Asexuality and Disability Seminar (University of Glasgow)

The Gender and Sexualities Forum invites you to its next event:

Two Papers Addressing Asexuality and Disability

Weds 7th May, 3.30-5pm, University of Glasgow, Boyd Orr 709, University Avenue, Glasgow


Karen Cuthbert (Sociology, Glasgow)

‘You have to be normal to be abnormal’: the intersection of asexuality and disability
Recent studies of asexuality have focussed on how individuals come to identify as asexual. It can be argued, however, that this research assumes a disembodied subject who is ‘free’ to claim an asexual self-identity. This paper complicates this by introducing a consideration of intersectionality into asexuality research, focusing specifically on the ways in which asexuality is imbricated with disability.  Drawing on qualitative research with asexual-identified disabled persons, it examines how coming to identify as asexual is constrained when one is marked as ‘disabled’. The paper will also discuss the ways in which the asexual community itself is normatively constructed. Although figured as disabled-friendly, this is conditioned on the denial of any causal links between asexuality and disability. I discuss how this leads to the construction of the ‘gold star asexual’. However, I will also argue that the idea of ‘asexuality-as-transgressive’, dominant in the academic literature, also has a normative effect.


Matt Dawson (Sociology, Glasgow)

Rethinking asexuality: a Symbolic Interactionist account
Based upon an article co-written with Susie Scott, this paper aims to contribute a Symbolic Interactionist approach to the study of asexuality.  Previous research in psychology, sexology and sociology has had an individualised focus, which has downplayed the interactive and relational dimensions of asexual identities.  In order to capture such elements we demonstrate the relevance of some key Symbolic Interactionist concepts: meaning, negotiation, social selfhood and trajectory. In doing so, we suggest it is possible to see asexual identity as a process of becoming within the context of negotiation with intimate others.

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