Textbook picture of asexuality (literally)

While I was at the AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists) conference there was a silent auction which included 3 human sexuality text books- all three of which had some sort of entry on Asexuality and I’ll write more later about the actual text in the books (I won 2 of the books but not the 3rd). But for now I just thought I’d share the picture for Asexuality in “Sexuality Today, Tenth Addition” by Gary F. Kelly. (the other 2 text books didn’t have a picture for asexuality).

The caption for the image is: Asexual people seem to have lower than average propensities for sexual excitation and arousal with a partner. Their levels of sexual interest in masturbation are more typical.

My first thought is to wonder which one is supposed to be asexual- the girl who seems to be pining over someone or the boy in the background who has other things on his mind. Or is the boy obviously not asexual because he’s sexting with someone while the girl is obviously lonely because asexuals don’t have any friends? How exactly is this image supposed to be instructive?

Please share your thoughts and interpretations of the image!

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This entry was posted in Asexual, Asexuality, Awareness, Sexologist, Sexology. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Textbook picture of asexuality (literally)

  1. I love the fact that they called it a Figure. When I see Figure 14.2, I expect something… vaguely diagrammatical? A little useful? A figure should give you more information that it’s caption.

    I suspect, based on the incredible genericness of every photograph in textbooks, magazines and websites, the actual answer to your question is that they have a large range of stock photos of moody/horny-looking young people, and the one in which they look least horny and there’s most distance between them becomes the most usable.

    Alternatively, they’re both flamingly ace activists, on some daring mission of asexual visibility, she’s on the lookout for anyone coming, while he texts the people with the massive ace-sloganned poster telling them the coast is clear. That’s probably it.

    • I agree that it seems like a stock image and, in truth, most people probably don’t pay any attention to it, anyway.

      I suppose with greater visibility comes the inevitable side effect of stereotyping.

      Love your alternative explanation!

  2. Siggy says:

    That picture reminds me of a photo that appeared in an article about asexuality. Two people holding hands, but standing a few feet apart. Faces not shown. Faces are too sexual.

    I think photographers struggle with the idea of capturing asexuality. “Photos that don’t involve sex” is too large a category, so they need to depict the opposite of sex. What’s the opposite of sex? Distance? LOL

    • Wow, not only are the faces not shown- their heads are cut off! Of all the body parts for them to cut off to try and illustrate asexuality – not that cutting off any part of the body is a good way of illustrating an orientation anyway.

      I always stay 3 feet away from people- if I get any closer I might accidentally have sex with them. It’s the same reason all straight men stay 3 feet away from each other even when fully clothed- any closer than that can only illustrate an obvious sexual tension 🙂 .

  3. pianycist says:

    The woman on the left looks sad or lonely. It seems like the person who chose that image might have been consciously or unconsciously associating asexuality with loneliness.

  4. Acenonymous says:

    If they have to have a generic photo at all (which shouldn’t be necessary for something like this), a fairer photo would be a person happily doing something nonsexual by themselves – exercising, painting, reading a book, visiting AVEN… 🙂

    Or instead of a generic photo, they could try to get permission to use a photo of one of the handful of real ‘out’ asexuals who have made TV appearances!

    Another possible interpretation of that photo: the girl looks sad/lonely because she’s heterosexual but just found out that the boy she wanted to have sex with is asexual. Now he’s visiting AVEN on his phone to talk about what happened. 😉

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