Lexical definitions

5 Feb

Oddly enough this post is inspired by an essay I had to read for one of my classes, which has to do with library and information science and absolutely nothing to do with sexuality. It was, however, talking about labels, and words, which are things I find interesting.

Tefko Saracevic in “Information Science” (1999), Journal of the American Society for Information Science:

Lexical definitions are necessary for providing a broad description and boundaries of the subjects covered by a field, but they cannot provide for a deeper understanding. Webster does not a field define. This is not to reject clear lexical definitions—not at all—just to establish their limitations.

Now, I don’t want to do a whole lot of 101, because doing 101 tends to make me feel like shit about myself, but this little note reminded me of the importance of 101 beyond just the definition of asexuality.

I keep the definition of “not experiencing sexual attraction.” But usually, I have to break that down and parse out “attraction is not desire, is not drive, is not the ability to feel arousal, is not the perception of pleasure or displeasure at sexual acts.” Because I think society isn’t set up to separate any of these things, at least not under usual circumstances, so even ace people being introduced to the concept may have to rethink how they perceive attraction vs. desire vs. etc.

So this quote made me pause for a moment and consider how extensive 101 has to be sometimes in order for someone to really understand a concept, and I think that’s part of why I hate doing it unless I’m talking to a friend and it comes up in conversation naturally. Or if there’s something I need to (or want to) talk about with my girlfriend. Or talking with another ace person, especially if we’re discussing how we experience our asexuality.

I guess overall, 101 doesn’t always make me feel like a freak. Just when it’s people asking to know details about me who don’t have any reason to know those details, or people who want to be told all about it so they can try to disprove it, or so they can put me up on a little purity pedestal.

Maybe once in a while I’ll take one of the common questions I hear being asked about asexuality and try to talk them out a bit.

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