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kt8

Asexuality - An orientation?

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you*hear*but*do*you*listen
I just think that if asexuality ended up being classed as a 'non-orientation', that would confuse people even more if and when an asexual tries to come out. It wouldn't help much with visibility and education if we just told people, 'I don't have an orientation.' Then they'd just be like, 'What?? :wacko: ' and it would be even more challenging getting the asexuality concept out there. Whereas now, if people ask you what your orientation is, you can say, 'Asexual' and then start explaining what that is. Overall I think it's better and makes more sense for it to be considered an orientation.

And another thing - I've noticed that most of the people who go on about asexuality not being an orientation are often the ones who say that it is not valid, that asexuality is more like an illness or due to some psychological trauma. (Like that annoying sex therapist on Montel.) By refusing to accept that it's an orientation, it's like they are saying, 'Asexuality must therefore be lumped into those other categories.' I for one, would much prefer that didn't happen. It doesn't do much to help our cause. So even if it's just to challenge those people, I will stand by the fact that (in my view at least) asexuality is indeed an orientation. Otherwise, what will society label it? (we all know that society's gonna categorize it as something or other anyway, as it always does with anything). Will it be labelled instead as: A mental illness? Hormonal imbalance? An unsolvable unexplainable 'issue' 1% of the population happens to have? All of which I don't believe is true. I think 'orientation' makes more sense than the alternative boxes that society's going to throw it into.

This is exactly why I describe asexuality as an orientation--"we're oriented towards no one" is usually how I say it. Saying "I don't have an orientation" seems to imply to some people that there's something wrong with me or even that I have yet to develop an orientation.

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Snap-Dragon
Edit.

I get why some consider it an orientation, I can see why.

Although I would be interested in a further explanation from Snap_Dragon as to what other aspects of sexuality asexuals continue to have barring of course, equipment.

Oops, sorry Prode, I missed your edit question. ;)

Hmm. Well, we certainly have the ability to have sex. And plenty of asexuals masturbate, or have fetishes, or find things like porn arousing. I would definitely consider libido a part of sexuality. Huh. We can experience physical attraction, and have fantasies, including erotic ones. And heck, asexuals can even desire to have sex, maybe for the physical pleasure of it, maybe as a deeper connection with a significant other, or maybe just out of pleasure at seeing a partner happy. We have genders, and romantic orientations. The only part we all lack is attraction. So, I guess, it all boils down to what you consider "sexuality". Some of those might be a bit stretchy to consider part of sexuality -- while I think attraction and libido are both definitely parts of it, I'd also say things like gender and romantic orientation are pieces as well. They might not be quite as integral a component of sexuality, but I'd say they certainly overlap with it, and affect how it's expressed. So maybe that's close enough? :P

Dang, this all shouldn't be this complicated. :wacko:

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Sally

The "orient" part of orientation just bonked me on the head. Of course it's an orientation, because we don't sexually orient toward anyone. Say an asexual is metaphorically standing on a certain point and a man and a woman appear to the right and the left. The asexual is told to turn toward (orient to) whichever person he could feel sexual attraction to. The asexual doesn't turn at all because he doesn't feel orientation toward either.

Well, that's a sloppy example since possibly neither man nor woman are attractive per se, but you get what I mean. But the "turning toward" thing is the important thing.

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Cerberus

Whether or not zero is a number, it still is used as a number and fills the number space despite it's awkward negativity of null. In the same way, a lack of an orientation is necessary as an orientation and must be used in that set to describe the possibility in that box.

Maybe it isn't an orientation, but since what it is can be complex to describe and interacts directly with sexuality, it is a simple enough short-hand and thus avoids being delegitimized by people looking for a gotcha in order to exclude the group. For that purpose, it's an orientation.

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michaeld
Whether or not zero is a number, it still is used as a number and fills the number space despite it's awkward negativity of null. In the same way, a lack of an orientation is necessary as an orientation and must be used in that set to describe the possibility in that box.

Excellent analogy.

Maybe it isn't an orientation, but since what it is can be complex to describe and interacts directly with sexuality, it is a simple enough short-hand and thus avoids being delegitimized by people looking for a gotcha in order to exclude the group. For that purpose, it's an orientation.

Yup.

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oneofthesun

I don't believe that asexuality is an orientation either. That's why I'm no longer use the word to describe myself. I call myself celibate by choice, and I think we would all be better off if we did that. If we frame asexuality as something we can't help, it gives people license to believe it's some kind of disorder that might be curable. Hell, some people are still trying to cure homosexuality despite the fact that it's been called an "orientation" for decades. If we say our lack of interest in sex is a choice, people might think we're crazy but in a free country there's nothing they could do to stop us.

... and I do believe it's a choice, because I've heard people say that they weren't sexually attracted to their partners when they first met them. They started the relationship for other reasons, reasons that do have some merit. It's like what someone was saying before about arranged marriages: Sometimes love is the result of a relationship, not the cause.

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Sciatrix
The "orient" part of orientation just bonked me on the head. Of course it's an orientation, because we don't sexually orient toward anyone. Say an asexual is metaphorically standing on a certain point and a man and a woman appear to the right and the left. The asexual is told to turn toward (orient to) whichever person he could feel sexual attraction to. The asexual doesn't turn at all because he doesn't feel orientation toward either.

Well, that's a sloppy example since possibly neither man nor woman are attractive per se, but you get what I mean. But the "turning toward" thing is the important thing.

This is exactly how I've always thought of it. Has more to do with describing the way I'm positioned to feel about people than whether I have a sexual orientation to begin with.

I don't believe that asexuality is an orientation either. That's why I'm no longer use the word to describe myself. I call myself celibate by choice, and I think we would all be better off if we did that. If we frame asexuality as something we can't help, it gives people license to believe it's some kind of disorder that might be curable. Hell, some people are still trying to cure homosexuality despite the fact that it's been called an "orientation" for decades. If we say our lack of interest in sex is a choice, people might think we're crazy but in a free country there's nothing they could do to stop us.

... and I do believe it's a choice, because I've heard people say that they weren't sexually attracted to their partners when they first met them. They started the relationship for other reasons, reasons that do have some merit. It's like what someone was saying before about arranged marriages: Sometimes love is the result of a relationship, not the cause.

So... going back to your comparison to homosexuals, would saying that they chose to be attracted to other people of the same sex help them out? It's funny, I thought that clarifying that sexual orientation is not a choice has been a big fight for the LGBT community--precisely because denigrating people for their choices is a totally different thing from denigrating them for something they are born with. Also, whether or not you're born with X condition has no bearing on whether it's pathologized. If you think it is, how do you explain the fact that as homosexuality becomes more accepted and less pathologized, the more common the belief that it is inborn?

I did not choose this. I damn well did not wake up and go "I think I'm going to be part of a ignored, fairly stigmatized gigantic sexual minority just for funsies!"If I wanted sex, I would go out and have sex. If I wanted a relationship, I would go out and look for one. Saying that I'm "voluntarily celibate" is a totally different fucking thing from saying "I am not and have never wanted a sexual relationship."

I cannot express how angry your post makes me.

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oneofthesun
So... going back to your comparison to homosexuals, would saying that they chose to be attracted to other people of the same sex help them out?

Yes. There are people who say just that in fact. Here's a link:

http://www.queerbychoice.com/faq.html

If you think it is, how do you explain the fact that as homosexuality becomes more accepted and less pathologized, the more common the belief that it is inborn?

What if it's proven that it isn't inborn? What if it is proven to be inborn and parents start thinking it's a good reason to abort a fetus? Or doctors to find a way to treat it?

Conversely, what if it's proven to be a choice? The homophobes will hate us. But wait, they already do that. The psychologists might want us to enter therapy, but they won't have any more legal power to do so, or any more effective anti-gay therapies, than they do now. The scientists would stop looking for ways to prevent or treat homosexuality because you can't treat a choice. The people who are tolerant will continue to be so because they realize that while homosexual attraction might not have been a choice, acting on it is, and we've already been acting on it for a long time now.

The belief that homosexuality isn't a choice is the reason why homophobes say that accepting homosexuality will lead to asccepting pedophilia. If homosexuality is inborn then pedophiles can claim the same thing.

You know what is the cause of 90% of the tolerance homosexuals have gained? Money. Once gay people came out of the closet, business owners saw a new market to exploit, and when said business owners started serving gay people they realized we're not so scary after all. That is how tolerance happens in a free society.

I did not choose this.

But you can choose to have a sexual relationship anyway. Like I said, lots of people have relationships without the benefit of attraction.

Like many people here, I've had offers of sex/relationships before. I made the choice to turn those people down. It's true that I wasn't really attracted to them, but that doesn't stop a lot of people. A lot of people will take what they can get in terms of sex.

Similarly, I may have been born transgendered but I made the choice to transition. As much as I wanted to, I didn't technically need to. All I technically need is food, water, and shelter.

Even if all your choices suck, they are still choices. Some people just happen to be offered better choices than others. Life ain't fair.

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ProdeFemme
Edit.

I get why some consider it an orientation, I can see why.

Although I would be interested in a further explanation from Snap_Dragon as to what other aspects of sexuality asexuals continue to have barring of course, equipment.

Oops, sorry Prode, I missed your edit question. ;)

Hmm. Well, we certainly have the ability to have sex. And plenty of asexuals masturbate, or have fetishes, or find things like porn arousing. I would definitely consider libido a part of sexuality. Huh. We can experience physical attraction, and have fantasies, including erotic ones. And heck, asexuals can even desire to have sex, maybe for the physical pleasure of it, maybe as a deeper connection with a significant other, or maybe just out of pleasure at seeing a partner happy. We have genders, and romantic orientations. The only part we all lack is attraction. So, I guess, it all boils down to what you consider "sexuality". Some of those might be a bit stretchy to consider part of sexuality -- while I think attraction and libido are both definitely parts of it, I'd also say things like gender and romantic orientation are pieces as well. They might not be quite as integral a component of sexuality, but I'd say they certainly overlap with it, and affect how it's expressed. So maybe that's close enough? :P

Dang, this all shouldn't be this complicated. :wacko:

Ok I see what you're saying. I think you're right in it really relies on one's definition of sexuality.

And one's definition of orientation too. I don't see a non-interest in something as an interest in and of itself. Much like the "not collecting stamps is a hobby" I stole from another Avenite (forget who it was); same angle. But I'm staying open and trying to understand it as a subset of sexuality instead.

Though I don't think I'm ready to recant on my stance just yet. :P

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Typical Power

I believe that the definition is counting that ALL creatures that procreate, have a sexual orientation.

For that reason, I think that the definition of Orientation needs to be changed now doesn't it?

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Sciatrix
If you think it is, how do you explain the fact that as homosexuality becomes more accepted and less pathologized, the more common the belief that it is inborn?

What if it's proven that it isn't inborn? What if it is proven to be inborn and parents start thinking it's a good reason to abort a fetus? Or doctors to find a way to treat it?

This is an issue within the autism community, another group I am part of. My answer to that is this: I'm upset by people whose stated goal in life is to make sure that people like me don't exist. I'm hurt by that mindset. But I have been hurt a thousand times more, and more personally, by people who think that my inborn tendencies are behaviors I chose out of rebellion or evil or whatever. I spent my childhood having my inborn behavior misinterpreted as lack of respect and being punished for it. Moreover, it was only when my inadequacies were acknowledged by an outside force and explained to my parents as simply being a part of who I was that I could no more change than my skin color that I stopped being punished for transgressions of (to me) invisible rules. Forgive me if your rhetoric doesn't resonate; this is something I have very personal experience with.

Conversely, what if it's proven to be a choice? The homophobes will hate us. But wait, they already do that. The psychologists might want us to enter therapy, but they won't have any more legal power to do so, or any more effective anti-gay therapies, than they do now. The scientists would stop looking for ways to prevent or treat homosexuality because you can't treat a choice. The people who are tolerant will continue to be so because they realize that while homosexual attraction might not have been a choice, acting on it is, and we've already been acting on it for a long time now.

You know what is the cause of 90% of the tolerance homosexuals have gained? Money. Once gay people came out of the closet, business owners saw a new market to exploit, and when said business owners started serving gay people they realized we're not so scary after all. That is how tolerance happens in a free society.

Well, for one thing, if it's a conscious choice then I'll have to assume that the vast majority of the LGBT community are flat morons. I don't care how much better the company of your same sex is, if it's a totally logical, reasoned conscious choice, it should be obvious that putting yourself in for abuse, sharply curtailed rights, and threat of death isn't worth it. Choosing to be a part of a historically and currently persecuted minority is not a sane or logical thing to do, so if unchosen emotions are pulled out of it the only reason for that choice I can think of is sheer idiocy. That's assuming, of course, that there's no intrinsic reason, unchosen and illogical, for a gay person to prefer romantic relationships with the same sex...

As for the cause of tolerance being money, bullshit. There's just as much money to be made exploiting anti-gay beliefs as there is to be serving gay men--running those "fixing your orientation" camps, for one. Now, if you're arguing that exposure led to tolerance, (i.e. the business owners met real live Gay PeopleTM and decided that--gasp!--they were human after all), I can buy that. But money by itself has never led to tolerance of any marginalized group. Businesses are quite happy to take marginalized people's money while simultaneously denigrating that group to all and sundry. Ask anyone who's ever been poor, or look at the history of the African-American community for a moment.

I did not choose this.

But you can choose to have a sexual relationship anyway. Like I said, lots of people have relationships without the benefit of attraction.

Like many people here, I've had offers of sex/relationships before. I made the choice to turn those people down. It's true that I wasn't really attracted to them, but that doesn't stop a lot of people. A lot of people will take what they can get in terms of sex.

Similarly, I may have been born transgendered but I made the choice to transition. As much as I wanted to, I didn't technically need to. All I technically need is food, water, and shelter.

Even if all your choices suck, they are still choices. Some people just happen to be offered better choices than others. Life ain't fair.

But my choosing to have a sexual relationship is fundamentally not the same thing as my choosing to want one. I can choose to eat a cupcake, but I will want that cupcake irrespective of whether or not I would like to want that cupcake. Similarly, I can choose to go to loud college parties all I want--but that doesn't stop me from being overstimulated and upset by the noise and the crush of people; choosing to be there cannot make me want to be there. I can choose my behavior, but I cannot choose my personality. I can choose my political and religious affiliations, but I cannot choose whether or not to be the kind of person with whom those affilations will resonate. I can choose to try to sit on my emotions and block them off, but they happen whether or not I want them to.

Your definition of choice is flawed.

On your own linked site's definition of choice:

People choose their feelings all the time. A person who is sad but who knows they need to move on with their life will often force themself to smile and think positive thoughts—and the act of doing so will gradually make them actually become happier. And a person who, 30 years into an ecstatically happy relationship, suddenly notices that their partner has lately started looking a lot older, more wrinkled, or differently shaped than is to their taste at the moment will often choose to learn to appreciate their partner's newly wrinkled and reshaped exterior for the sake of all the love and goodness that resides underneath it.

See, this isn't at all what my experience has been. When I was sad about a shitty situation in my past, all the smiling in the world and sitting on my feelings couldn't make me feel better. When I was feeling left out and abandoned last year, all that "forcing myself to think positive thoughts" did was make me feel guilty for being upset and make me more upset. This trying to force feelings that aren't there is my automatic coping mechanism, and I have come to realize that it is absolutely worthless for actually making me feel better. Doing something to address the root cause of the unhappiness is what does, or barring that letting time pass until the loss is less raw--but this forcing feelings is completely worthless.

And with respect to the second example, that's not consciously choosing feelings at all. That's changing feelings over time. That happens, truly it does, but that's not a conscious choice either.

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Cerberus
I don't believe that asexuality is an orientation either. That's why I'm no longer use the word to describe myself. I call myself celibate by choice, and I think we would all be better off if we did that. If we frame asexuality as something we can't help, it gives people license to believe it's some kind of disorder that might be curable. Hell, some people are still trying to cure homosexuality despite the fact that it's been called an "orientation" for decades. If we say our lack of interest in sex is a choice, people might think we're crazy but in a free country there's nothing they could do to stop us.

... and I do believe it's a choice, because I've heard people say that they weren't sexually attracted to their partners when they first met them. They started the relationship for other reasons, reasons that do have some merit. It's like what someone was saying before about arranged marriages: Sometimes love is the result of a relationship, not the cause.

However you choose to define yourself should be left to you, but as a general rule for all asexuals, it is woefully inaccurate, feeds negative stereotypes both about queer sexual identity and asexual identity, ties us with virginity-fetishist movements completely bypassing the orientation aspect of asexuality and thus again reinforcing the negative assumption that asexuals are repressed sexuals, and at the risk of repeating myself, completely 100% absolutely wrong.

I didn't "choose" to be celibate. I am in fact, not celibate. I am an asexual, I lack any and all sexual attraction and am sexually oriented toward no sex or person in general.

To describe myself as celibate by choice would not only betray myself but every value I believe in as well as surrender a moral high ground to a group of sick twisted bastards who believe that pretending one doesn't have sex is somehow morally superior to those who do. And frankly, FUCK. THAT. SHIT.

But by all means, define yourself however you want. (Actually serious, just because I'd be offended using it, doesn't mean that that isn't the label you find most accurate and comfortable for you).

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Sally

I spent 40+ years having sex with husband and partner and trying...desperately trying...to feel something. It never worked, not once, not with every good reason to have it work (love, marriage, frustration of partners, blahblahblah). Being asexual is a choice? Are you crazy?

And the idea offered that we should say this is a choice so people won't think we have a disorder is crazy also. Yeah, that's really the way to help build visibility so we can eventually be respected: lie! Not to mention that if you get into a relationship with someone and they think you're simply choosing not to have sex, you will be treated to all sorts of convincing and pleading and criticizing and cajoling and endless BS because they think you've made a choice and they're going to change your mind.

We can call ourselves what we wish; it doesn't change what we are.

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you*hear*but*do*you*listen

I'm very much with Sally and Sciatrix on the fact that asexuality is not a choice, and I think Cerberus is right that "celibate" by choice is a horrible alternate term for "asexual" (in general) because asexuals are sexually active. Oneofthesun, you seem to be defining orientation in terms of behavior, not attraction, or in terms of both behavior and attraction. Orientation may be an indicator of someone's behavior, but one's orientation label should not be based on behavior. If a heterosexual engages in sexual activity with someone of the same sex despite a lack of sexual attraction, does that make the person homosexual? No--the person is still heterosexual if they experience sexual attraction exclusively to the opposite sex. Kinsey himself may have mistakenly asked subjects "have you had homosexual activity in the past month?" instead of "have you been attracted to people of the same sex?" when doing his studies on homosexuality, but that doesn't mean he was wrong. No sexual orientation is a choice. You can choose to engage in sexual activity with someone you're not attracted to, but you can't choose to feel sexual attraction.

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Snap-Dragon
I don't believe that asexuality is an orientation either. That's why I'm no longer use the word to describe myself. I call myself celibate by choice, and I think we would all be better off if we did that. If we frame asexuality as something we can't help, it gives people license to believe it's some kind of disorder that might be curable. Hell, some people are still trying to cure homosexuality despite the fact that it's been called an "orientation" for decades.

There are legitimate reasons to be confused over identifying asexuality as an orientation. These are not them. Freaking heck, boy. I realize that the subtle difference between celibacy and lack of attraction can be confusing to newcomers for the first couple of weeks, but you've been here for over 3 YEARS. And you still haven't managed to grasp the difference between celibacy and attraction? You STILL haven't managed to grasp the fact that we define an orientation based on attraction, NOT behavior? Really? Unless you've spent your entire time here in JFF, you have some serious studying to do. :mad:

Your celibacy has nothing to do with anything. There are plenty of asexuals who have sex, and guess what? They still don't experience sexual attraction for their partner. That's why we call them "asexual". Celibate means nothing more than "not having sex". Sexuals and asexuals alike can be celibate, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with their attraction, which is what we define an orientation based on. It doesn't matter how we "frame" it -- it IS something we can't help, as should have been really, really obvious by the number of threads whining "how can I become sexual" or "it's so hard being like this, I wish I could change". Or even by the number of threads whining "I want to become asexual, what drugs can I take?"

If we say our lack of interest in sex is a choice, people might think we're crazy but in a free country there's nothing they could do to stop us.

Lack of interest in sex might indeed be a choice. Lack of sexual attraction is not.

... and I do believe it's a choice, because I've heard people say that they weren't sexually attracted to their partners when they first met them. They started the relationship for other reasons, reasons that do have some merit. It's like what someone was saying before about arranged marriages: Sometimes love is the result of a relationship, not the cause.

So? So some people started a relationship with someone they didn't find attractive. Big whoop, some people do have different criteria when searching for a partner, and for some, that may not include looks. That has nothing whatsoever to do with asexuality. Actually, that could very well be what we around here call "demisexuality".

So... going back to your comparison to homosexuals, would saying that they chose to be attracted to other people of the same sex help them out?

Yes. There are people who say just that in fact. Here's a link:

http://www.queerbychoice.com/faq.html

Okay. I have addressed this site several times now in my time on AVEN. The next idiot who throws that out there is going to get bitch-slapped though their monitor. Read the damn site. And no, I don't just mean the URL. Read the freaking pages. These people are NOT saying it was their choice to be queer. They are saying it was their choice whether or not to enter a relationship with someone of the same sex. They are saying they were already queer, and it was their choice to acknowlege it and not repress it. For the umpteenth time, they are not saying it was their choice to be queer.

If you think it is, how do you explain the fact that as homosexuality becomes more accepted and less pathologized, the more common the belief that it is inborn?

Conversely, what if it's proven to be a choice?

It has, in fact, been quite well established that it is not based on conscious choice. A lot of it is a mix of genetic and early environmental factors, it seems. Since I can tell you don't read the research out on this particular subject, let me clarify that for you. "Early environmental factors" does not mean bad parenting, or a kid deciding that "teh gay is cool, so Iz gonna be one". It means exposure to different levels of hormones in the womb, primarily.

The psychologists might want us to enter therapy, but they won't have any more legal power to do so, or any more effective anti-gay therapies, than they do now. The scientists would stop looking for ways to prevent or treat homosexuality because you can't treat a choice. The people who are tolerant will continue to be so because they realize that while homosexual attraction might not have been a choice, acting on it is, and we've already been acting on it for a long time now.

Are you kidding? If it was a choice "gay therapies" would work extremely well, since all you'd have to do would be to point out how stupid it is to voluntarily be part of a hated and persecuted minority for no other reason than fun. And it is exceptionally easy to treat a choice. That's why people enter regular therapy all the time, to help them learn to make healthier choices. When there's a choice, there's always an alternative, and if you're making an unwise choice, the solution is as simple as turning to an alternative. Of course, if something isn't a choice, no amount of alternatives can change you, no matter how much you may want to. That's why debate exists as well, to change people's choices, and when presented with more information, many do indeed change if they find their choices have been ill-informed. But somehow, I don't recall anyone ever being able to debate someone out of being homosexual... :rolleyes:

The belief that homosexuality isn't a choice is the reason why homophobes say that accepting homosexuality will lead to asccepting pedophilia. If homosexuality is inborn then pedophiles can claim the same thing.

And what if it is? I haven't seen any research on the subject, and somehow, though I can't imagine why, I get the feeling you haven't, either. So maybe it is possible. The difference there is that children are not considered able to give consent, as they have not matured (emotionally or physically) to a sufficient degree to fully give it. That is why pedophilia is pathologized, because it causes harm and preys on the weak and emotionally immature. Homosexual adults on the other hand, are fully able to give consent, and it causes no more harm than heterosexual adults consenting.

I did not choose this.

But you can choose to have a sexual relationship anyway. Like I said, lots of people have relationships without the benefit of attraction.

And again, it's the ATTRACTION that defines an orientation, not the BEHAVIOR. The behavior is completely, utterly irrelevant. If that weren't the case "asexual" would be synonymous with "virgin", but as a quick look through any thread dealing with sex and virginity should reveal to you, that is not the case.

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Cerberus
I don't believe that asexuality is an orientation either. That's why I'm no longer use the word to describe myself. I call myself celibate by choice, and I think we would all be better off if we did that. If we frame asexuality as something we can't help, it gives people license to believe it's some kind of disorder that might be curable. Hell, some people are still trying to cure homosexuality despite the fact that it's been called an "orientation" for decades.

There are legitimate reasons to be confused over identifying asexuality as an orientation. These are not them. Freaking heck, boy. I realize that the subtle difference between celibacy and lack of attraction can be confusing to newcomers for the first couple of weeks, but you've been here for over 3 YEARS. And you still haven't managed to grasp the difference between celibacy and attraction? You STILL haven't managed to grasp the fact that we define an orientation based on attraction, NOT behavior? Really? Unless you've spent your entire time here in JFF, you have some serious studying to do. :mad:

Your celibacy has nothing to do with anything. There are plenty of asexuals who have sex, and guess what? They still don't experience sexual attraction for their partner. That's why we call them "asexual". Celibate means nothing more than "not having sex". Sexuals and asexuals alike can be celibate, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with their attraction, which is what we define an orientation based on. It doesn't matter how we "frame" it -- it IS something we can't help, as should have been really, really obvious by the number of threads whining "how can I become sexual" or "it's so hard being like this, I wish I could change". Or even by the number of threads whining "I want to become asexual, what drugs can I take?"

If we say our lack of interest in sex is a choice, people might think we're crazy but in a free country there's nothing they could do to stop us.

Lack of interest in sex might indeed be a choice. Lack of sexual attraction is not.

... and I do believe it's a choice, because I've heard people say that they weren't sexually attracted to their partners when they first met them. They started the relationship for other reasons, reasons that do have some merit. It's like what someone was saying before about arranged marriages: Sometimes love is the result of a relationship, not the cause.

So? So some people started a relationship with someone they didn't find attractive. Big whoop, some people do have different criteria when searching for a partner, and for some, that may not include looks. That has nothing whatsoever to do with asexuality. Actually, that could very well be what we around here call "demisexuality".

So... going back to your comparison to homosexuals, would saying that they chose to be attracted to other people of the same sex help them out?

Yes. There are people who say just that in fact. Here's a link:

http://www.queerbychoice.com/faq.html

Okay. I have addressed this site several times now in my time on AVEN. The next idiot who throws that out there is going to get bitch-slapped though their monitor. Read the damn site. And no, I don't just mean the URL. Read the freaking pages. These people are NOT saying it was their choice to be queer. They are saying it was their choice whether or not to enter a relationship with someone of the same sex. They are saying they were already queer, and it was their choice to acknowlege it and not repress it. For the umpteenth time, they are not saying it was their choice to be queer.

If you think it is, how do you explain the fact that as homosexuality becomes more accepted and less pathologized, the more common the belief that it is inborn?

Conversely, what if it's proven to be a choice?

It has, in fact, been quite well established that it is not based on conscious choice. A lot of it is a mix of genetic and early environmental factors, it seems. Since I can tell you don't read the research out on this particular subject, let me clarify that for you. "Early environmental factors" does not mean bad parenting, or a kid deciding that "teh gay is cool, so Iz gonna be one". It means exposure to different levels of hormones in the womb, primarily.

The psychologists might want us to enter therapy, but they won't have any more legal power to do so, or any more effective anti-gay therapies, than they do now. The scientists would stop looking for ways to prevent or treat homosexuality because you can't treat a choice. The people who are tolerant will continue to be so because they realize that while homosexual attraction might not have been a choice, acting on it is, and we've already been acting on it for a long time now.

Are you kidding? If it was a choice "gay therapies" would work extremely well, since all you'd have to do would be to point out how stupid it is to voluntarily be part of a hated and persecuted minority for no other reason than fun. And it is exceptionally easy to treat a choice. That's why people enter regular therapy all the time, to help them learn to make healthier choices. When there's a choice, there's always an alternative, and if you're making an unwise choice, the solution is as simple as turning to an alternative. Of course, if something isn't a choice, no amount of alternatives can change you, no matter how much you may want to. That's why debate exists as well, to change people's choices, and when presented with more information, many do indeed change if they find their choices have been ill-informed. But somehow, I don't recall anyone ever being able to debate someone out of being homosexual... :rolleyes:

The belief that homosexuality isn't a choice is the reason why homophobes say that accepting homosexuality will lead to asccepting pedophilia. If homosexuality is inborn then pedophiles can claim the same thing.

And what if it is? I haven't seen any research on the subject, and somehow, though I can't imagine why, I get the feeling you haven't, either. So maybe it is possible. The difference there is that children are not considered able to give consent, as they have not matured (emotionally or physically) to a sufficient degree to fully give it. That is why pedophilia is pathologized, because it causes harm and preys on the weak and emotionally immature. Homosexual adults on the other hand, are fully able to give consent, and it causes no more harm than heterosexual adults consenting.

I did not choose this.

But you can choose to have a sexual relationship anyway. Like I said, lots of people have relationships without the benefit of attraction.

And again, it's the ATTRACTION that defines an orientation, not the BEHAVIOR. The behavior is completely, utterly irrelevant. If that weren't the case "asexual" would be synonymous with "virgin", but as a quick look through any thread dealing with sex and virginity should reveal to you, that is not the case.

Slow clap.

Yes, exactly.

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oneofthesun
If a heterosexual engages in sexual activity with someone of the same sex despite a lack of sexual attraction, does that make the person homosexual?

Ah, now you're catching on. Orientation does not actually exist as Western society defines it.

General response:

Yes I do know the difference between attraction and behavior. If you believe you can't change your sexuality then you're perfectly right... Because you believe that. Some people can however.

You have come to the conclusion that you do not and will never experience sexual attraction. Fine. But guess what - Reaching that conclusion required A CHOICE.

You could have chosen to keep trying to feel sexual attraction, which some people who've come here have. You could have chosen to avoid the issue entirely. You could have chosen to recognize that this is what you're feeling at the moment, but to be open to those feelings changing in the future. You could have chosen to believe that your feelings are permanent but still not call them an orientation.

Just because only one of those options might appeal to you doesn't mean the others are not options.

There is choice in everything we do.

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Sally
still[/i] not call them an orientation.

Just because only one of those options might appeal to you doesn't mean the others are not options.

There is choice in everything we do.

Why in the world are you so unwilling to use the word "orientation"? "Chosen to believe that your feelings are permanent but still not call them an orientation?" Why not use the word that fits? No, it isn't the case that we chose to come to a conclusion that we do not experience sexual attraction. We simply don't experience it. Period. No "choice" involved. And I've not read anything on AVEN to indicate that other people have kept trying to feel attraction, at least for more than aboutr 5 minutes. Why? Because it doesn't work! You either feel it or you don't.

We have a choice to try to believe whatever we want. We do not have a choice to feel. Feeling--or lack thereof--comes naturally.

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oneofthesun
Why in the world are you so unwilling to use the word "orientation"?

Because I had my own orientation change, which according to the generally accepted definition of the word shouldn't be possible. Because so many people who identify as gay at one time had a relatively happy sexual relationship with a member of the opposite sex. Because men who previously thought of themselves as heterosexual will have sex with other men when in prison. Because pansexual people exist.

Orientation is a fallacious concept. Sexual proclivities can and do change.

My cousin is an androphile. He will tell you straight out that he could have sex with a woman. He just doesn't want to, and he makes no apologies for that.

No, it isn't the case that we chose to come to a conclusion that we do not experience sexual attraction. We simply don't experience it. Period. No "choice" involved.

You're missing the point. Regardless of what your feelings are, you chose to believe that you will never experience sexual attraction. You could also have chosen to believe that you just haven't met the right person yet. You made a choice of what to believe regarding your sexuality.

Feelings are immaterial. (Although as I said, some people can change them). It's what you choose to believe/do with those feelings that's the issue here.

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AFlyingPiglet
I call myself celibate by choice.

What you are saying is you would like lots of sex then? The only people who are celibate are people who really want sex, but for one reason or another, they are making a conscious decision not to have any.

Why in the world are you so unwilling to use the word "orientation"?

Because I had my own orientation change, which according to the generally accepted definition of the word shouldn't be possible. Because so many people who identify as gay at one time had a relatively happy sexual relationship with a member of the opposite sex. Because men who previously thought of themselves as heterosexual will have sex with other men when in prison. Because pansexual people exist.

Orientation is a fallacious concept. Sexual proclivities can and do change.

My cousin is an androphile. He will tell you straight out that he could have sex with a woman. He just doesn't want to, and he makes no apologies for that.

No, it isn't the case that we chose to come to a conclusion that we do not experience sexual attraction. We simply don't experience it. Period. No "choice" involved.

You're missing the point. Regardless of what your feelings are, you chose to believe that you will never experience sexual attraction. You could also have chosen to believe that you just haven't met the right person yet. You made a choice of what to believe regarding your sexuality.

Feelings are immaterial. (Although as I said, some people can change them). It's what you choose to believe/do with those feelings that's the issue here.

You do hear of some people who have changed (or claimed to change) their orientation, but there are also others who have tried to change and failed. You may have been able to change your orientation but that doesn't mean to say that one size fits all. Many people are open to the possibility of change but that doesn't mean that it will (or won't) happen. Most Heterosexuals don't wait around until they turn Homosexual - they just get on with their lives and this is what Asexuals are doing here. Life is short enough as it is, without living away with the fairies in the hope of something that might happen. Yes it might, but what if it doesn't and you put your life on hold and then you realise its gone and you were living a dream and a lie and now its too late? So to that extent, yes you make a decision to live as an Asexual. Whatever orientation you are, at some point you decide that is what you are, and you live that sort of lifestyle, and if you are unsure, you generally have a look around until you identify as something else.

There is the danger in what you are saying in that it could be taken to an extreme. You could say that although there is a spectrum of 'choice' and fluidity, the only right and healthy orientation is Heterosexual (which would be societies preferred option) and anyone who isn't Heterosexual is making bad choices. If you follow your logic through, Asexuality (in any shape or form) doesn't exist - we are all Heterosexuals in denial, having made bad choices.

Yep, I consider Asexual a sexual orientation.

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Siggy
Why in the world are you so unwilling to use the word "orientation"?

Because I had my own orientation change, which according to the generally accepted definition of the word shouldn't be possible. Because so many people who identify as gay at one time had a relatively happy sexual relationship with a member of the opposite sex. Because men who previously thought of themselves as heterosexual will have sex with other men when in prison. Because pansexual people exist.

Orientation is a fallacious concept. Sexual proclivities can and do change.

All of that sounds consistent with the idea of sexual orientation.

You have come to the conclusion that you do not and will never experience sexual attraction. Fine. But guess what - Reaching that conclusion required A CHOICE.

I do not think it is the choice you think it is. I make a choice to try things, and observe the results. I make a choice to try to make the best predictions possible using the best evidence available to me. I do not directly choose to conclude that I am asexual. I only choose to make accurate conclusions to the best of my ability, and this constrains me to the conclusion that I am asexual.

You could have chosen to keep trying to feel sexual attraction, which some people who've come here have. You could have chosen to avoid the issue entirely. You could have chosen to recognize that this is what you're feeling at the moment, but to be open to those feelings changing in the future. You could have chosen to believe that your feelings are permanent but still not call them an orientation.

Hell, I did choose to keep trying to feel sexual attraction. I'm still trying. But merely trying doesn't count for much. Based on the results, it seems to be pretty ineffective. So in that sense, I think I could definitively say it's not a free choice for me. Or would you just say it's because I don't believe in myself enough? <_<

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AVENCakes
Because I had my own orientation change, which according to the generally accepted definition of the word shouldn't be possible.

The definition keeps changing. Even a century ago people would've insisted it's not possible for a man to want to lie with another man, because everyone is straight, and that's it. They didn't even have a word for straight, because why would you have a word for orientation when you could just say "human" because it applies to everyone? You don't go around differentiating the bipedal humans from the others.

Then homosexuals came out, and it's reaching acceptance- okay, so you can only be attracted to one sex, that's it. Then bisexuals, and then pansexuals came out. Okay, but you are attracted to someone sexually, everyone is attracted to at least one sex. Then asexuals.

Why not "sexuality is capable of being fluid in people" as the next frontier? There are lesbians who marry men and still identify as lesbians, there are straight men who get confused because they find themselves attracted to one guy, even though they know they find women hot. What about gray-asexuals who go through periods of feeling sexual and periods of feeling asexual throughout their entire lives?

Sexual orientation isn't rigid in everyone, just like not everyone's orientation changes throughout their life.

Regardless of what your feelings are, you chose to believe that you will never experience sexual attraction.

Not true at all, quite a few younger members get annoyed at this idea- yes, they do think they'll never experience sexual attraction, but just because there's a possibility they really are late bloomers doesn't discount their orientation at this time. There's nothing wrong with being asexual now, and becoming sexual later. Just like there's nothing wrong iwth the few people I have seen on this board who were sexual or demi at some point, but are now asexual.

The point is that you can't actively change your orientation. Your androphile cousin is technically bisexual, at least, if he feels sexual attraction for women- all he chooses is that he sleeps only with men. He didn't choose to stop feeling sexual attraction for women, he chose not to act on that attraction and act on the attraction for men instead. He can't will himself to be homosexual if he feels attraction for both, he can choose what attraction he wants to act on. Just like asexuals don't will themselves not to feel sexual attraction, but can choose to be sexually active for a person they love dearly.

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AFlyingPiglet

There is, of course, a wide spectrum amongst Asexuals in how they might define their orientation and in the behaviour they choose within their relationships.

There are those Asexuals who have sex to please a partner and there are Asexuals who enjoy sex, but just don't experience sexual attraction. Just because they are sexually active doesn't mean they are not Asexual. Equally there are those Asexuals who are repulsed by sex, for all sorts of reasons etc etc.

The danger of definition of any sexual orientation is that you can potentially end up with stereotypes and that is what they are - stereotypes.

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oneofthesun
What you are saying is you would like lots of sex then? The only people who are celibate are people who really want sex, but for one reason or another, they are making a conscious decision not to have any.

Sure I would like to have sex. I just haven't met anyone I wanted to have it with. May be that person exists, maybe they don't. The point is I've chosen not to label my orientation in order to be open to all possibilities.

Yes it might, but what if it doesn't and you put your life on hold and then you realise its gone and you were living a dream and a lie and now its too late?

All that could be said about believing that your lack of sexual attraction is permanent as well.

There is the danger in what you are saying in that it could be taken to an extreme. You could say that although there is a spectrum of 'choice' and fluidity, the only right and healthy orientation is Heterosexual

If sexual attraction was accepted as being fluid, there would be no sexual orientation for anyone to argue for or against. Not just no 'homosexual,' but no 'heterosexual' either.

I do not think it is the choice you think it is. I make a choice to try things, and observe the results. I make a choice to try to make the best predictions possible using the best evidence available to me. I do not directly choose to conclude that I am asexual. I only choose to make accurate conclusions to the best of my ability, and this constrains me to the conclusion that I am asexual.

You can feel no sexual attraction all you want, but that still doesn't mean you have to call yourself asexual.

There's nothing wrong with being asexual now, and becoming sexual later.

Yes, but Sally was implying that her orientation is permanent.

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Sally
There's nothing wrong with being asexual now, and becoming sexual later.

Yes, but Sally was implying that her orientation is permanent.

Yes, I was stating that, not only implying. I've felt asexual all my life which has been a long one, so I'm willing to say it's permanent.

I suppose you can say you're undecided, to keep your options open, but at some point, That's kind of silly. It's also a little unfair to those you might start a relationship with. They deserve to know if you've never felt attracted sexually, and still don't, to them.

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michaeld

I'm open to the idea that people's orientations might really change in some cases. I even think it's conceivable, although I'm far from sure of this, that there might be steps people can take that have the effect of changing that orientation, at least in some cases.

However this is not directly relevant to the question of whether asexuality or any other orientation is a choice.

I've never experienced sexual attraction. That was not a choice. Yes, identifying as asexual was a choice. Yes, accepting my asexuality was a choice. Yes, not going to great measures to try and change my asexuality was a choice. But being asexual-by-default? Not a choice. Being asexual up till now (and until some major change, whether deliberately induced or otherwise)? Not a choice.

Even if I could somehow make myself sexual it would not be a matter of just choosing to be sexual and immediately flipping over once I made the choice. It would rather be choosing to start some process that *may* as an end result leave me sexual. Not that I believe for a second that this is possible in my case or in the case of most asexuals...

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Sally

Decades ago when homosexuality was considered almost evil (by ordinary people, not just fundamentalists), I read a comment by a gay man who basically said, "Do you think I would CHOOSE to live a life where I'm refused jobs, refused places to live, laughed at and cursed, and kicked out by my family? Are you crazy?"

That stuff doesn't happen to us but it certainly would be more convenient to be sexual, wouldn't it? So why would we choose not to live a more convenient life, one where we wouldn't have to wonder if we'll find someone who doesn't expect us to be somebody we're not?

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AVENCakes
Yes, but Sally was implying that her orientation is permanent.

And for some people, it is. I'm pointing out that sexuality is capable of being fluid in SOME people, not that everyone's sexuality changes. I don't expect mine to, I've seen no reason to believe it will, but that doesn't mean no one else's will, or that it's wrong if they do.

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oneofthesun
I suppose you can say you're undecided, to keep your options open, but at some point, That's kind of silly. It's also a little unfair to those you might start a relationship with. They deserve to know if you've never felt attracted sexually, and still don't, to them.

I know asexual people start relationships like that and I also think it's very unfair. (Of course, telling someone right off also pretty much guarantees they will run away screaming). If asked, I describe myself as being "sexually disabled." No one has ever asked for details.

That stuff doesn't happen to us but it certainly would be more convenient to be sexual, wouldn't it? So why would we choose not to live a more convenient life, one where we wouldn't have to wonder if we'll find someone who doesn't expect us to be somebody we're not?

Every now and then we get a sexual person in here asking if they can somehow become asexual. There are advantages to it. You don't have to spend large amounts of time and energy trying (perhaps in vain) to fulfill your sexual needs.

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Snap-Dragon
If a heterosexual engages in sexual activity with someone of the same sex despite a lack of sexual attraction, does that make the person homosexual?

Ah, now you're catching on. Orientation does not actually exist as Western society defines it.

*eye twitches*

Yes, it does. Just because it doesn't align perfectly with behavior doesn't mean that it magically doesn't exist. Attraction and behavior are different. They're separate aspects of sexuality, which means that they're allowed to be different, and even to (gasp!) conflict. Attraction does not necessitate any particular behavior. It means one is more likely to behave a certain way (since that is the way they have been predisposed to prefer), but behavior is indeed a choice, and need not conform to that attraction. And here's the important part. Since orientation is defined solely in terms of the attraction bit, behavior is irrelevant. That means that it doesn't matter if it conflicts with attraction. A heterosexual man who has sex with another man (perhaps, say, in prison, where he lacks the opportunity to pursue sex with someone he is actually attracted to but still desires sex) but is only sexually attracted to women is still defined as heterosexual. The actual behavior doesn't even matter.

Yes I do know the difference between attraction and behavior. If you believe you can't change your sexuality then you're perfectly right... Because you believe that.

This is no more some sort of "mind over matter" trick than changing, say, your hair type is. You're born with a certain hair texture, thickness, amount, color, and whatever. You can't change that, and you can't choose that. You can choose what you do with it (dye it, style it differently), but you don't get to choose your natural hair. Though, for some people, it can change. Not by their choosing -- if, say, they undergo some certain medical treatments, it may change the way their hair grows (color and texture being good examples). But this is not of their choosing, and not under their control.

Some people can however.

No, some people can't. Some people have their orientation change over time (sexuality is, after all, somewhat fluid), but they don't change it. I have heard of people's orientations changing, but I have never heard of anyone waking up one day and deciding "you know what? From now on, I'm going to be gay". There is, unfortunately, NOT a choice in everything. Attraction is not a choice. Behavior, on the other hand, is, but that is irrelevant to discussions of orientation.

You have come to the conclusion that you do not and will never experience sexual attraction. Fine. But guess what - Reaching that conclusion required A CHOICE.

No, it didn't. It merely required acknowledgment. Acceptance. Admitting to yourself the way you are whether you like it or not. It's impossible to know for sure whether you're asexual or "just haven't met the right person yet" (demisexual), but as people have pointed out to countless newcomers "you're asexual now, so feel free to use the label". Additionally, people tend to have pretty good ideas of what their "types" of "right people" are, and to run across a good few in their lives. And, if they still don't feel any attraction? Then it's probably safe for them to call themselves "asexual". Once again, I'll refer you to Sally's posts.

You could have chosen to keep trying to feel sexual attraction, which some people who've come here have. You could have chosen to avoid the issue entirely. You could have chosen to recognize that this is what you're feeling at the moment, but to be open to those feelings changing in the future. You could have chosen to believe that your feelings are permanent but still not call them an orientation.

I think most people are open to those feelings. As as Sally has pointed out numerous times in her own case, some people do keep trying to feel the attraction. Know what makes all those cases similar? The fact that regardless of openness or effort, they don't feel the attraction. That is what makes them "asexual".

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