Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Recruiting participants for a study

Here's the description for a study being done by the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory that is wanting asexual participants:
This study will help researchers understand the potential biological underpinnings of sexuality in individuals of different sexual orientations. In this study, we will employ a series of questionnaires asking about physical and mental health, sexuality, and biological markers of sexual orientation.

We hope that the data from this study will help to further our understanding of the health correlates and biological features of sexual orientation, and impact on the greater community to decrease stigma associated with individuals of all sexual orientations.

If you are over 19 years of age, and identify as either asexual, heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual, please participate in this important research, which is described in more detail in the following consent form.

It takes about an hour to fill you. If you participate, you have the chance to win $100, and it should be very helpful in advancing our understanding of asexuality.

EDIT: This survey has been closed.

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Paper: Physiological and Subjective Sexual Arousal in Self-Identified Asexual Women

Brotto, L. A., & Yule, M. A. (in press). Physiological and Subjective Sexual Arousal in Self-Identified Asexual Women, Archives of Sexual Behavior, DOI: 10.1007/s10508-010-9671-7.

Abstract: 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.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Asexual Awareness Week

The week of September 20-24 (this Monday to this Friday) has been designated as Asexual Awareness Week, an online event to spur asexual visibility, especially through Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and somewhat with blogging.

As explained in this video the purpose of this is largely to create asexual visibility among people in the LGBT community, as they are probably our strongest potential ally in our vis/ed efforts.

As part of this campaign, a number of "Dear LGBT" videos have been created, many of these being a part of HPoA:

Dear LGBT -- With love, Aim
Dear LGBT Community - From, Heidi
Dear LGBT Community - Love, Jenni
Dear LGBT Community - Love, Ally
Dear LGBTQ - Love (THAT'S RIGHT), Arne
Dear LGBT, Smoochies- Sassy
Dear LGBTQ Community — Love, Wojtek

In addition to these, there have also been some additional videos:

Dear LGBT Community-From, Holly
Dear LGBT Community - Love, PyroNeko

In addition to these videos, there has been some substantial blogging work, including some guest posts at The Bilerico Project: The X-Factor and Redefining Intimacy. There have also been a number of individual blog posts.

One of the purposes of this is for people to be able to link to these on twitter and (I assume) Facebook.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Call for Papers: Asexual Studies

Call for Papers: Asexuality Studies

Asexuals are commonly defined as “a person who does not experience sexual attraction” and research estimates their prevalence at 1% of the population. Asexuality has been the subject of increasing media attention, with some high profile television and popular press coverage. This attention has stimulated academic interest in asexuality and considerable research is being conducted in a number of disciplines.

This volume will be an edited book focusing on all aspects of asexuality and the asexual community. It will collect cutting-edge research across all areas relating to this topic with the intention of constituting the foundational text for the burgeoning field of asexuality studies.
Papers are welcome from any discipline and on any topic relating to asexuality. Possible topics include:
- Identifying as asexual
- Experiences of living as asexual
- Social history of the asexual community
- Diversity within the asexual community
- Asexuality and the Internet
- Asexuality and romantic relationships
- Asexuality and wider sexual culture
- Medicalization of a/sexuality

If you have any questions or would like to discuss a submission, please contact m.a.carrigan@warwick.ac.uk

Submissions Due May 2011
Up to 8000 words

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A discursive look at the friend/partner distinction: Implications for asexual people

I am pleased to announce that Asexual Explorations is now hosting its first poster, so be sure to go take a look.

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.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pathology and Asexual Politics

I was invited to write a piece about my work regarding asexuality for the online magazine The Sociological Imagination, and I wrote a piece called Pathology and Asexual Politics, in which I address the relationship between asexuality and HSDD, as well as what approaches the asexual community and our allies can take. I've wanted to blog about this topic for some time, but kept having writers block. This article is an attempt on my part to articulate things I've been trying to make sense of for some time.

After the formation of the asexual community, it was not too long before the community became aware of the fact that in the DSM, there is a disorder about not being interested in sex. (The diagnosis is also in the ICD, but the ICD attracts less controversy). As one of the major political goals of the community is to convince people that there is nothing wrong with not being interested in sex, this diagnosis is not especially helpful for that goal.

In considering what kind of approach the asexual community should take toward the matter, one question that seems like a good starting place is whether asexuality is a sexual dysfunction. I have sometimes seen the question posed as an either/or: Is asexuality a sexual orientation or a sexual dysfunction? Some authors (e.g. Prause & Graham, 2007) have done data collection regarding asexuality and claimed that their results suggest that asexuality is not a sexual dysfunction. Such claims are likely good for our politics, but they make absolutely no sense to me.

After discussing the issue of how to define disorder, I continue:
As I do not think that asexuality objectively is or is not a sexual dysfunction, the question I think we should be asking is whether regarding it as such makes sense conceptually and pragmatically. Conceptually, I do not think that it does. Pragmatically, we need to be cautious—what effect, if any, this diagnosis has on asexuals is unknown. We simply do not have the data. Posing the question in this way motivates us to ask another essential for asexual politics: how is asexuality different from HSDD? There are two kinds of answers to this question: extensional and valuational/practical. Extensional differences—who fits which group—are often the only ones that come to mind. They are, for instance, the only ones addressed in Bogaert’s (2006) discussion of the matter. This line of thinking seems to stem from treating asexuality and HSDD as somehow “objectively existing” rather than as more nominalist type categories. I am more interested in valuational and practical differences.

One such difference is that HSDD focuses on lack of sexual desire, and asexuality on lack of sexual attraction. HSDD is a more negative valuation of sexual disinterest and asexuality a more neutral/positive one. HSDD was created by physicians (Kaplan, 1977; Leif, 1977) and is diagnosed by clinicians. The conceptualization “asexuality” was created by asexuals, and the designation—an identity—is self-assigned. Moreover, the conceptualizations HSDD and asexuality will give rise to very different research questions. However, one important similarity should be noted: lack of interest in sex often causes difficulties in people’s lives that they want help with. [3] Both asexual identity and HSDD are conceptualizations that exist to try to help people deal with these issues.

Also, the a few weeks ago, the same magazine published another article on asexuality that is well worth reading Reflections on a year spent studying asexuality by Mark Carrigan. I found especially interesting some of his comments about how asexuality can inform our understanding of sexuality more generally:
I think that a wider recognition of asexuality would inevitably give rise to a much deeper understanding of what it is to be sexual. Despite the pervasiveness with which the importance of sex is affirmed within our culture, we’re often profoundly inarticulate about the role that sex plays in our lives and why it is important to us. At least in terms of the younger generation, we’re far more likely to discuss sex (good sex, bad sex, weird sex ) then we are the place we presume it ought to occupy in our lives. We’re so prone to seeing sexuality as a marker of personal fulfilment that we rarely stop and ask ourselves where we, as individuals, stand in relation to it and what importance it genuinely holds in our lives. Crucially some of us don’t feel particularly free to say that, while we may want sex, it holds no great importance in our lives (at least not relative to other things like friends, romance and love).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Paper: Patterns of Asexuality in the United States

Poston, D. L., & Baumle, A. K. (2010). Patterns of Asexuality in the United States. Demographic Research, 23, 509-530.

Abstract: 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.

It is in an open access journal, so you don't have to pay anything to read it (or need a library with a subscription).