I came across this article this morning: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/26/among-the-asexuals

and I’m not sure what to make of it. While I’m not an expert on asexuality and the asexual community, I have some issues her portrayal of asexuality. I’m glad that she is bringing it up, but at the same time I think she is getting a lot of stuff wrong, or at least I got a bit upset, for example when she wrote about the first woman who is single, and she made it look like that was due to her asexuality rather than out of choice (or maybe that is just me not being totally awake). I can’t quite say what it is, but for some reason this article annoys me, and I would like to hear your thoughts about it!

Thank you very much for sharing! (I tried to keep my opinion short, but I failed, whoops! I stuck to the main issues I have and skipped a lot of points, trying to stick to the meat of the thing, though, otherwise I would have rambled even more.)

[[I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an expert in asexuality, either, just a chick with a computer; I also don’t speak for Nick, so they’ll probably have things to add or disagree with me on when they log on.]]

Doing a read more cut, to spare your dashes, because this is a bit of a read. I tried cutting down, sorry.Reading this, yeah, I can see several things where this would be problematic. The definition is wrong, first off, confusing sexual desire with attraction and saying asexuality is not desiring sex. The beginning of the article sort of conflates asexuality with being single, although not right out, the potential for misunderstanding is there. (They mention relationships a bit later down, but the beginning of the article is the most important, because that’s what most people will read.) Clarity is important when talking about something as unknown as asexuality, because most readers will form an opinion on it based on their first impression and then leave it at that.

One thing that I always find is the biggest issue of articles on asexuality, besides the definition confusing sex with attraction, is that they always find a few asexuals to interview, and then use their words rather than stating basic facts first, before then moving on to personal experiences. I think personal experiences are important, don’t get me wrong, but information is a priority above that; because all asexuals are different, so it makes sense that (for example in this article) the first half that draws on only one person would be incorrect for asexuality in general. I do think this article would have been better starting off with the basic facts (even though they were wrong so wouldn’t help all that much), before moving on to personal experiences, instead of weaving them about. 

I don’t like “Platonic Partners caters not only for asexual people but also for the sexually impotent and for those who cannot have sex because of injury.” I get their point: “But whatever the reason, the central message is the same: just because you don’t want to or can’t have sex, it doesn’t mean you should spend your life alone.” Beside the fact that asexuals can’t not have sex, and the unfortunate implication that asexuals have some sort of sexual dysfunction issue being mentioned with those who can’t have sex, the term “platonic partners” is sort of problematic, in my opinion, because of the distinction between platonic, romantic, and sexual that is usually important in many asexual discussions. (One barrier I think that asexuals will have when being written about, is that asexuals do have some pretty different vocabulary. Because you know, I don’t think many nonasexuals need, say, a definition of sensual attraction or aesthetic attraction, or if they do, then the distinction between them all isn’t as important. (Although, I don’t mean to imply that they don’t experience that attraction, I just mean, attraction distinct from sexual is generally a bigger issue to get across when talking about asexuality.))

It gets better as you read on, though, mentioning a romantic orientation (although in passing, so boo for information), mentioning it’s not celibacy, the problems with implying there is a cause, etc. I think the bottom half is better than the top, personally, although, not without flaws. I’m glad they apparently talked to David Jay, but I’m not sure how well they listened or understood.

There is a good point that they mentioned: “For example, her research shows there is no gender split; men and women are equally likely to be asexual.” Which I think is a good thing to have mentioned, although I’m not sure about the follow-up sentence on masturbation. I wish there are more studies to draw on than just one researcher, but that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, especially since they mentioned that asexuality research isn’t deemed important enough to fund. (That sucks.)

Still, it’s kind of good that more people are willing to report on asexuality as a valid orientation here lately, it’ll just take some work to get one that’s informative in a way that isn’t biased or wrong.

So, not perfect at all, but I think it could be worse. I think this article is poorly written in general, I’m always annoyed with articles that don’t state all the facts clearly before moving on to personal experiences, so adding on the always wonky issue of asexual awareness in articles, that just made it worse. I may be overly critical, but I think that when reporting on something so unknown, it’s important to be critical, because this can be the first (or only) taste of asexuality a lot of people get.

(Another thing that sort of bugs me, is that I think reporting on asexuality is treated as a fad, for most reporters. I think they go into this with the mindset of “Oh, isn’t this new and exciting and so weird! This will catch people’s attention!” and less, “This could be a very informative and useful subject to open discussion to.” That’s the feeling I get with articles like this, but that’s just me.)

Thank you again for sharing this, it is very much appreciated.

Anyone else have any thoughts to share?

-Griff

@2 years ago with 9 notes
#asexual #asexuality #submission 
  1. kengrii reblogged this from asexualeducation and added:
    (Decided to go ahead and put this on my blog as well because I got opiniony~)
  2. aximili reblogged this from asexualeducation and added:
    Yeah, when I read this in the Observer I felt quite the same way. I was pleased at how they positively displayed it,...
  3. tafelschwamm submitted this to asexualeducation