NORMAL — Ela Przybylo, an assistant professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies at Illinois State University, has just released a book on asexuality, Asexual Erotics: Intimate Readings of Compulsory Sexuality.
According to a release from ISU, Przybylo is hoping to redefine asexuality. “There are so many negative stereotypes. That someone is simply repressed, lazy, conservative, or ‘has not met the right person.’ These undermine the legitimacy of the orientation,” said Przybylo.
Asexual Erotics employs a new way to view intimacy—through a lens of feminist and queer theory. Przybylo aims to help the reader understand asexuality using the framework of erotics.
“The concept of the erotic used by antiracist, lesbian, feminist writers such as Audre Lorde doesn’t centralize sex or sexuality,” Przybylo said. Queer feminist writers instead define the erotic as an energy that can create connections, which stands in direct contrast to the theories of Sigmund Freud that define life energy as sexual in nature. “The erotic could be about sex and sexuality, but it is also equally about doing work together, coming together with friends, challenging oppression, and sparking revolution,” said Przybylo. “The erotic gives a space for asexuality where sharing and connections are not necessarily sexual in context.”
Pryzbylo is also editor of the peer-reviewed journal Feral Feminisms and host of the 2019 international conference “Unthinking Sex, Imagining Asexuality: Intersectional and Interdisciplinary Perspectives.” She joined ISU this year from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, the school said in the release.
She noted there is a slowly growing acceptance of asexuality as more than a perceived flaw, and that mirrors other efforts in feminisms and queer theory. “We’re looking at what has been unspoken,” said Przybylo in the release, “and becoming interested in knowledges that have been present but not always widely celebrated. Looking at asexuality reminds us that there are many ways to be queer and many ways to express intimacy with others.”