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’

No longer yours

This is far from a new idea–I’ve seen it expressed several times–but now I’m experiencing it myself and I’m going to reflect on it.

When you write a book, get it published, and release it into the wild, it becomes no longer yours.

That may sound like an obvious statement, but the nuances are a little more complex. You know when your work is published that people you don’t know and will never meet are now hearing your words in their heads. You know you’ve made them think about things they wouldn’t have thought if you hadn’t thought them first and written them down. You know your work gets its wings and flies to places you’ve never been, carrying ideas in its wake, spreading messages far and wide.

But what’s really interesting about it is seeing people treating it like it’s . . . well, something other than your weird little baby. Reacting to it like it’s public property–because it is. Reviewing it positively and discussing its potential influence on academic mattersPosting quotes from it that they found inspirational and getting hundreds of people to share them with others. Getting excited because their copy arrived and taking pictures of it to blog and tweet. Seeing it criticized and seeing others get my backRecommending it to people to help understand themselves and each other. Telling personal stories about why my book is important to them.

It’s mine, but it’s not just mine anymore.

The book has become part of the conversation. Part of the world. Part of the fabric of existence as we go on from here. It’s something others can access to inform their lives, and it’s something that is now being casually recommended to strangers by other strangers so they can understand an experience we’ve all had. These people have oftentimes paid money for the privilege of letting me “talk” to them for an appreciable length of time. My words were taken seriously, digested, enjoyed, passed on. They are being read now. They will continue to be in the future.

And for many of the people who read it, who I am as a person isn’t actually important. So many readers absorb the content of a book without even thinking about the person who wrote it, without thinking about why they wrote it, without trying to connect to that person (even though they’ve done so in a pretty intimate way if you ask us). The way they think of us sometimes, if they don’t know us in person or online, is just as content generators–a disembodied set of words and opinions that made a thing and sold the thing.

I like that.

No, not because I like being dehumanized or separated from my content, or because I don’t like when people DO try to connect personally (because I do like that), but because now they don’t have to know me to hear my words. They don’t have to be part of my world for me to be part of theirs.

It’s a good feeling.

Interview: Marie Claire UK

Marie Claire UK did an interview with me and a few other asexual people for its December 2014 issue. You can choose your platform and download it for a small fee here (make sure to get December 2014).

theasexualsBecause it is a for-sale magazine and there is no online companion, I can’t show you the whole thing, but here is my quote:

marieclaireukI was interviewed through e-mail, so I was surprised that several of my quotes didn’t get what I said correct.

Their version:

Describing herself as aromantic, Julie was 15 when she realized she was asexual. ‘There was no asexual community at the time, but I knew sex was interesting to everyone but me. When AVEN was established, I began using the term asexual instead to connect myself to a community.’

This quote implies that I used to call myself “aromantic” BUT HAVE NOW “switched” to using “asexual” because of AVEN. That’s incredibly misleading because I use both terms NOW and did not claim to use “aromantic” as a teen. Asexuality and aromanticism are not necessarily related. When I described using the word  “asexual” instead, was describing my switch from the word “nonsexual,” which I always used before there was a community that preferred “asexual.”

Here is my original statement:

I identify as an asexual aromantic woman—”aromantic” meaning I also don’t feel romantic attraction. Romantic orientation is separate from sexual orientation for a great many asexual people, and some do want romantic relationships even if sexual attraction doesn’t develop for them.

This is the only place I mention “aromantic” in my set of answers, so how it got conflated for the term I switched to “instead” is beyond me.

My original response, on using “nonsexual” as a term:

I was about fifteen years old when I started calling myself “nonsexual.” There was no asexual community at the time, but I knew sex was very interesting to everyone but me, and it seemed like enough of a difference to have to call it something. When the Asexual Visibility and Education Network was established by David Jay in the early 2000s, I began using the term “asexual” instead to connect myself to the community and visibility efforts.

So you see how that really was not unclear. I don’t know how it became so in the article.

Also, they tweaked my words at one point. The interviewer asked me about dating and dating sites for asexual people. I discussed mixed-orientation dating a bit after explaining why it’s rare for asexual people to be able to date other asexual people. I wrote this:

There are resources for these mixed-orientation relationships, but every partnership is different. Even in non-asexual couples, there’s usually a difference of desire and opinion on how often and in what ways to have sex, so asexual people aren’t honestly that different, and some may be okay with having sex even if they don’t have the usual accompanying sexual attraction. Some relationships that include an asexual person have special arrangements in which they emphasize other forms of intimacy, or they may have a non-monogamous relationship, like an open marriage or a polyamorous group situation.

That was rewritten to this in the magazine:

As Julie explains, ‘Every partnership is different. Even among sexual couples, there’s usually a difference of desire, and some asexuals can be OK with having sex, even if they don’t desire to. Other relationships that include an asexual person have special arrangements in which there are other forms of intimacy, or they may choose to have a non-monogamous relationship.’

I don’t think this is necessarily a poor choice for simplifying, shortening, and summing up my response (though it lacks some nuance), but for the record, I didn’t call any couples “sexual couples.”

This is not incredibly egregious, considering how wrong many journalists have gotten it over the years, but it does really irk me that “aromantic” is represented as something I used to call myself before I found the word “asexual.” Many aromantic people are very much NOT fans of having our romantic and sexual orientations conflated. I was also assigned words I never said a couple times wherein I referred to asexual people as “asexuals,” and while I don’t object to this language, I prefer not to use it as a noun form, though I do use “aces.”

Still, I appreciated that in a popular, mainstream magazine, the article didn’t drag in some “sexpert” for “balance” to ramble about how we’re probably just refusing to face our sicknesses and trying to make an orientation out of our fear.

Note: There are also some statements in the article that could be taken as sex-shaming or promiscuity-shaming.

 

Interview: Sexperts

I was interviewed about asexuality on Dr. Limor Blockman’s podcast Sexperts—which is a Playboy-affiliated podcast just so you know.

This is the direct link to the download of my interview.

My interview starts after a commercial at about 41:00—forty-one minutes in. I stress that anyone who for any reason does not want to listen to very explicit content should please make an effort to skip right to my interview, because the person who is interviewed right before me is discussing some kink situations (including BDSM, sadism specifically), and there’s a lot of sexually explicit detail. (If that’s your thing, listen to that too! 😉 )

If you’d rather listen in the browser and/or not download the content, I think you can get it here:

Sexperts Episode 32: Different Strokes

The interview with me is brief, but the interviewer knows how to ask open questions and didn’t confront me with any ignorance (though there were a couple phrases about “choice” that I think were not the best choice of words).