“(A)Sexual”

Asexuality was largely unmentioned during our Gender & Society course this semester. After viewing the documentary “(A) Sexual” in order to learn more about this expression of sexuality, it seems that neither is it a prevalent topic of discussion outside of GSWS002. In the film, asexuality is defined as lacking sexual desire to any person (inclusive of all gender identification). The film follows David Jay, the founder of asexuality.org, the first online community of asexuals, as he attempts to educate others and gain acceptance for his experienced sexuality. Many of the “sexuals” depicted in the documentary (including the hosts of “The View” and Montel Williams) attempt to attribute asexuality to a factor such as a hormonal imbalance, traumatic sexual event, choice, or mental illness; the idea that asexuality exists as a sexuality is not often believed. This mirrors the experience of the transgendered community, which has had its existence pathologized my mental health professionals, as depicted in “Diagnosing Difference.” Asexuality has also had difficulty gaining support in the queer community, as evidenced by the side comments thrown in the directions of asexual participants in the Pride Parade in the documentary. Asexuality challenges the idea that sexual desire is natural and innate in humans. It also expands the interpretation of how to build and maintain intimacy in a long-term relationship.

Even with this potential, I found it surprising that the documentary’s subject, David Jay, decided at the end of the film to be open to relationships that included sex. In the body of the film, he heralded his success in finding love and intimate relationship among a network of community, as opposed to placing the pressure to be his “everything” on one person. By the end of the film, when Jay is visited two years later, he seems disappointed in the way that his network has disintegrated. He says that relationships are taken more seriously when sex is involved. While this interpretation may be based on his own experiences, what message does his choice project to the asexual community? In what ways can a fresh interpretation on sexuality and relationships have on gender roles in relationships?

Tucker, Angela. “(A)sexual.” FilmBuff, 2011. Internet resource.

Ophelian, Annalise, and Anne Prewitt. Diagnosing Difference. San Francisco: Floating Ophelia Productions, 2009. Internet resource.

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One Response to “(A)Sexual”

  1. sdavis2012 says:

    Thanks for sharing. To address your first question, I think that it sends a message that active asexuals can only have serious relationships with other asexuals. I can imagine asexual people feeling guilty for not engaging in sex with their non-asexual partner. Does that give the non-asexual partner the pass to have sexual relationships with other people, or is that still considered cheating? How would one cope with the fear of losing their significant other to a non-asexual, without being selfish? I think for this reason, many asexuals may get frustrated with non- asexuals, which David Jay may have been trying to express.

    A reform in the interpretation of sexuality, relationships, and gender roles within relationships is definitely called for. In adulthood, I think the act of penetrative and oral sex has a higher social value attached to it than clothed non-penetrative sex (“dry humping”). This may be due to homophobia. Some people believe that if you can be pleasured by humping a member of the opposite sex, than you may be “susceptible” to engaging in the same acts as someone of the same sex (which isn’t necessarily true). I think this adds a new dynamic to asexuality. Asexuality can be supplemented by other orientations (ex. hetero-asexual).

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