Self-identification strategies concerning sexuality

black man
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black man
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Joined: July 11th, 2005, 8:13 pm

September 24th, 2011, 8:26 pm #1

In her 2011 thesis "Furthering our understanding of asexuality: an investigation into biological markers of asexuality, and the development of the Asexuality Identification Scale" Yule mentions data from a study according to which self-identification strategies concerning sexuality can be reconstructed. One problem of the study was that there were relatively few gay and asexual men (63 and 60 respectively, see p. 27). Anyway, ...

1) spread of left-handers according to the frequencies on p. 27:
asexuals (26%) > (exclusive and non-exclusive) lesbians (20%) > heterosexuals (12%) > (exclusive and non-exclusive) gays (9%)
==> left-handers as a sort of vanguard, people who like to try out new (somewhat anti-traditional) identities?

2) Yule's figure 2.3. (p. 32) illustrates a statistically significant different as for the number of older brothers: the more older brothers he has, the more likely a right-handed (but not a left-handed) man is to be asexual (as opposed to heterosexual)
==> a very interesting finding which might explain how Tibetan polyandry works in practice
==> dominance effect modified by anything?

3) Yule's figure 2.4. (p. 33) implies a very different effect concerning women: the more older brothers a left-handed woman has, the more likely she is to be lesbian (as opposed to asexual). Note though that Yule doesn't distinguish between exclusive and non-exclusive lesbians, both of both she simply calls "non-heterosexual". Anyhow, I suggest to interpret that finding as an "encroaching sexual pattern" in women with older brothers because the opposite doesn't seem to be heterosexuality but asexuality.
==> Dominance/sexual evasion effect?

4) Right-handed males seemed to react on older sisters like that, too (p. 35). Interestingly, asexual men appear to have by less sisters, too (p. 36).
==> Do older sisters prevent right-handed males from becoming asexual (or was that result due to the limited number of asexual men in Yule's study)? If so, how?
==> Dominance/sexual evasion effect in case of right-handed gays?

5) Older sisters seem to increase both homosexuality and heterosexuality in right-handed women in particular (p. 37: figure 2.6.).
==> I think, it's safe to conclude that female sexuality strongly depends on the competition they're exposed to.
==> Figure 2.6.c IMO does imply that left-handed women tend to react similarly. But Yule doesn't mark their numbers as "significant". So the influence of older sisters might be weaker on left-handed sisters. Or left-handed women might perceive less competition in such a situation because they're anyway different from mainstream women.


Why do people call themselves "asexual"?

We already had two preparatory thread in this forum on of which is invisible because it's IMO too personal:

The matter is obviously not about the question whether there are people who reproduce in an asexual way. It's about discursive rules which have something to do with reproduction. Traditionally, there are (were) different gender roles in many cultures. Moreover, there are basic sexual roles during (biological) copulation. But why don't Anglo-Saxon people just keep sexual roles out of daily language? Why do they self-identify with these roles when they communicate with people who could care less?

In West Asian cultures it can be observed that sexual talk eases communication at intermediate ranges: it might serve as a means of identifying those who want to procreate as potentially interested in contributing to a future of one or the other community. Similarly, sexual humour might create an additional amount of trust in West Asians at socially intermediate distances. Anglo-Saxon discursive rules might be a bit different because of the Victorian past of Anglo-Saxons. But it's not too unlikely that the logic is comparable and the rules are somehow similar.

By contrast, people who (ideally) remain asexual might strive for something different from conventional community. See, e.g., Kudlien in "Chastity and healing power":
wrote:The idea of a connection between chastity and healing power is to be found as well in primitive cultures as in ethnomedicine and in the medicine of Antiquity. What is meant in the Hippocratic Oath, though, is not the sexual restraint of the physician himself, but moreover in the attitude towards his patient and all the people living in the same house with the patient. This is different, though, in ethnomedicine, where the healer is demanded to live sexually abstinent for a certain time and the persons assisting him are often expected to stay untouched, i.e. chaste. "Chastity", however, as conceived by the Ancient Greek and Roman meant the integrity of marital faith. The urine of women who were chaste in this sense was believed to have healing powers. Furthermore mention is made of an African tribe, of which it was said that its members originating definitely from this tribe only, were immune against the bite of snakes and therefore had a special capacity of healing bitten persons. Ethnomedicine, on the other side, attributes great power to those who lead an unchaste life as well as to illegitimately born children. We are here confronted with an ambiguity inherent in popular imagination of disease and healing. A figure of German poetry of the Middle Ages "Der Arme Heinrich" by Hartmann von Aue, f.i., is in search of the heartblood from a young, freeborn maiden which is to cure him from leprosy. In many cases objects used by virgins or unmarried men were believed to have healing powers. Especially the imagination of epilepsy and orgasm being related to each other, lead to the claim for sexual abstinence of the patient, yes, even for his castration. On the other hand, however, epileptics were recommended to have sexual intercourse. Fasting, sometimes together with sexual abstinence, was considered to be important for the healer and as well for the patient to be cured. Plants were given in order to lead to sexual abstinence. In primitive cultures the imagination of sexual activity leading to a loss of the powers that are needed for healing, is to be found very often.
The according expectations might result in distrust rather than trust because the celibate doesn't necessarily contribute enough to community from the POV a regular community member.

Now, Anthony Bogaerts does something IMO interesting in his new article "Asexuality and autochorissexualism (identity-less sexuality)": he proposes a new paraphiliac category: "autochorissexualism" and, simultaneously, reduces the hypothetical percentage of "asexuals". (See also ... sexuality/ .) Paraphilias are considered to be in a grey zone between "tolerable" and "taboo". At least that's what recent internet discourses in English language IMO suggest. So it's probably going into the direction of a question like, "Who is 'equal' enough to be dignified?" In other words: those who call themselves "asexuals" seemed to have behaved as if they wanted to be perceived as "different" from mainstream people by calling themselves "asexuals". Thus, they couldn't remain 'equal' in the sense of the 'equal' elite (of free men) in Germanic and French cultures. And maybe that's why Bogaerts reclassified part of them as ranking below mainstream people.

==> What can be learnt from these phenomena?

- IMO it must be presupposed that all human sexuality is basically regulated by intra-ethnic discursive norms. And the way sexual phenomena are classified can determine ethnic boundaries. Based on this, one can conclude that the Anglo-Saxon world remains conservative, despite of having structurally overcome Jante Law in more than one way. That's why people try out strategies like "asexual" self-identification. But this strategy of integration doesn't necessarily make sense to mainstream observers. Rather, the label might be attractive for people who have been outsiders in the Anglo-Saxon world right from the start, such as isolated immigrants, as we already started to discuss in the thread about reasons for (non-)reproduction.

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May 25th, 2012, 1:47 am #2

Are we defining "asexual" as someone who doesn't practice sexuality or someone who is not attracted to either males or females? I'm still confused.

black man
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May 25th, 2012, 7:42 pm #3


there should have been schemata right from the start. Something like this:

sexual contacts and the according sexual orientations:
- no sexual contacts: sexual orientation irrelevant (category not applicable)
- opposite sex only: heterosexual orientation
- both sexes: bisexual orientation
- same sex only: homosexual orientation

types of self-portrayal concerning sexuality-related topics:
- asexual: no interest in any partners
- heterosexual: interest in opposite-sex partners only
- bisexual: interest in both male and female partners
- homosexual: interest in same-sex partners only

most common types of self-portrayal:
1) asexual and heterosexual alternately (normal, according to what is appropriate in different situations respectively)
2) lascivious heterosexual (mostly boastful guys who refuse to talk respectfully with others in everyday life)
3) others

just a few of many possible reasons for asexual self-portrayal:
- the person to whom you talk cannot be considered to be a proper sexual partner
- socially more high-ranking people are around
- people from a different ethnic group are around
- people from a different social group are around

I highlighted in red what I consider to be important but what people might not consider to be self-evident because the word "asexual" as such is rather unusual.

old post:
zen disciple wrote:Are we defining "asexual" as someone who doesn't practice sexuality or someone who is not attracted to either males or females? I'm still confused.
I think that there is a lot of inappropriate language in use, even in academic literature... "asexuals" sounds very colloquial (i.e., unscientific) especially since people declare themselves "asexual", no matter how different they are from each other, one IMO very bad thing being that they started to organise themselves as a "minority" group in America.

Let's just stick to what can't be denied: some discourses are more sexualised, while others are less sexualised. When I took a look at crap fora in the Anglo-Saxon world, I concluded that, the more a discourse is sexualised, the more it's xenophobic, e.g., in an ethnocentric way or in a sub-cultural way. So sexualising others is not the way to go, I think.

In a social environment without any sexualised discourses there cannot be any big discursive difference between most people engaging in heterosexual intercourse and most people not engaging in any sexual intercourse at all. Sexuality are ideally reduced to insemination without any identity being constructed around intercourse as such. If anything, homosexuality, sodomy, prostitution etc would be different because they are unnecessary for reproduction. Accordingly, I'm against the definition of a sharp boundary between people who reproduce in a simple way (reduced to the insemination process) and people who don't practice any sexual intercourse.

When someone is attracted to someone else for (non-formal) sexual reasons, he probably accords to a culture in which sexual discourses are practiced. If someone is not attracted to anyone, he can be what people colloquially call "asexual". But he can also be someone who just procreates in order to procreate and without any big talk about "fun" etc. In any case, he accords to a culture without sexualised discourses.

A bit off-topic:

the worst thing one can discursively do is emotionalising the topic. Then people won't stick to the facts and discussing them but be trying to defend their personal interests instead. In this sense the politicisation of young people the emo way in the 1960s had a very negative impact on social sciences (among other things, that includes democracy itself, btw).

When people emotionalise sexual matters but cannot afford to choose an appropriate partner (chosen according to rational criteria), they maybe choose an inappropriate partner in order to get a partner at all costs. As a consequence, there will be a high risk of them contributing to one more post-modern trash family of backstabbers. Therefore, I prefer discourses in general being kept as asexual as possible and sexual discourses being kept as rational (unemotional) as possible. Hence my use of the word "asexual" in some previous threads. It's all discourse-related.

For the sake of a common discursive denominator, I suggest to skip both the "heterosexual" and the "asexual" categories at the same time.