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Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex

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By Angela Chen

Many people who hear about asexuality consider it an interesting piece of trivia: it's a little-known sexual orientation, some people identify as asexual, and they should be accepted.  Next.  After all, if you're not asexual, what more is there to learn?

Plenty, especially because misconceptions mean that some people are asexual without knowing it.  In every place that sexuality touches society, asexuality does too, and the issues that asexuals struggle with are the same issues that people of every orientation are likely to confront.  How much sexual desire is a person supposed to have?  What does the amount of desire we experience mean about our politics, personalities, and prospects for relationships?  What should it mean?  The dividing line between romance and friendship seems clear, but what is the difference when you eliminate sex?  How do you work through a mismatch of sexual desire in relationships?

The questions may be near universal, but the answers look different from the asexual, or ace, perspective.  Aces have had to create our own way of looking at the world, offering new perspectives on identity and invisible inequalities.

Ace explores this world and those who have found a place in it.  There's the religious man who followed all the rules, only to realize after marriage that his experience of sexuality had never been the same as that of others.  There's the woman who ordered blood tests because she was convinced that not wanting sex was a sign of serious illness.  Disabled aces, gender-non-conforming aces, and aces of colour question whether their orientation is a reaction against stereotypes, and their self-doubt reveals how power and history and sex interact.  Aces who don't want romantic relationships ask whether there's room for them, while kinky aces explain why the kink scene fels safer than the vanilla world, with its assumptions about consent.  Everyone wonders how society can be remade to be more inclusive - because it's more welcoming for aces, it will also be more welcoming for anyone who isn't sexual in the "right" way.  Though reportage, cultural criticism, and memoir, Ace shows what we all can gain from the ace lens.

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Beacon Press (September 2020)
ISBN-13: 9780807013793
Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.1 x 23.5 cm

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