The Null Device
New studies have revealed that a significant minority of people may be asexual, i.e., lacking any interest in sex; some studies say that there may be as many asexuals as homosexuals.
That Jay "likes" girls is one of several intriguing facts I learn about asexual people as they discuss some of the most intimate details of their lives with me. There are asexuals, for example, who have never felt the need to get close to other people, not even in a non-sexual way, and describe themselves as loners. But others, like Jay, want to connect with males or females - some people would define it as an orientation - only it seems to be purely emotional.
The amazing degree of variation in the experiences of asexual people suggests that the underlying causes of their lack of sexual attraction are very different. Some asexuals might simply have extremely low sex drives in spite of an innate orientation towards males or females. Other asexuals might form a fourth category of sexual orientation in addition to the hetero-, homo- and bi-sexual ones, namely people who are attracted to neither gender, even if they have normal sex drives.
Asexuals, however, face barriers to acceptance; while homosexuality is seen by most modern people as a valid orientation, the lack of sexual drive or attraction is still considered pathological, being listed in DSM-IV as a disorder, and widely seen as sick or somehow less than wholly human:
A powerful example of how people react to the idea appears in an article titled "Eight myths about religious life," which appeared in Vision 2002, an annual magazine from the National Religious Vocation Conference in the US. It states: "Question: what do you call a person who is asexual? Answer: Not a person. Asexual people do not exist. Sexuality is a gift from God and thus a fundamental part of our human identity."
It looks like the Tories are set to get a Senate majority in their own right. I'm actually relieved by this, as it puts Family First out of the party-room calculations. (Do you trust Howard to be sufficiently committed to pluralism and liberalism to not give FF a Chinese-style national internet firewall or something similarly odious and repressive in return for putting aside their concerns that abolishing unfair-dismissal laws may harm families? Me neither.)