Hi from new member and question for admins

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faeryty
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Hi from new member and question for admins

Postby faeryty » Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:05 am

My name is Ty and I am an asexual identified researcher working at the intersection of the fields of a/sexuality studies and the sociology of the internet. I am currently undertaking my PhD research on a topic of online identity production, looking at the role the internet plays in facilitating people of marginal and stigmatised identities or practices in negotiating difficulties that stem from these identities or practices.

I first came across the label 'asexual' about 6 years ago when I started university and joined our LGBTUA group (I'm a homoromantic asexual, although had you asked me then I'd have just said 'gay') and found out what the U (undefined/queer) and A stood for. There were no active A members at that time but over my years at uni a small group (well, two small groups with slightly differing views of asexuality) of us found each other and over time I came to understand myself as an asexual. It's never been easy sailing for me trying to exist as an asexual in the highly sexualised gay community at the same time as being disinterested in sex but my disinterest only culminates in a passive avoidance and I will willingly engage in sexual activities to please a partner - something I have often had trouble reconciling with my asexual identity and has resulted in me flopping between identifying as asexual or not a few times over the years. I've now come to terms with all that though. What I'm saying basically is, I look forward to becoming more actively involved in asexual communities as both a member and a researcher and with regard to that second part - a sympathetic researcher that can empathise with asexuals on a very personal level.

I am currently looking for a site (or a small number thereof) on which to conduct the fieldwork for my PhD. As part of this I am investigating user's experiences of various online asexual communities and comparing them through a survey. Would it be ok for me to post a link to the survey on apositive? I'm quite happy to discuss my research with the admin team before doing so .

Thank you in advance.

Ty Hayes
Doctoral Researcher
University of Warwick

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KAGU143
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Re: Hi from new member and question for admins

Postby KAGU143 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:39 am

Greetings, Ty, and welcome to Apositive!

Why not PM me the link to your survey so I can take a quick look at it? I am pretty sure that it will be okay, and as soon as I review it I will let you know.
It's good to have someone researching asexuality who doesn't start with a pre-existing belief that it is some sort of pathology.
If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

faeryty
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Re: Hi from new member and question for admins

Postby faeryty » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:58 am

Thanks Mrs. BRD.

I've PMed you. There are a few of us asexual identified researchers out here, and some decent allies as well. Hopefully together we can tip the body of literature away from comparing asexuality to HSDD and so on to more positive aspects of the identity and community.

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Dargon
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Re: Hi from new member and question for admins

Postby Dargon » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:17 am

Hello and welcome.

I must say you are the first researcher on asexuality I have seen that actually identifies as such, and as such I am quite interested to see where your research goes. Best of luck with it.

pretzelboy
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Re: Hi from new member and question for admins

Postby pretzelboy » Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:24 pm

Recently, there has been a considerable growth in the number of people researching asexuality, including a number who identify as asexual, almost all of whom are grad students. I'm also aware of a number who are presently in grad school and have plans to begin doing research on asexuality in the next year or so. However, there is a considerable gap between when people start planning their research, when they begin data collection, and when things begin to be published.

On the issue of comparing asexuality with HSDD, I think that the problem is the philosophically naive ways of doing this that pretty much all of the work to date from psychologists addressing the issue has done--ways that, functionally, treat both as if they are natural kinds that are completely free of historical or cultural influence, and are ideology-free concepts (even though, if you asked such researchers directly, I'm sure that they would admit the absurdity of this). As such, I think that the problem isn't work that compares asexuality with HSDD, but work that naively compares the two, as though mere quantitative analysis and establishing how much overlap there is or is not could satisfactorily address the matter. (I make this qualification because I'm currently doing work to compare asexuality and HSDD that, I hope, will help correct this problem.)

faeryty
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Re: Hi from new member and question for admins

Postby faeryty » Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:22 am

Hi Pretzelboy,

I'm sure you realise I don't mean to be disparaging of research comparing asexuality to HSDD, and was just responding to MRS BRD's comment about pathology. I'm sure you'll come up with something a little more perceptive than (I think it was Prause and Graham's conclusion that essentially read) "Well, Asexuality and HSDD have some elements in common, but they're not the same".

I think I'm slightly more hostile to research relating to HSDD too because it is likely to be predominantly psychological research (yourself excluded, possibly?) and as such going to be quantitatively inclined due to the nature of the field, and I'm much more of a qualitative researcher. Also, from a political point of view, constant comparrisons to HSDD despite their conclusions, could well reinforce a connection.

I think your list of "Articles specifically dealing with asexuality and HSDD" on asexual explorations is telling though - that list is the majority of the corpus on asexuality at the moment! What we need is one good and comprehensive article to put this matter to bed - hopefully you'll produce such an article.

I wish you all the luck in your research though, and you know how to get hold of me if you want to bounce ideas off of someone that can be constructively critical.

Ty

pretzelboy
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Re: Hi from new member and question for admins

Postby pretzelboy » Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:33 pm

Hi Ty,

I may have been reading my own thoughts about some of the research into your comments...

My own interest in HSDD largely stemmed my early attempts to find out everything I could about asexuality that I could. There wasn't much, so I thought that there might be some useful stuff that could perhaps be gleaned from the HSDD stuff, only to discover that the "science" involved was appallingly awful. (I've also discovered that's there's a lot more out there than I had thought, but it's almost all in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, which my university doesn't subscribe to.) I kind of got pissed off at the diagnosis because if they've been pathologizing us with it for three decades, you'd hope that at least we could have gotten maybe a little something in return, you know, maybe some visibility, or even some research of questionable quality that could be reinterpreted in interesting ways? But no, nothing.

However, in our DSM campaign, I discovered that I find the conceptual issues involved in psychiatric diagnosis absolutely fascinating, and I would love to see some quality historical work with the sorts of questions that asexuality brings to bear on these issues. As for your hope that we can just lay the issue to rest, I don't think it's going to happen.

We have two very significant cultural forces at work that are sure to collide. First, you have the growth of sexual medicine, aiming to find pharmacological treatments for the sorts of (often distressing) sexual issues that people go to the clinic complaining of. A major part of this motivation is frustration at the lack of efficacy of traditional talk therapy. Then combine with this the facts that a) science costs money, b) money for (many kind of) sex research is hard to come by, and c) big pharma has lots of money that they're offering, and d) the promise that working with Big Pharama will help to create more effective treatments and bring increased respectability to sex research.

However, there is involved a double-edged sword, as the marketing techniques of Big Pharma (here in the US they can advertize directly to the general public) are very troubling. They want a "treatment" for HSDD because it would be massively profitable, and in anticipation of each attempted treatment, they have massive "educational" campaigns, and they have "research" that blurs the line between science and marketing that shows just how big of a problem there is and (alas!) to treatment for it! They give absurdly huge estimates of "sexual dysfnction", and there is then a backlash. The backlash is partly motivated by concerns of not pathologizing "female sexuality", but I believe that there is a never-mentioned subtext of the talkies feeling threatened by the drugies (even though a major factor of the search for pharmological therapies is precisely dissatisfaction with the efficacy of talk therapies).

Viaga was launched in 1996, and there was (I think even before it was approved) a desire to find a similar market among women. Debates dealing with these issues have been raging in sex-research beginning a couple years after this. Now, beginning only a few years later--and happening at the same time when you have lots of debates over what is "normal sexuality" and what is "sexual dysfunction", you get the asexual community forming. We've already been drawn into the debate, and I think we happily joined because--drawing on an anti-pathologizing assumption we have inherited from LGBT politics--we want out of the DSM.

faeryty
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Re: Hi from new member and question for admins

Postby faeryty » Fri Apr 01, 2011 2:45 am

As far as I can see, albeit being an outsider to psychology, psychiatry and psychotherapy, the anecdotal evidence seems to be that an asexual identity would be an excellent prescription for those with HSDD. So many people talk of feeling distressed because they thought they were a freak or something was wrong with them because they don't experience sexual attraction, and that finding the asexual community and developing an asexual identity allieviated this identity. Do the talkies try that? Sure, it might not work for everyone, but it could help some.

pretzelboy
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Re: Hi from new member and question for admins

Postby pretzelboy » Sun Apr 03, 2011 7:01 pm

I've heard of some anecdotal evidence from clinicians who suggested asexuality with very positive results. However, asexual identity seems to mostly (although not exclusively) be about people who have never really been interested in sex, whereas most of the stuff on HSDD is about people who used to be interested but aren't anymore. (And there's also the issue of asexuality being about sexual attraction, and HSDD being about sexual desire, a distinction important to many asexuals.)