Charis welcomes writers Angela Chen and Jess Zimmerman in conversation for the launch of Chen's book, Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex. Ace is an engaging exploration of what it means to be asexual in a world that's obsessed with sexual attraction, and what the ace perspective can teach all people about desire and identity.
Journalist Angela Chen shares her path to understanding her own asexuality alongside the perspectives of a diverse group of asexual people. Vulnerable and honest, these stories include a woman who had blood tests done because she was convinced that "not wanting sex" was a sign of serious illness, and a man who grew up in a religious household and did everything "right," only to realize after marriage that his experience of sexuality had never been the same as that of others. Disabled aces, aces of color, gender-nonconforming aces, and aces who both do and don't want romantic relationships all share their experiences navigating a society in which a lack of sexual attraction is considered abnormal. Chen's careful cultural analysis explores how societal norms limit understanding of sex and relationships and celebrates the breadth of sexuality and queerness.
What exactly is sexual attraction and what is it like to go through life not experiencing it? What does asexuality reveal about gender roles, about romance and consent, and the pressures of society? This accessible examination of asexuality shows that the issues that aces face--confusion around sexual activity, the intersection of sexuality and identity, navigating different needs in relationships--are the same conflicts that nearly all people experience. Through a blend of reporting, cultural criticism, and memoir, Ace, addresses the misconceptions around asexuality and invites everyone to radically rethink pleasure and intimacy.
Angela Chen is a journalist and writer in New York City. Her reporting and criticism have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Atlantic, Guardian, Paris Review, Electric Literature, Catapult, and elsewhere. Chen is a member of the ace community and has spoken about asexuality at academic conferences and events including World Pride. Find her on Twitter @chengela or at www.angelachen.org.
Jess Zimmerman is the editor-in-chief of Electric Literature. Her essays and opinion writing have appeared in the Guardian, the New Republic, the Washington Post, Hazlitt, Catapult, and others. Her newest book Women and Other Monsters, on feminism and mythological creatures, is forthcoming in March 2021.
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An engaging exploration of what it means to be asexual in a world that’s obsessed with sexual attraction, and what the ace perspective can teach all of us about desire and identity.
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A fresh cultural analysis of female monsters from Greek mythology, and an invitation for all women to reclaim these stories as inspiration for a more wild, more "monstrous" version of feminism