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'''Asexuality''' is a general term or self-designation for people who find [[human sexual behavior|sexual behavior]] unappealing. There is debate as to whether this is a [[sexual dysfunction]] or an actual [[sexual orientation]]; furthermore, there is disagreement over the exact definition of the word. The term is also sometimes used as a [[gender identity]] by those who believe their lack of sexual attraction places them outside the standard definitions of [[gender]]. There has been little research done on asexuality, but those studies that have been conducted suggest that, if it is a sexual orientation, it is among the least common.
 
   
==Debate==
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'''Asexuality''' is a [[sexual orientation]] that describes individuals who do not experience [[sexual attraction]].<ref name="New Scientist">{{cite web |author=Westphal, Sylvia Pagan (2004) |url=http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6533 |title=Feature: Glad to be asexual |work=[http://www.newscientist.com New Scientist] |accessdate=11 November |accessyear=2007 }}</ref> The use of asexuality as a [[human]] sexual orientation has been described in academic studies since the late 1970s, and a community of self-identified asexuals coalesced in the early 21st century, aided by the popularity of [[Virtual community|online communities]].<ref name="New Scientist"/> One commonly cited study placed the incidence rate of asexuality at 1%.<ref name="cnn">{{cite web |url=http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/10/14/asexual.study/index.html |title=Study: One in 100 adults asexual |work=[http://www.cnn.com CNN.com] |accessdate=11 November |accessyear=2007 }}</ref>
There is disagreement over whether asexuality is a legitimate sexual orientation. Some argue that it falls under the heading of [[hypoactive sexual disorder]] or [[sexual aversion disorder]]. Among those who do not believe it to be an orientation, other suggested causes include past [[sexual abuse]], sexual repression (of [[homosexuality]], [[heterosexuality]] or [[bisexuality]]), [[hormone|hormonal]] problems, delayed development of attraction, [[sublimation (psychology)|sublimation]], and not having met the right person. Many self-identified asexuals, meanwhile, deny that such diagnoses apply to them; others argue that because their asexuality does not cause them distress it should not be viewed as a medical or emotional [[disorder]]. Others argue that in the past, similar things were said about homosexuality and bisexuality, despite the fact that many people now consider these to be legitimate orientations.
 
   
Because of the lack of research on the subject, there is little documented evidence in favor of either side of the debate.
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Asexuality is not the same as [[celibacy]], which is the [[sexual abstinence|abstention from sexual activity]]. Some asexuals do have sex,<ref name="Prause">{{cite journal|last=Prause|first=Nicole|coauthors=Cynthia A. Graham|year=2004|month=August|url=http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/publications/PDF/PrauseGrahamPDF.pdf|title=Asexuality: Classification and Characterization|journal=Archives of Sexual Behavior|volume=36|pages=341–356|accessmonthday=31 August|accessyear=2007|doi=10.1007/s10508-006-9142-3|format=PDF}}</ref> and most celibates are not asexual, or considered as such.
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== Research ==
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Although researchers in human sexuality have known about the existence of asexuality since at least the late 1940s, little research has been done.{{Fact|date=October 2008}}
   
It is also claimed that asexuality is a side-effect to a lack of social ability, such as [[autism]]. Others claim that asexuality is simply the internalization of [[involuntary celibacy]].
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[[Alfred Kinsey]] was aware of an asexual element in the population but did not pursue the topic. The [[Kinsey scale| Kinsey scale of sexual orientation]] ranged from 0 (completely heterosexual) to 6 (completely homosexual), and Kinsey employed a separate category of ''X'' for those with "no socio-sexual contacts or reactions".<ref name="Kinsey-male">{{cite book|first=Alfred C.|last=Kinsey|year=1948|title=Sexual Behavior in the Human Male|publisher=W.B. Saunders|isbn=0-253-33412-8}}</ref><ref name="Kinsey-female">{{cite book|first=Alfred C.|last=Kinsey|year=1953|title=Sexual Behavior in the Human Female|publisher=W.B. Saunders|isbn=0-253-33411-X}}</ref> He labeled 1.5% of the adult male population as "X"
   
==Research==
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In "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female," he further explained the category as people who "do not respond erotically to either heterosexual or homosexual stimuli, and do not have overt physical encounter with individuals of either sex in which there is evidence of any response.” The following percentages of the population assigned“X:” Unmarried females=14-19%. Married females= 1-3%. Previously married females=5-8%. Unmarried males=3-4%. Married males=0%. Previously married males=1-2%.<ref name="Kinsey-female" />
A study done on [[Ram (sheep)|rams]] found that about 2% to 3% of the individuals being studied had no apparent interest in mating with either sex. Another study was done on [[rats]] and [[gerbils]], in which up to 12% of the males showed no interest in females. Their interactions with other males were not measured, however, so the study is of limited use when it comes to asexuality. <ref>{{cite web|first=Sylvia|last=Westphal|date=2004-10-14|url=http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6533|title=Feature: Glad to be asexual|publisher=[[New Scientist]]|accessdate=23 May|accessyear=2006}}</ref>
 
   
A [[United Kingdom|UK]] survey of sexuality included a question on sexual attraction, and 1% of respondents replied that they had "never felt sexually attracted to anyone at all." <ref>{{cite journal|first=Anthony F.|last=Bogaert|year=2004|month=August|title=Asexuality: prevalence and associated factors in a national probability sample|journal=Journal of Sex Research|volume=41|pages=281}}</ref> The [[Kinsey Institute]] conducted a small survey on the topic, which concluded that "asexuals appear to be better characterized by low sexual desire and sexual excitation than by low levels of sexual behavior or high sexual inhibition" <ref>{{cite web|last=Prause|first=Nicole|coauthors=C.A. Graham|url=http://www.asexuality.org/docs/SSSS_2003.ppt|title=Asexuality: A preliminary investigation|format=[[Microsoft Office PowerPoint|ppt]]|accessdate=23 May|accessyear=2006}}</ref>. That study also mentions a conflict regarding the definition of "asexual": the researchers found four different definitions in the literature, and stated that it was unclear whether those identifying as asexual were referring to an orientation.
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A 1977 paper entitled ''Asexual and Autoerotic Women: Two Invisible Groups'', by Myra T. Johnson, may be the first explicitly devoted to asexuality in humans. Johnson defines asexuals as those men and women "who, regardless of physical or emotional condition, actual sexual history, and marital status or ideological orientation, seem to ''prefer'' not to engage in sexual activity." She contrasts autoerotic women with asexual women: "The asexual woman...has no sexual desires at all [but] the autoerotic woman...recognizes such desires but prefers to satisfy them alone." Johnson's evidence is mostly letters to the editor found in women's magazines written by asexual/autoerotic women. She portrays them as invisible, "oppressed by a consensus that they are nonexistent," and left behind by both the sexual revolution and feminist movement. Society either ignores or denies their existence, or insists they must be ascetic for religious reasons, neurotic, or asexual for political reasons.<ref>"Asexual and Autoerotic Women: Two Invisible Groups" found in ed. Gochros, H.L.; J.S. Gochros (1977). ''The Sexually Oppressed. Associated Press.'' ISBN 9780809619153</ref>
   
==Variations==
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In a study published in 1979 in ''Advances in the Study of Affect vol. 5'' and in another article using the same data published in 1980 in the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology," Michael D. Storms of the University of Kansas outlined his own reimagining of the Kinsey scale. Whereas Kinsey measured sexual orientation based on a combination of actual sexual behavior and fantasizing and eroticism, Storms only used fantasizing and eroticism. Storms, however, placed hetero-eroticism and homo-eroticism on separate axes rather than at two ends of a single scale; this allows for a distinction between bisexuality (exhibiting both hetero- and homo-eroticism in degrees comparable to hetero- or homosexuals, respectively) and asexuality (exhibiting a level of homo-eroticism comparable to a heterosexual, and a level of hetero-eroticism comparable to a homosexual: namely, little to none). Storms conjectured that many researchers following Kinsey's model could be mis-categorizing asexual subjects as bisexual, because both were simply defined by a lack of preference for gender in sexual partners.<ref>Storms, Michael D. (1979). "Sexual Orientation and Self-Perception." ed. Pliner, Patricia et al. ''Advances in the Study of Communication and Affect. Volume 5: Perception of Emotion in Self and Others'' Plenum Press</ref><ref>Storms, Michael D. (1980). "Theories of Sexual Orientation". ''Journal of Personality and Social Psychology'' '''38''': 783-792.</ref>
[[Image:Aven_symbol.jpg|right|thumb|Symbol of asexuality]]
 
There are differences among people who identify as asexual, chiefly among them the presence or absence of a sex drive or romantic attraction. Some experience only one of these, while others experience both, and still others neither. There is disagreement as to which of these configurations can genuinely be described as asexual. While a number of people believe all four variations qualify, many others believe that to be asexual, one must lack a sex drive, romantic attraction, or both.
 
   
The sex drive of those asexuals who have one is usually not directed at anything, and is only an urge for sexual stimulation or release; the exception is those asexuals who are also fetishists, whose sex drive is focused on the fetish object rather than a person (though many fetishists do not identify themselves as asexual). In either case, the level of sex drive can range from weak to strong, and from rare to frequent. Some asexuals experience sexual feelings but have no desire to act on them, while others seek sexual release through sexual contact.
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The first study that gave empirical data about asexuals was published in 1983 by Paula Nurius, concerning the relationship between sexual orientation and mental health. Unlike previous studies on the subject, she used the above-mentioned two-dimensional model for sexual orientation. 689 subjects--most of whom were students at various universities in the United States taking psychology or sociology classes--were given several surveys, including four clinical well-being scales and a survey asking how frequently they engaged in various sexual activities and how often they would like to engage in those activities. Based on the results, respondents were given a score ranging from 0-100 for hetero-eroticism and from 0-100 for homo-eroticism. Respondents who scored lower than 10 on both were labeled "asexual." This consisted of 5% of the males and 10% of the females. Results showed that asexuals were more likely to have low self-esteem and more likely to be depressed than members of other sexual orientations. 25.88% of heterosexuals, 26.54% bisexuals (called "ambisexuals"), 29.88% of homosexuals, and 33.57% of asexuals were reported to have problems with self-esteem. A similar trend existed for depression. Nurius did not believe that firm conclusions can be drawn from this for a variety of reasons. Asexuals also reported much lower frequency and desired frequency of a variety of sexual activities including having multiple partners, anal sexual activities, having sexual encounters in a variety of locations, and autoerotic activities.<ref> Nurius, Paula "Mental Health Implications of Sexual Orientation" ''The Journal of Sex Research'' '''19''' (2) pp.119-136</ref>
   
For those asexuals who experience feelings of romantic attraction, it can be directed towards one or both genders. These asexuals generally desire romantic relationships (ranging from casual liaisons to marriage) with their preferred gender or genders, but often do not want these relationships to include sexual activity. Because of their romantic orientation, some asexuals describe themselves as [[homosexuality|gay]], [[bisexuality|bisexual]], or [[heterosexuality|straight]] asexuals; this is related to the concept of [[affectional orientation]].
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Further empirical data about an asexual demographic appeared in 1994, when a research team in the United Kingdom carried out a comprehensive survey of 18,876 British residents, spurred by the need for sexual information in the wake of the AIDS epidemic. The survey included a question on sexual attraction, to which 1.05% of the respondents replied that they had "never felt sexually attracted to anyone at all."<ref>Wellings, K. (1994). ''Sexual Behaviour in Britain: The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles.'' Penguin Books.</ref> This phenomenon was seized upon by the Canadian sexuality researcher Dr. Anthony Bogaert in 2004, who explored the asexual demographic in a series of studies. However, he believed that the figure 1% is probably too low. 30% of people contacted chose not to answer the survey. Since less sexually experienced people are more likely to refuse to participate in studies about sexuality, and asexuals tend to be less sexually experienced than non-asexuals, it is likely that asexuals were overrepresented in the 30% who did not participate. The same study found the number of gay males, lesbians and bisexuals combined to be about 1.1% of the population, which is much smaller than other studies indicate. <ref>Bogaert, Anthony F. (2004). [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2372/is_3_41/ai_n6274004" Asexuality: prevalence and associated factors in a national probability sample"]. ''Journal of Sex Research'' '''41''' (3): 281 Retrieved on 31 August, 2007.</ref><ref>Bogaert, Anthony F. (2006). [http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=18172400 "Toward a conceptual understanding of asexuality"]. ''Review of General Psychology'' '''10''' (3): 241-250 Retrieved on 31 August, 2007.</ref> The 1% statistic from the UK survey is the one most frequently quoted as the possible incidence of asexuality in the general population, though it should be considered very tentative. Assuming this statistic holds true, the world population of asexual people would stand at over 60 million.
   
Those asexuals who do want romantic relationships are in a difficult position, as the majority of people are not asexual. Asexuals able to tolerate sex can pair up with non-asexuals, but even then their lack of attraction or desire can be psychologically distressing to their partner, making a long-term romance difficult. Asexuals who cannot tolerate sex must either compromise with their partners and have a certain amount anyway, give their partners permission to seek sex elsewhere, have sexless relationships with those few who are willing, date only other asexuals, or stay single.
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The [[Kinsey Institute]] sponsored another small survey on the topic in 2007, which found that self-identified asexuals "reported significantly less desire for sex with a partner, lower sexual arousability, and lower sexual excitation but did not differ consistently from non-asexuals in their sexual inhibition scores or their desire to masturbate".<ref name="Prause"/>
   
Some asexuals use a classification system developed (and then retired) by the founder of the [http://www.asexuality.org Asexual Visibility and Education Network], one of the major online asexual communities (abbreviated as AVEN). In this system, asexuals are divided into types A through D: a Type A asexual has a sex drive but no romantic attraction, a Type B has romantic attraction but no sex drive, a Type C has both, and a Type D neither. The categories are not meant to be entirely discrete or set in stone; one's type can change, or one can be on the border between two types. Note that AVEN itself no longer uses this system, on the basis that it is too exclusive, but a number of asexuals still feel it is a useful tool for explaining their orientation.
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Another study with both quantitative and qualitative sections has been done recently, but the results have not yet been published, though some of the results can be found online.<ref>"http://www.indiana.edu/~sexlab/files/pr2007/Brottoetal2007.pdf"</ref>
   
Note that asexuality is not the same as [[celibacy]], which is the deliberate abstention from sexual activity; many asexuals do have sex, and most celibates are not asexual.
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Though comparisons with non-human sexuality are problematic, a series of studies done on [[Ram (sheep)|ram]] mating preferences at the United States Sheep Experiment Station in [[Dubois, Idaho]], starting in 2001 found that about 2–3% of the animals being studied had no apparent interest in mating with either sex; the researchers classified these animals as asexual, but found them to be otherwise healthy with no recorded differences in [[hormone]] levels. <ref>{{cite journal|first=Charles A.|last=Roselli|year=2002|url=http://www.biolreprod.org/cgi/content/full/67/1/263|title=Relationship of serum testosterone concentrations to mate preferences in rams|journal=Biology of Reproduction|volume=67|pages=263–268|accessmonthday=31 August|accessyear=2007|doi=10.1095/biolreprod67.1.263|pmid=12080026}}</ref><ref>{{cite journal|first=J.N.|last=Stellflug|year=2006|url=http://jas.fass.org/cgi/content/abstract/84/6/1520|title=Comparison of cortisol, luteinizing hormone, and testosterone responses to a defined stressor in sexually inactive rams and sexually active female-oriented and male-oriented rams|journal=Journal of Animal Science|volume=84|pages=1520–1525|accessmonthday=31 August|accessyear=2007|pmid=16699109}}</ref>.
   
==Asexuality and religion==
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==Community==
Several religions or religious sects believe that asexuality is a spiritually superior condition, and some asexuals believe that their lack of "base desires" allows them to feel a deeper spirituality, although other asexuals consider that an elitist attitude. For example, it is likely that in past centuries, many Catholic priests, popes, monks, and nuns were asexuals, including many canonized saints.
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Dr. Elizabeth Abbot, author of ''A History of Celibacy'', acknowledges a difference between asexuality and celibacy and posits that there has always been an asexual element in the population but that asexual people kept a low profile. While failure to consummate marriage was seen as "an insult to the sacrament of marriage" in medieval Europe, asexuality, unlike homosexuality, has never been illegal, and asexual people have been able to "fly under the radar". However, in the 21st century the anonymity of online communication and general popularity of [[Social Networks|social networking]] online has facilitated the formation of a community built around a common asexual identity.<ref name="Duenwald">{{citation|first=Mary|last=Duenwald|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/09/fashion/thursdaystyles/09asexual.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5088&en=520063b1b0fd9ad7&ex=1275969600&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss |title=For Them, Just Saying No Is Easy|newspaper=[[The New York Times]]|date=2005-06-09|accessdate=2007-09-17}}</ref>
   
In other creeds, children are considered a gift from God that should not be refused, a means of spreading religion, or both; it should be noted, though, that some asexuals do have children, and some religions have praised both asexuality and children. Furthermore, according to some religious beliefs, sexuality itself is sacred or a divine gift; certain varieties of [[Tantra]] involve sex, for example, and some types of [[neopaganism]] and [[New Age]] include the concept of sacred sexuality.
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The [http://www.asexuality.org/ Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN)] was founded in 2001 with two primary goals: to create public acceptance and discussion of asexuality and to facilitate the growth of an asexual community.<ref>{{cite web|title=About AVEN|publisher=Asexual Visibility and Education Network|url=http://www.asexuality.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=section&id=7&Itemid=34
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|accessdate=2007-09-17 }}</ref> Since that time it has grown to host the world’s largest online asexual community, serving as an informational resource and meeting place for people who are asexual and questioning, their friends and families, academic researchers and the press. The network has additional satellite communities in ten languages. Members of AVEN have been involved in media coverage spanning television, print, and radio, and participate in lectures, conferences and Pride events around the world.<ref>{{cite web|title=AVEN Homepage|publisher=Asexual Visibility and Education Network|url=http://www.asexuality.org/home/index.php|accessdate=2007-09-17 }}</ref>
   
Currently, asexuality faces little religious condemnation.
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As an emerging identity with a broad definition, there is an enormous amount of variation among people who identify as asexual. Some asexuals may [[Masturbation|masturbate]] as a solitary form of release, while others do not feel a need to.<ref name="New Scientist"/> The need or desire for masturbation is commonly referred to as a "sex drive" and is disassociated from sexual attraction; asexuals who masturbate consider it to be a normal product of the human body and not a sign of latent sexuality. Asexuals also differ in their feelings towards performing sex acts: some are indifferent and may even have sex for the benefit of a partner, while others are more strongly averse to the idea.<ref name="About Asexuality">{{cite web|title=About Asexuality|publisher=Asexual Visibility and Education Network|url=http://www.asexuality.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=section&id=6&Itemid=28
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|accessdate=2007-09-18 }}</ref>
   
In a research piece on the subject, Anthony F. Bogaert found that asexuals may exhibit higher rates of religiosity than sexuals. He takes this as support for his hypothesis that some asexuals may have internalized religious attitudes regarding sexual prohibition and [[abstinence]] "to such a degree that they may not admit to arousal, or at least not label it as sexual attraction". <ref>{{cite journal|first=Anthony F.|last=Bogaert|year=2004|month=August|title=Asexuality: prevalence and associated factors in a national probability sample|journal=Journal of Sex Research|volume=41|pages=280}}</ref>
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==Relationships==
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Asexuals may experience ''romantic attraction'', or the desire for, fantasy of, or propensity towards romantic love, often directed at people of genders falling within an [[affectional orientation]]. Many asexuals also identify as [[heterosexuality|straight]], [[homosexuality|gay]], or [[bisexuality|bi]], using the terms in a strictly affectional sense, or alternatively as ''hetero-'', ''homo-'', or ''bi-romantic''. Some asexuals identify as "aromantic." A relationship between an asexual and a sexual person does not necesarily involve sexual activity.
   
==Asexuality in fiction==
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If an asexual individual's lack of sexual desire or response does cause dysfunction in a relationship with a sexual person, it is medically defined as [[Inhibited sexual desire|Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder]] or Sexual Aversion Disorder. One of the criteria for HSDD is that the low sexual desire causes personal distress or interpersonal difficulties<ref>American Psychiatric Association (2000): "The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (4th ed. text rev.), Washington DC.</ref> and appropriate treatment most commonly consists of a broad range of tailored counseling. Thus these designations do not define asexuality itself as a disorder, but rather describe the problems asexual people often face coping with relationships and personal development.
Perhaps the earliest example of an asexual character can be found in [[Hippolytus (mythology)| Hippolytus]], who shuns all women and devotes his life to [[chastity]].
 
   
In [[fiction]], [[John Braine]]'s novel ''[[The Jealous God]]'' ([[1964 in literature|1964]]) is a good example of sex mainly seen as a sin. On the other hand, in his [[science fiction]] novel ''[[Distress (novel)|Distress]]'' ([[1995 in literature|1995]]), [[Greg Egan]] imagines a [[22nd century]] world where "asex" is one out of seven acknowledged [[gender identity|gender]] settings. To quote from ''Distress'':
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==Famous asexuals==
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<!--DO NOT ADD ANYONE UNDER THIS SECTION UNLESS A RELIABLE SOURCE IS GIVEN, OTHERWISE IT WILL BE DELETED-->
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* [[Edward Gorey]], writer and illustrator. Gorey never married or had any known romantic relationships, and responded to an interviewer's questioning of his sexual orientation with, "I'm neither one thing nor the other particularly ... I am apparently reasonably undersexed or something." He agreed with the interviewer's suggestion that the "sexlessness" of his books was "a product of his asexuality".<ref>{{cite book|first=Edward|last=Gorey|year=2002|title=Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey|publisher=Harvest Books|isbn=978-0156012911}}</ref>
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* [[Keri Hulme]], author of ''[[The Bone People]]'', winner of the 1985 [[Booker Prize for Fiction|Booker Prize]], discussed asexuality and her involvement with AVEN in a 2007 interview.<ref>{{citation|first=Shelley|last=Bridgeman|url=http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/6/story.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=10455823 |title=No Sex Please, We're Asexual|newspaper=[[The New Zealand Herald]]|date=2007-08-05|accessdate=2007-08-31}}</ref>
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*[[Morrissey]], recording artist, has expressed an asexual perspective, saying "I have never been a sexual person, never," and professing chastity throughout most of his professional career.<ref>''The Importance of Being Morrissey'', 2002 documentary</ref>
   
:"''Asex'' was really nothing but an umbrella term for a broad group of philosophies, styles of dress, cosmetic-surgical changes, and deep-biological alterations. The only thing that one asex person necessarily had in common with another was the view that [[gender-neutral pronoun|vis]] gender parameters (neural, endocrine, chromosomal and genital) were the business of no one but verself, usually (but not always) vis lovers, probably vis doctor, and sometimes a few close friends. What a person actually did in response to that attitude could range from as little as ticking the 'A' box on [[census]] forms, to choosing an asex name, to breast or body-hair reduction, voice timbre adjustment, facial resculpting, empouchment (surgery to render the male genitals retractable), all the way to full physical and/or neural asexuality, [[hermaphroditism]], or exoticism." (Distress, paperback ed., p. 45)
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== See also ==
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{{Portal|Sexuality}}
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* [[Androgyny]]
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* [[Antisexualism]]
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* [[Erotophobia]]
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* [[Genophobia]]
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* [[Platonic love]]
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* [[Sexless marriage]]
   
[[Aghora (Metabaron)|Aghora]], one of [[Alejandro Jodorowsky]]'s [[Metabarons]], was an asexual [[transman]].
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== References ==
 
[[Samuel R. Delany]]'s [[1969 in literature|1969]] short story "[[Aye, and Gomorrah...]]" depicts a society where [[astronauts]] become sexless because cosmic radiation renders their reproductive organs useless.
 
 
[[Ryan A. Morgan]]'s [[1997 in literature|1997]] novel ''[[John-Jack Christian]]'' tells about a teenager struggling to deal with his asexuality in a normal teenage environment, before resorting to [[bodybuilding]] to keep himself sane.
 
 
In the original ''[[Doctor Who]]'' television series (1963–1989), [[Doctor (Doctor Who)|the Doctor]] was almost always depicted as asexual despite his regular stream of attractive young female companions. Since the First Doctor's initial companion, [[Susan Foreman]], was introduced as his granddaughter, it is often assumed, but never confirmed, that the Doctor had had at one time in his early life a partner of the opposite sex with whom he had at least one child. The 1996 [[Doctor Who (1996)|''Doctor Who'' television movie]] caused some controversy among ''Doctor Who'' fans by having the [[Eighth Doctor]] passionately kiss, more than once, his companion [[Grace Holloway|Grace]]. In the [[History of Doctor Who#The new series|new series]] (2005–), the Doctor is occasionally flirtatious, and has a romantically tinged relationship with his companion [[Rose Tyler]]. See also [[Doctor (Doctor Who)#The Doctor and romance|The Doctor and romance]].
 
 
[[Sir Arthur Conan Doyle]]'s [[Sherlock Holmes]] is often regarded as another quintessentially asexual character. While his friend [[Doctor Watson]] is portrayed as charming and very much attracted to and, in the manner of a stereotypical Victorian gentleman, gallant towards various female characters, and indeed marries at least once, the detective dismisses dealings with women outside of his specific business as 'Your department, Watson' and even once sneeringly tells the doctor that 'the most winning woman' he ever knew committed infanticide for the insurance money. The story ''[[A Scandal in Bohemia]]'' (first published in the ''[[Strand Magazine]]'' in July 1891), however, introduces a female character whom Holmes admires excessively (she outwits him), and it opens with a frank explanation of the character's asexuality as it is seen by the narrator – as (almost) always, Doctor John Watson:
 
 
:"To Sherlock Holmes she is always ''the'' woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer – excellent for drawing the veil from men's motives and actions. But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his."
 
 
In the long-running Granada television series starring [[Jeremy Brett]] as Holmes, one feature-length episode, ''[[The Master Blackmailer]]'' (1992) – expanded from Conan Doyle's short story ''[[The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton]]'' – had the detective seemingly developing feelings for a woman for once, but only while in character: disguised as a working man in order to infiltrate the household of the blackmailer, Milverton. Embarrassed and uncomfortable, he is nevertheless prepared to go as far as engagement in pursuit of the villain. Once out of the disguise, though, he reverts to normal and is dismissive of the poor girl.
 
 
In the [[K. Sandra Fuhr]]'s online strips [[Boy Meets Boy]] (ended) and [[Friendly Hostility]] (ongoing), the cynical Collin Sri'Vastra claims to be asexual. He later forms a relationship with his best friend Kailen "Fox" Maharassa, but his romantic/affectionate levels appear to be rather low, at least at the beginning.
 
 
One of the central characters of [[Isabel Allende]]'s ''[[The House of Spirits]]'', Clara, could be construed as asexual. In her later years, she expresses a lack of interest in coitus, commenting that it only makes her bones ache.
 
 
The eponymous central character in [[Kurt Vonnegut]]'s ''[[Deadeye Dick]]'' is asexual due to childhood trauma.
 
 
Many fans of ''[[Neon Genesis Evangelion]]'' believe that [[Rei Ayanami]] is asexual, since she never shows any signs of having a sex drive, the closest thing she comes to doing so is her [[platonic love]] for [[Shinji Ikari]]. Another Evangelion character, [[List of characters in Neon Genesis Evangelion#First Lieutenant Shigeru Aoba|Shigeru Aoba]], is strongly implied to be asexual in ''[[The End of Evangelion]]''.
 
 
[[Jughead Jones]] is perhaps the only character of the [[Archie comics|Archie]] gang that is not explicitly interested in girls.
 
 
In [[Ian Fleming]]'s ''[[From Russia With Love]]'', [[Red Grant]] is described as being an asexual. However, it is unclear whether or not this trait is passed over into the film version.
 
 
==See also==
 
*[[Sexual orientation]]
 
*[[Celibacy]]
 
*[[Affectional orientation]]
 
*[[Androgyny]]
 
 
==References==
 
 
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*Egan, Greg (1995). ''Distress''.
 
   
 
== External links ==
 
== External links ==
*[http://www.asexuality.org/ Asexual Visibility and Education Network]
+
*[http://www.asexuality.org/ AVEN: Asexual Visibility and Education Network]
*[http://archive.salon.com/mwt/feature/2005/05/26/asexual Asexual and proud!]. ''[[Salon.com|Salon]]'', ([[May 26]], [[2005]]).
+
*[http://www.apositive.org/ Apositive]
*[http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6533 Feature: Glad to be asexual] ''[[New Scientist]]'', ([[October 14]][[2004]]).
+
*[http://www.fyne.co.uk/index.php?item=71 "The Fourth Way"], ''[[Fyne Times]] Gay and Lesbian Magazine''
*[http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/science/story/0,12996,1326893,00.html No sex please, we're asexual]. ''[[The Guardian]]'', ([[14 October]] [[2004]]).
+
*[http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/10/14/asexual.study/index.html Study: One in 100 Adults Asexual]
*[http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/10/14/asexual.study/index.html Study: One in 100 adults asexual]. ''[[CNN]]'', ([[14 October]] [[2004]]).
+
*[http://www.youtube.com/group/aventube AVENTube, a group of asexuals on youtube with videos about asexuality]
*[http://www.asexualove.net Asexual personals]
+
*[http://www.asexuality.org/wiki/index.php?title=Asexual_Sites Asexual site listing] A fairly extensive listing of asexual sites on the web.
*[http://www.theofficialasexualsociety.com/contact1.html The Official Nonlibidoism Society]
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*[http://www.asexualitic.com Asexualitic - Meet asexual people], ''Build a Platonic Relationship''
*[http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A4455263 BBC website: h2g2 article on Asexuality]
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*[http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/sep/08/relationships.healthandwellbeing "We're married, we just don't have sex"], UK ''Guardian'', September 8, 2008
   
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{{enWP| Asexuality}}
 
{{enWP| Asexuality}}

Revision as of 22:52, November 25, 2008

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Asexuality is a sexual orientation that describes individuals who do not experience sexual attraction.[1] The use of asexuality as a human sexual orientation has been described in academic studies since the late 1970s, and a community of self-identified asexuals coalesced in the early 21st century, aided by the popularity of online communities.[1] One commonly cited study placed the incidence rate of asexuality at 1%.[2]

Asexuality is not the same as celibacy, which is the abstention from sexual activity. Some asexuals do have sex,[3] and most celibates are not asexual, or considered as such.

Research

Although researchers in human sexuality have known about the existence of asexuality since at least the late 1940s, little research has been done.[How to reference and link to summary or text]Alfred Kinsey was aware of an asexual element in the population but did not pursue the topic. The Kinsey scale of sexual orientation ranged from 0 (completely heterosexual) to 6 (completely homosexual), and Kinsey employed a separate category of X for those with "no socio-sexual contacts or reactions".[4][5] He labeled 1.5% of the adult male population as "X"

In "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female," he further explained the category as people who "do not respond erotically to either heterosexual or homosexual stimuli, and do not have overt physical encounter with individuals of either sex in which there is evidence of any response.” The following percentages of the population assigned“X:” Unmarried females=14-19%. Married females= 1-3%. Previously married females=5-8%. Unmarried males=3-4%. Married males=0%. Previously married males=1-2%.[5]

A 1977 paper entitled Asexual and Autoerotic Women: Two Invisible Groups, by Myra T. Johnson, may be the first explicitly devoted to asexuality in humans. Johnson defines asexuals as those men and women "who, regardless of physical or emotional condition, actual sexual history, and marital status or ideological orientation, seem to prefer not to engage in sexual activity." She contrasts autoerotic women with asexual women: "The asexual woman...has no sexual desires at all [but] the autoerotic woman...recognizes such desires but prefers to satisfy them alone." Johnson's evidence is mostly letters to the editor found in women's magazines written by asexual/autoerotic women. She portrays them as invisible, "oppressed by a consensus that they are nonexistent," and left behind by both the sexual revolution and feminist movement. Society either ignores or denies their existence, or insists they must be ascetic for religious reasons, neurotic, or asexual for political reasons.[6]

In a study published in 1979 in Advances in the Study of Affect vol. 5 and in another article using the same data published in 1980 in the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology," Michael D. Storms of the University of Kansas outlined his own reimagining of the Kinsey scale. Whereas Kinsey measured sexual orientation based on a combination of actual sexual behavior and fantasizing and eroticism, Storms only used fantasizing and eroticism. Storms, however, placed hetero-eroticism and homo-eroticism on separate axes rather than at two ends of a single scale; this allows for a distinction between bisexuality (exhibiting both hetero- and homo-eroticism in degrees comparable to hetero- or homosexuals, respectively) and asexuality (exhibiting a level of homo-eroticism comparable to a heterosexual, and a level of hetero-eroticism comparable to a homosexual: namely, little to none). Storms conjectured that many researchers following Kinsey's model could be mis-categorizing asexual subjects as bisexual, because both were simply defined by a lack of preference for gender in sexual partners.[7][8]

The first study that gave empirical data about asexuals was published in 1983 by Paula Nurius, concerning the relationship between sexual orientation and mental health. Unlike previous studies on the subject, she used the above-mentioned two-dimensional model for sexual orientation. 689 subjects--most of whom were students at various universities in the United States taking psychology or sociology classes--were given several surveys, including four clinical well-being scales and a survey asking how frequently they engaged in various sexual activities and how often they would like to engage in those activities. Based on the results, respondents were given a score ranging from 0-100 for hetero-eroticism and from 0-100 for homo-eroticism. Respondents who scored lower than 10 on both were labeled "asexual." This consisted of 5% of the males and 10% of the females. Results showed that asexuals were more likely to have low self-esteem and more likely to be depressed than members of other sexual orientations. 25.88% of heterosexuals, 26.54% bisexuals (called "ambisexuals"), 29.88% of homosexuals, and 33.57% of asexuals were reported to have problems with self-esteem. A similar trend existed for depression. Nurius did not believe that firm conclusions can be drawn from this for a variety of reasons. Asexuals also reported much lower frequency and desired frequency of a variety of sexual activities including having multiple partners, anal sexual activities, having sexual encounters in a variety of locations, and autoerotic activities.[9]

Further empirical data about an asexual demographic appeared in 1994, when a research team in the United Kingdom carried out a comprehensive survey of 18,876 British residents, spurred by the need for sexual information in the wake of the AIDS epidemic. The survey included a question on sexual attraction, to which 1.05% of the respondents replied that they had "never felt sexually attracted to anyone at all."[10] This phenomenon was seized upon by the Canadian sexuality researcher Dr. Anthony Bogaert in 2004, who explored the asexual demographic in a series of studies. However, he believed that the figure 1% is probably too low. 30% of people contacted chose not to answer the survey. Since less sexually experienced people are more likely to refuse to participate in studies about sexuality, and asexuals tend to be less sexually experienced than non-asexuals, it is likely that asexuals were overrepresented in the 30% who did not participate. The same study found the number of gay males, lesbians and bisexuals combined to be about 1.1% of the population, which is much smaller than other studies indicate. [11][12] The 1% statistic from the UK survey is the one most frequently quoted as the possible incidence of asexuality in the general population, though it should be considered very tentative. Assuming this statistic holds true, the world population of asexual people would stand at over 60 million.

The Kinsey Institute sponsored another small survey on the topic in 2007, which found that self-identified asexuals "reported significantly less desire for sex with a partner, lower sexual arousability, and lower sexual excitation but did not differ consistently from non-asexuals in their sexual inhibition scores or their desire to masturbate".[3]

Another study with both quantitative and qualitative sections has been done recently, but the results have not yet been published, though some of the results can be found online.[13]

Though comparisons with non-human sexuality are problematic, a series of studies done on ram mating preferences at the United States Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho, starting in 2001 found that about 2–3% of the animals being studied had no apparent interest in mating with either sex; the researchers classified these animals as asexual, but found them to be otherwise healthy with no recorded differences in hormone levels. [14][15].

Community

Dr. Elizabeth Abbot, author of A History of Celibacy, acknowledges a difference between asexuality and celibacy and posits that there has always been an asexual element in the population but that asexual people kept a low profile. While failure to consummate marriage was seen as "an insult to the sacrament of marriage" in medieval Europe, asexuality, unlike homosexuality, has never been illegal, and asexual people have been able to "fly under the radar". However, in the 21st century the anonymity of online communication and general popularity of social networking online has facilitated the formation of a community built around a common asexual identity.[16]

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) was founded in 2001 with two primary goals: to create public acceptance and discussion of asexuality and to facilitate the growth of an asexual community.[17] Since that time it has grown to host the world’s largest online asexual community, serving as an informational resource and meeting place for people who are asexual and questioning, their friends and families, academic researchers and the press. The network has additional satellite communities in ten languages. Members of AVEN have been involved in media coverage spanning television, print, and radio, and participate in lectures, conferences and Pride events around the world.[18]

As an emerging identity with a broad definition, there is an enormous amount of variation among people who identify as asexual. Some asexuals may masturbate as a solitary form of release, while others do not feel a need to.[1] The need or desire for masturbation is commonly referred to as a "sex drive" and is disassociated from sexual attraction; asexuals who masturbate consider it to be a normal product of the human body and not a sign of latent sexuality. Asexuals also differ in their feelings towards performing sex acts: some are indifferent and may even have sex for the benefit of a partner, while others are more strongly averse to the idea.[19]

Relationships

Asexuals may experience romantic attraction, or the desire for, fantasy of, or propensity towards romantic love, often directed at people of genders falling within an affectional orientation. Many asexuals also identify as straight, gay, or bi, using the terms in a strictly affectional sense, or alternatively as hetero-, homo-, or bi-romantic. Some asexuals identify as "aromantic." A relationship between an asexual and a sexual person does not necesarily involve sexual activity.

If an asexual individual's lack of sexual desire or response does cause dysfunction in a relationship with a sexual person, it is medically defined as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder or Sexual Aversion Disorder. One of the criteria for HSDD is that the low sexual desire causes personal distress or interpersonal difficulties[20] and appropriate treatment most commonly consists of a broad range of tailored counseling. Thus these designations do not define asexuality itself as a disorder, but rather describe the problems asexual people often face coping with relationships and personal development.

Famous asexuals

  • Edward Gorey, writer and illustrator. Gorey never married or had any known romantic relationships, and responded to an interviewer's questioning of his sexual orientation with, "I'm neither one thing nor the other particularly ... I am apparently reasonably undersexed or something." He agreed with the interviewer's suggestion that the "sexlessness" of his books was "a product of his asexuality".[21]
  • Keri Hulme, author of The Bone People, winner of the 1985 Booker Prize, discussed asexuality and her involvement with AVEN in a 2007 interview.[22]
  • Morrissey, recording artist, has expressed an asexual perspective, saying "I have never been a sexual person, never," and professing chastity throughout most of his professional career.[23]

See also

.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Westphal, Sylvia Pagan (2004). Feature: Glad to be asexual. New Scientist. URL accessed on 11 November, 2007.
  2. Study: One in 100 adults asexual. CNN.com. URL accessed on 11 November, 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Prause, Nicole, Cynthia A. Graham (August 2004). Asexuality: Classification and Characterization. Archives of Sexual Behavior 36: 341–356.
  4. Kinsey, Alfred C. (1948). Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, W.B. Saunders.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Kinsey, Alfred C. (1953). Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, W.B. Saunders.
  6. "Asexual and Autoerotic Women: Two Invisible Groups" found in ed. Gochros, H.L.; J.S. Gochros (1977). The Sexually Oppressed. Associated Press. ISBN 9780809619153
  7. Storms, Michael D. (1979). "Sexual Orientation and Self-Perception." ed. Pliner, Patricia et al. Advances in the Study of Communication and Affect. Volume 5: Perception of Emotion in Self and Others Plenum Press
  8. Storms, Michael D. (1980). "Theories of Sexual Orientation". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 38: 783-792.
  9. Nurius, Paula "Mental Health Implications of Sexual Orientation" The Journal of Sex Research 19 (2) pp.119-136
  10. Wellings, K. (1994). Sexual Behaviour in Britain: The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. Penguin Books.
  11. Bogaert, Anthony F. (2004). " Asexuality: prevalence and associated factors in a national probability sample". Journal of Sex Research 41 (3): 281 Retrieved on 31 August, 2007.
  12. Bogaert, Anthony F. (2006). "Toward a conceptual understanding of asexuality". Review of General Psychology 10 (3): 241-250 Retrieved on 31 August, 2007.
  13. "http://www.indiana.edu/~sexlab/files/pr2007/Brottoetal2007.pdf"
  14. Roselli, Charles A. (2002). Relationship of serum testosterone concentrations to mate preferences in rams. Biology of Reproduction 67: 263–268.
  15. Stellflug, J.N. (2006). Comparison of cortisol, luteinizing hormone, and testosterone responses to a defined stressor in sexually inactive rams and sexually active female-oriented and male-oriented rams. Journal of Animal Science 84: 1520–1525.
  16. Duenwald, Mary (2005-06-09), "For Them, Just Saying No Is Easy", The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/09/fashion/thursdaystyles/09asexual.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5088&en=520063b1b0fd9ad7&ex=1275969600&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss, retrieved on 2007-09-17 
  17. About AVEN. Asexual Visibility and Education Network. URL accessed on 2007-09-17.
  18. AVEN Homepage. Asexual Visibility and Education Network. URL accessed on 2007-09-17.
  19. About Asexuality. Asexual Visibility and Education Network. URL accessed on 2007-09-18.
  20. American Psychiatric Association (2000): "The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (4th ed. text rev.), Washington DC.
  21. Gorey, Edward (2002). Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey, Harvest Books.
  22. Bridgeman, Shelley (2007-08-05), "No Sex Please, We're Asexual", The New Zealand Herald, http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/6/story.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=10455823, retrieved on 2007-08-31 
  23. The Importance of Being Morrissey, 2002 documentary

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