The Enigma of Asexuality [Review of the books Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives. & Asexuality and Sexual Normativity: An Anthology. edited by K. J. Cerankowski, M. Milks, M. Cardigan, K. Gupta & T. G. Morrison]

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Journal of Sexual Orientation & Gender Diversity


asexuality, sexuality, sexual identity, sexual orientation, book review


Reviews the books, Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives, edited by K. J. Cerankowski and M. Milks (2014) and Asexuality and Sexual Normativity: An Anthology, edited by M. Cardigan, K. Gupta, and T. G. Morrison. As is often the case with groundbreaking work, the scholarship disseminated in these volumes raises more questions than it answers. For example, should asexuality be considered a sexual orientation? Is asexuality akin to a clinical diagnosis (e.g., Hypoactive sexual desire disorder) and best determined by a clinician? The Cerankowski and Milks volume will frustrate those who prefer empirical data to other forms of evidence. Regardless, these explorations of feminist and queer perspectives raise important questions that remain unanswered in the empirical literature and provide thought-provoking analyses of the concepts, methods, measures, and conceptual frames predominant in sexual science. Taken together, these chapters represent a meditation on what constitutes asexuality, how an identity might be constructed around it—and whether it should be added to the growing alphabet soup of sexual minority communities. The Cardigan, Gupta, & Morrison anthology may be more satisfying to the empirically inclined. Its introduction could be assigned as a required or supplemental reading in courses on the psychology of human sexuality or sexual orientation as this brief chapter summarizes the basic psychological issues raised throughout both books. Five of its 10 chapters focus on various methodological, definitional, and diagnostic concerns specifically relevant to asexuality. Three chapters focus on the origins and derivation of “normal” as a construct. Proposing a new and perhaps more heuristic and inclusive model of sexual health was well beyond the scope of these two books. However, based on the critiques they articulated, such a model should enable one to locate a person within a multidimensional space that encompasses a romantic/emotional dimension, a behavioral dimension, a dimension associated with sexual/romantic object choice, and a physiological/biological dimension, at the very least.