Asexual Journal Club: Johnson 1977

Last week, we discussed “Asexual and autoerotic women: two invisible groups,” a 1977 paper by Myra T. Johnson.

Johnson, M. (1977). Asexual and autoerotic women: two invisible groups. In H. Gorchros & J. Gochros (Eds.), The Sexually Oppressed. New York: Associated Press.

This paper is arguably the first academic paper to focus on what we think of asexuality today, although Johnson divided her conception of asexuality into two categories (depending on whether they masturbated or not) and focused only on women. The paper mostly focuses on the way that Western culture sees asexual women and how they fit into feminist movements of the day. Finally, she discusses the manner in which asexual women are indirectly oppressed by the way that their culture views them. A longer summary can be found 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 historical distinction between masturbating and non-masturbating asexuals
  • the similarities of the issues that Johnson brings up about being asexual in society and modern asexual discussion

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 Saturday, we will be reading “Asexuality: classification and characterization.”

Prause, N., & Graham, C. a. (2007). Asexuality: classification and characterization. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36(3), 341–56. doi:10.1007/s10508-006-9142-3

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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7 Responses to Asexual Journal Club: Johnson 1977

  1. Siggy says:

    One thing that struck me as particularly strange about the paper was that it took the existence of asexuals for granted. I mean, it’s all well and good that it does this. But you’d think that in a paper discussing the consensus that asexuals women do not exist, it would at some point say, “And that’s wrong because here’s some evidence that they exist.”

    Also, does anyone know who Myra T. Johnson is? Is she still alive?

    • Sciatrix says:

      Well, I found a Myra T. Johnson who had written a book entitled “Snuggles: The Bunny Who Helped Me Find God,” but I rather doubt that’s the same one. At least, I hope not.

      Beyond that, my Google-fu’s failing me. There’s no institutional affiliation on the copy of the PDF I have, which doesn’t make tracking her down much easier.

      • nextstepcake says:

        That’s one thing I’ve always wondered – I’ve never seen anything else by her anywhere. My uni has a copy of the book that published the paper though, so maybe I can see if it says anything further about her.

      • Andrew says:

        I’ve tried looking up info on her before and was also unsuccessful.

    • nextstepcake says:

      It’s from more of a feminist/theoretical perspective than it is from an actual quantitative perspective, so that may be part of the reason – most feminist theory is a lot more about the implications of some group existing than actual hard data on whether they exist or to what extent. The article does have some quotes from women’s magazines and such that could be construed as coming from an asexual perspective, but they’re not really sufficient evidence. They do acknowledge that basically no one has ever tried to study asexuality before, which I guess is the closest they get to addressing that point. It’s also a very short paper, so I don’t know whether there may have been more to her work than that or not.

  2. Aydan says:

    Aw, shoot, I forgot to send you the summary. I’m sorry. 😦

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