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Title: It's not just about sex : asexual identity and intimate relationship practices
Author: Maxwell, Danielle
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2017
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Queer and feminist scholars frequently claim that non-heteronormative sexualities, like asexuality, challenge heteronormative practices within intimate relationships. They argue that these sexualities lead to the emergence of new intimate practice and have the potential to revolutionise what is understood as the sexual “public story”—one in which a sexual assumption is repeatedly performed and an absence is culturally denied, sometimes to the point of pathologisation (Carrigan, 2011; Przybylo, 2011; Jamieson, 1998). A more recent analysis of asexuality suggests that there is very little evidence of specific asexual practices and that many asexuals are in fact not challenging heteronormative practices (see Dawson et al., 2016). Neither of these contradicting arguments fully details the nuances of how asexuality operates within intimate relationships, straddling both of these positions in practice. This thesis investigates the complexity of an asexual identity to capture the way it sometimes does and does not engage with and/or challenge heteronormativity within intimate relationships. Drawing on 68 online surveys and 29 online interviews, I thematically analysed participants’ stories to (1) understand how asexuality functions as a meaningful label, including the adoption of an asexual identity and (2) investigate patterns of intimate practices—partner selection, relationship types and forms of intimacy—and their connection to heteronormativity, an asexual identity or both. I demonstrate the presence of asexual-specific preferences, and how these preferences are often compromised for largely heteronormative practices. However, among asexual intimate practices I found a potential for the creation of more varied understandings that, while not fully challenging heteronormativity, offer more complex intimate relationship practices and understanding(s).
Supervisor: Kaloski-Naylor, Ann Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available