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#1 Gudrun

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 11:55 PM

The asexual population is often quoted as being around 1 percent of the entire population. From what I can tell, that's based on a census form that was filled out in the UK in 1994, where 1% agreed with the statement that they never felt sexually attracted to anyone (academic article by Anthony Bogaert, published in 2004 ; get the gist of the research in this CNN article).

 

I highly doubt that research result of 1 percentage is an accurate representation of an asexual minority for several reasons, but that's not the point of this topic (discussion of the validity of the percentage here). So lets for a moment assume the 1% is representative. My point is this: this statistic keeps popping up in discussions of asexuality on AVEN, other internet fora, and in the media. Any self-respecting media outlet, be it tv or paper, will at some point in the introduction of asexuality mention this statistic.

 

I'm wondering why is this statistic is considered such an integral part of the discussion of or introduction to asexuality? Is it desirable to be so hung up on this statistic?

I for one think it's next to irrelevant to the discussion. It doesn't matter how big or small the group of identified asexuals is, and mentioning this 1% suggests that not only are we a minority, we're a very small minority. So asexuality gets portrayed not only as a largely unknown identity, but also as a rare identity, because it's only 1 percent of the entire population.

 

Did you get it, dear reader / listener? Rare and unknown. I will be interviewing a rare and unknown species of humanity right here. And no, my dear friend / family member, you cannot be asexual, because it's rare and unknown. 1%, remember, the statistics are against you.

 

Yet, compared to the (highly fluctuating) statistics on (other) LGBT+ identities (transgender statistics here), asexuality is not even the rarest identity out there, nor are the statistics very far off the identities quotes there... Which leads back to my question on the desirability of including the statistics in the discussions of asexuality. thoughts?

 



#2 anamcara

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:03 AM

i saw 1-3% on tumblr. probably higher since there's so many people that don't even know what it is.


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#3 knout

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:04 AM

I think the 1% statistic is used extensively because it's a simple representation, it's somewhat gives anyone an order of idea, a range.
It's easy to understand that it is definitely a small number, but everyone can represent it quite easily, people will compare it to their school, universities, workplace etc. For example, if they know their school has 300 students they'll keep in mind that there's a good possibility that there's at least an asexual, and most likely 3, but there can also be 10...

The number doesn't matter that much, and I personally don't think it makes us such a small minority, it's just one minority amongst many.

 

I believe media like to have their audience grasp a concept quickly, so the statistic helps, people will relate more easily. Maybe we don't offer the statistic anything, but the statistic offers us some visibility.



#4 Kitty Spoon Train

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:09 AM

I found an article a while ago which said something along the lines of that being somewhere on the asexual spectrum "may be more common than being gay". This article was not specifically about asexuality, or people who solidly identify as ace, but more a sort of combination of being about asexuality and being about the high level of media / pop culture sexualisation in Western society today. The basic point of the article was: Well, you might be surprised by the number of people for whom sex really isn't such a big deal, if at all.

 

I wish I could find it now. It was quite well written.

 

But anyway, yes, I think I get what you mean. It does seem like that 1% statistic (and general sense of IT'S SO RARE OMG) gets thrown around a lot. Instead of a more general discussion of asexuality and the asexual spectrum, and what it is about.

 

My personal take (being in the grey area) is that the number of people who are somewhere towards this end of the spectrum is much bigger than 1%. But the way it manifests is generally nearly invisible. And very hard to measure, to boot.


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#5 FunnyUsername

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:10 AM

It would be interesting to know some more recent data, but considering that that info came from a census I doubt we'll get as much diversity if we were to try and compile more data from somewhere else.

 

Personally, I'd love to see some sort of similar statistics on a country by country basis.



#6 kimbo21

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:12 AM

I, for one, have realised that since talking about my asexuality to others, sex isn't a massive deal to everyone
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#7 Kitty Spoon Train

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:20 AM

I, for one, have realised that since talking about my asexuality to others, sex isn't a massive deal to everyone

 

Yeah same...

 

Of course it's not right to go out and slap labels on people, but I've definitely met quite a few people who could quite easily qualify as somewhere in the grey area, if one had to label them for whatever reason. *shrug*

 

Not so much going by the "attraction" model of asexuality, but by desire. And by general sense of "how big a deal sex is in your life", etc. But yeah, like I said, this is where it gets very hard to measure. Which is where those floating percentages come in, like these articles which give numbers like "up to 3%" possibly qualifying as ace or in the grey area, etc.


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#8 Kenny_X

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:50 AM

I hope no one minds this as it's a bit un-PC. :unsure:

 

There used to be a Danish football manager called Ebbe Skovdahl, who famously said, "Statistics are like mini skirts - they give you good ideas but hide the most important thing."  There are times when I think he maybe had a point!


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#9 runester

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:55 AM

I believe that the validity of the number of asexuals in the global population is skewed, due to the unfamiliarity of the orientation, over-all. The word "asexual" is not that commonly utilized, therefore eliciting an erroneous group statistic.



#10 Woodworker1968

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:58 AM

i saw 1-3% on tumblr. probably higher since there's so many people that don't even know what it is.

 

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#11 Kenny_X

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 01:16 AM

I believe that the validity of the number of asexuals in the global population is skewed, due to the unfamiliarity of the orientation, over-all. The word "asexual" is not that commonly utilized, therefore eliciting an erroneous group statistic.

Exactly.  I thought of myself as bisexual.  But when I came across the term asexual I thought that was a better fit.  And when I came across the term demisexual I realised that was an even better fit.  And had always been a better fit.  There's an element of education (or lack of) involved. 

 

Every year we do a staff survey at work and 'asexual' isn't even an option.  It's hetero, gay/lesbian, bi and 'other'.  (And 'rather not say', which I always find a bit odd for an anonymous survey.)


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#12 Frankenkuddly

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 01:22 AM

Why does anyone think that one out of every hundred is such a small number? Look at it this way; your typical secondary school has between 500 to a 1000 students. That's, in theory, 5 to 10 students who are asexual PER SECONDARY SCHOOL. That's only about as rare as, say, students who are members of the chess club, or part of the school newspaper. Not that rare, really. If only the number of self-identified aces came even close to that percentage...
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#13 PerfectlyDarkTails

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 01:23 AM

That survey is I believe out of date, the study is nearly 20 years old and a more up to date study with better tools and understanding should create a more accurate representation. I do believe that percentage could be 5% or similar to LGBT stats, especially when asexuality becomes more known and visible.

#14 runester

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 01:38 AM

Kenny_X pointed to the crucial issue, in the posting above:  "There's an element of education (or lack of) involved." :mellow:



#15 Pilvi91

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 01:58 AM

Fun fact: the poll on the CNN page that was linked in the original post shows different statistics: 

 

  How would you categorize yourself?

Heterosexual                 77%     86,906 votes

Homosexual                  9%      9835 votes

Bisexual                         7%    7981 votes

Asexual                          7%     8310 votes

Total: 113032 votes

 
(Edited since the first version didn't copy+paste right from the poll)

 

 

Of course, it could be argued that more asexual/"alternative" sexual people might be attracted to this kind of article, and maybe people can even vote twice, even the poll says it's not scientifically accurate. Still, I think it's interesting that the poll says that 7% of those polled are ace. 

 

I definitely agree with a few people here, it would be nice to see a newer study. I think it's definitely a question of education, so many people have never even heard of asexuality. 


Edited by Pilvi91, 26 February 2013 - 02:01 AM.


#16 Hazel lights

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 02:03 AM

When i first learned about asexuality I was actually surprised that the percentage was 1%. I assumed that It would actually be much rarer considering how unknown asexuality is. It was kind of comforting to know that there are a lot of asexual in the world. And my school is quite large so the number of estimated asexuals really surprised me. Though it would be nice to know that the number is larger. 


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#17 Reptillian

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 02:41 AM

I'd hate to break it to everyone here who believes there is a correct percentage of asexuals, but there is no actual percentages of asexuals because there is no actual answer to the question.  Some census might reveal 0.25% of the general population is an asexual while others may be higher than 3% because of different perspective, emotions, individual differences, differing definition and so on. For the record, 1% is still a very large number when factoring into billions of people. 


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#18 Gudrun

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 07:01 PM

I found an article a while ago which said something along the lines of that being somewhere on the asexual spectrum "may be more common than being gay". This article was not specifically about asexuality, or people who solidly identify as ace, but more a sort of combination of being about asexuality and being about the high level of media / pop culture sexualisation in Western society today. The basic point of the article was: Well, you might be surprised by the number of people for whom sex really isn't such a big deal, if at all.

 

I wish I could find it now. It was quite well written.

 

But anyway, yes, I think I get what you mean. It does seem like that 1% statistic (and general sense of IT'S SO RARE OMG) gets thrown around a lot. Instead of a more general discussion of asexuality and the asexual spectrum, and what it is about.

 

My personal take (being in the grey area) is that the number of people who are somewhere towards this end of the spectrum is much bigger than 1%. But the way it manifests is generally nearly invisible. And very hard to measure, to boot.

 

Yeah, that was my point: that the 1% statistic seems a shorthand for "it's rare". And it's not - not really. Especially not compared to (other) LGBT identities, which btw do not get a constant referral to statistics in the discussions on those identities (not that I'm aware of, but feel free to prove me wrong on that). This 1% statistic is never placed in context with other statistics, like, for instance, the LGBT statistics. It's just thrown out there without context or further explanation like some "handy" fact and that emphasises the "rareness" of asexuality.

 

If you do find that article again, let me know as it sounds interesting! And I completely agree with you on the difficulty to get a definite percentage & how this statistic is probably way too low anyway. I mean: how do you define "asexuality"? how are you going to conduct a census when the vast majority of people has never heard of the asexuality spectrum before? and there is no hard line between asexuality and the grey area, so where are you going to draw the line and why? etc. etc.

 

Why does anyone think that one out of every hundred is such a small number?

 

Personally, I think the statistics here are presented in a completely different and more relatable way: 1 in a 100 is something people are more readily able to compare with real life situations, like you did. They can compare to their own company / school or home town. 1% just sounds like a negligible percentage of the entire population. For comparison, look up the statistics on the effectiveness of birth control methods: the most effective methods are in the 1% pregnancy rate. How is that treated by society? : Like something that is practically not happening. When people see the 1%, they do not necessarily start thinking up relatable scenarios in which they can figure out that there are x asexuals in their school or home town. More likely, they interpret it as something really rare. Perception is everything.

 

So in my opinion, the way in which the percentage is presented (if at all) in a text / discussion on asexuality matters deeply. Giving a context (percentages of other minorities, for instance) and putting it in a more relatable way like saying 1 in a 100, instead of 1%. It seems just like semantics, but it does change the perception of a subject how you decide to present it.

 

(for the record, Qutenkuddly, I agree with you that 1 in a 100 is not a small number. It's just perceived as such. If you start to think about it, it's quite a large number!)






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