Columbia PhD Student Writes Thesis on ‘Asexual Microaggressions’

Aasha Foster, a counseling psychology graduate student at Columbia University, penned a 138-page thesis paper on “microaggressions” against asexual people.

Foster’s thesis, which was completed to partially fulfill the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree at Columbia University, constructs a scale that gauges the frequency of “microaggressions” experienced by asexual people. Asexuality refers to those with no sexual inclinations. A report published by the Independent claims that 1 percent of the world’s population is asexual.

“Examining asexuality also can afford a clear view on how deeply infused sex is in our society,”  asexuality expert Anthony Bogaert wrote. “From the pervasiveness of sex in the media to our enduring interest in gossip on the sex lives of others. We also may begin to see more clearly the strange and often mad complexity of sex, with its jealousies, obsessions, and distortions of reality.”

Foster’s thesis work documents the types of accidental slights often received by persons identifying as asexual. Foster surveyed asexual individuals from various backgrounds that she recruited via social media. The majority of respondents were found via Tumblr, an online blogging platform that is heavily steeped in progressive politics.

“The purpose of this dissertation was to create a psychometrically sound measure of asexual prejudice through microaggressions that can be used to document and identify the unique experiences of asexual people (i.e., those reporting a lack of sexual attraction towards others),” Foster wrote. “Asexual prejudice encompasses anti-asexual beliefs and attitudes that stem from sexual normativity which promotes sexuality as the norm while positioning asexuality as deviant.”

Foster’s thesis claims that asexual individuals are often told that their lack of interest in sex is “just a phase.” Others are told that asexuality “isn’t real” and that if they don’t find a partner they will “live out their life alone.”


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