Reconsidering Asexuality and Its Radical Potential

In this paper, I discuss safe asexuality definitions and why their deployment is a feminist issue. I refers to the definition of asexuality (i.e., never having experienced sexual attraction) in order to illustrate this widespread phenomenon. I explore what makes this definition of asexuality "safe" in the context of the psychiatric diagnosis of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) and the pervasive cultural assumption that being sexual is better than being asexual. Deconstructing the false binary contrasting the lifelong, happy asexual against the unhappy HSDD sufferer, I demonstrate asexual experiences that normatively remain unacknowledged. Regarding treatment for HSDD, I argue that it matters why low sexual desire is distressing: when intolerance and social exclusion make people unhappy, the context is what needs to change. Finally I contemplate the emerging ideal of the "real asexual" in the current context, situating this within a broader cultural agenda. These considerations have implications for constructions of women's sexuality and social expectations policing women's (hetero/sexual) desires. Real social change requires challenging the hierarchical assumptions that predicate "safe" definitions of asexuality and the social acceptance of "real" asexuals.