Conversations on Asexuality and Eating Disorders

This month’s Carnival of Aces has sparked a lot of conversations already. One topic that has long been under-discussed is asexuality and eating disorders, and this submission about Binge Eating Disorder has gotten that discussion going. [Obvious warnings for EDs, food, body image issues, etc. for this and all other links. Some also have references to sexual assault.]

Did you know that in Understanding Asexuality, Bogaert actually speculated that there would be no aces with bulimia? (Why bulimia specifically? It is a mystery!)

“In the first example [of ways sexuality and food intersect], if dieting and related body-image issues are often driven by mating concerns, might asexual people never or rarely have dieting problems?  Perhaps even a bolder prediction could be made: there may be no asexual bulimics (or at least no asexual people who have become bulimic).  This is not to say that asexual women may not be concerned about their body image for reasons other than sex/mating (i.e., finding a romantic partner if romantically inclined) but I expect their body-image issues and control of food consumption to differ from those of sexual women.”

Quoted from Queenie’s review.

Even if it had been the case that Bogaert sought out asexual people for comment and found no one willing to talk (I doubt it), he still misunderstands eating disorders as being about sexual attraction—they aren’t, they’re about control. So yeah, I’d say this kind of discussion really needs both to happen and become visible to professionals, so that they will stop baselessly speculating about how such problems must not exist for ace people.

So now, flying in the face of that stunning display of erasure, there is a new blog focused on asexuality and eating disorders!

There is an open call for submissions. If you want to contribute something on that topic for the carnival but don’t have a blog yourself (or feel uncomfortable posting it to your own blog), you might consider asking to have it posted there.

I would also like to point people interested in this topic to Olivia’s blog, which has quite a lot of good articles on eating disorders, other mental health issues, and asexuality. Previous discussion of the intersection of asexuality and eating disorders here: Sexuality as Selfhood and Body Hatred, I’m Afraid of Identifying as Asexual. And Beautiful Asexuality about body image.

If anyone has seen this topic discussed elsewhere, feel free to link things.

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6 thoughts on “Conversations on Asexuality and Eating Disorders

  1. I’ve always found that comment by Bogaert odd, especially since the only time I’d ever seen discussions of asexuality and eating disorders in the literature before was in speculation that men with eating disorders were MORE likely to be “asexual” (though whether as cause or effect, and how generalizable the data is, is debatable). (ex: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3479631/ )

    Still, regardless of how valid it might be, I thought it was interesting that Bogaert never mentioned that at all, even though it’s one of the first things that comes up on google when you search “asexual eating disorder”.

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    • I’m pretty sure he just didn’t do any research at all when he made that comment, because that was such a ridiculously ignorant thing to say… what’s worse though, is that this is a published academic book with editorial staff. And they ALL apparently thought that was okay, or else it would have been edited out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, my general impression of the second half of that book was that he ran out of actual factual research to cover and just started throwing out random untested hypotheses. And the editorial staff probably didn’t know enough to correct him – that’s part of the problem with peer review in asexual research, in that there really aren’t many “peers” in asexual research so most editors don’t know enough about asexuality to spot the BS that seems obvious to us.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I am the OP of the BED post, and the creator of Hope for Aces, and I would like to add that my new blog has already proven Bogaert wrong, as I have had someone write in who has bulimia. (And also, yes, why bulimia specifically?)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Here’s a little experiment that worked for me: watch commercials featuring women. Feel bad about myself. Go to a gallery full of Renaissance paintings. Feel good about my body.

    It’s media exposure that affects body image, I’m pretty sure.

    It has nothing to do with sexual orientation and everything to do with identity…

    So yeah, I don’t agree with Bogaert there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: June 2015 Carnival of Aces Round-Up: Mental Health | Prismatic Entanglements

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