Compulsory Sexuality

By Emens, Elizabeth F. | Stanford Law Review, February 2014 | Go to article overview

Compulsory Sexuality


Emens, Elizabeth F., Stanford Law Review


INTRODUCTION I. THE EMERGENCE OF ASEXUALITY  A. Conceptual: The Fourth Sexual Orientation  B. Clinical: Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder  C. Empirical: The One Percent Who Wants No One  D. Self-Identified Aces Find Themselves and Each Other II. MAPPING ASEXUAL IDENTITY  A. Defining Asexuality as an Identity. Elements and Distinctions     1. Principal elements     a. Lack of attraction     b. Lack of choice     2. Key distinctions     a. Distinguishing sex with oneself from sex with other people     b. Distinguishing romance from sex and friendship     c. Distinguishing aversion and indifference     3. Identity in relation     4. The problem of diversity     5. Responding to the skepticism B. Intersections: Comparing Identity Categories     1. Sexuality     a. Homosexuality     b. Bisexuality     c. Polyamory     d. No sexual orientation     2. Gender     a. No gender     b. Very gendered     3. Disability     a. Disability as asexuality     b. Asexuality as disability C. Models: Minoritizing, Universalizing, Novel, or Umbrella Category     1. Minoritizing     2. Universalizing     3. Something new     a. Quantity axis     b. Autoerotic axis     c. Narcissism axis     d. Romantic-attraction axis     e. Orientation-object axis     4. An umbrella category of orientation III. ASEXUAL LAW AND OUR SEXUAL LAW   A. Asexuality's Interactions with Law: An Analytic Framework   B. Legal Requirements of Sexual Activity    1. Marriage law    2. Looking beyond conjugality in marriage and its alternatives   C. Legal Exceptions to Shield Sexuality    1. The sex work debates    2. Marvin and nonmarital agreements   D. Legal Protections from Others' Sexual Expression    1. Sexuality as legal architecture    2. Sexual harassment law   E. Legal Protections for Sexual Identity    1. Asexuals enter state law: New York's Sexual Orientation      Non-Discrimination Act    2. Antidiscrimination protection: a normative assessment    a. Discrimination against asexuals    b. The stakes of recognition    c. Legal implications: will there be any cases?    d. The case for antidiscrimination protections    3. Prospects for change    a. The criteria: a brief exposition    b. The criteria applied to familiar categories    c.  Applying the criteria to asexuality: difficulties of fit    d. The conditions for change CONCLUSION 

INTRODUCTION

I'm trying to imagine never being hungry, but still living in a world that's obsessed with food. I can imagine people saying "[H]ey, what did you think of the salmon?"

"[M]eh, it's okay, I don't really like food[.]"

"... [W]ait, you must mean you don't really like salmon ... [W]hat do you mean you don't like food?"

"[I] just ... [I] just don't see what's so great about food."

"[U]hh, it's delicious[.]"

"[S]ee, it's just not that appealing to me[.]" (1)

Asexuality is the middle child of the sexual orientation family, neglected until recently by both sexuality studies and progressive politics. In the last few years, though, those who "do[] not experience sexual attraction" (2) have inspired increasing research attention and subcultural affiliation. Asexuality has been featured on high-profile news and talk shows, (3) and spurred a popular documentary film, (A)sexual. (4) And the term has begun to enter our legal vocabulary: one state and several localities across the country protect against discrimination on the basis of "asexuality." (5)

What might our legal system look like through the eyes of someone who does not experience sexual attraction? And how might our social practices and expectations--our cultural laws--look to asexual eyes? Ours is arguably a sexual law, casting asexuals on the outside in a range of ways. (6) This Article considers our culture and laws through the lens of asexuality.

Asexuality has thus far received no attention in the legal literature. The Article therefore presents a careful examination of the emergence of asexuality as a conceptual and cultural phenomenon. …

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