Reviving Apositive

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FalconEagle
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Reviving Apositive

Postby FalconEagle » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:58 am

I wasn't sure if this was the right forum for this thread, which is kind of apart of the issue here, the lack of forum/subforums here.

Well it's quite clear that Apositive is as dead as ever, which is quite a damn shame really, it's sad to see it in such a state.

We need to come up with some ways to bring it back to life. I have a few ideas of my own but I thought I'd see what the other members of Apositive thought of this.

So let's discuss!
Last edited by FalconEagle on Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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KAGU143
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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby KAGU143 » Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:56 am

I'm all for that!
I come by at least once a day to dust the furniture and take out the trash (*cough*spammers*cough*) but I can't make this place a success all by myself.

Suggestions are always welcome!
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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby Faelights » Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:28 pm

*peeks head in*

Arca, is that you? And what ideas do you have that you're not sharing? lol

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby rather_drink_tea » Thu Aug 25, 2011 6:36 pm

*waves to Fae and Arca*

I agree, we need more ideas to revive this forum
A pony/penguin hybrid...that's me :)

Now with avatar...thanks to PiF

michaels
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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby michaels » Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:38 pm

Yes, this forum is quiet. It's also a good forum and should have more members and more activity.

I'd be in favor of measures to revive the forum as long as those measures don't involve Trojan-horsing issues totally unrelated to asexuality, as has turned out to be the case on AVEN. This forum is my refuge from AVEN and I don't want to see it despoiled.

Failing that, there should be other subfora created to discuss non-asexuality issues, such as whether shaming is an appropriate tool of activism (which is the kind of thing that gets almost exclusively discussed on AVEN by the regulars).

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FalconEagle
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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby FalconEagle » Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:50 pm

I'll throw my ideas out onto the table first, then. :read:

Of course my ideas are all based on experience from other forums, some of my ideas may seem drastic. I agree that AVEN is straying away from it's original intended purpose (though I think it's managing to keep the visibility issue more-or-less under control with the PT)

-Well my first suggestion would be a chatroom. Like I said, drastic, and a little AVEN-esque, and probably difficult to moderate. But from my experience of forums, those with chatrooms, or some kind of shoutbox, tend to do a lot better than those without a chatroom/shoutbox.

-Another big issue I've noted, is promotion. Apositive seems to be kept awfully quiet, admittedly I have no idea how you would go about promoting it constructively. I was talking to someone from AVEN about this via PM a few days ago, they went and did some Google searches for terms such as 'Asexuality' , 'Asexual' e.t.c, and Apositive didn't turn up very often on those results (Not sure how the Google rank thingie works)
-And what to promote it as, would we want to promote it as a purely Asexual-centric discussion forum. Or .....
-Like Michael said, there could also be a subfora for discussing non-asexual related issues and stories. Or even a forum split, one half of the forum solely for discussing Asexuality, the other half for Off-A and PPS type topics.

Anyways, those are just my thoughts on this issue. Summing up, the biggest issue is promotion. After promoting this forum to a few friends on AVEN, they noted how it seemed lacking in forums and excitement (and activity)

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KAGU143
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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby KAGU143 » Sat Aug 27, 2011 7:21 pm

Good ideas - all of them. I know that we (Kæth and I ) have discussed the chat option a few times and we have shied away from it so far because it almost always seems to bring in a host of technical problems - not to mention the need for additional moderation. Still, it's worth considering - especially if the various chat services are solving some of their technical issues.

I'm not 100% sure how the Google rankings work, but I believe that there are at least two aspects to them - maybe more. One way to get closer to the top of Google's list is to pay them for the privelege. Erm ... that's probably not an option for us right now. Another way is to be selected after lots of searches. I suspect that the orginal founders of Apositive may have accidentally hampered their own search results by choosing a site name that doesn't contain the word "asexual." Kæth and I took it over "as is" and I have no idea if the name can be modified without re-doing the entire account. (That would be a Kæth question.)

As far as off-topic discussions? Hop on down to the fun and general section! Almost anything goes. I'm not as likely to get offended as the admods over at AVEN, but then the rules here are a little different. I don't give out warnings. I will modify or delete something that completely crosses the lines, and then I will PM the person and tell them what I did and why. To me this seems like a more grownup way to handle things, and I feel that most people appreciate being treated with respect instead of public condemnation.

Ya want some excitement? LOL --- maybe we could say what we REALLY think about what has happened to poor AVEN. How about some good old-fashioned gossip and complaining? With the understanding that opinions =/= truth, of course.
Personally, I think AVEN has become like a neglected pet and has many of the same problems. The owner has lost interest and refuses to get involved with any aspect of its day-to-day care, yet he refuses to turn it over to someone who would treat it better. I like David Jay, but his treatment of AVEN and his user's attitude toward personal relationships (the old "What's in it for me?" approach that he has mentioned in some recent interviews) leaves me with some serious misgivings about the way he is now portraying asexuality as well as non-sexual intimacy.
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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby michaels » Sat Aug 27, 2011 10:18 pm

Boosting google rankings is a good idea, and from my old life as a content farm writer, I have a contact who is an old hand at promoting her own content farm articles (which mostly consists of making sure they're ranked high on google). I'll bounce the question off her and see if she has any ideas or can refer me to someone who does.

I like the name "Apositive" and would prefer to keep it. Not all coffee needs to come in a bucket with neon lights. Sometimes a nice porcelain coffee cup is just fine.

As for live chat, I first suggested it several months ago but the discussion fizzled, and now I know why. A chat room would be a good idea, but perhaps it could be a room that normally remains closed and has scheduled chats at specific times when Nancy and/or Dargon are available to be present there to keep an eye on things.

I think we also need to have a way of finding people like me, who are not happy with AVEN and seek alternatives to it. Not everyone would fit in here, but this is a good environment for "refugees" because it's so accepting and comfortable and the rules are so straightforward and fairly enforced. (And, yes, I once had a post of mine deleted by Nancy and accepted that it was the right decision once it was explained to me.)

I would also be in favor of expanding the off-topic areas into more categories. Perhaps those should include the standard activist issues and perhaps they should be for discussion of things such as movies and music. I'd be very happy to seed new off-topic subfora for discussion provided that I have something to say on the subject.

I have concerns with AVEN that I have not mentioned here before. On the AVEN forum I encountered some bigotry against marginalized populations. I saw members who receive government assistance attacked and denigrated by those who hold down jobs. I also once saw a person who claimed not to be able to experience love get accused of being a mass murderer (by someone who equates aromanticism with psychopathy). The mods on AVEN permit that kind of thing out of pure favoritism toward certain established members. That, thankfully, is not something I'd be concerned about ever happening here.

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby Harmony » Sun Aug 28, 2011 9:41 am

Michael, I don't think more subfora are necessary ... just more threads in the General Discussion forum. I'm up for a discussion on shaming in activism.

Doesn't a chat cost money unless it is meebo which preserves the discussions forever? I remember chatting on AVEN about 4 years ago. It was not moderated nor did it need to be. Also, as far as chat, isn't there a way to access IRC for free as well as set up a channel for Apositive folks?

Other websites have been set up for evacuees of AVEN, but they never seem to last. People who swear they will never return and insist that their AVEN account be terminated immediately eventually crawl back.

Personally, I think AVEN has become like a neglected pet and has many of the same problems. The owner has lost interest and refuses to get involved with any aspect of its day-to-day care, yet he refuses to turn it over to someone who would treat it better.

My impression is that the personality of the website has evolved to a point where he might not necessarily relate to it any more. He likes to tackle new ways of looking at relationships, intimacy, community building, etc. from an asexual perspective and challenging paradigms regarding sexuality. In the past, there were thoughtful conversations about these issues and he seemed to take some of the input to use in his visibility work. When he asked what people would like to see in the next 10 years, the number one answer seemed to be more visibility ... which is what he is doing. Other comments about having a policy committee or changing the moderation staff are really not concerns to most of the members or guests to this site and may not add anything to evolving in the future. David Jay rather enjoys being asexual and seems to have fun promoting his movement. Many people on the board; however, seem depressed and doomed. At best, people can only take a neutral view of asexuality, as a positive stance is shot down almost immediately by those who seem to secretly have a negative view of themselves, and people, and the website. I can understand why David Jay doesn't particularly relate to unhappy, socially awkward, self-deprecating individuals. And who would he turn it over to?

I like David Jay, but his treatment of AVEN and his user's attitude toward personal relationships (the old "What's in it for me?" approach that he has mentioned in some recent interviews) leaves me with some serious misgivings about the way he is now portraying asexuality as well as non-sexual intimacy.

The only recent articles I have read were in Salon.com and Rumpus where he seemed to expand on this notion. He not only determines how people will fit into his community of friends and his current needs, but also how he will fit into theirs. It is just a means of insuring that he prioritizes them and they prioritize him. Otherwise, it is like running into to someone and saying, "We need to catch up ... let's do lunch", but you know it won't happen and you won't see them again until the next time you accidentally do. At a certain point in his interviews, he talks on a personal level.

And how do you think the members of AVEN are doing in portraying asexuality and non-sexual intimacy? Whenever I see more than 100 guests at a time, I wonder what led them there and what they are thinking. Have you ever done that too? Should we care?

Any other comments?

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby michaels » Sun Aug 28, 2011 5:07 pm

Harmony wrote:Other websites have been set up for evacuees of AVEN, but they never seem to last. People who swear they will never return and insist that their AVEN account be terminated immediately eventually crawl back.


Slugs crawl, not people. I've been off AVEN forum for the better part of a year now and don't plan to go back. But now I know why AVEN never deletes accounts, only renames them on request and makes them inactive. They count on people having nowhere else to go. Which is cynical, abusive and totally lacks class.

It's good to see you openly identifying yourself as a spokesperson for AVEN and its viewpoint rather than parachuting in under an alias to make one attacking post and then disappear forever, as so many of the activist crowd have done here.

Having Nancy and Kæth spend money on a chatroom wouldn't be the best idea unless they want to do it. Parachat charges about $17 a month for an acceptable level of privacy, security and administrator control, but the money would have to come from somewhere, and I don't feel comfortable dipping into someone else's pocket or creating the appearance of a conflict of interest by paying it myself. The IRC idea is not a bad one but someone would have to teach me how to use IRC.

If people are going to Trojan-horse non-asexuality activism discussion into Apositive, i want to be free not to read it. That means a single General Discussion forum wouldn't be enough. There would have to be at least two, with one labelled "no activism discussion."

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby Harmony » Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:53 am

No, Michael, I wasn't referring to you nor Apositive. My point was that you can try to recruit those who want to leave AVEN, but it may only go so far as increasing the numbers but not the involvement. Those other websites didn't last because the people were not involved with them. Another point is that people may say they want to leave AVEN and even make a big scene, but really don't. So again, those evacuees don't become refugees for very long. But Apositive is mentioned every now and then as a place of interest and some people have included a link in their signatures. More recruiting could be done on AVEN, actually, but can you give me a better hook to use?

And I can't say I am a spokesman for AVEN nor do I think anyone there would consider me one. I'm only speaking for myself based on my observations. I read when I want to, post when I want to, etc. People may even disagree with me there as their right. I think the AVEN fora is less about asexual activism and more about discussing anything but.

Hey, Michael, did you know Nancy and Kæth appeared on television? That is how I came to find out about AVEN.

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby Dargon » Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:07 pm

Chiming in late due to a motherboard failure taking my machine offline for a good week and change. Otherwise I'm here near daily.

Admittedly, I kind of skimmed the whole thing, but here's my thoughts:

It has been said before that Apositive is the upper level course, AVEN is the introductory. Most of the asexuality discussion on AVEN seems to be the same topics over and over again, repeated for the new members. We don't see this much here, hence the rather slow asexuality discussion.

I will add I am a member of the Asylum, another little side asexuality board. Topics there are almost never asexuality related, but there is a small group of us who post near daily. The reason that board thrives on little on-topic discussion is the interesting off-topic discussion. I seem to have a largely differing opinion from the consensus, but I think for a smaller or more focused site like Apositive, a fairly strong off-topic section is key to keeping people coming back. Michael seems to do a fine job keeping interesting topics flowing in the off-topic area, and these discussions keep people like myself engaged in the board, so we'll be there when actual on-topic things come up.

As for chat, I saw some concerns regarding costs. I have almost no experience implementing these things, but here is what I understand: There is a variety of for pay and free chat software out there. Most off-site chat software is either ad-supported or for-pay, onsite software is either free or one-time licensing fee. The latter does have the problem of added overhead in serverland, meaning a more expensive hosting package may be necessary.

Now one of the problems with smaller forums and chat rooms is people being on at the same time. When AVEN first got it's chat room, it was a lot smaller (but still huge compared to Apositive), and often I'd park in there for hours and not a soul would show up (that or it would be just me and Nugan). You also run into a fair number of people that just don't care much for chatrooms (I admittedly am one of them). It could be a useful feature, but I think we're a bit small for it right now.

Random aside regarding the AVEN evacuees comment, I left AVEN in 2007, returned briefly for about two weeks in early 2011, and have no intention of ever returning again.

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby FalconEagle » Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:52 pm

All very good points, of course :)

-The chat suggestion: As far as I know, you can create a room via Mibbit, completely free. You can register it for free, if the owner of the room doesn't visit within 30 days however, the room it deleted automatically.
Other than that, I'm not sure about other chatrooms, that are free.

@Michael: I agree on keeping the name Apositive, I also like it. Having a site name that doesn't contain Asexuality has it's downside, but also advantages.

@Dargon: I can sort of agree with you there, Apositive seems like a snapshot of AVEN's past, people whom have moved on from AVEN. And admittedly, once you have spent 2 years in the AVEN community, you start to notice the repetition.

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby KAGU143 » Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:13 pm

I didn't realize that our TV appearances would be so helpful to so many people, Harmony, but it's good to hear that it did some good.

Speaking of Apositive being like a snapshot of AVEN's past ... that is interesting, and I hadn't really considered it from that angle, but I think you might be on to something, Falcon Eagle.
Just for fun, take a look at the members' list and look at the ones who joined when it was first started. It's a virtual Who's Who of AVEN's most active members from a number of years ago, including many of the long-ago admods and admins, as well as ALL of the people who appeared on 20/20 and Montel Williams - with only ONE glaring omission: David Jay himself. He has known about this website since it first started, it was entirely staffed by people that he called friends, he has always been welcome to join, but he has no interest in it because (in my opinion) he can't find a way to use it for self-promotion.
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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby michaels » Tue Aug 30, 2011 4:21 am

Some things that just occurred to me and I'm still thinking about them:

I've been on more than one forum with an adjunct chatroom, and the pattern has been that most of the people who post and read on forum don't go to chat while most of the people who attend chat regularly don't post or read on forum. The reason is the difference between the two media. Chat involves short bursts of communication with rapid response times while forum posts are longer and response times slower. In general (although there are always exceptions) older people who grew up with Usenet prefer the forum while younger people of the text-message generation prefer chat.

Because the vast majority of active social computer users are of the text-message generation, and because many people discover asexuality at a young age these days, a chatroom would increase forum membership and make us younger, but it's unlikely that there would be more forum posts. The chatroom would mostly be its own separate world. You won't find many very active fora in the world right now anyway, simply because people don't like reading and writing long posts (with "long" meaning three lines of text).

Off-topic discussion is common on pretty much every forum that allows it. Those who are forum-oriented will talk about a variety of things. The forum theme is usually a jumping-off point.

Just some notes I'm jotting down as they're happening.

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby Noskcaj.Llahsram » Tue Aug 30, 2011 6:58 pm

I think a chat room would be good (assuming we can get it for free), i mean I visit hear 2-3 times a week, maybe 2-3 a moth this summer, but half the reason i never post is neurotic over thinking myself out of doing it the chat format sort of short circuits that
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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby flergalwit » Thu Sep 29, 2011 7:27 am

(coming in late; sorry)

I'm actually very happy with AVEN on the whole (apart from those damn 500 and SQL errors anyway), no matter how much it may have changed in recent years. I suppose as a relative latecomer to AVEN (only signed up in 2009 although I was aware of the site since 2003 and have identified as asexual since the mid 90s) I'm less inclined to bemoan AVEN's departure from its glory days of the past...

Still, doesn't mean another thriving space for the discussion of asexuality isn't needed. Of course it looks like the serious rival to AVEN at the moment is tumblr. Fascinating, powerful and a little disturbing is how I'd describe the latter. And definitely not the only other kid we wanna see on the block.

Apositive is probably never going to compete with AVEN or Tumblr in terms of numbers. But numbers aren't everything. We just need the odd high quality discussion here and there to make it worthwhile.

I suppose my worry is that if this place slows down too much, Nancy and Kaeth will no longer find it worthwhile to continue apostive going. Let's not let that happen!

The possibility Dargon mentions - AVEN as the 101 course and Apositive.org as the 102 or 201 (wow, these Americanisms are infectious) - is pretty well how I've always seen apositive. There's a different approach though.

You see the thing about 102 or 201 is that they assume 101 as a pre-requisite. But maybe not all of us agree entirely with Asexual 101. In recent months I've become more and more aware of the need of a critical, objective and fair examination of all these claims about asexuality we keep hearing.

What is currently a good place to challenge Asexual 101? I'm not convinced there is one. It seems that so much of asexual discourse is dominated by (a) critical but clueless people who speak about asexuality from ignorance, (b) pro-asexual spaces, where you can't really critically challenge the orthodoxy due to the anti-elitism ethos and the "self-identification rules" convention (which btw I don't have any problem with, in their context, but as far as objective, fair discourse goes, I think they distort the picture).

So could apositive.org become a place for the critical (yet fair, objective and hopefully polite) analysis of Asexual 101, without being hampered by the safe space concerns other pro-asexual sites have? I don't know. I do think such a space is needed however. I'd set one up myself if I had the time.

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby michaels » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:59 am

flergalwit wrote:So could apositive.org become a place for the critical (yet fair, objective and hopefully polite) analysis of Asexual 101, without being hampered by the safe space concerns other pro-asexual sites have? I don't know. I do think such a space is needed however. I'd set one up myself if I had the time.


That sounds like a good idea. We all know that there is next to no credible academic information on asexuality. The concept of asexuality has normally been handed off to the non-scientific everyday-life prejudices and assumptions of scientists rather than studied in an objective, scientific fashion. As a result, the conceptual structure around asexuality is largely layperson-built. This can cause problems if the builders are insufficiently informed or have bad motives (as, IMO, the activist crowd on AVEN do).

The big problem is having a leg to stand on when challenging the existing orthodoxies about asexuality. We need to have access to solid research in order to challenge the dogmas about asexuality that have already been established, else it becomes a simple matter of did-too/did-not/did-too, which doesn't help anyone. Opinions based on personal experience, anecdotal convenience sample data and (in the case of AVEN regulars) vested interest and bias aren't very good bases for asserting anything.

We're all fairly bright people, tho, so if anyone wants to start a discussion on the established dogmas of asexuality, I'll participate as best I can.

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby flergalwit » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:57 pm

In the interests of full disclosure, I am part of the "activist crowd on AVEN", albeit a relatively minor player in the grand scheme of things. I am not really an activist at heart - much more of a scientist by nature - but, for whatever reason, all my visibility work so far has essentially been activist. I hope to change that before too long.

Still, when I'm not wearing my activist "spread the word" hat and when I'm outside the bounds of places that are designed to be "safe", such as AVEN and the LGBT groups I'm involved with, I do like to be more critical about things.

There has actually been quite a bit of credible research on asexuality, though not masses. You should check out the bibliography section of the Asexual Explorations website if you haven't already done so. It's expected that the next year or so will see an explosion of interest in the subject. Right now, there's an ongoing extremely interesting and unprecedented ethnographic study on AVEN, which we're all pretty excited about.
http://www.asexuality.org/en/index.php? ... p__1926172

It does seem that most research so far has been from the Social Sciences and Linguistics, and very little from the "Hard Sciences" (a term I dislike, incidentally), probably because the subject is unapproachable in the context of the latter, at present, due to limitations in knowledge.

I'm in complete agreement with

michaels wrote:The big problem is having a leg to stand on when challenging the existing orthodoxies about asexuality. We need to have access to solid research in order to challenge the dogmas about asexuality that have already been established, else it becomes a simple matter of did-too/did-not/did-too, which doesn't help anyone. Opinions based on personal experience, anecdotal convenience sample data and (in the case of AVEN regulars) vested interest and bias aren't very good bases for asserting anything.

apart perhaps from the comment about AVEN regulars. Plus, even without specialist scientific research, we can always apply critical thought to the approaches and arguments used by the "asexual orthodoxy" (for want of a better word).

Incidentally I heard about one VERY controversial possible research method recently, called PPG.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penile_plethysmograph

While I don't have a firm opinion on this yet by any means - and there are many questions that'd have to be answered before I could support this form of research - I do strongly feel that other more objective and critical approaches to the study of asexuality are required, compared to the ones we're used to, and this type of approach may be a step in the right direction.

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby KAGU143 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:28 pm

As long ago as 2004, when I was still very new at AVEN, there was already talk among some of the members of using PPG testing as one possible method to try and find out if men who claim to be asexual might respond differently from those who don't. Even at the time it was pretty clear that there could be a lot of problems with that kind of test.
Under the best of of circumstances it is unreliable at determining a person's sexual orientation.
A physical response simply does not equal an automatic desire to have sex. Sexual attraction and sexual desire are based on a lot more than that.

While such research might be interesting, I don't know if it would be very conclusive or helpful in the long run, especially for those who might provide what the Wikipedia article so delicately calls "false positives."
I strongly suspect that a reasonably large percentage of men might respond, for example, to well-made sculptures or statues of attractive women (or men) in seductive poses, but I also believe that such a response might be governed by subconscious urges completely beyond the person's control. It doesn't mean that they are sexually attracted to marble or bronze. It merely means that humans have instincts too, just as animals do (no surprise there) and while we might not be quite as tightly controlled by them as some other species are, they can still affect us to varying degrees.
Two hemispheres side by side will attract the attention of many men, at least temporarily, and the theory that I read (ages ago) was that this is due primarily to the shape of human buttocks. Supposedly, human females didn't evolve rounded breasts until after they began to walk upright. The change in pelvic structure made mating from the rear less effective and those women who had something to make their geography more interesting from the front ended up having more children.

This doesn't have much to do with asexuality, but it could certainly taint the results of PPG tests, at least in theory.
Nonetheless, I think that almost any scientific testing is useful as long as the results are interpreted as fairly as possible, with the likelihood of possible false results being given careful consideration.

I do not believe that sexual attraction is the same thing as sexual desire, and I also don't think that a person's sexual orientation can be defined by what they do.
I have always maintained that a person's sexual orientation is defined by what they want to do, and an involuntary physical reponse =/= a want.
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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby flergalwit » Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:00 pm

KAGU143 wrote:This doesn't have much to do with asexuality, but it could certainly taint the results of PPG tests, at least in theory.
Nonetheless, I think that almost any scientific testing is useful as long as the results are interpreted as fairly as possible, with the likelihood of possible false results being given careful consideration.

And that is the absolutely critical point.

Even leaving aside the (possibly well founded) ethical concerns of this method of research, I'm aware there is huge potential for misinterpreting the results. I know most asexuals will be extremely wary, because of the potential for the arousal = libido = sexuality equation to be slipped in. They will also be wary that such a test will be seen as a definitive diagnosis for asexuality, which of course would be ludicrous (at least at the present state of understanding).

Still, at this point I think what we need is knowledge. While arousal, libido and sexual attraction are not the same thing, they are surely related somehow and I don't think anyone can begin to build a coherent model about the mechanics of asexuality without in depth knowledge on ALL these things. So, modulo ethical concerns, I would absolutely support this form of research, as long as the conclusions people draw from it do not go beyond what the evidence warrants.

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby michaels » Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:25 pm

Maybe the distinction between sexual arousal and sexual attraction is one of the dogmas that needs to be questioned. It was formulated for political reasons, in order to broaden the base of potential AVEN members as much as possible by including those who do have physical responses. But the whole thing has gotten completely out of hand, with "asexual" now including those who do want sex and do engage in it as long as they choose to "self-identify" as asexuals. Some objective criteria for defining asexuality are desperately needed if it isn't to remain the playground of power-seekers.

So let me ask: what _is_ "sexual desire" and what _is_ "sexual attraction?" If a distinction is to be made between them, then they have to be objectively defined. I don't agree with Nancy's statement that what people "want" to do is some kind of gold standard, because many asexuals in practice express lots of confusion about what they want. Besides, the fact that we live in a society dominated by Lockean economic theory and legal administration doesn't mean we have to be restricted to Lockean concepts in philosophy of mind or psychology. Some people are clear on what they want. Other people are totally confused about what they want. Still other people think they are clear but later find out they were confused. And still others believe they are confused and later find out they knew what they wanted all along and just wouldn't admit it to themselves. Any concept of asexuality has to account for all that variation if it is to avoid being some retrograde 17th-century Enlightenment misconception of how people really are built.

In terms of phallometric studies being done to correlate sexual responses with asexuality, I don't think anyone is saying a phallometric test will definitively determine whether someone is asexual. It can determine whether or not the person has sexual responses to certain visual stimuli, and that in itself is valuable data if it's not taken too far. Although there might be a difference between sexual arousal and sexual attraction, we'll never pin that difference down in a credible way unless we study BOTH sexual arousal and sexual attraction. Phallometry is a perfectly legitimate way to study sexual arousal and thus help satisfy at least one half of that distinction. ... But I do have one question: how do you do phallometry on women? About 85% of self-identified asexuals are female, so studying only male sexual responses doesn't help much.

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby Dargon » Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:42 pm

Michael, I am one who believes sexual attraction and sexual desire to be separate entities. I believed this when I identified as asexual, I still believe this now that I no longer identify as such.

I would define the distinction as follows:

Sexual desire: physical general desire for genital gratification, may or may not be directed.
Sexual attraction: mental desire for genital gratification directed at someone or something.

I would argue, and some would disagree that asexual attraction necessitates sexual desire, but sexual desire does not necessitate sexual attraction. I would also argue that both of these are temporary states.

If I may use myself as an example, and I will give a potential TMI warning for the easily squicked, I would say that I experience sexual desire on a somewhat regular basis. I can, in fact, arouse myself pretty much at will, and without directing thoughts or fantasies at anything but the action at hand. I suppose the argument there could be made that I am sexually attracted to masturbation, perhaps that I am autosexual in that area, but I would disagree with that.

I have experienced sexual attraction directed towards three other people in my life. It is the fact that I have experienced this attraction independently from sexual desire (using the definitions I have proposed) and began experiencing sexual desire long before I experienced sexual attraction which leads me to believe, nay, know, that at least for me, these two entities can be independent.

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby flergalwit » Sat Oct 01, 2011 2:24 am

I think I agree with Dargon for the most part. Still, the concept of attraction is difficult to pin down.

I think the definition of asexuality was created (and has been refined over the years, in clarifying exactly what sexual attraction means) with two arguably competing aims in mind:
(i) to make asexuality something objective, not a choice; in particular to distinguish it from celibacy,
(ii) to be as inclusive as possible, so that as many people can benefit from the identity and the community as can be done.

So are we left with a coherent notion of sexual attraction at the end of it all that fulfils either or both of these aims? I admit, I don't know for sure.

One problem with the talk of "wanting to have sex" is that the notion of "want" has to be understood in a rather restrictive sense, if this is to serve as a definition. I'm fairly sure it's possible to be sexually attracted to someone but to not want to have sex with them - for intellectual reasons (for example because it would mean the breakdown of their current relationship). And conversely, it's possible to be asexual and to want to have sex to please a partner. (And I'm not even getting into the more controversial cases of asexuals who say they enjoy and seek out sex.)

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby KAGU143 » Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:37 am

I am all for being inclusive, but I would honestly draw the line at someone who seeks out sex because they enjoy it. At that point I think that a person can no longer be considered to be asexual.

What I meant by "want" is really rather simple: If there are no extenuating circumstances of any kind, would the person still wish to have sex with another? "Prefer" might be a better word.
I don't consider willingly choosing the lesser of two evils, and trying to make the best of it, to be the same thing as wanting (or preferring) that particular evil.

I don't really see how a sexual orientation can be defined in any other way. This topic has been rehashed endlessly, but I suspect that that will always be a problem. The vast majority of people are not asexual, and the idea of not wanting sex at all is so foreign to them that they refuse to accept it as a possibility unless it is caused by trauma, or by some sort of pathology. They can, however, understand what celibacy is, so they make the assumption that asexuality and celibacy will automatically go hand in hand.
In other words, they define asexuality by behavior rather than by preference, and by doing that they invalidate it as a legitimate sexual orientation - instead making it into a voluntary choice.

Homosexuals have been dealing with this mindset for a long time, so it is nothing new, but that does not make it right.
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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby flergalwit » Sat Oct 01, 2011 9:05 am

Well yes and please don't think for a second I'm arguing otherwise. I know extremely well that my own asexuality is not a choice.

As far as self-identifying-asexuals who want to have sex, without extenuating circumstances, goes: most asexuals can feel pleasure down there, same way as everyone else. And having sex stimulates this pleasure centre. And, er, pleasure feels nice. So even if they don't experience sexual attraction in remotely the same way others do, I can easily understand how some people might actually enjoy and seek out sex.

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby michaels » Sat Oct 01, 2011 10:53 am

We still need to keep in mind that people are not indivisible. The concept of "the individual" as a single, uniform entity has been discredited for the past 250 years, even if our legal and economic systems require that we still use that concept. We are all in fact composite and complex. This leads to the frequent occurrence of what I mentioned before--people not knowing what they want, being confused what they want, thinking they want one thing while wanting another, believing they don't want something while in fact they want it, etc. etc. In my brief time on AVEN I saw lots of evidence of that, especially among those just discovering asexuality and unclear about how they fit into the asexuality matrix. So defining an asexual as someone who doesn't "want" sex is simplistic, no matter how you manipulate the definition with reference to "extenuating circumstances." And in many cases we all "want" different things in different situations and in relation to different people and things. That all has to be kept in mind.

The concepts of sexual desire and sexual attraction have been refined as much as they can be through pure analysis of language and anecdotal experience. What's needed now is some hard research by medical researchers and biologists in order to correlate with what's been done so far. In particular, sexual desire is very open to research by biologists as it is measurable with things like brain scans (or would be if the right kind of pure research had already been done). This does not get rid of the so-called "hard problem of the mind" but doesn't need to. We just need to correlate anecdotal reports with hard data on brain and body activity. Sexual attraction doesn't yield so easily to that kind of research, but then I'm not an expert in hard science, so perhaps something can be done.

If there are members of the activist community who do have good faith and are genuinely interested in helping asexuals, rather than just exploiting us to increase the power of other minorities, then perhaps they can try to stimulate interest among medical researchers and biologists in the field of sexual desire. Once sexual desire is better understood we can take the next step.

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby Olivier » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:02 pm

michaels wrote:Maybe the distinction between sexual arousal and sexual attraction is one of the dogmas that needs to be questioned.

Really, no it isn't. As a sexual who experiences both regularly, but not always together, the idea that finding someone hot and getting an erection are separate things is so bleeding obvious that I think that anyone who doubts it isn't really making an insightful 201 point, they're showing that they don't even have the understanding needed for a 101 discussion.

michaels wrote:It was formulated for political reasons, in order to broaden the base of potential AVEN members as much as possible by including those who do have physical responses.

Paranoid bullshit.

michaels wrote:But the whole thing has gotten completely out of hand...

Being inclusive of people who have sex while feeling no attraction is not "out of hand", it's just sane. Nobody in wider society is trying to exclude non-sexually-active heterosexuals from identifying as heterosexuals, after all.

michaels wrote:...with "asexual" now including those who do want sex and do engage in it as long as they choose to "self-identify" as asexuals.

When Apositive was thriving, it was on the back of threads like "Enjoying sexuality asexily", and reacting against the tide in AVEN that sought to exclude those who didn't find sex "icky". Now it's reached the idiotic reverse of that, where elitists on Apositive (yes, michael, you) rant against AVEN's permissiveness. The sort of people who once came here to get away from that attitude on AVEN now go to AVEN to avoid dealing with it here. Sad, but true.

michaels wrote:Some objective criteria for defining asexuality are desperately needed if it isn't to remain the playground of power-seekers.

You see, THIS is the reason I don't spend much time at Apositive, as it happens. I'll be blunt, michael, I find your paranoid rantings a huge turn-off, and as they form an increasing proportion of Apositive's traffic, I find myself less and less inclined to come check out what's going on here, and less and less happy when I do. Sorry to be insulting, but I don't see much point beating around the bush.

I've written before about why I think that respect for self-identification is so important, so I won't rehash it here, but I think that trying to impose objective criteria whereby some external test can be used to tell people that they are wrong about what they feel their own lived sexual experience to be is a worse than terrible idea.

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby michaels » Tue Oct 18, 2011 4:56 am

Nice to see yet another AVEN activist parachuting in to divebomb me. Now, can we please get back to the topic on hand?

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Re: Reviving Apositive

Postby KAGU143 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:37 am

I would like to point out that Michael's opinions do not, in any way, reflect my opinions or those of Apositive as a whole. However, Apositive is not censored like AVEN is, and unpopular, minority views can be expressed here without automatically invoking the wrath of the admod team. Instead, I would (ideally) like to see them become the seeds for continued discussion.

Calmly addressing a hot subject and offering contrary views which are supported by tangible evidence is to be highly commended. Sometimes people will even reconsider their stance on a topic if they learn more about it, sometimes they won't, but an exchange of views is seldom harmful.

But - personally attacking a person's beliefs and calling those beliefs paranoid bullshit is not going to start any kind of meanigful discussion.

Olivier, I have missed your input here. It's been a long time, dude!
But seriously, the only reason that Michael's opinions seem to be the prevalent ideas around here is because nobody else is bothering to offer anything else. I have discussed things with Michael before, and I have found that he, like the vast majority of people in the world, is perfectly capable of reasoned, rational responses when a subject is presented in an objective fashion. Also, like all people, he is entitled to his own personal opinions.

Personal attacks seldom bring out the best in people, and I am including myself in that group. This is NOT the "Nancy does all of the typing and responding" forum. I don't WANT to turn Apositive into my own personal blog, but this is not to say that I don't have opinions and that I won't express them - far from it!

Here is one of my opinions:
The best way to engage in meaningful communication with a person whose views are utterly incomprehensible to you is to first find out how they arrived at those views. And then LISTEN to them without invalidating them. You don't have to agree, but it is important to realize that all people have reasons for their opinions, and that those opinions make sense within the context of that person's life experiences.
All of us are affected by our life experiences, and, since there are no two sets of like experiences that are the same, we all end up drawing different conclusions.
As human beings, we don't all have an equal ability to assimilate new information - especially when it contradicts our current assumptions - but I think it is exteremely rare to find a person with no ability whatsoever.

___________________________________________________________

Back to the topic of reviving Apositive:
I can't stay online as much as I would like to today. (Real life keeps interfering, darn it!)
BUT - there are some interesting topics for discussion soon to be breached.

The teaser:
Kæth and I met with David Jay last night, in Seattle, and saw a screening of his new movie, "(A) Sexual"

Oooooh boy! There will be a lot of ground to cover.
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