Tag Archives: asexuality research

About “sex-negativity”, sexual morality vs. ethics

It’s easier to ask a question about how someone personally feels about themselves having sex, but trying to ask about how someone feels about sex in general is a lot more difficult.

The 2011 AAW census had a question asking this, but it was flawed. Aside from actually asking about 3 different things at once, that question was biased. “Satisficing” is the pressure to pick the most “desirable” answer to please the researchers. How it was worded also erased the fact that there are people who identify as sex-negative and/or antisexual and don’t mean what they mean, reinforcing the assumption that whoever identifies with either of those labels must be an asexual elitist or conform to “puritanical” ideas about sexuality, which speaks over the people who actually identify with those labels.

The AVEN 2014 Census attempted to resolve this issue by asking whether one identifies as sex-positive, negative, or neither/both/unsure* and to ask if one agrees or disagrees with the following statements “I have absolutely no problem with sex between consenting adults”, and “Our society has too much sex in it, and it would be better if it were diminished”.

As shown in the discussion section of this analysis, the emphasis on self-identification with the sex-positive/negative question was because of the ambiguity of each label, so there was an attempt to infer what the respondent meant.

I’ve wanted to ask about morality vs. ethics in regards to sexual attitudes. From what I’ve seen, the reasoning among people who have a positive attitude towards sex in general seems consistent. On the other hand, people can have negative attitudes towards sex in general for various reasons, and I feel like it does a disservice to lump everyone together, which has happened due to biases in the questions. It’s a problem that the asexual community has assumed that having a negative attitude towards sex must mean believing in “puritanical” views on sex, which leads into one of the next points.

One of the things I wanted to find out is what percentage of the asexual community believe under which circumstances is sex in general morally acceptable, and a separate question about ethics. It’s a difficult set of questions to write though. However, some people I’ve talked with said that they don’t easily make the moral-ethical distinction I recognize, or don’t make it at all.

What I meant by morality distinction, is whether one agrees with the viewpoints of traditional sexual morality, often known as sexual puritanism (although as The Ace Theist explained, that’s a misnomer but the name stuck), is incorrectly believed as saying is sex is always evil. It’s actually usually believing sex is morally good or at least morally acceptable under a narrow range circumstances, and evil under the rest, with “acceptable” sex usually being defined as being: monogamous, between a man and woman in marriage, while open to the possibility of procreation.

By the ethics distinction, I meant under what circumstances does someone consider sex to be ethically acceptable, or rather, it asks questions such as:

  • Is it good for a person’s well-being, or is it harmful?
  • Does it overall have the potential to be good for a person’s well-being, or are they outweighed by the ways that sex can be harmful?
  • Given all the pressure to have sex, and how widespread sexual exploitation is, how feasible is consenting?
  • Is sex inherently “using” someone, and how?

Being “sex-negative” under the ethics distinction means believing that overall, believing that there are many ethical issues surrounding sex, and those issues, and the ways sex can harm outweigh any possible benefits. It’s a viewpoint rooted in concern for one’s own, and others’ well-being. “Sexual puritanism” in contrast, is rooted in whether one’s behavior follows a narrow set of pre-defined rules.

This is just a starting point, and I hope I can discuss these distinctions, and refine them.


*The lack of “sex-neutral” option was a limitation of that question

One more thing: Preliminary findings of the 2014 AVEN survey are up!

I should’ve waited a bit before making my last post, because there was one more thing I was involved with during AAW, and that was helping out with writing the Preliminary Findings Report for the AVEN 2014 survey (now called the 2014 AVEN Community Census)! The results have just been posted up!

Signal boost: Maintaining the bibliography of academic work about asexuality

Because of the rapid pace new asexuality research is being published, Asexual Explorations is looking for volunteers to help maintain their bibliography page, to help with the following tasks and ideas:

  • Keeping it up-to-date, cataloguing new publications.
  • Help, and ideas for developing a better method of keeping it up-to-date.
  • Ideas and methods for how to handle the issue of quality control.

Possible formats that have been suggested including crowdsourcing the bibliography through the AVEN wiki, via Google Spreadsheet, or via bibtex (if there are other people who are interested, and knowledgeable in working with Latex files).

Publications on asexuality research vary vastly in quality, but the current bibliography treats all articles as equal, which could be detrimental to people looking for information on asexuality research. There are two possible approaches I see, in regards to quality control:

The first is to review all of the publications, and rate them by their intellectual merits, originality, and the quality of their research, perhaps rating them with a 1-5 star rating. The best publications overall can be put as the recommended readings. This is one way for externally-imposed quality control to happen, with lower-rated publications showing severely flawed research methods, or even a lack of original research. These could serve as examples for how to avoid those problems for future researchers, or for current researchers preventing themselves from making the same mistakes.

The second would to be review the publications, rating them in the same way as above, but on a pass/fail basis, and only including those that pass.

I feel like the first approach is more honest, but the second one might be more practical.

Call for volunteers on AVEN: http://www.asexuality.org/en/topic/106057-maintaining-the-bibliography-of-academic-work-about-asexuality/