Asexuality 101 part 2: Gray-asexuality and the asexual spectrum

This is the draft I have for the sections on the asexual spectrum and gray-asexuality. A point I want to somehow elaborate on, but could use help with, is where’s the cut-off between being asexual, or gray-A, and being gray-A or allosexual? Anything else I could elaborate on in the asexual spectrum mini-section, or is that enough?

Gray-asexuality

“Gray-A” for short. An umbrella term for people who aren’t asexual, but aren’t allosexual either, and their experiences are generally more in line with those of asexual people. Usually considered to be part of the asexuality spectrum.

People who feel that they experience sexual attraction or a desire for sex, but only to a limited degree. Reasons for identifying as gray-asexual include, but aren’t limited to the following:

  • Experiencing it only very rarely, noticeably less frequently than the general population.
  • Experiencing it only at a low intensity, rarely, if ever strong enough to desire acting on it.
  • People who experience sexual attraction, but no libido, may also be considered gray-asexual.
  • Experiencing it only under limited circumstances. Some of these patterns of experiencing sexual attraction only under certain, limited circumstances have names for them:
    • Demisexual: A close emotional bond with someone is the only condition in which experiencing sexual attraction is possible. This emotional bond doesn’t have to be romantic. Demisexuality isn’t the same as someone not wanting to not act on sexual attraction, unless they have an emotional bond with that person.
    • Lithsexual/Akoisexual: Only experiences sexual attraction with no desire for it to be reciprocated; sexual feelings disappear with reciprocation.

Rhetoric to avoid

  • “It means experiencing sexual attraction rarely”: This is a common explanation given for what gray-asexuality is, but the low frequency of sexual attraction isn’t the only reason why someone may identify as gray-asexual.
  • “It’s the area on the spectrum between asexual and allosexual” (without any further elaboration): Mentioning this without further elaboration gives off the impression that the continuum from asexual to allosexual is one-dimensional (i.e: it’s only about the intensity of sexual attraction, or only the frequency of it), and erases the various reasons why someone would consider themselves gray-asexual.

Asexual spectrum

A collective term referring to asexuals and gray-asexuals; asexuality is the point of the continuum defined by never experiencing sexual attraction and/or the desire for partnered sex.

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5 thoughts on “Asexuality 101 part 2: Gray-asexuality and the asexual spectrum

    1. Aqua Post author

      I don’t think I saw that one before, but thanks for linking me to that, because it has a lot of what I was asking about on it! Good point on people identifying as gray-asexual, because of feeling uncertain whether they experience sexual attraction or not.

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  1. sablin27

    Possible edits:

    It might be worth defining “allosexual” again. I know you did it in the last section, but it was in the middle of a paragraph and most people don’t pick up unfamiliar words quickly. It’s pretty vital to your definition of gray-A.

    Maybe break up the “reasons” section, so there’s not bullet points inset into a bullet point? It’s not hard to read visually, but it makes it a bit harder to process.

    On reasons to identify as gray-A:
    – Being fuzzy on what sexual attraction is (for you) and/or whether you feel it;
    – Relating to the asexual communities strongly, but considering yourself definitely not asexual (“Many ways to be between” gets quoted a lot);
    – Having periods of feeling like a allosexual and periods where you really don’t.

    The cut-offs between being asexual or gray-A and between being gray-A or allosexual are difficult to talk about, because asexual discourse tend to treat the categories as simultaneously “whatever an individual wants it to mean” and distinct meaningful definitions. It does mostly work, but the borders are necessarily blurry.

    You might consider including terms like “requissexual”, “quoisexual” and “recipsexual”. They’re kind of ephemeral – no one might be using them in a year – but they seem pretty relevant for people who think they might be gray-A.

    You could also say why we use the term “spectrum”. Why not say “asexuals and gray-asexuals”?

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    1. Aqua Post author

      I put the definition of allosexual where I did, because this was all intended to be one page. I’m just breaking the draft of it into sections, so they can be discussed one section at a time, but this section would be a better place to define “allosexual”.

      That’s what I thought about the cut-offs, and it’s frustrating that it’s difficult to write about. I thought of that, because I was talking with someone who was questioning if they are gray-asexual or allosexual, possibly being right on that border between the two. On tumblr somewhere, I saw someone define being allosexual as experiencing sexual attraction consistently, and I found that definition helpful.

      Of those three terms, I’ve “quoisexual”/”quoiromantic” catch on the most, but the other two I should mention too. They have a bit of popularity to them, and were recently coined.

      Do we prefer using the term “asexual spectrum”, because it emphasizes that sexuality is a continuum, borders are blurry, and gray-asexuals’ experiences are more like those of asexuals, in ways that saying “asexuals and gray-asexuals” doesn’t?

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      1. sablin27

        ‘That’s what I thought about the cut-offs, and it’s frustrating that it’s difficult to write about.’
        Trawl advice blogs and paraphrase? That sort of question gets asked all the time.

        ‘Do we prefer using the term “asexual spectrum”, because it emphasizes that sexuality is a continuum, borders are blurry, and gray-asexuals’ experiences are more like those of asexuals, in ways that saying “asexuals and gray-asexuals” doesn’t?’
        I don’t know. It’s one of those things that some people do and some people don’t and I’ve always felt like the choice was partly conceptual and partly political, but not really been sure what people were trying to acheive. But your explanation definitely sounds cool.

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