Sexual Supremacy: a post currently under construction

N.B. This is a post for which I’ve changed some of my positions. I do not use the term “sexual supremacy” anymore, and I do not use the word “sexual” to refer to people who experience sexual attraction to others. I now say “allosexism” (or “consexism”) to refer to the ideology of anti-asexual-spectrum prejudice and “allosexual” (or “consexual”) to mean a person who experiences sexual attraction. I no longer take the position that allosexual privilege exists, and favor models other than privilege/disprivilege to explain the mechanisms of allosexism.

(Notes: I am an asexual person who occasionally desires sexual activity. My reasons for desiring sexual activity have nothing to do with sexual or romantic attraction, as I experience neither of those things. Asexual people are all different: some of us like sex, some of us never ever want to have it, and some of us will have sex but with a sense of indifference. I focus particularly on asexual people who do not desire sex in this post.)

So apparently some non-asexual people on Tumblr deny the existence of sexual supremacy. And when I point out that sexual supremacy, t has intersections with rape culture, shits are flipped. Rape culture has intersections with any marginalized status, including but not limited to being trans*, having a disability, being perceived as a woman, and being asexual. Rape culture affects everyone, but rape disproportionately affects persons who have at least one marginalized status.

[Trigger warning: Discussion of rape statistics and corrective rape]

The rate of sexual abuse and assault committed against trans women is 50% (meaning 50% of all trans women will experience a sexual assault at least once in their lives). The rate of sexual abuse and assault committed against cis women is somewhere between 25% and 30%. There are currently no existing statistics about sexual abuse and assault committed against asexual people, but there are countless posts on AVEN written by asexual people whose partners have pressured them into sex, and I have no doubt that the corrective rape that happens against lesbians also happens against asexual people perceived as women.

[End of potentially triggering content]

One manner transmisogyny manifests is through rape culture. One manner misogyny manifests is through rape culture. Rape culture also disproportionately affects asexual people (all else held equal), in addition to the other groups mentioned. Rape culture is not the same thing as sexual supremacy, but one manner sexual supremacy manifests is through rape culture.

A common argument against the existence of sexual supremacy is that mainstream Christian religions totally support asexuality. I won’t speak about something for which I have so little information, but from examining this thread on AVEN, it would be an inappropriate generalization to say that all forms of Christianity are accepting of asexuality, especially because 1 Cor 7:1-6 has been used as a statement against asexual people who desire marriage (see the above thread). In Catholicism, the Christian faith I am most familiar with due to being raised as Catholic, you are expected either to marry (heterosexually) and have children, or remain celibate for the rest of your life out of devotion to your faith—there is no space to be an asexual person in Catholicism if you do not desire to have children, or if you do not desire to become a member of a religious order. In following Catholicism in accordance with its highest authorities, if you don’t experience sexual desire, or experience the “wrong” kinds of sexual desire, there is no space for you.

Another manifestation of sexual supremacy is the pathologization of lack of desire for sex and of lack of experiencing sexual attraction, seen in the DSM diagnoses of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder and Sexual Arousal Disorder, two disorders in the DSM-IV which have symptom lists so broad that they include people who do not see their lack of conventional frequency and intensity of sexual attraction/fantasies as inherently disordered. Those two diagnoses frame lack of sexual attraction by itself as inherently disordered.

All else held equal, asexual people are maginalized compared to people who experience sexual attraction. That means: if comparisons are to be made, take any person in the world who experiences sexual attraction, and compare that person to a person who is exactly the same other than not experiencing sexual attraction. It is impossible—and if it were possible, it would be useless—to (as an example) compare heteroromantic asexual people to homoromantic people who experience sexual attraction, in defense of any conclusion.

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Talia C. Johnson

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