Asexuality: Not “Incomplete.”

October 18, 2015 in General

While reading Julie Decker’s fascinating book on asexuality The Invisible Orientation (2014),¬† I found some of the experiences and perspectives that were offered refreshingly new. Particularly, I was interested to see how asexuals negotiated religious social conservatism. If one does not feel the desire for sexual or romantic intimacy, you might think that inclusion and membership within religious social conservatism would be straightforward and unproblematic. Not so, Decker argues.¬† We live in a heteronormative society and thus, if someone identifies as asexual and does not fulfil a pastoral profile of sublimation or denial of straight sexuality, they may still be denied recognition, inclusion, ordination or approval within some erotophobic religious traditions. Catholicism embraces celibacy, but as renunciation and denial, while Islam, Judaism and evangelical/fundamentalist Protestantism may not do so. Living an asexual life may face disapproval if one is not seeking ordination, or if someone has previously identified as heterosexual. As I read further, I agreed with Decker that tainted vocabularies that use “celibacy” or ‘chastity” as heteronormative terms to deny authenticity to asexuality through depicting all forms of asexuality as denial or renunciation of heterosexual sexuality, intimacy and relationships need to be abandoned.¬† So do perspectives that view asexuality as a psychopathology. Human sexual variation is on a continuum and asexuals occupy a specific place on that continuum. There’s nothing “wrong” with asexuality.

It is¬†horrific that anti-asexual “corrective rape” exists and that abusive unwanted sexual encounters are used to coerce asexuals to remain in intimate relationships that don’t match their self-perception or self-description. When it comes to media invisibility and stigmatisation, asexuals have similar problems to the rest of the LGBTI rainbow, as do misogyny and racism when it comes to asexual women and people of colour. Not all asexual women desire to imitate Patricia Bartlett- some are LGBTI-identified. Hypersexualised racism is still racism.¬† So yes, I accept asexuality as one variant version of human sexuality.

Source: Julie Decker: The Invisible Orientation: New York: Carrell: 2014.


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