The Storms model

For discussion of general issues pertaining to asexuality.
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Mr. Paradox
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The Storms model

Postby Mr. Paradox » Sat Jan 26, 2008 4:58 am

If you haven't read the 1980 article Theories of Sexual Orientation by Michael Storms at the University of Kansas cited in our Wikipedia entry*, you should do so. It's an important part of our prehistory and, I believe, the second oldest scholarly work we've found calling us asexuals.

Storms's theory isn't just of historical interest, it also represents something of a lost model differing from both the Kinsey scale and the AVEN triangle.

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By placing homo-eroticism and hetero-eroticism on two axes, he created the whole grid of orientations. Here, a very bisexual person is just as hetero-erotic as a very straight person and as homo-erotic as a very gay person. An asexual is as homo-erotic as a straight person and as hetero-erotic as a gay person -- that is to say, not very. But Kinsey, Storms points out, would classify the two together, because on the two-dimensional scale they're both typified by a lack of strong gender preference. He believed that many Kinsey bisexuals might actually have been asexual.

This would look like the AVEN triangle if you turned it 45 degrees and squished it out, but it differs in a few ways. The triangle treats the axes as something like "direction of attraction" and "strength of attraction (attractability?)" -- or something, I've never had a solid answer on the y axis. Whatever you call them, these would simply be diagonal functions arising out of Storms's model, where the axes are two independent variables of eroticism.

I can see this being a challenging model for us, because it demands a solid definition of what exactly eroticism is. We don't like to use eroticism because it's a squidgy concept with multiple meanings. Defining what Storms means by it would be the first step in interpreting his model. Personally, I think eroticism is a useful tool to take the focus off sexual practice, which is really what Kinsey was all about. Maybe it's time to bring it back into the discussion.




*last summer's rewrite of which can be blamed on two members of this site, if you've been wondering
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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Olivier
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Re: The Storms model

Postby Olivier » Sat Jan 26, 2008 5:23 am

I like this model a lot. It seems logical to equate the lack of desire felt by asexuals to the same lack of desire felt by sexuals for people outside their orientation.

Mr. Paradox wrote:An asexual is as homo-erotic as a straight person and as hetero-erotic as a gay person -- that is to say, not very.

This is probably why so many asexuals are assumed to be gay by straight people who've twigged that the asexual isn't responding to sexual situations the same way as they are.

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ironwulf
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Re: The Storms model

Postby ironwulf » Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:02 am

I'll start out here, because I found the Storms Paper to be very interesting, for a research paper. Take defining 'eroticism,' at the most basic level it appears to represent the number of times per (whatever time period) a person thinks about either the same or opposite gender 'sexually.' Here one has to determine the definition of sexuality to figure out if a fantasy is erotic in nature. So to me fantasizing about sex with another person (homo- or -hetero) would qualify as an erotic point on the corresponding scale. As would masturbating to thoughts of another person. But going into less obvious sexual situations, holding hands, cuddling, kissing, are these still erotic in nature? Perhaps less erotic.

So were fantasies given different weight depending on how 'erotic' they were, or was everything just lumped together. I would also have to wonder about cultural distinctions in certain activities. Some cultures kissing, in certain ways, is saying hello to close friends. Cuddling could be considered more of a comfort or family oriented response.

As far as the results of homosexuals scoring higher on the hetero-eroticism scale than heterosexuals on the homo-eroticism, How much of that is due to the cultural upbringing that homo = bad, and hetero = good?

I think this study would be interesting to repeat involving asexuals as well. I think I argee with this model more so than the Kinsey or AVEN model. The AVEN triangle was ok but it didn't allow for asexuals of a less than 'pure' bisexual orientation. Basically stating that asexuals are just bisexuals with less drive.

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Mr. Paradox
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Re: The Storms model

Postby Mr. Paradox » Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:13 am

Does anyone know about Kinsey's concept of eroticism and the methods he used to calculate it? Storms seems to be using his language.

Defining eroticism becomes even more problematic when you include fantasies about other people rather than just fantasies about sex with other people. What exactly has to happen in your head when looking at a person or representation of a person -- or even something completely impersonal -- for it to qualify as an erotic reaction? These things can get maddeningly abstract.

The danger with these sorts of concepts is that they can easily be boiled down to measures of sexual response in the lab. There have been many experiments, for instance, measuring orientation by showing subjects sexual images of different sexes while monitoring blood flow to the genitalia. Would you agree with this as an objective measure? Would you agree to be hooked up for such a test if someone wanted to do a study on us? It's likely to come up sooner or later.
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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Olivier
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Re: The Storms model

Postby Olivier » Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:09 pm

ironwulf wrote:I think this study would be interesting to repeat involving asexuals as well. I think I argee with this model more so than the Kinsey or AVEN model. The AVEN triangle was ok but it didn't allow for asexuals of a less than 'pure' bisexual orientation. Basically stating that asexuals are just bisexuals with less drive.

I never took the AVEN triangle this way. I think as you go down, it's more that the Kinsey scale is shrinking and shrinking, while still expressing the full range from homosexual to heterosexual. At the very bottom where it shrinks to a point you do lose that, but that's appropriate as at that point an asexual with no drive is equally attracted to both sexes, ie not at all to either. That's no more pure bisexuality than it is pure homosexuality or heterosexuality. 0 = 0 = 0.

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ironwulf
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Re: The Storms model

Postby ironwulf » Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:55 pm

Oliver - now that you mention it, that makes sense with the AVEN triangle, I never saw it explained that way before.

Mr. Paradox - You could also potentially hookup and measure brain activity, if it could be determined what responses in the brain were related.

As far as volunteering goes, I think I would up for it, assuming it could be shown to be a meaningful and objective means of measuring. At least more objective than subjective.

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Mr. Paradox
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Re: The Storms model

Postby Mr. Paradox » Sat Jan 26, 2008 1:13 pm

These tests may seem objective, but they only measure one thing, and it's not attraction. What if I pointed out a high profile 2005 study using a penile plethysmograph, which claimed to essentially disprove bisexuality by showing that about 3/4 of self-described bisexual male subjects had arousal patterns identical to those of gay men, and the rest were indistinguishable from heterosexuals? I for one would not want to be involved with these sorts of studies; there's far too much not being represented.
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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Re: The Storms model

Postby pretzelboy » Sat Jan 26, 2008 10:19 pm

I'm going to have to read the thing the paper on bisexuality that you referenced. I've read the one the dealt with how women's patterns of (physical) sexual arousal is essentially bisexual (and not closely related with subjective feelings of arousal.)

I had until reading that newpaper article been a big fan of the 2-Dimensional model proposed by Storms. Now I may have to rethink all of my ideas about sexual orientation. If what the study found is true, I would guess that male bisexuals are people whose emotional attraction doesn't line up with their patterns of sexual arousal (like a homosexual, heteroromantic could call himself bisexual). The question remains what the relationship between 1) who people find sexually attractive, 2) who people have sexual fantasies about and 3) patterns of sexual arousal through watch porn. "Sexual Orientation" generally assumes (naively?) that all three are pretty much the same. Anther thing that bothers me is that 33% of people didn't show any response (change is penile circumference) to watching porn, if I understand it correctly. Another study I read had 25% of males didn't have any measured response (and that that was said to about normal). I really want to know why.

One more thing. Storms 1980 isn't the first paper where he proposed the 2-Dimensional model for sexual orientation. He published a similar paper with the same research in a different journal the previous year. There is a citation given the in wikipedia. (Last December, there was a considerable enlargement of the research section--perhaps a bit too much detail for wikipedia.) Those changes can also be blamed on a member o this cite. The 1979 article is a bit harder to get a hold of. I downloaded the 1980 article off the internet. I had to search through darks places in the library to get a book that hadn't been checked out in over a decade to find "Advances in the Study of Communication and Affect, vol 5."

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ily
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Re: The Storms model

Postby ily » Sat Jan 26, 2008 10:42 pm

Of the various models I've seen, this one makes the most sense to me thus far. Thanks for posting! I love asexual history. <3

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Mr. Paradox
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Re: The Storms model

Postby Mr. Paradox » Sun Jan 27, 2008 1:54 am

pretzelboy, don't get too confused by that article. It's one of a series of intentionally controversial and scientifically shaky studies by Gerulf Rieger, who's known for things like trying to prove that mtf transsexuals are "really" male and just confused gay men. He's got an agenda and very loose grasp of the scientific method, and I'm sure any statistician could tear his paper apart for you. Google will find you all sorts of criticisms. I was really just using that as an example of the dangers in getting involved in these sorts of studies.

I don't think this reflects on Storms, as he's not using arousal patterns in any way, so far as I can tell. As for that older Storms paper -- I haven't read it yet, but I could dig it out at the British Library no problem. Is it worthwhile? How does it differ from the 1980 paper? Wanna scan it for us?
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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Re: The Storms model

Postby pretzelboy » Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:12 am

I read the article about bisexuality and have decided that the instrument they used is not reliable at all. There is a correlation with self-reported sexual orientation and genital response in males, but it isn't a very good one--not nearly good enough to reliably predict/find out someone's sexual orientation. And some people did have bisexual response, but the article ignored them because they had self-reported Kinsey scores of 0 and 6. So now I'm back on board with the 2-Dimensional scale for sexual orientation. While we're talking about it, I'll make another really long post (sorry).

Because I want asexuality to be more widely acknowledged as a sexual orientation, I would like to get to see a model of sexual orientation that includes asexuality to be more widely used (i.e. that of Storms.) However, I am aware of only three studies that have attempted to use it, and one more of less ignored asexuality. I would like to get to see this model used more (and I think it is a better model than the Kinsey scale) but I can’t do anything about it, so I emailed Tony Bogaert about it since he’s published about asexuality (and I thought his papers were better than the other one I’ve seen.) I felt really pretentious doing so given that he is a well respected researcher in the field and I’m a first year grad student in an unrelated field. But, whatever. Anyway, my email was about 8 pages (he read all of it and responded, though I can’t tell if the response meant that he liked my ideas or was totally blowing me off, but he did say that he agrees that the Storms model is a good one that deserves more use.) Essentially, I was trying to say “I think someone should write publish a paper about this, but I’m unable to do so.” Anyway, I’ve excerpted from my email (lest I bore everyone too much by giving the whole thing.) I gave five reasons I think that the Storms model is better than something like the Kinsey or Klein scales:

[Of my five reasons] the first two are given in Storms 1979 & 1980. The last three are more or less my own (I’ve seen them before, but never in relation to this question.) Also, I will use the terms 2-dimensional scale (2DS) and 1-Dimensional Spectrum (1DS) despite the fact that I am aware of the fact that the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid is a multi-dimensional model.
Arguments supporting 2DS.
1.) It deals better with bisexuality. When hetero and homo-eroticism are placed on one continuum, bisexuals become half-breeds of sorts—half heterosexual, half homosexual, but not wholly anything. Furthermore, according to it, we should expect that the more homosexual desire one feels, the less heterosexual desire one feels. Likewise the more heterosexual desire one feels, the less homosexual desire one feels. In the 2DS, they are independent. This gives the following (testable) predictions: The 1DS expect bisexuals to experience less (on average) homosexual attraction than homosexuals and less heterosexual attraction that heterosexuals. The 2DS predicts that bisexuals will experience similar levels of heterosexual attraction as heterosexuals and similar amounts of homosexual attraction as homosexuals. This is (one of the) hypotheses that Storms tests in his paper, and his data shows that the latter of these turns out to be true.
2.) The 2DS explains asexuality and makes it different from the other categories. In the 1DS, asexuality is totally inexplicable. Given that there are some people who are not sexually attracted by people of either sex, having a model that accounts for this fact, is a lot better than having a model that can’t.
3.) There is no clear distinction between asexual and non-asexual. Both the 1DS and the 2DS predict that there will be no clear dividing line between heterosexual and bisexual and between homosexual and bisexual. People can experience some level of same sex attraction and still be considered (and self-identify) as heterosexual. Likewise with homosexual. The point at which there is enough same sex attraction to move from heterosexual to bisexual is not at all clear (and I think it’s largely a matter of self-identification). The same is true for the line between asexual and any of the other three sexual orientations. This comes from the fact that asexuality is defined as a sexual orientation describing people who experience “little or no sexual attraction.” This raises the question, “How little is little?” What if a person has never experienced homosexual attraction, but only rarely feels heterosexual attraction? What about a person who experiences sexual attraction once every 2 years, or once a year, or once a month or once day or several times a day, several times an hour? The point at which one moves from “asexual” to “sexual” is blurry. The 2DS predicts that we will find people in this range (in asexual lingo, they are sometimes called “gray A’s.”) This doesn’t necessarily contradict the 1DS, but the 2DS predicts and explains it, but the 1DS does not. Furthermore, the 1DS leads to some absurd conclusions.

4.) Sexual reorientation therapy provides an interesting piece of evidence. I don’t know much about this subject as I have only read a little about it. However, one thing I have found suggests the 2DS. Some of the older method of “curing” homosexuality involved methods from behaviorism that would associate homoerotic stimuli with icky fumes or some sort of highly unpleasant stimuli (offhand, I don’t recall). The idea was to create the connection of homoerotic stimuli=unpleasant and thus eliminate homosexual desires. Some of the people who underwent this “treatment” report that they have become “asexual.” They were told that the treatment would get rid of homosexual desires and that heterosexual desires would eventually arise on their own. However, what happened for many people is that the homosexual desires did go away, but the heterosexual ones never came.
The belief that as homosexual desires decrease heterosexual ones should increase is in fact precisely what one should expect from the 1DS—as one becomes less homosexual, one becomes more heterosexual. However, the 2DS predicts that what actually did happen is what we should have expected. If a bisexual gets rid of homosexual desires, they become heterosexual. If a homosexual gets rid of homosexual desires, they become asexual. The 2DS predicts that decreasing homosexual desire and increasing heterosexual desire are two separate things, as this seems to indicate.

5.) Suppose that our 2DS homoeroticism ranges from 0 to 100 and the same is true for heteroeroticism. Homoeroticism is on the X axis, and heteroeroticism in on the Y axis (as it appears in the picture in Storms 1980), and let’s make the cutoff for asexuality lower than 10 on each. The 2DS tells us that some heterosexuals should be somewhere about (0, 40) and some should be around (0, 80). Intuitively, this feels right. The 1DS doesn’t contradict this point, but it doesn’t account for it either. However, this leads us to the biggest problem of this model, which is really one of the biggest problem of studying sexual orientation:
What are we measuring anyway?
It seems tempting at first to think that the difference between the (0,40) person and the (0,80) person are different because the latter has stronger sexual desires. After all, we all know that some people have much stronger sexual desires and some people have weaker sexual desires, and these can fluctuate within the same person throughout their life. So it makes sense to account for this fact with the 2DS. I see two problems with this, however. The first is that it would mean that if a person were to have sexual desires decrease a lot (from a thyroid problem, depression, stress, etc.) their sexual orientation would change, not just level of desire. But if that problem were resolved (I think) the sexual desires should go to about what they were before the problem. The 1DS might predict this better than the 2DS (if the 2DS has to do with level of sexual desire.) To solve this, I’m going to propose that we are only wanting to measure frequency of attraction. Even doing this, the problem of changing “sexual orientation” with decreasing of desire still bothers me (if desire goes down, I would imagine that frequency of sexual attraction may well go down as well. Another point I don’t have any data on.) Technically, there is no a priori reason to have problems with this. We could propose an “underlying” sexual orientation that could temporarily be different from present sexual orientation based on changes in level of sexual desire. And then we have the problem of to what extent sexual orientation is static and to what extent it is fluid (which, it is my understanding is still somewhat of an open question, and might also vary among the sexes.)
The 1DS doesn’t have this problem with differing levels of sexual desire and different rates of frequency of sexual desire and what their relationship might be. However, I don’t see this as an advantage. Essentially, the 1DS gets around the problem by ignoring it. The 2DS doesn’t have that option, but I don’t think ignoring data is necessarily a theoretical advantage.
The second issue is another piece of evidence from asexuality. Assuming that a sort of felt need for sexual release (from masturbation, for example) is a sort of sexual desire (and intensity of sexual desire is what is being measured on our axes), we should expect that people who don’t experience sexual attraction would not masturbate. But this isn’t true. Thus, it seems that sexual desire (in terms of feeling a need for sexual release either from autoerotic or sociosexual behavior) is somehow independent of when on the 2DS scale one falls. (Which means that saying asexuals are just low desire sexuals isn’t true. Frequency of masturbation among many would seem to indicate they aren’t necessarily low desire at all—at least for some.) But I’m pretty sure that what we are wanting to measure is frequency of sexual attraction. This is definitely what we are measuring at the low numbers. (In the 1DS, relative frequency is measured. In the 2DS we may be doing something like absolute frequency.)

Anyway, in the email that I sent him I also argued why people with paraphilia shouldn’t necessarily be excluded from the category of asexual (which he did in the paper where he argued for asexuality as a sexual orientation) and I proposed a way of doing self-report of sexual orientation with this model. There was also a decent sized introduction explaining why I was writing the email.

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Shockwave
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Re: The Storms model

Postby Shockwave » Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:31 am

I really like this model myself, except for one little detail (or perhaps I should there is one improvement that I would make): Take out those two lines inside the scale that divide it into distinct categories and it would be much better, in my opinion.

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Re: The Storms model

Postby Placebo » Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:38 am

Cool points, pretzelboy--out of curiosity, if he mentioned anything specific about your points, could you discuss them more here?
"Now it's right for me to be me."

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Re: The Storms model

Postby pretzelboy » Sun Jan 27, 2008 12:28 pm

In his response, Dr. Bogaert said:

I've read your emails. It sounds like you agree with some of my ideas (e.g., I agree that a two-dimensional model of sexual orientation, like Storms model, makes sense). I also think you may have some interesting ideas in development here (And, yes, I think an expansion of the 2D model is warranted, in a number of ways). A couple of things to keep in you mind: The definition of sexual orientation is, to a degree, in a state of flux, so ten years from now, we may have a somewhat different definition than today, so this will likely affect people's perception/arguments about whether asexuality should be considered a sexual orientation. The question of whether people with paraphilias (fetishes) should be considered asexual (and have a unique sexual orientation as well) is also a complex one, and may be debated for some time.


Then he gave some general recomendations like finishing my Ph.D. during which time I'll get an idea of what is involved in publishing, and to try to take some relevant classes like human sexuality (which I hope to do over the summer.) He also attached a copy of one of his papers in case I hadn't read it, though he correctly suspected that I had.

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Re: The Storms model

Postby Placebo » Sun Jan 27, 2008 12:31 pm

Cool! He sounds pretty encouraging--thanks for posting those comments.
"Now it's right for me to be me."

Phil Halvorsen, from "The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff" (Theodore Sturgeon)

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Re: The Storms model

Postby pretzelboy » Sun Jan 27, 2008 3:46 pm

I'll try to scan my copy of the Storms 1979 article sometime this week. It's about 80% the same as the 1980 article although it does have a few interesting additions. Since I've read both and the were rather similar, they sort of merge in my mind to make my understanding of what he was trying to do. I found two things of interest in the 1979 article that weren't in the other. First, he tells us how he came up with the idea for his model for sexual orientation. Since one of the main things he is interested in is the relationship between sexual orientation and gender (masculinity and femininity), his work was obviously influenced by work on that subject. For a while, masculinity and femininity, like sexual orientation were placed at two ends of a continuum. So masculine was at one end and feminine was at the other, with androgynous in the middle. It seems that a growing number of people came to prefer a 2-dimensional scale. This differentiated the categories of high-masculine and high-feminine (androgynous) and low-masculine and low-feminine (undifferentiated). He took the same idea and applied it to sexual orientation. He then used the same method used in a book in his bibliography for assigning people to the different groups (I thought it was a bit odd, but it gave him roughly the numbers he wanted in terms of percentage of people in each category).

I didn't like the measure he used for masculinity and femininity as it didn't show heterosexual males as being much more masculine than heterosexual females, and it didn't show heterosexual females as being much more feminine than heterosexual males. He proposed something that could be interesting (and that I would like to see someone do). Instead of giving some survey to determine these things for a person, use self perception. Ask people, on a scale from 1-10, how masculine do you feel? On a scale from 1-10, how feminine do you feel? Then connect that with sexual orientation. I have a hunch that there is a disproportionately high number of asexuals in the bottom left quadrant.

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Re: The Storms model

Postby Mysteria » Sun Jan 27, 2008 6:18 pm

Shockwave wrote:I really like this model myself, except for one little detail (or perhaps I should there is one improvement that I would make): Take out those two lines inside the scale that divide it into distinct categories and it would be much better, in my opinion.

Like this? :)

Image

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Re: The Storms model

Postby pretzelboy » Sun Jan 27, 2008 7:16 pm

I like it.

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Shockwave
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Re: The Storms model

Postby Shockwave » Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:01 pm

Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking, even the part about adding colors to it though I didn't mention that (have you been reading my mind?).

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Mysteria
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Re: The Storms model

Postby Mysteria » Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:25 pm

Shockwave wrote:Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking, even the part about adding colors to it though I didn't mention that (have you been reading my mind?).

Maaaaaaaaaaybe. XP

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Emmarainbow
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Re: The Storms model

Postby Emmarainbow » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:10 pm

That's very pretty. :D I'm sure I wouldn't feel :eh: about being called 'grey a' if I could be a 'lilac a'.

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Re: The Storms model

Postby Omnes et Nihil » Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:56 am

Mr. Paradox wrote:Does anyone know about Kinsey's concept of eroticism and the methods he used to calculate it? Storms seems to be using his language.

Defining eroticism becomes even more problematic when you include fantasies about other people rather than just fantasies about sex with other people. What exactly has to happen in your head when looking at a person or representation of a person -- or even something completely impersonal -- for it to qualify as an erotic reaction? These things can get maddeningly abstract.


Kinsey was at the height of behaviourism... He sidestepped all of that. Most of his work actually was interviewing people about how often they performed physical act of _______ as well as demographic info. The famous "Kinsey scale" didn't define eroticism. He did use "erotic response" to mean (physical / physiological) sexual response. The scale asked about how often sexual contact and fantasies had to do with members of the same sex and of the other sex. Actually, on the original Kinsey scale, there was an X outside the 0-10 range for people who didn't have any sexual contact or fantasies. But people tend to forget about that.

The X doesn't really apply to asexuality as we would mean it though. He would have rejected the idea-- Kinsey himself didn't believe in sexual orientation the way we use it today. He would have thought all of these discussions are complete non-sense, and was quite clear about that. He believed "homosexual" and "heterosexual" to be adjectives, and never nouns. In his 1948 Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Kinsey, Pomeroy & Martin) he said so explicitly. He argued vehemently against the idea that "homosexual males and females are discretely different from persons who merely have homosexual experience, or who react sometimes to homosexual stimuli." (p.616). And he continued (p.617):

"It would encourage clearer thinking on these matters if persons were not characterized as heterosexual or homosexual, but as individuals who have had certain amounts of heterosexual experience and certain amounts of homosexual experience. Instead of using these terms as substantives which stand for persons, or even as adjectives to describe persons, they may better be used to describe the nature of the overt sexual relations, or of the stimuli to which an individual erotically responds."

Mr. Paradox wrote:The danger with these sorts of concepts is that they can easily be boiled down to measures of sexual response in the lab. There have been many experiments, for instance, measuring orientation by showing subjects sexual images of different sexes while monitoring blood flow to the genitalia. Would you agree with this as an objective measure? Would you agree to be hooked up for such a test if someone wanted to do a study on us? It's likely to come up sooner or later.


I think if anyone is hooking people's brains or genitals (or any other body part) up to equipment, trying to measure orientation... they're completely missing the point. The idea of "sexual orientation" as an objective physiologically-based construct doesn't even make any sense. But I won't get into that here.

I will say that sexual orientation is a historically and culturally contingent concept. These are socially relevant and meaningful categories dealing with how we organsie our desires and our interactions with other people.

Sexual orientation as we know came about in the early 20th century. Long story short, the idea of "sexual orientation" as a characteristic that applies to all (or most) people didn't really come into existence until Freud. Sort of unintentional effect-- he was really the first to "explain" heterosexuality. Whether his psychosexual developmental theories make any sense or hold any truth is entirely beside the point. The historical effect was the lingering idea that people have a relatively stable (though possible changeable) thing characteristic: gender of people to whom one is attracted sexually. [Lots of people before Freud... pretty much all starting in the second half of the nineteenth century, tied to the industrial revolution.. and initially only in industrialised places. Early politically pro-gay "activist" type people who did research didn't have the idea framed in any way we would recognise now, and their ideas didin't catch on.]

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Re: The Storms model

Postby Mr. Paradox » Thu Jan 31, 2008 3:17 am

I'd love to see you write a blog post on Kinsey and us, Omnes.

I find it interesting that as revered as Kinsey is now, his own definitions kind of got left by the wayside. The orientation-minded sexual revolution took his data and ran with it. His only holdouts today are the "everyone's really bisexual" crowd, who, along with being generally annoying, misread him just as badly.
Omnes et Nihil wrote:Kinsey himself didn't believe in sexual orientation the way we use it today. He would have thought all of these discussions are complete non-sense, and was quite clear about that. He believed "homosexual" and "heterosexual" to be adjectives, and never nouns.

Judging by the discussion we're having on descriptive and prescriptive labels, I think a lot of us are actually speaking his language here. But you could still argue against orientation being nonsense by pointing out, as you did on that thread, that orientations are first and foremost politically useful labels.
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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spin
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Re: The Storms model

Postby spin » Sat Feb 02, 2008 1:22 pm

I'd also love to see a blog post with more informed details about Kinsey's work, Omnes. I must say I agree with the idea of orientations being adjectives and not nouns. I try to use it "asexual" a descriptor more than a label.

So, what can we take away from Storms' model and language? Is "eroticism" something we want to consider as a measure or determining factor or is there a better way to put it?

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Shockwave
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Re: The Storms model

Postby Shockwave » Sat Feb 02, 2008 3:01 pm

I think we should find a different term to use, eroticism has more to do with arousal than attraction (for example, many asexual engage in autoerotic behavior).

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Re: The Storms model

Postby pretzelboy » Sat Feb 02, 2008 3:21 pm

The way that Storms seemed to use to word "eroticism" seemed to have more to do with attraction and fantasy than with arrousal, so even if we modify the language, I think his general concept of what is being measured doesn't need much modification. (Unlike people who want to base sexual orientation based on phallic response to sexual images.) I think of it more as who we "eroticize" as partners.

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Re: The Storms model

Postby School Of Fish » Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:06 pm

In regards to what model to use to describe human sexuality, and whether or not those with object or other fetishes should be considered asexual or not, there was a recent film I saw when I was tagging along with Deladangerous to one of her college courses.

The class was the sociology of sex, and the film was about gender identity as well as orientation, and how in non-western cultures, gender and orientation can often be much more fluid.

The conclusion was ultimately reached that each individual has their own sexual orientation.

I rather like that model, that each person has a unique sexual orientation. It's not as useful when you want to talk about humans in large scale matters, but it is certainly more accurate.

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Re: The Storms model

Postby Omnes et Nihil » Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:41 pm

spin wrote:I'd also love to see a blog post with more informed details about Kinsey's work, Omnes. I must say I agree with the idea of orientations being adjectives and not nouns. I try to use it "asexual" a descriptor more than a label.


The thing about Kinsey is that he didn't just use the terms as descriptive, but it was sort of one step further. We tend to think about sexual orientation as a relatively stable personal characteristic these days-- even if sexuality is fluid, and things can change, and boundaries move, there is some stability about it. For Kinsey, that would have been all purely contingent or incidental. Like describing people who typically ride their bikes to work, as opposed to taking the bus. No reason why people can't just up and switch tomorrow. That's not really how people think about sexuality.

Kinsey was a behaviorist-- he talked about how (heterosexual) men paying a (female) prostitute to have sex with their homosexual friend wasn't empirically effective in changing said homosexual man, but he didn't doubt the basic idea that homosexual (and heterosexual, or bisexual for that matter) people could change given the right situations, reinforcement patterns. That there was nothing internal about all of this.

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Re: The Storms model

Postby School Of Fish » Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:25 pm

Omnes et Nihil wrote: That's not really how people think about sexuality.


Ah, but there's an error to made there. Taking cultural norms and frames and taking them to be truth simply because they are widely held.

People who think about sexuality at all usually do so in a fixed fashion, and these people are either usually western, or subject to western thought or colonization.

There are many places where sexuality is not thought about, period.

I wish I could remember, I think it was Haiti, there was an example from Dela's sex class, where there is no such thing as gay or straight, people just pick who they like at the time.

Perhaps the ideas of "gay" or "straight" are simply products of western thought, in which homosexuality was a deviation from the norm.

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Re: The Storms model

Postby Omnes et Nihil » Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:56 pm

School Of Fish wrote:
Omnes et Nihil wrote: That's not really how people think about sexuality.


Perhaps the ideas of "gay" or "straight" are simply products of western thought, in which homosexuality was a deviation from the norm.


Undoubtedly. And inextricably linked with industrialisation actually. If you're interested, heterosexuality was invented in 1868 in Germany. That wasn't my point.

My point was that when people describe themselves as "asexual" and otherwise use labels descriptively, they aren't doing what Kinsey was doing. It's a different activity, predicated on different assumptions about the nature of sexuality.