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.

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