Demisexual (New Discourses)

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"Demisexual" is a "Social Justice Encyclopedia" entry written on James Lindsay's website New Discourses.[1] The article butchers the definition of demisexuality in an attempt to explain it away as "normal". Lindsay was one of the perpetrators of the grievance studies hoax. The following is a side-by-side response.

Lindsay:RationalWiki:
“Demisexual” is the word used to describe someone who only feels sexual attraction in the presence of an emotional bond. Within the broad umbrella of queer theory (within the Theory of Critical Social Justice), it is considered a (quasi-stable) sexuality and sexual identity category. As such, it would be considered a “queer” identity that therefore has both personal meaning and political valence (see also, personal is political).Identifying as a demisexual does not necessitate identifying with a "queer" identity.


The concept of “demisexuality” is not at all hard to understand and requires almost no elaboration except that it is unlikely to be a fully realistic description of one’s actual sexual response and is not quite the same thing as a sexuality or sexual identity in the way we usually conceive of these.Nobody is arguing that demisexuality is a measure of the "same thing" as such identities as "straight" or "gay". The fact that demisexuality measures a different aspect of sexuality (i.e. how a person is attracted to others rather than the demographic to whom they are attracted) does not make it any less valid as a sexual identity.


It is, in fact, most likely a miscategorized reaction to the fact that, contra modern feminism (see also, third-wave feminism and blank slatism), many women are not as interested in casual sex as are men.This half-baked theory strangely ignores the existence of men who identify as demisexual, and incorrectly interprets demisexuality as simply a lack of interest in casual sex, the latter of which is a preference for many people outside the demisexual community. Jessica Klein, writing for the BBC, aptly described the distinction thus: "Demisexuality, which falls on the asexuality spectrum, differs from simply wanting to wait for a deep bond to form before having sex with someone; rather, it’s more akin to the experience of being asexual until that type of connection forms, at which point the sexual attraction extends only to that person. For allosexuals, on the other hand (people who aren’t on the asexual spectrum), waiting to have sex until forming a deep connection is more of a preference, and less of necessity to developing sexual desire."[2]


In that sense, it is the attempt to categorize as queer that which is normal and yet rendered uncomfortable from attempting to understand it from an unrealistic Theoretical position. This also isn’t difficult to understand.Lindsay's rehashing of the tired "demisexuality is just normal" trope demonstrates that he doesn't understand demisexuality. We would live in a different and much less sexualised world if this line were true: sex wouldn't sell, there would be no hookup culture, no blind dates, no crushing on celebrities, no "love at first sight", no flirting with or hitting on strangers, no abundance of very attractive scantily-clad models in screen and magazine advertising, no popular songs bemoaning a cruel and aloof target of unrequited love, and it would be the norm to form a friendship with someone well before seeing them as a romantic interest. Again, the experience of being demisexual is a different thing from the experience of preferring not to engage in casual sex.


The interesting concern, then, is that the ideology of Critical Social Justice would regard it as a sexuality at all. The reasoning for this is that despite it being common, especially in women, for people to only feel sexually attracted to people for whom they have some measure of romantic attraction, giving it an unlikely name elevates it to a status of being special and, when adopted in a political sense, queer.Lindsay's definition of demisexuality seems to have changed from "not being interested in casual sex" to "only feeling sexually attracted to people for whom they have some measure of romantic attraction", which is equally incorrect. A demisexual has to establish an emotional bond independently of romantic attraction (e.g. friendship) before being capable of feeling sexual attraction to the person.


Put simply, people who think in Theory believe that every possible manifestation or quirk of sex, gender, sexuality, ability status, or mental illness constitutes a unique identity category and seek to reify it as such. This is part and parcel with how adherents to Theory think about the world and themselves in it. Nevertheless, the objective with that “queering” line of thought is that it is an important critical goal to disrupt any possibility that assumptions attributed by the ideology to hegemonic “heterosexuality” might be considered normal or normative. On a more basic psychological and sociological level, it allows people who are experiencing something quite normal to feel extra special by it through the process of giving it a technical name to induce them into thinking of it and themselves in a way that is productive of queer identity politics (see also, queer Theory, intersectionality, and solidarity).As stated above, the real world is full of phenomena ("sex sells", celebrity crushes, asking out strangers etc.) that prove that being incapable of sexual attraction to anyone with whom a non-romantic emotional bond hasn't first been established is not the norm and is only experienced by a minority of people. These people may feel genuinely isolated in a sexualised world, and the label "demisexual" gives them something to identify with that allows them to feel comfortable with their sexuality[3] and to feel that they are not alone in their experiences, not to "feel extra special".


Final observations[edit]

Lindsay's entire screed is based on a misinterpretation of demisexuality, resulting from confusing it with the different (and much more common) phenomena of preferring not to engage in casual sex, or feeling romantic attraction along with sexual attraction. His preoccupation with "queerness" and capital-T "Theory" has no bearing on, and no meaning for, the many real-world individuals who simply want to feel comfortable with and not isolated by the ways in which their sexuality is (through no fault of their own) undeniably different from what society "expects" it to be.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. James Lindsay. Demisexual. New Discourses.
  2. Jessica Klein. Why demisexuality is as real as any sexual orientation. BBC, 6 November 2021.
  3. Nosheen Iqbal. No lust at first sight: why thousands are now identifying as ‘demisexual’. The Guardian, 8 September 2019.