THE INVISIBLE ORIENTATION: An Introduction to Asexuality
The Invisible Orientation is my nonfiction project about the lesser-known orientation of asexuality. It attempts to shed light on the struggles and experiences of the approximate 1% of the population who lack sexual attraction or sexual inclination toward others, providing information, resources, and tips for both asexual people and those who want to understand them.
Status: Published September 2, 2014 by Skyhorse Publishing/Carrel Books. (Sold November 20, 2013 by my agent Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger.)
Length: 70,000 words / 200 pages.
- Lambda Literary Award 2014 Finalist in LGBT Nonfiction.
- Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award 2014 Finalist in Family & Relationships.
- Independent Publisher Book Awards 2015 (IPPY) Silver Medal in Sexuality/Relationships.
- Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2015 Winner in LGBT.
Hardcover: ISBN-10: 1631440020 / ISBN-13: 978-1631440021
Paperback: ISBN-10: 1634502434 /
Kindle: ASIN: B00MSYUXOO
Audio: ASIN: B00MR9SJJG
Buy: [Amazon] [Audible (audio book)] [Barnes & Noble] [Bol] [Book Depository (USA)] [Book Depository (UK)] [Books-A-Million] [Fishpond (Australia)] [IndieBound] [Powell’s] [Skyhorse (my publisher)] [Walmart]
Get an autographed bookplate or electronic autograph: [Autograph Page]
What if you weren’t sexually attracted to anyone?
A growing number of people are identifying as asexual. They aren’t sexually attracted to anyone, and they consider it a sexual orientation—like gay, straight, or bisexual.
Asexuality is the invisible orientation. Most people believe that “everyone” wants sex, that “everyone” understands what it means to be attracted to other people, and that “everyone” wants to date and mate. But that’s where asexual people are left out—they don’t find other people sexually attractive, and if and when they say so, they are very rarely treated as though that’s okay.
When an asexual person comes out, alarming reactions regularly follow; loved ones fear that an asexual person is sick, or psychologically warped, or suffering from abuse. Critics confront asexual people with accusations of following a fad, hiding homosexuality, or making excuses for romantic failures. And all of this contributes to a discouraging master narrative: there is no such thing as “asexual.” Being an asexual person is a lie or an illness, and it needs to be fixed.
In The Invisible Orientation, Julie Sondra Decker outlines what asexuality is, counters misconceptions, provides resources, and puts asexual people’s experiences in context as they move through a very sexualized world. It includes information for asexual people to help understand their orientation and what it means for their relationships, as well as tips and facts for those who want to understand their asexual friends and loved ones.
This title is an important resource for readers of any age who are struggling to understand their sexual orientation, or those who would like to better understand asexuality.
—Mary Ann Hughes, Library Journal Starred Review, full review here
I’ll admit it: I used to think asexuality was not real. I couldn’t wrap my head around the concept—sex is a huge part of my life, so how could it be insignificant to someone else? Boy, was I ignorant! This book is a comprehensive learning tool for those who are asexual, as well as those who are asexual curious. Advocating respect, this rare and precious resource will open your eyes and set the record straight in a clear and straightforward manner. Prepare to have your mind blown!
This book shines a much-needed light on an experience that’s far more common than most people realize. Julie Decker brings together the many different voices and stories of asexual people, presents lots of valuable information, and offers helpful insight about how non-asexual people can be supportive. If you or someone you know is or might be asexual, read this book. And if you’re a sexuality or relationship professional, read this book. Asexuality is part of the sexuality spectrum and you need The Invisible Orientation on your shelves.
—Charlie Glickman, PhD, certified sexological bodyworker
This is a long overdue book, offering the general purpose introduction to the subject which has heretofore been lacking. It is an essential addition to any academic reading list that encompasses asexuality and should be required reading for any therapists with an interest in sexuality. It provides a sense of what it is like to be asexual that can sometimes be missing from academic work and engages with the literature while nonetheless refusing to be constrained by it. It is also immensely readable, providing an authoritative overview that sign posts the reader who is keen to explore further. I can’t recommend The Invisible Orientation highly enough and hope it has a wide readership. Given how effectively it critiques the myths surrounding asexuality, helping those who are not asexual themselves better understand something that can at first be deeply confusing, it is a book with the potential to make a positive difference to many people’s lives and help combat what the author describes as the ‘insidious form of exclusion’ which asexual people continue to experience.
This fascinating book will make more space for thoughtful understanding of sexual diversity and desire and help us understand just how variable human sexuality really is. For sex educators, therapists and scholars, it’s a must-read. For asexual people (or the ‘A-questioning’), who are so frequently invisibilized and disrespected, it may well offer the kind of succor, support, and information that every person—across the sex, gender, and partnering spectra—deserves.
Do you have questions about asexuality? Finally, you have answers. Asexuality is an orientation that is routinely invalidated, despite the fact that it is as real as the ground we all stand on. This book is for everyone, most especially those identifying or questioning identity as asexual, but also for the partners, friends and family of asexual people, and yes, the curious onlookers who think asexuality is weird, a choice, or somehow can’t have relationships. Nothing is further form the truth, and this book is your guide to exploring, understanding, enjoying and finding love, intimacy and pleasure in asexuality.
Asexual people have been treated as children for too long, routinely dismissed and living in a world where they’re constantly subjected to having the conversations about their own identities taken away from them. Finally, there is a solid resource with which asexual people can point to when facing questions from the ordinary to the extreme: The Invisible Orientation puts to rest the painful misconceptions that asexuality is a choice, or worse a symptom of something “wrong.”
The state of asexual understanding today is painfully reminiscent of the misconceptions, confusion and anger once reserved for the struggle to understand lesbian and gay identity and sexuality. Imagine going through life telling people you’re straight, lesbian, gay or bisexual and having no one believe you — or worse, telling you that your identity doesn’t even exist, and if they acknowledge it does, it is something that needs to be “fixed.” The Invisible Orientation demystifies the common misconceptions that asexual people are broken, or that their orientation is the result of sexual abuse or trauma.
In today’s world, asexual people are ignored, misunderstood, dismissed and silenced. To the (sometimes life-saving) relief of everyone touched by asexuality, this book is a bedrock of proof that asexuality is an orientation, and not a decision — or worse, a symptom. Warm and thorough, The Invisible Orientation shines a light on asexuality throughout all stages of life, and acts as a positive guide for navigating successful relationships of all kinds, and with all genders and orientations.
—Violet Blue, award-winning sex author and columnist, author of Tiny Nibbles
[T]his is a pretty awesome book for acknowledging the sheer breadth of human experience. It acknowledges all sorts of levels of interest in sex and romance, all sorts of orientations on the spectrum of attraction. […] It can be a means of finding information, whether you’re asexual or not; it can also be a means of finding validation, of finding a measured and sensible voice telling you that there’s nothing wrong with you, you’re not strange, there are people out there like you.
I had never heard of asexuality before, and it was like walking into a dark room and turning on the light switch. Everything she said resonated with me. And it was just so wonderful to finally understand what was going on with me. So it was through education that I finally understood myself. And that’s why we need this book. Because we need to understand not only ourselves, but every orientation on the sexual spectrum.
—Davy Dave, in a video review of the book
Overall, this book is excellent. It is pretty much everything you could want from a 101 asexuality book. It’s easy to read, it’s well-organized, it has so much information, and it would be equally appropriate to hand to your professor, your partner, your parent, and your questioning best friend.
Overall, this is an excellent resource and introduction to asexuality. I’m really excited about seeing it used in the future, and I would recommend it to anyone who finds they want to introduce people to asexuality without having to personally do 101 for them.
This book is a fantastic resource for those of us who are asexual, and for people who are close to asexual people.
I powered through this book in two days, and was crying within ten pages from the profound sense of relief and support this book provides. It lists out what asexuality is, how we might have relationships of varying natures, the problems we face, how questioning people might determine if they’re ace, and how people close to aces can support us. It’s written in layman’s terms with a ton of external resources, very well-sourced, and easy-to-navigate sections.
1000% worth checking out.
I’ve come away from the book feeling much more sure (and positive) about calling myself asexual: somewhere in the nuanced and complex set of terms for self-concepts outside the “allosexual” (that is, non-asexual) range is one that fits me. Did it fit me every single day of my life? No. It’s not a perfect match for my whole history. But I’m now willing to consider that the preponderance of evidence supports my decision to identity as ace. It’s pretty liberating.
I found this part quite empowering actually. She goes on to say that she decided after the failure of her second relationship that she was non – sexual (hadn’t heard the term asexual yet), and was determined to own her own feelings and let HER tell how she felt and not others. This part was so empowering and great to read! And someone who would’ve been so young at the time, I find even more inspiring.
This is, admittedly, the only book I’ve read on asexuality, so I can’t say for certain, but I honestly can’t imagine a better one. It came to me at the perfect time, erasing so much stress from my life within a week simply by allowing me to see, in someone else’s words and experience, all the things I’ve been struggling to reconcile. This is a fantastic resource for those who are asexual and those are who curious about asexuality, anyone who’s got questions about themselves or others, and I highly recommend it to anyone seeking answers about the issue.
—Bibliotropic, full review of the book 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.
—Rocco Sansone, full review of the book here
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.
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.
Der Schreibstil ist durchweg sachlich und freundlich; wenn gegensätzliche Erfahrungen / Empfindungen besprochen werden (z.B. im Falle von Beziehungen zwischen Asexuellen und nicht Asexuellen), erfolgt keine Wertung, stattdessen wird stets betont, dass alle den gleichen Respekt verdienen. [English translation: The writing style is consistently objective and friendly; when contrasting experiences / feelings are discussed (e.g., in the case of relations between asexual and not asexual), will not be scored, but instead it is always stressed that all deserve the same respect.]
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.
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.
—Elizabeth Leuw, Prismatic Entanglements, full review of the book here
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.
—Ian Wood, Novellum, full review of the book here
Clinicians may be able to recommend this book to self-identified asexual people, or those who have not yet self-labeled but exhibit little or no sexual interest in others and/or are questioning their sexual attractions to others. It is a straightforwardly written book and one that defines its terms clearly, so it could be recommended to a range of clients, including those without much background in science or clinical terminology.
—Romeo Vitelli, Providentia, full review of the book here
I didn’t learn much from this book, but that is because I’ve been immersed in learning about asexuality and awareness for more than two years now. It’s a lot to take in, but Decker keeps this in mind as she explains the various 101 aspects and terms used in the community. The writing itself had a patient, teaching tone that I think would be very helpful for someone who starts reading this without any knowledge of asexuality.
One of the best things about this book is the quotes from other asexual activists and bloggers interspersed throughout. Decker uses some of her experiences in some parts of the chapters, but the quotes help tie certain explanations together. There are so many voices in the community and each person experiences something different, which is important to show in an introductory book.
—Frances, bitter 20-something, full review of the book here
I mean, for a long, long time I just felt like a failure, because I didn’t know that asexuality was a thing, and thus I just thought I was a broken heterosexual. And even when I did know that asexuality was an option I thought it meant something different. So seeing a book like this in the market pleases me immensely.
(I mean, it would have been nice could I have read it years ago and saved myself a fair bit of personal anguish, but what can you do.)
—Jesse O Heiman, Excuse the Quality, full review of the book here (at the bottom)