For one of the assignments of class, we were asked to watch the documentary “(A)sexuality.” This documentary focused mostly on David Jay and his journey in identifying and creating Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN). The documentary uses him almost as the instructor, as it shows him in different interviews being interrogated about asexuality and its definitions and components. An asexual person is described by this organization as a person that does not experience sexual attraction. The documentary aims to use different examples and situations in which this sexual orientation can be explained. The documentary is beneficial in the way that it does this. It shows various instances in which the person describes his or her own personal identification of their sexuality and even describes it further to try to better explain it. I found that the characters presence at the pride parade and the interviews shown in this documentary was effective in expressing the way that others perceive asexuality and their lack of understanding for it. I think a limitation of this documentary was that I personally didn’t feel that I had a universal and shared definition or explanation for asexuality after watching it. I was still confused at whether these individuals felt that asexuality was something that was a biological shortcoming or whether or not they truly felt it was a choice. I wish that the people they interviewed were clearer in addressing that factor.
This assignment connected to our assignments relating to the LBGTQI community. The most relevant connection I made was to the panel discussion we had with the Office of LGBTQI Life here at Vanderbilt. Some of their personal stories really resonated with my curiosity and reflection of this documentary. I think this discussion gave me a better sense of how personal sexual orientation is and how much if can vary per person. Asexuality, being a sexual orientation, that is seen as “abnormal” in this society is similar to the LBGTQI community in that they both recognize that they are considered “abnormal” in society and are aiming to create a better understanding and acceptance for all sexual orientations nationwide. This assignment was different from the discussion in that none of the individuals identified as asexual but I think the connection was more so, for me, about how you don’t have to necessarily define your sexuality in terms that make sense to others. It is a personal aspect that is not so black and white. This main idea for me connected in both assignments or discussions and topics.
An example that I would use with this assignment in particular is this image that I came across on the Internet:
This example really stood out to me because it related to my reactions from the documentary. This person in the image is identifying as an asexual but also as a hetero-romantic young adult. This really connected to my response to the film in that I felt that the film did not necessarily leave the viewer with a strict idea of the sexual orientation other than the fact that they do not experience sexual orientation. Some of the individuals claimed that they had relationships with other individuals but it was one that was romantic and emotional and did not find it pleasurable or necessary to participate in sexual acts in order to progress their relationship or obtain intimacy. This, I would think, might be a hard concept for other people to understand because in terms of what we consider to be “normal” as a society, sexual experience is a natural part of an intimate relationship. It is considered a stage that the relationship reaches where sexual experience seems natural or even part of our biology. The fact that she claims that she is also “extremely awkward talking to guys” also addresses something in the film that I remembered.
Many people outside of this sexual orientation seemed entirely confused at the idea of asexuality and for example in the View interview, were quite rude in interrogating David Jay about his own personal experiences. I think that since most people cannot fathom this idea of not experiencing sexuality, they assume things that they think best explain this. Asexual individuals throughout the film even addressed this idea that other people predict that they are simply “inexperienced” sexually and don’t know what they don’t like sex. They assume that maybe that had a dangerous or extremely negative sexual experience from the past that has turned them off from sex altogether, like sexual assault or rape. Another assumption made is that the person is simply lacking social skills or is just awkward at interacting with others and therefore finds it easier to not engage with other people. I found this interesting because I have personally witnessed heterosexual people using these examples to “explain” homosexuality. I find this interesting that some people try to find “reasons” or the “causes” for this sexual orientation rather than accepting them as part of society.
The question or idea that I find most reflective would be to ask how we use other sexual orientations to reinforce the “correctness” of our own.
I would also add the question of how we as a society deem our own sexuality and I would challenge the reader to think about how we define our personal sexuality and in terms of how it relates to biological or environmental terms.
Do you believe that biology or evolution define what we view at normal in our society, for example heterosexual as being the standard sexual orientation?
Do you think that asexuality should be included as a sexual orientation that falls within the LBGTQI community?