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      Avenues May/June   05/09/17

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Decaf

Defining ace

39 posts in this topic

I struggle to understand the 'aces can want, seek out and enjoy sex' thing.
Maybe I'm being thick.
I have zero interest in sex, which is why I identify as ace.
I'm confused by the whole spectrum thing ie I have no interest in sex but share my identity with people who love sex.
Lol...I'm honestly not a troll...I just don't get it.
 

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Asexual definition 1: does not feel sexual attraction

 

Asexual definition 2: no desire for partnered sexual activity

 

If you do not feel sexual attraction, you can still seek/want/enjoy sex (you just don't feel sexual attraction for the individual you are seeking sex with)

If you have no desire for partnered sexual activity, you can still enjoy sex/sexual stimulation (some asexuals have sex to please a partner or to experiment)

 

The spectrum includes asexuals, demisexuals, and grey asexuals.  All of these terms fall under the asexual umbrella.  

Some people only feel sexual attraction after a deep emotional bond is formed- known as demisexual.  

Some people only feel sexual attraction very infrequently-known as grey asexual.

 

This is by no means a comprehensive list of definitions or examples/situations.  Check out the pinned lexicon of terms to learn about more terms/definitions. 

 

55 minutes ago, Decaf said:

To me, that's like having a lesbian spectrum which includes women who seek out and enjoy having sex with men...and then when a female-attracted lesbian doesn't understand, is told 'because spectrum'.

A lesbian can still be a lesbian even if she has enjoyed sexual activities with a man.  A lesbian is simply a woman who is sexually attracted to other woman.  For some people sexual stimulation can be enjoyable regardless of who does the sexual stimulation.  Identity is based on who someone is sexually attracted to, not who can provide enjoyable sexual stimulation.  Maybe it would help to try to think of sexual attraction and enjoying sexual stimulation as unrelated.  

 

Also, it may help for you to look up the difference sexual attraction, romantic attraction, aesthetic attraction, and sensual attraction.  I know there's a really good illustrated description floating somewhere around AVEN.

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For a relatively extensive discussion on what asexuality means, this thread may provide some insight:

 

 

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OK. That makes little sense to me.
Why would anyone do anything they aren't attracted to?
 

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So you are saying that you can enjoy something you have no attraction to?
This just sounds like semantics.

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3 minutes ago, Decaf said:

OK. That makes little sense to me.
Why would anyone do anything they aren't attracted to?
 

It happens all the time in prison, where heterosexual men have sex with other men do to lack of options, even though they're not attracted to other men. That is why most psychologists define sexual orientations according to sexual attraction rather than sexual desire.

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Just now, Decaf said:

So you are saying that you can enjoy something you have no attraction to?

No, you have no sexual attraction to any person, but you have sexual desire towards sexual activities such as sex.

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3 minutes ago, Decaf said:

So you are saying that you can enjoy something you have no attraction to?
This just sounds like semantics.

People can enjoy solo masturbation, but they're probably not attracted to their hand or to a sex toy. So it's more than just semantics.

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OK...I'm still not following this. You are saying that attraction and desire are completely separate things?

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Just now, Decaf said:

OK...I'm still not following this. You are saying that attraction and desire are completely separate things?

They are considered to be typically correlated but not always.

 

e.g. from the previosly linked thread:

 

2 hours ago, Pramana said:

"A very sexually experienced gay man once recounted to me that he enjoyed vaginal intercourse with women more than anal intercourse with men, because of the sheer physical sensation of his penis being stimulated by the tubular architecture of the vagina, along with the lubrication it provides when a woman is physically aroused. Thus, as we have suggested, subjective physical pleasure and sensation associated with arousal can be divorced from one's attraction to others."

See: Anthony F. Bogaert, Understanding Asexuality, Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, at page 60.

or:

2 hours ago, Pramana said:

"Indeed, perhaps some asexual people are devoid of all these factors: that is, they lack sexual attraction, arousal, behaviour, cognitions (e.g. fantasies), desire, and pleasure, and they also identify as "asexual." But one of these – lack of sexual attraction – may be a core psychological factor among asexual people and may best define the phenomenon, from both a theoretical and a research perspective. Lack of sexual attraction is at least potentially independent of these other processes, and it is noteworthy that those who lack sexual attraction may not lack these other processes (e.g. desire, arousal)."

2. See: Anthony F. Bogaert, Understanding Asexuality, Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, at page 24.

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From my perspective I have zero attraction to anyone and I'm also aro.
I'm mystified as to how I can share a definition with someone who is seemingly the polar opposite.

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Just now, Decaf said:

From my perspective I have zero attraction to anyone and I'm also aro.
I'm mystified as to how I can share a definition with someone who is seemingly the polar opposite.

I'm not following; aromanticism is the polar opposite of asexuality?

 

Edit: Or are you saying you share the same definition with someone who feels attraction? Because, according to the definitions from above, you don't.

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Decaf, think of it this way, sex is a really messy dish, looks pretty gross to me. The chef or that person over there may think it looks great, but I think it's meh.

I'm not attracted to said dish. But I might still be hungry. I may still want food. And the dish may still taste good even if it doesn't look good.

 

Does that make sense?

 

I always find food makes the best analogies for sex.

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Further, if it helps, here are some handy documented definitions kindly provided by Pramana.

 

1 hour ago, Pramana said:

Here are Bogaert's definitions:

He defines sexual desire as: “a feeling that includes wanting to have a sexual experience, feeling receptive to a partner’s sexual initiation, and thinking and fantasizing about sex…” (at page 21).

And he defines sexual attraction in the following way: “if you are a woman and primarily lust after – in other words, are turned on by being with, looking at, thinking about, or fantasizing about – men, then you have a heterosexual sexual orientation. Thus, you are sexually attracted to, or have a sexual orientation toward, men.” (at pages 11-12).

Regarding physical arousal and pornography, he writes that it may provide evidence of people attractions, but is an unreliable indicator (at pages 15-16).

He also writes that "low or absent desire is not completely overlapping with a lack of sexual attraction – my preferred definition of asexuality – but it is clearly related, particularly in the case of absent desire..." (at page 47).

Hence, lack desire indicates lack of attraction, but lack of attraction does not necessarily indicate lack of desire.

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14 minutes ago, Decaf said:

OK...I'm still not following this. You are saying that attraction and desire are completely separate things?

I'm not sure what's difficult to understand here. A sex drive and libido can exist independently of attraction. You have hormones regardless of who you're attracted to. You can have the desire to experience sexual stimulation even if it's not with anyone in particular, it's a purely physical thing. Like if you have a strong desire to sneeze. Hard to avoid. And just because people are different from you doesn't make them weird, or exclude them from what you believe asexuality should be.

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@Pramana It may be helpful to have a resource (even if it's just a thread rather than a Wiki entry) that documents the asexuality definition following Bogaert's school of thought. It does not need to compete with the AVEN self-indentity-based definition or the desire-only definition, but it can provide a coherent explanation of the relevant terminology by compiling quotations from his book/papers, while openly acknowledging that other definitions exist and this is merely the one followed by academic research.

 

I am not very familiar with where things go on AVEN forums, you are more familiar with Bogaert's position, and you seem particularly invested in defining asexuality judging by your AVEN activity and the Ace Times posts, so I was wondering whether you'd be interested in initiating this. I know that there are already a lot of topics, but all are formulated as discussion/debate topics and users may feel unwilling to go through pages of arguments instead of being presented with a working framework in the OP.

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1 minute ago, Pramana said:
Quote

‘A person who does not experience sexual attraction’ (The Asexual Visibility and Education Network). This definition allows an asexual to engage in any type or amount of sexual behaviour;

Lol, except it doesn't, because then AVEN goes to define sexual attraction as sexual desire in the FAQ, but I'm beating a dead horse already.

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Just now, aceidk said:

Lol, except it doesn't, because then AVEN goes to define sexual attraction as sexual desire in the FAQ, but I'm beating a dead horse already.

Problem with words, they mean a lot of different things sadly.

I think desire can mean both intrinsic attraction and desire for an experience. It seems like it's hard to make a specific definition that will mean the same things for everyone reading it.

I also think these things are really impossible to define to someone who doesn't experience them. I will never get what sexual attraction really is, so I'll probably continue to confuse people with my word uses for a very long time. 

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5 minutes ago, aceidk said:

Lol, except it doesn't, because then AVEN goes to define sexual attraction as sexual desire in the FAQ, but I'm beating a dead horse already.

AVEN obviously needs to fix its FAQ definition, if even people like Mark Carrigan wouldn't take it seriously. The AVENwiki defitnion is where it's at.

I like to point out that under AVEN's FAQ definition, producing erotic art based on your sexual experiences and which is meant for public viewing (thus sharing your sexuality with people) would be classified as sexual attraction).

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Just now, BionicPi said:

Problem with words, they mean a lot of different things sadly.

Indeed, but when the the asexuality research community engages in an effort to explicitly separate the two concepts, AVEN only hurts education instead of supporting it.

 

But I understand they'll fix it, and I'm looking forward to it!

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14 minutes ago, aceidk said:

@Pramana It may be helpful to have a resource (even if it's just a thread rather than a Wiki entry) that documents the asexuality definition following Bogaert's school of thought. It does not need to compete with the AVEN self-indentity-based definition or the desire-only definition, but it can provide a coherent explanation of the relevant terminology by compiling quotations from his book/papers, while openly acknowledging that other definitions exist and this is merely the one followed by academic research.

 

I am not very familiar with where things go on AVEN forums, you are more familiar with Bogaert's position, and you seem particularly invested in defining asexuality judging by your AVEN activity and the Ace Times posts, so I was wondering whether you'd be interested in initiating this. I know that there are already a lot of topics, but all are formulated as discussion/debate topics and users may feel unwilling to go through pages of arguments instead of being presented with a working framework in the OP.

In my view, AVEN as an organization should be more proactive at keeping up to date with current research on asexuality and developing educational tools for its members.

That said, I would be interested in working on this in my spare time. It would also be great to have input from those who have more of a psychology background than I do.

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5 minutes ago, aceidk said:

Indeed, but when the the asexuality research community engages in an effort to explicitly separate the two concepts, AVEN only hurts education instead of supporting it.

 

But I understand they'll fix it, and I'm looking forward to it!

I'm not sure what they were going for with that definition. My best guess is that they were trying to show that attraction and desire are interrelated, which is true, but it makes it appear at though they're the same, which is false (and incoherent). Hopefully, they'll change it. AVEN hasn't been that ambitious or innovative on the education front in recent memory.

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6 minutes ago, Pramana said:

In my view, AVEN as an organization should be more proactive at keeping up to date with current research on asexuality and developing educational tools for its members.

The "education network" in the title obviously refers to the community-based self-educating efforts evidenced through interminable threads bashing academic research, defining asexuality primarily based on asexual elitism, and misrepresenting evidence.

 

Edit: I'm being overly harsh; AVEN has definitely helped asexuality visibility and education by a lot!

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24 minutes ago, Pramana said:

That said, I would be interested in working on this in my spare time. It would also be great to have input from those who have more of a psychology background than I do.

I don't have a psychology background, but I'd be glad to help if there's anything I can do. I do have Bogaert's book and access to paywalled research via institutional access. If AVEN does not provide the tools, I can help with creating a static webpage dedicated to promoting a community-targetted explanation of academic perspective on asexuality. I don't believe other communities such as /r/asexuality, arocalypse, or /r/aromantic do any better in regards to keeping the community updated, so this is something that our community still lacks.

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6 hours ago, BionicPi said:

Decaf, think of it this way, sex is a really messy dish, looks pretty gross to me. The chef or that person over there may think it looks great, but I think it's meh.

I'm not attracted to said dish. But I might still be hungry. I may still want food. And the dish may still taste good even if it doesn't look good.

 

Does that make sense?

 

I always find food makes the best analogies for sex.

Thanks, BionicPi.
No, it doesn't make much sense to me.
When I originally began identifying as ace, the term basically meant someone who had no interest in sex. So originally you had some clearly demarcated orientations...gay, straight, ace, bi.
I still understand gay, straight and bi, but ace seemed to have morphed into a bizarre and unweildy 'spectrum' of orientations that seem to be saying that a person with zero interest in sex and no motivation towards sex, who never wants or has sex, is now sharing an orientation with someone who wants sex, seeks out sex, and enjoys sex.
To me, that would be like deciding that the orientation of lesbian now includes women who seek out and enjoy sex with men, and saying that that's because they are all on a spectrum.

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Also, why would my sexuality need a 'school of thought'? Surely a sexuality is a real, living thing and not just an intellectual construct or a clever word game?
I've never heard anyone mention a school of thought regarding being gay or straight, and I guess that's because those identities are so clear and unambiguous.
To me, ace is clear too....I have no interest in sex...never have had, and because I have no interest in it, I don't do it because I don't do things I have no interest in. Simple.
Some of the things I'm reading here sound like a clever lawyer or debate team took apart the definition and twisted it to win a case.

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1 hour ago, Decaf said:

No, it doesn't make much sense to me.

Would this help?

15 hours ago, aceidk said:

I was talking to a non-asexual today about this; she explained me how the attraction-based definition makes so much more sense to her.

 

As an example, she explained that she loves receiving massages. She desires massages, she seeks them, she wants them. However, she doesn't care who's the masseuse--it may be a robot for all she cares. She has a desire for the act of receiving massages, but no attraction to the masseuse. It makes sense to me.

In regards to the rest of your points: sexuality is a complicated concept. Feel free to define it however you want for yourself; the definitions supported above are merely the ones currently used in asexuality academic research.

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6 hours ago, Decaf said:

Thanks, BionicPi.
No, it doesn't make much sense to me.
When I originally began identifying as ace, the term basically meant someone who had no interest in sex. So originally you had some clearly demarcated orientations...gay, straight, ace, bi.
I still understand gay, straight and bi, but ace seemed to have morphed into a bizarre and unweildy 'spectrum' of orientations that seem to be saying that a person with zero interest in sex and no motivation towards sex, who never wants or has sex, is now sharing an orientation with someone who wants sex, seeks out sex, and enjoys sex.
To me, that would be like deciding that the orientation of lesbian now includes women who seek out and enjoy sex with men, and saying that that's because they are all on a spectrum.

It doesn't make sense. Letting it make sense would be too "exclusionary" according to certain people. I've listed the reasons for the diversity:

 

Quote

One: broad misconceptions of sexual attraction. Sexual attraction evolve to being turned on by a person's appearance, and if you don't experience that than you are asexual, and you can want sex if you are asexual. Many young kids, teens, and adults who heard asexuality describe that way would than ID as such. 2. Broad confusion of what asexuality is, making it even more so confusing when people would rather tell you you are asexual rather than dissuade you on it. 3. People who don't fit trying to change asexuality definition to suit them. 4. Lack of understanding of  normal sexual behavior and linking one's experience as unique even though it may just be another part of sexual diversity rather than "asexual" diversity.

 

 

 

 

Quote
Quote


Some of the things I'm reading here sound like a clever lawyer or debate team took apart the definition and twisted it to win a case.

 

LOL You hit the nail on the head,

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13 hours ago, Decaf said:

From my perspective I have zero attraction to anyone and I'm also aro.
I'm mystified as to how I can share a definition with someone who is seemingly the polar opposite.

Oh trust me you're not alone, many of us (including sexuals who have sadly left because they were fed up with the misinformation) find the attraction definition utterly ridiculous. In my eyes, anyone who wants sex is sexual, and I'm sure the vast majority of the general population would agree.

 

7 hours ago, Decaf said:

Some of the things I'm reading here sound like a clever lawyer or debate team took apart the definition and twisted it to win a case.

This is perfect, thank you for this.

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