Refusing Compulsory Sexuality: A Black Asexual Lens on Our Sex-Obsessed Culture (Paperback)
For readers of Ace and Belly of the Beast: A Black queer feminist exploration of asexuality--and an incisive interrogation of the sex-obsessed culture that invisibilizes and ignores asexual and A-spec identity.
Everything you know about sex and asexuality is (probably) wrong.
The notion that everyone wants sex--and that we all have to have it--is false. It’s intertwined with our ideas about capitalism, race, gender, and queerness. And it impacts the most marginalized among us. For asexual folks, it means that ace and A-spec identity is often defined by a queerness that’s not queer enough, seen through a lens of perceived lack: lack of pleasure, connection, joy, maturity, and even humanity.
In this exploration of what it means to be Black and asexual in America today, Sherronda J. Brown offers new perspectives on asexuality. She takes an incisive look at how anti-Blackness, white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and capitalism enact harm against asexual people, contextualizing acephobia within a racial framework in the first book of its kind. Brown advocates for the “A” in LGBTQIA+, affirming that to be asexual is to be queer--despite the gatekeeping and denial that often says otherwise.
With chapters on desire, f*ckability, utility, refusal, and possibilities, Refusing Compulsory Sexuality discusses topics of deep relevance to ace and a-spec communities. It centers the Black asexual experience--and demands visibility in a world that pathologizes and denies asexuality, denigrates queerness, and specifically sexualizes Black people.
A necessary and unapologetic reclamation, Refusing Compulsory Sexuality is smart, timely, and an essential read for asexuals, aromantics, queer readers, and anyone looking to better understand sexual politics in America.
About the Author
SHERRONDA J. BROWN is a Southern-grown essayist, editor, and storyteller with a focus on media analysis and cultural critique, currently serving as Editor-in-Chief of Wear Your Voice Magazine. They have devoted much of their work to writing and thinking about asexuality, hoping to push conversations beyond what is familiar and comfortable in order to make new interventions about a topic and identity that has been long misunderstood.
“Highly educational, expertly researched, and easy to digest, Refusing Compulsory Sexuality eloquently reframes our understanding of asexuality, Blackness, and how the two intersect, providing an essential contribution to a discussion that is often dominated by white voices and perspectives.”
—Yasmin Benoit, asexual activist and model
“Sherronda’s writings continue to be a gift to the reader. With Refusing Compulsory Sexuality, they expand our understanding of gender, sexuality, and (anti-) Blackness with deftness and precision while also pushing us to rethink our understanding of asexuality and our relationships with ourselves and others. Without any doubt, people will find themselves in this book after spending years trying to find themselves elsewhere, and for those readers, this book will be home.”
—Lara Witt, writer and editorial director of Prism
“With Refusing Compulsory Sexuality, Sherronda continues to introduce us all to a new and/or deeper perspective on (a)sexuality, queerness, and desire with razor-sharp racial analysis, limpid prose, and incredible research. She is keenly aware of the ways that Black folks have often been removed from conversations specific to asexuality; the ways that the hypersexualization of queer identity has played a significant role in the subjugation of folks on (and outside of) the ace spectrum; and the ways that the hypersexualization of Black flesh is a particular form of anti-Blackness that has been employed by white and non-Black people for centuries—across political lines—to hurt, harm, and abuse Black(ened) subjects…. Sherronda proves with Refusing Compulsory Sexuality that they are a leading thinker in asexuality scholarship; gender and sexuality studies will never be the same.”
—Da’Shaun L. Harrison, author of Belly of the Beast
“A gloriously honest examination of asexual history and Blackness. Brown’s words traverse binaries, exude care, and act as radical archive for those marked by the violence of cisheteropatriarchy. Rarely is a book this rich with history this capable of integrity. It captures the gaps and lives of those deemed unworthy of remembering. Refusing Compulsory Sexuality will change you and encourage you to reignite a world worthy of it.”
—Amber Butts, author, editor, and organizer
“Refusing Compulsory Sexuality is an accessible primer for anyone in the general public looking to understand asexuality; Sherronda J. Brown illustrates the intellectual and lived ramifications for Black asexual possibility by synthesizing a wide range of personal experiences, academic, and activist sources for a sustained and loving look at this critical intersection. The deeper into the book you move, the more grateful you become that they have taken on this project and shared it with us, the world.”
—Ianna Hawkins Owen, assistant professor of English and African American studies, Boston University
“Brown’s work of nonfiction explores asexuality with a focus on white supremacy, anti-Blackness, capitalism, heteronormativity, and patriarchy as they connect with acephobia.”