Biased Against Asexuals? Let Me Count the Ways
«Is there really a bias against asexuals? Do other people judge them more harshly? Are they less interested in talking to them? Would they discriminate against them – for example, in hiring?
In a way, bigotry against asexuals seems silly. People who are uninterested in sex are not hurting anyone. They are not disrupting anyone’s life. They don’t engage in the kinds of sexual behaviors that some people consider taboo.
And yet, they are different from heterosexuals, the people who are typically held up as the standard against whom others are judged. Differences can be just that – neutral ways people differ from one another. But as with so many other differences, such as those based on gender or race or marital status, differences are too often viewed as deficits. It is entirely possible that asexuals are seen not just as different, but inferior.»
«Participants were asked to indicate their comfort with hiring members of each of the groups, as well as their comfort with renting to them. Both the college students and the community members felt significantly less comfortable hiring asexuals than heterosexuals, and significantly less comfortable renting to asexuals. They were equally uncomfortable hiring or renting to the other sexual minorities – bisexuals and homosexuals. The key distinction was between heterosexuals and everyone else.»
Read the whole article here.
This is #15 of a series in which I read correspondence between me and people who have questions, comments, or–more often–misconceptions about asexuality.
This one covers a question we sometimes get from a vocal minority in the queer community claiming asexual people absolutely do not have problems worth discussing because the very worst thing we ever experience is “hurt feelings” over people not acknowledging our orientation.
Here are the citations and links for everything mentioned in the video.
Siggy’s Breakdown of asexual queerness (orientation and gender identity):
My appearance at Creating Change (where I was invited to discuss asexuality at an LGBT conference):
My interview in the Gay Voices section of the Huffington Post:
The numbered list backups:
1. JOB AND HOUSING DENIAL:
* The study documenting asexual discrimination: “Intergroup Bias toward ‘Group X’: Evidence of prejudice, dehumanization, avoidance, and discrimination against asexuals”
* An anecdotal account of possibly being fired for asexuality:
* A follow-up to this story by the same person:
2. ADOPTION DENIAL:
* Discussed in Olivier Cormier-Otaño’s lecture, wherein he mentioned asexual couples getting denied adoption because “If you’re asexual, you’re not fit to be married.”
3. CONSUMMATION LAWS:
* These may change, but as of the creation of this video, the states requiring consummation for a marriage to be legal are here:
* For laws regarding consummation as it refers to a couple that includes one immigrant, please see this document:
4. ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW:
* In New York, SONDA, the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, mentions asexuality as one of the sexual orientations that cannot be discriminated against legally.
* In Vermont, asexuality is included in a “protected category” list under “sexual orientation”:
* The proposed legislation in Texas that names asexuality as a protected class is reported on in a news article here:
* The law paper by Elizabeth Emens, accepted by Standford Law Review, which thoroughly examines how asexual people live in a prejudicial environment and how that works out legally, is entitled “Compulsory Sexuality.”
5. “CORRECTIVE” RAPE:
* Huffington Post discussed “corrective” rape and how it’s hurting the asexual community here:
Here is a Tumblr thread where another user and I discuss rape threats:
* You can see some of the rape threats I have received here:
* And you can read about my experience with a man forcing himself on me after I told him I wasn’t interested here:
6. POOR REPRESENTATION IN MEDIA:
* Godiva’s is a Canadian show that is canceled. It featured an asexual heteroromantic man, Martin. He was “fixed” with testosterone supplements.
* Huge is an American show that is canceled. It had an asexual aromantic woman, Poppy, in a minor role. She mentioned her asexuality once during a discussion with a fellow camp counselor and it was never mentioned again.
* Shortland Street is a New Zealand show that is still going on as of this writing. It featured an asexual biromantic man, Gerald. His asexuality is examined deeply throughout the series.
The bad House episode is called “Better Half”:
7. MISDIAGNOSIS WITH A MENTAL DISORDER:
* DSM definition of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder:
8. DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE:
* The Trevor Project: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
* Materials created by AAW for the Trevor Project’s volunteers:
Prejudice Against “Group X” (Asexuals)
«In a recent investigation (MacInnis & Hodson, in press) we uncovered strikingly strong bias against asexuals in both university and community samples. Relative to heterosexuals, and even relative to homosexuals and bisexuals, heterosexuals: (a) expressed more negative attitudes toward asexuals (i.e., prejudice); (b) desired less contact with asexuals; and (c) were less willing to rent an apartment to (or hire) an asexual applicant (i.e., discrimination). Moreover, of all the sexual minority groups studied, asexuals were the most dehumanized (i.e., represented as “less human”). Intriguingly, heterosexuals dehumanized asexuals in two ways. Given their lack of sexual interest, widely considered a universal interest, it might not surprise you to learn that asexuals were characterized as “machine-like” (i.e., mechanistically dehumanized). But, oddly enough, asexuals were also seen as “animal-like” (i.e., animalistically dehumanized). Yes, asexuals were seen as relatively cold and emotionless and unrestrained, impulsive, and less sophisticated.
When you repeatedly observe such findings it grabs your attention as a prejudice researcher. But let’s go back a minute and consider those discrimination effects. Really? You’d not rent an apartment to an asexual man, or hire an asexual woman? Even if you relied on stereotypes alone, presumably such people would make ideal tenants and employees. We pondered whether this bias actually represents bias against single people, a recently uncovered and very real bias in its own right (see Psychology Today column by Bella DePaulo). But our statistical analyses ruled out this this possibility. So what’s going on here?»
Read the whole article here.