ladyfives's review against another edition

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4.0

To explain asexuality and what it means to not experience sexual attraction, aces must define and describe the exact phenomena we don't experience. It requires us to use the language of "lack," claiming we are legitimate in spite of being deficient, while struggling to explain exactly what it is we don't get.


Way fascinating, and written in a very personal fashion. It's at once a (thankfully not dense) academic book with small reflections of a memoir. I feel smarter and more sensitive just for having read it.

While it's near impossible to diagnose society and prescribe fixes for all its problems, I found this book a good way to start wondering, start thinking beyond the cultural "scripts" that are so often mentioned in this book. To change how we think about things (like not defining asexuality by its "lack" any longer, or intimacy like it must be sexual). Even for ace folk to think harder about their own community and really understand how it works and feels for those that aren't them, especially when it comes to different races, cultures, abilities, genders.

And while I found it helpful to see familiar experiences reflected in the many, many people that were profiled, I think this is also a robust starter kit for learning about asexuality from an outsider perspective because of just how many nuances it covered and how it was so open in admitting that yes, the nuances make it seem impossible to pin down. Yes, the explanations are confusing. Yes, this isn't tidy, but it is still meaningful, and this is how it operates in the real world.

It is not necessary to prove that sex is inherently good. It is not. For some, it is never good and never wanted, no matter how seemingly ideal the circumstance or how caring the partner.


One thing I wish it went a little further into - and a big reason why I picked up the book - was confronting more of why culturally we are so obsessed with sex and how it manifests. How deeply is it ingrained in ways we don't even notice? What is natural in our fixation and what is taught? And if people's attitudes towards sex and relationships is the cause or the effect of that cultural conditioning, and to what extent. It brushed on this but never quite got deep enough, though it pointing out how many legal benefits romantic partners get as opposed to literally any other kind of relationship was a shock.

On the flip side, I really liked how when talking about that sexual incompatibility especially, it took the very simple but somehow groundbreaking stance that in an incompatible relationship the answer should never, as it is often said, automatically be more sex. It's not on the less sexual person to get it together and please. That, in its own small way, was confronting the ingrained "scripts" in a simple but satisfying way.

"I felt like there was a fairly central part of human existence that I really didn't understand and wouldn't participate in. [...] People feel that sex is so central to them, and it made me think, 'What can I feel similarly abut the way allo people feel about sex? How can I find that feeling actively?'"


Overall, brain grew 3 sizes. Also appreciate its guts in acknowledging that modern feminism and "sexual liberation" has (for the most part) left aces behind. While I'm still a bit confused in my own way, this was really helpful in clarifying definitions, seeing far more ace & allo perspectives, and proving that you can always examine culture and its roots and its values a little more closely.

mirichasha's review against another edition

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hopeful informative reflective slow-paced

4.5

I didn’t agree with or buy into every single thing stated and most of my raised hackles came from the salvaging of TERFs’ work, which, honestly fine is important both historically and in a collective understanding of sex and sexuality, without actually clearly addressing and warning about those writers TERF (trans exclusive/exterminatory radical feminist) tendencies and focus, and the ways that SWERF (sex worker exclusionary radical feminist) ideology puts sex workers in danger rather than “helping” them at all. But those were not the center of this book, which was an eye opening (personally and in general) collection of personal testimonies and research and history about asexuality, and to a lesser extent, aromanticism. Even to me who has been on the outskirts of this conversation for close to ten years, I learned much and appreciated the way the author arranged this book and brought readers through each subtopic so by the end, we understand many aspects of Ace identity and experience in a multifaceted way. Anyway. Read this book, just be wary of uncritical engagement with harmful TERF figures and their work. Also it says homosexuality sometimes which is a big pet peeve - let’s leave that word for historical examinations of the Holocaust and very early sexuality studies from last century, not for anything modern please thanks.

mennypenny's review

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informative reflective slow-paced

5.0

Super informative about the experience of being ace and the book gave me a lot to think about in terms of compulsory sexuality and what I want from relationships. 

justcallme_d's review

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informative inspiring reflective slow-paced

sofiam97's review against another edition

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5.0

So, my first comment about this book to people - as I'd just started - was "oh, this isn't necessarily new to an ace perspective, it's more like "yes, my experiences are valid, thank youuuu"" but it didn't take long for me to realize that, actually, there were quite a few new aspects that I was learning about and offering new perspectives on a multitude of subjects that I hadn't even considered before.

This book is a fresh of breath air about a lot of things; I still want to exhale and say "oh, I recognize this, thanks" but, for the most part, it's just leading me to think differently on a bunch of stuff that will not be leaving me anytime soon. So, another book on the "oh, this is going to make me even more annoying" list. I recommend you all to get a list like that yourselves; it's great fun.

caseythereader's review

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challenging emotional funny informative reflective medium-paced

5.0

 📚 I keep trying to think of what a coherent review of this book would say, and all I can think is "please read this book. Oh my gosh, please read this book."
📚 I came to the realization last year that I am on the asexuality spectrum, and several passages in this book had me in tears because it was describing things I had felt or thought but had never seen anyone else express. This book is all the words I didn't have.
📚 Even if you are not asexual or aromantic, please read this book, for two reasons. One, to gain greater understanding of those who are. And two, because this book pulls apart each strand of what makes up our identities - attraction, drive, romance, etc. - and helps the reader understand how these factors are at play (or not) in their own lives, and how assuming everyone is straight/cisgender/allosexual/etc. while placing behavioral expectations on those identities hurts everyone and holds so many people back from knowing their full selves. 

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jawjuhh's review

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informative reflective medium-paced

4.75

felt like i was on a coke bender right with the protagonist for much of the book. often incredibly funny and absurd, but with some really painful and emotional moments that had me putting the book down. all in all, sales sounds TERRIBLE. this actually reminded me a lot of When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole, but much more tonally consistent- particularly in that it is surprisingly romantic. the ending is very very tender and sweet.

sadiecyanide's review

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challenging hopeful medium-paced

5.0

catulus's review

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challenging informative reflective medium-paced

4.5

kpeninger's review

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challenging emotional hopeful informative slow-paced

5.0

What a fantastic book. This isn't just a basic primer on what asexuality is (though, if you don't know what it is, it will still help you understand it), but also an amazing examination of how asexuality challenges many preconceived notions of what sex means, what relationships mean, what love means - and in a GOOD way. Some of these were things I'd pondered before, and some of the topics discussed really made me reconsider some of my own views on things (the chapter on how we currently think of and define consent and rape, for example, is something I will definitely be pondering for quite a bit). I appreciated that the author made sure to include trans folks, nonbinary folks, and gender nonconforming folks, too, and also made a point of talking to aces of color to examine how the intersection of asexuality and different races comes together. This was a book with a broad scope, and I thought it did a really good job of exploring a lot of different things in a short amount of space.