“Asexual Erotics is a much-needed study on queer theory’s obsession with ‘sex’ as an underpinning force. What’s more, it shows that paying attention to ‘erotics’ opens up new intersectional possibilities for thinking with and through difference in ways that a focus on sex and sexuality can prohibit. It makes a timely intervention in feminist studies and queer studies and provides important material for disability scholars, trans studies scholars, and visual and media studies scholars.” —Jennifer Tyburczy
“This book contributes an expanded repertoire of objects of analysis for feminist and queer studies in addition to refining and developing asexual theoretical and methodological frameworks that demand a reshaping of scholarship on sexuality and queerness.” —KJ Cerankowski
Challenging what she sees as an obsession with sex and sexuality, Ela Przybylo examines the silence around asexuality in queer, feminist, and lesbian thinking—turning to Audre Lorde’s work on erotics to propose instead an approach she calls asexual erotics, an alternative language for discussing forms of intimacy that are not reducible to sex and sexuality. Beginning with the late 1960s as a time when compulsory sexuality intensified and became increasingly tied to feminist, lesbian, and queer notions of empowerment, politics, and subjectivity, Przybylo looks to feminist political celibacy/asexuality, lesbian bed death, the asexual queer child, and the aging spinster as four figures that are asexually resonant and which benefit from an asexual reading—that is, from being read in an asexually affirming rather than asexually skeptical manner.
Through a wide-ranging analysis of pivotal queer, feminist, and anti-racist movements; television and film; art and photography; and fiction, nonfiction, and theoretical texts, each chapter explores asexual erotics and demonstrates how asexuality has been vital to the formulation of intimate ways of knowing and being. Asexual Erotics assembles a compendium of asexual possibilities that speaks against the centralization of sex and sexuality, asking that we consider the ways in which compulsory sexuality is detrimental not only to asexual and nonsexual people but to all.
Ela Przybylo is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Illinois State University.
List of Illustrations
Introduction Erotics and Asexuality: Thinking Asexuality, Unthinking Sex
Chapter 1 The Erotics of Feminist Revolution: Political Celibacies/Asexualities in the Women’s Movement
Chapter 2 Lesbian Bed Death, Asexually: An Erotics of Failure
Chapter 3 Growing into Asexuality: The Queer Erotics of Childhood
Chapter 4 Erotics of Excess and the Aging Spinster
Epilogue Tyrannical Celibacy: The Anti-Erotics of Misogyny and White Supremacy
Samuel Steward and the Pursuit of the Erotic:
Sexuality, Literature, Archives
Edited by Debra A. Moddelmog and Martin Joseph Ponce