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.

Asocial: the final frontier?

13 octubre 2014

Versión en español

This post is a translation of the relevant parts of Asocial: ¿la última frontera? (in Spanish).

In the short history of asexuality we have witnessed twice a reaction against which we should be cautious in order to avoid committing it a third time. I mean the denial of asexuality by the (allo)sexuals who, unable to conceive that someone may lack what they feel, deny that asexuality might exist arguing that sexual attraction is universal and lacking it would result in inhuman beings incapable of loving. In reaction to this, the romantic asexual raise the flag of love without sex and reply things like “asexuals can also fall in love,” invisibilizing and denying the aromantics. Moreover, forgetting the way they were attacked, they now defend the universality of romantic love and even claim that its lack would result in inhuman beings incapable of loving. In reaction to this second denial, the aromantic asexuals discovered the squish and reclaimed the (queer)platonic relationships. This sounds again as the invisibilizing and denying cries of the (allo)sexuals and the romantics, and I would not want that these findings so useful to our emotional lives were used for the invisibility and denial of the aplatonics. I have read claims of universality of platonic love, although I still have not read that its lack would result in inhuman beings incapable of loving, and I would not like to see it happened. We know that the aplatonics exist and are capable of loving. Even the aplatonic aromantic asexuals show other kinds of affection for other people: for their family, their non-platonic friends and their close acquaintances. Apart from family love, the affection toward this kind of friends could well be called social. The coinage is not mine, since I had already read “homosocial” before, especially in the context of “heterosexual and homosocial.” In the same way we are socially conditioned into heterosexuality, we are also socially conditioned into homosociality, but I think that in past times more than nowadays.

This social affection would correspond with social attraction, which would be what we call “to take to,” in my opinion. Thus, according to the social attraction, a person could be heterosocial, homosocial, bisocial (well recognized terms en sociology) and even pansocial or, why not, asocial. Nevertheless, does the term “asocial” do justice to the people lacking this affection? We have spoken out in favor of the aplatonics and would not want to see another turn in the cycle of oppression described above, but it seems that the various senses of the term “asocial” does yield the same meaning. Do I miss anything? A person can be asexual, aromantic, aplatonic… and asocial; is “asocial” the final frontier of human attraction? I can at least say that, being platonic, I am not an interested party in setting the frontier precisely in the first kind of attraction I experiment in this digging of attractions: sexual, romantic, platonic and social. Though I can’t be accused of partiality, I don’t want to boast of objectivity either, so I would like to get feedback from the readers. You may post your message either as a comment below or, if you prefer privacy, through the contact form. I would like to get replies especially from aplatonics and from asocials.