Category Archives: Projects

About the making of the 2015 survey

The survey for 2014 was officially called “The 2014 AVEN Community Census”, while the 2015 survey is officially called “The 2015 Ace Community Census”.

The 2015 survey is online, and will be open to responses until November 15th. You can find more information about it here, from the asexual census blog ran by the AVEN Survey Team.

I’m part of the Survey Team this year, and I also was last year. The publication date ended up being later in the year than last year’s survey (which was published October 6, 2014, while this year’s was published October 22, 2015), but we worked hard to get it finished during AAW.

Several changes were made this year from last year, including:

  • Changing the citizenship question to primary residency.
  • Expanded on the “mental health” and “sexual attitudes” section.
  • Added “unsure” options to several questions that didn’t have it, but should have.
  • Expanded a lot on the “sexual history” section, and adding a separate section about sexual violence, including a screen that asks the respondent if they want to answer those sections, or skip them.
  • Replaced the “celibacy” section with the expanded “sexual history” section: I liked the celibacy section from last year’s survey. I thought it was interesting, but since any changes weren’t expected from last year, it didn’t seem necessary to include twice in a row, especially since other sections have been expanded. The survey would’ve been too long.
  • Cut the questions asking about strength and frequency of sexual attraction, how strongly someone identifies with their orientation, and whether asexuals consider themselves to have a sexuality or not. Some of these questions were confusing, or were asked for political reasons.
  • The questions asking about experiences with other asexual communities were cut. There was some potential with those questions, but it wasn’t used. I liked the idea of these questions being used to assess current ties between different parts of the asexual community have been, and how leaders of the different groups could improve their relations with the others, but nothing came of that.

The biggest challenge on the survey itself was writing the updated “sexual history” section, and the sexual violence questions, particularly finding the way to word them, so for the latter, we sought outside help. I don’t know if the people who helped us want to be mentioned, but I thank them for taking the time to look over the questions we had, and helped us refine them.

The mental health questions were also very difficult to write. There have been quite a few responses about it already, which I’ve responded to, looking for input on how to further refine those questions if they’ll be kept next year.

I’m also open to feedback and questions about the survey, but it may take me some time to respond since I’ll soon be back to working 40+ hours per week.

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Asexuality 101 Overview Page Update Version 1.1

I updated my asexuality 101 overview page earlier today to include a section on the importance of self-identification, and am looking for some input. Do the two reasons I listed seem like the main reasons, and did my explanations make sense?

Also, since it has gotten so long now, are there sections that should be shortened, removed, or split off onto a separate page?

Started a page on voluntary celibacy!

I published the first version (though I made one edit before publishing this post) of a “voluntary celibacy 101“ page, which is also available under the “101-level resources” link in the menu.

I’ve been meaning to write that page for a long time, but for so long, I had been stumped on how to approach it, because of the lack of set term among those who could be considered celibate. I thought, how could I write a voluntary celibacy 101 page without it being a total mess? Then the idea hit me recently, I found a way to address this issue, and found a way that I could write about it.

I could still use some input on it, as there are sections I got started on adding, only to remove them before publishing. Should I add in a section about romantic relationships and nonamory, or would that work better as a separate page?

 

 

It was better to put less on my plate

It’s tempting to get everything you want on your plate, and for bloggers, it’s tempting to try and write everything that we want to in one post, but that can lead to a lot of waste, and regret. If a post doesn’t get published because the author gave up due to the difficulty, then that’s wasted time and words. I’ve had that happen to me before, both eating too much at a buffet, and giving up on an unwieldy post that I spent a lot of time on.

Starting on the beginning of the 2014 Asexual Awareness Week, I had the ambition of creating an asexuality 101 page that would cover the various concepts discussed in asexual discourse. My goal was to get it published by the end of that week.

I finally got the “Asexuality (and related concepts) 101” page done, as the first entry on the “101-Level Resources” page! It’s not finalized, because there is still room to make corrections, and add in other topics if need be, but I’m glad I was able to get it polished enough to post.

I posted a draft of it in four parts (part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4) and thanks to everyone who commented! However, I bit off way more than I could chew (pardon the cliche), because many of the topics could easily have their own pages. I left a lot out of the published page, including the “rhetoric to avoid” sub-sections, and the “relationships” sections, but I plan on incorporating what I wrote onto separate pages about those topics.

A topic I considered adding in was self-doubt, because I’ve seen so many doubt their asexuality for different reasons, mainly related to the “Unassailable Asexual” concept, and I’ve especially seen this doubt among those who are survivors of sexual violence. I’ve seen so many newbies on AVEN who are survivors of sexual violence ask if they “really” are asexual, concerned that their history invalidates it. I’m not sure I should include it, make it a separate page of its own, or leave this subject to someone more qualified than me.

Part of why I missed my goal, and why progress continued to stall afterwards, was that it was trying to cover so many topics, and in so much detail. It was overwhelming. I found The Asexual Agenda’s post “So you want to start your own blog” very helpful, especially the points “Shorter is better”, and “One small issue at a time”. Today, I was able to push myself to finish the page, by cutting a lot out. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by that page anymore. It actually felt manageable, and I felt like I could finish it.

I found it better to cut a large topic, or a sprawling manifesto into bite-sized pieces, and link them together. I believe now it can be done without sacrificing the details that I wanted to originally include. I can always go back, and incorporate what was cut out of it, into new pages.

Asexuality (and related concepts) 101 part 4

This is part 4 of my Asexuality (and related concepts) 101 page, and I’m looking for input. This section is probably big enough to be its own page though!
EDIT: This is an edited version, based off of suggestions made in the comments. Thanks to luvtheheaven and sablin27 for the suggestions. This section is still open to more suggestions.
Because of how large this section is, it’d be better to split it into a separate page, that the “Asexuality (and related concepts) 101” page will link to.

Attitudes towards sex

How someone feels about having sex is separate from whether they’re asexual or not. Asexual and gray-asexual people’s attitudes towards the idea of themselves having sex, and towards sex/sexuality in general, are as diverse as allosexual people’s viewpoints.

Personal attitudes towards sex

The three terms usually used in the asexual community to describe how someone personally feels about sex, or the idea of sex involving them, are repulsed, indifferent, and favorable.

Statistics from the two relevant censuses of the asexual community will be used. The questions to measure personal attitudes towards sex were phrased differently, with radically different results, because of it*. For each group, breakdown by asexuality, gray-asexuality, and demisexuality will be given, for both surveys.

Repulsed

Repulsed (or “sex-repulsed”) individuals strongly dislike the idea of themselves having sex, under most, or all circumstances. They may feel physically or mentally grossed out by it. There are different degrees of sex-repulsion, ranging from someone who is completely repulsed by anything sexual, and doesn’t want to talk about it, to those who like the idea of sex in theory, but are repulsed by the thought of actual sex involving themselves.

Sex-repulsion isn’t itself a sign of being asexual, but the sex-repulsed do make up the majority of the asexual community, and the asexual group has the highest percentage of sex-repulsed individuals.

Results from 2011 AAW Census

  • Asexuals: 65%
  • Gray-asexuals: 51%
  • Demisexuals: 37%
  • (no stats for allosexuals given)

Results from 2014 AVEN Census

  • Asexuals: 55%
  • Gray-asexuals: 27.4%
  • Demisexuals: 15.9%
  • Allosexuals: The percentage still needs to be calculated**

Another term that’s sometimes used is sex-averse, which sometimes is synonymous with sex-repulsed, but other times, it’s something similar, but not interchangeable.

Indifferent

Indifferent (or “sex-indifferent”) individuals are indifferent towards the idea of themselves having sex. They often describe their attitude towards sex as “take it or leave it”, or “wouldn’t mind having sex under some circumstances, but would be perfectly content to never have it”. Some are willing to have sex, even if they might get little, or nothing out of the act itself, such as if they have an allosexual partner who wants sex, and the want to make their partner happy. Not all these relationships are sexual, for different reasons, described later in the “Mixed Relationships” section.

For indifferent individuals who don’t want sex, it’s not that they find it repulsive, but rather, they feel like it may not be worth it for them from a cost-benefits perspective.

Results from 2011 AAW Census

  • Asexuals: 24%
  • Gray-asexuals: 32%
  • Demisexuals: 34%
  • (no stats for allosexuals given)

Results from 2014 AVEN Census

  • Asexuals: 42.3%
  • Gray-asexuals: 61.2%
  • Demisexuals: 54.3%
  • Allosexuals: The percentage still needs to be calculated**

Favorable

“Sex-favorable” individuals are those who are favorable towards the idea of themselves having sex under some circumstances.

Results from 2011 AAW Census

  • Asexuals: 1%
  • Gray-asexuals: 4%
  • Demisexuals: 11%
  • (no stats for allosexuals given)

Results from 2014 AVEN Census

  • Asexuals: 2.7%
  • Gray-asexuals: 11.4%
  • Demisexuals: 29.8%
  • Allosexuals: The percentage still needs to be calculated**

Not everyone neatly fit these labels

Not everyone can neatly fit their experiences into just one of these labels. Some individuals may be unsure, or ambivalent towards the idea of themselves having sex. Others may feel like their experiences are a mix of them, and can’t neatly be categorized. Some individuals may also identify with multiple of these labels under different contexts.

Desiring sex is separate from wanting it. Sex-favorable asexuals may want sex for the sake of it under some circumstances, despite not having any intrinsic desire for it, and there are sex-repulsed and averse allosexuals who never want sex despite having an intrinsic desire for it.

Rhetoric to avoid

  • Certain usage of “Asexuals can enjoy sex too!” (particularly right after talking about sex-repulsion): It’s true that some asexuals can enjoy sex, but how this phrase is often used, has been used to silence repulsed asexuals, by sweeping them under the rug. When talking about both sex-repulsed and sex-favorable asexuals, take care to mention both sides respectfully. Acknowledging one group doesn’t have to come at the other’s expense.
  • The assumption that all indifferent and favorable asexuals are open to sex: This one may be unintentional, but it does seem to be implied a lot. Liking, or at least not being repulsed by the idea of sex, doesn’t automatically mean being open to sex, and there are other reasons someone might not want it.
  • Assuming that a repulsion or aversion to sex is something that must be treated: Many sex-repulsed individuals aren’t distressed by being sex-repulsed; their distress comes from isolation, and lack of acceptance, and there have been many repulsed individuals who don’t feel welcome talking about their experiences, even in the asexual spaces.
  • Assuming that if someone’s sex-repulsion isn’t “supposed” to have a cause: Some sex-repulsed individuals feel that their repulsion does have a cause, including trauma, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling that way. Their repulsion isn’t any less valid.

Attitudes towards sex in general

How someone feels about personally having sex (repulsed, indifferent, favorable), is also separate from how they feel about others having sex, or how they feel towards sex in general. There are terms used for describing attitudes towards sex in general, but the definitions for each of them are widely disputed.***

The AVEN 2014 Census showed that most respondents don’t have any problem with consenting adults engaging in sex, but many of those same respondents also at least somewhat agreed with the statement “Our society has too much sex in it, and it would be better if it were diminished.”. Agreeing to both of those statements may not be contradictory, considering how sex is treated as compulsory by society as a whole, and there’s a lot of pressure to have it.


Footnotes:

*On the full page, I’ll have a footnote addressing the discrepancies between the percentages of sex-repulsed, indifferent, and favorable individuals in the 2011 and 2014 surveys. These discrepancies are likely due to methodological differences between each survey, and how they measured personal attitudes towards sex.

**The percentages of sex-repulsed, indifferent and favorable allosexuals will be added when those statistics from the 2014 AVEN Census become publicly available.

***I’m also planning on writing a terminology page, with a section for terms whose meanings are highly ambiguous or disputed. The “sex-positive” and “sex-negative” labels are two of them.

Asexuality (and related concepts) 101 part 3

This is part 3 of my Asexuality (and related concepts) 101 page; original post proposing the idea is here.

Allosexuality

(allo- “other” –> “sexual attraction to other people”) People not on the asexual spectrum, or people who are not asexual nor gray-asexual. They experience sexual attraction, or the desire for partnered sex in a consistent manner, and this attraction is usually closely tied to other forms of attraction they experience.

Rhetoric to avoid

  • Assuming all allosexuals feel the same way about sex: It’s not fair for us to assume they’re a monolith, when we, as asexuals are speaking out to show the diversity of the asexual community. It’s also incorrect. Allosexuals can experience sexual attraction at different frequencies and intensities from each other. They also value, and prioritize sex differently from each other, ranging from those who feel that sex is a must-have in a relationship, to those who never want sex, and rejected it for life.
  • Assuming all allosexuals experience romantic attraction, and that their romantic orientation must match up with their sexual orientation: Aromanticism isn’t limited to asexuality, and there are allosexuals whose romantic orientations don’t match their sexual orientations.

Other forms of attraction

Aside from sexual attraction, there are other types of attraction, including romantic, aesthetic, and sensual.

  • Romantic: The desire to form a romantic bond with someone. People who don’t experience romantic attraction are known as aromantics, and some are asexual, others aren’t. For more information on romantic orientation, see the “Romantic orientation” section.
  • Aesthetic: Finding someone aesthetically attractive, strongly drawn to their looks, in a non-sexual way.
  • Sensual: The desire for sensual, but non-sexual contact with others. Not everyone can neatly separate sensual attraction from sexual attraction, and for many allosexuals, they may be closely linked. For some asexuals who experience romantic attraction, sensual attraction is closely tied to their romantic attraction.

Asexuals just don’t experience sexual attraction (going by the “sexual attraction” definition), but could experience any of the other forms of attraction, and describe their other attractions as being inherently disconnected from anything sexual.

“Squishes” are intense feelings, and a desire to form a platonic relationship with someone. Aromantic people don’t experience “crushes”, which are romantic, but may experience “squishes”.

Libidoism and nonlibidoism

Asexuals with a libido often describe it as having a libido that isn’t directed at anything, and can be satisfied with self-stimulation. Nonlibidoists are people without libido, and have no physical need for self-stimulation. Arousal is separate from libido, and some, but not all nonlibidoists can be physically aroused. Those that can, and could feel physical pleasure, just have no physical drive for it.

26.1% of asexual spectrum people are estimated to be nonlibidoist, according to the 2014 AVEN Community Census.


Points that are still unclear:

  • Can someone be allosexual and nonlibidoist? I heard that isn’t possible, and all people who experience sexual attraction, but no libido are gray-A. I’ve also heard of others saying that all nonlibidoists are asexual, claiming that sexual attraction can’t exist without libido (though libido can exist without sexual attraction).
  • Any rhetoric to avoid with the attraction and libido sections?: I think I addressed one, when I said that not all nonlibidoists can feel physical arousal or pleasure. I didn’t know until it was first pointed out that a lot of explanations of nonlibidoism erase those that don’t.

Other points I wanted to add, but wasn’t sure: It’s harmful and inaccurate to assume that all allosexuals feel the same way about sex, because it may also suggest that mixed relationships are a lost cause. There is a later section on mixed relationships, so I wasn’t sure if I should mention this point in the “rhetoric to avoid” header for the allosexual section. I also thought of splitting off the upcoming section on aromanticism into its own page.

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.

Asexuality 101 part 1: Introduction

This is the draft I have for the section on introducing what asexuality is, and is not, and the definitions usually used, for the asexuality and related concepts 101 page I got started on here. Libido, romantic orientation, other types of attraction, attitudes towards sex, are mentioned, and each have their own separate sections. This is an early draft, open to suggestions, including a change in the structure, if it’d be better to include other things under the “Asexuality” heading than just the definition(s).
Is there anything you’d want me to put under the “rhetoric to avoid” for this section? The only thing I can think of right now is to avoid conflating asexuality with other things that happen to overlap with it.
EDIT: This is an edited version, based off of suggestions made in the comments. Thanks to luvtheheaven and killerbee13 for the suggestions.

Asexuality

Basic definitions

Asexuality (in English) has two basic definitions that are usually used:

  1. A person who does not experience sexual attraction.
  2. A person who does not experience an intrinsic desire for partnered sex.

The first definition is the most widely used. “Sexual attraction” is usually defined as that feeling of desiring to have sex with a specific person. The second definition is sometimes used, because not everyone understands what “sexual attraction” is supposed to mean, and finds the definition for it either unclear, or not meaningful to them personally.

Some people find the second definition more clear. There are also allosexuals (people who aren’t asexual nor gray-asexual) who say that they don’t experience “sexual attraction” as the asexual community defines it, but they say they’re allosexual, because they desire sex. A comparison that has been used, is that someone who is allosexual will still have desires for sex, even if they lived their life in complete isolation.

There is the added issue that some define asexuality as lacking sexual attraction and/or the intrinsic desire for partnered sex, drawing a clear line between what “sexual attraction” is, and the “intrinsic desire for partnered sex”.

There are other asexual people who feel like the first definition fits their experiences, but the second one doesn’t. These reasons are why a combined definition of “Doesn’t experience sexual attraction and/or an intrinsic desire for partnered sex” has grown in popularity.

An expanded definition

Asexuality is an orientation where an individual does not experience sexual attraction. However, asexuals may have romantic, or other attractions. The lack of sexual attraction does not imply that they is always no sex drive. Asexuals can have ranging libidos. (Credit to Stained Glass from AVEN for suggesting this expanded definition.)

Asexuals are a diverse group

Some asexuals experience romantic attraction, others don’t, and some don’t distinguish romantic from platonic feelings.

Some asexuals are repulsed by sex, while others are indifferent to it, and some may enjoy it. [note: in the “attitudes towards sex” section, this’ll be elaborated on a lot more, including statistics to show that these groups aren’t equally-sized]

Asexuality isn’t celibacy or sexual abstinence, though many asexuals happen to be celibate, and can be for different reasons. Likewise, others are sexually active, and can be for different reasons.