Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why ace community demographics matter

This was cross-posted on The Asexual Agenda.

Some time ago, I did analysis of the 2011 Asexual Awareness Week Community Census.  It is the largest asexual community survey (~3400 respondents) that we have.  Now I find myself referring to it time and time again, because it is so relevant to virtually everything we talk about in the asexual community.

For example, a common dynamic in the asexual community (especially AVEN) is that people feel so alone, and want to find other people who are just like them.  "Aren't there any other aces who experience _____???"  The other day I reassured someone on AVEN that plenty of aces feel repulsed by sex.  But  I can say more than that.  Repulsed people are in the majority in the community (55%).  You may have felt alone, but that was just a matter of perception!  A lot of times when people feel alone, it is just a matter of perception.

Of course, not all the things we talk about in the community are common.  For example, many people doing visibility work are quick to tell people that aces can also have or enjoy sex.  And that's true.  But sometimes people complain that this is too confusing.  If people who have sex and like it can be asexual, does the word even have any meaning?

But it isn't really that confusing, as long as you have a sense of perspective.  Yes asexuals can like sex, but it's only a small minority (1% of asexuals, 4% of gray-As, and 11% of demisexuals, 4% overall).  Doesn't it make sense that at least some asexuals would like sex?  And even though I am among those 4%, I think it's perfectly sensible for people to frequently discuss things that are relevant to only 96% of the community.

Or consider the perpetual debate over whether heteroromantics and aromantics are queer.  Did you know that only 22% of the community is heteroromantic?  And only 13% of those people identify with the LGBT community?  I'm not going to forsake queer heteroromantics just because they make up a measly 2% of the community, but it should give us a sense of perspective.  When we argue that heteroromantics have the right to some space in LGBT communities, we should remember that most heteroromantics aren't interested in exercising that right.  I'm more worried about aromantics, among whom 31% identify with the LGBT community.

Besides the critical perspective offered by the survey, there's a lot of stuff that's just plain interesting.  For instance, you can see some of the differences between AVEN and tumblr, the two major asexual communities of today.  Compared to tumblr, AVEN has more men (16% vs 11%), more heteroromantics (25% vs 17%), and fewer bi/panromantics (19% vs 27%).  This isn't too surprising if you're familiar with the respective cultures of tumblr and AVEN.

Currently, even further analysis of the data is in the works (not by me).  What other trends will we dig up?


Wonktnodi said...

Sorry to be posting here, but comments are closed on the post I'm interested in : Asexuality is queer. Did you get my mail about translating this post ?

miller said...

I just got it now, thanks for telling me.