Is asexuality a lack of sexual orientation and analogous to other sexual orientations and identities?
One of the most inescapable social assumptions is that all humans possess sexual desire (Cole, 1993; 192). A related assumption is that sexuality is not only something one does, but an identity or something one is (Weeks, 1986; Foucault, 1978, cited in Scherrer, 2008; 621).
Most inquiries into asexuality have approached it as either behaviour (lack of sexual acts) or a lack of desire for sexual acts. However, Scherrer argues that the complexity and variability of asexuality also encompasses those who are interested in romantic attachment but with limited or no physical contact, ...view middle of the document...
This brings into question exactly what is meant by asexuality and forces investigation into how the chameleon-like asexual identity co-exists with hetero and queer identities, an if it is analogous to other sexual orientations and identities (Storms, 1980; 782).
Given the deceptive heterogeneity of asexuality, there is no reason to believe hetero asexual identity, queer asexual identity or pan asexual identity should be described by the same set of characteristics or theories simply because they share the same sexual/asexual qualifier, just as we already take for granted that heterosexual and queer sexual identities do not represent a single uniform community (Przybylo, 2011; 446). For example, there could be a set of relevant sub-groups that are needed for one kind of asexual generalisation - asexuals who have engaged in sexual behaviours with men, women, trans, pan or with none, but only two relevant groups for another - asexuals who do or do not experience romantic attraction (.DeLuzio Chasin, 2011; 713).
To enable the recognition of asexuality as a separate identity, both exclusionary heteronormative politics and exclusionary queer politics that are both founded on binary logic is required. This will, in turn, facilitate a process of rejection of their respective, but reactively formulated deﬁnitions of asexuality that have largely relied on viewing asexuality as pathological. However, for asexuals, the ‘sexual world’ is akin to what patriarchy is for feminists and heteronormativity is for queer populations, in the sense that it constitutes the oppressive force against which some sort of rebellion must take place (Przybylo, 2011; 445). Although the fight for queer validity in a heteronormative world continues, the challenge for hetero and queer communities is to reassess and accept an asexual identity that seems foreign and unsound to both, in that socio-sexuality must be redefined to include those without sexual desire.
The widespread assumption of contemporary society is that “sex is a natural force that exists prior to social life and shapes institutions” (Rubin 1984: 275) If this is true, the ‘asexual other’ who does not want sex with any gender is therefore seen as betraying the basic tenets of sexuality –sexual attraction and desire. This view gives impetus to hetero and queer normativity’s denial of a non-sexual entity, compounding the asexual’s perceived need for closeting their lack of sexual desire. Asexuals who do not act in accordance with the norm know that failure to comply with normative sexual protocols involves consequences, such as further marginalisation, for failing to repeat them (Przybylo, 2011; 446). The asexual’s non-response to sexually normative stimuli, in a world that is saturated with sex at every turn, is treated as a travesty towards socio-sexuality. Consequently, a sense of asexual diﬀerence (i.e. an awareness of not experiencing sexual attraction while being surrounded by those who do...