Sexuality and Sexual politics

Question: How is one’s sexuality related to one’s sexual politics?

Asexuality refers to personal experiences, and not whether they think there’s too much sex in society.  But unsurprisingly, personal experiences and attitudes can be correlated.  Here we seek to identify which aspects of sexuality are correlated with political attitudes, and explore those connections.

Results:
Note: for the purpose of survey analysis, “ace” will always be used to refer to the aggregate group of asexuals, gray-As, and demisexuals.  “Non-ace” refers to everyone else, even if they wrote in some other ace-related identity.

Table 1: Correlation between sexuality questions and sexual politics questions

Here we consider several questions related to personal sexuality, and find correlations to questions related to sexual politics.  First, we report the pairwise polychoric correlation coefficients, which vary from -1 to 1 depending on the strength and sign of the correlation.  The null hypothesis can be rejected at the p < 0.005 level for all pairs, except those marked with asterisks.  The significance threshold was set low to account for multiple-hypothesis testing.  Correlations are calculated based only on ace respondents (N=10,869), except for the bottom row which includes all respondents (N=14,193).  All correlations greater than 0.3 are bolded.

Figure 1: Sexual politics among ace respondents, broken down by disposition to sex.

“Sexual politics” refers to whether people identify with “sex-positive”, “sex-negative”, or “neither/both/unsure”, and these terms are left for respondents to define for themselves.  “Disposition to sex” refers to whether people feel “repulsed”, “indifferent”, or “favorable” with respect to the idea of themselves having sex.  Among the ace respondents, 44.3% are sex-positive, 10.6% are sex-negative, 45.1% are neither, both, or unsure.  48.0% consider themselves repulsed,  43.5% consider themselves indifferent, and 8.5% consider themselves favorable.  These numbers can be found in or inferred from the preliminary report.Politics questions

Figure 2: Statements about sexual politics

Respondents were given two statements about sex in society, and asked to rate them from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).  The first statement was “I have absolutely no problem with sex between consenting adults.”  The second statement is “Our society has too much sex in it, and it would be better if it were diminished.”  Here we show percentages for six different subsets of the ace respondents.

Discussion:

To examine the connection between sexuality and sexual politics, we first selected a few items from each category.  To look at people’s sexuality, we considered their identity within the ace spectrum, their level of sex drive, their disposition to them personally having sex, and whether they are sexually active or not.  To look at people’s sexual politics, we considered whether they identified as LGBTQ+, whether they identified as sex-positive, and how much they agreed with two statements about sex in society.  In general, all the items describing sexuality are correlated with one another, and all the items describing sexual politics are correlated (see Table 1).  The exception is LGBTQ+ identity, which appears to have only a weak correlation with “sex-positive” attitudes.

When considering the cross-correlations between sexuality and sexual politics, the strongest correlations are between disposition to oneself having sex, and identity as “sex-positive” vs “sex-negative”.  It seems that whether you are “repulsed” by sex is actually a bigger factor in sexual politics than whether you are asexual, gray-A, or demisexual.  It’s also interesting that the most impacted aspect of sexual politics is self-identity.  The survey made no assumptions about what people mean when they call themselves “sex-negative” or “sex-positive”, and so the labels mean whatever people believe them to mean.  People have been known to define “sex-negative” to refer to one’s repulsion to sex, rather than any political attitude, and if this alternate definition is common, it may help explain the correlation.

Having identified the strongest correlation, in Figure 1 we show how many aces identify as “sex-positive” or “sex-negative”, depending on their disposition to sex.  In Figure 2, we try to determine what ace respondents mean by “sex-positive” or “sex-negative” by looking at how they respond to specific statements about sex in society.  Additionally, we compare “repulsed”, “indifferent” and “favorable” people.  It appears that sex-negative people are more likely to think that there is too much sex in society, and less likely to have “absolutely no problem” with sex between consenting adults.

Lastly, we note a clear difference between ace and non-ace respondents in nearly all the questions about personal experiences and about sexual politics (see bottom row of Table 1).  This may be explored further in a future preview of results.

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6 thoughts on “Sexuality and Sexual politics

  1. I’m pretty confused by what the numbers in that table mean. So aces (asexual spectrum) people have 0.33 as the number by “Sex Drive” – but what does that mean in this context? I understand the graphs and your text overall, I just kind of got tripped up by trying and failing to understand that table/chart.

    Anyway, this is pretty interesting. Thanks for sharing this info. 😉

    Like

    • That means that there is a positive correlation between ace respondents’ location on the asexual spectrum and their sex drive. Demisexuals in general have higher sex drives than gray-As, who have higher sex drives than asexuals.

      The analysis to find correlation coefficients is a little unusual, in that normally you’d assign numbers to each of the categories (eg 0 = Asexual, 1 = Gray-A, 2 = Demisexual) and find Pearson’s R. Instead, I chose to use polychoric correlation (see link in post) because it is agnostic about the distance between the different categories. But in the end, the meaning is about the same.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Sexuality of non-ace respondents | The Asexual Census

  3. Pingback: About “sex-negativity”, sexual morality vs. ethics | Cake at the Fortress

  4. Pingback: Opinión en torno al sexo en las comunidades asexuales – Chrysocolla Town

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