Below is a bibliography of academic work on asexuality. For people first looking into academic work on asexuality, my own personal recommendations for where to start are Carrigan's 2011 paper and Bogaert's 2012 book.
I try to keep this bibliography as up-to-date as possible, but sometimes there are things missing. If you know of anything that is missing, feel free to contact me. The standard for including works in this bibliography is that a) they must be academic, and b) they must be accessible to people with sufficient library access.
When I published the first version of my asexuality bibliography in 2008, the extant academic work on asexuality was extremely limited, and so a large part of the bibliography documented older works somewhat related to asexuality, or that had enough about asexuality to make them worth citing in a historical overview of research on asexuality. Since then, the amount of literature on asexuality has grown enormously as has the number of academics working on the subject, so many of the articles included to inflate the size of the bibliography have been removed. While the pieces included here are of varying quality, and I have removed the various comments I made about some of the earlier articles.
- Bogaert, A. F. (2012). Understanding Asexuality. Lanham, MD : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Journal Articles and Book Chapters on Asexuality
- Aicken, Catherine ; Catherine H. Mercer & Jackie A. Cassella. (2013). Psychology and Sexuality, 4. 121-135.
- Bishop, C. J. (ed). A mystery wrapped in an enigma – asexuality: a virtual discussion. (2013). Psychology and Sexuality, 4. 179-192.
- Bogaert A.F. (2004) Asexuality: Its Prevalence and Associated Factors in a National Probability Sample. Journal of Sex Research, 41, 279-287
- Bogaert A. F. (2006). Toward a Conceptual Understanding of Asexuality. Review of General Psychology, 10, 241-250
- Bogaert, A. F. (2008). Asexuality: Dysfunction or variation. in J. M Caroll & M. K. Alena (eds). Psychological Sexual Dysfunctions. New York: Nova Biomedical Books. pp. 9-13.
- Bogaert, A. F. (2012). Asexuality and Autochorissexualism (Identity-Less Sexuality). Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41. 1513-1514.
- Bogaert, Anthony F. 2013. The demography of asexuality. International Handbook on the Demography of Sexuality, ed. by Amanda K. Baulme, 275-288. New York, NY: Springer.
- Brotto, L. A., Knudson, G., Inskip, J., Rhodes, K., & Erskine, Y. (2010). Asexuality: A mixed methods approach. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39, 599-618.
Current definitions of asexuality focus on sexual attraction, sexual behavior, and lack of sexual orientation or sexual excitation; however, the extent to which these definitions are accepted by self-identified asexuals is unknown. The goal of Study 1 was to examine relationship characteristics, frequency of sexual behaviors, sexual difficulties and distress, psychopathology, interpersonal functioning, and alexithymia in 187 asexuals recruited from the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN). Asexual men (n = 54) and women (n = 133) completed validated questionnaires online. Sexual response was lower than normative data and was not experienced as distressing, and masturbation frequency in males was similar to available data for sexual men. Social withdrawal was the most elevated personality subscale; however, interpersonal functioning was in the normal range. Alexithymia was elevated in 12%. Social desirability was also in the normal range. Study 2 was designed to expand upon these quantitative findings with 15 asexuals from Study 1 through in-depth telephone interviews. The findings suggest that asexuality is best conceptualized as a lack of sexual attraction; however, asexuals varied greatly in their experience of sexual response and behavior. Asexuals partnered with sexuals acknowledged having to “negotiate” sexual activity. There were not higher rates of psychopathology among asexuals; however, a subset might fit the criteria for Schizoid Personality Disorder. There was also strong opposition to viewing asexuality as an extreme case of sexual desire disorder. Finally, asexuals were very motivated to liaise with sex researchers to further the scientific study of asexuality.
- Brotto, L. A., Yule, M. A. (2009) Reply to Hinderliter [Letter to the Editor]. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 38. 622-623
- Brotto, L. A., & Yule, M. A. (2011). Physiological and Subjective Sexual Arousal in Self-Identified Asexual Women, Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 699-712
- Carrigan, M. (2011)There’s more to life than sex? Difference and commonality within the asexual community. Sexualities, 14, 462-478.
- Carrigan, M. A. (2012). How Do You Know You Don’t Like It If You Haven’t Tried It? In Morrison, T. G.; M. A. Morrison; M. A. Carrigan; D. T. McDermott (eds). Sexual Minority Research in the New Millennium. 3-20.
Carrigan, Mark; Kristina Gupta, & Todd G. Morrison. (2013). Asexuality special theme issue editorial. Psychology and Sexuality, 4. 110-120.
- Cerankowski K.J., Milks M. (2010) New Orientations: Asexuality and Its Implications for Theory and Practice. Feminist Studies, 36, 650-664.
- Chasin, CJ. D. (2011). Theoretical issues in the study of asexuality. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 713-723.
Academic interest in asexual people is new and researchers are beginning to discuss how to proceed methodologically and conceptually with the study of asexuality. This article explores several of the theoretical issues related to the study of asexuality. Researchers have tended to treat asexuality either as a distinct sexual orientation or as a lack of sexual orientation. Difficulties arise when asexual participants are inconsistent in their self-identification as asexual. Distinguishing between sexual and romantic attraction resolves this confusion, while simultaneously calling into question conceptualizations of the asexual population as a single homogenous group. Arguments are considered in favor of exploring diversity within the asexual population, particularly with respect to gender and romantic orientation, proposing that the categorical constructs employed in (a)sexuality research be replaced with continuous ones. Furthermore, given the recently noted bias toward including only self-identified asexuals, as opposed to non-self-identified asexuals or “potential-asexuals,” in research about asexuality, the nature and meaning of asexual self-identification are discussed. Particular attention is paid to the theoretical importance of acknowledging asexual self-identification or lack thereof in future research into asexuality. This article discusses what these current theoretical issues mean for the study of asexuality and sexuality more generally, including a brief consideration of ethical implications for research with asexual participants. Finally, directions for future research are suggested.
- Chasin, CJ DeLuzio. 2013. Reconsidering Asexuality and Its Radical Potential. Feminist Studies, 39. 405-426.
- Erro, N. (2011). Asexy pioneer: Asexuality versus eroticism in Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!, Inquire: Journal of Comparative Literature, 1.
- Fahs. B. (2010). Radical refusals: On the anarchist politics of women choosing asexuality. Sexualities, 13. 445-461.
- Flore, Jacinthe. (2013). HSDD and asexuality: a question of instruments Psychology and Sexuality, 4. 152-166.
- Gazzola, S. B. & M. A. Morrison. (2012). Asexuality: An Emergent Sexual Orientation. In Morrison, T. G.; M. A. Morrison; M. A. Carrigan; D. T. McDermott (eds). Sexual Minority Research in the New Millennium. 21-44.
- Gressgård, Randi. (2013). Asexuality: from pathology to identity and beyond. Psychology and Sexuality, 4. 179-192.
- Gupta, Kristina. (2013). Picturing Space for Lesbian Nonsexualities: Rethinking Sex-Normative Commitments through The Kids Are All Right (2010). Journal of Lesbian Studies, 17. 103-118.
- Hinderliter, A.C. (2009) Methodological Issues for Studying Asexuality [Letter to the Editor]. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 38. 619-621
- Hinderliter, Andrew C. (2013). How is asexuality different from hypoactive sexual desire disorder? Psychology and Sexuality, 4. 167-178.
- Hughes, L. (2011). The presence of absence: Asexuality and the creation of resistance, gnovis, 12
- Johnson, M. T. (1977) "Asexual and Autoerotic Women: Two invisible groups." in ed. Gorchros H.L. and Gochros J.S. The Sexually Oppressed. New York: Associated Press.
- Kim, EJ. (2010). How much sex is healthy? The pleasures of asexuality. in J. M. Metzl and A. Kirkland (eds). Against Health: How Health Became the New Morality. New York: New York University Press. pp. 157-169
- Kim, EJ. (2011). Asexuality in disability narratives, Sexualities, 14, 479-493.
- MacInnis, Cara C, & Gordon Hodson. 2012. Intergroup bias toward “Group X”: Evidence of prejudice, dehumanization, avoidance, and discrimination against asexuals. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 15. 725-743.
- Poston, D. L., & Baumle, A. K. (2010). Patterns of Asexuality in the United States. Demographic Research, 23, 509-530.
- Prause, N & Graham, C. A. (2007) Asexuality: Classification and Clarification. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, 341-35
- Przybylo, E. (2011) Crisis and safety: The asexual in sexusociety. Sexualities, 14, 444-461.
- Przybylo, E. (2013) Producing facts: Empirical asexuality and the scientific study of sex. Feminism & Psychology, 23.
- Przybylo, Ela. (2013). Afterword: some thoughts on asexuality as an interdisciplinary method. Psychology and Sexuality, 4. 193-194.
- Scherrer, K. (2008). Coming to an Asexual Identity: Negotiating Identity, Negotiating Desire. Sexualities, 11, 621-641
- Scherrer, K. (2010). Asexual Relationships: What does asexuality have to do with polyamory? in M. Barker and D. Langdridge (eds.) Understanding Non-Monogamies. Taylor & Francis. New York.
- Scherrer, K. S. (2010). What Asexuality Contributes to the Same-Sex Marriage Discussion. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services,, 22, 56-73
- Van Houdenhove, Ellen; Luk Gijs, Guy T’Sjoen, & Paul Enzlin. in press. Asexuality: Few facts, many questions. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy.
- Yule, Morag A.; Lori A. Brotto & Boris B. Gorzalka. (2013). Mental health and interpersonal functioning in self-identified asexual men and women Psychology and Sexuality, 4. 136-151.
- Yule, Morag A.; Lori A. Brotto & Boris B. Gorzalka. (in press). Biological markers of asexuality: Handedness, birth order, and finger length ratios in self-identified asexual men and women. Archives of Sexual Behavior
There is little evidence about the prevalence of absence of sexual attraction, or the characteristics of people reporting this, often labelled asexuals. We examine this using data from two probability surveys of the British general population, conducted in 1990–1991 and 2000–2001. Interviewers administered face-to-face and self-completion questionnaires to people aged 16–44 years (N = 13,765 in 1990–1991; N = 12,110 in 2000–2001). The proportion that had never experienced sexual attraction was 0.4% (95% CI: 0.3–0.5%) in 2000–2001, with no significant variation by gender or age, versus 0.9% (95% CI: 0.7–1.1%) in 1990–1991; p < 0.0001. Among these 79 respondents in 2000–2001, 28 (40.3% men; 33.9% women) had had sex, 19 (33.5% men; 20.9% women) had child(ren), and 17 (30.1% men; 19.2% women) were married. Three-quarters of asexual men and two-thirds of asexual women considered their frequency of sex ‘about right’, while 24.7% and 19.4%, respectively, ‘always enjoyed having sex’. As well as providing evidence on the distribution of asexuality in Britain, our data suggest that it cannot be assumed that those reporting no sexual attraction are sexually inexperienced or without intimate relationships. We recognise the possibility of social desirability bias given our reliance on self-reported data, but suggest that its effect is not easily predicted regarding absence of sexual attraction.
Contributors to this thematic issue were requested to answer six questions related to asexuality as a phenomenon and also the research therein. All responses received were collated into a ‘virtual discussion’ with the hope of spawning new ideas and also identifying any gaps in the current research and general knowledge regarding asexuality.
Abstract: I used data from a national probability sample (N = 18,000) of British residents to investigate asexuality, defined as having no sexual attraction to a partner of either sex. Approximately 1% (n = 195) of the sample indicated they were asexual. A number of factors were related to asexuality, including gender (i.e., more women than men), short stature, low education, low socioeconomic status, and poor health. Asexual women also had a later onset of menarche relative to sexual women. The results suggest that a number of pathways, both biological and psychosocial, contribute to the development of asexuality.
Asexuality has been the subject of recent academic (A. F. Bogaert, 2004) and public (e.g., New Scientist; CNN) discourse. This has raised questions about the conceptualization and definition of asexuality. Here the author reviews some of these issues, discusses asexuality from a sexual orientation point of view (i.e., as a lack of sexual attraction), and reviews the similarities and differences between this definition and related phenomena (e.g., hypoactive sexual desire disorder). Finally, the author concludes that the term asexuality should not necessarily be used to describe a pathological or health-compromised state.
Bogaert (2006) discussed whether asexuality, defined as a lack of sexual attraction, should be viewed as a dysfunction. He concluded that asexuality should not necessarily be viewed as a dysfunction. Here I review and expand on these arguments, including on the possible overlap with existing sexual dysfunctions (e.g., Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.) I also review existing research that bears on this question. For example, recent research (Bogaert, 2004, 2007) has suggested that physical health problems are not likely to be elevated in asexual people. Finally, I discuss what it might mean to have no sexual attraction to others, and whether some people who lack sexual attraction (but who still have sexual desire, e.g., masturbate) may have a paraphilia.
Asexuality can be defined as a lifelong lack of sexual attraction. Empirical research on asexuality reveals significantly lower self-reported sexual desire and arousal and lower rates of sexual activity; however, the speculation that there may also be an impaired psychophysiological sexual arousal response has never been tested. The aim of this study was to compare genital (vaginal pulse amplitude; VPA) and subjective sexual arousal in asexual and non-asexual women. Thirty-eight women between the ages of 19 and 55 years (10 heterosexual, 10 bisexual, 11 homosexual, and 7 asexual) viewed neutral and erotic audiovisual stimuli while VPA and self-reported sexual arousal and affect were measured. There were no significant group differences in the increased VPA and self-reported sexual arousal response to the erotic film between the groups. Asexuals showed significantly less positive affect, sensuality-sexual attraction, and self-reported autonomic arousal to the erotic film compared to the other groups; however, there were no group differences in negative affect or anxiety. Genital-subjective sexual arousal concordance was significantly positive for the asexual women and non-significant for the other three groups, suggesting higher levels of interoceptive awareness among asexuals. Taken together, the findings suggest normal subjective and physiological sexual arousal capacity in asexual women and challenge the view that asexuality should be characterized as a sexual dysfunction.
Abstract: Asexuality is becoming ever more widely known and yet it has received relatively little attention from within sociology. Research in the area poses particular challenges because of the relatively recent emergence of the asexual community, as well as the expanding array of terms and concepts through which asexuals articulate their differences and affirm their commonalities. This article presents the initial findings of a mixed-methods research project, which involved semi-structured interviews, online questionnaires and a thematic analysis of online materials produced by members of the asexual community. The aim was to understand self-identified asexuals in their own terms so as to gain understanding of the lived experience of asexuals, as well as offering a subjectively adequate grounding for future research in the area.
This article examines how women consciously choosing asexuality might inform both radical feminist politics and anarchic concepts of positive and negative liberty. By resituating some of the lesser-known narratives of the 1960s’ and 1970s’ radical feminist movement (e.g. Valerie Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto and Boston’s Cell 16 and No More Fun and Games), asexuality is shown to disrupt key intersections between sexuality and the state, particularly institutions that control reproduction, pleasure, and women’s bodies. Using interview data with Cell 16 members, content analysis of early radical feminist writings, and theoretical and historical analyses of separatism, the piece argues that, by removing themselves from sexuality, women can take a more anarchic stance against the entire institution of sex, thereby working toward more nihilistic, anti-reproduction, anti-family goals that severely disrupt commonly held assumptions about sex, gender, and power.
The relation between the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals (DSMs) and asexuality is likely to constitute a prolific direction in research, especially because of the diagnostic category ‘hypoactive sexual desire disorder’ (HSDD). This article investigates the concept of sexual desire as outlined by psychiatry and explores the ways in which asexuality disrupts that knowledge. By extension, I consider the model of sexuality that the DSM vehiculates. The manuals themselves provide no measures, no scales, and no defined norms, yet, simultaneously, assume a normative sexuality against which all others can be measured and classified. This article discusses the conceptualisation of ‘sexual dysfunctions’ in the DSM, of which HSDD is a part, and questions how it operates in clinical research into asexuality. I also pay attention to the clause of ‘personal distress’ in HSDD, since it appears to be one of the main differences between HSDD and asexuality. HSDD, asexuality, and the role played by the DSM poses questions such as what discourses, forms of knowledge, and institutions, have shaped, silenced, and eventually erased, asexuality.
This article draws attention to the constitutive mechanisms of asexual identity. It identifies a shift in expert discourse: a move away from pathology towards recognition of asexual identity. While this discursive shift, propelled by recent research in psychology and sexology, could pave the way for the inclusion of asexuals in public culture, it also reaffirms dominant terms and formations pertaining to sexuality and intimacy. The article argues that the discursive formation of a new asexual identity takes place through a process of objectification and subjectification/subjection at the interface between expert disciplines and activism. The recognition of identity is constitutive of subjects that are particularly suitable for self-regulation within the parameters of (neo)liberal citizenship. Yet, at the same time, the discursive shift also makes room for critical intervention akin to queer critique of naturalised gender and sexuality norms. The recognition of asexual identity could serve to destabilise the sexual regime (of truth) that privileges sexual relationships against other affiliations and grants sexual-biological relationships a status as primary in the formation of family and kinship relations. The article concludes that asexual identity encourages us to imagine other pathways of affiliation and other concepts of personhood, beyond the tenets of liberal humanism – gesturing instead towards new configurations of the human and new meanings of sexual citizenship.
This article examines representations of lesbian nonsexuality in the film The Kids Are All Right and in responses to the film by feminist and queer scholars. In some moments, the film offers a limited endorsement of lesbian nonsexuality, placing pressure on the category lesbian to include nonsexuality and asexuality. However, in their responses to the film, many feminist and queer scholars rejected nonsexuality as an aspect of lesbian experience, placing pressure on the category lesbian to exclude nonsexual and asexual women. Asexual activism challenges scholars to question their sex-normative commitments and to keep the category lesbian open and flexible.
Since around 2000, asexuality – conceptualised as a sexual orientation – has begun to emerge as an identity and a movement. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), which emerged in the late 1970s with the rise of sex therapy and is currently listed in the DSM, has gained increasing attention – promotion and a backlash of criticism – with the increased influence of the pharmaceutical industry in sex research. The relationship of these categories has often been noted but largely unexplored, and when explored, authors have tended to focus only on how much they do or do not overlap. This article examines the relationships and differences between asexuality and HSDD by examining the histories of each, the conceptual sources that each has primarily drawn on (various clinical/medical traditions vs. LGBT discourses and reactions against dominant beliefs about sexuality that asexuals find incongruent with their experiences); it examines how each functions in the primary contexts where they are used (asexual spaces and clinicians' offices, respectively) and in larger social discourses.
This paper investigates the existence of asexuality or ace identity. The aim of the paper is twofold, to examine the emergence of a seemingly impossible identity and to consider the consequences of an asexual space in a sexual discourse. Since the term ‘asexual’ proves problematic in its dependence on the existence of sexuality, the first half of the paper attempts to renegotiate a definition of asexuality, focusing on the power of the term “ace”. I then explore the work of three exemplary authors, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Lillian Faderman, and Michael Foucault, who prove successful in constructing an alternative discourse to the dominant sexual regime. Using their work, I argue that not only does an asexual space help individuals articulate their existence; it also creates resistance against the dominant power regime. Outside of academia, I argue that technology takes the reins, as the Asexual Visibility and Education Network’s (AVEN) online presence continues to raise awareness and expand the asexual community.
This is the first known publication on asexuality. Asexuality is defined a little differently than in modern usage. She distinguishes autoerotic women (women who masturbate but don’t desire sex) from asexual women (women with desire for neither.) In current usage, both of these groups are contained under the term asexual. Also, she defines asexuality in terms of sexual preference rather than sexual attraction or asexual self-identification. Her data come from letters to the editor in women’s magazines in the 1970’s. Even though this chapter is almost 30 years old, many of the points are quite similar to ones made by members of the asexual community several decades later. The book may be a little hard to get a hold of.
Abstract: This essay explores normative regulations of disabled people’s sexuality and its relationship with asexuality through narratives of disabled individuals. While asexuality has been persistently criticized as a damaging myth imposed on disabled people, individuals with disabilities who do not identify as sexual highlight the inseparable intersection between normality and sexuality. Disabled and asexual identity and its narratives reveal that asexuality is an embodiment neither to be eliminated, nor to be cured, and is a way of living that may or may not change. Claims for the sexual rights of desexualized minority groups mistakenly target asexuality and endorse a universal and persistent presence of sexual desire. The structurally and socially enforced asexuality and desexualization are distinguished from an asexual embodiment and perspective disidentifying oneself from sexuality.
Although biases against homosexuals (and bisexuals) are well established, potential biases against a largely unrecognized sexual minority group, asexuals, has remained uninvestigated. In two studies (university student and community samples) we examined the extent to which those not desiring sexual activity are viewed negatively by heterosexuals. We provide the first empirical evidence of intergroup bias against asexuals (the so-called “Group X”), a social target evaluated more negatively, viewed as less human, and less valued as contact partners, relative to heterosexuals and other sexual minorities. Heterosexuals were also willing to discriminate against asexuals (matching discrimination against homosexuals). Potential confounds (e.g., bias against singles or unfamiliar groups) were ruled out as explanations. We suggest that the boundaries of theorizing about sexual minority prejudice be broadened to incorporate this new target group at this critical period, when interest in and recognition of asexuality is scientifically and culturally expanding.
In this paper we use data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) to ascertain and analyze patterns of asexuality in the United States. We endeavor to extend the earlier work of Bogaert (2004) on this topic, which focused on patterns of asexuality in Great Britain. Using a social constructionist perspective to study asexuality, we conceptualize and measure the phenomenon in several ways, according to behavior, desire, and self-identification. We use the NSFG respondent sampling weights to produce several sets of unbiased estimates of the percentages of persons in the U.S. population, aged 15-44, who are asexual; each set is based on one or more of the various definitions of asexuality. Finally, we describe some of the characteristics of the asexual population using logistic regression.
The term “asexual” has been defined in many different ways and asexuality has received very little research attention. In a small qualitative study (N = 4), individuals who self-identified as asexual were interviewed to help formulate hypotheses for a larger study. The second larger study was an online survey drawn from a convenience sample designed to better characterize asexuality and to test predictors of asexual identity. A convenience sample of 1,146 individuals (N = 41 self-identified asexual) completed online questionnaires assessing sexual history, sexual inhibition and excitation, sexual desire, and an open-response questionnaire concerning asexual identity. Asexuals reported significantly less desire for sex with a partner, lower sexual arousability, and lower sexual excitation but did not differ consistently from non-asexuals in their sexual inhibition scores or their desire to masturbate. Content analyses supported the idea that low sexual desire is the primary feature predicting asexual identity.
Abstract: This article provides a discussion of the implications that asexuality, as an identity category emerging in the West, carries for sexuality. Asexuality provides an exciting forum for revisiting questions of sexual normativity and examining those sex acts which are cemented to appear ‘natural’ through repetition, in the discursive system of sexusociety. Drawing especially on feminist and postmodern theories, I situate asexuality as both a product of and reaction against our sexusocial, disoriented postmodern here and now. This article also addresses the question of whether or not, and on what terms, asexuality may be considered a resistance against sexusociety.
Abstract: Asexuality, quickly becoming a burgeoning sexual identity category and subject of academic inquiry, relies at this budding moment of identity demarcation on a series of scientific studies that seek to ‘discover’ the truth of asexuality in and on the body. This article considers the existing scientific research on asexuality, including both older and more obscure mentions of asexuality as well as contemporary studies, through two twin claims: (1) that asexuality, as a sexual identity, is entirely specific to our current cultural moment – that it is in this sense culturally contingent, and (2) that scientific research on asexuality, while providing asexuality with a sense of credibility, is also shaping the possibilities and impossibilities of what counts as asexuality and how it operates. In the first section, I consider how older scientific research on asexuality, spanning from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, is characterized by a disinterest in asexuality. Next, turning to recent work on asexuality, the beginning of which is marked by Anthony Bogaert’s 2004 study, I demonstrate how asexuality becomes ‘discovered’, mapped, and pursued by science, making it culturally intelligible even while often naturalizing, in the process, what I argue are harmful sexual differences.
In this short afterward, Ela Przybylo reflects on prevailing trends within asexuality studies, suggesting that consistent features are emerging within an otherwise diverse interdisciplinary
field. It is increasingly possible to construe asexuality studies as what Bogaert (2012) calls ‘a new lens’, with important theoretical and methodological implications, which will be of potential utility to researchers working on a broad array of issues relating to sexuality and society.
Sexuality is generally considered an important aspect of selfhood. Therefore, individuals who do not experience sexual attraction, and who embrace an asexual identity, are in a unique position to inform the social construction of sexuality. This study explores the experiences of asexual individuals utilizing open ended internet survey data from 102 self-identified asexual people. In this article I describe several distinct aspects of asexual identities: the meanings of sexual, and therefore, asexual behaviors, essentialist characterizations of asexuality, and lastly, interest in romance as a distinct dimension of sexuality. These findings have implications not only for asexual identities, but also for the connections of asexuality with other marginalized sexualities.
Participants were recruited from AVEN and asked to fill out an open ended questionnaire. The focus is on asexual identity, and this qualitative study was based on a much larger sample size than the one used in Prause and Graham (2007). I felt that one weakness was that the author assumed that all people who identify as asexual regard themselves as not sexual. In my own experience, some asexuals feel that they are 'not sexual' but not all do. My impression is that this assumption may have been true in earlier parts of the asexual community's history and is sometimes communicated in presentations of asexuality.
Data from the same study are used to explore the relationship between asexuality and polyamory.
Abstract: While same-sex marriage debates have captured public attention, it is but one component of a broader discussion regarding the role of marriage in a changing society. To inform this discussion, I draw on qualitative, Internet survey data from 102 self-identified asexual individuals. I find that asexual relationships are complicated and nuanced in ways that have implications for a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer (LGBTQ) political agenda, including same-sex marriage recognition. In addition, findings indicate that assumptions of sex and sexuality in relationships are problematic and that present language for describing relationships is limiting. Findings suggest a social justice agenda for marginalized sexualities should be broader in scope than same-sex marriage.
Using data from the same study as the above cited paper, the author discusses the question asked in the title.
Although there has been increasing interest in asexuality during the last decade, still little is known on this topic. In order to define asexuality, three different approaches have been proposed: a definition of asexuality based on sexual behavior, one on sexual desire/sexual attraction, one on self-identification, and one on a combination of these. Depending on the definition used, reported prevalence rates range from 0.6% to 5.5%. In this article, characteristics of asexuality are presented and biological, psychological and socio-demographic factors associated with asexuality are reviewed. Given the suggestion of existing overlap with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), special attention is paid to similarities and differences between this condition and asexuality. It is further noted that theoretical models to understand (the etiology) of asexuality are underdeveloped.
Human asexuality is defined as a lack of sexual attraction to anyone or anything, and preliminary evidence suggests that it may best be defined as a sexual orientation. As asexual individuals may face the same social stigma experienced by gay, lesbian and bisexual persons, it follows that asexual individuals may experience higher rates of psychiatric disturbance that have been observed among these non-heterosexual individuals. This study explored mental health correlates and interpersonal functioning and compared asexual, non-heterosexual and heterosexual individuals on these aspects of mental health. Analyses were limited to Caucasian participants only. There were significant differences among groups on several measures, including depression, anxiety, psychoticism, suicidality and interpersonal problems, and this study provided evidence that asexuality may be associated with higher prevalence of mental health and interpersonal problems. Clinical implications are indicated, in that asexual individuals should be adequately assessed for mental health difficulties and provided with appropriate interventions that are sensitive to their asexual identity.
Human asexuality is defined as a lack of sexual attraction to anyone or anything and it has been suggested that it may be best conceptualized as a sexual orientation. Non-right-handedness, fraternal birth order, and finger length ratio (2D:4D) are early neurodevelopmental markers associated with sexual orientation. We conducted an Internet study investigating the relationship between self-identification as asexual, handedness, number of older siblings, and self-measured finger-lengths in comparison to individuals of other sexual orientation groups. A total of 325 asexuals (60 men and 265 women; M age, 24.8 years), 690 heterosexuals (190 men and 500 women; M age, 23.5 years), and 268 non-heterosexuals (homosexual and bisexual; 64 men and 204 women; M age, 29.0 years) completed online questionnaires. Asexual men and women were 2.4 and 2.5 times, respectively, more likely to be non-right-handed than their heterosexual counterparts and there were significant differences between sexual orientation groups in number of older brothers and older sisters, and this depended on handedness. Asexual and non-heterosexual men were more likely to be later-born than heterosexual men, and asexual women were more likely to be earlier-born than non-heterosexual women. We found no significant differences between sexual orientation groups on measurements of 2D:4D ratio. This is one of the first studies to test and provide preliminary empirical support for an underlying neurodevelopmental basis to account for the lack of sexual attraction characteristic of asexuality.
- Haefner, C. (2011). Asexual scripts: A grounded theory inquiry into the intrapsychic scripts asexuals use to negotiate romantic relationships>Asexual scripts: A grounded theory inquiry into the intrapsychic scripts asexuals use to negotiate romantic relationships. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto, California.
Abstract: This grounded theory inquiry sought to generate a mid-range theory proposing how asexuals negotiate romantic relationships. Two online surveys were posted on the Asexuality and Visibility Education Network (AVEN) website. Sixty-four participants completed either 1 or both of the surveys for a total of 74 responses. As demonstrated through thick description culled from the data, an important feature of negotiating romantic relationships for the participants in this study was a process called naming. There were 3 areas of naming found in the datAa: Naming the Norm, Naming Asexuality in Relationship, and Naming Asexuality for Self. Though the areas of naming identified in this study represent the internalized meaning of being asexual in a sexualized society, the areas of naming also correspond to the 3 categories of scripting identified by Simon and Gagnon and explained in sexual script theory (SST). The areas of naming suggest that the heteronormative paradigm, with its prescriptive model of what a romantic relationship is and how individuals should engage in romantic relationships, affects asexuals at many levels including experiencing themselves as different from the norm, engaging in or choosing not to engage in romantic relationships, and perceiving themselves as asexual beings.
- McClave, Caroline. 2013. Asexuality as a spectrum: A national probability sample comparison to the sexual community in the UK. MA Thesis.
- Przybylo, E. (2011). Asexuality and the feminist politics of 'not doing it.' MA Thesis.
- Sundrud, J. L. (2011). Performing asexuality through narratives of sexual identity. MA Thesis.
- Yule, M. A. (2011). Furthering our understanding of asexuality: An investigation into the biological markers of asexuality, and the development of the asexuality identification scale. MA Thesis.
This thesis makes a contribution to the burgeoning study of the sexual identity category and sexual orientation of asexuality by arguing for its political valence and feminist potentiality. Offering a feminist reading of scientific texts on asexuality, and revisiting feminist radical texts from the late sixties and early seventies, I make the claim that asexuality is possible and intelligible only in our very specific Western discursive context, a context saturated with the sexual, coital, and heterosexual imperatives. Assessing that asexuality is both limited and enabled by dominant sexual discourses and that asexuality as a sexual orientation has not been discursively available in the past, this thesis suggests that feminist iterations of asexuality contribute key insights to the gendered politics at work behind ‘not doing it.’
This thesis explores the social construction of asexual identities through everyday narrative performances and critically examines the marginalizing effects of heteronormative discourses. This thesis posits narrative performance as a framework for understanding asexual identities within a heteronormative society. Drawing upon oral history and ethnographic methodologies, this thesis examines the narrative performances of three self-identified asexuals and explores four themes within each narrative: 1) the breach of heteronormative expectations, 2) the creation of commonality among individuals within the asexual community, 3) the negotiation of heteronormative discourses within the family, and 4) the construction of future-oriented liminoid narratives of asexuality. This thesis advances the claim that asexuality is a social identity by which asexuals narrate their past within a heteronormative society and envision a queer future.
Human asexuality is defined as an absence of sexual attraction to anyone. Approximately 1% of the population is thought to be asexual. However, there has been a paucity of research into correlates of asexuality as well as into how asexuality is best conceptualized. This is in part due to logistical difficulties in recruiting and identifying representative samples of asexuals. Because of the low prevalence rate of asexuality, and the relatively recent emergence of asexual communities, many individuals who lack sexual attraction may not self-identify as asexual. Previous studies have recruited asexual participants via online web-communities, and relied on self-identification as asexual, which may result in non-representative sampling. The purpose of this study was two-fold. Firstly, in response to continuing debate as to whether asexuality is better understood as a sexual orientation or as a sexual dysfunction, Study 1 aimed to investigate the claim that asexuality would best be conceptualized as a sexual orientation in a large internet sample. Biological markers such as finger length ratios, handedness, and older siblings have may be related to prenatal development, and have been linked to sexual orientation. Asexual men and women were more likely to be non-right-handed than their heterosexual counterparts, and there were significant differences between sexual orientation groups on the number of older brothers and older sisters, and this differed depending on handedness. We found no significant differences between sexual orientation groups on measurements of 2D:4D ratio. However, this is likely due to the relatively small sample size. This is the first study to test and provide empirical support for an underlying biological etiology to account for the lack of sexual attraction characteristic of asexuality. Study 2 presents the development of a brief, selfreport measure of asexuality. Initial testing of questionnaire items identified by an expert panel was followed by a study aimed at further refining the questionnaire. Based on discriminant analysis as well as reliability and validity tests, a 10-item measure was identified, and was found to be able to distinguish between sexual and asexual individuals. This measure will be used to obtain more representative samples of asexuals in future research.
Posters about asexuality
- Chasin C. J. (2008, June). A discursive look at the friend/partner distinction: Implications for asexual people.. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychological Society, Montreal, Quebec.
- Bedley, C. , 2009-08-08. (A)Sexuality: Challenging What it Means to be Sexual. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Hilton San Francisco, San Francisco, CA Online
- Carrigan, M. (2011). Asexuality and sexual culture. Presentation at Spotlight on Asexuality. October 24, 2011. Warwick, UK.
- Chasin, C. D. (2013, November). Defining asexuality into (or out of) its radical potential. In Embodying Asexuality. Symposim presented with S. M. Metzger, & C. M. Labuski [moderated by K. Gupter] at the annual meeting of the National Women's Studies Association, Cincinnati, Ohio.
- Cormier-Otaño, O. (2011). Doing without: A therapist's findings. Presentation at Spotlight on Asexuality. October 24, 2011. Warwick, UK.
- Hinderliter, A. C. (2011). What sort of thing is asexuality?. Presentation at Spotlight on Asexuality. October 24, 2011. Warwick, UK.
- Pöll, M. (2011). Asexual intimacies. Presentation at Spotlight on Asexuality. October 24, 2011. Warwick, UK.
- Poston, D. L. and Baumle, A. K. , 2006-08-11 "Patterns of Asexuality in the
United States" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Montreal Convention Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Online
- Titman, N. (2012). Asexuality BC. Presentation. Presentation given at WorldPride Asexuality Conference. July 8, 2012. London, UK.
Very little scholarly attention has been directed towards the study of asexuality, and what attention has been given has conceptualized asexuality in direct opposition to sexuality. I argue that rather than conceiving of asexuality as outside the realm of sexuality, scholars interested in asexuality should instead reframe explorations of asexuality within the realm of sexuality. By doing so, it becomes imperative to take into consideration the complex ways in which the dimensions of intimacy, romance and emotional connectedness shape and are shaped by the desires, behaviors and identities of (a)sexual beings. Relying primarily on discursive analysis of an online asexual community, this is a first attempt at showing how self-identified asexual persons construct asexual identities with an emphasis on the intimacy, romance and emotional connection asexual partners share.
Abstract: Abstract: Academic work has largely defined asexuality as lifelong lack of sexual attraction. Considering the psychiatric diagnosis of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), this definition is politically safe. It clearly distinguishes between a) “real” asexuals whose embodies experiences should be respected and left intact), and b) “real” HSDD sufferers who should be “fixed” through clinical intervention. However, this distinction conceals other normatively unacknowledged embodied asexualities, and avoids questioning why people (especially women) are distressed about not wanting sex, in a context of compulsory sexuality. Social change challenges HSDD's claim on the bodies and minds of asexuals and women.
Undergraduate Research Papers
- Andersson, K. (2010). Discovering and Understanding Asexuality. Bachelor Thesis
Lund University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Lund University, Norway
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate three aspects of asexuality. This was achieved through conducting six interviews with self identified asexuals, an observation on a meeting for asexuals, an analysis of what functions the two organisations for asexuals, Nätverket Asexuell and AVEN have, and a content analysis concerning how people talk about a lack of sexual lust on the internet. The conclusions are that asexuality for my interviewees is about not wanting to have sex and not experience sexual lust. They had a number of medical explanations for their asexuality, even if they added that they were not sure why they were asexual. They had always, or for a very long time, known that they were different from others when it came to sexual lust, but when they found the term asexuality they found an explicit identity. The organisations Nätverket Asexuell and AVEN, Asexuality Visibility and Education Network, two main functions is to be a political organ for making asexuality more
known, and a place were asexuals can meet and exchange experiences and knowledge. This seem to have similarities with for instance lesbian and gay movements.
Non-English Language Articles
- Brigeiro, Mauro . 2013. A emergência da assexualidade: notas sobre política sexual, ethos científico e o desinteresse pelo sexo. (The emergence of asexuality: notes on sex politics,
the scientific ethos, and disinterest towards sex). Sexualidad, Salud y Sociedad
Revista Latinamericana, 14. 253-283.
- Munarríz, L. A. (2010). La identidad ‘asexual’. Gazeta de Antropologia, nr. 26/2, Articulo 40 Murcia University, Spain
- Portillo, W.; Paredes, R. (2011). Asexualidad. Revista Digital Universitaria, Volumen 12 Número 3 • ISSN: 1067-6079 Universidad Autonoma de Mexico
- OLIVEIRA, Elisabete R. B. Assexualidade e medicalização na mídia televisiva norte-americana In: VIEIRA. T. R. (org) Minorias Sexuais: direitos e preconceitos.1 ed. Brasília : Editora Consultex, 2012
- Lemos, Diana da Silva Couto Manero de, (2012). Assexualidade: factores de vulnerabilidade psicológica. Masters thesis.
(English) Abstract: This paper discusses the emergence of asexuality. I analyze how sexual politics and the production of knowledge combine in online virtual communities whose members self-identify as ‘asexual,’ and on papers on the subject published in scholarly journals. The connections between formulations produced by asexual, and those by scholars and scientists are the most idiosyncratic and exciting aspects of this emergence. As a kind of hinge, the thread mentioned shows the crosscuts and concerns configured around the topic of sexual disinterest today. I seek to understand how arguments and concepts migrate, are de-territorialized and re-territorialized, and by virtue of those movements become set. In the case study, the agendas of activism and the advancement of science converge, and often mingle. These findings lead to reflection on the scientific ethos and its importance to the field of sexuality studies, as well as to marginalized groups, regarding the ideal of sexual democracy, about the fluidity of boundaries between lay people and experts.
Abstract: An increasing group of people define themselves as "asexual". They say that they do not feel sexual attraction either for men or for
women. They do not regard themselves as heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. They feel like normal people and claim the social recognition of the sexual rights in all their variants, including their own, which is the asexual identity. To achieve this, they havecreated a web-page: Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN). This webpage represents a virtual community which has spread all over the world. An increasing number of participants interchange opinions and support each other in order to keep on living without sex while trying not to provoke trauma or suffering. Against this background, we deal with the following question: Is the concept of "asexual" identity appropriate to work out a theoretical model of sexual orientation of the members in our society?
Abstract: Approximately 1% of the population self-identifies as asexual. These individuals are physical and psychological healthy woman and men that report significantly less desire for sex and lower sexual arousal. A similar proportion of men and women identified themselves as asexual.
However, asexuals have a desire to form intimate romantic long-term stable relationships. In several mammalian species males will not mate despite the fact that they area repeatedly exposed to sexually receptive females. These non copulating males could be the equivalent to asexual individuals, suggesting that the lack of desire and sexual arousal characteristic of the asexuals has an important biological component.
A presente investigação procurou contribuir para a compreensão da Assexualidade, especificamente, pretendeu verificar se existiam diferenças significativas ao nível de crenças, personalidade e presença de psicopatologia entre pessoas Assexuais e pessoas não Assexuais, em suma procurou-se compreender quais os factores psicológicos que estão associados a esta área pouco explorada da variabilidade sexual. Um total 170 indivíduos do sexo feminino maiores de 18 anos participaram no estudo. Foram constituídos dois grupos: Grupo de Assexuais (n=85) (que se consideram assexuais) e Grupo de Controle (n=85) (mulheres não assexuais). Todos os participantes responderam a um questionário on-line que era constituído por: Questionário introdutório, Questionário das Crenças Sexuais Disfuncionais (SDBQ; P. Nobre, Pinto-Gouveia & Gomes, 2003), Breve Inventário de Sintomas (BSI; Derogatis & Spencer, 1982) e o NEO FFI (Costa e McCrae, 1992). Os resultados indicaram que as mulheres assexuais apresentam significativamente menor frequência de actividade sexual e maior grau de crença e prática religiosa comparativamente ao grupo de controlo. Relativamente às crenças sexuais, os dados indicaram que as mulheres assexuais apresentaram significativamente mais crenças sexuais disfuncionais (conservadorismo, desejo como pecado, crenças relacionadas com a idade, crenças relacionadas com a imagem corporal). No que concerne à personalidade, concluiu-se que as mulheres assexuais apresentaram níveis significativamente superiores na dimensão de neuroticismo e inferiores nas dimensões de extroversão e conscienciosidade. Finalmente os grupos não se distinguiram relativamente à presença de sintomatologia psicopatológica. De uma forma geral, os resultados obtidos sugerem que a assexualidade é independente de mecanismos psicopatológicos e que os traços de personalidade e as crenças sexuais podem funcionar como factores predisponentes para a sua manifestação.
The present investigation sought to contribute to the understanding of the asexuality, specifically, sought to check if there were significant differences on the levels of beliefs, personality and psychopathology between asexual and non asexual women, in short, we tried to understand what psychological factors are associated to this almost unexplored area of the sexual variability. A total of 170 females with more than 18 years of age participated in the study. Two groups were created: Asexual Group (n = 85) (females who consider themselves asexual) and Control Group (n = 85) (non asexual females). All participants completed an online questionnaire that was consisted of: Introductory Questionnaire, Sexual Dysfunctional Beliefs Questionnaire (SDBQ; P. Nobre & Pinto-Gouveia Gomes, 2003), Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI; Derogatis & Spencer, 1982) and the NEO FFI (Costa and McCrae, 1992). The results showed that asexual females have lower frequency of sexual activity and are more believers and religion practitioners than the Control Group. As regards to sexual beliefs the results indicated that asexual females endorse significantly more dysfunctional sexual beliefs (conservatism, desire as a sin, age related beliefs and body image beliefs ). Regarding personality, results indicated that asexual females present significantly higer levels of neuroticism and lower levels of extraversion and conscientiousness. Finally the groups were not distinguished in relation to the presence of psychopathological symptomatology. In general, the results suggest that asexuality is independent from psychopathology mechanisms and that personality traits and sexual beliefs may work as predisposing factors for its manifestation.