This month, the ace journal club discussed
“Rhetorics of Allonormativity: The Case of Asexual Latter-day Saints” by b. Brandley & L. Spencer (2022). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1041794X.2022.2108891 (requires journal access)
The journal club meets once a month on Discord, using text or voice as club members prefer. We discuss a variety of academic works in ace studies, ranging from gender studies to psychology. Don’t worry about journal access, we can provide access. If you’re interested, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for an invite.
Our discussion notes are below the fold.
This essay makes a case for the concept of allonormativity using the case study of asexual Latter Day Saints (LDS, aka Mormons), in comparison to the scholarship on LGBT people in other conservative religious traditions.
Responses to religion
– The authors discuss two main strategies that religious LGBTQ use to engage with hostile religious traditions.
– The transcendence strategy appeals to higher religious values (such as unity or family) to override the more specific religious beliefs against LGBTQ people.
– The confrontation strategy engages in protests and direct arguments as to why those values are wrong.
– These two strategies are not an exhaustive list, and the author also mentions “infiltration”, the use of in-group language and authority to persuade people.
– The authors argue that the most queer biblical interpretation is focused on justifying sexual relationships.
Allonormativity and heteronormativity
– We discussed the way the authors present the concept of allonormativity. Some of us have had our expectations shaped by arguments on Tumblr, and the paper doesn’t reflect those expectations. It doesn’t do much to counter the common argument that supposed examples of allonormativity are really just heteronormativity. There’s even a reference to allo privilege at one point, apparently without awareness of the rhetorical history of the concept in ace spaces.
– Nonetheless, the paper observes many differences.
– For example, churches generally don’t have any official policy on asexuality, so it tends to be a mixed bag based on local leaders. There are also a lot of practices surrounding reproduction and marriage that don’t explicitly refer to asexuality but have profound implications.
– The paper also describes some LDS aces as experiencing a sudden switch in expectations, initially never talking about sex, but after their mission they’re expected to seek a marriage
– The authors looked at comments by LDS or formerly LDS aces, and conducted interviews, but there was no methodology section.
– The authors seem primarily interested in discussing how asexuality and allonormativity are discussed in queer studies, and secondarily interested in LDS aces. The paper is structured as if the LDS discussion supports the queer studies discussion, but for us the connection was unclear.
– We would have liked more background on LDS attitudes on LGBT people or people without relationships. For example, there’s a discussion of celibacy, but it seems to be about general Christian attitudes, and doesn’t talk about the implications of LDS not having clerical celibacy.
– The paper organizes its discussion of allonormativity by different sources of allonormativity (religious leaders, family, and internalized), but we discussed how it could have been organized by theme instead.
– Gray-asexuality is defined by “occasional” experiences of sexual desire or attraction. As usual, we are critical of limiting grayness to a matter of frequency of experience.