More asexuality in rightwing media

As many people know, I moonlight as a media watchdog on the subject of asexuality, using Google Alerts for tracking. Mostly that means finding interesting essays to promote on The Asexual Agenda, but on very rare occasion I find some hateful garbage, which I pluck out for communal mockery. See previous editions of this series from 2018 and 2022.

1. Asexual contamination

Remember that whole thing where the publishers of Roald Dahl were revealed to have been quietly editing their books to be more in line with modern sensitivities? Yeah, me neither. Conservative newspapers were all over that stuff though, and were clearly diving into the bottom of the barrel for related stories.

Specifically, they honed in on the consultancy group, Inclusive Minds, which was hired in an advisory role when making the edits. More specifically they honed in on Jo Ross-Barrett, one person involved in that consultancy group, allegedly (not confirmed) leading the Dahl project. More specifically, they honed in on the fact that Jo Ross-Barrett is “an autistic, non-binary, asexual, polyamorous relationship anarchist.”

Yes, clearly the Daily Mail knows how to identify the most relevant facts of the situation. This story was also picked up by Breitbart and the New York Post. For more sensible reporting of the facts, I’d point to this article in

I don’t have any strong opinions about the Dahl issue either way. But, clearly if you were going to blame someone, it would be the publishers, not the people hired by the publishers, no? I heard that the publishers have edited their books many times before, and surely they don’t always hire the same consultants.

I think what happened was the newspapers cast about for anyone even loosely associated with the issue. And when someone identified as asexual, non-binary, and polyamorous, that short-circuited their brains, because they are quite simply bigots. This follows a similar pattern to one of the last articles I wrote about, where something was going on with Disney in the conservative news, so they found somebody somewhere at Disney who said she was biromantic asexual. The asexuals, they contaminate everything they touch, and everything touched by what they touch, and so on.

I figure conservative newspapers aren’t just doing this for asexuals, it’s for all sorts of identities they consider “woke”.

I am not familiar with Jo Ross-Barrett, but they published an article on relationship anarchy in AZE, a well-known asexual magazine linked on my sidebar, so that makes them cool in my book.

2. Dear Muslima

Yasmin Benoit is probably the most publicly visible asexual activist today. I have criticized her here and there, but I like her, she’s great. Recently she was the grand marshal in NYC Pride, and I’m happy for her. She also marched with Stonewall UK in the Pride in London Parade. This reportedly attracted attention from haters–although that was on Twitter so I suppose I must live my life without knowing what they said.

Among those haters is a writer at conservative-libertarian newspaper Spiked. Stephen Knight is indignant at Yasmin Benoit’s claim that asexual people deserve equal rights. “In what ways are asexual people being denied equal rights?” he asks. I am told that this question has been answered many times over in the tweet thread, but I suppose it’s understandable if Stephen doesn’t want to read Twitter any more than I do.

Point in fact, I would not say that the asexual community is focused on fighting for equal rights under the law. I would say our greatest concerns fall under the umbrella of epistemic injustice–ignorance of asexuality, discounting anything we say or any projects we touch, aces forcing themselves to have sex they don’t want because they aren’t taught the legitimacy of not wanting.

But equal rights is also a thing! It’s common for anti-discrimination laws to explicitly define sexual orientation as “heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality”, and it’s a simple step to add a few more items to the list. Yasmin also got interviewed by Newsmax–a far-right news show–and she names policies specific to the UK. For further reading, I recommend “Compulsory Sexuality“, a work of legal scholarship on the subject.

Stephen Knight speculates that this is all part of a conspiracy by activists to create new injustices to fight instead of retiring. “This same desire for self-preservation also explains why the output on LGBT website Pink News is now primarily focussed on transgender issues.” Stephen Knight, by the way, runs an atheist podcast and youtube channel that both appear to have a strong focus on trans issues. Only, from the anti-trans perspective. Much of this article, nominally about asexuality, is also spent railing against trans people. So I’m sure he’s an expert on the motivations of people who primarily focus on trans issues.

Finally, we get to this bit:

I marched at London Pride in 2019 with activists from the Ex-Muslim Council of Britain. They were there to raise awareness of the appalling treatment of gay people in the Islamic world. There are still 10 countries in the world where homosexuality is punishable by death – all of which are Islamic. At the time, I didn’t think to ask my ex-Muslim pals how they felt about the oppression visited upon asexual Londoners.

Did he… did he just Dear Muslima Yasmin? And did he just use the “well my friends agree with me” argument, only it wasn’t his friends, it was just some people he met 4 years ago, and their agreement is a work of fiction?

Also, isn’t this some fresh slander against the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain? Does the CEMB agree with bringing up their name in order to engage in whataboutism? Maybe, but I find it hard to believe. If anyone here is familiar with CEMB, or its leader Maryam Namazie, let me know your thoughts!


  1. says

    Also, in societies with arranged marriage and legalized marital rape, asexual people are not treated well. Even if you accept the nonsensical “Dear Muslima” argument, you’d still want to fight for the rights of asexual people.

  2. says

    “Stephen Knight, by the way, runs an atheist podcast and youtube channel that both appear to have a strong focus on trans issues. Only, from the anti-trans perspective.”
    eww how will i explain Stephen Knight to my children

    But anyway, this makes me wonder why conservatives would have a problem with aces, because don’t they want people (who are not married and/or not straight) to not have sex anyway? I would say that what they’re taking issue with is the concept of knowing what you want (or don’t want), and being confident in that, and believing that you get to make your own decisions based on that- rather than just following the “rules” about what people are “supposed” to do.

  3. says

    @Perfect Number,
    I don’t think the conservatives appearing here are taking issue with ace behavior. In particular, I do not expect that an atheist conservative like Knight believes that unmarried/non-straight people shouldn’t have sex. In my mental model of these conservatives, the perceived problem with aces is that they violate “reality” by identifying with a category that doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter.

  4. says

    Ah yeah you’re right, I was just thinking about Christian conservatives. In this case it seems more like they think “why do people have to keep making up these weird new identity labels”


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