Today actually marks the end of Asexual Awareness Week for 2016. Things have been so busy for me this week that I didn’t really have the time to participate in online activities like I normally do. As today has been an exceptionally quiet day, I took some time to reflect on the way things are in the world right now and to build a few dragons out of Legos.
It was about two years ago when I first posted about my life as an asexual in a very sexualized world. I guess in a lot of ways, that post was my “coming out as asexual” thing to the whole world. I’d never really talked about it before and I certainly hadn’t had the words for what I have felt my entire life before and I definitely never had a community or safe place with which to discuss life without sex. My life is very different now than it was, even two years ago. Now, I make entertaining Ace jokes in places I feel comfortable, I’m part of a vast online community of other asexuals who share art, writing, and a sense of community, and I openly discuss sexuality with others. It’s very different. Not really good or bad, just different.
So what does asexuality mean?
I’ll tell you what it means to me, with the disclaimer that I can’t speak for the entire asexual spectrum and that everyone’s experiences are different.
Being asexual simply means a lack of sexual attraction. That’s it. Just a lack of sexual attraction. It doesn’t mean that asexuals don’t have sex or that asexuals don’t have a sex drive, it just means that there is no sexual attraction. There are asexuals who have sex with their partners, asexuals who don’t have sex with their partners, asexuals who only want a romantic relationship, asexuals who only want queer-platonic relationships, asexuals who are happiest just hanging out with friends, asexuals who just want to be left alone, and the list goes on and on. Asexuality is a sexual orientation and being asexual, just like any other orientation, doesn’t have a “cookie-cutter” example of representation.
You would think that a lack of sexual attraction would make life a lot easier but people still find the time and energy to discriminate and have great discourse about asexuality. As the entire “Ace Discourse” thing is entirely too negative, it’s not a topic I want to discuss in any length at the current time. Let me assure you, though, that there’s a lot of less-than-stellar people out there who make being non-hetero-norm very unpleasant and encourages people like me to be genuinely fearful for my safety and the safety of those like me.
Now that I’ve gotten some of the basics out of the way, I’m going to link to some resources about asexuality, including asexual representation in entertainment and some resources for those who might want to increase the diversity of their work by adding asexual characters.
This is a pretty good listing of asexual representation in books from Quiet YA Reads on tumblr. This is another asexual book listing from Albatris on tumblr. One thing to keep in mind is that an author doesn’t need to expressly state that a character is asexual for a character to be asexual. There are a lot of great examples of representation and diversity out there where the author doesn’t call attention to it. I would definitely add Steel Victory and Steel Magic by J.L. Gribble as a very positive representation of an asexual character (Toria). I would also add the Circle of Magic books by Tamora Pierce (Sandry).
Beyond the Rainbow has some tips for writing about asexuality. As my own personal tips for writing about asexual characters, I will tell you that it makes me annoyed and frustrated when asexual characters are portrayed as emotionless or incapable of establishing deep emotional attachments, robots, shallow, socially incompetent, or convertible to happily sexy once they meet “the one”.
Asexuality is considered one of the “invisible orientations” because of its small population of people who identify themselves as asexual. It’s not some way to make people feel like they are a “special snowflake” and it’s certainly something that isn’t well-known. I didn’t even hear the term until I was in my 30s. There are posts on the internet of people in their 60s and older who are learning about asexuality and realizing they aren’t broken after all. I think the world would be a much better place if we all just accepted each other and worked towards helping each other rather than finding ways to belittle others. Hopefully, this post gives the void some new resources and some new reading material.