A 2004 study estimated that around 1% of the world’s population is asexual. So out of 7.5 billion, that’s about 75 million. Now, new research uncovers the discriminatory treatment many asexuals say they experience on a near daily basis.
Aasha Foster is a Counseling Psychology graduate student at Columbia University. As part of her PhD research, she’s developed the world’s first “Asexual Microaggressions Scale” used to gauge the different types of microaggressions asexual-identifying people suffer.
“Asexual prejudice encompasses anti-asexual beliefs and attitudes that stem from sexual normativity which promotes sexuality as the norm while positioning asexuality as deviant,” Foster explains.
The microaggressions, she says, are “conscious and/or unconscious daily occurrences of insults and invalidation that stem from implicit bias against asexual people and asexuality.”
For her research, Foster interviewed a total of 738 sexual-identifying people who she located through social media sites like Facebook, Tumblr, and Reddit, as well as Tumblr, where she found the majority (67%) of recruits.
She identified 24 of the most common microaggressions that asexual people face, including everything from being told that asexuality “doesn’t exist” or is “just a phase” to being called a “prude.”
She also noted the impact those microaggressions have on their mentail health, including “psychological distress,” “emotional difficulty,” and “depressive symptoms.”
“Asexual women and men had higher rates of anxiety than heterosexual men and women,” Foster says, due to the constant marginalization they face.
So what can be done about this?
Well, Foster says, for starters there needs to be greater recognition of asexuality, as well as more research.
“Further study of the impact of these microaggressions and other macroaggressive experiences would be another area of next steps,” she says.
“When examined through [the lens of intersectionality], asexual prejudice and microaggressions may shift in salience, intensity, and/or frequency, thus further research will help contextualize and extend the findings of this dissertation,” Foster concludes.
h/t: Campus Reform