Month: January 2019

Week 3 Round-Up

Posted January 18, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in News / 0 Comments

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Weekly Accountability

Hi, everyone! It’s that time again! Weekly updates delivered every Friday!

Completed Projects

No new projects accomplished unless you count reworking DemiPrincess2 chapters. Now I’m back to working on shiny new material!

Goal Updates

  • 1/4 short February essays all wrapped up.
  • 1 essay draft on reading fantasy books with aphantasia

Writing Updates

This Week’s Fiction Wordcount: 8,027

This Week’s Non-Fiction Wordcount: 10,270 (wait, what?)

DemiPrincess2: I had to backtrack a bit to fix up a scene that’d been really bothering me, and I finally pulled the following chapters I had into line. WHOOT! Now it’s back to new stuff because we’re back on track!

Life And Other Such Important Matters

Life continues as it always does, boo. I wish recruitment agencies wouldn’t call you about a job application you sent that they know they won’t hire you for. That’s just rude. I’ve been fairly out of it, though, time-wise, resulting in updating Wednesday’s essay on Tuesday. :O

Stand-out Positive Moment

The stand-out positive moment is definitely the time I was struggling very hard with self-rejection issues and reached out to people on Twitter and everyone was so lovely and helpful. <3 Thank you! I’m still working on the don’t-self-reject part, but I have a draft of the essay that made me worry about them, so that’s progress! I know I’d have tossed the whole thing in the bin without everyone encouraging me to write it anyway, so thank you! 😀

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Lynn vs Conlangs

Posted January 14, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in My Work / 0 Comments

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Hi, everyone! I hope your week is off to a fantastic start! I know. I know. No one likes Mondays because the week’s off to a new start. But you know what Mondays also mean? It’s time for Monday Musings! Wherein I ramble about various and sundry depending on my whim or Patreon requests/suggestions. Posts are somewhere below 2,500 words at most and consist of short personal essays and discussions.

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Week 2 Round-up

Posted January 11, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Weekly Accountability

Hi, everyone! It’s that time again! Weekly updates delivered every Friday!

Completed Projects

  • 23/13 books read

Okay, before anyone flails at that number, I’d like to note that it includes books I didn’t finish and short stories that were released as single ebooks.

  • 17,005/10,000 words

Goal Updates

  • 2/4 discussions of papers in Asexuality and Sexual Normativity

Writing Updates

This Week’s Fiction Wordcount: 7,333

This Week’s Non-Fiction Wordcount: 4,636

DemiPrincess2: Well! I’ve managed to sort out a plot hole I was struggling with, which resulted in simultaneously fixing up two chapters I was unhappy with, so now I just need to rework the next two to match up and we’re all good to continue. Whoot!

Life And Other Such Important Matters

It has taken, like, a month, but I have finally baked biscuits! Again. I’d torn one of my nails rather spectacularly, so I opted to let the tear grow into something I could cut into non-existence. Cat continues to be affectionate. Like continues to be, well, life. And I just really don’t have much to say about it? I am the worst at these updates, I know.

Stand-out Positive Moment

See about the only noteworthy thing that I did this past week. I have chocolate biscuits! Whoohoo! I even got the tray almost done before putting them in the oven and I almost got non-burnt biscuits! Progress! (Also they’re really good biscuits.)

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Let’s Read! Chapter 1 of Asexuality and Sexual Normativity

Posted January 9, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Hi, everyone! Welcome to the very first official post of Let’s Read Asexual Academia, a series in which I read, react to and critically discuss academic papers about asexuality. You are cordially invited to join in reading about asexuality.

Currently, the let’s read is focused on Asexuality and Sexual Normativity: An Anthology. Published in 2014, this book collects a special edition of the journal Psychology & Sexuality in 2013. (I messed up the dates in the post announcing the let’s read. My apologies for that.) This post will cover some of the introduction, though its main focus is on the first essay in the anthology.

This first post is available to everyone, to give you all an idea of what to expect, but the remaining 9 papers (or chapters) of the book will only be available to patrons. I aim to have a discussion of a paper up once a week, which means we’ll finish this book around mid-March.

Without further ado, let me offer you the essay! (Note: It’s around 3,300 words long.)

A Discussion of “Who reports absence of sexual attraction in Britain? Evidence from national probability surveys” through the Eyes of an Asexual from the Future

One of the things you see a lot of in online discussions of asexuality (and to a lesser extent aromanticism) is a reference to a study conducted by Anthony Bogaert that concluded that about 1% of the population is asexual and, therefore, asexuality is a valid and real sexual orientation that should be acknowledged. That’s… usually also pretty much it for citing and discussing research into asexuality. At best, the assumption exists that people are aware of the study that Bogaert did: what he was looking for, how he came to those conclusions and what that means.

There is, however, more to it than that. Bogaert’s study is from 2004. I didn’t discover asexuality until around 2011 and was still exploring what that all meant for me by the time this book was published in 2013. By that time, almost a decade had passed since Bogaert first published his findings. I had no idea that there was more out there to be found, that Bogaert hadn’t conducted his own survey but analysed data from a much larger study, that other people were doing academic research based on other surveys, that they were all leading to similar conclusions insofar as the survey allowed them to draw those. I didn’t know, because no one ever mentions that these surveys and their findings exist.

I didn’t know that what is now known as the split model attraction to, at the very least, non-academic aromantics and some asexuals wasn’t just a known factor in academic research regarding asexuality, but an important part on the discussions of the limitations of the research done to date.

I didn’t know that research, repeatedly, suggests that asexuality is not, in fact, a sexual disorder that needs treatment and that researchers into asexuality may actively discourage health professionals from deciding it’s an issue. Mostly because a lot of asexual and aromantic people seeking help for something unrelated end up discovering their lack of sexual and/or romantic attraction being blamed for their issues and assumed to be causing them distress.

To date, I know of only three academic books that were published on the matter of asexuality. There are some more popscience publications, but that’s about it. You’re more likely to find individual papers. Asexuality and Sexual Normativity (edited by mark Carrigan, Kristina Gupta and Todd G. Morrison) is one of those books. It’s an anthology that collects a set of papers from a special edition of a psychology journal.

And I’ll admit that everything I’ve experienced and heard about psychology and asexuality made me step into this book wary, expecting to find myself invalidated and discussed in ways that made me tear my hair out. The introduction itself managed to make me not just interested in the chapters on asexuality and HSDD (Hypoactive sexual desire disorder) but excited to read them which isn’t a thing I’d ever say. I was dreading those and what they might say, how they might invalidate core parts of my identity. But the introduction itself already went “These are two different things”, so… I’m hopeful.

Then for this week’s discussion I read the first paper in the anthology. That’s Who reports absence of sexual attraction in Britain? Evidence from national probability surveys by Catherine R.H. Aicken, Catherine H. Mercer and Jackie A. Cassell. This paper is, in effect, a collation and summary of the qualitative research that had been done to date, so up to 2013. You shouldn’t go into it expecting an incredibly deep look at the numbers because this is an overview that only really highlights the main findings overall, where the surveys fail and the importance of more research.

Let me just say that, as a dyscalculic not-mathsy-person, I actually really enjoyed reading this paper. If I had to offer a single point of criticism on it, it’s that the paper, like the surveys it analyses, erases the spectrum of asexuality, as evidenced by its opening paragraph. The very first paragraph of the paper gives the reader the definition of asexuality used in it. That definition is “absence of sexual attraction to others”, and the researchers continue with a statement that they “recognise that this definition is contested.” I should note that the discussions about the academic definition of asexuality are somewhat broader than the discussions I’ve seen in asexual communities but both cover roughly the same gist.

Surprisingly, the paper (like the introduction) acknowledges the split attraction model in all but name and makes a distinction between ‘romantic asexuals’, ‘aromantic asexuals’ and ‘sexuals’. (I’ll be using ‘alloromantic’ or ‘allosexual’ to discuss general identity groups unless I’m referring directly to what the paper is saying.) To my knowledge the terminology here is at least somewhat outdated, but it can be explained by the concept that the split attraction model was only starting to be formed and the idea of (a)sexuality as a spectrum wasn’t as well known. The paper itself makes it clear that they’re using asexual/sexual as a binary definition, effectively if potentially unknowningly erasing the experiences of grayasexuals and demisexuals who would, according to the survey data available to the researchers, be found under ‘sexuals’ even if and even though an analysis of anecdotal experiences would make it clear that these are distinct aspects of asexuality. The use of ‘allosexual’ in favour of ‘sexual’ allows discussions of sexuality and sexual attraction to be more nuanced than they were at the time this paper was written.

The use of ‘sexual’ was, to me and my 2018 lens of asexuality and aromantic studies, very jarring and it sent me down a tangential thought of the way language, culture and how we understand the world all come about. A frequent, ah, complaint made against asexuality by ace-exclusionists is that the term ‘asexual’ is simply too new and too modern. No one was asexual before the word was coined, therefore asexuals are special snowflakes[1]. To my surprise and delight, the introduction at least acknowledges the possibility of how the language we use shape our understanding of the world around us[2]. This isn’t a concept that’s new to queer studies. Looks at the past, especially those through a queer lens, are rife with warnings that we cannot simply apply modern labels to people who didn’t have the same concepts or definitions of sexuality that we did. We know that the past didn’t view sexuality quite the same way we do nowadays and we do our best to account for that.

For all that, though, discussions about asexuality seem to be the only discussions where people try to use the absence of a modern understanding of sexuality as a reason to say this modern understanding of sexuality is therefore clearly and categorically something ‘made up’ by people who ‘want to be oppressed’. The reasoning there is something like “Because there was no concept of asexuality the way we understand it today in the past, asexuality isn’t a valid orientation”. But that type of reasoning ignores that we allow most every other queer identity the benefit of the doubt. Despite the pitfalls of assigning modern concepts to historical people, there are no shortcomings of people arguing for the fact that Sappho was a lesbian or that Jeanne d’Arc was transgender; it’s just they didn’t have words. And, listen, I’m not contesting those assertions (for one I’m not a historian; for another the arguments are pretty convincing). I’m just pointing out that the absence of modern definitions of the words we ascribe queer identities is not an issue with recognising these identities as real and valid (and historically present, linguistic issues aside) while it is an issue when it concerns asexuality. I doubt this anthology of papers will offer me a look into that, but boy do I ever want one and I hope someone’s already done or is doing research in that area. Also I would like to note that Western people-whom-we-might-now-describe-as-asexual actually did have a word they could use to describe their experiences. That word is ‘celibate’ and its existence is kind of a bane to a lot of asexual people who just repeatedly have to explain the difference and how the word does not, in fact, apply to them. Fun fact: according to the paper about a third of asexuals has or has had sex and is in a relationship, possibly with children, but then I’m getting ahead of myself.

The paper goes on to say

In the analysis, it was assumed that asexuals would respond ‘something else’, instead of heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual (Poston & Baumle, 2010). However, in order to pick responses that best fit their experience, asexuals may in fact categorise romantic relationships in which they do not necessarily feel sexual attraction, as hetero-, homo-, or bisexual, and not ‘something else’ (Brotto et al., 2010) (Aicken et al., 2013)

which, if I’m honest, annoys me spectacularly. There’s nothing wrong with this assertion, as such. It’s a statement of fact about the way that romantic asexuals may muddle the survey data. The idea here is, of course, that romantic attraction will get mistaken for sexual attraction and that a non-insignificant portion of alloromantic asexuals will answer the question of who they’re sexually attracted to by stating who they’re romantically attracted to. Since the surveys make no distinction between romantic or sexual attraction either, that means there’s a potentially significant portion of asexuals who are getting excluded from these surveys.

Some of this could have been addressed by a simple note reminding people of the existence of aromantics. It would, at the very least, have aided in acknowledging that romantic and sexual orientations are not the same thing. While academic research in 2013 evidently didn’t acknowledge the split attraction model by name, it is obviously using that model to discuss findings regarding (a)sexuality. So despite ace-exclusionists being all “Ew, that’s homophobic” about it, this is a model that academic research finds valuable enough to include in its discussions and if their beef with asexual and aromantic studies is “that’s not authentic enough”, here you go: peer-reviewed academic research is using it too and was doing so as early as 2013.

The authors then get into more detail regarding how the surveys were performed, which sent me on a tangent reading survey questions, but let’s start at the beginning. The first (well-known) research into asexuality stems from Anthony F. Bogaert’s Asexuality: Prevalence and associated factors in a national probability sample from 2004, which led to the book Understanding Asexuality, published in 2012.

Bogaert analysed the responses of the Natsal-1, which is where the oft-cited idea that 1% of the population is asexual comes from. It does not, as I’ve seen people claim, come from a survey specifically created to identify asexuality and it does not, as I’ve seen people claim, come from a sample size too small to draw any reasonable conclusions. (In any case, other independent research and further analysis of Natsal surveys largely support the original claim.) Natsal stands for “National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles” and is a survey conducted by NatCen Social Research, the largest independent social research institute in the UK. Natsal-1 refers to the first survey of this type, conducted in 1990-1991. Natsal-2 refers to the second survey of this type, conducted in 2000-2001. At the time this paper was written, Natsal-3 (2010-2011) does not appear to have been available for inclusion in the paper’s analysis.

If you’d like to know more about the Natsal-3, you can go directly to the survey’s website or you can read more about it on the NatCen website. Since the Natsal-3 offers a transcript of its revised questionnaire, I’d like to point out that the question most relevant to this analysis, that of whether someone has experienced sexual attraction, does not appear to be changed. I’d also like to note that while the Natsal-3 is pretty good at repeatedly reminding respondents how the survey interprets certain terms ‘sexual attraction’ is not part of the terms they define. The paper will point out that some asexuals may mistake romantic attraction for sexual attraction or otherwise not know how to interpret ‘sexual attraction’, so if there is to be a fourth Natsal in 2020-2021, I would urge the researchers in charge of that to offer a definition of how they define ‘sexual attraction’ in the interest of gathering more accurate data. (While I’m at it, more awareness that nonbinary people exist would be welcome to.)

At this point, the paper gets into a table of results that I just… genuinely cannot parse effectively on my own. I’m sorry. I plead dyscalculia. What I can parse, though, reveals some interested pieces of data. You’ll have to get the research and tables yourself if you want to verify what I’m about to say, but honestly the book is worth getting for this essay alone and if you’re interested in research regarding asexuality you want this essay.

Among the interesting pieces of data it reveals is that between the Natsal-1 and Natsal-2 the prevalence of ‘people who identify as never experiencing sexual attraction’ has gone down rather than up. It would be incredibly interesting to see how the Natsal-3 compares to them because of the dates of the surveys. Natsal-2 was conducted right in the year that asexuality started to gain some visibility, so you might expect the number of people identifying as ‘not interested in sex’ to go up as awareness increases. Yet Natsal-2’s numbers are down from the first survey and we’ve no idea what Natsal-3 is like in that regard. Did they go up? Did they drop further? Were they roughly the same as Natsal-2? Is asexuality less prevalent than we first assumed? How does the increased understanding of asexuality (and sexuality as a whole) as a spectrum affect these surveys? We don’t know!

What we do know is that these survey numbers are going to be inaccurate representations of asexuality so long as they maintain the binary divide between asexual/sexual that the researchers are using and the paper never really touches on that. I bring this up largely because, as a demisexual, my experiences have an incredibly and not insignificant amount of overlap with those of asexuals. Yet, if I were to participate in a Natsal survey, my experiences would also lump me in the ‘sexual’ category even though a more detailed look at those experiences places me, quite firmly, in the ‘asexual’ category. The survey just isn’t designed to handle the inclusion of certain experiences with sexual desire, leading to miscategorisation and erasure of these experiences. The paper will acknowledge this eventually once in almost a throw-away sentence later on; I just think it needed to be a larger part of their criticism.

Another thing that these surveys uncovered is that “[a]bsence of sexual attraction was more commonly reported among respondents of Indian and Pakistani ethnic origin, who made up 12.2% men and 23.2% of women without sexual attraction (in contrast to 2.7% and 2.8% of those who experienced sexual attraction).” (Aicken et al., 2013) Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Despite the overwhelming whiteness of asexual communities, especially online, according to surveys white people do not, in fact, make up the largest group of people reporting no sexual attraction. This is where my inability to read the tables effectively was really strong because this is something that the paper will say explicitly a bit later, but what it doesn’t do (because it assumes you can read the tables effectively) is give you the numbers or a sense of the size of the difference.

I’ve already touched on the paper’s finding that asexuals can and do get into relationships and may have kids. The analysis doesn’t really go into how or why asexuals choose to this, but they do acknowledge that there are a variety of reasons and not all of them will be captures by a survey like this. In fact, when it comes to having children, “[o]ne in three men and one in five women with an absence of sexual attraction had children, in contrast to almost half of men and almost two-thirds of women with sexual attraction”.

I bring this up largely because these findings so directly contradict the stereotype of (aromantic) asexuals as robotic or dead or emotionless or, basically, in any way divorced from society. Research, actual academic research, indicates that these stereotypes are nonsense. Okay, fine, research suggests that the majority of asexuals lives their life not according to the social ideal, but my point is that this majority is a lot smaller than the stereotype would have you believe. (And even then it’s still a stereotype that isn’t really bourne out by the surveys, as we’ll see in a little bit.)

Lastly, the research indicates that “more than half of women without sexual attraction agreed or agreed strongly to the statement [that sex is the most important part of any marriage or relationship]”. The survey takes a while to point out that there appears to be no link between this number and sexual coercion, which I think is a bit of an oversight, to put it mildly. Part of that stems from having seen the ways ace-exclusionists deal with the very concept of asexuality and coercion. (It’s basically “You weren’t coerced. Okay, maybe you were, but it wasn’t because you’re asexual. No, not even if the person doing the coercing explicitly says so. It can’t have been because you’re asexual because asexuals can’t be coerced.”) It’s extremely dismissive of people’s experiences, for a start. But, more than that, the paper makes no reference to the way that society exerts pressure on individuals or how deeply entrenched rape culture is in (Western) society and it doesn’t allow the possibility that people are saying they weren’t coerced because certain methods of coercion are so prevalent in society that they don’t register that way. Better sex education, as the paper points out, would go a very long way, especially considering the fact that a lot of this societal-level coercion gets dismissed or assumed as normal and that any change to the status quo means the people challenging it are obsessed with sexuality. Which is how we get bigots telling queer people that their very existence is X-rated (yes, asexuals, even the sex-repulsed and sex-negative ones, get that too) and that including queer characters in children’s media is ‘sexualising children’. (It’s not.) The paper, though, doesn’t really acknowledge that which is one of the larger failings because it’s an area that absolutely requires more research and societal awareness, especially if we want queer (of any letter in the acronym) kids to grow up safe and happy.

After that the paper goes onto discuss some of the (potential) ramifications of research on asexuality and on asexuality research, which it would have been nice to see expanded a little bit. Aicken et al. discuss, very briefly, the way asexuality is ignored in certain areas such as law, but it spends most of its time discussing the relationship between asexuality and disorders. While it doesn’t go into detail, the paper explicitly states that asexuality was medicalised, possibly due to the its relation to disability[3], as well as noting that all the surveys to date agree that asexuality is not inherently problematic for people reporting no sexual attraction. In fact, the surveys all agree that most asexuals seem satisfied with their sex life, although some would like to have more sex. The paper further states that asexuals whose partner is pushing them to get help for their lack of sexual attraction be referred to relationship counselling rather than, say, a sexual health specialist or otherwise seeks help ‘fixing’ their sexual attraction. The paper ends by explicitly telling health professionals not to assume that a lack of sexual attraction is “problematic for the individuals who experience it” because research indicates that this assumption is wrong, and that, likewise, health professionals should not assume that someone who does not experience sexual attraction is not sexually active or incapable of pursuing romantic relationships. It would have been nice to see another note about aromanticism, because it’s very erasive of aromanticism at this point, but honestly this level of detail and nuance is miles above what I was expecting from research before 2016.

 

References

Aicken, Catherine R.H., Catherine H. Mercer and Jackie A. Cassell. “Who reports absence of sexual attraction in Britain? Evidence from national probability surveys.” Carrigan, Mark, Kristina Gupta and Todd G. Morrison. Asexuality and Sexual Normativity: An Anthology. Routledge, 2014. Ebook.

Bogaert, A.F. “Asexuality: Prevalence and associated factors in a national probability sample.” Journal of Sex Research 41 (2004): 279–287.

Deutscher, Guy. Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages. 2010. Ebook.

National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. 2015. Website. 3 January 2019. <http://www.natsal.ac.uk/natsal-3.aspx>.

 

[1] Another common tactic to discredit the word is to bring up negative associations with the person who coined it. They say “The person who coined ‘asexual’ is a homophobe, therefore the entire concept is homophobic and invalid”. Apparently, according to them, only the most pure and virtuous and totally unproblematic people are allowed to coin words. Or something.

[2] If you find it interesting too, Guy Deutscher’s Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages is a pretty nice introduction to the concept of how language and culture shape one another.

[3] And we can see this in the backlash disabled asexuals may face when trying to discuss their experiences as asexuals given the way disability has been desexualised and the way disabled people have fought hard to reclaim a sexual identity in recent years. Whether there is overlap between the ways in which allosexual disabled people lash out against asexual disabled people speaking about their experiences and the ways in which allosexual queer people lash out against asexuals is out of scope of the article and my discussion of it, but I feel it may be something worth exploring.

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Asexuality vs Diagnostic Criteria

Posted January 7, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Hi, everyone! Welcome to the new year! I hope it’s off to a great start for you and yours. Today, I’m introducing a new feature (ish). Or at least an attempt at one: weekly, short personal essays about, well, whatever people would like me to talk about or a random topic I came up with on my own. Comments currently remain disabled on the blog, yes, but you can hop on over to Patreon for now.

These weekly posts are immediately available to everyone and hover somewhere below 2,500 words. I try to keep them under 2,000 words, but sometimes you end up with more anyway. This one is 2,100 words! The next one will have a shiny new standardised intro and such loveliness.

This week’s rambly essay is called “Asexuality vs Diagnostic Criteria”. Also known as “But what the heck do the DSM and ICD actually say about asexuality?” Because the answer to that is slightly complicated and the question comes up… more often than you’d think.

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Week 1 Round-up

Posted January 4, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Goals, News / 0 Comments

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Weekly Accountability

Hi, everyone! It’s that time again! Weekly updates delivered every Friday! This is the first week of the new year, so everything is all messy as I start to notice all the things I wanted or needed to do before January began and… get to play catch-up. To give you an idea of how well my brain is functioning right now, I almost forgot to write this up at all. I have absolutely no goals set up for January. So, um, I guess I’d better get on that.

Completed Projects

  • 9/9 episodes of The Dragon Prince watched

Goal Updates

  • 1/4 discussions of papers in Asexuality and Sexual Normativity
  • 5,036/10,000 words
  • 1/13 books read

Writing Updates

This Week’s Fiction Wordcount: 106 words

This Week’s Non-Fiction Wordcount: 4,930 words

DemiPrincess2: Noooope. I have hit the stumbling block of “Must revise these last chapters” and they require Research. (Look, I could keep writing, but chances are I’ll have to toss 90% of what I’ve written if I do.)

Cursed: Hello, incredibly angry protagonist. I have a prologue-y thing now. WHOOHOO! And then my days got eaten by nonfiction.

Life And Other Such Important Matters

Nope. I’ve got no updates. Nothing. Sorry! Life continues as it has. We’re not big on holidays as a family. I‘m not big on holidays as a person. Believe it or not, but I’m actually really curmudgeony. Okay, maybe I’m not, but the vast majority of my family consists of extraverts who just expect introverts to Suck It Up because who on Earth needs to recharge in the middle of a ParTAY?

They’re nicer people than that makes it sound, I promise. They just aren’t very good at accommodating introverts and I’m terrible at being the only person in the group who needs such.

Stand-out Positive Moment

Hello, verse novel! I was worried about this one because I had only the vaguest of ideas and then I woke up, January 2nd, because angry ranty protagonist narrator. I’ve no idea where exactly this is going other than “Fairytale mash-up? Fairytale mash-up!” The way this will mess up the Fairytale Verses logo is a problem for future!me.

This Week on Patreon

All the Patreon posts from the past week, collected in one neat and tidy list. Posts with an asterisk (*) are Patron-only. Anything else is public and was likely also posted here, but I’m including them for completeness’ sake.

How about you? What have you been up to lately? Has anything awesome happened?

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Let’s Read Academic Asexual Literature

Posted January 2, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, News, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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After some deliberation, I opted to write and post this today as to give people a decent length of advance notice in case anyone wanted to join in.

As many of you know, I have a strong and vested interest in asexual and aromantic literature, whether that’s fiction with ace and/or aro characters or literature about asexuality and aromanticism.

One of the main aspects of my studies is, currently, simply looking at what individual authors have done with asexual representation and what, if any, patterns in representation that we can find in them. (The latter resulted in an 8,500 word essay examining tropes.) Asexual and aromantic studies are, to my knowledge, incredibly new, so I’m going slowly, making sure that I, well, study the trees before I really start looking at the forest. (It’d be remiss of me not to point out that asexual and aromantic studies are a subset of queer studies as a whole. They are.)

Anyway, one thing that I really want to do – partially inspired by the reception tweeting my initial reactions to Asexualities and partially by fellow Patron creator Sandstone‘s literary work – is share more of that reading with you all.

Which means that I’ve found something to fill up my Wednesday posting slot! At least for a good chunk of the year: I’ll be reading and discussing or commenting on nonfiction relating to asexuality and/or aromanticism. Mostly the former, admittedly. This means I’ll be rereading or revisiting nonfiction I’ve read too.

As with the livereacts I’ve been doing last year, the first post for each book will be publicly available to everyone and the later chapter will be available to Patrons only. I’ll also be commenting on the articles and books as I go on Discord, so Patrons of $5+ can join in with the discussion of specific points or not as they please. That said, due to my erratic scheduling in offline life, they will not be regular or announced with much warning. I’d like to think the fact that they’re books and cover nonfiction topics makes them more accessible than the livereacts were.

What does that mean in concrete terms? Well, the very first book I want to read for this is Asexuality and Sexual Normativity: An Anthology edited by Mark Carrigan, Kristina Gupta and Todd G. Morrison. This anthology was originally published as a special edition of Psychology and Sexuality. The book was published by Routledge in 2013. The special edition comes from 2011.

That means the articles in this anthology are already somewhat older compared to our understanding of asexuality and aromanticism today. Which I’ll cover in more detail in the discussion of the introduction because I have things to say. Unless I forgot them in which case I had things to say. I’ll be reading through and commenting on one article per week on, as mentioned, Wednesdays.

If you’re wondering why I’m not starting with Anthony Bogaert’s Understanding Asexuality, that’s partially because I don’t have a copy and largely because I’m honestly more interested in what people did after that book was published, but I do want to read and discuss it at some point.

I mean, at present it’s one of three academically published books about asexuality. Oh, don’t get me wrong! There are more nonfiction books about asexuality – The Invisible Orientation by Julie Sondra Decker springs to mind as an excellent introductory resource – but they’re more popscience than academic.

After reading Asexuality and Sexual Normativity, I’m not sure. I just know I want to start with that one because it’ll allow me to build a stronger nonfiction list of works cited when working on my own essays.

To that effect, I’d like to share some papers and titles I’ve got access to that may be of interest. If it’s marked with an asterisk I’ve read it before. (Note: This is not all that’s out there. This is what I have access to right now.)

Books

  • Asexuality and Sexual Normativity
  • Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives
  • The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality *
  • All About Demisexuality *
  • Demisexuality and the Asexuality Spectrum *

Papers

Aaaand that’s it so far, but that should easily keep my occupied for… at least half a year? I mean the first book I’m reading is going to take me three months to get through at this pace. That said, please please if you have suggestions for things I could read, throw them at me because I keep getting lost in rather a lot of articles about asexual reproduction in biology which is, um, not what I’m looking for. (Yes, even when I narrow it down to literary articles.) And I’d rather know an article exists (and can’t afford it) than not know it exists at all.

Anyway, that’s the current plan! Starting next week, January 9th 2019, Wednesdays are Talk About Asexuality And Aromanticism In Nonfiction Days until I run out of material to talk about.

Come join me. It’ll be fun. 😀

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Plans for 2019

Posted January 1, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Goals / 0 Comments

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As it’s the new year, let’s take a look at all the things I’m expecting to do and accomplish! It’s only the first, so I have no idea what 2019 has in store for anyone yet, so here is my ridiculously optimistic look at what I’m hoping this year will bring and what I’ll be working towards.

Fiction

  • DemiPrincess 2 & 3: Completed drafts (ideally all the way to publication, but we’ll see)
  • RibbonDancer: Final revision and then hopefully a sale
  • 12 stories/vignettes/poems for 2020 patrons
  • Another verse novel in Fairytale Verses
  • Short vignettes about established characters (throw ideas at me! I love ideas!)
  • Whatever else my brain throws at me

Nonfiction

  • 52 short, personal essays about writing and related or anything else people have questions about specifically
  • Publishing that State of Ace Rep in Tradpub SFF I’ve been talking about in 2018 (eeeeee!)
  • Analysis of the ace rep in Chameleon Moon
  • Anything else that comes up? I’m keeping it fairly light
  • Discussions of some of the academic papers I found about asexuality in media

Audio/Video

  • Dependent on the EU not being ridiculous about copyright laws: More Let’s Plays! I have fun with those (and they take up less time than you think)
  • More Lynn Reads. Ideally I’d like to get one short story read per month.
  • More Lynn Reacts! Just… not in this format because this format isn’t working for anyone.

The videos are kind of on hold until I get my reading list sorted out. Then I can set up a series of ‘lecture’ videos about ace rep in SFF fiction and pretend I’m teaching a lecture-heavy course on it!

I think that about covers it? What about you? Do you have any specific 2019-related plans?

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