Thursday, April 22, 2010

Integrating asexuality into larger debates

I have recently come across two article that are not specifically about asexuality, but do address the issue in relation to larger academic and social debates. It will be interesting to see how these issues develop and how the study of asexuality can inform our understanding of sexuality more generally.

Hill, N. L. (2009). Affirmative Practice and Alternative Sexual Orientations: Helping Clients Navigate the Coming Out Process. Clinical Social Work Journal, 37, 346-356.

Abstract: Those who differ from the dominant heterosexual ideal of exclusively other-sex attraction and intimacy encounter unique challenges, such as the coming out process, during which individuals with alternative sexual orientations must explore, define, and disclose their orientations in a way straight individuals need not. This article focuses on how clinicians can aid clients throughout the coming out process in a way that affirms the full range of sexual orientations. Following an overview of alternative sexual orientations and models of the coming out process, a case example is used to illustrate how clinicians can help clients address three challenges of coming out: overcoming internalized biases; clarifying their sexual orientation and identity; and making decisions about disclosure.

Jutel, A. (2010). Framing disease: The example of female hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Social Science & Medicine, 70, 1084-1090.

Abstract: Disease classification is an important part in the process of medicalisation and one important tool by which medical authority is exerted. The demand for, or proposal of a diagnosis may be the first step in casting life's experiences as medical in nature. Aronowitz has written about how diagnoses result from social framing mechanisms (2008) and consensus (2001), while Brown (1995) has demonstrated a complex range of interactions between lay and professionals, institutions and industries which underpin disease discovery. In any case, there are numerous social factors which shape the diagnosis, and in turn, provide a mechanism by which medicalisation can be enacted. Focussing on diagnostic classification provides an important perspective on the human condition and its relationship to medicine. To illustrate how layers of social meaning may be concealed in a diagnosis, this paper uses as heuristic the relatively obscure diagnosis of Female Hyposexual Desire Disorder which is currently surfacing in medical and marketing literature as a frequent disorder worthy of concern. I describe how this diagnosis embodies long-standing fascination with female libido, a contemporary focus on female hypersexuality, and commercial interest of the pharmaceutical industry and its medical allies to reify low sexual urge as a pathological disorder in women. (c) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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