particular is very well known and exposed in the media. Studies from respected health organisations, such as “Youth Beyond Blue” in Australia, point out that LGBT youth are statistically more vulnerable to both physical and verbal abuse due to their orienatation, perceived orientation or gender identity. I don’t deny that. However, as Decker pointed out, asexuals have faced their own battles.

One of the biggest issues facing asexuals is invisibility and not being taken seriously. I think this is a valid point. I’ve wrote before here that asexuality should be discussed in schools when talking about sexuality in PDHPE classes. Students NEED to know that it’s OK not to be interested in sex!

Another issue that was specifically mentioned in the book, and a reason why asexuals may want to link with LGBT communities, is the fact that there is a lack of asexual – specific support groups, informatoin sessions, or meetups. I’ve only read about a couple on Facebook myself, mainly in the US. Maybe this is due to a lack of awareness, but also, like I was saying before, a lack of known persecution against asexual people. The main reason wny, for example, gay clubs were formed from the 1970’s onwards, was so gay people could mingle and hang out without a fear of being attacked, or, before the 1970’s in many cases, even persecuted by law enforcement (it may be obvious, but I”m talking about people in the West. I do acknowledge that in many cases, legal prosecution of gay people is still a serious issue).

A number of asexual people identify themselves as allies to the LGBT community. Some LGBT communities are open to welcoming asexual – identified people, however, some are hesitant to welcoming them within their circles because they deem the asexual community as having “heterosexual privilege” , especially those who identify who identify as aromantic or heteroromantic. To some degree, I can see how it can be perceived. Heteroromantic and aromantic people, naturally, are not being criticised or being persecuted for being same – sex attracted, like LGB people. However, like Decker argued, it’s not the same as being straight. And even LGBT asexuals (those who are homoromantic, bi – romantic, transgender, poly/ panromantic etc), can face dismissiveness from the LGBT communities. As a blogger was quoted as saying:

I find it painfully ironic that in  queer spaces I am still told that my sexual orientation  is just a disorder, eihter physical or psychological, that I ‘just haven’t met the right person yet’, taht I”m going through a phase. that I can be cured. I hardly consider a space where people are feel comfortable saying those things to another person a ‘safe space’ for anyone (and yes, they so those things to a polypan ace […] and those same things are said to trans aces and homoromantic aces and biromantic aces too}.

I just want to point something out, in regard to the last quote. Many people, myself included, have a habit of lumping LGBT people together as if they’re all one in the same. However, it’s not always harmonious in these communities either. I’ve lost count, for example, of how many blog posts I’ve read about the alienation that bisexual people can face from the gay community. They are either not believed, or they are negatively stereotyped, (e.g. they can’t be in a monogamous relationship and remain faithful). Transgender people, too, face alienation from the gay community. Earlier this year, Australian model/ DJ, Ruby Rose made a video on YouTube in which she strongly criticised  transphobia within the gay community. So negative attitudes are not exclusive to asexual people.

There is a misconception, too, that asexual people share in “straight privilege. As i’ve argued before, even ‘passing’ as straight has it’s own strugggles (read about it in my post here). Also, just to be clear, asexual people are NOT straight and asexuality is NOT the same as celibacy. Asexuality IS a separate orientation characterised by a lack of sexual attraction. Celibacy, on the other hand, is a choice, and that choice can be reversed most of the time. Asexuality, however, can’t be reversed. It may change, yes, but not by conscious choice. . They are part of a sexual minority. Hetero – romantic asexuals, for instance, are not straight because they are not SEXUALLY attracted to people of the opposite sex. In fact, Decker pointed out in the video, that hetero – romantic asexual couples (even married couples) can be denied adoption rights or have their marriage made annuled because of lack of sex, which, to me, is quite ridiculous.

Asexual people can face some employment and housing discrimination too, particularly in the US. In 2012, MacInnis and Hudson noted that asexual people face negative attitudes in mainstream society and even in legal matters (property, etc). These prejudices were seen as more prevalent against asexuals than LGB and heterosexuals. In the video on Asexual discrimination (which I showed in this post), Decker explained that at the time the video was being made, US states, New York and Vermont explicitly prohibited discrimination agianst asexual people on the basis of their orientation, like LGB people. She also pointed out that last year when she made the video, Texas had a bill that, if succesfully passed, would also prohibit discrimination against asexuals. Does anyone know whether this actually passed?

With all this in mind, do we need to align ourselves with the LGBT? Not necessarily. Each person to their own view on that one. But what I believe it does show is that there is problems with discrimination faced by the asexual community. Does it happen to everyone? Not necessarily. But it DOES happen.

So, that’s all for today in this post. Yes, asexual people do face their own challenges, not necessarily “worse” than other minorities, but it’s not something that should be ignored either. And I do applaud people, including members of the LGBT, (like bloggers hessianwithteeth), that do acknowledge and respect the asexual community. From me to all of you, I say ‘thank you’.

The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to AsexualityPart 2 Ctd

I’m back to continue my review on ‘The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality” Part 2’ by Julie Sondra Decker. Sorry for the delay in writing this.  So, the next topic that Decker was relationships, particularly intimate partnerships.

Asexual people, for the most part, want to experience intimacy on some level and desire some sort of committed relationship, romantic or otherwise (in this section of the book, her main focus seems to be romantic relationships).

There is a common misconception that romantic asexual people will automatically go for people who are asexual. However, it’s usually not so clear – cut for a number of reasons, as Decker strongly argues. Firstly, the lack of visibility of asexuality in society could mean that an asexual person could enter a sexual relationship or even marriage before realising that they are, in fact, asexual. I’ve read about this many times on Facebook. Even people who may be in their 50’s and have been married for more than ten years may have just realised with certainty that they are asexual.

Another reason why asexual people may fall for a non – asexual is because of their social group may not have any self – identified asexuals, hence, if they fall for someone in that group, they’re highly unlikely to be asexual. Talking about asexuality and attraction- just because two people are asexual, doesn’t automatically mean they’ll be emotionally attracted to each other. Attraction, regardless of orientation, rarely works out that simply.  A romantic asexual could fall for someone who isn’t asexual. It’s that old adage, I guess: you can’t choose who you fall in love with. That would go for asexual people as well.

Meet ups of asexual people do happen around the world, but they are rare and have to be deliberately planned in order for them to happen. I’ve never personally been part of one, but I have seen them talked about on Facebook sometimes. They mainly seem to happen in the US. I don’t know how many happen in Australia, or where (anyone from Australia who has been to a meetup, feel free to comment). Plus, there are no “meetup” clubs or such specifically for asexuals like, for example the gay community.

Another problem with the assumption that romantic asexual people would automatically fall for  other romantic asexuals, is the fact that asexual visibility is still at it’s infancy. There are people who may not know that they are asexual or know it’s even a thing. There is growing awareness, yes (I’ve wrote about media coverage on asexuality in the past on this blog), but it’s still limited. Also, there is a lack of awareness and acceptance in education and medical fields as a valid orientation (I’ll talk about this at a later date).

Like my above argument about attraction, it’s pretty obvious that not all romantic asexual people are going to automatically be attracted to each other. And not all asexual/ asexual relationships ideal. They can face (at least some) of the same problems that any other relationship has.

 

Next, she talked about the issue of compromise. She argued that all relationships require a level of compromise, and, in the context of sexual/ asexual relationships, that includes a certain compromise (on both sides), when it comes to sex. Contrary to poular belief, the “compromise” isn’t always on the asexual person to participate in sexual activity (I would argue that sometimes that may be deemed close to impossible in some cases, particularly if they’re sex – repulsed or sex – averse – however, for many sexual/ asexual relationships, it’s a possible compromise). Other possible compromises that can be made in an asexual/ sexual relationship that Decker listed are:

  • The sexual partner agreeing to remain celibate and take their own needs in their own hands (that was a pun)
  • Both partners agree to have sex either regularly or irregularly
  • Open relationship/ marriage
  • Polyamory
  • Other forms of physical intimacy (kissing, cuddling, etc)

In an imperfect world, sometimes, such compromises don’t work out and the relationship/ marriage ends up deteriorating and eventually ending. In these circumstances, asexual partners/ spouses are sometimes automatically viewed to be at fault for the relationship breaking down. But, as she argued, some relationships just aren’t meant to work out, and she emphasised that it was important to admit and be OK with that, however, painful it is. Everyone should be able to be honest with themselves (and I’d say regardless of the status of the relationship or gender and orientation of the partners), about whether the needs are being met in that relationship and whether conflict is reconcilable.

She talked briefly about relationship counselling. This is where prejudice and discrimination against asexual people can be come evident. According to Decker, there are therapists who don’t acknowledge asexuality as an orientation, and as such, may solely focus on the asexual as the “problem”. However, Decker didn’t discourage relationship/ marriage therapy. And there are asexual – friendly therapists as well (I mentioned one: http://https://asexualityinasexualworld.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/mama-mia-another-article-on-asexuality/

Sometimes, in an asexual/ sexual relationship, self – esteem issues and fears need to be addressed. I’ve talked before about how hard it can be to admit that you’re asexual and be OK with it (I’ll talk about it more in the future, too). This can be detrimental on the asexual person psychologically and as a result, the asexual person may stay in unhealthy relationships. This is why asexual visibility and acceptance is so important! It’s why I continue this blog, despite my doubts in the past. Nobody should have to feel like they don’t deserve to be accepted and loved! I feel so strongly about this! Self – hatred/ low self – esteem, especially when seemingly enforced by general society is so damaging it’s not funny! I’ve been there. Fortunately for me, it hadn’t got to a stage where it was both physcially or psychologically destructive, but even what I’ve experienced with myself, I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. And, I’ve got to say, hating yourself, for fearing judgement from others about your sexuality is I think one of the most destructive things that can affect one’s well – being. (Please note: I get that there are other factors that often contribute the damage of someone’s personal state. It’s just from MY OWN personal experiences, it’s been a major thing for me).

In the context of married relationships, many asexuals feel obligated to be sexual with their spouse, regardless of their personal feelings about it. Now I agree with negotiation and compromise, but just simply saying that the asexual person should ignore their own feelings isn’t right. In fact, Decker condemns such attitudes as downright abusive. I tend to agree. Each couple needs to and should be able to work out how to carry out their relationship, without one partner (e.g. the asexual partner in this case I’m talking about), feeling like their own feelings and opinions don’t matter.

Just a note: As I’ve been reading through this book, I’m surprised and, frankly, quite horrified about how asexual people are often mistreated, discriminated against and/ or dehumanised. I don’t know if this occured to anybody, but yes we asexuals are HUMAN! We have feelings, desires. We feel the way we feel and for the most part, we can’t help it. Telling us to change our orientatoin is just as futile (and probably just as damaging), as telling a gay person to go through “conversion” therapy (which has largely collapsed in the West, particularly the US).

Many asexual people are married and want children. For this reason, some women may at least tolerate sex in order to conceive a child. Also, like I said above, some people are already married before knowing what asexuality is, or the fact that it’s an orientation.

As pointed above, some asexuals are involved in non – monogamy with a sexual partner. Some people, including asexuals, actually prefer non – monogamy relationship styles, such as open relationships or polyamory. I think it’s fair to say that it wouldn’t be everyone’s taste, but it may be an option for some.

 

So, here that concludes Part 2 about relationships (there’s much more to come, so bear with me). Next time, I’ll be writing about the asexual links (or lack of) to the LGBT community and more on discrimination and how it affects the asexual community. Stay tuned.

 

“Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality” Review Part 2 Ctd

I’m back to write the second review for Part 2 of the book (or ibook in my case), of “Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuailty” by Julie Sondra Decker.

In the post where I last talked about this, I got to the part about different types of relationships that asexual people are involved in and the role they play in their lives, including romantic relationships and attraction.

Next, she goes on to talk about libido and masturbation. It’s an embarrasing question that many asexual people get asked. Any answer  that the asexual people gives seems to backfire on the individual. So, if you really want to know – do they? Simple answer: some do – some don’t. “Why?”, might you ask. Many different reasons: comfort, libido’s high at certain types of month/ day, curiosity, etc. Many asexual people wouldn’t relate it to sex. Even those who fantasise about certain erotic situations find themselves separated from such fantasies and has no bearing on their attraction or desire.

I’ll add to, that for women, the endorphins released through self – stimulation can help soothe period pain. In both males and females, self – stimulation can be done out of curiosity. It’s actually documented that children use self – stimulation by the time they reach primary school. The reason is mainly curiosity and the exploration of one’s own body. This, obviously, has absolutely NOTHING to do with sex or sexual attraction.

She briefly talked about other asexuals who experience no libido or desire to self – stimulate at all (often called non – libidoists). The discussion in the book was very short in my opinion, compared to other topics. Not a criticism as such, just an observation I made last night. Anyone else notice this? What’s your thoughts?

 

Asexual people, as she wrote in the book, can and sometimes do participate in sexual activity with a partner (or partners). Like with anything else, reasons can vary from person to person, but a major reason is the satisfaction for a non – asexual partner. Most asexuals can do this and some are willing to, depending on their attitude toward sex itself. Some are like the sensations, some tolerate it, however, some are completely or largely repulsed by it (a lot of survey results tend to point out that a fair percentage of asexual people do describe themselves as “sex – repulsed”. So, whether sex will be a part of a relationship, I guess, depends largely on the atttitudes each party has toward sex itself and whether it can be tolerated. Decker did argue that relationships without sex can work, with the right communication and honesty from both partners.

Some asexuals are fine practising non – monogamy with a partner so they can both get their needs met. Some practice non – monogamy because they don’t favour traditional monogamous relationships (is that a form of relationship anarchy?). Of course, non – monogamy isn’t trouble – free and anyone, regardless of orientaion should be careful when entering such an arrangement.

Just a note: interestingly, (well, I think so anyway), there has been an overall backlash against non – monogamy in society, with the recent Australian sex survey indicating that over 90% of partakers in the survey expected monogamy and faithfulness from both themselves and their partners. However there are people who completely reject the whole monogamy structure, most notoably sex advice columnist, Dan Savage, who admitted that he and his spouse don’t practice monogamy. However, that really doesn’t seem to be the mainstream anymore. Anyway, back to Decker, as usual, communication is key in this area. Could I participate in this myself? I always thought that if I was ever to enter a relationship, it’ll be monogamous. Rest assured, I don’t condemn anyone who does practice non – monogamy, it’s just my preference.

Next, Decker talked about kink and fetish. Now, personally, I have no experience or real knowledge in the area, however, according to Decker, a small minority of asexuals have fetishes and are happy to be involved in roleplay and Bondage, Discipline and Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism (BDSM). For anybody who participates in such activities, particularly in a group context, sexual attraction can be seen as irrelevant. Asexual people (and anyone else for that matter), can practice BDSM simply because they enjoy the psychological thrill of the experience. There are asexual – friendly kink/ festish communities, particularly online. Major site Fetlife.com to their credit, has specific asexual – friendly areas in which asexual people are free to participate and explore the world of kink/ fetish.

Last two things I’ll talk about in this post explored in the book was to do with grey areas of sexuality, in particular, grey – sexuality. Most people acknowledge that sexuality isn’t always black and white. Studies attributed to Alfred C Kinsey back in the 1930’s  argued that sexuality for allosexual people isn’t always as simple as gay or straight. More recently, researcher Lisa M Diamond from the University of Utah have found that, particularly women’s sexuality can be more complicated than just “gay” or “straight” and can even be fluid overtime. Greysexuality isn’t necessarily about fluidity (although there are asexual people that cand their sexuality to be fluid). Greysexuality is more about bieng on the spectrum between asexual or non – asexual, with most relating to asexuailty than allosexuality. People who identify as greysexual can fall into a number of categories, including:

  • People who feel weak sexual attraction
  • People who go through phases of being asexual than allosexual
  • Peple who are confused about where they fit
  • People who get caught up in desire with their partners, but it’s not an intrinsic part of their overall experiences
  • People who only experience sexual attraction to a very small number of people
  • Experience attraction without physical response
  • People who find others to be attractive, but deliberately don’t pursue them

Note: These aren’t necessarily exlusive to asexual people and some find labels to be totally irrelevant.

The last thing I’ll talk about in this post is demisexuality. A demisexual perosn is someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction to others immediately. It’s often a secondary attraction rather than primary attraction. They never experience attraction to a stranger, celebrity, etc. An emotional bond always comes first for a demisexual individual.

(This is what i found interesting), many demisexual people can still be attracted to certain physical characteristics in a person, however, only on people they are close to on an amotional level. So, for example, a demisexual man might find women with dark long  hair attractive however, they’ll never experience attraction to someone, like say, Katy Perry. It’ll always be someone that they know personally and whom they have an emotional connection with. I always wondered what role physical characteristics play in asexual (or demisexual’s) attraction to others.

That’s it for this post. Sometime next week (hopefully), I’ll conclude Part 2 of the book.

 

 

“Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality” Part 2 – Review

I’m finally here. This is a review of the first part of Part 2 of “Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality”.This is only the first part of the chapter. I felt that the chapter was too long for a single post (and I had stayed up late last ngiht planning it). So here goes.

Part 2 of the book, titled “Asexual Experience” basically explains, quite indepth about the role attraction and libido plays in asexual people’s lives. She started an introduction into romantic orientation (I’ve wrote about it briefly here and http://https://asexualityinasexualworld.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/1127/. (In the book, though, Decker explains it a lot better and a lot more in depth than what I did). I won’t rehash all the terms.

She made one interesting observation; that asexuals face some treatment that wouldn’t be really deemed acceptable by most people toward others. This includes trying to tell people how they feel instead of letting people own their onw feelings, and asking overly personal questions (about masturbatoin, etc). I can’t help but feel annoyed by that (luckily, I haven’t experienced such events myself). Why is it OK to disrespect asexual people in a way which would be frowned upon if done to anyone else? Seriously.  Again, both Decker and I both plead the non – asexual community, please be respectful to asexual people you come into contact with, like you would anyone else. Rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t say something to people in general (like personal questions), please don’t ask us those same questions. I get you probably mean well, but I’m begging you, please don’t.

Another thing that is oftne dismissed is the love that an asexual feels and that love is so intertwined with sex, however, sex without love seems OK (at least in certain circles. I can kind of debunk the love = sex myth using science (in layman’s terms – in truth, I’ve barely got a scientific bone in my body). On the BBC3 documentary: “How Sex Works”, they showed a couple who just got together to examine the brain activity of the participants. What they actually found was that different parts of the brain were activated when the participants were shown sexually appealing stimuli (that were not their partner, like a model, or whatnot), as opposed to being shown a picture of their partner. When shown a picture of their partner, the part of the brain that (I’m guessing) signals romantic love lit up. Now, this is just my conclusion, but to me that seems to scienfitically indicate that erotic/ sexual attraction and romantic attraction are different on a neurological level.

And yes, love that asexual people feel, whether romantic, platonic, queer platonic (controversial term I know, I’ll explain later I promise. Please don’t attack me), or other forms are affection are real to asexual people, as it can be for anyone else. We’re not all “loners” or “psychopaths”, or whatever, frankly, offensive term you can come up with. Like anyone else, asexual people are a varied group. Some are romantic (see link above), some are social butterfles (like me), some enjoy close friendships, some have aromantic partnerships, some prefer their own company…. I think we get the picture, don’t we?

 

There was quite a funny quote describing what it’s like for asexual people who may experience fleeting sexual desire by “Tom” from the Asexuality Archive:

For some asexual people, the thought “I would like to have sex with that person” could seem as unexpected as “I would like paint that person blue, cover them with twigs and dance around them in  a circle all night.

Don’t know about anyone else, but I found that to be quite an amusing analogy.

 

She wrote a specific part of the book about aromanticism and how their relationships are affected. So, aromantic is someone who doesn’t experience romantic attraction to anyone regardless of gender. This is not exclusive to the asexual community. You can be heterosexual, but atromantic, or anything else (my guess is that this would be somewhat rare). Non – aces with mismatched romantic and sexual orientations can be frowned upon too, as sex and romantic love is so often linked. Non – aces with mismatched sexula and romantic orientations can too, feel confused, isolated and shamed for how they feel.

She goes on to talk about aromantic asexual relationships. Of course, many aromantic people have family and friends that they can bond with. Some have a non – romantic but committed partner, some have intimate relationships that seem “mor than friends” but are not labeled as “romantic”. These relationships are often referred to in asexual circles as “queer platonic”. Now, understandably, this term has been heavily criticised, particularly from members of the LGBT community, because of the term “queer” often used to mean “gay” or another non  – heterosexual orientation (however, someone wrote to me on Twitter explainning that sex workers sometimes use the term “queer (or the letter Q) for themselves…. hmmm).

What confuses things even more in asexual circles, is what’s deemed romantic? If it’s not commitment (since aromantic people can have rather comitted relationships), if it’s more intense than traditional friendship than what is it? I think that each person should be able to decide for themselves (or work out for themselves), what a relationship or even feeling actually is. Let them explain it in THEIR terms if they want. Then, maybe sometimes they don’t know…. yeah, it’s complicated.

Another thing. The above paragraph hints that partnerships aren’t easily defined just by looking at them. A same – sex couple isn’t automatically a gay or even homoromantic couple. Same with opposite – sex couples. A thought to ponder.

Orientations are not always as simple as aromantic or romantic. Some are somewhere in between (grey romantic) or ocurring at times when an emotional bond is already established (demi – romantic). My understanding of demi – romantic, is that they don’t experience “love at first sight” per se. That’s just what i thnk (I’m not demi – romantic myself, if you are and would like to explain your experiences in the comments section, got ahead. I’d love to learn about it from first – hand).

 

This is all I’ll write on  this post. In the next post, I’ll continue with reviewing the chapter (probably Friday).

“Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality” – Part 1 Review

Sorry it’s taken a while to get to this. This post is a continuation of reviews of the book “Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality” by Julie Sondra Decker.

Part 1 basically gives a rundown on what asexuality is and what it isn’t. There is repeated emphasis that asexuality is an orientation: not something that can (or should) be ‘fixed’, the difference between asexuality and ‘purity’, that not all asexuals are religious (actually, I’ve queried on here before why so many asexuals are actually atheists). Also, she pointed out that asexuality should not be mistaken for asexual reproduction. Basically, to cut the rundown short, Decker wanted to emphasise that asexuality is an orientation. That’s it.

Just a note on trying to be ‘fixed’. It doesn’t work. The American Psychological Association, as well most other major organisations worldwide agree that any sort of effort to change one’s sexual orientation is futile at best to downright psychologically harmful at worst. In the latest version of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there was a modification to deliberately separate asexuality from disorders like Hypo Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) and Sexual Arousal Disorder (SAD). Unfortunately, the medical industry as a whole hasn’t caught on (more on that on a later post).

She also talked about asexuality and gender identity. Most asexuals identify as cisgender. This busts the myth that people are asexual because of being intersex or transgender, thus, linking asexuality to hormone situations often linked to intersexuality and transgenderism. Yes, there are many self – identified asexuals who do identify as trans or intersex, but it’s not all of them (there’s a few trans – identified people in the Asexuality group I participate in on Facebook. While a number of them do identify as trans, or fit under a non gender – conforming identity (agender, gender – fluid, etc), most are cisgender.

Next myth that was busted in the book was the idea that asexuals are “anti – sex”. Many asexuals are sex – repulsed, but most respect the fact that other people enjoy sex and deem it an important part of their lives, even if the asexual doesn’t. Anti – sexual comments and almost a reverse – discrimination, of allosexual people is usually actually frowned upon in asexual circles. Unfortunately, I’ve read that this makes people who are sex – repulsed (which is apparently statistically speaking, the majority), feel alienated, even in asexual circles. But most asexuals do respect the right for others to have consensual, legal sexual interactions.

She talked about this and I’ll further emphasise it: asexuality is not a trend or phase (for most people; some people can and do experience fluidity – she cited Dr. Lisa Diamond when pointing this out). To call asexuality a “trend” is quite frankly, ridiculous. Like really, we’re 1% of the population! It is just the way some people are wired/ built or experienced their sexuality. That’s it. It’s also not a reflection of the person to not find a “suitable” partner/ spouse (I honestly hate it wne so much value is placed on people’s ability to find a partner and get married – more on that later). I’ll talk more about this later, but I find the sentiment about this both absurd and, frankly, quite damaging.

All asexuls can’t be placed in a pidgeon hole. Som asexuals want romance (I talked about romantic orientation here). Of course, there are other variations, which i won’t describe here because I feel that i’m in danger of summarising the whole book part, which is not my intent.

A plea to the allosexual community, both from Decker and myself. If someone discloses to you that they are asexual, please respect the person and believe them. This is so important. Coming to terms that you’re anything other than straight, including asexual, can be terrifying to admit to yourself let alone anyone else. Please take our word for it.

 

 

 

 

 

“The Invisible Orientation – An Introduction to Asexuality Review – Introduction

In the “Introduction” of the book, “The Invisible Orientation – An Introduction to Asexuality” ,author Julie Sondra Decker tells her own story of how she never felt sexual attraction, even when she tried to date in high school. She terms herself “non sexual” after her second relationship failed.

I found this part quite empowering actually. She goes on to say that she decided after the failure of her second relationship that she was non – sexual (hadn’t heard the term asexual yet), and was determined to own her own feelings and let HER tell how she felt and not others. This part was so empowering and great to read! And someone who would’ve been so young at the time, I find even more inspiring.

One fact that I did relate to was, after reallising that she wasn’t sexually attracted to anyohne, was the alienation she felt from her peers. I truly get that. It can be isolating, espoecially when you can’t put a label on why. Or just the pure fear that you might be rejected.

Frankly, I was shocked about some of the “concerned comments” she said she recieved. Personally, I found them quite mean. They included:

“That’s not normal. You need to get checked out” (not too bad, ill – informed, yes, but not too nasty)

“You’re never going to be happy” (Ill – informed, quite unnecessary. Deliberately mean? Maybe not)

“I can fix you. I can help you”. (Well, for one, no one can “fix” something that isn’t broken and also, I think that can come off as quite a dangerous comment).

“You’re going to die alone with a house full of cats” (How rude!)

“Shut up and admit you’re gay” (This one hits me. I honestly believe that no one as a right ot “accuse” anyone of being gay, no matter what.

“Why is it such a big deal to try sex?  (Why is it a big deal NOT to?)

I’m glad for her that she obviously wasn’t too phased by these comments, and I commend her for being so strong. But I do find that some of these comments are offensive and can be very hurtful for someone who isn’t so strong and thus, such comments, I believe, shouldn’t be encouraged. LIke she herself said:

If eveyrone treats you like you’re broken, you may evenutually crack

I believe that to be true. The comments above, to me portay, yes that there is (or at least has been) a lack of awareness aboiut asexuality until recently (especially since the making of AVEN (Asexuality Visibility and Education Network) by David Jay in 2001. I also can’t help but think that asexual people do face treatment that would be at least widely criticised if it was aimed at another group of people. It would be nice if ALL discrimination and rudeness toward people was all equally condemned, that’s all I’m saying (asexual people aren’t the only ones to face such issues, I may talk more about that in another post).

 

She explained why the book was written; to put simply – to infom people asexuals (or suspected asexuals) and non – aces alike. Good move. Everyone could benefit from at least having a brief understanding of what asexuality is (and what it isn’t… something she did explain very well also).

I’ve been enjoying the iBook so far. It’s been a really good read. Next post I’m hoping to talk about “Part 1”. Watch this space!