Models of Sexuality in Shively and De Cecco’s “Components of Sexual Identity” (1977)

A/N: this post is partially inspired by historicallyace’s recent post on the history of Split Attraction Models – check it out here.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I recently stumbled across an early example of a split-orientation style model in sexological literature that I haven’t seen mentioned much in ace history before – a brief paper on the structure of sexual orientation that was published in the journal of Homosexuality in 1977.

In this paper, Shively and De Cecco discuss that many conceptual components that combine to create sexual identity, including biological sex, gender identity, social sex role, and sexual orientation. After discussing contemporary approaches to studying social sex-roles that posit placing “masculinity” and “femininity” on two parallel axes, instead of one binary axis (in which an increase in one must be accompanied by a decrease in the other), they then propose applying to this method to sexual orientation as well (similar to the approach used in the Storms model, this also capable of better accounting for asexuality than older binary models, although unlike Storms the authors do not take that approach here).

However, this model takes an extra step beyond the typical Storms model by dividing sexual orientation into two components: physical attraction, and affectional attraction:

Sexual orientation can be viewed as having two aspects. One is physical preference, and one is affectional preference. Physical preference refers to the individual’s preference for male and/or female sexual partners. Affectional preference refers to the individual’s preference for male and/or female emotional partners.

Physical preference can be viewed as two independent continua of heterosexuality and homosexuality (see figure 4). For each individual there is one continuum of physical heterosexuality and one continuum of physical homosexuality. Qualitatively, individuals can be seen as heterosexual, homosexual, or both heterosexual and homosexual. Quantitatively, individuals can be seen as having heterosexuality and homosexuality ranging from very much to very little

Affectional preference, in a similar fashion, can be viewed as two independent continua of affectional heterosexuality and affectional homosexuality. Figure 5 shows the two continua and and the relationship of one continuum to the other…..

screenshot2016-10-24at4-47-33pmscreenshot2016-10-24at4-47-14pm

….A theory that includes both the physical and affectional aspects of sexual orientation allows an examination of greater variety of ways of expressing sexuality.

In the physical-affectional theory of sexual attraction conflicts can occur (a) between physical and affectional expression (b) between homosexual and heterosexual physical sexuality, and (c) between homosexual and heterosexual affectional sexuality. These conflicts may be resolved at two levels, behavior and fantasy….

(you can read the full paper here)

In many ways, this is an extremely close parallel to the way we now discuss sexual and romantic orientation in current asexual communities, and one of the earliest discussions of such models that I have seen so far in academic literature  (though this post discusses significantly earlier examples from the work of Karl Ulrichs)

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About Sennkestra

I'm an aromantic asexual and a bit of an [a]sexuality nerd, recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in linguistics. When I'm not reading stuff on the internet I like to cook fancy food, watch anime, and make costumes and other arts and crafts projects.
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One Response to Models of Sexuality in Shively and De Cecco’s “Components of Sexual Identity” (1977)

  1. Pingback: Linkspam: October 28th, 2016 | The Asexual Agenda

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