Question of the Month: April 16th, 2019.

How do you feel about participating in studies on asexuality? 

Some other related questions you can answer: do you participate whenever you see a study? Are you concerned about who the author is? Do you feel differently about studies made by academics versus informal studies done by members of the ace community? What would you change about the studies on asexuality you participated in? Or what would make you want to participate?

I personally jump at the chance to participate in studies on asexuality. I want to support research on asexuality in general, but I also worry if I don’t show up how I experience asexuality won’t be accounted for. Sex-favourable aces are a minority, or maybe there are a bunch of people like me that haven’t found the ace community yet or already left it. If I wasn’t hanging around I wouldn’t know about studies and I couldn’t tell people I exist. I still miss a lot of studies.

One thing I’d like to see more in studies on asexuality, and in academic studies in general, is giving participants more agency or control over the finished product. I  thought about this a lot when I was doing my Masters and we practiced interviewing our peers; knowing my participants made me want to ensure they were comfortable with how I portrayed them. Even if you’re quoting someone directly the research is adding context and shifting things around. Participants may not like the conclusions the researcher came to because of things they said. Maybe they would say things differently if they knew where the researcher was going. I’m filling out the ethics forms for my PhD research now and this is on my mind a lot. I’ve included that all my participants will have the opportunity to read my work before I submit it and can have anything removed and request changes. I think it can be really powerful to share space with participants and let them okay how they are portrayed, even if it takes longer or may change what researchers can say. I’d like to see that in how researchers treat our community.

About Talia

Talia is an asexual, nonbinary, vegan-feminist that drinks a lot of coffee and stays up very late playing Blizzard video games and writing fiction. They are working on a PhD in Environmental Studies where they think a lot about oppression as intersectional and impacting identities differentially. Talia has a particular fondness for asexuality, fandom, and Critical Animal Studies. Their personal blog is
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3 Responses to Question of the Month: April 16th, 2019.

  1. Satsuma says:

    I participate in the ace community census every year but not much else – more because other studies don’t come across my feed very often than because I’m not interested, you know?

    The ethics of surveying minorities is definitely a topic that merits a lot of discussion, I’ve run into similar issues doing historical research so it’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about. Your idea of letting the participants read the results before publishing is a good one, but possibly not feasible at a larger scale? Like, going back to the ace community census, they’ve got somewhere around 10,000 participants every year, I’m pretty sure trying to get feedback from all of them would prevent the results from ever being published at all! So, it’s all tradeoffs I guess

  2. elainexe says:

    One thing I think about is… much will any of these surveys actually impact the state of asexual research?? Concerning “studies made by academics versus informal studies done by members of the ace community”…..I don’t know if many of these may fall into neither. Or. Hmm. I guess the issue is…I don’t know much about who gives the survey, or what it’s to be used for exactly, in many cases. Even if online surveys have, for example, things listed in the description like “risks associated with taking survey” which seem superfluous and probably part of official survey design….I still end up uncertain if anything will become of these surveys. I never see any followup to these things. Even if someone lists who they are, and contact info…just, with how the internet is, people still seem so faceless.
    It does seem easier though, with surveys within the community. If I see a survey advertised on Tumblr, for instance, I think it’s more likely for people to identify themselves that way, and for them to say their intentions with the survey. While in academia, all that is something that would stay within academia, in their research proposals or emails to professors or whatnot. Not justifying the survey to those surveyed. But for any survey….it’s not unusual for me to find it just because a link is going around Tumblr with little to no context. So I have little idea of the origin or intention. Is it Official Research™ destined for a journal, someone’s thesis, a class project, someone just curious? It’s hard to tell.

    Some of this would be easier in formats other than online surveys. But. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of studies aces come into contact with or participate in won’t be these other things.

    I still have some feelings about studies shaped by studies that weren’t specifically about aces. I contacted someone once about an online survey about lgbt Muslims. The study seemed to….know almost nothing about Islam, with repeated-but-consistent misspellings of Qur’an, and ignoring the most obvious of issues people in same-sex/gender relationships might face. They really didn’t care about my email. Another time someone contacted my local mosque for focus groups on some research this person was doing about hijab. Certainly a topic non-Muslims are obsessed about (and therefore not quite what someone in the community would pick to research, at least not in the same way)…but nothing really wrong with researching it. All seemed fine until I was talking to the woman afterwards, who responded to my thoughts with “Wow…that’s actually very feminist!” Like uhhh. After all your studying….that’s what you think of Muslim women?? Presumably, as backwards or something, with perhaps finding the one exception in me, the white (and at the time non-hijabi) woman who happened to talk to you for a bit longer?
    I just end up thinking….people have all sorts of prejudices, and don’t necessarily care if their research is good. And they might not take anything away from their research that challenges their opinions, even if they have the evidence. I do remember reading Anthony Bogaert’s book about aces and thinking about how he had some strange opinions.

  3. demiandproud says:

    As someone who’s had to educate her therapist I’m looking forward to TAAAP’s book for professionals. I’m unequivocally in favour of aces and aros studying themselves and raising awareness. I’m more ambivalent on outsiders doing so… I’d hope allosex&alloro researchers would be ethical enough to get some peer reviews or sensitivity reads from aces/aros.

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