Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Identity, and the Meaning of Sex

Angela Chen. Beacon, $26.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8070-1379-3
Journalist Chen probes the nuances of asexuality in her well-intentioned yet muddled debut. According to Chen, asexuality exists on a spectrum from “sex-repulsed” to “sex-indifferent” to “sex-favorable,” but what links “aces” is their lack of the experience of sexual attraction, which she defines as “the desire to have sex with a specific person for physical reasons.” In Chen’s own case, she began to identify as an ace in her mid-20s, after realizing that she only ever wanted partnered sex for emotional—not physical—reasons. She notes that Alfred Kinsey deliberately left asexuality off his scale of sexual orientation in the 1940s, and sketches the origins of the ace movement in early 21st-century internet message boards. Drawing on interviews with more than 100 aces, Chen profiles an African-American filmmaker, a disability activist, and a Christian man who, before accepting his asexuality, hadn’t considered “that lust might not be a struggle at all.” Though Chen succeeds in exploring the full range of asexuality, her stated desire to transcend labels is undermined by a hyper-focus on categorical minutiae, and her analogies (such as a comparison between sex and eating crackers) often miss the mark. Aces will appreciate seeing themselves reflected in Chen’s sensitive portrayals; non-aces are likely to remain confused by the concept. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/01/2020
Release date: 09/15/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-0-8070-1411-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-6620-3386-5
MP3 CD - 978-1-6620-3681-1
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