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Asexuality in young women.

LordGrep
LordGrep
Now this is slightly contrived. OK VERY contrived....

I started a conversation with this great guy on AVEN, and I asked we bring it here...

My hypothesis (that most of you know) is that asexuality is either wrongly associated with many young women, OR the definition of asexuality needs to change.

The reason being that many young women might think they are asexual being that their peak in sexual desire is 35, and not 18 as it is in men, and that things like pr0n, and the media make out that women should feel a desire similar to that of men, but this isn't the case as women are aroused, and enjoy sex in a wholly different way. 

It is my theory that many women come to places like AVEN, and accept asexuality in a  "That must be me" moment, and this is dangerous, as many women after a while figure out that they are not in fact asexual, and the label has actually stopped them seeking a sexual partner. My old point that people use asexuality prescriptively rather than descriptively. 

Also as this is the case that no one can tell if these women are asexual or not, the definition of asexuality should be changed to encompass transient asexuality, as if no one can tell what the future will bring, and that there exists people like me who became asexual, and there are those who would have once thought as themselves as asexual the idea of asexuality as only an orientation needs to change.
XenobotRedshirt_Jim

Comments

  • Xenobot
    Xenobot
    Posts: 7
    Thank you for the introduction, and hello everyone. So, without further ado, here’s the wall of text Grep mentioned:

    So, yeah, real talk. There’s been some researchers who have had excellent results with the AIS (Asexual Identification Scale). Using that, they can correctly identify 93% of self-identified asexuals with a cut off score of 40 (maximum score is 60). I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at the AIS, but it doesn’t just include whether or not someone experiences sexual attraction. A lot of the questions essentially relate to “innate desire for partnered sex”, and sex aversion/neutrality, because that’s usually the functional result of a lack of sexual attraction. The modern research endorses AVEN’s definition because it falls in line with how we define all the other sexual orientations, and because psychologists and sexologists have a more nuanced view about sexual attraction. I’ve gone through the AIS as a mock sex-favorable asexual (being generous at times with my answers) and...it doesn’t meet the cut off. Granted, they say a score of 40-60 may not catch everyone, but that’s also a way of saying “if we lower our cut-off it’ll muck up our research with too many outliers”.

     

    They then conducted an in depth study about the sexual fantasies (presence, absence, content) of nearly 800 adults, and used the AIS to identify the asexuals rather than relying solely on their self-identification. They found significant differences between the two groups. So, I guess what I’m saying is, yes, there’s about 7% of self-identified adult asexuals who just statistically don’t really fit in, and don’t really seem to match the criteria. I feel like some people over exaggerate the number of people who fall into this category. With adolescent girls, that’s kind of a different story. Teenagers all go through a stage where they try to figure out who or what they are. That’s a critical psychological milestone. Some need to try on multiple labels before they find one that fits. With girls it can be even trickier because they’re more... how should I put it? They’re more socially aware and invested. They’re more apt to join or form communities/peer support groups/etc.. Frankly, they tend to care more about that sort of thing, so they may latch on to a label more tightly or more quickly than a boy generally would.

     

    Adolescent sexuality is more fluid, female sexuality is more fluid, asexuality might have less stability over time compared to other sexual orientations. Are they wrong, though? In a sense, I think they’re usually not. Right here, right now, it feels right, and I think that’s what’s important. If they are wrong, well... Sometimes it’s better to let people figure out they’re wrong, than to tell them that they are. This is especially true when it comes to something as sensitive as the sexual feelings of a teenaged girl. I’m all for providing sex education, but [name redacted] tends to go about it in a very... bulldozer-y sort of way. She means well, I know she does... but when it comes to sexuality, the research does consistently show that it’s better for the mental health of people (especially teenagers) to be supported in their sexuality/gender self-identification, and ultimately to not to make a big deal out of it if things change.

    Redshirt_Jim
  • cavalier080854
    cavalier080854
    Posts: 2,175 edited July 7
    @Xenobot  I scored 52.
    Only questions 4 and 6 resulted in scores of 1 in each.
    Why should I care how others feel about sex (6) and I am not bothered one way or the other about sex. I neither seek it or want it (4) so I am not afraid of it. If it happens, it happens. In 63 years I have never desired it.
  • Xenobot
    Xenobot
    Posts: 7
    My score is 49. The two items that pull my score down the most are items 6 (I would hope I’ve studied human psychology enough at this point not to be confused by what causes other people to be so interested in sexual relationships), and 7 (I masturbate and have too many weird kinky thoughts to rightfully call myself nonsexual, I just don’t want to share).
  • cavalier080854
    cavalier080854
    Posts: 2,175
    @Xenobot unlike most of the people in the Asexual scene. I have been around the world and been in brothels, sex shows and hard core porn. I have talked to hookers and sex workers as well as sex positive women, after all, I grew up in the sexual revolution of the 60/70s. I have been offered sex many times, by friends and strangers around the world as well as by prostitutes.
    Nah, I'm just not bothered. Even masturbation isn't worth the effort for the reward and haven't done it for 20 years and even then it was for scientific purposes. Really the last time was to get rid of morning wood whilst going through puberty.
    Sex is natural for nearly all of humanity. Just not for me. It neither grosses me out or appeals to me.
  • Xenobot
    Xenobot
    Posts: 7
    @cavalier080854 fair enough. I actually didn’t start masturbating until I was in my mid 20s. Started with curiosity and I decided I did quite like it, but it usually has more to do with tension/stress/pain relief than actively feeling horny. I haven’t had as many opportunities to explore as you have, but I live very near a city known for its debauchery. I’ve been to a few BDSM meetups since I wanted to know if that was what it took to finally click for me, since the vanilla stuff sure as hell doesn’t, but nope. I can be turned on thinking about certain bdsm type scenarios, but the utter lack of sexual interest in people wins out every time.
    cavalier080854
  • LordGrep
    LordGrep
    Posts: 2,686
    Ok.. In reply to the reply.

    The actual scoring system etc doesn't bother me that much, and as far as I can tell there just hasn't been any studies to see how many young women self identify as asexual who then go on to become sexual. I don't know how many who are judged by the questionnaire go on to change. 

    I don't advocate that anyone be forcefed anything, but presenting asexuality in the way that AVEN currently does by not giving young women the information that there is a strong likelihood they are not asexual in the classical sense is just plane misleading, and damaging. Sure lets let young vulnerable women believe that they have no sexuality, and support them in this lie, lets give them a friendship group and support network.. This sounds more like a cult than it does education. I have no issue with supporting someone who identifies as an asexual, and I won't say to them "You are probably wrong" (though they probably are), but I really want them to be informed that what they are feeling is just normal for a great deal of women, and one should not expect to have the sexual desire that is portrayed in various forms of media. Just saying "They will be better off if they mistakenly believe they are asexual and find out for themselves" misses two things 1: Its just imppral, 2; How do you know? How does anyone know how many people are actually sexual but have just cut themselves off from finding out they could have feelings by just stopping themselves because they identify as asexual (I hope you understand that). 
  • Xenobot
    Xenobot
    Posts: 7
    You can lead them towards truth without being confrontational or deciding the truth for them. It’s maybe a little... condescending? to treat young women like they need to be told what they are or are not because they don’t know any better. As I said, that is their subjective truth at that time. We can validate that they feel that way without doing some kind irreparable damage to their psyche. It’s quite the opposite. Being emotionally supportive of a young person in their journey to define themselves boosts their self-esteem. Most of all, it makes them feel accepted, and finding acceptance is really critical at that stage of their development in particular. Social rejection can be extremely detrimental at any age, but especially so during the identity formation stage of people’s lives. (I noticed you even have a thread on here about how social rejection causes suffering, so we should be on the same page here).

    AVEN gives them a place to go where they can find acceptance. Now, as for how we minimize the potential for them clinging to the label even after it’s no longer relevant to them... We actually have a big advantage. Probably not 5 years ago if you were to even hint that people’s sexual orientations could change, you’d be decended upon by an angry mob of SJWs. Our understanding of the fluidity of sexuality (particularly for women) has only very recently been expanded, as it was hindered before by activism. Which, they meant well, but it’s a nuanced topic. You can’t forcefully change someone’s sexual orientation, an individual can’t consciously will it to change, if you’re a man it most likely will never change, but it can change. It doesn’t invalidate the previous sexual orientation. (It probably has to do with epigenetics or something).

    So, we need to embrace that sentiment and repeat it. Asexuality (and other sexual orientations) can change naturally over time, and that’s ok. Women, in particular, should be encouraged not to feel like frauds/fakers/liars because their sexuality tends to be more fluid. Let them know it’s a perfectly normal aspect of female sexuality.

    And that brings me to my next point: Let them know it’s a perfectly normal aspect of sexuality. Tell them what primary and secondary attraction is. Tell them what arousal nonconcordance is. Point them towards solid, comprehensive sex-ed. For young women, specifically point them towards professional educators who write books/articles or give talks about female sexuality. One of my major issues with the way [name redacted] goes about it is that I have seen her twist or misunderstand one such prominent educator/researcher to further her agenda on AVEN. That kind of thing is not helpful.

    We are not professional educators when it comes to sexuality, so we should be encouraging teenagers/young adults to go look at the source material instead of potentially mangling it ourselves and causing even more confusion. It’s frankly arrogant to make it one’s personal mission to play sex-ed teacher on AVEN. There are people who do that crap for a living, so let’s let them do the majority of the talking/writing, while we supply links. Short answers, yeah, I would hope we can manage that, but detailed explanations ought to be left to the professionals.

    With this combination of promoting the fluidity of sexuality, and giving people the opportunity to learn about normal sexuality, they’ll figure it out. We can trust young people to figure themselves out, just as we did, and just as billions of other people have over the course of history. AVEN will be a blip in the lives of the majority of users. The ones who stick around will be able to pick up on how well they are, or are no longer relating to the asexual adults there. If they sense they no longer fit in as well as they once did, chances are they will gradually transition over to another kind of community.

    The end result is the same, but the journey is kinder. That sounds like a win-win to me.
  • LordGrep
    LordGrep
    Posts: 2,686
    I really get what you are saying @Xenobot. I think you are just reacting against one persons way of doing something, and that's understandable. I also think their response is reasonable too. I spent a long time trying to get AVEN's message to change. I would like many things about AVEN to be different, though I find trying to change it is impossible, it's part of the reason I am working on an alternative.

    I don't think that telling anyone that they are wrong is healthy. HOWEVER I want to make sure that ALL the facts are known, and asexuality isn't 'sold' to anyone. AVEN basically says that anyone can identify as asexual, and it is never to be questioned. I really think that the definition of asexuality needs to change to encompass transitional asexuality. THAT would achieve what you want, and what I want, it would also make it damned clear that asexuality does not necessarily mean that one is the same for life. AVEN sets it's self up as a sexual educator yet it makes no mention what so ever that sexuality can change, or that asexuality is something that people can and do "grow out of". It's a huge taboo in the community in fact. It took a very long time for many people to accept that I was asexual, it took a lot of conversations, and me repeatedly asking "if I am not asexual what am I" The best answer I get is "Non libiodomist", and that word only came about because of the early history of AVEN NOT because of any study. Also the reason AVEN insists that asexuality is and has to be an orientation is a political thing brought about by AVEN seeking support of the LGBT community, and it seems to be more about accessing funds more than it fits the reality.

    Sure, some people are overly arrogant about things, and while there is one person who seems to have taken my ideas on board, and is now "preaching" them, they are unfortunately a minority, and in your opinion their views might push people away. I really don't think anyone should say to anyone "you are not asexual". I do though strongly believe that ALL the facts are available, and that it's the community that needs to reflect reality, and not prescribe it.  
    Xenobot
  • Xenobot
    Xenobot
    Posts: 7
    I’m glad we can agree that it isn’t healthy to outright tell people they’re wrong. I do take issue with the methods of some people on AVEN, that is true. I refer primarily to that one person because that’s what began our conversation in PMs in the first place, but that’s certainly not the only person whose methods rub me the wrong way. Yes, I am biased towards my own approach (anyone with any self-confidence at all it biased towards the way they like to do things, that’s human nature). It’s in my general nature to prefer a very gentle/compassionate approach overall, especially with matters such as these.

    Even if AVEN remained exactly the same, I don’t really think it’s doing much harm. I’d be more concerned with the toxic trashfire that is Tumblr, but... I’m also kind of content to let them fend for themselves over there, because I believe its a lost cause. The concept of sexual fluidity is gaining acceptance, and that’ll be a great help to young people (and older people like yourself who find things have changed in that regard). I think you’re asexual. I don’t see any reason why you can’t be. I think you asked me something like this once on AVEN when I had unintentionally excluded people in your situation from a conversation about asexuality, and I appreciated being reminded that people in your boat exist.

    Of course AVEN promoted itself as a sexual orientation for political reasons, but they’re most likely not wrong. Based on the actual research I’ve seen, asexual people tend to have the same biomarkers for atypical prenatal development that LGBTQ and *gasp!* pedophiles (Oh noes! Science is politically incorrect!) do. They’ve also found that asexuality can be distinguished from sexual dysfunction/desire disorders. It looks like there’s a little bit of a relationship between asexuality and sexual trauma (not nearly as much as you’d think), but there’s also a little bit more of a relationship between LGBTQ and *gasp!* pedophiles with sexual trauma than the rest of the population too. It’s hard to say though whether the trauma is actually interacting with atypical (in regard to prenatal hormones) brains to influence the development of a non-cishet identity, or if sexual predators are more apt to target them (there is evidence of this). Hell, maybe it’s a combination of the two.

    Anyway, while researchers are leaning quite heavily towards asexuality as a sexual orientation, they also think asexuality may potentially be a little more etiologically diverse than some other orientations. So, the next question is, are the researchers politically motivated to define asexuality as a sexual orientation?

    Well, let me tell you a little story. A while back, the psychological community in the US tried to more publicly acknowledge what all the research into pedophilia points to. Like, “Hey, guys. I know this is uncomfortable, and it doesn’t change the fact that sex with kids is definitely not okay, but all the evidence points to preferential pedophilia being a sexual orientation based on age rather than gender.” As you might suspect, certain people (on both the left and right, but for somewhat different reasons) were ready to burn them all at the stake. So, quite literally, the immense backlash caused them to go back into the closet with the huge amounts of evidence pointing to this being true.

    Behind the scenes, psycholgists and sexologists are still definitely acknowledging this. Where am I going with this? The primary researchers (Bogaert, Yule, & Brotto) who are leading the charge in identifying asexuality as a sexual orientation are also willing to make those scientific parallels to pedophilia when discussing sexual orientation. Bogaert even goes so far to drop in a little mention about pedophila in his book about Understanding Asexuality. Ergo, they are demonstrating that the truth is more important to them than what is politically correct to say at this time.

    Here’s the footnote from Bogaert’s book: “One of these groups is pedophiles. This fact should not be taken to mean that homosexuality (or asexuality) and thus pedophilia should be seen as linked in a behavioral way—that is, to mean that gay men, lesbians, or asexuals are more likely to abuse children. This is not the case. Instead, this fact should be taken as evidence that sexual attraction, atypical and otherwise, is very likely influenced by prenatal events.”

    Here’s a quote from Brotto & Yule’s research: “Using criteria that have been applied to considering whether pedophilia should be considered a unique sexual orientation or not, we conclude that there is modest support for asexuality’s placement as a unique sexual orientation. There is, however, likely as much variability among asexual individuals’ lack of sexual attraction (and whether it also extends to lack of romantic attraction) as there is among sexual individuals’ presence of sexual attraction.”
  • LordGrep
    LordGrep
    Posts: 2,686
    I really don't have an issue in saying that paedophilia is an orientation. The only difference is that it is the only orientation that isn't able to be consensual. Who knows though, maybe there are people that have an orientation towards *G-fucking-asp* rape.... This is when we start asking the difference between an orientation and a fetish, or kink. 

    Tubler... Oh fuck lets just not go there... The thing about AVEN that IS special, and the reason it NEEDS to change is that it claims to represent asexual people, and many organisations, and people respect AVEN, and accepts that it is the representation of asexual people and thinking. 
  • Xenobot
    Xenobot
    Posts: 7
    An attraction to an act or scenario doesn’t meet the criteria needed to be considered a sexual orientation, because there’s no emphasis on sexual attraction to a target. Zoophilia (sexual/romantic attraction to animals) is probably an honest-to-goodness sexual orientation too, as uncomfortable as that might be to some people.

    Rapists are generally getting off on exerting control or dominance. Lots of people who abuse children aren’t technically pedophiles in the psychological sense but rather they are opportunistic sexual predators. They don’t paricularly find children sexually attractive or romantically attractive, but they find it arousing to exert control over them, and easier to exert control over them than adults. Basically they’re cowards to the nth degree, preying upon the weakest people they can gain access to. In prison, they generally end up getting raped rather than raping others because they can’t exert that level of sexual control over an adult, and therefore become victims themselves.

    Nonetheless, it is always worth acknowledging that the things we find sexually appealing are never chosen, be they interests in a type of person (or animal), or interests in a scenario/act. All we can choose is how or how not to act on it.
  • LordGrep
    LordGrep
    Posts: 2,686
    Just as a matter of interest, would you say anything is a matter of choice?
  • Xenobot
    Xenobot
    Posts: 7
    Yes and no. I think a lot of free will is kind of an illusion (or at least that it doesn’t work the way most people think it does), but interestingly enough a belief in an “internal locus of control” (that you can control your own actions) is actually correlated with better impulse control when compared to “external locus of control”. So, that leaves me to think that there’s definitely a dialogue going on between our conscious mind and our instinctive brain/subconscious mind that can influence our choices/behaviors.

    What was the evolutionary advantage to consciousness in the first place? I think it has to do with the ability to plan and problem solve. The ability to plan/problem solve appears to have been incredibly advantageous to us as a species. It helps us to better deduce which choice is better. How much choice do we actually have in the final choice to act one way or another is hard to determine. I’ve heard a neurologist describe the decision making process to be like a swarm of democratic bees in our brains. Less sentient/sapient animals make decisions all the time, probably without much input from their conscious mind, if they have consciousness at all in some cases.

    However, I do think we can see a correlation between higher sentience/sapience and more complex behaviors and planning before engaging in a behavior. Which would seem to imply that the ability to think about your behavior changes your behavior, especially if you hold the belief that you are in control of your own behavior... but can you choose to believe you have control of your own actions?

    Much of cognitive-behavioral therapy has to do with modifying thoughts and behaviors, and it’s much more empirically sound than that psychoanalysis crap. The answer, based on the effectiveness of that, seems to be yes. You can actually actively work to change your own thoughts and beliefs, which effects your behavior. It doesn’t work on everything though. And the shit thing is that if you try to modify something which cannot be consciously modified (like sexual orientation or gender identity), it causes a fuck ton of mental distress. Hence why conversion therapy for gays tends to be very traumatic, even if they actively want to change it.

    Final conclusion, I don’t fucking know but I think our conscious mind is important in the overall system.
  • princessem1020
    princessem1020
    Posts: 8 edited July 26
    Some people claim that I'm asexual either becuase I am a woman or I am young. Um, the majoity of women experiance sexual attraction and can be super sexual. Also, I am twenty, I would have experienced it by now if I wasn't ace. Those are some of the dumbest things to say about it.
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