Podcast discussion: The Invisible Orientation

My book was the subject of an in-depth discussion on the Friday Night Lip Service podcast. Friday Night Lip Service is described as “An amazing group of talented queer women who are driven to make the world a better, happier and more peaceful place via the magic of radio.” Sometimes they discuss books, and mine was their selection for this episode.

This was recorded some time back but was only recently made available in this format.

The discussion:

#51 Lip Readings: The Invisible Orientation

Asexual host Daria as well as non-asexual hosts Nicky and Nida primarily focus on the chapter of my book that covers non-asexual allies. It was a lovely, positive discussion with some humor and plenty of personal experience sharing.

Review (Novellum): The Invisible Orientation

Ian Wood of Novellum has posted an entirely negative review of The Invisible Orientation. In part, it reads as follows:

I am completely open to the possibility that this is an orientation rather than a condition. The problem for me was that this author comprehensively failed to make her case. I started in on this book hoping to learn something about his topic and I finished it (well, finished half of it before I gave up on it!) precisely as uninformed at the end as I had been at the beginning – or perhaps more accurately, no more informed than I was before I read it, and worse, no more convinced.

One problem with it was that is was one of the driest tomes I have ever laid eyes on. It was like reading a scientific paper, but without any science in it, leaving only stilted semi-scientific language, but with no vigorously beating heart of solid science underlying it. There were quotations, and references, and definitions galore, but nothing from scientific research. Almost worse than that for a book of this nature, it had absolutely no personal accounts whatsoever, not even that of the author! Not in the portion I read anyway. I think I would have learned a lot more, and empathized a lot more if I could have heard from people who experience this phenomenon/condition/orientation, and been able to read their input.

Though I don’t think it’s dignified or professional to argue with reviews, I do think it’s irresponsible for folks like this to claim “the book has absolutely no [x] whatsoever” while admitting to having read only parts of it. Especially since the book opens with personal content; the introduction is the only explicitly autobiographical section, though. I didn’t want the book to seem like a personal account; there are plenty of those on the Internet on asexuality blogs, so I only included a little bit of autobiographical info for context. The aforementioned “quotations” are also all other people’s personal content through box-quote anecdotes, which many other readers said they found really relatable and humanizing.

This fellow also mocked some data tables’ failure to total 100% of people surveyed, so it looks like he didn’t quite grasp what they were measuring. The tables were labeled to indicate that survey participants were allowed to pick more than one answer, which of course means numbers aren’t being represented as mutually exclusive parts of the whole. He asserts that this is confusing and contradictory, but I haven’t run across any other reviewers who were confused and said so. Hopefully that wasn’t the impression other readers got.

For the record, I don’t mind negative reviews at all. If someone doesn’t like a book or finds it too boring to read all of, that just means I didn’t satisfy that person’s taste; I know not everyone will find my tone engaging. And I know some people will complain that it’s not what they wanted (for example, some people’s reviews have said they wanted more personal content, while others said they wanted it to be more academic). But I do find it disappointing when someone misrepresents my book as failing to contain information it does contain, suggests that its numbers not adding up makes its message laughable or questionable, or throws out various “zinger” questions that they present as unanswered/unanswerable (“If a person is asexual, why are they identifying with any sexually-oriented group? The author doesn’t tackle this”), even though they are explicitly addressed (perhaps in the parts that the reviewer readily admits to not reading).

Folks who wonder if this reviewer is right about my total lack of scientific support are welcome to read any of the slightly more than two dozen scientific and academic papers I quoted (with footnotes) and listed in the bibliography. It is admittedly not a “scientific” or “academic” book; those exist already, while a layperson’s guide did not.

For anyone who mistook my book as universally beloved, you should know that this fellow and a small but not insignificant group of one-star reviewers do exist. 🙂

Please read the full review on Novellum.

Review (Prismatic Entanglements): The Invisible Orientation

Elizabeth of Prismatic Entanglements has offered a thoughtful, comprehensive, gently critical review for The Invisible Orientation.

An excerpt:

This is the Asexuality 101 book. It’s for laypersons, but I think it should also be required reading for professionals looking to better serve their asexual clients. It’s a starting point for real understanding, and one that outsiders looking in just can’t provide.

Books are prone to becoming quickly outdated as societal understanding deepens, and even less than a year after its release, there are already some passages beginning to show their age. But that’s more about how fast our high-level community discourse moves! On that level, it makes sense to forgive the subtle nuances rooted in older discussions. Here, we find the community’s foundation, preserved by someone who has been part of it much longer than most of us.

On such solid ground, we can now take steps toward further progress.

Please read the full review on Prismatic Entanglements here.

Review (Evening Assam): The Invisible Orientation

Evening Assam, Morning Pu-Er gave me a really nice review for my book on Tumblr. An excerpt:

More than anything this book arms the reader with the vocabulary, and confidence, to start in depth discussion and exploration of their (or their loved one’s) asexuality.  I can think of no better place to start.

The writing manages to be simple and clear without ever patronizing, even when addressing all manner of different groups.  Decker maps out an impressive understanding of those identifying on the asexual spectrum that gives context desperately needed for such an underrepresented topic.

Read the whole review on the blog post!


Review (An Un-Calibrated Centrifuge): The Invisible Orientation

A lovely post about asexuality books by a blogger named Alison has been posted. Alison lists three books on asexuality and discusses their contents briefly, naming mine the favorite. I’m so flattered!

Read the compare and contrast:

Three Books on Asexuality: An Un-Calibrated Centrifuge

Of the three books on Asexuality that I’ve read this year, this one was my favorite. It’s written in very clear, accessible language. It covers a variety of topics and issues. It’s a great starting point for anyone looking to learn more about asexuality.

The book covers Asexuality 101, asexual experiences (this section is very inclusive), myths of asexuality, a section specifically for asexual people (and any questioning people), and friends/family/acquaintances of asexual people. And I haven’t checked them all out yet, but the resources at the end of the book look great.

Review (Ace, Ace, Baby): The Invisible Orientation

One of the bloggers who received a review copy of my book from my publisher decided to share some thoughts on it, and they’re lovely. A full enthusiastic review is posted here on the Ace, Ace, Baby Tumblr.

An excerpt:

I honestly could not think of a better person to write this book and I’m so glad something like this exists. The book covers historical studies, and the differences between things you might not even realize should be separated. Decker’s skills as a writer also show when it comes to how well versed and organized this book is.


Review (Review Fix): The Invisible Orientation

A nice review of The Invisible Orientation has appeared on the eclectic site Review Fix, where I had an interview posted previously. Rocco Sansone offers his recommendation of the book and discusses its content.

Read the review here!

The point of the book, according to Decker in the book’s introduction, is to talk about asexuality in layman’s terms. Decker accomplishes this feat perfectly. The book is written in a way that is concise, informative and easy to understand. There are some vocabulary words that she does introduce (aromantic, polyamory) but she manages to explain them in full detail without sounding like the typical boring scientist or confusing you.


Review (Bibliotropic): The Invisible Orientation

I got a lovely review from Ria at the book review site Bibliotropic.

Read it here:

The Invisible Orientation, by Julie Sondra Decker

I received a top rating of “five teacups” (or if you have bad eyes like me, they kinda look like pies, which I would also happily accept), and the reviewer said some very nice things about the book. A short excerpt (though you should read the whole thing, really):

Aside from being an amazing resource that gives clarity to many issues (“If someone has sex can they still call themselves asexual?” “What if I still have sexual attraction to people but it’s really low and not that important?”), this book gave me words to properly describe so many things that I’ve felt but didn’t have any idea how to express. I’ve known I’m asexual for some time, but how do I defend that against people who can rightly say, “Your experiences with sex weren’t that great, and your hormones were messed up at a key time of your development, and you did experience abuse as a child,” and that all leads them to the ‘reason’ I’m asexual. Those statements may all be true, and I can’t deny them, but every time someone brought that up, I didn’t have the right words to say why that all felt wrong, that they didn’t cause my orientation any more than an overbearing mother caused a man to be gay. I’d get frustrated and angry at my inability to express what I felt. Now, I have the words to say it all, and there is no end to the amount that I’m grateful for that.

Featured and Quoted: Washington Post

The Washington Post had a lovely people-centered piece about asexuality this week, and I was one of the folks they spoke to for the feature. I only have a short quote and a book plug, but it’s a very nice humanizing piece about asexual people discovering identity.

Please read it here:

Asexuals seek to raise awareness of the ‘invisible orientation’