In a recent investigation (MacInnis & Hodson, in press) we uncovered strikingly strong bias against asexuals in both university and community samples. Relative to heterosexuals, and even relative to homosexuals and bisexuals, heterosexuals: (a) expressed more negative attitudes toward asexuals (i.e., prejudice); (b) desired less contact with asexuals; and (c) were less willing to rent an apartment to (or hire) an asexual applicant (i.e., discrimination). Moreover, of all the sexual minority groups studied, asexuals were the most dehumanized (i.e., represented as “less human”). Intriguingly, heterosexuals dehumanized asexuals in two ways. Given their lack of sexual interest, widely considered a universal interest, it might not surprise you to learn that asexuals were characterized as “machine-like” (i.e., mechanistically dehumanized). But, oddly enough, asexuals were also seen as “animal-like” (i.e., animalistically dehumanized). Yes, asexuals were seen as relatively cold and emotionless and unrestrained, impulsive, and less sophisticated.
So I am done with people saying that asexual people aren’t marginalized for being asexual. If you’re not heterosexual, you’re going to deal with marginalization and oppression at some point (and as Trudy at Gradient Lair points out, “even heterosexuality for people of colour, especially Black women is marginalized, as heterosexual privilege exists.”)
Here’s the study the Psychology Today article refers to: Intergroup Bias Toward “Group X”: Evidence of prejudice, dehumanization, avoidance, and discrimination against asexuals.
Although biases against homosexuals (and bisexuals) are well established, potential biases against a largely unrecognized sexual minority group, asexuals, has remained uninvestigated. In two studies (university student and community samples) we examined the extent to which those not desiring sexual activity are viewed negatively by heterosexuals. We provide the first empirical evidence of intergroup bias against asexuals (the so-called “Group X”), a social target evaluated more negatively, viewed as less human, and less valued as contact partners, relative to heterosexuals and other sexual minorities. Heterosexuals were also willing to discriminate against asexuals (matching discrimination against homosexuals). Potential confounds (e.g., bias against singles or unfamiliar groups) were ruled out as explanations. We suggest that the boundaries of theorizing about sexual minority prejudice be broadened to incorporate this new target group at this critical period, when interest in and recognition of asexuality is scientifically and culturally expanding.