Asexuality Journal Club: Brotto et al. 2011

Due to some technical issues on my part, this transcript is being published nearly a week late. Sorry about that!

Last week, we discussed “Physiological and subjective sexual arousal in self-identified asexual women,” which focused on comparing sexual arousal in asexual cis women to women of different sexual orientations. 

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

Brotto & Yule were interested in the comparative responses of cis women of different sexual orientations–lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual, and asexual women–to both sexually explicit and neutral films. They used vaginal pulse amplitude as a measure of genital arousal and also self-report to see how women experienced arousal to both types of films. Most of the differences they found are discussed in the transcript posted. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any longer summaries of this paper at present–if you do, please link them in the comments! 

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

  • the finding that asexual women were more aware of their genitalia’s state of arousal than women of any other sexual orientation
  • the shortfalls of comparing vaginal response to penile tumescence as a measure of arousal
  • the finding that asexual women had higher baseline anxiety levels than other groups
  • asexual demographics (the paper collected demographic information but did not present it)
  • comparative masturbation rates
  • sampling issues with finding asexual participants in the study
  • the possibility of comparing the results of asexual women to women with HSDD in a future study

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 (that’s today!) 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. Today’s paper will be “Mental health and interpersonal functioning in self-identified asexual men and women.” Next week, we will be taking a side trip through law with “Compulsory Sexuality,” a paper on the legal ramifications of asexuality.

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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4 Responses to Asexuality Journal Club: Brotto et al. 2011

  1. Siggy says:

    I believe the studies on asexual masturbation rates have had one of the most important results from asexual research. I mean, I’m not really sure what the conventional wisdom was in the community prior to 2007 (when the Prause and Graham paper was published), but I for one would not have imagined that asexual rates of masturbation were about the same as non-asexual rates. I would have thought, based on internet anecdotes, that asexuals who do and asexuals who don’t were roughly equal in number.

    Back then, the argument would be that masturbation simply isn’t as important a characteristic as sexual attraction (I think this was DJ’s argument in his 101 talk from 2006). Back then, there would have been people who disagreed with this point (like the Official Nonlibidoist Society), and who favored a nonlibidoist definition of asexuality. Nowadays, we view it differently.

  2. Is there a pointer to where these papers can be found, other than the citation? Some of us aren’t really in the academic world and have no idea where to begin. Or are they all subscription only, so if you’re not going to a school that has these journals, you’re pretty much out of luck?

    • Siggy says:

      It may be hard to get access without going through a university. One way is to e-mail the researchers directly and ask for a copy. You can also e-mail us, and I’ll see if there’s a way.

      A preprint of the Emens paper is on SSRN.

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