Asexuality Journal Club: Aicken 2013

This week, we discussed “Who reports an absence of sexual attraction in Britain? Evidence from national probability surveys,” Aicken et al.’s followup to the community survey that Bogaert 2004 began. The full citation is:

Aicken, C. R. H., Mercer, C. H. & Cassell, J. A. 2013. Who reports an absence of sexual attraction in Britain? Evidence from national probability surveys. Psychology and Sexuality, 37–41.

Bogaert 2004 took the initial data for analysis from a national British survey about sexuality, the NATSL-1, which was conducted in 1994. As a follow-up, Aicken 2013 et al. took the NATSL-2, conducted in 2000, and ran a similar analysis comparing people who responded “I have never been sexually attracted to anyone” to people who responded otherwise on the survey. Ace-muslim kindly did a much more thorough summary of the paper shortly after it was published, which is available here.

A general transcript of of the week’s conversation can be found here. Briefly, the conversation focused on some of the following topics:

  • the paper’s finding that asexual people were more likely to be Muslim than Christian if they were religious at all, and possible reasons for that
  • a piece of speculation in the paper that asexual people might be, on average, more likely to be interested in some forms of sex (such as oral sex) than others
  • the finding that asexuals who are currently sexually active are likely to be happy with the amount of sex they have
  • limitations of the data set’s ability to compare subgroups of asexuals to each other (conclusion: the numbers are too small to make those kinds of comparisons effectively)
  • the finding that asexuals are more likely to say that sex is very important to a relationship than allosexual people are
  • how grey-A/demisexual people fit into surveys with designs like this one, where “asexual” is a yes/no binary
  • the finding that asexual people were just as likely to have had a same-sex partner as allosexual people, despite having far fewer sexual experiences on average
  • how to devise questions for surveys like this in the first place, and how the concept of asexuality as an identity might affect future NATSAL data

As a reminder to anyone who would like to join in on these journal clubs, they are held at 1:00 PM PDT on Saturday afternoons over a group Skype chat. People who would like to be added to the skype chat should contact Skype user sennkestra and ask to be added to the group. Next week’s paper will be “Physiological and subjective sexual arousal in self-identified asexual women,” followed by “Mental health and interpersonal functioning in self-identified asexual men and women.” After that, we will be taking a side trip through law with “Compulsory Sexuality,” a paper on the legal ramifications of asexuality. Note that this paper is very long at 69 pages, so we’re giving extra time for people to read it. Full citations of all the papers to be read over the next three weeks, in order:

Brotto, L. A. & Yule, M. A. 2011. Physiological and subjective sexual arousal in self-identified asexual women. Archives of sexual behavior, 40, 699–712.

Yule, M. A., Brotto, L. A. & Gorzalka, B. B. 2013. Mental health and interpersonal functioning in self-identified asexual men and women. Psychology and Sexuality, 1–16.

Emens, E. F. 2013. Compulsory Sexuality. Stanford Law Review, 66, 1-68.

About Sciatrix

Sciatrix is an American graduate student studying ecology, evolution and behavior. She identifies as asexual and has mostly given up trying to sort out the whole romance thing for now. She has previously blogged about asexuality at Writing From Factor X. In her free time, she trains in canine agility and knits oddly cabled hats.
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