Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication and Rhetorical Studies


Dana Cloud


asexuality, flibanserin, HSDD, medical rhetoric, sexuality

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Using a Foucauldian-influenced approach to discourse and power, this thesis analyzes the production of nonsexualities, such as the lack of sexual desire, in the contemporary United States. In psychiatric discourse, the distressed nonsexual subject is produced as the patient with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). This discursive formation was put to use in the debate surrounding pharmaceutical drug flibanserin (Addyi) in order to secure its approval by the FDA in 2015. I posit that, by emphasizing the distress of the HSDD patient experience, the rhetoric of pro-flibanserin advocacy succeeded in producing an ethical exigency, arguing that it would be cruel for the FDA to reject the drug. Centrally, its support for this claim relies upon the construction of an ideal (hetero)sexual marriage and problematizing nonsexuality as a threat to love. Flibanserin’s rhetorical support depended, then, upon casting nonsexuality in the role of a destructive enemy force. As a counter-discourse, the discourse of the asexual community—which produces “asexuality” as a sexual orientation—codifies a point of resistance to these claims.


Open Access



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.