Monday, August 25, 2014

Maintaining the asexuality bibliography

When I first started my bibliography on asexuality, there were very few academic publications out there. Since then, the number of publications has increased enormously, and so has the rate at which articles are published. I've fallen behind in maintaining it. Partly, this is because there is a lot that has come out. Partly, this is because the whole thing is in need of a serious overhaul and I would like to develop a better method for maintaining it (especially now that, in my own writing, I've learned how awesome bibtex is).  I was curious if any readers would be interested in collaborating with me to help maintain the bibliography, and help make it more easy to update in the future.  If anyone would be interested in helping, that would be greatly appreciated.  If anyone who is familiar with bibtex and/or Python is interested in helping out, that would be even better.

Another reason that I've been behind on updating the bibliography is that I'm seriously questioning the value of having an exhaustive bibliography as the primarily bibliography for asexuality publications on my site.

For a long time, I attempted to treat all publications equally regardless of what I thought of the quality. I made a slight modification to this a few years later by putting a couple of recommended starting places at the top of the bibliography. But some of the publications on asexuality are so utterly awful that I feel the authors are doing a disservice to people by publishing them (i.e. they're wasting the time of potential readers), and I feel like I may be doing a disservice to users of the bibliography by even including these.

Something that has become clear to me from following the academic publications about asexuality is that the peer-review process and other quality control methods are failing miserably in at least some parts of academia. I've seen articles that do "history of asexuality" with virtually no use of primary sources. I've seen sweeping generalizations about the field of psychiatry by people who give no evidence of having ever read anything from that field. Probably the most epic example was that one paper who quoted the AVENites "Megan Mitosis" and "Asexy A-postle".*  Evidently, their understanding of AVEN was so limited that they didn't know the difference between the post ranking field and the username field.

More generally, I feel that a lot of the papers and chapters out there...basically fail to make any meaningful contribution to our understanding of asexuality. They don't present any original research (quantitative, qualitative, or historical/archival). They don't present any original ideas about asexuality.  They just...say stuff.

So my question for readers is what would be most useful to readers of my bibliography who are wanting to have a better understanding of asexuality.  Should it continue to try to be as exhaustive as possible (which will likely became unmanagable after a few more years)?  Should there be somewhat greater restrictions on what is included?  If so, what sort of standard would be fair?  (I certainly don't think that "Did I like that paper?" is a good standard.)  Should I have two bibliographies--an exhaustive-as-possible one and another for things that pass some sort of standard of quality control?)

I know that some of these issues are closely related to larger issues in academia today:  Many people feel that the peer-review process is not doing a good job of quality control, but quality control is vitally important for intellectually credible scholarship.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Temporary free access to an article of mine

Recently, the academic publisher Taylor & Francis has made a number of articles about DSM-5 temporarily freely available online without subscription.  The announcement reads as follows:

To celebrate the highly anticipated release of the 5th Edition of the Diagnotic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), Routledge Journals proudly offers FREE ACCESS to a collection of over 40 mental health and counseling articles. Simply click on the article titles below to view and download these articles until 31st January 2015.

Among the papers included is one that I wrote: Defining paraphilia in DSM-5: Do not disregard grammar about a definition of "paraphilia" proposed for DSM-5. As it turned out, that definition ended up being included in DSM-5.

Article: " Sexual fantasy and masturbation among asexual individuals."

A new research article on asexuality recently came out:

Yule, M.A., Brotto, L.A., & Gorzalka, B.B. (2014).  Sexual fantasy and masturbation among asexual individuals. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. 89-95

Human asexuality is defined as a lack of sexual attraction, and research suggests that it may be best conceptualized as a sexual orientation. Sexual fantasies are thought to be universally experienced and are often understood to represent true sexual desire more accurately than sexual behaviour. We investigated the relationship between asexuality, masturbation and sexual fantasy as part of a larger online study. Self-identified asexual individuals were compared to sexual individuals with and without low sexual desire. A total of 924 individuals (153 men, 533 women, and 238 individuals who did not respond to the query about sex) completed online questions asking about masturbation and sexual fantasy. Five hundred thirty four were classified in the asexual group, 87 met diagnostic criteria for hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), 78 met criteria for subthreshold HSDD without distress, and 187 were a sexual comparison group (i.e., identified as sexual, and had no reported difficulties in sexual desire or distress). Asexual individuals were significantly less likely to have masturbated in the past month and significantly more likely to report never having had a sexual fantasy. Specifically, 40% of asexual participants reported never having had a sexual fantasy compared to between 1% and 8% of participants in the sexual groups. Eleven percent of asexual individuals reported that their sexual fantasies did not involve other people, compared to 1.5% of all sexual individuals. Taken together, these findings suggest that there are notable differences in patterns of sexual fantasy between asexual individuals and sexual individuals with and without low sexual desire.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

2014 Call for Papers for NWSA Asexuality Studies Interest Group

The following was posted on the Asexuality Studies listserv by Regina Wright:
2014 Call for Papers about Asexuality
Asexuality Studies Interest Group
National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA)
November 13-16, 2014, San Juan, Puerto Rico

The NWSA Asexuality Studies Interest Group welcomes papers for the 2014 NWSA annual conference. These asexuality-related themes are orientated towards the full NWSA 2014 CFP which can be found here: http://www.nwsa.org/files/NWSA%202014%20CFP_Final.pdf

If you are interested in being a part of the 2014 Asexuality Studies Interest Group panels at NWSA, please send the following information to the designated panel organizer (listed under each theme) by Thursday, February 6, 2014:

*Name, Institutional Affiliation, Mailing Address, Email, Phone
*NWSA Theme your paper fits under
*Title for your talk
*50-100 word abstract

We will try to accommodate as many qualified papers as possible, but panels are limited to 3-4 presenters. NWSA will make the final decision about which panels are accepted. Presenters accepted into the conference program must become members of NWSA in addition to registering for the conference.


Sponsored Session: Asexualities and Issues of Race

For our sponsored session, we wish to think through the ways that race, ethnicity, and nation intersect with asexuality studies. We are interested in academic scholarship that focuses on these intersections, personal experiences of asexual people of color, as well as pedagogical approaches to teaching about asexuality through the lens of critical race studies and women of color feminism. Some questions we want to raise are:

• What difference does race, ethnicity, and nation make in the lives of asexual-identified people?
• How does asexual-identification predicated on low levels of sexual attraction and/or desire interact with racist assumptions that people of color are hypersexual?
• In what ways does asexuality help us think through histories of race-making and racism?
• How is racism experienced in the asexual community?
• How do online asexual communities work to make asexual people of color visible or invisible?
• How can we make asexuality studies be more attentive to issues of race and white privilege?

Please submit materials for the sponsored session to organizer Regina Wright at wrightrm@indiana.edu


Co-Sponsored Session with NWSA Fat Studies Interest Group

Fatness and asexuality provide useful frameworks for understanding how subjects are produced and disciplined within the context of the nation: positioned as unhealthy, deviant, pathological and unproductive--both fatness and asexuality are perceived as threats to the state’s normal functioning. While the growing activist and academic movements pertaining to fatness and asexuality both expose and problematize the disciplinary techniques of the nation, fatness and asexuality are only ever positioned together negatively. Fat empowerment politics, for example, involves critiquing the dominant ideology that fat bodies are either hypersexualized, fetishized or desexualized, and by this emphasis, can overlook the experiences of people who identify as both fat and asexual. This co-sponsored session wishes to place fat studies and asexuality studies in dialogue with each other and seeks papers that address questions including, but not limited to:

• What are points of encounter between asexuality studies and fat studies?
• In what ways can the intersections of fat studies and asexuality studies serve as a productive platform from which to critique ideas about labor, the economy, and the nation-state?
• How do marginalized fat and asexual bodies continue to foil the nation-state’s desire for fixity?
• How can fat asexuality be re-imagined as a form of empowerment and not stigma?
• How might the increasing use of social media as a mode of resistance to oppressive state regimes present a useful point of departure within fat and asexual politics?

Please submit materials for the sponsored session to organizer Danielle Cooper at cooperd4@yorku.ca


Theme 1: Rethinking the Nation

• In what ways does an avid investment in sex, sexuality, and the sexual imperative shape the formation of colonial nation-states and the making of empires?
• How does gender, race, class, ability, and sexuality interact with the sexual imperative to make mandatory certain ways of inhabiting and enacting national belonging and citizenship?
• Through what ways can we develop an asexual analytic to puncture the normativizing structures at work in the making of empires, nations, and neoliberal economies?
• In what ways does “asexuality” as an identification either collude with or challenge the grounding elements of nation-making, in and beyond the Occidental empires?
• Can asexual perspectives work in concord with critical race theories and feminist theories of race-making to demolish global hierarchies and the production of whiteness and white privilege?
• How is asexuality integral to the future of feminist critiques of the role of sexuality in nation-making?

Please submit materials to theme organizer Ela Przybylo at przybylo@yorku.ca


Theme 2: Trans- Feminisms

• What does it mean to be both trans* and asexual? How do trans* members of the asexual community negotiate these two identities?
• How might these intersecting identities help us redefine feminist and asexual politics and epistemologies?
• What is the intersection between the human and the non-human in asexual communities? How might the encounter between the human and non-human species be productive in terms of transspecies critiques and participation in ecofeminist or cyborgian narratives?
• In what ways do cultural and socio-political locations create space or challenge asexual identities? • Why are some ethnicities, nationalities, and races only minimally represented in online asexual communities?
• How do the hierarchical relationships among regions across North/South and other hegemonic borders figure into asexual studies?
• How might asexual communities and identities help generate transnational and transcultural feminist alliances?
• How might transgenerational feminist perspectives in asexual studies intersect with or challenge foundational concepts in women’s and gender studies? What are the dynamics among the members of the multi-generational asexual community?

Please submit materials to theme organizer LaChelle Schilling at lache2380@gmail.com


Theme 3: Technologizing Futures

Contemporary asexual identities and communities have largely developed online (and in some cases have subsequently moved “off-line”). This theme will explore this relationship between contemporary asexualities and the Internet and might address any of the following questions, or other relevant questions:

• What is the relationship between the Internet and contemporary asexual identities and communities? How has the fact that these identities and communities were first developed online shaped the form of these identities and communities?
• What forms of asexual activism have been enabled by the online nature of asexual identities and communities? Has the online nature of these identities and communities augmented and/or limited their ability to effect social change?
• What role do bodies play in online asexual communities? How has the online nature of these communities affected the ways in which other social categories have manifested in these communities (such as race, class, gender, and ability)?
• What happens when asexual communities and identities move “off-line”?
• Has the online nature of asexual communities enabled the formation of transnational connections? Do global inequalities remain unaddressed in asexual communities?
• What can the “case study” of asexual identities and communities contribute to scholarship on digital communities? To scholarship on sexual identity formation?

Please submit materials to theme organizer Kristina Gupta at kag24@georgetown.edu


Theme 4: Love and Labor

One can look at the larger project of asexualities as a relatively recent series of actions by individuals, groups and disciplines laboring privately and publicly to come to terms with different approaches to our definitions of love. Through radically redefining sexuality, identity, bodies and desire in a heteronormative society, it becomes possible to further imagine an openness to contingency and experiments within and between communities. This panel addresses some of the ways in which feminist, queer and performance studies can inform and build upon one another within the context of activating various perspectives on asexualities, through the following areas of inquiry:

• How do we construct new networks in innovative ways that link theoretical inquiries to the socioeconomic and racial realities of asexual communities?
• To what extent can we employ trust, creativity and imagination in the exploration and construction of asexual identities and space through an everyday performativity?
• How would shared social and cultural rituals of a small community translate into larger, networked activism?
• In what ways, do we enable and enrich the writing of future histories of asexualities within the context of this interdisciplinarity?

Please submit materials to theme organizer Anna Lise Jensen at aaaonyc@gmail.com


Theme 5: Creating Justice

• In what ways are asexual identities marginalized/oppressed? What structures, discourses, and modes of power refute, obstruct, and/or censor asexual legitimacy?
• In what ways does the struggle for legitimacy resemble prior movements toward justice, such as those for women’s rights, minority voices, and queer communities? What can a campaign for asexual justice take and learn from those movements? In what ways is the asexual movement different?
• What can be learned from the proliferation of asexual spaces online and how can that knowledge be put into practice in a campaign for legitimacy and justice offline?
• What is asexual justice? How can it be achieved in theory and practice?
• In what discourses and institutions is asexuality currently allowed (wholly or partially) to operate?
• How do specific cultures and languages reshape, challenge, or aid the campaign for asexual justice?
• How does this campaign for justice change when considered outside of the dominant contexts of the United States and Europe?

Please submit materials to theme organizer Nathan Erro at nmerro@gmail.com