Prejudice against the asexual community.
Violence against asexual women
The first known study of prejudice against the asexual community:
From the study: "Overall, asexuals are clear targets of bias by heterosexuals."
Heavy bias against the LGB (Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual) community and transgender individuals, -- primarily by religious and social conservatives and elderly adults -- is well documented, particularly with respect to same-sex marriage. However, in 2012, for the first time, discrimination against asexual persons was examined in two studies by researchers Cara C. MacInnis and Godron Hodson at Brock University in St. Catherines, ON, Canada. The results are very disturbing.
Although the participants in the group's first study were Canadian university students, the cultures of Canada and the U.S. are probably sufficiently similar that the results will be applicable to prejudice by American university students against the asexual community in the U.S.
The first study involved 121 female and 27 male Canadian university undergraduate students. MacInnis and Hodson rated the participants using two standard measurements:
- Right-wing authoritarianism (RWA). Those with a high RWA rating are "more conventional, submit more to authorities," and are more aggresive towards minorities. "RWA tends to be associated with prejudice towards groups challenging the status quo..." Since asexuals form a sexual minority whose behavior deviates from the majority, a high RWA rating can be expected to correlate with a high level of predjudice against asexuals.
- Social dominance orientation (SDO). Those with a high SDO rating "endorse ideologies concerning group dominance and inter-group hierarchies. ... SDO tends to be associated with prejudice toward what they consider to be low-status groups."
In this first study, MacInnis and Hodson detected:
"... intergroup bias against asexuals, ... a social target evaluated more negatively, viewed as less human, and less valued as contact partners, relative to heterosexuals and other sexual minorities. Heterosexuals were also willing to discriminate against asexuals (matching discrimination against homosexuals). ... We suggest that the boundaries of theorizing about sexual minority prejudice be broadened to incorporate this new target group at this critical period, when interest in and recognition of asexuality is scientifically and culturally expanding." 1
Results showed that:
- As one would expect from a group of participants who were mostly heterosexual, their attitudes towards fellow heterosexuals was the most positive.
- Less positive were their attitudes towards homosexuals, followed by bisexuals.
- Surprisingly, the most negative attitudes were towards asexuals.
"... we find significantly more
bias against asexuals than other sexual minorities, and discrimination intentions matching that against homosexuals. Overall, we find clear evidence of a previously unidentified and strong sexual minority prejudice: antiasexual bias." 1
This study was followed up by a second made up mostly of non-students, residents of the U.S. and Canada who averaged 35 years of age. They were recruited over the Internet. In addition to evaluating bias against gays and lesbians, bisexuals, an asexuals, sapiosexuals were added. These are individuals who are sexually attracted strongly to the intelligence of their sexual partners.
In the second study, they reported that:
"... attitudes toward heterosexuals were the most positive, followed by attitudes toward homosexuals, bisexuals, and asexuals. Within sexual minorities, homosexuals and bisexuals were evaluated equivalently, with asexuals evaluated more negatively than both homosexuals and
bisexuals. ... Again, the pattern of anti-asexual prejudice, relative to the heterosexual ingroup and even relative to other sexual minorities
was uncovered. Importantly, this general pattern
of differential evaluation of sexual orientation groups matches that of Study 1, even though attitudes toward each group are more positive in the online (vs. student) sample. ... heterosexual identification corroborate
our findings from Study 1: prejudice-prone individuals are more biased toward asexuals. ..."
"... We provide evidence that antiasexual bias is a form of sexual
minority prejudice, that those prone to prejudice are more prone to antiasexual bias, and that asexuals are targets of dehumanization, avoidance,
and discrimination intentions. Further, we demonstrate that bias toward asexuals is either equivalent to, or even more extreme, than bias toward
homosexuals and bisexuals. ... Asexuals are the sexual minority that is most clearly considered “deficient” by heterosexuals. ... Although antiasexual bias is a clear component of sexual minority prejudice, it is also unique
in that it was repeatedly stronger than bias toward
other sexual minorities. Most disturbingly, asexuals are viewed as less human, especially lacking in
terms of human nature. This confirms that sexual desire is considered a key component of human nature, and those lacking it are viewed as
relatively deficient, less human, and disliked. It appears that asexuals do not “fit” the typical definition of human and as such are viewed as less
human or even nonhuman, rendering them an extreme sexual orientation outgroup and very strong targets of bias. Future research can address
the mechanisms underlying this tendency." 1
Sexual violence, primarily against asexual women and lesbians:
There is a major delusion circulating among some men concerning asexuality in women. Julie Decker, an asexual activist and blogger, wrote:
"When people hear that you're asexual, some take that as a challenge. We are perceived as not being fully human because sexual attraction and sexual relationships are seen as something [that] alive, healthy people do. They think that you really want sex but just don't know it yet. For people who perform corrective rape, they believe that they're just waking us up and that we'll thank them for it later."
"Angela." a blogger on Tumblr posted a message:
"There is a real fear even among the asexual community that people who identify as anything other than heterosexual will be harassed and assaulted. They have a reason to be upset and a reason to be afraid. It has happened to many people before."
In reality, having consensual sex does not change an asexual person -- an individual with no desire to engage in sexual behavior -- into a sexual person. Sexual activity involving coercion or manipulation can potentially degenerate into rape -- a criminal act. 2
Unfortunately, the asexual commuity is expected to become more visible in the future as more research is conducted and as individual asexuals and asexual groups become more public.
"The crime was first identified in South Africa where it is sometimes supervised by members of the woman's family or local community, and is a major contributor to HIV infection ... [among] South African lesbians. Corrective rape has also been known to occur in Thailand, Ecuador, and Zimbabwe. Corrective rape and the accompanying violence can result in physical and psychological trauma, mutilation, HIV infection, unwanted pregnancy, and may contribute to suicide." 3
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Cara C. MacInnis & Godron Hodson,"Intergroup bias toward “Group X”: Evidence of prejudice, dehumanization, avoidance, and discrimination against asexuals," Group Process & Intergroup Relations, 2012-NOV, Vol 15, #6, Pages 725-743. Available at: http://asexualawarenessweek.com/
- Dominique Mosbergen, "Battling Asexual Discrimination, Sexual Violence And 'Corrective' Rape," Huffington Post, 2013-JUN-20, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- "Corrective rape," Wikipedia, as on 2013-, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2013-NOV-04
Latest update: 2013-NOV-09
Author: B.A. Robinson