Category Archives: Terminology

Useful vs. Practical part 1: It’s about priorities

This is part 1 of my entry for the May 2015 Carnival of Aces: Identity, Labels, and Models.

The key reason for using the labels we do, is that we find them useful.

A label that is personally useful:

    • Closely defines a person’s experiences: This is self-explanatory.
    • Helps them make sense of what they are: one of the greatest examples is when someone may knew what they were, but felt lost without a label for it. For example, some asexuals knew that they were asexual before knowing of asexuality as the label for it, but before knowing of the asexual label, they thought they were the only ones who felt the way about sex that they do. They may have thought they were broken, and alone, and were the ones who had to change.
    • Or they find the label first, its definition, and see that their experiences fit under that label all along: Before then, they had a less accurate idea of themselves, and may have also felt broken and alone because of it. Some asexuals, before knowing of asexuality, thought they were simply straight, gay or bi people “doing it wrong”.

Depending on which parts of one’s identity that they prioritize, they may find more specific labels more useful for the parts of their identities that they more strongly prioritize.

For me, most basic part of my sexual identity is identifying as asexual. I don’t experience sexual attraction nor have any intrinsic desire for partnered sex. I can relate to many of the common experiences that other asexuals describe, on the basis of their asexuality.

For my romantic orientation, I’ve taken to identifying as quoiromantic, though I feel that gray-romantic would still work well enough. I find it very useful to have a label that’s more specific, and speaks to the particular experiences I’ve had, being uncertain whether I experience romantic attraction or not, but since I don’t prioritize my romantic orientation as high as my sexual orientation, I don’t mind sometimes using an umbrella term.

For some time though, I didn’t bother to label my romantic orientation, because I didn’t find it useful, although I tried to. The reason why I tried to focus on my romantic orientation, and prioritize it, was because this was back in 2012, when the debates over asexual inclusivity within LGBT spaces were still extremely heated (or more so than they are now). That put a lot of pressure on me to be certain what my romantic orientation is, and identify with it at least as strongly as my asexuality.

I didn’t know whether I actually experienced romantic attraction, nor towards which gender(s), and I didn’t know that there was a term for it, nor did I know that was valid. So I switched from one romantic orientation label to another, but I doubted whether any fit, so I thought none of the romantic orientation labels fit me. I felt isolated within asexual spaces because of this.

Of the four groups listed in “Prioritizing Identities”, I most closely fit under group 4 (with a bit of group 2), but I wasn’t fully aware until that post was published, that was actually a valid viewpoint to have, and that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way! When I made my comment on that post, I still wasn’t fully aware that having an uncertain romantic orientation was valid either! I felt affirmed when I saw others post that they too, are in this kind of situation.

In 2012, I didn’t outright say what I label my romantic orientation, and felt like I couldn’t until I found the gray-romantic label the next year. I thought it was close enough, and find it useful, because it doesn’t specify which gender(s) I’m attracted to (if any), but specifies that I may experience romantic attraction to a limited degree. To me, that’s what matters.

There are some labels I could use, but don’t feel much of a need to. I could identify as nonlibidoist, but to me, whether I have a libido or not isn’t a significant part of my sexual identity. It’s a useful enough label for fitting my experiences, but since whether I have a libido or not doesn’t feel like a significant part of my sexual identity, I don’t feel as much of a need to use a label for it. Few people in the English-language asexual community think it matters anymore outside of discussions about the subject, since the ABCD Types model fell out of favor several years ago.

I’ve seen others specify their aesthetic, sensual, and platonic orientations. I don’t specify mine, because I haven’t felt any need to. Others may find labels for those concepts useful, because they prioritize those concepts as being a significant part of their sexual identity.

In roughly the past year, many more sexuality labels have emerged, including some to describe specific points in the asexual spectrum. Many of these gained popularity on tumblr first, but have also spread to some other asexual spaces.

I’ve seen some people on AVEN identify as cupiosexual instead of asexual on their profiles. They may find that more specific label more useful than identifying as asexual, but I’ve also seen those who could be considered cupiosexual still identify as asexual instead, either because they didn’t feel the need to adopt a newer label, or they didn’t feel the need for a more specific label.

When using a label, someone wants one that’s personally useful, and generally one that’s also practical. However, a label can be useful without necessarily being practical!

What does it mean for a label to be practical? A label that is practical:

    • Is understandable to others in the community, or related communities, without excessive explanation: This criterion may not be perfect, because in general, coming out as asexual still requires explaining it to other people, but if someone says they’re asexual in asexual spaces, it’s understood what they mean right away.
    • Some would also say that a practical label is understandable at face-value to people outside the community: This might not always apply, because some people do only use certain labels within the community that they’re a part of.
    • Isn’t a loaded term, or is relatively neutral in connotation: Loaded terms are easy to take the wrong way, so anyone knowingly using a loaded term, needs be prepared to explain what they mean, and why.
    • Is easy for others, whom might not use the label, understand how someone else can find that label personally useful, compared to other alternatives.

When someone uses a label that’s impractical, conflict can arise between someone who finds that impractical label to be useful, and those who just see it as impractical. This is an issue I’ve dealt with first-hand.

In terms of identity, I prioritize my asexuality over my romantic orientation, over libidoism or nonlibidoism. However, above asexuality, I prioritize the rejection of sex, which might or might not be celibacy, depending on whose standards you’re using. Because this is what I prioritize first, I want to be as specific as I can. Specifically, I rejected sex for life, and for non-religious reasons, so I find it important to have a term for this.

However, this is what has put me at odds at being understood even in the asexual community, and I learned the hard way that this isn’t a familiar concept even to the asexual community, and that the one label I’ve known for the rejection of sex I was specifically trying to describe is largely impractical, and feel conflicted because I still find it useful. More about that in part 2: “Practicality is also relative”.

Tried to reconcile the unreconcilable?

I created Outside of Sexuality as a project to reach out to people who don’t want sex, and chose life without it. There’s nearly no visibility or affirmation for non-asexuals who don’t want sex, so I especially wanted to reach out to them.

A lot of people in the asexual community have written about the politics of having, or not having sex, and how those who choose to not have it deserve to have their choice respected. Many have written about their personal experiences, but they were writing as asexuals who happen to not have sex. We also need writings about not having sex, as people who identify with celibacy/the rejection of sex first.

I intended to first write about OOS for part 4 of my “Mercenary from unknown lands” submission (part 3, still in progress, will be about conflict of interest issues). However, I felt like an issue has been plaguing OOS, and I need to write about it: the discrepancy between what I intended, and what it turned out to be.

I never was fully honest with what I intended for OOS to be modeled after. I was afraid others wouldn’t understand unless they already knew, even if they never wanted sex, and were happy to find a community about choosing life without it. I intended use the framework and concepts directly from the Antisexual Stronghold as closely as I could, because at least some other English-speakers do, and I find those standards useful. However, that required adapting certain concepts into English, while also figuring out how to adhere to those standards while still trying to reconcile the fact that at least half of the OOS members are from AVEN and identify as either celibate or sex-repulsed instead.

I don’t want to alienate them. I know that it can be hard enough for sex-repulsed individuals to talk about their experiences in asexual spaces just for being sex-repulsed, and it’s troubling that this is still an issue.

I knew that the contradicting definitions of celibacy between those who identify as celibate vs. those who identify as antisexual would be an issue, and struggled with it the whole time. I realized that identifying as antisexual and adhering to the framework of the Antisexual Stronghold means that in order to be consistent, I’d end up invalidating those who identify as celibate without religious reasons. In order to adhere to those standards without invalidating those who identify as celibate would require being inconsistent (which would make things even more confusing). To use celibate as the default term means invalidating those who identify as antisexual, by telling them to identify with a label that they feel doesn’t apply to them.

After all, if celibacy doesn’t have to be for religious reasons, then why don’t those who identify as antisexual just switch over and say they’re celibate too? Do they know I intended to include them when I talk about “voluntary celibacy”? This is what I mean by being inconsistent! Why bother using an impractical term or use a framework that’s difficult to adapt into English?

Sometimes I wish I could say we’re all sex-free instead as a term that’d include all of us, and kind of wish that’d catch on. Whatever we identify as, we feel like we’re free from sex, and that we’re not missing out, like how the childfree identify as childfree instead of childless, because they feel free in their choice to not have children.

Personally, I’m hesitant to identify as celibate. I sometimes do, as it is the easier option, and technically applies, but sometimes am still hesitant. Part of me still feels like I can’t, because I don’t have religious reasons for my “celibacy”, but I have no intent to invalidate the choice of those who identify as celibate without religious reasons just because I feel those doubts about myself. I don’t want to take away from others a label they find useful for their experiences.

I understand the reasons why these factions use the labels that they do, so how can I acknowledge and validate both of these factions without any contradictions? This issue has been frustrating me since I created OOS. It’s why progress for the main page stalled so much, and it also held me back from some of the topics I wanted to discuss. I know what to say, but not how to say it in a way that’s concise, and will include everyone I intended to include. I’ve felt stuck the whole time.

At this point, OOS doesn’t have a default term used to refer to the rejection of sex. It might be for the best, to sidestep that dilemma, but it makes things confusing. Some members don’t bother with labels, and I don’t blame them. Sometimes I don’t want to bother with labels either. I’m concerned that I’m taking this too seriously, but I’ve been wanting to get this issue resolved to find the most effective way to achieve the goals I had in mind with this project.

Mercenary from unknown lands: part 2

This is part 2 of my submission for the February 2015 Carnival of Aces: Cross Community Connections

Part 2: Site of resistance against the hypersexual world

In part 1, I referred to the collection of communities that the English-speaking asexual community may recognize as being “celibate”, even though some of these communities contradict each other.

I specifically associate with the community about “celibacy” that is: voluntary, for non-religious reasons, for life, and this rejection of sex is an end in and of itself. Ideologically, it’s very different from the other “celibate” communities, and could be regarded as being in a class of its own. It actually has more in common with the asexual community and its goals than the others. Wouldn’t we be natural allies?

There’s just a very glaring issue: For their rejection of sex, they/we primarily identify as antisexual instead of celibate, and use a definition that not a lot of people recognize, not even in the asexual community. This led to both groups shutting themselves off from each other, and I believe the reasons why are unfortunate.

Both have many similar goals, fighting against compulsory sexuality and sex-normativity, aiming to raise awareness on how there’s nothing wrong with not wanting sex, and that some people don’t ever want it. Both also seek others who are alienated by the hypersexualized world.

They’re both separate communities and need to be, but it’s sad that differences in language, terms, and framework, keep us from understanding each other, and both sides think the other is the enemy, and against their goals. This issue has frustrated me ever since I found the asexual community. Since I did, I’ve constantly felt like I’ve forced to pick sides, and I feel burdened by massive conflict-of-interest issues.

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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.

The making of the 2014 AVEN Survey

The AVEN 2014 Survey is up, and you can take it here!

This is the second official AVEN survey in English*, and we hope to make it yearly, as was originally intended. The other English AVEN survey was in 2008.

The whole process of working on the survey had its share of trial-and-error. It was slow at first, because while I have a background in statistics, research methods, and know how to write survey questions, I never coordinated anything of this scale before. I’m fortunate that I had such a good team helping me along the way!

I learned a lot along the way while working with the survey team, but we had our share of setbacks. Communication, and being able to coordinate when we could work on the survey at the same time, was the most difficult part. Often times, I found my schedule clashing with everyone else’s, because of the hours I was working earlier this year. During the months of May and June, making progress was difficult, because many of the people also involved in the survey were also involved in preparations for WorldPride. It would’ve been perfect to get the survey done in time for WorldPride, so it could’ve been announced during the beginning of the International Asexuality Conference, but we suffered another schedule slip.

Coordination could still use some work, because the survey’s announcement on AVEN didn’t come immediately after its addition to the front page, nor did we get to sharing it on tumblr right away, but thanks to Demi Gray for picking up where we didn’t, by being the first to share it there! Because of timezone differences, the survey’s addition to the front page happened while I was away from the computer, so the announcement was made hours later, after several people already took the survey.

Another difficulty was two of the survey’s sections: The one on attitudes towards sex, and the one on celibacy/sexual abstinence/long-term sexual inactivity, because of the sheer difficulty of writing concise, clearly-worded questions for them. I’ve seen some comments on tumblr already on how some of the questions have confusing wording, and I suspect that either of those sections are the worst offender when it comes to confusing wording. We’ll definitely need help to improve it for next time.

When writing for the celibacy or sexual abstinence section (it was obvious that I wrote most of this section, isn’t it?), there were a lot of times I fumbled over the wording, thinking “Is ‘abstaining’ really a good word choice for this, because I’ve heard asexuals say that sexual abstinence isn’t a meaningful concept to them!”, and “What if calling this ‘celibacy’ will cause people who don’t identify as celibate, but other terms instead, to be under-represented?” “Referring to this as ‘not having sex’ is too clunky”. I don’t know if I was worrying over nothing with those thoughts, but I know how much wording can affects the results of a survey, so I was trying to be careful.

It was important to work on both of these though. The ‘celibacy’ section is a completely new addition, that’ll give some numerical data to some observations (i.e: what percentage of sexually inactive asexuals find the celibate label meaningful for themselves, and if they don’t, why?) and the “attitudes towards sex” section was created to be much more clear and detailed than the question that the AAW 2011 Community Census asked.

The AAW 2011 Community Census question about the respondent’s attitudes towards sex was methodologically flawed. As the new analysis on the AVEN Wiki described it, it was asking three questions at once: What’s someone’s personal attitude towards sex, their attitude towards others having sex (or attitude towards sex in general), and if they’re willing to have sex. That was a triple-barreled question! Another problem it had was with using specific terms for different sexual attitudes; in particular, ‘sex-positive’, ‘sex-negative’, and ‘antisexual’. In practice, those labels have a lot of ambiguity to them, because some people identify with those terms, but don’t mean the definitions given. Those definitions given may have been ambiguous too.**

Because of this, the questions were written in a way to avoid using specific terms, and instead describe the specific attitudes. Showing just how important this issue is, is one of the worst (read: misleading) interpretations of the answers to the AAW 2011 question, in an otherwise very good article. Queenie wrote a post prompted by that article, explaining the different ways each of those terms are highly ambiguous in practice, and I’m glad that something like that was finally written!

The Asexual Agenda linkspam that linked to the article has some commentary on it, including a link to an analysis showing further flaws behind the original question.

There were a lot of challenges creating the survey, but I’m glad that after all those challenges, it’s up! One of the goals behind the 2014 survey is to overcome the shortcomings, or what was left out in the AVEN 2008, and the AAW 2011 surveys. I agree with what Nextstepcake (another of the survey team members) said about it, and hope that the results will show who is being represented, and who is being left out, and work for a more inclusive survey next time.


Footnotes:

*The Spanish-language AVEN board has had a survey every year since 2011, and had their newest one released earlier this year.

**Another reason why I took those labels and their definitions the wrong way in that question, was because it wasn’t specified if those definitions referred only to consensual sex or not! It feels odd saying that, but as I’ve explained in some of my other posts, my first impressions of sex-positivity were from extremists who were ignorant of what real consent is.

Does the non-religious celibate community exist?

(Alternate title: “I don’t give a f–k for voluntary, non-religious reasons, but what’s that called?”)

EDIT (8/31/2015): This has been by far the most popular blog post that I’ve written. For those who are looking for more information, I’ve also written this page: “Voluntary Celibacy 101“. I’m still looking for more input on the questions that were asked in this post, because I still haven’t been able to find a resolution to them.

It seems like a strange question. As someone who technically identifies with ‘celibacy’ first (and am going to be speaking from that perspective for the rest of this post), I’m envious of how cohesive the asexual community is, even though I’m part of it too. Sure, there is the question of what counts as the ‘asexual community’, and there are significant divisions based on politics (i.e: compare AVEN’s vs. the tumblr community’s), and overall viewpoints. There are also major divisions based on language, as asexuality is conceptualized differently in different languages. Despite all of those differences, the asexual community as a whole, is fairly cohesive*, and clearly defined! Celibacy, when it’s for religious reasons, is also clearly defined, and has a series of cohesive communities. What about the rest of us though?

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Does voluntary celibacy have its gray areas when it comes to asexuality?

On AVEN a year ago, I had discussions with some members over what ‘voluntary celibacy’ was. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll use that term in this post as a catch-all for anyone (whether they identify as celibate or not… more about that later) who by choice, isn’t sexually active, as opposed to involuntary celibacy. It started when I created the “voluntary celibacy support thread”, and asked some questions to get some conversations started.

I got quite a few responses, from asexual and non-asexual respondents, and the two questions that had the most intriguing responses were:

“Motivations for giving up all sex, and what factors in your life do you feel influenced this decision? (i.e: religious reasons or not? Are you sex-repulsed, had bad experiences, sex was just never on your priorities, no incentive to pursue it?…)” and “Have you always felt that way, and at what age did you make this decision?”

The main motivation for many of the asexual respondents was tied to not having any incentive to pursue sex, because of not having any desire for it due to their asexuality. Not all of the respondents who answered like this are sex-repulsed. Most didn’t pinpoint a time that they decided to never have sex. While they still chose to not have sex (hence the voluntary celibacy), it wasn’t a conscious or deliberate decision that needed to be made. Some respondents said that they never really thought about it, therefore they never felt any need to reject sex. I’ve seen similar responses in related threads. They’re not involuntarily celibate, but is it accurate to say that they’re voluntarily celibate?

To those who chose not to be sexually active primarily due to their asexuality, what do you think? Is ‘celibacy’ (with or without the ‘voluntary’ qualifier) a meaningful label to you?

I was surprised by those responses at first. I had thought that voluntary celibacy was always clear-cut, that it always entailed some conscious rejection of sex, even among asexuals. That happened to be the case for me personally, and it was the responses to my questions that made me realize that to consciously reject sex is unusual for an asexual person, making me some sort of outlier!

My understanding may have also been skewed, because most of the ‘voluntary celibate’ people I knew prior to getting involved in the asexual community were people who rejected sex for life, because they knew they didn’t want it, and are totally sure of that decision (though they identify as antisexual, and don’t see themselves as celibate… this further raises the questions of what is the celibate community, who is part of it, and if it even exists?), and my experiences were more like theirs; those who are ‘voluntary celibate’ in all but name! One of the non-asexual respondents was just like this, and another one pretty close.

How did I reconcile this with the more ambiguous answers I’ve gotten from some of the asexual respondents on AVEN? I tried to come up with a model, showing that there are degrees to which a voluntarily celibate person is confident that they can and will stay voluntarily celibate for the rest of their lives.

This is what I originally came up with, but it could use some re-working:
    •    Highest degree of confidence: Actively rejected sex, and completely ruled it out as a future possibility.
    •    High degree: Most likely actively rejected sex, considers their decision unlikely to change.
    •    Medium degree: Prefers never having sex, might have actively made that decision or sex just didn’t cross their mind, but doesn’t completely rule it out in the future.
    •    Low degree: Is fine with never having sex, but probably didn’t actively make that decision, and may expect that to change in the future (i.e: if they enter a relationship, might be willing to do it to please their partner)
    •    Lowest degree: Is ‘celibate’, but doesn’t want to be

Some respondents found it helpful, but I realize now I was conflating degree of confidence, with whether someone considers their celibacy voluntary or involuntary, which is a separate dimension. I’m more familiar with the high and highest degrees of confidence, so that’s why they seem the most accurate. The question of how freely-given of a choice the decision to not have sex is also a separate question.

Another thing I found interesting because of that proposed model, is that some of the asexual respondents said that while their voluntary celibacy is largely tied to their asexuality, and assumed that they might not be voluntarily celibate if they weren’t asexual, but still rated themselves as having a high degree of confidence.