Faculty of Social and Human Sciences (UNL) Conference System, 1st Non-Monogamies and Contemporary Intimacies Conference

Font Size: 
The Asexual Slut: When compulsory monogamy meets compulsory sexuality
Patricia Macleod

##manager.scheduler.building##: B Tower
##manager.scheduler.room##: T10
Date: 2015-09-25 04:30 PM – 06:00 PM
Last modified: 2015-08-07


Barker and Ritchie describe polyamory as an ‘emerging sexual story’ that troubles norms of compulsory monogamy (2006: 584). If we are to understand non-monogamies in terms of sex and sexual relationships, the existence of poly asexual people would appear to challenge such conceptions of polyamorous relationships and identities. Here asexuality, defined as the lack of sexual attraction to people of any gender can be said to contradict the, perhaps erroneous, association that necessarily connects polyamory and sex – as well as the seemingly inextricable links between sexual desire and (‘healthy’) romantic relationships (Master et al: 1995), and indeed the universality of sexual desire as an essential part of what it means to be human (Muñoz, 1999).

It has been claimed that sexual liberalist discourses of sex-positivity, which assert one’s right to have and desire sex (without shame, and with partner/s of any gender) often inadvertently undermine asexual identities by overlooking the – somewhat analogous – right not to desire sex (Kim 2011: 490). It is the contention of this paper that, similarly, if the poly movement is to practice the inclusivity and anti-normativity it preaches, it must account for asexuality and non-sexual ways of relating. That is not, in turn, to undermine or rebuke sexual desire, relationships or practices – nor is it, for that matter, to condemn monogamy. It is rather to say that, challenging prevalent and restrictive sexual norms must include both a challenge to ‘compulsory monogamy’ and ‘compulsory sexuality‘.