Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Varied things: Behavioural sexuality, pieces of ace, the myth of HSDD

A couple of quick thoughts now (and interesting links). These are ideas that I may come back to, but I just wanted to get them out there first.

Firstly, I found this awesome blog post about sexual identity, with some really cool things about behavioural sexuality. Check it out. A couple of the highlights, for me:
We are using what I call the “behavior model” of sexuality, where a person’s sexuality tends to be judged by their appearance and behavior. This is in fact how we define sexuality: gay men are “men who have sex with men but not women”, straight men are “men who have sex with women and not men”, and so on. This seems straightforward but is in fact inaccurate. Some lesbians have husbands. Some bisexuals have been sexually monogamous for the last decade. I know a straight woman who would get drunk and have sex with her woman roommate, on a weekly basis.

When a gay man tells me he’s gay, he could be telling me any number of things. Maybe he is gay because he is attracted to men. Maybe he identifies as gay because he only has sex with men. Maybe he identifies as gay because he has no attraction to women. Maybe he feels gay. Maybe he identifies with the gay community. Maybe he falls in love with men but not women. Maybe he is extremely effeminate, and other people continually identify him as gay, whatever his attractions. Usually, being gay is a combination of a number of these things.

Also, Hot Pieces of Ace, the new asexual youtube channel, is up. I'd really like to get into watching it, but I tend to avoid spoken-word formats because of the amount of time involved. As good as it is to hear asexuals in a less formal mode than the average blog post, I tend to find I can't dedicate enough time to watching/listening. I may just check in to specific vloggers/topics.

Finally, I've always been interested in what the asexual movement can do for the world in general, and as the debate over the new 'cure' for female hyposexual desire rages, I'd just like to pull out this statistic:

43% of women experience sexual dysfunction.

I think that statistic may actually be '43% of women can have their life experiences pushed, twisted and occasionally hammered into fulfilling the HSDD criteria, minus the distress one'.

But wow. Just wow. The abuse of maths itself is overwhelming. If slightly under half of women are abnormal, you know what we need to do? REDEFINE NORMAL. You know, so it's actually normal, and not just a random state decided by advertising executives. The entire argument has echoes of Freud's insistance that women who couldn't orgasm from man-pleasing coital sex were repressed, when we all now know that orgasm only from clitoral stimulation is common, even normal, and Freud's false norms were caused by his own values of what women should be.

This proves something deeply uncomfortable about psychiatric diagnosis. If 43% of women can be crowbarred into the 'sexual dysfunction' category, then roughly 100% of women who come looking for psychiatric help for sexual problems will be able to be legitimately told that they have a sexual dysfunction. By singling these people out, because they're the ones who will be diagnosed, you're wilfully hiding the fact that the thing you're curing them from, the thing you're pressuring them not to be, selling them placebo-like drugs for and charging them to get rid of- that thing is the way that half their gender works!

Yes, we do need discussions about those who are genuinely distressed about their lack of sexual desire/attraction. We do need caution. But, at the same time, asexuals are in the perfect position to kick down this myth until it dies. And we need to.


  1. The study that came up with the 43% figure has been cited a ton, but has (as I'm sure you can guess) been met with quite a lot of criticism for many of the reasons you cite (and a number of others as well.)

    See this article for an example of the criticisms that are raised against that number and that study.

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