Monday, August 29, 2011

Asexual Awareness Week 2011 to include screenings of “(A)sexual” documentary

For Immediate Release

Asexual Awareness Week 2011 to include screenings of “(A)sexual” documentary

August 29, 2011 – Asexual Awareness Week is excited to announce that part of this year’s events will include several screenings of the new documentary “(A)sexual”. The film will be shown in cities around the United States in the month of October. Organizers who would like to bring the film to their city should contact sbb@asexualawarenessweek.com for more information.

A fundraising campaign to pay for the copies of the film, as well as an online advertising campaign, will be announced later this week. The fundraising goal is $1,000. “I know the asexual community can raise this money to secure these screenings of (A)sexual and the online advertising campaign,” said Sara Beth Brooks, who is helping organize the screenings. “Angela Tucker and Arts Engine are great allies. We are working together to make sure that this film is used as a resource to promote awareness of the asexual community in as many cities as possible.”

Cities that have already confirmed screenings include Las Vegas, NV, and Bloomington, IN. More cities will be announced as they are added.

Other projects that will be happening during this year’s Asexual Awareness Week include a demographic survey called the “Asexy Census,” a series of guest blogs, a small online advertising campaign, and a website. The committee has also drafted open letters to academic researchers and the LGBT community which will come into circulation soon. The website is expected to launch within the next week and will be at www.asexualawarenessweek.com.

Asexual Awareness Week is an international grassroots project to promote awareness about the asexual community across the globe.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Feminste and the recent "pedophilia conference"

Earlier this week, Salon ran an article called Redefining pedophilia with pedophiles' help about a symposium held this Wednesday in Baltimore (not Boston) called Pedophilia, Minor-Attracted Persons, and the DSM: Issues and Controversies that was organized by B4U-ACT, a 501(c)(3) organization with aims to make compassionate mental health care available for minor attracted people.

Because there has been a lot of misinformation about the symposium swirling about, B4U-ACT recently posted on their website a more accurate version. It opens:
The purpose of B4U-ACT's August 17 symposium in Baltimore was to contribute to a more comprehensive and accurate DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) by bringing together a range of clinicians, researchers, academics, and minor-attracted persons to discuss key issues regarding the entry for pedophilia. This was successfully accomplished, as 38 people participated by listening intently to stimulating presentations and contributing to lively discussions.

B4U-ACT’s position is that the DSM should be based on accurate information about people in the general population. It should be "sensitive to the needs of clinicians and their patients" (as advocated by the American Psychiatric Association, or APA). Minor-attracted people should be involved in its revision (also advocated by the APA).

B4U-ACT believes that everyone benefits when a variety of reasoned perspectives is heard. Therefore, speakers were allowed to express their views freely and openly. B4U-ACT does not necessarily endorse all of the views expressed. Our policy of free and open expression is in support of the APA's position that DSM revisions should involve input from "diverse perspectives, disciplines, and areas of expertise," and that "patient and family" groups be involved. Speakers and attendees specialized in psychiatry, ethics, psychology, philosophy, social work, linguistics, and gender studies.


Blogger Kristin Rawls authored a very prejudiced and misleading guest post on feministe.us called Salon Flubs Reporting on Child Predators. The author's motivation is clearly stated at the beginning:
I had an emotional—even a visceral—response to the article that I discuss here.

What this actually means is that because she had strong feelings, moral indignation is an acceptable substitute for actual facts and representing a group based prejudice-based stereotypes are an acceptable substitute for understanding actual human beings.

In terms of even basic factual issues, it can't even correctly identify the city the symposium took place in (it was in Baltimore, not Boston. B4U-ACT is based in Maryland--not Massachusetts--a fact that is very obvious to anyone who actually bothers to read their website. At the bottom, Rawls says:
*Speaking of which: Residents of Boston, had you heard that there’s a big pedophile convention going on in your town?

It was a one day symposium with 38 people in attendance.

The title demonstrates the assumption that "child predators" is a perfectly acceptable substitute for "people attracted to children." Now, the fact of the matter is that a large portion of MAPs obey the law. How many, we do not know for a number of reasons. First, if an MAP commits a horrific crime, it makes the news. If they abide by the law, we never hear about it. If they are actively working to help people in their communities, we never hear about it. Because of the truly hateful stereotypes about them, the vast majority are afraid to admit their attractions to anyone (even if they are law-abiding). The result is that most of us know virtually nothing about real-live MAPs and rely instead on images we get from sensation media reporting. Second, virtually all research on this population is based on people in the criminal justice system (which systematically excludes law-abiding individuals. A major reason for this is that the alternative is almost politically impossible in Anglo-America, although I hear that there's some important research on the subject coming out in Germany.) If you portray them as human beings, you'll take a lot of shit for it. Third, mandatory reporting laws make it unethical for researchers to ask the necessary questions to find out how many abide by the law.

People do not choose to be attracted to children any more than people choose to be attracted (or not) to men or women, or both or neither. We live in a society where MAPs, when coming to understand their attractions, only find images of "people like themselves" as being monsters, predators. (If you want to understand the effects this can have, go read pp. 4-7 of Understanding and addressing adult sexual attraction to children: A study of paedophiles in contemporary society by Sarah Goode.)

Later in the Rawls article, we find more hateful stereotypes:
To her credit, the author does hint at the fact that the conference might serve as a place for pedophiles to conspire and swop tips[about whatever it is she imagines they do]

Right, just like when Jewish people get together they swap tips on how to swindle people, or how when black men get together they swap tips on how to rape white women. (To justify this claim, there is a post from the website boychat, but it is interpreted through prejudicial lenses rather than by trying to actually understand. Having a YF [young friend] need not imply any sexual relationship. In fact, I know one MAP who finds that having boys in his live is a major part of how he refrains from acting sexually with them--his attraction isn't just sexual, it is also emotional, spiritual, and a number of other things. By focusing on the other forms of attraction, he is able to sublimate his sexual desires.)

At the end of the article Rawl's agenda becomes clear:

All I know is: Cue the Christian Right, because they’re about to be all over this story. I begged Cara to let me write this because we need to start talking about it before they pick it up and use it as one more piece of ammunition in their crusade against basic civil rights—and against families and children. We’re going to have to keep saying it until it no longer needs to be said: Gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans*, queer: These are not—and never will be—synonyms for “pedophile.”

First of all, if Rawls had actually done any research on this (and I'm talking about doing a search in google news), she would have found an article in the Daily Caller from Monday, Conference aims to normalize pedophilia, in which the person quoted more than any other actually condemns empathy.

Rawls point', boilled down to its core, is that treating people attracted to children as human beings in bad for her politics, and so feminists must rise up and dehumanize them. Attempts to get to know them as people (which this symposium provided opportunities for during lunch, breaks, and discussion periods) must be condemned. I do hope that this call to dehumanization is actively resisted.

To end this already long post, I'll post the entire piece that B4U-ACT has issued the following on their website:
Statement on August 17 Symposium

The purpose of B4U-ACT's August 17 symposium in Baltimore was to contribute to a more comprehensive and accurate DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) by bringing together a range of clinicians, researchers, academics, and minor-attracted persons to discuss key issues regarding the entry for pedophilia. This was successfully accomplished, as 38 people participated by listening intently to stimulating presentations and contributing to lively discussions.

B4U-ACT’s position is that the DSM should be based on accurate information about people in the general population. It should be "sensitive to the needs of clinicians and their patients" (as advocated by the American Psychiatric Association, or APA). Minor-attracted people should be involved in its revision (also advocated by the APA).

B4U-ACT believes that everyone benefits when a variety of reasoned perspectives is heard. Therefore, speakers were allowed to express their views freely and openly. B4U-ACT does not necessarily endorse all of the views expressed. Our policy of free and open expression is in support of the APA's position that DSM revisions should involve input from "diverse perspectives, disciplines, and areas of expertise," and that "patient and family" groups be involved. Speakers and attendees specialized in psychiatry, ethics, psychology, philosophy, social work, linguistics, and gender studies.

This kind of scholarly interaction is necessary in light of the numerous unresolved issues raised about the proposed DSM revisions by scholars, researchers, and minor-attracted people. Controversy has arisen over scientific issues, conceptual issues, the purpose of the DSM (to promote mental health vs. social control), and consequences of the DSM entry for society and the people being diagnosed. Information about these controversies can be found at:
http://b4uact.org/science/symp/2011/refs.htm#crit
http://www.asexualexplorations.net/home/paraphilia_bibliography

Speakers addressed a diverse range of crucial issues related to the DSM, and discussion was lively. Keynote speaker Dr. Fred Berlin (of Johns Hopkins University) provided a conceptual overview of pedophilia from a psychiatric viewpoint, and argued in favor of acceptance of and compassion for people who are attracted to minors, while at the same time rejecting adult-minor sexual activity. Dr. John Sadler (University of Texas) argued that diagnostic criteria for mental disorders should not be based on concepts of vice since such concepts are subject to shifting social attitudes and doing so diverts mental-health professionals from their role as healers. Dr. Nancy Potter (University of Louisville) analyzed the concept of "uptake"--that is, genuine listening--and argued that by giving uptake to minor-attracted people, those revising the DSM would strengthen DSM-5 and contribute to more ethical treatment, but that minor-attracted people must exhibit accuracy and sincerity in their testimony. Dr. Lisa Cohen (Albert Einstein College of Medicine) presented data on the psychological correlates of pedophilia based on forensic samples, and argued that use of non-forensic samples would help researchers separate factors related to feelings of attraction from those related to behavior, and support the development of improved diagnostic systems.

In the afternoon, Dr. Renee Sorrentino (Harvard Medical School) discussed legal, ethical, and medical consequences of the proposed DSM-5 entry for pedohebephilia. Andrew Hinderliter (University of Illinois) argued that the medicalization of social deviance blurs the boundary between the helping professions and the criminal justice system, creating the potential for psychiatry to become a means of controlling undesirables, rather than an agent of healing. Jacob Breslow (London School of Economics and Political Science) challenged assumptions about minors and sexuality which currently underlie policymaking and the DSM. Richard Kramer (the only speaker representing B4U-ACT), analyzed sources of stigma in the DSM, presented survey data regarding MAPs' feelings of stigma, and provided recommendations for revising the DSM to reduce stigma.

B4U-ACT is a 501(c)(3) organization that promotes communication and collaboration among minor-attracted persons, mental health professionals, and researchers. Its mission is to increase the availability of accurate information about minor-attracted persons and mental health services that focus on their mental health needs. Inaccurate negative stereotypes force minor-attracted people into hiding, leave young adolescents who are attracted to children hopeless with nowhere to turn, and do nothing to protect children. We have received emails from teenagers as young as 15 who were engaged in self-harming behavior or threatening suicide, and could talk to no one about it, because they were attracted to children. Making welcoming, informed, and empathetic mental health services available is the goal of B4U-ACT.

For more details about the symposium, see http://b4uact.org/science/symp/2011/index.htm. Please direct any questions to Richard Kramer at rkramer@b4uact.org.


For anyone reading this who isn't a regular reader of my blog, my name is on that list. I know what actually went on at the symposium because I was there. And it bears little resemblance to the vast majority of reporting I’ve seen on the matter.

(Comment: Since originally posting this article, I’ve edited and moved some stuff around, but the content remains mostly the same.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Three new articles on asexuality

The most recent issues of the journal Sexualities has three articles on asexuality.

Przybylo, E. (2011) Crisis and safety: The asexual in sexusociety. Sexualities, 14, 444-461.

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.




Carrigan, M. (2011)There’s more to life than sex? Difference and commonality within the asexual community. Sexualities, 14, 462-478.

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.


Kim, E-J. (2011). Asexuality in disability narratives, Sexualities, 14, 479-493.

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.