‘Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex’ book review

That term, borrowed from Adrienne Rich’s 1980 essay “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” is one Chen uses to describe “the belief that lust is universal and to be otherwise is to be abnormal.” The idea that sex is the ultimate connection between two people and the narrative that sex is a sign of maturity almost always go unquestioned. A person who has no desire for sex, even if they are in a monogamous romantic relationship, is regarded as somehow broken under compulsory sexuality. Even the most progressive feminist and queer spaces almost always center sexual liberation in their narratives. But, Chen writes, we have a lot to gain from “thinking more critically about whether these stories [are] true and, if so, what they might imply about how we connect sex and politics and power.”

“Because sexual variation exists,” Chen continues, “there is no universal vision of liberated sexuality.”

The population

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