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Understanding Asexuality Hardcover – August 9, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1442200999 ISBN-10: 1442200995

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (August 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442200995
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442200999
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #795,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Bogaert (Brock Univ.), who has published numerous articles on sexuality, takes on the little-researched topic of asexuality--lack of interest in sexual relations with others. He struggles with philosophic questions: How should one judge another's mental health? What really is pathology? His chapter on "the madness of sex" is insightful in exploring what is abnormal, what is normal, and the benefits of being asexual--such as less contact with the criminal justice system and mental health agencies. Bogaert seems to speak directly to readers and shows his humor through such chapter titles as "Do You Have Hypoactive Skydiving Disorder?" Because asexuality is an area of minimal research--due to asexuals' not bringing themselves to the attention of others--Bogaert must speculate based on what is known to build a picture of asexuality and provide a solid background for further research. He explores ways that genes can direct or influence a person's sexual choices and gives examples of some features more prominent in the asexual cohort than others, including a larger number of left-handed, later-born sons than average. The bibliography includes some 250 entries. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals. (CHOICE)

Bogaert (psychology, Brock Univ.) is known for his research on birth order and sexual orientation. Here, he examines another aspect of his research—asexuality. Bogaert sets out to carefully define and describe asexuality using a four-part approach to help categorize the processes of sexuality: A (attraction and arousal), B (behavior), C (cognition), and D (desire). Bogaert describes asexuality as a sexual orientation that is perhaps statistically as prevalent as homosexuality. Other chapters discuss asexuality in regard to masturbation (why would an asexual person masturbate?), gender (is asexuality more prevalent among females?), sexual identity (how is asexual identity different than homosexuality?), the “madness of sex” (how do asexuals view sexuality?), and more. VERDICT Bogaert successfully introduces asexuality as another sexual orientation that demands further research. He likewise demonstrates the importance of asexuality not only in its own right as an understudied subject but also in how it contrasts with other sexual orientations. (His chapter on art and food, showing how sex permeates human culture, is a good example of this.) Recommended for readers interested in human sexuality. (Library Journal)

Rather than tackle the overdone topic of sexuality, this book takes a fascinating look at asexuality. A professor of community health sciences and psychology, Bogaert writes about people with (gasp!) no interest in sex and no feelings of sexual attraction. (These folks may still be romantic, though, and they may still masturbate to relieve tension.) Taking a deeply historical perspective, he notes that although sex is the main form of reproduction for species on earth today, it was not for most of the nearly 4 billion years that life has existed here. Given to humorous asides, Bogaert writes of questions surrounding “the exact date of the emergency of sex––call it, ahem, the little bang theory,” and observes that coupling brings the advantages of genetic diversity. The author’s small-type notes are just as interesting as the main text, making this an unusually intriguing and enlightening inquiry. (Booklist)

People who aren't interested in sex can teach the rest of us who are a thing or two about it. Indeed, they help us sexual beings better understand why we do what we do, says sexologist Anthony Bogaert, professor of community health sciences and psychology at Brock University. More to the point, they help us understand what sex is, and what it is not, he says. In his newest book, Understanding Asexuality, he explores what he calls the fourth dimension of sexual orientation. In simple terms, a person who is asexual does not feel sexual attraction. At all. Never. It's not celibacy -- that's a choice. Instead, it's part of the person's very being, just like being straight or gay, he says. [Bogaert] hopes his book will teach asexuals a little more about themselves, and enlighten everyone else about their own sexual orientation. (St. Catherine's Review)

Understanding Asexuality helps people understand asexuality in a way that asexual websites cannot. (The Examiner)

It was refreshing to see the rare publication of a book that delves into the subject and attempts to shed more light onto it, even give it a voice and credibility which is still way too far in the margins.
On the whole, I have to say, I found this book interesting, even enjoyable. It is an excellent starting point for study and debate, a brilliant introduction to asexuality.
The work he has done is truly enlightening and important.
Bogaert made an excellent attempt at deconstructing a very complex issue, identifying and analysing components of romance, sexual desire, behaviour, attraction, sexual pleasure, cognition and identity, differentiating between them, trying to establish whether the absence or presence of each of these components signifies asexuality. He goes into the history as well as current societal representation and culture.

[This] work is extremely well received. (Epoch Times)

Essential reading for anyone who wants to explore how asexuality is transforming our understanding of sex. (David Jay, founder of Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN))

Despite an adaptationist flavor, Understanding Asexuality is a thoughtful, nuanced, and even paradigm-changing book. (Maurine Neiman, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Biology, University of Iowa)

About the Author

Anthony Bogaert is professor of community health sciences and psychology at Brock University. He has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, along with book chapters, on such topics as asexuality, sexual desire, sexual orientation, birth order and sexual identity, and other related topics.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Dominique Cyprès on August 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In this, the first book-length academic text on the subject of asexuality, Dr. Bogaert, whose previous work includes pioneering research into the "older brother effect" providing evidence for events in prenatal neural development as factors in the etiology of sexual orientation, presents his and others' findings on the phenomenology of asexuality and frames the experiences of asexual people within a broader context of psychological and sexological theory. Understanding Asexuality fulfills the promise of its title, at once addressing the most persistent questions of those newly discovering asexuality and integrating into theoretical models the anecdotes of self-identified asexual people. Surveying such diverse related fields as neurobiology, art history, and evolutionary theory, the author examines asexuality and the foil it provides to other forms of asexuality through macro- as well as microscopic lenses. His ability to examine at once both the forest and the trees, his balance of disparate theoretical models, and his approachable, lightly humorous prose make this a worthwhile read for his colleagues, for asexual people interested in a scientific perspective on their sexualities, and for members of he general public seeking a technical introduction to the subject. My complaints about the text are, firstly, that it acknowledges the sophisticated spectra of sex and gender and the relatively high incidence of "atypical gender identity" amongst asexual people, but otherwise maintains a failry simplified view of the male/female dichotomy, and secondly, that it encourages in this reader a hunger for more research!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By ephemeral on February 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
There hasn't been a great deal of work done on asexuality as a sexual orientation, but Tony Bogaert is certainly considered one of the experts in the field. This book is about halfway between a scholarly work and a popular science book. Given the subject matter, there is by necessity a fair amount of scientific terms and ideas, but Bogaert combines them with a large amount of humor and simple anecdotes. As a result, Understanding Asexuality would probably be fairly accessible and understandable for most interested adults, and certainly most college students.

Bogaert starts by providing a definition of asexuality, which might sound simple, but given the murkiness of the field is actually a somewhat challenging and incredibly important endeavor. He then goes on to explore asexuality in the context of biology, evolution, psychology, and social interactions. Throughout the book, he compares asexuality to sexuality, and as a result, it is as much an exploration of sexuality as the lack thereof.

Understanding Asexuality does a good job of summarizing what is known about asexuality and what research still needs to be done. The entire book is well structured and makes for compelling reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jarka on December 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
To be honest I'm really disappointed by this book. It shouldn't be called Understanding Asexuality, but only Understanding Sexuality. The thing is that the author took such wide view that there was very little, to almost nothing about Asexuality.

Yes, he explained about the definition of Asexuality. Yes, he explained what the causes might be, and made no conclusions. He explained about masturbation and fantasizing. But some chapters were completely unnecessary. Like why do we need a chapter on the history of sex? Sex has been here for millions of years, and still is. And in our society more important than ever, end of story. Same with the chapter on Humor. That Asexuals might not understand and/or care for sexual humor? Yes, very true. But why does it matter. How does that help in understanding Asexuality? I did not see it.

As well as I did not agree with the author on some point he made. Like for example that Asexual people don't face the same set of difficulties as for example homosexuals. No, in many ways we don't. But on some basic level we have some in common. And more when he claimed that most sexuals/heterosexuals, if not all, take asexuality well. That's real nonsense. There is a lot a rubbish Asexual people hear from sexuals. A wide range. And that's because many don¨t believe such thing could exist. Even if you explain it to them. And no, there are not exactly few of them.

So, overall it was a big disappointment. Yes, I learned something, but not what I wanted to about. As an ebook this book costs almost $20, and you learn almost nothing on the topic you bought it for. I don't understand how the author could not see it. He missed many topics on asexuality. And honestly those who were there were quite short. The author took only a short part on it really, most of the chapter is talking about something else. Like Gays, Lesbians, Trans people, etymology, and many other things than what he should have had concentrated on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chipmunk on January 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Thank you, Professor Bogaert, for writing about this topic that's in so much need of public understanding right now. Written from an academic viewpoint, this book is nevertheless a great read and easy to understand. Perfect for enthusiasts of human sexuality, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and other fields. The price was a little high, but it was totally worth it!
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By lk on December 27, 2013
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This book should be more appropriately titled "Understanding The Sociology of Asexuality Research", because it focuses more on researchers, their personalities, and the politics of sexuality research, than on asexuality itself.

The first chapter is overly defensive, giving dozens of examples of the author's associates' views against asexuality research, and defending the research personally, as if to imply that any questioning of the research is a personal attack, rather than giving a dispassionate defense of the research the way a grant proposal would do.

As an asexual myself, I need no convincing of the importance of asexuality research and education.

The writing style uses first-person often ("I beg to differ...") and talks to the reader (e.g., "You may be thinking..."), which is unacademic.

There are a lot of run-ons.

The writing is too verbose, as if to fill in as many words and examples as possibly, instead of being concise and clarifying. For example, "thirty-five hundred million" is used instead of "3.5 billion". It is hard to reason quantitatively when overly verbose spellings of numbers is used.

Each chapter is about a particular aspect of asexuality, but instead of giving a good introduction, overview and summary of research in each area, the author jumps around quoting scientific and non-scientific sources (such as pop culture), some totally irrelevant or simply anecdotal, and never presents a coherent thesis backed up by facts.

It is as though the author wants to give a humorous overview of asexuality, such as by quoting "A says this, but B says that. There's a lot of innuendo about X. You may think Y. But I say Z!!!
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