Pramana

Self-identification

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Pramana   
Pramana

I have found that since I’m gray-asexual and sex-averse, some people would say that I’m actually a sexual or sexual spectrum person, such that my reason for affiliating with the community is only that I’m “functionally asexual”. I’m reluctant to characterize myself in this way, because saying that I’m just “functionally asexual” might suggest to people that I should be sexual but for there being something wrong with me, that there’s a problem with my personality or that I just haven’t met the right person yet. Instead, my interests are better reflected through characterizing gray-asexuality as my orientation, an identity reflecting facts intrinsic to my person that I do not wish to change.

I have observed that the following two concerns seem to underlie debates over definitions, whether focusing on attraction/desire issues or questions about asexuality being a spectrum or an umbrella term:


1. That if gray/demi-sexuals situate themselves as asexual spectrum or asexual umbrella, then people won’t know what “asexual” means anymore. Notice this form of argument gives order of priority to asexuals, as the perceived problem is that gray/demi-sexuals might detract from the meaning of asexuality. I don’t see any justification for why that should be the order of priority, and it seems to me that the order of priority could be reversed, with equal lack of of justification.


2. That the issues faced by gray/demi-sexuals are less pressing or less significant. I’m not sure this is true, given that my experience as a sex-averse gray-asexual and gray-aromantic person is that I’ve been unable to form any close adult relationships. I would also question the value of debating whose struggles are worse. After all, perhaps it could be argued that it’s actually people who are both asexual and aromantic who are most separated from typical social relationship structures, so their interests should be given priority over romantic asexuals. But I can’t see the benefit to an approach which would further divide the community.


I know that psychologists and sociologists make use of “the asexual spectrum” and “asexuality as an umbrella term” as concepts in science papers (particularly in more recent publications). I don’t know that much about AVEN and asexual community history, although one paper (by academic and asexual community organizer Andrew Hinderliter, and based on the author’s personal correspondence with David Jay and Nat Titman) suggests that the self-identification principle was introduced due to a perception that debates within other LGBT+ communities over who really qualified to use a certain label tended to be unproductive, and that it was preferable to favour the most inclusive definitions possible while enabling people to make their own determinations.

Some people say that the self-identification principle renders asexuality meaningless, because if anyone can use a label then it has no meaning. This claim misses the crucial point that while anybody can, most people won’t. None of my sexual friends, for example, have any interest in calling themselves asexual or any derivation thereof. The self-identification principle reflects a pragmatic philosophy of language, whereby the usage of terminology will be decided organically through people’s choices. Thus, at the most abstract level, the difference between asexual and sexual people is that the terminology of asexuality proves to be a useful tool for the former but not for the latter.

The “labels as tools” interpretation also predicts the unproductive definition debates which seem to be endemic to LGBT+ communities, since there is an incentive for people to argue for construals which best serve their specific personal interests. As a result, there should be another tool for minimizing divisiveness while setting discussions in a democratic and informative direction, and therein lies the value of the self-identification principle.

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Puck   
Puck

As I'm sure you know from our conversations together, I tend to roll with the AVEN main page FAQ:

 

Quote

Asexuality and sexuality are not necessarily black and white. There is a spectrum of sexuality, with sexual and asexual as the endpoints and a gray area in-between. Many people identify in this gray area under the identity of "gray-asexual," or "gray-a." Examples of gray-asexuality include an individual who does not normally experience sexual attraction but does experience it sometimes; experiences sexual attraction but has a low sex drive; experiences sexual attraction and drive but not strongly enough to want to act on them; and/or can enjoy and desire sex but only under very limited and specific circumstances. Even more, many gray-asexuals still identify as asexual because they may find it easier to explain, especially if the few instances in which they felt sexual attraction were brief and fleeting.

There is not an "asexuality spectrum," rather a sexuality spectrum with asexuality at one end. Gray-sexuals (along with demi) fall very close to that asexual end point but don't hit it.

 

I do think the distinctions are important or the different labels wouldn't exist. As it stands, the only label that someone who experiences no innate desire for partnered sex or asexual attraction is asexual, while if one does experience some (even if rarely) another label (gray-sexual) exists for those who fit that label to utilize and be proud of.

 

On a personal note to give some context to my way of thinking, pre my coming to AVEN, when I first was introduced to asexuality, I was introduced to it as people who didn't want to have partnered sex. That's the definition I identified with. I will never have a relationship that includes sex, it's just not something I am interested in nor could keep up. That's the definition that those I know outside of AVEN in the LGBTQ+ community are latching onto and I obviously don't take issue with that :P

 

I don't think gray-sexuals or those in that real's issues are "less important" at all, I just think they are different and that's ok. I sometimes wonder if they would find more benefit in a forum more focused on their own needs (I know at least one has been attempted) or should look into the resources that exist just for them (such as the Demisexuality Resource Center). Both of those links are found in the AVEN Community Links forum, if anyone is curious.

 

The other option, perhaps, is that AVEN needs to find a way to support these individuals in a different way. I have wondered if starting a subform just for grey-sexuals would help, that way they can discuss issues that pertain to their needs that might be less catered to in the main asexual space. I've even wondered if AVEN should consider changing it's focus to better accommodate our large Grace presence by renaming itself to "GAVEN" for"Gray-sexual and Asexual Visibility and Education Network." I doubt it'll change the name, but it's something I've thought about. That way, it can reflect it's ideal that Grace and Ace are different but both should be respected and find support within our community.

 

For the record, gray-sexuals should ABSOLUTELY be a part of this community and feel welcomed here. They are valid and are an excellent part of this site. But I wonder if the constant debates occur because their needs aren't being meet and they are feeling ostracized by both the sexual and asexual ends of the spectrum. While they feel this way, some asexuals might also be feeling encroached upon because they are feeling their space is being invaded by those who don't share their experiences as well as who are seen to be invalidating those experiences. Basically, what I'm saying is I wonder if any friction is because needs are not being met on AVEN by both sides and either AVEN, or perhaps an other site, needs to meet those needs or the disgruntlement will continue.

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Galactic Turtle   
Galactic Turtle
37 minutes ago, Pramana said:

I have found that since I’m gray-asexual and sex-averse, some people would say that I’m actually a sexual or sexual spectrum person, such that my reason for affiliating with the community is only that I’m “functionally asexual”. I’m reluctant to characterize myself in this way, because saying that I’m just “functionally asexual” might suggest to people that I should be sexual but for there being something wrong with me, that there’s a problem with my personality or that I just haven’t met the right person yet. Instead, my interests are better reflected through characterizing gray-asexuality as my orientation, an identity reflecting facts intrinsic to my person that I do not wish to change.

Personally I think the gray area to the ace community can be somewhat compared to the bi/pan segment to the gay community. At times they seem like they're in your camp but at other times they describe things that you don't relate to. Kind of like... one foot in and one foot out. One of my gay friends complains sometimes about a girl who identifies as bisexual yet is very vocal about her expectations of men, the men she runs into who she likes.... in general she acts boy crazy basically 24/7. The reason she identifies as bi though is because once in high school she had a crush on a girl and in general is open to going out with girls but since most of the world is straight she ends up with guys. The gray area within the ace community is pretty massive especially because of the ongoing "desire vs. attraction" debate. Throwing romance into that bucket there are many conversations I see amongst asexual people that sounds pretty much the same as all the sexual people I know. So on one end you've got the gray area person who felt attraction for one person back in high school then on the other end you've got someone who absolutely loves sex and dating and physical intimacy who gets annoyed when people assume they're not into sex when they tell them they're asexual (either used as an umbrella term or... whatever). Anywho I think that's where that general rhetoric comes from.

 

47 minutes ago, Pramana said:

1. That if gray/demi-sexuals situate themselves as asexual spectrum or asexual umbrella, then people won’t know what “asexual” means anymore. Notice this form of argument gives order of priority to asexuals, as the perceived problem is that gray/demi-sexuals might detract from the meaning of asexuality. I don’t see any justification for why that should be the order of priority, and it seems to me that the order of priority could be reversed, with equal lack of of justification.

I've heard this too usually within the context of people wanting asexual to mean one thing to the common person... usually being compared to how "straight" and "gay" are pretty much universally understood to mean "x is attracted to x" and with that attraction a direct behavior or set of desires is presumed. I think within the ace community we might shy away from this just because it pretty much surrounds a lack of a feeling which is a lot harder to confirm for sure than one feeling overpowering another. It's kind of odd for me to view one as a priority over the other though I have heard this sentiment when people are talking about global visibility and how all of our discussions just make us look like we don't know what we're talking about to someone who has never heard of asexuality before. I really don't have much of an understanding of the gray area so I just kind of automatically think of it as a separate thing from asexuality yet also related.... again, like bi/pan would be to gay.

 

54 minutes ago, Pramana said:

2. That the issues faced by gray/demi-sexuals are less pressing or less significant. I’m not sure this is true, given that my experience as a sex-averse gray-asexual and gray-aromantic person is that I’ve been unable to form any close adult relationships. I would also question the value of debating whose struggles are worse. After all, perhaps it could be argued that it’s actually people who are both asexual and aromantic who are most separated from typical social relationship structures, so their interests should be given priority over romantic asexuals. But I can’t see the benefit to an approach which would further divide the community.


Oh the ongoing pity party. XD Everyone has their own set of struggles so I think it's a bit silly to think ours would all be uniform. I usually ignore those things... then again the life of romantics seems to be quite stressful. 

 

I think with any community it's natural to develop lots of new terminology that perhaps never strays past its borders so that's what I usually think of the... "tool box", basically, of ace-related terms. In general I don't view asexuality as a spectrum just like... I guess homosexuality isn't widely thought of as a spectrum. The gray area in that instance is bi/pan/whatever. Because of that I think in the future... even if it's 100 years from now, that's how the ace community will be. There's asexuals then the gray area that will probably take on an entire culture of its own. Because the gray area is so vast right now, I think eventually people further to one end or the other will drop off into  "asexual" or "sexual" and people close to the middle will keep it.

 

Then again a lot of people say the presence or absence of attraction whatsoever is a different matter altogether than present attraction to a specific gender. It makes my head hurt thinking of the possibilities. @__@ 

 

Of course massive speculation on my part. :P In any case I think it's nice AVEN exists so we can all gather here and discuss such things.

 

I'm a k-pop fan and a singer from a boy group over there came out as asexual. My friend who is very LGBT+ focused immediately told me, of course. And hearing about asexuality from her point of view (as she also discussed it with me when Riverdale premiered) everything she was describing was distinctly aro-ace and when I tried to tell her that like... that's not all there is, she just kinda stared at me and said that didn't make sense. I guess this would be common for a sexual person. I just thought it was funny yet at the same time this type of situation also spurs many debates on AVEN. 

 

The ace community is so vast I've thought many times about just admitting to myself that I'm sick or something but... that's another conversation entirely. 

 

 

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Moonchaser   
Moonchaser

My feeling about this is use the identity that you're comfortable with. I'm a non-gray or demi ace, but if someone calls themselves ace who is gray or demi - what's it to me, really? My label I use for myself is what I'm comfortable with, and what I would use to explain myself to someone, coming out to them, so what should that really matter to another ace, really at all?

 

I think it's good to have some sort of set labels and definitions, for the sake of educating others in the general public, but for personal identity, it's not important.

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Puck   
Puck
4 minutes ago, Galactic Turtle said:

Personally I think the gray area to the ace community can be somewhat compared to the bi/pan segment to the gay community. At times they seem like they're in your camp but at other times they describe things that you don't relate to. Kind of like... one foot in and one foot out. One of my gay friends complains sometimes about a girl who identifies as bisexual yet is very vocal about her expectations of men, the men she runs into who she likes.... in general she acts boy crazy basically 24/7. The reason she identifies as bi though is because once in high school she had a crush on a girl and in general is open to going out with girls but since most of the world is straight she ends up with guys. The gray area within the ace community is pretty massive especially because of the ongoing "desire vs. attraction" debate. Throwing romance into that bucket there are many conversations I see amongst asexual people that sounds pretty much the same as all the sexual people I know. So on one end you've got the gray area person who felt attraction for one person back in high school then on the other end you've got someone who absolutely loves sex and dating and physical intimacy who gets annoyed when people assume they're not into sex when they tell them they're asexual (either used as an umbrella term or... whatever). Anywho I think that's where that general rhetoric comes from.

I think that is an awesome comparison to draw. I know that in the history of the LGBT+ community, bisexuals haven't always felt the most heard or supported. I believe in the 90's, there was a lesbian magazine in the UK actually shamed the bisexuals because they felt like they were straight people just trying to take their label. Honestly, I think that isn't a bad reflection of how some graces might feel at times in the ace community (though, I sure hope they don't feel shamed to that extreme). What helped them get along, at least as far as I saw, was both groups learning to respect each other as different but equally acceptable and with many struggles they both share.

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Galactic Turtle   
Galactic Turtle
5 minutes ago, Puck said:

I think that is an awesome comparison to draw. I know that in the history of the LGBT+ community, bisexuals haven't always felt the most heard or supported. I believe in the 90's, there was a lesbian magazine in the UK actually shamed the bisexuals because they felt like they were straight people just trying to take their label. Honestly, I think that isn't a bad reflection of how some graces might feel at times in the ace community (though, I sure hope they don't feel shamed to that extreme). What helped them get along, at least as far as I saw, was both groups learning to respect each other as different but equally acceptable and with many struggles they both share.

Yep! Which is why I said that like... 50 or 100 years from now I think "asexual" and "gray-asexual".... or whatever these terms turn into.... will be seen as separate things even if they're related. So in the long run I don't think the concept of an "ace spectrum" will hold all that well. Cause like yeah, we're different, but we also have lots of common experiences it's just like.... maybe for an ace person it hit them in the face and for a gray area person it crept up on them until they were like "woah, ok we're doing this then." XD 

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Pramana   
Pramana
4 hours ago, Puck said:

As I'm sure you know from our conversations together, I tend to roll with the AVEN main page FAQ:

 

There is not an "asexuality spectrum," rather a sexuality spectrum with asexuality at one end. Gray-sexuals (along with demi) fall very close to that asexual end point but don't hit it.

In contrast to the AVEN main page FAQ, I've found that a number of academics publishing on asexuality today are on record describing asexuality as either a spectrum, as an umbrella term, as a heterogeneous demographic, or as a metaconstruct analogous to sexuality. For example, here's a group of psychologists authoring a 2017 publication in the Archives of Sexual Behavior who clearly state that asexuality is a spectrum:

“In terms of sexual attraction, romantic attraction, and sexual behavior, there is a range of experiences that might transpire within individuals on the asexual spectrum. Among the asexual community, there is recognition that some asexual individuals do experience sexual attraction in some circumstances, or with particular individuals, and these individuals might identify as “gray asexual” (or “gray-A”: a person who may only rarely experience sexual attraction) or demi-sexual (a person who experiences sexual attraction only when they form a strong emotional connection with someone) [12].” 

(Ellen Van Houdenhove, Paul Enzlin, Luk Gijs, A Positive Approach Toward Asexuality: Some First Steps, But Still a Long Way to Go, Archives of Sexual Behavior, April 2017, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 647–651).

My inclination will usually be to side with the research when there's this sort of conflict. I think AVEN's main page FAQ may be a helpful introductory source, but it doesn't appear to have been updated in a while, it's not very detailed, and this isn't the first time that I've found it to depart from common academic understandings of a concept.

That said, what researchers are doing is looking at the collection of different phenomena which people discuss within asexual communities, and then studying those phenomena individually as well as in terms of how they relate to each other. It is convenient for academies to group subtopics in these ways. Within the community, however, it may create issues.

 

4 hours ago, Puck said:

But I wonder if the constant debates occur because their needs aren't being meet and they are feeling ostracized by both the sexual and asexual ends of the spectrum. While they feel this way, some asexuals might also be feeling encroached upon because they are feeling their space is being invaded by those who don't share their experiences as well as who are seen to be invalidating those experiences. Basically, what I'm saying is I wonder if any friction is because needs are not being met on AVEN by both sides and either AVEN, or perhaps an other site, needs to meet those needs or the disgruntlement will continue.

I gather there is a sense whereby sometimes people who identify as asexual (as in lack of sexual attraction, no desire for partnered sex) may feel as though their identities are sort of de facto invalidated by people who affiliate with the label as gray-asexuals or demisexuals, and that is why there are so many definition debates. In that regard, I think there may be a tension between wanting to have the legitimacy conferred through the scientific standpoint of defining asexuality as a sexual orientation characterized by a lack of sexual attraction, and a community of people who don't desire partnered sex, since those two often but don't always align.

I agree with your idea for strengthening different specific labels, and either having dedicated communities for each, or diversifying AVEN into categories dedicated to each. But I'm not entirely such where the demarcation points would be. For example, from a scientific standpoint I'm gray-asexual because I sometimes experience sexual attraction, but at the same time I'm sex-averse and I have no interest in a partnered sexual relationship, and I'm sure I couldn't handle a compromise relationship with a sexual person. My ideal lifestyle is to either remain single or to perhaps form a nonsexual QPR relationship.

In any case, I doubt that continual definition debates will be of benefit to anyone in the community, so I hope there are prospects for creative solutions.

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Puck   
Puck
3 hours ago, Pramana said:

In contrast to the AVEN main page FAQ, I've found that a number of academics publishing on asexuality today are on record describing asexuality as either a spectrum, as an umbrella term, as a heterogeneous demographic, or as a metaconstruct analogous to sexuality. For example, here's a group of psychologists authoring a 2017 publication in the Archives of Sexual Behavior who clearly state that asexuality is a spectrum:

“In terms of sexual attraction, romantic attraction, and sexual behavior, there is a range of experiences that might transpire within individuals on the asexual spectrum. Among the asexual community, there is recognition that some asexual individuals do experience sexual attraction in some circumstances, or with particular individuals, and these individuals might identify as “gray asexual” (or “gray-A”: a person who may only rarely experience sexual attraction) or demi-sexual (a person who experiences sexual attraction only when they form a strong emotional connection with someone) [12].” 

(Ellen Van Houdenhove, Paul Enzlin, Luk Gijs, A Positive Approach Toward Asexuality: Some First Steps, But Still a Long Way to Go, Archives of Sexual Behavior, April 2017, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 647–651).

My inclination will usually be to side with the research when there's this sort of conflict. I think AVEN's main page FAQ may be a helpful introductory source, but it doesn't appear to have been updated in a while, it's not very detailed, and this isn't the first time that I've found it to depart from common academic understandings of a concept.

That said, what researchers are doing is looking at the collection of different phenomena which people discuss within asexual communities, and then studying those phenomena individually as well as in terms of how they relate to each other. It is convenient for academies to group subtopics in these ways. Within the community, however, it may create issues.

You somewhat touched on what I'm going to go into know, which is that I fear researchers using terms such as "asexual spectrum" are simply utilizing the nomenclature of the community, and not what most accurately represents sexuality as a whole.

 

You have looked into more research than I, I believe, but have you come across any scientist that suggest the origin of the idea of an "asexual spectrum?" Is there any scientific base for using such a term? Or are they just trying to utilize the communities terms? Though not all believe in such a spectrum, it's clear many do, and the idea has spread to some extent. So, is a scientist using said term actually backing the idea or simply attempting to use the term for the community?

 

Look at the very quote you showed me, particularly this part:

 

3 hours ago, Pramana said:

Among the asexual community, there is recognition that some asexual individuals do experience sexual attraction in some circumstances, or with particular individuals, and these individuals might identify as “gray asexual”

It sounds to me as though this scientist is simply trying to explain how the community defines itself instead of defining the community for us. Therefore, as much of the community disagrees with this concept, does this not negate this very paper? This researcher doesn't acknowledge the disagreement within our community on this very idea and is thus misrepresenting the community. What we need from such research is not someone to express our ideas for us, but for someone to empower us with a structure that reflects common understanding of sexuality as a whole and goes beyond our abilities to quantify ourselves to best understand what is truly the case with asexuals. (This is hard, of course, because it is not scientists who first develop labels, rather laypeople like ourselves who use and change the words until they become common use....)

 

I'm saying all this because some scientist come in more as anthropologists and learn the terms and ideas that the community does to explain it. This is important and useful, but I fear that some of these scientists have failed to capture the nuance and disagreement within the community. I could be wrong, perhaps you can link me to a scientist who originated such an idea of an asexual spectrum, but I frankly doubt such a scientific origin exists.

 

And what about the research that doesn't say anything about an "asexual spectrum?" The scientist who wrote such a paper may have made a conscious choice to not use the term, but unless they spoke directly against it, we have no way to know that they did that. So it's hard to tell, unless every single scientist uses the term, if it is a widely accepted term or not.

 

To go into more issues I have with the notion of an "asexual spectrum," I am continuously confused with how such a spectrum is meant to relate to other sexualities. If it is a separate spectrum, when does one come "off of" the sexual spectrum and thus "on to" the "asexual spectrum?" If there are two separate spectrums, then we shouldn't be quantifying the "asexual" one by the same terms and ideas as the sexual one, should we? Are they apples and oranges? I don't think they are and I don't think people mean them to be. I think people are trying to describe the end of the sexual spectrum that heads towards the asexual end point. So they have given a special name to a part of the sexual spectrum.

 

With that in mind, why is it called the "asexual spectrum" at all? Asexual is just an endpoint, while gray-sexuals lay up and down its axis. Wouldn't a better name be a "gray-sexual spectrum?" After all, it better quantifies gray-sexuals than asexuals. Asexuals are a point, graces are many points along a spectrum. Some experience attraction/desire enough to wish to have fully sexual relationships down the line (such as many demi-sexuals) while others find they rarely experience attraction/desire but not enough to actually want a sexual relationship. That, to me, sounds like something best expressed on a spectrum. Asexuality, where it's the more black and white "do you or don't you," I don't believe needs such a spectrum.

 

3 hours ago, Pramana said:

I gather there is a sense whereby sometimes people who identify as asexual (as in lack of sexual attraction, no desire for partnered sex) may feel as though their identities are sort of de facto invalidated by people who affiliate with the label as gray-asexuals or demisexuals, and that is why there are so many definition debates. In that regard, I think there may be a tension between wanting to have the legitimacy conferred through the scientific standpoint of defining asexuality as a sexual orientation characterized by a lack of sexual attraction, and a community of people who don't desire partnered sex, since those two often but don't always align.

I agree with your idea for strengthening different specific labels, and either having dedicated communities for each, or diversifying AVEN into categories dedicated to each. But I'm not entirely such where the demarcation points would be. For example, from a scientific standpoint I'm gray-asexual because I sometimes experience sexual attraction, but at the same time I'm sex-averse and I have no interest in a partnered sexual relationship, and I'm sure I couldn't handle a compromise relationship with a sexual person. My ideal lifestyle is to either remain single or to perhaps form a nonsexual QPR relationship.

In any case, I doubt that continual definition debates will be of benefit to anyone in the community, so I hope there are prospects for creative solutions.

I agree that continual definition debates won't help the community, but I don't think we are at a good place to stop them yet.

 

I highly disagree with the idea that we should allow anyone to use a label and define it at will. Don't get me wrong, I think it's dangerous for us to go around and point fingers at who is and isn't asexual or gray-sexual. However, right now the labels are kept so vague and confusing on AVEN for the sake of not invalidating anyone, that I question if they are serving people in the best way they can. It gets in the way of actual education in favor of allowing all to feel safe using whatever definition they are using.

 

As I mentioned before, I think a lot of grace folks feel there aren't resources out there for them so they choose to stick around the asexual side of things. But their needs won't be meet here either if we just argue about if they are ace or not. I think some utilize the ace label so they can feel apart of the community. And they should use the community, I welcome them and value them, but I don't think it's wise to use that label in that way. I would rather see the community embracing it's two "sides," if you will, of grace and ace as separate but together in a community, one that can support each other better than with those outside of it. What I mean by that is simply that I do think many grace folks (sounds like you might be included in this) find much more kinship and understanding amongst asexuals than sexuals. But I do believe that you would probably find the most kinship amongst other graces. Both and all are valid and welcome on AVEN, I'm glad it can be a resource for so many even if they aren't asexual. However, I think it's important we tread careful with how we are best supporting the community.

 

Oi, sorry if I'm getting long winded :P I just have so many thoughts I guess I puke them out sometimes :D

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Cimmerian   
Cimmerian

Hopefully this is coherent... I ended up writing much more than planned and it's late, but I don't trust the site's software to not erase this all before morning. :blush:

3 hours ago, Pramana said:

this isn't the first time that I've found it to depart from common academic understandings of a concept.

It also wouldn't be the first time that the academic community is still in the process of learning how and what they're actually studying so while I appreciate you going to academic sources I really hope you consider their lack of understanding on the topic still. I love seeing research done on asexuality and the surrounding identities, but I don't think it's all being done well yet, because it is still a pretty new sub-field and they haven't completely figured out how to handle the difference in how terminology is interpreted in their studied populations (which I know you've looked into somewhat).

Academics (especially published in journals) are some of the last to admit they're wrong, and going back and verifying studies (or just confirming if they were actually measuring what they hoped to measure) is seriously lacking in the behavioral sciences and something both journals and long-standing academics are just beginning to attempt to fix because published a study showing no results/differences is still rarely done by journals-- I know quite a few people in this field that have been irritated by that very problem. They love to publish new data, or try to confirm and replicate studies that are already done, but it's considered "boring" and still unpopular to get a refutation published like, "Yes, they reported a result but it was due to a to an error in our operational or conceptual definition so the research needs to be repeated with a more accurate one," so misleading information can stick around for years to decades. (There was something similar I saw trying to fight its way into the linguistics journals on the effect of context on pronoun interpretation.)

8 hours ago, Pramana said:


1. That if gray/demi-sexuals situate themselves as asexual spectrum or asexual umbrella, then people won’t know what “asexual” means anymore.

Er... well, if someone that isn't asexual (and by this I'm only meaning feels sexual attraction at some point) uses "asexual" to identify themselves to others but elaborates with the specifics of their sexuality (i.e. can only feel sexual attraction to people they form close emotional relationships with) then that can cause confusion when asexuals who never feel sexual attraction attempt to use the same term to explain themselves because then you get-- "No, you're just being a prude because I know you'll feel sexual attraction for someone eventually because another asexual told me so." That ends up providing three distinct definitions of the same word... and all that does is cause confusion. The only reason there would be "perceived priority" for asexuals is because the word being used is "asexual". If asexuals were taking the word "demi" or "grey" and explaining to people that it means you never feel sexual attraction-- causing confusion about what those words actually mean, I'd see that as a problem too.

I agree with @Galactic Turtle about how this could be similar to the gay-bi disagreements in the past. If there were many people calling themselves gay because they usually prefer the same sex but still find themselves attracted to and dating the opposite sex (because they're actually bi), then people start doubting the label "gay" and equating it with the actual definition of bisexual because that's what they're running into more often and that can cause tensions because- like the gay group-- you're having to convince people this opposite extreme really does exist and you're not being a prude or refusing to sleep with someone. Both are similar and are definitely related, but they still have different definitions.

 

Don't get me wrong Pramana, I completely understand why grays/demis may find asexual useful to explain their sexuality as a generic short-cut, but I think it's important to differentiate between "similar to/a lot like asexuality" and "asexuality". And is it really so controversial to think there is a definition of "asexual", a definition of "gray", and a definition of "demisexual" and that they are all slightly different and that trying to equate them all under the same definition is problematic, if not harmful, to the others when it comes to communicating with others-- not only in the academic community but friends, family, and partners? There's nothing wrong with housing all three of these on AVEN as a generic place for people or often or never experience sexual attraction etc. because we all have similar experiences and may experience situations the same at least 50% of the time, but it's also important for these three to be understood as distinct groups by people outside of our community, because they are distinct groups even while we have some similarities. Using the description of demisexual (who may desire sex in a close relationship) to describe an asexual in a relationship would be misleading and cause assumptions that they will want sex because they feel emotionally connected to their partner, just as using a narrow definition of asexuality to describe a demisexual in a close emotional relationship (where they experienced sexual attraction and want sex in this example) would be misleading.

 

8 hours ago, Pramana said:

That the issues faced by gray/demi-sexuals are less pressing or less significant.

I'm sorry to hear that's what you feel the definition debate is doing, I know that's not the intention of most people involved in them at all, but the debates are trying to define "asexuality" and not trying to define grey or demi. I'm not trying to ignore or dismiss these other two groups at all, because they have a noticeable presence on AVEN and I have many friends among them, but they have their own definitions that do not seem to be as controversial, so we're not trying to minimize their issues so much as merely address an important one on the asexual side. I'd actually be in support of @Puck's suggestion of having the site renamed to Grey-sexual and Asexual Visibility and Education Network   to emphasize their relatedness but distinctiveness, or if that can't happen to at least have the official definitions stating the definition of asexuality and then "similar orientations" and then lists grey and demi and their definitions on the welcome page to AVEN.

 

3 hours ago, Pramana said:

I gather there is a sense whereby sometimes people who identify as asexual (as in lack of sexual attraction, no desire for partnered sex) may feel as though their identities are sort of de facto invalidated by people who affiliate with the label as gray-asexuals or demisexuals, and that is why there are so many definition debates. In that regard, I think there may be a tension between wanting to have the legitimacy conferred through the scientific standpoint of defining asexuality as a sexual orientation characterized by a lack of sexual attraction, and a community of people who don't desire partnered sex, since those two often but don't always align.

I haven't ever thought of the discussions being about invalidation so much as a discussion that an incorrect (or more expansive) definition causes problems for the narrowest, most difficult to describe of the groups, which yes in this case would be asexual, but I suppose it could be an issue of terminology that demis or grays find more understandable (say, lack of sexual attraction) versus terminology asexuals find more understandable (lack of innate desire for partnered sex, or something along those lines). I feel like we polled that once though and the most commonly argued definitions were spread between all the groups, but I may have to try and find that survey in one of the old discussion threads....

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MistySpring   
MistySpring

I see asexuals, grey a's and demisexuals as part of a sexuality spectrum but I think the desired partnered sex wish is not all there is to this and I think there is a lot more to sexuality that can be unraveled. It is pretty evident by all the discussions and experiences on here. It sounds like a great idea to incorporate more spaces for grey a's and demisexuals in the forums, entirely separating it to a forum elsewhere would be a shame though. Where would that line be drawn in whose experience matches who's most? An aromantic asexual probably has a lot more in common with an aromantic grey a for example than with a romantic asexual. 

It does get tiresome with all the definition debates but to me as long as it doesn't bleed into threads that weren't meant for it it is fine. I echo what @Moonchaser wrote, fully agree and also it is disrespectful as well as pointless to not allow people to use a label as they want. Unless you have a way to enforce them not using it in a way you don't like (which would be morally wrong as well as who would have the authority to do so?) it is entirely useless. I'd rather there be confusion about the labels than there be people meddling in too much with how someone personally identifies. That is not the right way to inform or educate as I see it. If that is what it comes down to to speak up for what ones pov on asexuality is, crossing the line of what is respectful, then one has failed in truly spreading information I think. People shouldn't be thrown under a bus as a way of trying to make a definition more established. 

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Deus Ex Infinity   
Deus Ex Infinity
47 minutes ago, MistySpring said:

I see asexuals, grey a's and demisexuals as part of a sexuality spectrum but I think the desired partnered sex wish is not all there is to this and I think there is a lot more to sexuality that can be unraveled. It is pretty evident by all the discussions and experiences on here. It sounds like a great idea to incorporate more spaces for grey a's and demisexuals in the forums, entirely separating it to a forum elsewhere would be a shame though. Where would that line be drawn in whose experience matches who's most? An aromantic asexual probably has a lot more in common with an aromantic grey a for example than with a romantic asexual. 

It does get tiresome with all the definition debates but to me as long as it doesn't bleed into threads that weren't meant for it it is fine. I echo what @Moonchaser wrote, fully agree and also it is disrespectful as well as pointless to not allow people to use a label as they want. Unless you have a way to enforce them not using it in a way you don't like (which would be morally wrong as well as who would have the authority to do so?) it is entirely useless. I'd rather there be confusion about the labels than there be people meddling in too much with how someone personally identifies. That is not the right way to inform or educate as I see it. If that is what it comes down to to speak up for what ones pov on asexuality is, crossing the line of what is respectful, then one has failed in truly spreading information I think. People shouldn't be thrown under a bus as a way of trying to make a definition more established. 

I 100% relate and agree on that. I always tried to be as open-minded and respectful as possible against any identity or sexual orientation, ever since I can remember but it really pisses me off sometimes when people start telling me, that I must not use the lable I want to only based on their given knowlegde or attitude. No one has the right to tell someone else how to feel or not to feel. It would be a large mistake to exclude members of the demi-gray-ace spectrum from this site since there's no way to draw a solid line between these two areas as mentioned above.

 

It's so ridiculous to hear people say that I should not call myself being ace, just because of the fact that I might eventually be (or used to be ) able to experience sexual attraction, for possible less than 1-2 times a year for example. It's a valid opion of course but even so you can't seriously categorize these kind of experience as part of the regular alosexual spectrum. So the only logical conclusion leads back towards asexual tendencies in one way or another.

 

However, I'd be ok with leaving this site if making anyone else uncomfortable.

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MistySpring   
MistySpring
18 minutes ago, Deus Ex Infinity said:

I 100% relate and agree on that. I always tried to be as open-minded and respectful as possible against any identity or sexual orientation, ever since I can remember but it really pisses me off sometimes if people would start telling me, that I must not use the lable I want to for myself just based on their given knowlegde or attitude. No one has the right to tell someone else how to feel or not to feel. It would be a large mistake to exclude members of the demi-gray-ace spectrum from this site since there's no way to draw a solid line between these two areas as mentioned above.

 

It's so ridiculous to hear people say that I should not call myself being ace, just because of the fact that I might eventually be (or used to be ) able to experience sexual attraction, for possible less than 1-2 times a year for example. It's a valid opion of course but even so you can't seriously categorize these kind of experience as part of the regular alosexual spectrum. So the only logical conclusion leads back towards asexual tendencies in one way or another.

 

However, I'd be ok with leaving this site if making anyone else uncomfortable.

Yes I think you make a great point of that one has to go with what suits you best in deciding on a label definitely. :) I don't see why you should leave if your way of using a label irks or makes someone else uncomfortable because at least if you aren't telling anyone else they have to generally agree or label themselves as you do then where is the problem. 

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Ciri   
Ciri

*points to the Grey forum*

 

What exactly was the point of this thread? 

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Moonchaser   
Moonchaser
17 hours ago, Galactic Turtle said:

Yep! Which is why I said that like... 50 or 100 years from now I think "asexual" and "gray-asexual".... or whatever these terms turn into.... will be seen as separate things even if they're related. So in the long run I don't think the concept of an "ace spectrum" will hold all that well. Cause like yeah, we're different, but we also have lots of common experiences it's just like.... maybe for an ace person it hit them in the face and for a gray area person it crept up on them until they were like "woah, ok we're doing this then." XD 

I'm not seeing that. I see this all as a multi-dimensional spectrum. Certainly a person's place on that spectrum is what they were born with, but when I read posts by young people just beginning to wonder where they are on that spectrum, and when just the other day I read a post by someone who had thought for years that she was completely asexual until she got into a particular relationship that made her realize she was demi, I just don't think it would ever be a good idea for forums like this to split into too distinct fragments (i.e. on different websites altogether).  The blurring lines are helpful and inclusive, and I think they make a lot of sense for those looking at their personal identity, as well as a way to understand how diverse we are as a species in this regard.

 

I read a lot of posts that I have trouble understanding or identifying with, but that doesn't mean I don't think they belong here.

 

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Pramana   
Pramana
11 hours ago, Puck said:

You have looked into more research than I, I believe, but have you come across any scientist that suggest the origin of the idea of an "asexual spectrum?" Is there any scientific base for using such a term? Or are they just trying to utilize the communities terms? Though not all believe in such a spectrum, it's clear many do, and the idea has spread to some extent. So, is a scientist using said term actually backing the idea or simply attempting to use the term for the community?

 

11 hours ago, Cimmerian said:

It also wouldn't be the first time that the academic community is still in the process of learning how and what they're actually studying so while I appreciate you going to academic sources I really hope you consider their lack of understanding on the topic still. I love seeing research done on asexuality and the surrounding identities, but I don't think it's all being done well yet, because it is still a pretty new sub-field and they haven't completely figured out how to handle the difference in how terminology is interpreted in their studied populations (which I know you've looked into somewhat).

There are two main branches within asexuality studies, the behavioural psychologists and the queer theorists. Within the behavioural camp, there's the Bogaert/Brotto/Yule/Gorzalka group, who often publish together. I haven't seen them use spectrum/umbrella terminology, however, they're quite interested in fantasy/masturbation/pornograpahy viewing among asexuals and they focus on autochorissexuality. Thus, they seem to recognize at least two types of asexuals, those who lack sexual attraction, and those who are autochorissexuals, and then they also seem to recognize at least two subgroups of autochorissexuals (and note that Anthony Bogaert coined the term autochorissexual, so it's a term that originated in academia and was later adopted by the community). Then there's the Van Houdenhove/Enzlin/Gijs group which I cited earlier, who favour the spectrum/umbrella language. While writing as behavioural psychologists, they appear to be more influenced by queer theory, so while like you say to some extent they are concerned with adopting and incorporating community terms, there is also a prescriptive element to this usage. People writing about asexuality from a queer theory perspective usually favour a much broader definition of asexuality as a metaconstrust (thus, they don't use spectrum or umbrella terminology as often because their definitions of asexuality are even more expansive than that), and they sometimes talk about asexuality in the plural (for example, the title of the essay collection Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives, edited by Karli June Ceranowski and Megan Milks). These authors favour an expansive definition for ideological reasons, as they believe that asexuality is about depathologizing experiences which have been unjustly pathologized within sexual society. As such, they are advocating a more expansive definition of asexuality for ethical reasons, beyond what may be recognized by behavioural psychologists and members of the asexual community. It should also be noted that at least four of the main people writing from this perspective have identified as either asexual (Andrew Hinderliter, CJ DeLuzio Chasin) or gray/demi-sexual (Karli June Cerankowski, Megan Milks).
 

11 hours ago, Puck said:

As I mentioned before, I think a lot of grace folks feel there aren't resources out there for them so they choose to stick around the asexual side of things. But their needs won't be meet here either if we just argue about if they are ace or not. I think some utilize the ace label so they can feel apart of the community. And they should use the community, I welcome them and value them, but I don't think it's wise to use that label in that way. I would rather see the community embracing it's two "sides," if you will, of grace and ace as separate but together in a community, one that can support each other better than with those outside of it. What I mean by that is simply that I do think many grace folks (sounds like you might be included in this) find much more kinship and understanding amongst asexuals than sexuals. But I do believe that you would probably find the most kinship amongst other graces. Both and all are valid and welcome on AVEN, I'm glad it can be a resource for so many even if they aren't asexual. However, I think it's important we tread careful with how we are best supporting the community.

This raises an interesting question about what asexual communities are for. In addition to gray-asexuals, there are also many aromantic people in asexual communities, including people who are sexual (gray)aromantics. I have also noticed that a number of the most active members on AVEN are people who used to identify as asexual but who now identify as sexual, or who are sexual partners of asexuals. Furthermore, I would say that probably the biggest source of tension with people leaving AVEN concerns disagreements over AVEN's emphasis on gender/transgender issues, or people who think that the ToS is too strict. I have learned a lot through discussing gender issues on AVEN and I have no problem with that focus, but at the same time if it's appropriate for AVEN to have a strong emphasis on gender issues (which have no direct relation to asexuality) then surely it would also be appropriate to have a strong emphasis on gray/demi-sexuality and aromantic issues (which at the very least share a conceptual association with asexuality).

I have no problem talking about a gray-(a)sexuality spectrum in-between asexuality and sexuality. I think that would follow from the stability requirement for sexual orientations (that they constitute an enduring, stable pattern of preferences). Thus, gray-asexuality might properly be classified as an in-between phenomenon, as failing to meet the stability criterion for either asexuality or for heterosexuality/homosexuality/bisexuality. My OP was directed towards interpretations which would hold that gray/demi-sexuals are functionally asexual sexual people, which I consider to be inaccurate both from a scientific standpoint and as a reflection of my experiences.

I also think it would be a good idea to have an expanded gray-area part of the forum, due to issues with trying to group everything together too closely (I'm not sure if renaming AVEN would be a good idea, though, because it has probably developed too much name recognition to sacrifice). Unfortunately, I'm not sure if that would entirely alleviate tensions which create definition debates, as I can see at least four areas that would still be debatable: autochorissexuals (who may seek out consistent themes in fantasy and pornography suggesting some form of sexual preference, but who do so with an identiy-less imagination), sex-favourable asexuals (who wish to call themselves asexuals rather than gray-asexuals, under a strict attraction/desire distinction), people who experience sexual attraction through fetishes/paraphilias, but who don't experience sexual attraction towards other people (behavioural psychologists have talked about expanding the definition in this way), and people who experience sexual attraction but who have lost their libido (a main area of disagreement between behavioural psychologists and queer theorists regarding whether this constitutes asexuality).

That also ended up being longer than I intended. In any case, I appreciate the feedback!

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Galactic Turtle   
Galactic Turtle
1 hour ago, Moonchaser said:

I'm not seeing that. I see this all as a multi-dimensional spectrum. Certainly a person's place on that spectrum is what they were born with, but when I read posts by young people just beginning to wonder where they are on that spectrum, and when just the other day I read a post by someone who had thought for years that she was completely asexual until she got into a particular relationship that made her realize she was demi, I just don't think it would ever be a good idea for forums like this to split into too distinct fragments (i.e. on different websites altogether).  The blurring lines are helpful and inclusive, and I think they make a lot of sense for those looking at their personal identity, as well as a way to understand how diverse we are as a species in this regard.

 

I read a lot of posts that I have trouble understanding or identifying with, but that doesn't mean I don't think they belong here.

 

I never said they don't belong on aven. I did say that out in the world asexual and gray area identities can be seen distinctly different unique  identities. LGBT are all grouped together, this does not change the fact that they are four different identities. A person might think they're straight their entire life until they start to experience attraction towards someone of the same sex. Then all of a sudden they're bi yet at the same time heterosexual and bisexual are two different things just like homosexual and pansexual are two different things even though they're related. So I'm not saying aven will split or anything, I just think that in the future it will be more like the example I gave above especially if the identities we discuss here become more known to the world at large. Within bisexuality you can be a girl who likes dudes 95% of the time but still be bi (or at least that's how i understand it). So you'd be on one extreme of bisexuality, yes, but you wouldn't be "completely straight" or "completely gay" because your experience would not reflect that one singular type of attraction. No one can say for sure at any point in their life that they'll only be attracted to one type of person until the day they die or that they won't be attracted to anyone at all until the day they die because we can't tell the future, but usually people name their orientation based on what they've experienced thus far rather than what they could experience later on down the road. So yes for the person you know who thought she was ace until she realized she was demi, that's it. She just changed the name of the category she realized she fell under after that experience. This doesn't change the fact that demisexual is not asexual. They're two different yet related identities. It would be the same thing if a guy had only ever been attracted to men but all of a sudden fell for a woman. He's not on the "gay spectrum," he's bisexual. Within bisexuality and gray area identities I do think there's a spectrum (although to my knowledge they don't slice up bisexuality into further subterms but i'm not in that community so maybe I just don't know) because you're weighing two or more different things and you wade into that once your personal experiences diversify. But for people who only have one type of experience I think it's natural they'll identify with something that suggests only having one type of experience such as homoromantic or heterosexual or aromantic. And that will remain the same until they experience something that would have them think otherwise. 

 

I think once you open up the box of thought that suggests if you identify as any of these "hard line" identities you'll be limiting yourself, you eventually have no choice but to either drop identities altogether or be pan-everything because like I said if you base your identity based on what you could experience instead of what you have experienced, you really can't say anything for sure. Nevertheless I think trying to change the definitions of gay, straight, or ace to fit that type of mindset defeats the purpose of defining anything at all.

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Pramana   
Pramana
On 9/2/2017 at 4:39 AM, Puck said:

You somewhat touched on what I'm going to go into know, which is that I fear researchers using terms such as "asexual spectrum" are simply utilizing the nomenclature of the community, and not what most accurately represents sexuality as a whole.

 

You have looked into more research than I, I believe, but have you come across any scientist that suggest the origin of the idea of an "asexual spectrum?" Is there any scientific base for using such a term? Or are they just trying to utilize the communities terms? Though not all believe in such a spectrum, it's clear many do, and the idea has spread to some extent. So, is a scientist using said term actually backing the idea or simply attempting to use the term for the community?

It sounds to me as though this scientist is simply trying to explain how the community defines itself instead of defining the community for us. Therefore, as much of the community disagrees with this concept, does this not negate this very paper? This researcher doesn't acknowledge the disagreement within our community on this very idea and is thus misrepresenting the community. What we need from such research is not someone to express our ideas for us, but for someone to empower us with a structure that reflects common understanding of sexuality as a whole and goes beyond our abilities to quantify ourselves to best understand what is truly the case with asexuals. (This is hard, of course, because it is not scientists who first develop labels, rather laypeople like ourselves who use and change the words until they become common use....)

I looked into this question in more detail, so I thought I'd follow up on it. The authors I quoted are committed to arguing for studying asexuality as a continuum, based on their interpretation of data plus some principles from queer theory. I've provided a few quotes tracing the lineage of the idea from the original paper that I cited. Thus, while it appears these researchers have since picked up the spectrum/umbrella terminology from the community, the substantive part of their theory was established previously based on evidential and theoretical considerations. Therefore, the authors would probably respond to your criticisms by saying that some members of the community are objectively mistaken about how they conceive of asexuality. Furthermore, one of the authors they base their theory on is an academic who identifies as asexual, and therefore she would already be included within a concept of "us", where "us" refers to the asexual community.

Here's the quote from earlier:

“In terms of sexual attraction, romantic attraction, and sexual behavior, there is a range of experiences that might transpire within individuals on the asexual spectrum. Among the asexual community, there is recognition that some asexual individuals do experience sexual attraction in some circumstances, or with particular individuals, and these individuals might identify as “gray asexual” (or “gray-A”: a person who may only rarely experience sexual attraction) or demi-sexual (a person who experiences sexual attraction only when they form a strong emotional connection with someone) [12].” (Ellen Van Houdenhove, Paul Enzlin, Luk Gijs, A Positive Approach Toward Asexuality: Some First Steps, But Still a Long Way to Go, Archives of Sexual Behavior, April 2017, Volume 46, Issue 3, pages 647–651)

Now in a 2015 paper, the same group of psychologists argue that:

“Finally, congruent with Chasin (2011), and as discussed earlier, we argue for a dimensional approach to asexuality in which ‘‘asexual’’ is an alternative to ‘‘sexual,’’ rather than an alternative to heterosexual, homosexual/lesbian, or bisexual. According to Poston and Baumle (2010), this means taking a social-constructionist perspective on asexuality, in that it argues against binary categories (‘‘all or nothing’’) and instead recommends a continuum with varying degrees of asexuality. An alternative view could be, however, a conceptualization of asexuality as a psychological trait (e.g., McCrae & Costa, 2008). While lack or absence of sexual attraction is crucial for asexuality, it could be argued that the asexual population shows as much variation as the sexual population does and that asexual individuals can thus vary in the extent to which they do (not) experience sexual attraction, the extent to which they do (not) experience romantic attraction, the way they self-identify, and the extent to which they engage in sexual behaviors.”
 (Ellen Van Houdenhove, Luk Gijs, Guy T’Sjoen, Paul Enzlin, Asexuality: A Multidimensional Approach, Journal of Sex Research, 52(6), 2015, pages 669–678)

Following the citations from that quote, here's the abstract from the Poston and Baumle 2010 paper:

"In this paper we use data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) to ascertain and analyze patterns of asexuality in the United States. We endeavor to extend the earlier work of Bogaert (2004) on this topic, which focused on patterns of asexuality in Great Britain. Using a social constructionist perspective to study asexuality, we conceptualize and measure the phenomenon in several ways, according to behavior, desire, and self-identification. We use the NSFG respondent sampling weights to produce several sets of unbiased estimates of the percentages of persons in the U.S. population, aged 15-44, who are asexual; each set is based on one or more of the various definitions of asexuality. Finally, we describe some of the characteristics of the asexual population using multinomial logistic regression." (Dudley L. Poston Jr., Amanda K. Baumle, Patterns of Asexuality in the United States, Demographic Research, Volume 2, Article 18, pages 509-530)

And then here is the abstract from the Chasin 2011 paper (Chasin self-identifies as asexual):


"Academic interest in asexual people is new and researchers are beginning to discuss how to proceed methodologically and conceptually with the study of asexuality. This article explores several of the theoretical issues related to the study of asexuality. Researchers have tended to treat asexuality either as a distinct sexual orientation or as a lack of sexual orientation. Difficulties arise when asexual participants are inconsistent in their self-identification as asexual. Distinguishing between sexual and romantic attraction resolves this confusion, while simultaneously calling into question conceptualizations of the asexual population as a single homogenous group. Arguments are considered in favor of exploring diversity within the asexual population, particularly with respect to gender and romantic orientation, proposing that the categorical constructs employed in (a)sexuality research be replaced with continuous ones. Furthermore, given the recently noted bias toward including only self-identified asexuals, as opposed to non-self-identified asexuals or "potential-asexuals," in research about asexuality, the nature and meaning of asexual self-identification are discussed. Particular attention is paid to the theoretical importance of acknowledging asexual self-identification or lack thereof in future research into asexuality. This article discusses what these current theoretical issues mean for the study of asexuality and sexuality more generally, including a brief consideration of ethical implications for research with asexual participants. Finally, directions for future research are suggested." (CJ DeLuzio Chasin, Theoretical Issues in the Study of Asexuality, Archives of Sexual Behavior, August 2011, Volume 40, Issue 4, pages 713-723)

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Moonchaser   
Moonchaser

@Galactic Turtle Thank you for that clarification. You make many interesting points. :)

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float on   
float on

Personally I have felt stress in being accepted and acknowledged here as a greysexual.

 

the definitions debate in many ways alienates me from the community and I attempt to speak up for myself - I do necessarily feel sexual attraction, so those who say the sexual desire approach is definitive of Ace seem quite out-of-touch to me, as, when I look to the asexuals on this forum, I can sense that they do in fact not experience attraction. and I do. yet, we both lack any desire for sex. Generally, I also struggle to even understand what the concept of "Sexual desire" even means - and often try to argue for something that it sounds that one group of researches are also noting - that there are "Asexualities" in plural, not one uniform definition which speaks universally to all. I notice that some folk in fact do experience what could be called sexual attraction and yet fully identify as ace - and it seems right that they do as well - These examples could be, libido itself being (often) a part of the sexual's experience, romantic attraction being (sometimes) a part of sexuality, sensory closeness being a part of intimacy, a need for trust and close connection being (sometiems) a prerequisite for sexual interest with a partner, sexual fantasies being a part of sexuality, kink and role play being (sometimes) a part of sexuality, and enjoyment of sex without any certain desire for it being a part of sexuality. none of these are specifically "Sexual attraction" but in the range of the people who are part of these sub-groups, I observe that some folk are more leaning towards their experience being very close to sexual attraction itself (abstractly speaking)

 

long story short - I find that a lot of experiences that aces do experience, are also sometimes an essential part of sexuality as well. That, to claim that these are "ace spectrum" or "not sexual attraction" or "valid for an ace to feel" all appropriate essential aspects of human intimacy to be segregated from sexual attraction when in fact they are not. Sexual attraction is not one set thing - the one-set prejudice of what sexual attraction is is only the most common shared attribute that was recognized historically.

 

 

 

If I look to most asexuals I meet, when I can observe their preferences of intimacy, I often find that for my preferences to meet theirs in intimacy, there necessarily would need to be some amount of me lessening the sexuality of my "language of love" - aka the behaviors that affirm my affection for them through intimacy - in order to better match their spirit, and they in turn would need to open up their expectations to acommodate for times when my more-sexual "spirit" bleeds through that social self-filter. In all the necessary ways to have a relationship we could of course be auhtentically ourselfs with each other - but when it comes to intimacy, we would both need to compromise a little. this is not held as a negative thing of course - but only to reveal the comparison, that I am certainly no an ace.

 

But- the thing is, the roles are exactly reversed when I look to any sexual and have a chance to discuss intimacy preferences with them. While with a sexual person I could have more sexual connections with them as I prefer, my connecting with them would bring out a level and manifestation of sexual passion that I entirely lack.

 

It really for me, makes sense to say that I have more sexual attraction than an asexual, and less than a "full" sexual person. however, it's also very apparent to me that what this "sexual attraction" analysis is, is nothing concrete, but instead an abstract, umbrella term for human orientation, for love connection, affection, and intimacy thereof. Something to differentiate "just a friend" from "someone more important than would be appropriate to only call them a friend or even close friend" - attraction, sexuality. While the term "sexuality" has the word sex and is usually thought of to speak to sexual intimacy, I view it to more realistically be a term which accounts for intimacy between close partners or encounters in general. that, asexuality is part of sexuality. seems counter-intuitive but if you see "Asexual" to be "without sexual affect" and "sexuality" to mean "partnered intimacy" or something similar, something we don't have better discourse to capture other than "Sexuality" you can hopefully understand what I'm point to here.

 

 

 

 

I have personally felt directly alienated by people's words, beliefs, and claims on aven, that heavily imply that a greysexual person isn't part of asexuality. I find this troubling. I don't know how to really speak to my experiences, as luckily they've been few. the ones which troubles me most, are related to the hypothesis I presented prior to this paragraph, as well as people telling me that I'm grey-sexual as opposed to grey-asexual, people telling me that I'm sexual, (or rather it is implied by discourse but not a direct claim, I mean), or by people telling me that my sexual attraction isn't sexual attraction, or by people claiming that a lack of sexual desire makes a person an asexual, which is certainly not the reality for who I am. (again, I mean that the "Accusation" is not there.. .it is only a discussion which insinuates that claim would be made if we discussed it, so I do not discuss it out of fear of that claim.)

 

 

 

 

I've also been quite uncomfortable when people provide discourse claiming that an asexual cannot pursue sex, because it's clear that it does happen - before I knew anything about sex, I pursued it, anticipating that it was in fact what I wanted. I am no asexual of course, but I speak to my story as an example of stories I have heard asexuals confess. Or alternatively, to claim that a person who enjoys sexual intimacy for romantic reasons is necessarily an ace - because it is instead uncertain. to desire sexual intimacy as a way to express romantic interest, in fact, is one manifestation of sexual attraction for some sexual folk. so to claim that if a person discovers they're quite favorable towards sex because of their romantic connection - it is directly their call whether this is them being an ace, a sexual person, a grey person, or a demi person. To speak to these examples universally I find to be quite ignorant towards any individuals involved.

 

 

 

oh and - it took me nearly two years to accept my grey sexuality despite the fact that I was partially aware of it the whole time in being here, because the discorse and educative texts available on this site, I feel insufficiently represent what the grey spectrum actually is, making it seem like a compromise between the two sexualities, or dependent upon the two, or not-ace-enough, or not-grey enough. I'm not sure if mentioning these are enough to reveal the frustration such implications have for me, to negatively portray greysexuality? I compare my experience with autism in how I'm not really disabled but instead, different - and in being different, livelihood is quite a struggle - effectively making me disabled. but again, I'm not actually with a disability at all. I just think and percieve the world with a different brain structure, a different accent, a different language, than other folk do. In a very similar way, my experience of interest in sexual intimacy is not lesser than the "ace" alternative nor the "sexual" alternative, nor the "romantic" alternative. it is standalone, a different "language of love" and therefore, I find it troubling to see greysexuality defined based off of asexuality, and in fact to see asexuality based off of sexuality. I personal am quite unsure if there is a better way to define it at all - but, there can be better education efforts and context around these definitions, that more positively portray greysexuality especially, but also partially asexuality, in a more stand-alone light.

the "attitude" or "flavour" or "context" or "subtest" we use when discussion what asexuality and greysexuality are, could both be better improved to better represent them as stand-alone without the need to mess with their definitions (for lack of any better definition alternative to what we already have)

 

 

 

23 hours ago, Ciri said:

*points to the Grey forum*

 

What exactly was the point of this thread? 

lack of proper visibility, education efforts, and representation on the matter of the grey identity.

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float on   
float on

(lol, y'all weren't kidding about accidentally typing more than you anticipated. thought I'd write three sentences. whoops)

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Snao Çoñé   
Snao Çoñé

So, do all of my messages of welcoming people of all perspectives and experiences to the community, and that people in the grey area may identify strongly with asexuality to the point that they're certainly in the same realm and part of broader experiences, mean absolutely nothing if I also believe asexuality should be best understood as a fixed point instead of a fundamentally encompassing word? I get that people can read some of discussions here and feel invalidated - I've definitely been there before, and I'm feeling it now in this thread (not as an asexual person, but someone with a legitimate perspective that's welcome here) - and I believe a positive and welcoming message is vital. I don't believe that welcoming message must be contained in the base definition of asexuality. But because human beings experience nuances, does that opinion on the definition of a word make the space where I express it fundamentally unwelcoming? A simplified concept generally will not reflect complex individuals.

 

If I identified as a Buddhist despite not having read much on Buddhism, nor practising any solid Buddhist philosophies or traditions, but felt that I didn't identify with Abrahamic religions or atheism, that is self-identification that would reasonably grind the gears of devoted practising Buddhists. But whatever, nobody can really stop me from saying that about myself - though I think it's entirely reasonable to criticize me and correct me if I started to define Buddhism as what I do, rather than actual teachings of the Buddha.

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Pramana   
Pramana
25 minutes ago, Snao Çoñé said:

So, do all of my messages of welcoming people of all perspectives and experiences to the community, and that people in the grey area may identify strongly with asexuality to the point that they're certainly in the same realm and part of broader experiences, mean absolutely nothing if I also believe asexuality should be best understood as a fixed point instead of a fundamentally encompassing word? I get that people can read some of discussions here and feel invalidated - I've definitely been there before, and I'm feeling it now in this thread (not as an asexual person, but someone with a legitimate perspective that's welcome here) - and I believe a positive and welcoming message is vital. I don't believe that welcoming message must be contained in the base definition of asexuality. But because human beings experience nuances, does that opinion on the definition of a word make the space where I express it fundamentally unwelcoming? A simplified concept generally will not reflect complex individuals.

 

If I identified as a Buddhist despite not having read much on Buddhism, nor practising any solid Buddhist philosophies or traditions, but felt that I didn't identify with Abrahamic religions or atheism, that is self-identification that would reasonably grind the gears of devoted practising Buddhists. But whatever, nobody can really stop me from saying that about myself - though I think it's entirely reasonable to criticize me and correct me if I started to define Buddhism as what I do, rather than actual teachings of the Buddha.

As far as I can tell, there has never been one fixed and agreed upon definition of asexuality, that the community has included gray-asexuals and demisexuals from the beginning, and that AVEN was originally founded based on queer theory principles which suggest a metacategory view of sexual orientations and identities. Therefore, while I sympathize that some people in the community may feel alienated by the presence of greys and demis, I am not sure why they feel they are entitled to the terminology in a way that grays and demis are not. I also find it implausible to say that this situation presents a problem for educational efforts, when from early on even the academics favouring the narrowest categorial definitions of asexuality still recognized a number of different types of asexuals, and numerous academics writing from both behavioural psychology and queer theory perspectives have argued for a more expansive dimensional or multidimensional picture for descriptive, conceptual, and prescriptive reasons (since there were questions about that, I complied a summary of research as a thread in the gray-area forum, so I won't go into more detail here but suffice it to say they weren't simply following community terminology usage as that actually came much later). In addition, at least four of the main academics publishing on asexuality today also identify as gray/demi/asexual, and are involved in community organizing and representation. Thus, an 'us" compared to "them" description of the relationship between the community and academia is neither desirable nor factually sustainable. In addition, I find that most of the interesting and innovative thinking about asexuality today originates either from academia, or from blogs like the Asexual Agenda and other forms of independent organizing and writing. Thus, it will likely be those sources which have the biggest future impact on the direction of the the asexual/aromantic community. My experience is that AVEN is primarily a social site with an idiosyncratic appeal, where in a number of cases it has in fact been sexual people who have become among the most active members and to have benefited from that involvement on a personal level. Now it's fine for AVEN to be a site which serves an entertainment purpose as its primary function, but it would be inaccurate to place any weight on the personal opinions of the few hundred people who happen to post on AVEN regularly (or more likely, a vocal minority of one or two dozen people within AVEN) as in any way representative of the broader asexual/aromantic community.

From a Buddhist perspective, as someone who has two university degrees in Buddhist studies and who is quite serious about the religion (Buddhism is more important to me personally than any sexual orientation or identity could ever be, and has been that important to me for about a decade now), I would have no problem with the person you describe affiliating with Buddhism in that manner. Buddhist philosophy is anti-essentialist and process-oriented. Therefore, if an affiliation with Buddhism is assisting that person to live a better life in some way, than I would say that person's Buddhism is genuine even if non-traditional. I can support that view through reference to Buddhist literature (there is in fact a rich textual traditional criticizing efforts to try to discover the real Buddhism or the real Buddha), but also through my experiences in Buddhist communities which have always been accepting of people who may not be approaching or ascribing to Buddhism in a traditional fashion.

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Snao Çoñé   
Snao Çoñé
5 minutes ago, Pramana said:

As far as I can tell, there has never been one fixed and agreed upon definition of asexuality, that the community has included gray-asexuals and demisexuals from the beginning, and that AVEN was originally founded based on queer theory principles which suggest a metacategory view of sexual orientations and identities. Therefore, while I sympathize that some people in the community may feel alienated by the presence of greys and demis, I am not sure why they feel they are entitled to the terminology in a way that grays and demis are not. I also find it implausible to say that this situation presents a problem for educational efforts, when from early on even the academics favouring the narrowest categorial definitions of asexuality still recognized a number of different types of asexuals, and numerous academics writing from both behavioural psychology and queer theory perspectives have argued for a more expansive dimensional or multidimensional picture for descriptive, conceptual, and prescriptive reasons (since there were questions about that, I complied a summary of research as a thread in the gray-area forum, so I won't go into more detail here but suffice it to say they weren't simply following community terminology usage as that actually came much later). In addition, at least four of the main academics publishing on asexuality today also identify as gray/demi/asexual, and are involved in community organizing and representation. Thus, an 'us" compared to "them" description of the relationship between the community and academia is neither desirable nor factually sustainable. In addition, I find that most of the interesting and innovative thinking about asexuality today originates either from academia, or from blogs like the Asexual Agenda and other forms of independent organizing and writing. Thus, it will likely be those sources which have the biggest future impact on the direction of the the asexual/aromantic community. My experience is that AVEN is primarily a social site with an idiosyncratic appeal, where in a number of cases it has in fact been sexual people who have become among the most active members and to have benefited from that involvement on a personal level. Now it's fine for AVEN to be a site which serves an entertainment purpose as its primary function, but it would be inaccurate to place any weight on the personal opinions of the few hundred people who happen to post on AVEN regularly (or more likely, a vocal minority of one or two dozen people within AVEN) as in any way representative of the broader asexual/aromantic community.

I don't at all see what this has to do with my post. I didn't even mention academics. I didn't mention excluding anyone from the broader asexual community either. I feel like a lot is being projected upon people who think there's such a thing as a fixed point of asexuality, or that there's a simple concept to be widely understood before we can expect broader society to bother listening to the nuances of grey areas, and multiple threads are being created to discredit people with those opinions as both morally and intellectually invalid, or that this perspective ought to be weeded out from AVEN as a whole.

 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Pramana   
Pramana
37 minutes ago, Snao Çoñé said:

I don't at all see what this has to do with my post. I didn't even mention academics. I didn't mention excluding anyone from the broader asexual community either. I feel like a lot is being projected upon people who think there's such a thing as a fixed point of asexuality, or that there's a simple concept to be widely understood before we can expect broader society to bother listening to the nuances of grey areas, and multiple threads are being created to discredit people with those opinions as both morally and intellectually invalid, or that this perspective ought to be weeded out from AVEN as a whole.

 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The question pertains to whether people can use terminology like "asexual spectrum" or "asexual umbrella", and refer to themselves as gray-asexuals (I view myself as gray-asexual rather than gray-sexual, and I feel excluded when people tell me that I shouldn't identify that way). In response to claims that there is no scientific support for a dimensional view of asexuality and that academics were just using spectrum and umbrella terms willy nilly, I thought it would be of value to have a thread documenting the scientific studies which support a dimensional view of asexuality. There seems to be a widespread misunderstanding in the community that these terms originate only from Tumblr or are otherwise made up on the Internet with no further basis, but that view is incorrect. I have also witnessed numerous occasions where people (particularly new members) using spectrum or umbrella terminology have been met with negativity and hostility in the community, and I do not perceive that to be a welcoming environment.

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Puck   
Puck
5 minutes ago, Pramana said:

I have also witnessed numerous occasions where people using spectrum or umbrella terminology have been met with negativity and hostility in the community, and I do not perceive that to be a welcoming environment.

So, in your mind, the only way to make it a welcoming environment is for everyone to just agree with everyone else ideas even if they invalidate one's person or other's in one's community?

 

I'm not saying ideas aren't worth talking about or considering, but I would hardly agree that disagreeing makes an environment hostile. It's part of the human experience to disagree and I find it to be an important experience because conversing with those I disagree with usually leads me to open my mind and understand them better, even if I never agree with them.

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Law of Circles   
Law of Circles
27 minutes ago, Snao Çoñé said:

I don't at all see what this has to do with my post. I didn't even mention academics. I didn't mention excluding anyone from the broader asexual community either. I feel like a lot is being projected upon people who think there's such a thing as a fixed point of asexuality, or that there's a simple concept to be widely understood before we can expect broader society to bother listening to the nuances of grey areas, and multiple threads are being created to discredit people with those opinions as both morally and intellectually invalid, or that this perspective ought to be weeded out from AVEN as a whole.

 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But @Snao Çoñé, don't you realize that you're everything wrong with AVEN? :P

 

In all seriousness, though, I have been feeling for a while now that there is an agenda to these threads beyond a simple wish to have civil discourse about the definition of asexuality. I personally don't find feel particularly inspired to comment on threads when the OP has already seemed to decide that everyone who disagrees with them is not only objectively wrong, but a source of toxicity in the community. So much for trying to avoid hostility and working towards a compromise that satisfies both sides instead. ;)

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Snao Çoñé   
Snao Çoñé
26 minutes ago, Pramana said:

I view myself as gray-asexual rather than gray-sexual, and I feel excluded when people tell me that I shouldn't identify that way

Fair enough. I do know the kinds of arguments you're talking about here and can definitely see why that's frustrating for you on a personal level. I also find it interesting that I'm probably by some measures more grey than you, yet I just stick with asexual for simplicity's sake (while rarely actually sticking an overt label on myself) - which just goes to show the importance of communication on an individual level. Some discussions here certainly get stuck in ruts of what can have the a- in front of it and what can't, but I don't see how that warrants categorizing the fixed-point perspective as something AVEN should rule against like the anti-sexual or asexual elitism arguments. It seems like that's sort of the crux of this kind of discussion - that AVEN as an organization should stand against such perspectives, because elsewhere asexuality is discussed as essentially being a "spectrum" or "umbrella" and therefore somebody describing it differently is a traitor to the cause.

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Pramana   
Pramana
1 hour ago, Puck said:

So, in your mind, the only way to make it a welcoming environment is for everyone to just agree with everyone else ideas even if they invalidate one's person or other's in one's community?

 

I'm not saying ideas aren't worth talking about or considering, but I would hardly agree that disagreeing makes an environment hostile. It's part of the human experience to disagree and I find it to be an important experience because conversing with those I disagree with usually leads me to open my mind and understand them better, even if I never agree with them.

I'm referring specifically to exchanges which I would characterize as being hostile and extending beyond mere disagreement (to be clear, I'm not referring to anything in this thread, but it's something I have observed from time to time over the last few months).

I would also say that even though I support a multidimensional view of asexuality, I still believe that one should acknowledge that there is disagreement on this matter. I would argue for a multidimensional view of asexuality, but I wouldn't present it as a fact.

I realize it will be hard to make progress if the issue ends up being a situation where one group feels invalidated by how the other uses terminology, and vice versa. But in this situation, I don't think that anyone owns the terminology, and I also think people still recognize and appreciate differences between being asexual and gray-asexual, for example, even if they also use asexuality as an umbrella term. It seems to me that asexuality is essentially be used in two different ways in that scenario, but maybe it would be better for everyone to invent a new term to refer to the collection of (gray)asexual and (gray)aromantic identities.

 

1 hour ago, Law of Circles said:

In all seriousness, though, I have been feeling for a while now that there is an agenda to these threads beyond a simple wish to have civil discourse about the definition of asexuality. I personally don't find feel particularly inspired to comment on threads when the OP has already seemed to decide that everyone who disagrees with them is not only objectively wrong, but a source of toxicity in the community. So much for trying to avoid hostility and working towards a compromise that satisfies both sides instead. ;)

I believe very strongly that there is an ethical issue with favouring an exclusionary desire-based definition which is contrary to the preponderance of academic evidence (granted, it seems most people agree the desire-based definition would have to be qualified to say something like inherent/innate/intrinsic desire for partnered sex, which appears equivalent to sexual attraction anyway). Beyond that, I don't have an agenda. Most of the threads I've started have been directed towards summarizing evidence and viewpoints from academic sources or experimenting with more abstract ideas, which I think some people may find of interest. I am always open to considering contrary arguments, but unfortunately I have found that often discussion on AVEN has been anecdotally-focused and thus not especially valuable.

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Pramana   
Pramana
1 hour ago, Snao Çoñé said:

 but I don't see how that warrants categorizing the fixed-point perspective as something AVEN should rule against like the anti-sexual or asexual elitism arguments. It seems like that's sort of the crux of this kind of discussion - that AVEN as an organization should stand against such perspectives, because elsewhere asexuality is discussed as essentially being a "spectrum" or "umbrella" and therefore somebody describing it differently is a traitor to the cause.

I actually wouldn't go that far. In fact, if answering questions to new members, for example, I would acknowledge there's disagreement on this issue and explain both perspectives.

I'm arguing more against the view that grays and demis are sexual people who don't fit under the asexual umbrella, which I feel is pushing people outside the community who were previously included.

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Puck   
Puck
12 minutes ago, Pramana said:

I believe very strongly that there is an ethical issue with favouring an exclusionary desire-based definition which is contrary to the preponderance of academic evidence. Beyond that, I don't have an agenda. Most of my threads I've started have been directed towards summarizing evidence and viewpoints from academic sources or experimenting with more abstract ideas, which I think some people may find of interest. I am always open to considering contrary arguments, but unfortunately I have found that often discussion on AVEN has been anecdotally-focused and thus not especially valuable.

See, I don't think we are anywhere near a point where we can be vague with definitions. This is because the majority of society still hasn't heard about what asexuality is. And the ones who have heard often have the wrong definition. I have met people who think grace and ace are basically the same thing and it's typically to asexualities determent (thus the "you just haven't met the right person" type comments, which may be true of demi-sexuals, but will NEVER be true of an ace). I have also met people who thought that aro-ace and rom-ace are the same thing, to both's detriment. I also think that it is academics and researcher who have the most responsibility to make this distinction plain and it's the social side that should be more welcome to commingling. I'll use the example cancer research. I should HOPE the doctors doing the research acknowledge that lymphoma and myeloma are different forms of cancer, BUT they are both blood cancers. Note that the term "blood cancer" is the umbrella and it doesn't attempt to use either term to describe the other. If we claimed myeloma was on the "lymphoma spectrum," people would think it was a kind of lymphoma when it's not. And people with lymphoma saying myeloma isn't a kind of lymphoma aren't invalidating myeloma patients or trying to say they can't benefit from some of the same research, they are just saying people, especially researchers, should acknowledge that they are related but ultimately separate. They can inform the other and research can benefit both, but they need to be acknowledge as different. However, when patients are in a hospital together, they may well share experiences and find support together, even if they don't have the exact same condition.

 

A better example, I think, is the bisexual/gay comparison. I think bisexuals found a lot of strength thanks to the gay movement. They were validated and understood thanks in part to it. But, if researchers had started assuming they were the same thing, I think that would be an extreme detriment to the research. Imagine if someone was doing a study of "gay people" and wanted to pull 50 gay people to do this study, however, due to the label confusion, they pulled 45 bisexuals and 5 gay people. The study would do a terrible job of supporting either group because this "study of gay people" had barely any gay people but was also not targeted towards bisexuals so it's possible they wouldn't benefit from the research either. Also, it might well take longer for greater society to understand and accept either party because they would be confused by it as a whole. They might also simply not believe it exists because if the only "gay" person they know is actually bi, they they may assume all "gays are bi" and thus might easily just not have found the right person of their opposite gender to be with and may ultimately end up being considered straight but confused.

 

To sum all this up, I think it would be more beneficial for researchers to say "gray-(a)sexuals and asexuals" when they mean both and just "gray-(a)sexuals" or  just "asexuals" when they are talking about each independently. That, or they need to find a term that suggest both groups without attempting to define one by the other.

 

Now, we are in early stages of research so some mistakes like that might be made, and that's ok, but I think it's up to us in the community to acknowledge that graces and aces are two separate labels who both deserve their own research, understanding, and validity. But we can always, and I truly hope we do always, come together in community.

 

Of course, I get that not all agree with this, and that's ok. But it's what I think makes the most sense for us in trying to move forward as people fighting to be understood by greater society. I fear that this blurring of lines is making understanding asexuality an esoteric matter, and I think it that continues, it will keep us in obscurity and keep us ostracized.

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