Landscape organizes everything within sight.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Asexual Revolution

Want to know where identity politics is taking us? Consider this.

In the last month or so I've begun to notice articles and interviews about "asexual" lifestyles. 10% of the population, they claim, have no sexual feelings for anyone of either gender at any time.

Asexuals get together to bond over their identity. Google "asexuality" and find groups who schedule meetings and conferences.

Now this throws a ratchet in the rest of identity politics. If asexuals exist by nature, they form a group naturally allied to traditionalist concerns about the inundation of the media by sexual messages. Asexuals interviewed in the articles complain about being overwhelmed by intercourse, horniness, and ribaldry in popular songs, movies, and magazines. Suddenly not being horny is political. More than that, it's cool.

Asexuals have the chance to cause trouble for cultural theory in another, more complicated way, too. Gender theorists have been claiming "Boston marriages" for the side of repressed homosexual subcultures these past thirty years. What if asexuality is granted a stake as a legitimate identity expressed over time? Sexual studies have benefited by being able to read the absence of heteronormatiity as probably homosexuality, but no more. In effect, studies with an asexual slant could do a lot of damage to inflated claims, the moment conservatives leap.

The original rationale for a celibate priesthood, remember, was predicated on Paul's assertion that some people are naturally created as eunuchs. Some, he conceded, aren't. That single observation -- the first half, minus the concession -- was generalized into an excuse for a thousand years of sexual repression in the West.

Incidentally. The Yahoo! directory site calls up margin ads for Jewish culture groups.


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