Thursday, September 22, 2011

Asexual scripts: A grounded theory inquiry into the intrapsychic scripts asexuals use to negotiate romantic relationships

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 (Unpublished doctoral dissertation).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.

The author identifies as asexual, and as far as I know, this is the first doctoral dissertation on asexuality. Expect it to be the first of many, as I am aware of several asexuals pursuing doctoral level degrees who are planning on doing their dissertations on asexuality.

Edit: I realized that I had forgotten to include a link, so I have now added one.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Asexual Awareness Week 2011 Census

As part of the preparation for Asexual Awareness Week 2011 next month, a census of the asexual community is being held and to goal is to have as many people to fill it out as possible.

This survey is only intended for people who identify as asexual, demisexual, gray-asexual, or any combination of these. If you do not identify as one or more of these, please do not take this survey. This survey is entirely anonymous, but if you are uncomfortable answering any question, please feel free not to answer it.

AAW2011 Asexual Community Census

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The upcoming PT election on AVEN

On AVEN, nominations are currently going on for the new Project Team (PT). Beginning this next term, there are a few important changes:
1) No one can be on PT and be an admod at the same time.
2) Terms are for 2 years, rather than one.
3) There are now four general positions and one position for a specific Research Contact position.
4) When someone steps down, their replacement will be elected to a 2 year term starting from when they were elected (which should help stagger elections so that to avoid the possibility of the whole team getting replaced all at once and thus not having anyone to show them the ropes.)

The requirements for being the Dedicated Research Contact are as follows:
Research is a little different to other PT activities, in that it requires a specialist on the team. Thus, to run for the position of Research Contact, the candidate must be qualified in a field relevant to asexual research. A minimal set of requirements are
(i) to hold or be in the process of obtaining a Masters Level degree or higher in a relevant field,
(ii) a familiarity with the existing research literature on the subject of asexuality,
(iii) a sound grasp of the field of online research ethics.

If anyone is interested in running for either of these positions, the nominations threads are here:

Project Team nominations (general positions)

Dedicated Research Contact nominations

Because of the research issues, I think that joining the PT can be a good way for undergrads and graduate students wanting to get involved in researching asexuality in a few years to get a feel for the field and to make contacts with people researching asexuality.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Asexuality and Mental Health

In honor of national suicide prevention week, I thought that I ought to share the results of some data I recently discovered.

Lucassen, M. F. G., Merry, S. N., Robinson, E. M., Denny, S., Clark, T., Ameratunga, S., & Crengle, S. (2011). Sexual attraction, depression, self-harm, suicidality and help-seeking behaviour in New Zealand secondary school students. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 45(5), 376-383.

Their analysis was based a large-scale sampling secondary students in New Zealand. The study required everyone taking it to identify themselves as either male or female (thus preventing analysis for transgender youth), and in the sexual orientation question, people were asked if they were sexually attracted to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, neither, or unsure. Around 2% said neither. (2.4% of those 15 or younger, and 0.7 of those 16 or older, although the population of asexuals is small enough that this still allows for considerable room for random error, especially as the 16 or older group was much smaller overall.)

Anyway, here are some numbers for asexuality and ethnicity (absolute number in the sample followed by percent of total in parentheses.)

NZ European 69 (1.3)
Maori 10 (1.3)
Pacific 531 (3.6)
Asian 768 (4.3)
Other 346 (2.1)

Neither-attracted had comparable levels of depressive symptoms as opposite-sex attracted people, which was considerably less than that of same-sex-attracted, both-sex-attracted, and unsure groups. The neither-attracted group had a rate comparable to (and sometimes lower than) the opposite-sex-attracted people for reported deliberate self-harming behavior, and having seriously thought about attempting suicide, and suicide attempts. Rates for same-sex-attracted, and both-sex-attracted youth was considerably higher. (The "unsure" group sometimes patterned with the heterosexual group and sometimes with the same-sex-attracted and opposite-sex-attracted groups.)

While it is problematic to try to generalize this data to other populations in other countries (although the trends they report on for heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual groups is similar to what has been found in the US), the data that we do have suggests that asexuals are not at elevated risk for suicide.