The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality * Next Generation Indie Book Awards Winner in LGBT *

by Julie Sondra Decker

Paperback, 2015




Skyhorse (2015), Edition: Reprint, 240 pages


What if you weren't sexually attracted to anyone? A growing number of people are identifying as asexual. They aren't sexually attracted to anyone, and they consider it a sexual orientation-like gay, straight, or bisexual. Asexuality is the invisible orientation. Most people believe that "everyone" wants sex, that "everyone" understands what it means to be attracted to other people, and that "everyone" wants to date and mate. But that's where asexual people are left out-they don't find other people sexually attractive, and if and when they say so, they are very rarely treated as though that's okay. When an asexual person comes out, alarming reactions regularly follow; loved ones fear that an asexual person is sick, or psychologically warped, or suffering from abuse. Critics confront asexual people with accusations of following a fad, hiding homosexuality, or making excuses for romantic failures. And all of this contributes to a discouraging master narrative: there is no such thing as "asexual." Being an asexual person is a lie or an illness, and it needs to be fixed. In The Invisible Orientation, Julie Sondra Decker outlines what asexuality is, counters misconceptions, provides resources, and puts asexual people's experiences in context as they move through a very sexualized world. It includes information for asexual people to help understand their orientation and what it means for their relationships, as well as tips and facts for those who want to understand their asexual friends and loved ones.… (more)


(45 ratings; 4)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Silvernfire
This is an accessible, thorough introduction to asexuality. Decker doesn't assume the reader knows anything about asexuality, so the first part—appropriately called "Asexuality 101"—is a broad, positive introduction to the topic. In the second part, she goes into more detail, and explores
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related topics such as romantic orientation, graysexuality and demisexuality, relationships, and asexual community. This is followed by an exploration of myths about asexuality, a part addressed to people who are or may be asexual, a part for people who may know an asexual person, and a list of (primarily online) resources.

The book is thorough to the point of repetition. Because not everyone will read the entire book, Decker makes sure that the most important points appear in each part. I see the necessity for that, but it means someone who reads the book from cover to cover will end up reading these points several times over. Also, if you're new to this topic, you're going to encounter a lot of new vocabulary. The author explains each term as she uses it, but a glossary might not have been a bad idea (there's a good index, though, which helps a lot). But even though there's all this new vocabulary, the book is meant for laypeople to read, including teenagers, so the writing never gets stuffy or academic. The book includes many short quotes and anecdotes from other asexual writers, which makes it even more interesting, and may give readers ideas about what to read next. Basically, this book lives up to the promise of its subtitle: it's an excellent introduction to asexuality.
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LibraryThing member saresmoore
This book is a helpful primer on the orientation of asexuality. I especially appreciated Decker's care and breadth in defining terms, including those not specifically limited to the asexuality spectrum. There was a bit of repetition and it did feel like the issue was being treated (if possible) too
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gingerly. I came away feeling like those who identify as asexual should expect some level of persecution and I think a bit less of the padding for the sake of inclusion could have benefitted the narrative. Overall, this is a quick read and a great introduction and reference for just about anyone, whether he/she (ze) identifies as a-spec or not.
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LibraryThing member Maquina_Lectora
There are literally no non-fiction books for general audience on the subject of asexuality, it’s kinda a newer thing as far as books and such go. Asexuality isn’t well known and it’s often confused with similar or less similar concepts, such as abstinence. Asexuality is not celibacy – the
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refusal to act on attraction. It is not synonymous with a pathological state, it is not sickness, it is not a decision to become abstinent.

Asexual is “someone who does not experience sexual attraction.” It does not mean that this person cannot have sex, it means that he or she is not interested in sex or doesn’t enjoy sex. “Asexuality is a sexual orientation because it describes a person’s pattern of attraction (to no one).”

The Invisible Orientation is not a book only for the people who identify as asexuals, but also for laypersons who do not realise how often their criticisms, arguments and inappropriate comments hurt the asexual community, as well as professionals looking to help their asexual clients. It is an Asexuality 101 book, a starting point of understanding the concept and definition of asexuality.

Julie Sondra Decker, has published a variety of articles on the subject of asexuality. The book has a few personal bits, a few pages in the introduction of how she came to identify as asexual, but the rest of the book is general. The author discusses asexuality from a sexual orientation point of view and gives voice to asexual people of colour, asexual people of various gender identities, asexual people of many different romantic orientations.

It is a great book, the writing is clear, friendly and precise, it is easy to read and search for specific information. I loved the quotes highlighted in gray boxes throughout the book.
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Lambda Literary Award (Finalist — 2015)
ALA Over the Rainbow Book List (Selection — Non-Fiction — 2016)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

240 p.; 6 inches


1634502434 / 9781634502436
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