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6.7: Sexual Essentialism and the Compulsory Sexuality

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    Observing sex as a natural force that precedes society and is an essential part of the human condition is also known as sexual essentialism. Sex, as defined by those in power, is what everybody wants, and there is a specific way to have it. This epistemology contrasts with a constructionist viewpoint of sexuality as being contextual based on lived experience; that sexuality is fluid in nature.  Similar to sexual essentialism, compulsory sexuality speaks to the idea that sexuality and sexual attraction is something everyone experiences. As Kristina Gupta (2015) describes the term, it is “the assumption that all people are sexual and [describes] the social norms and practices that both marginalize various forms of non-sexuality”. As we have already observed, archetypal sexuality is non-existent, and people’s desires and choices are vast and varied. In a world that sees sex as natural and a biological drive, asexuality is viewed as a type of dysfunction. Phrases such as “it’s just a phase” or “you just haven’t found the right person” can be hurtful when one’s sexuality is being challenged.  (Przybylo 2016).