We often talk about issues regarding the gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities, but what about those who identify as asexual?
On the latest episode of The Science of Sex, Joe and I dove into an interesting yet rarely discussed topic of conversation all about asexuality and its relationship to mental health. Our guest on the show was Lara Greaves, a student in her last month of a PhD in the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Her research is broadly in the area of social psychology and includes everything from indigenous voter turnout to the psychological recovery of earthquake survivors. One of her particular interests is in sexual orientation. Her work so far has explored the different identity terms used across a large, national sample of New Zealanders, personality differences and similarities across sexual orientation, asexuality, pansexuality, the characteristics of those who cannot or will not answer sexual orientation questions, and the intersectionality of gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
In March of this year, Lara authored a study on asexuality published through the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Using data from a nationally representative sample of over 15,000 New Zealand adults, the researchers found that 0.4% of people self-identified as asexual on an open-ended question about sexual orientation. Compared to straight folks, self-identified asexuals were (1) more likely to be women and (2) substantially less likely to be cisgender, (3) in a serious romantic relationship, or (4) a parent. Contrary to some past research, the asexuals didn’t differ from heterosexuals in terms of other demographic variables (such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education, and religiosity), nor in their mental, physical, or social health and wellbeing.
In Foreplay, we again discussed the string of sexual assault and harassment allegations in Hollywood. After allegations against him were found to be true, Kevin Spacey has reported checked into a luxurious $36,000 per month sex rehab center in Arizona, the Daily Mail reports. This trend of men in Hollywood atoning for their past actions continued with Ben Affleck speaking to the Associated Press, saying he’s “looking at [his] own behavior and addressing that and making sure [he’s] part of the solution.” Affleck told Fox that he will donate all future residuals from Weinstein or Miramax projects to independent film initiatives and to victims of sexual assault. While these high profile men are being consistently outed for their behavior, the same thing is happening in the everyday workforce. A rheumatologist in Canada, Dr. Martin Lee, lost his medical license after being found guilty of sexually abusing two patients, including one woman he questioned about her sex life and the size of her husband’s penis. Earlier this year, a committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario found Lee guilty of sexually abusing two patients, including one woman to whom he showed a gay porn magazine before asking her about sadism and masochism.
In this episode’s Afterglow we discussed a rather extreme reaction to teen sex. A school district in Oregon recently told their teachers and staff that if they learn or merely suspect a student is sexually active, they must report it to law enforcement or state officials. According to Oregon law, anyone under 18 years old cannot legally give consent, meaning all sexual activity between minors is considered sexual abuse. The district claimed the policy is for the teenagers’ safety, but I have a much different opinion, as you can probably guess.
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