Mi investigación favorita sobre asexualidad

11 agosto 2017

English version

Me alegro de enterarme de que el testigo de Asexual Explorations en compilar una bibliografía de investigación sobre asexualidad ha sido regido por Asexual Research en la plataforma Zotero [ver presentación]. De este modo he encontrado artículos recientes que vuelven sobre mi trabajo de investigación asexual favorito de todos los tiempos, Storms (1980). La razón por la que me gusta el artículo de Storms es por su modelo bidimensional de orientación sexual, que he descrito previamente en este blog [1, 2] y, en pocas palabras, considera las atracciones heterosexual y homosexual como ejes perpendicular, obteniendo cuetro regiones: heterosexualidad, homosexualidad, bisexualidad y asexualidad. Este modelo mejora la escala de Kinsey, considerando la asexualidad una orientación sexual completamente legítima, en lugar de un punto aislado fuera de la escala.

Estudios recientes que vuelven sobre el de Storms (Fernández, Quiroga, Rodríguez, 2006; Fernández, Quiroga, del Olmo, Buizza, Imbasciati, 2009; Fernández, Quiroga, Icaza, Escorial, 2012) discuten la dimensionalidad de la atracción sexual. Ellos rechazan formalmente las hipótesis de Storms de independencia de los ejes, pero basados en datos deficientes. Observando las muestras de estos estudios, hay muy pocos bisexuales, incluso tan pocos como asexuales, luego la correlación negativa es un fenómeno necesario en este caso. Storms tomó tres muestras por auto-identificación como heterosexual, homosexual o bisexual (ya que la categoría asexual aparecería como resultado del análisis) de cara a prevenir este fenómeno, luego su conclusión sigue siendo válida.

Pero no sólo estableció Storms (1980) la asexualidad como una orientación sexual, sino que también demostró la independencia entre la orientación sexual y los roles de género. Puedo creer que, en aquella época, la orientación sexual se confundiera con los roles de género incluso en el ámbito académico, pero 37 años más tarde parece que esta hipótesis de trabajo no ha desaparecido del imaginario popular. Peor aún, ya que los académicos de la época de Storms consideraban modelos bidimensional para el género, mientras que la gente que vincula gay con afeminado considera un modelo unidimensional de género a lo sumo. Ha vuelto sobre este tema por el mismo equipo que que lo hizo sobre la dimensionalidad de la orientación sexual (Fernández, Quiroga, del Olmo, 2006a, 2006b), confirmando la conclusión de Storms sobre la independencia de la orientación sexual y los roles de género.

Otro artículo relevante para la comunidad asexual, aunque no explícitamente sobre asexualidad, es Diamond (2003), que apoya el modelo de atracciones separadas distinguiendo entre atracciones sexual y romántica a nivel biológico. Según ella, estos dos tipos de atracción son mecanismos biológicos separados, pero que pueden afectarse mutuamente. La influencia de la atracción romántica sobre la atracción sexual es una base para explicar la demisexualidad. Diamond y Dickenson (2012) volvieron sobre este tema por medio de la neuroimagen, apoyando las conclusiones originales y, por tanto, el modelo de atracciones separadas.

Bibliografía:

  • Lisa M. Diamond, 2003. What does sexual orientation orient? A biobehavioral model distinguishing romantic love and sexual desire. Psychological Review, vol. 110, nº 1, pp. 173-192.
  • Lisa M. Diamond, Janna A. Dickenson, 2012. The neuroimaging of love and desire: Review and future directions. Clinical Neuropsychiatry, vol. 9, nº 1, pp. 39-46.
  • Juan Fernández, María Ángeles Quiroga, Vanessa J. Icaza, Sergio Escorial, 2012. Dimensionality and transcultural specificity of the Sexual Attraction Questionnaire (SAQ). The Spanish Journal of Psychology, vol. 15, nº 1, pp. 323-333.
  • Juan Fernández, María Ángeles Quiroga, Isabel del Olmo, 2006a. Is sexual attraction independent of the instrumental and expressive traits? The Spanish Journal of Psychology, vol. 9, nº 2, pp. 162-170.
  • Juan Fernández, María Ángeles Quiroga, Isabel del Olmo, 2006b. Is there any relationship between sexual attraction and gender typology? The Spanish Journal of Psychology, vol. 9, nº 1, pp. 3-9.
  • Juan Fernández, María Ángeles Quiroga, Isabel del Olmo, Chiara Buizza, Antonio Imbasciati, 2009. Temporal stability and cross-national consistency of the dimensional structure of the Sexual Attraction Questionnaire (SAQ). The Spanish Journal of Psychology, vol. 12, nº 12, pp. 725-736.
  • Juan Fernández, María Ángeles Quiroga, Antonio Rodríguez, 2006. Dimensionalidad de la atracción sexual. Psicothema, vol. 18, nº 3, pp. 392-399.
  • Michael D. Storms, 1980. Theories of sexual orientation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 38, nº 5, pp. 783-792.

My favorite asexual research

11 agosto 2017

Esta entrada es una colaboración para el carnaval de blogs, que este mes trata sobre la asexualidad y el mundo académico. Escribo en inglés porque es el idioma de este carnaval.

Versión en español

I’m glad to learn that the baton of Asexual Explorations on compiling a bibliography of research on asexuality has been picked up by Asexual Research in the platform Zotero [see introduction]. This way I’ve found recent articles revisiting my all-time favorite piece on asexual research, Storms (1980). The reason I like Storms’s article is because of his bidimensional model of sexual orientation, which I’ve described previously in this blog and, in a nutshell, considers heterosexual attraction and homosexual attraction as perpendicular axes, obtaining four regions: heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality. This model improves Kinsey scale, considering asexuality a fully legitimate sexual orientation instead of an off-scale outlier.

Recent studies revisiting Storms’s (Fernández, Quiroga & Rodríguez, 2006; Fernández, Quiroga, del Olmo, Buizza & Imbasciati, 2009; Fernández, Quiroga, Icaza & Escorial, 2012) discuss the dimensionality of sexual attraction. They formally reject Storms’s hypotheses of the independence of the axes but relying on poor data. Observing the samples of these studies, there are very few bisexuals, even as few as asexuals, so negative correlation is a necessary artifact in this case. Storms took three samples by self-identification as heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual (since the asexual category appeared as a result of the analysis) in order to prevent this artifact, so his conclusion still holds.

Nevertheless, not only did Storms (1980) establish asexuality as a sexual orientation, but also he proved the independence between sexual orientation and gender roles. I can believe that, in that time, sexual orientation and gender roles were confused even in academia, but 37 years later it seems that this working hypothesis is not gone from the popular beliefs. Even worse, since the academics in Storms’s time considered bidimensional models for gender, while the people who links gayness with effeminacy consider a unidimensional model of gender at most. This topic has been revisited by the same team that revisited the dimensionality of sexual orientation (Fernández, Quiroga & del Olmo, 2006a, 2006b), confirming Storms’s conclusion on the independence of sexual orientation and gender roles.

Another article relevant for the asexual community, though not explicitly about asexuality, is Diamond (2003), which supports the split attraction model by distinguishing between sexual attraction and romantic attraction at a biological level. According to her, these two kinds of attractions are separate biological devices, but they may affect each other. The influence of romantic attraction on sexual attraction is a ground for explaining demisexuality. This topic was revisited by Diamond & Dickenson (2012) by means of neuroimage, supporting the original conclusions and thus the split attraction model.

References:

  • Lisa M. Diamond, 2003. What does sexual orientation orient? A biobehavioral model distinguishing romantic love and sexual desire. Psychological Review, vol. 110, no. 1, pp. 173-192.
  • Lisa M. Diamond, Janna A. Dickenson, 2012. The neuroimaging of love and desire: Review and future directions. Clinical Neuropsychiatry, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 39-46.
  • Juan Fernández, María Ángeles Quiroga, Vanessa J. Icaza, Sergio Escorial, 2012. Dimensionality and transcultural specificity of the Sexual Attraction Questionnaire (SAQ). The Spanish Journal of Psychology, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 323-333.
  • Juan Fernández, María Ángeles Quiroga, Isabel del Olmo, 2006a. Is sexual attraction independent of the instrumental and expressive traits? The Spanish Journal of Psychology, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 162-170.
  • Juan Fernández, María Ángeles Quiroga, Isabel del Olmo, 2006b. Is there any relationship between sexual attraction and gender typology? The Spanish Journal of Psychology, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 3-9.
  • Juan Fernández, María Ángeles Quiroga, Isabel del Olmo, Chiara Buizza, Antonio Imbasciati, 2009. Temporal stability and cross-national consistency of the dimensional structure of the Sexual Attraction Questionnaire (SAQ). The Spanish Journal of Psychology, vol. 12, no. 12, pp. 725-736.
  • Juan Fernández, María Ángeles Quiroga, Antonio Rodríguez, 2006. Dimensionalidad de la atracción sexual. Psicothema, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 392-399.
  • Michael D. Storms, 1980. Theories of sexual orientation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 38, no. 5, pp. 783-792.

Meetups!

30 julio 2017

Esta entrada es una colaboración para el carnaval de blogs, cuyo tema de este mes trata es Ace-ing it up offline. Escribo en inglés porque es el idioma de este carnaval.

I envy those asexual people living in areas with regular meetups. I live in the middle of nowhere and I don’t have easy access to meetups. Since my beginning in AVEN, I was interested in meetups, and I was lucky to attend one in Madrid in my first half year in AVEN. Madrid has always been my reference for meetups, and I have attended a few there, but I have also dealt with the scarcity of AVENites in my area by arranging private meetings. These private meetings are not meetups as usual, but they’re meetings of only two AVENites, which allows a schedule fitter to the needs of both people. I have arranged such private meetings when I was going to visit towns where I knew a fellow AVENite was staying, so they depended on fortunate coincidences, and I’m lucky to say that they have always been successful. A disadvantage of these meetings over group meetups is that there’s more risk of not being chemistry between the two people, something that in a group meetup blurs, what makes them riskier to fail for incompatibility.

An issue in both kinds of meetings is how to recognize each other. I think it’s useful to exchange phone numbers and/or pictures (through private ways, or course) especially for the private meetings, apart of arranging a very specific place to meet. For group meetings the latter could be enough if the group is recognizable by any means like a flag. There are in AVEN safety guidelines which are advisable to follow especially in the first meetup, among which I would highlight the rule of staying in public spaces.

Another kind of meetups I have attended is the fortnightly meetings of the campus LGBT group. I was not out to them as asexual, but they were very accepting, since they’re a group that accepts straight and questioning people. These meetups were held in a corner of a gay bar, and were split into small groups, so I had the opportunity to talk with different people of the group each evening. For the first time, I contacted the group leaders and they met up with me in the same place half an hour before the rest of the people came, making it very welcoming.

When visiting a town for attending a meetup, I’ve had good experiences with pre-meetups and post-meetups. In pre-meetups, people coming early for the main meetup met the evening before. In post-meetups, people in the main meetup arranged an extension of the meetup for the next day. Also the International Conference of Asexuality, held this month in Madrid, despite not being a meetup, allowed to meet AVENites and to arrange pre-meetups.

Though I’m not out in general, when you meet up with an asexual person or group, it happens the miracle that, inside this circle, you are all out without having to come out and, if you have to do any explanation, you are understood because you share the terminology. This happens too, though at a lower level, in the LGBT meetups where I was not out as asexual.


El cuadrado de Storms como un modelo para la educación

11 julio 2017

English version

En su propio nombre, AVEN tiene dos objetivos: visibilidad y educación. Aunque está entrelazados, este mes nos fijaremos en la educación. Todo esfuerzo de visibilidad educa enseñando a la gente que la asexualidad existe, pero quizá no en profundidad, y todo esfuerzo de educación visibiliza su objetivo, aunque quizá no de la forma más efectiva. Por supuesto, no es lo mismo tratar de educar a la población general, a la gente LGBT o a sus aliados. Uno puede profundizar más con las dos últimas poblaciones a causa del conocimiento compartido. Nótese que todavía hay gente que sólo es capaz de representarse un modelo binario hetero/gay o, if si llegan a concebir un espectro, es el espectro de mariconismo, que empieza por hetero, sigue por cis-gay y termina con trans, mezclando churras con merinas.

Como cualquier lector de mi blog puede haberse figurado al leer esta y esta enteradas, yo soy fan del cuadrado de Storms, y lo encuentro adecuado para la educación a varios niveles. En el más sencillo de ellos, muestra cómo la asexualidad es el la pieza que falta en el puzzle de la orientación, previniendo la respuesta “y cuántas orientaciones más?”. De este modo, podemos representarnos las cuatro orientaciones cardinales: heterosexualidad, homosexualidad, bisexualidad y asexualidad. Esta imagen, aparte de encuadrar la asexualidad como una orientación sexual, también previene las confusiones habituales con la antisexualidad o la abstinencia.

Un paso más allá de la lectura cuaternaria del cuadrado de Storms, uno puede introducir el área gris, incluyendo la demisexualidad, but con la advertencia de que las cuatro orientaciones cardinales vienen antes y que un demisexual aún tiene una orientación sexual para su atracción sexual. Yo lo compararía con el género gramatical en castellano. Hay dos géneros gramaticales en castellano estándar, masculino y femenino, junto con un neutro vestigial, pero luego existen cierto fenómenos en relación al género, como el género común, el género ambiguo o el género epiceno. Estos fenómenos no son género, y requieren de los dos géneros cardinales para su explicación. Por ejemplo, una palabra no puede tener epiceno por su género, sino que será masculina o femenina. Una palabra epicena femenina como “persona” es una palabra femenina, y su género epiceno significa que su género femenino tiene preferencia sobre el género de su referente. Del mismo modo, un demisexual hetero es heterosexual; su demisexualidad explica cómo funciona su atracción, no adónde está orientada.

Finalmente, el cuadrado de Storms es un modelo científico, publicado en 1980, lo que lo hace válido también para educar a profesionales. Otra ventaja del modelo de Storms es que es puede reproducir para la atracción romántica, dejando claro que las orientaciones sexual y romántica son esencialmente diferentes, aunque usualmente estén alineadas. Creo que es positivo introducir el modelo de atracciones separadas tan pronto como se trata con la atracción romántica de cara a evitar mitos como identificar asexualidad y arromanticismo o, peor, pensar que la atracción romántica es universal. Con el mismo cuadrado se puede explorar más lejos, no sólo la orientación romántica, sino también la platónica y la social.

El cuadrado de Storms no el la panacea, ya que ignora los género no binarios, pero es un gran modelo para educación en varios niveles.


Storms square as a model for education

29 junio 2017

Esta entrada es una colaboración para el carnaval de blogs, que este mes trata sobre educación asexual. Escribo en inglés porque es el idioma de este carnaval.

Versión en español

In its very name, AVEN has two objectives: visibility and education. Though intertwined, this month we’ll focus on education. Each effort of visibility educates by teaching people that asexuality exists, but maybe not in depth, and each effort of education makes its objective visible, but maybe not in the most effective way. Of course, it’s not the same trying to educate the general population, the LGBT people or their allies. One can go more in depth with the two last populations because of the shared knowledge. Notice that there are still people who can only picture a binary straight/gay or, if they conceive a spectrum, it’s the faggish spectrum, which start with straight, follows with cis-gay and ends with trans, mixing apples with oranges.

As any reader of this blog may know, I am a big fan of Storms square, and I find it suitable both many levels of education. For the simplest level, it shows how asexuality is the missing piece in the puzzle of orientation, preventing the response “and how many orientations more?”. This way we can picture the four cardinal orientations: heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality. This picture, apart of framing asexuality as a sexual orientation, also prevents the common misconceptions like equating asexuality with being antisexual or abstinent from sex.

Advancing further than the fourfold reading of Storms square, one can introduce the grey area, including demisexuality, but with the warning that the four cardinal orientations come before and that a demisexual still has a sexual orientation for their sexual attraction. I would compare it with grammatical gender in Spanish. There are two grammatical genders in standard Spanish, masculine and feminine, together with a vestigial neuter, but then there exist some phenomena regarding gender, like common gender, ambiguous gender or epicene gender. These phenomena are not genders, and require the two cardinal genders for their explanation. For instance, a word cannot have epicene as its gender, but it would be either masculine or feminine. An epicene feminine word like “persona” is a feminine word, and being epicene means that its feminine gender has preference over the gender of its referent. In the same way, a straight demisexual is heterosexual; their demisexuality explains how their sexual attraction works, not where it is oriented.

Finally, Storms square is a scientific model, published in 1980, what makes it valid also for educating professionals. Another advantage of Storms model is that it can be reproduced for romantic attraction, making it clear that sexual and romantic orientation are essentially different, though usually aligned. I think it’s positive to introduce the split attraction model as soon as dealing with romantic attraction in order to avoid myths like equating asexuality and aromanticism or, worse, thinking that romantic attraction is universal. With the same square one can explore further, not only romantic orientation, but also platonic or social orientation.

Storms square is not the panacea, as it doesn’t deal with non-binary genders, but it’s a great model for education in many levels.


My thoughts on kissing, holding hands and bed sharing

31 mayo 2017

Esta entrada es una colaboración para el carnaval de blogs, que este mes trata sobre besar, agarrarse de la mano, compartir cama, etc. Escribo en inglés porque es el idioma de este carnaval.

I don’t think that kissing, even French kissing, holding hands or sharing a bed are intrinsically romantic, but toxically considered romantic by our society, making difficult to do them outside a romantic setting. First, I shall exclude cheek kissing because our society has decided that this is the formal greeting when a woman in involved, though I strongly hate these protocol and its gender asymmetry. I think French kissing is considered romantic or sexual, so if it’s not considered romantic it’s because it’s linked with casual sex. The latter would be the only case I would engage in French kissing, and I did engage in it in a context of sensual explorations, but in general I’m not driven into partnered sex, so I’m not driven into French kissing for sexual reasons, and less for romantic reasons.

Regarding hand holding, I shall exclude the case of helping another person, or being helped yourself, where holding hands is functional. When a couple hold hands for romantic reasons they do it in a dysfunctional form, and they insist on being granted room for the pack even in crowded settings where one can hardly get their own room. In extremely crowded settings, it could paradoxically result functional as a way to keep together, but again the way you should fasten your partner’s hand is not romantic, as far as I know. I haven’t tried romantic hand-holding, and I can’t see the point in it. Just showing everybody you are a couple?

Again, I shall exclude bed sharing for a need, which uses to be temporary. Romantic bed-sharing uses to be a standing situation. In this case, if two people share a bed in a continuous basis, it’s assumed they’re a couple more surely than if they held hands or kissed, and it’s also assume that they are more committed and, of course, that they have sex on a regular basis. Among this three romantic gestures, I dislike more bed sharing, especially for lasting hours. I wouldn’t share a bed if there were no need. I can’t understand the couples that, being able to have separate beds, decide to give up this comfort in order to be closer to their partner. One thing is sharing a bed for a sex session, which I understand, and another thing is sharing it for sleeping. And I hate when society dismiss a couple’s love and engagement when they find out that they sleep on separate beds, or even in separate rooms.


Why I am childfree

30 abril 2017

Esta entrada es una continuación de mi anterior colaboración para el carnaval de blogs, que este mes trata sobre asexualidad, aromanticismo y paternidad. Escribo en inglés porque es el idioma de este carnaval.

In a previous post I explored how my disaffection with parenthood is related with my asexuality and my aromanticism. There are many reasons to choose not to have children. Some, like saving time, money and effort for oneself, are dismissed as selfish, with the hidden assumption that your children exist beforehand and you are denying them something. But the truth is that, if they don’t exist, you can’t owe them anything. Contrary to this fallacy, I feel I have a duty with my potential children, to be a good parent, and I think I could be a bad father. Why does society assumes that an untrained parent can properly raise a child. Parenthood should be taught explicitly, with supervised training and raising your first children together with an experienced advisor. Otherwise, the first child may pay the price of the inexperience of their parents. Moreover, apart of lacking the proper training and the suitable school for getting it in case I were interested, I think I don’t have the aptitudes for being a good parent. I wouldn’t like myself as my own parent.

Not only does society lead parents to raise children as if there were a magical instinct that could guide them in all the subtleties of educating a human kid, but also it grants the parents the right to do so by their own beliefs, regardless how wrong they might be. This “right” is understood even as a right to deny a need to your children as long as you dismiss it as a whim. Conversely, this “right” is understood as a right to impose your whims on your children as a duty. Provided these denials or whims are not too fringe, nobody will challenge your “right” to raise your children your way. And not only may it be voluntary mistreatment, but also it may be due to ignorance, especially when most novice parents lack the training I mentioned in the previous paragraph. I’m concerned about the latter in case I had children.

But even in the ideal case of well-trained parents raising children without mistakes, the social context is far from ideal and is hard to change. Though it may sound pessimistic, is bringing a new person to this world a positive thing? Is life in this context a gift or a sentence? Another hidden assumption of the aforementioned fallacy “childfree is selfish” is an optimistic answer to these questions. Moreover, this fallacious claim diverts attention from some of the motivations for having children that can be actually selfish.