Category: Ace & Aro Studies

Whose Words Matter Anyway? On using identity labels in The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion

Posted October 19, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Ace & Aro Studies, My Work / 0 Comments

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The Ice Princess's Fair Illusion Coming November 6th. "Aromantic, we call it. You know that, my sweet. Aromantic and asexual, in fact. If you're going to tell it, tell it loud. Tell it proud. That's why I agreed to do this. I want to hear no more of people like yourself who needed words they never learned because no one believed they were needed." Preorder now: https://www.books2read.com/thrushbeard
Oh, look! It’s time for another sporadic not-a-guest-post personal essay about The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion. This time about some of the less nice influenced on the story. You can read the Patreon version (and leave comments) here!

Whose Words Matter Anyway? On using identity labels in The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion

A few years ago, I started reading romance novels with demisexual characters in them. Either they’re protagonists or they’re love interests. That sounds great, right? Asexuality, as a spectrum, is gaining visibility and there’s enough visibility now that ‘demisexual romance’ is a term you can actually successfully look for. I’ve got a whole list of them!

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Influences on The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion

Posted October 5, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Ace & Aro Studies, My Work / 0 Comments

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The Ice Princess's Fair Illusion Coming November 6th. "Aromantic, we call it. You know that, my sweet. Aromantic and asexual, in fact. If you're going to tell it, tell it loud. Tell it proud. That's why I agreed to do this. I want to hear no more of people like yourself who needed words they never learned because no one believed they were needed." Preorder now: https://www.books2read.com/thrushbeard

It’s been a few days – feels like forever – but I’m back with another short not-a-guest-post essay on The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion! This time it’s about 800 words discussing some of what influenced the story and why it is the way it is.

This essay literally took me ALL DAY to write. I have no idea if it’s good or terrible, but it is done and I’m in too much period-caused pain to care about anything else. (Sorry?)

Here’s the post on Patreon too! (Look, I’m actually remembering to add a link to the specific post now!)

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Asexual and Aromantic Tropes in Fiction

Posted October 1, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Ace & Aro Studies, My Work / 0 Comments

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I somehow failed – FAILED – to cross-post this essay here. WHAT. Here you are, though, about 8,500 words (not counting longer quotations, end notes, references or the abstract). This essay was made possible and available thanks to my absolutely lovely Patrons over at Patreon!

One addendum: I since learned that Jahir is canonically allosexual, but have not yet had a chance to revise the essay to address this.

Abstract

This essay explores the most common tropes affecting the depiction of asexual and aromantic characters in fiction by analysing the similarities and differences in narratives featuring explicit asexual and/or aromantic characters and narratives featuring strongly asexual and/or aromantic coded characters.

The essay also looks briefly at the state of asexual and aromantic representation in mainstream media by studying the way media outlets covered the straightwashing of Jughead Jones in Riverdaleand the way aromanticism and asexuality is conflated both in fiction and by queer publishers, as most current confirmed and deliberate asexual representation is found in printed media.

By looking at the representation in almost 30 narratives, common patterns and trends can be established regarding the state of asexual and aromantic representation in fiction and specific tropes – and their impact and origin – can be identified.

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Asexuality in R.J. Anderson’s Quicksilver

Posted April 1, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Ace & Aro Studies, My Work / 0 Comments

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4,469 words of moar literary essayage, including quotes, end notes and works cited. I should probably stop calling them not-essays at some point.

Asexuality in R.J. Anderson’s Quicksilver

In 2013, shortly after I discovered asexuality, one book jumped out at me: Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson. Anderson spoke frequently and prominently about the asexual representation in the narrative during interviews and blog posts. At the time, though it stood out to me, I never picked it up because the first book, Ultraviolet, didn’t appeal to me at all and, in time, I forgot it existed.

Until recently when I decided to look more closely at asexual representation in traditionally published books. This brief essay will look at the way that Anderson included asexual representation in the narrative of Quicksilver and discuss the ways in which Anderson avoids or attempts to avoid certain common pitfalls when writers, especially those who are allosexual[1], include asexual representation.

First, a brief note: I highly, highly recommend readers interested in reading Quicksilver start with Ultraviolet. The narrative frequently alludes to events in Ultraviolet so it can be read as a standalone, but it takes about 3/4ths of the book before those events are truly clear to readers who haven’t read Ultraviolet.

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In Stillness: The Perception of Asexuality in Seanan McGuire’s “Every Heart a Doorway”

Posted February 1, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Ace & Aro Studies, My Work / 0 Comments

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It’s here! I’ve finally polished up the draft version of my In Stillness essay and am officially sharing it with the world. :O Prepare yourself because this is 4,970 words long minus quotations, end notes and works cited list. With, it’s about 5,837.

In Stillness:

The Perception of Asexuality in Seanan McGuire’s “Every Heart a Doorway”

Before August 2016, I had never read a story with a character who explicitly identified as asexual. It is tempting to say that, before that time, I had never read any character like me before. This is not true. I’d read several stories with asexually-coded (ace-coded) characters before then[1], but August 2016 marked the month when I first read a story featuring a character who explicitly used the label to describe herself.

That character was Nancy from Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire and until I read that novella I did not truly understand why I too needed labels in fiction, why I too needed to see such blunt visibility and recognition. Every Heart a Doorway was published on May 10th, 2016 and has gone on to be nominated for (and sometimes winning) several major awards. To date, it has won the 2016 Nebulas, the 2017 Locus Awards, and the 2016 Hugo Awards, and it was one of the books named on the Tiptree Honors list in part for its portrayal of Nancy’s asexuality.

Being published by a respected traditional publisher, written by a well-known and popular queer SFF author and explicitly including a discussion of the definition of asexuality has seen Every Heart a Doorway rise to prominence as one of the major books included on recommendations lists featuring asexual characters. Arguably, it has gone on to become the poster recommendation for asexual representation within fiction.

As a reader on the asexual spectrum, I was initially delighted by the narrative that McGuire wrote. I was dazzled by the fact that here, for the first time that I could recall, there was a character written specifically and deliberately to mirror my experiences. It wasn’t a complete match, but it was close enough to hit home. It also, deliberately, called out some of the most harmful stereotypes regarding asexuality that I have seen and experienced. That, more than anything, is what I fell in love with the first time I read it.

When I reread it for the Hugo Award nominations in the spring of 2017, however, my experience was markedly different and I found the amisia[2] in the central premise almost unbearable. Nancy’s personal storyline revolves around her desire to return to the Halls of the Dead, the portal world that she visited, loved and wants to return to with all her heart. While the narrative is aware of its amisia on a surface level, this essay will show that once one looks below that surface the story actually perpetuates the very ideas that it so strongly attempts to deny.

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Retrospective: A Year Reading Asexual Fiction

Posted January 28, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Ace & Aro Studies, My Work / 0 Comments

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Retrospective: A Year Reading Asexual Fiction

In 2017, I read over 40 books featuring characters on the asexual (ace) spectrum in an effort to read predominantly ace rep this year. Though I failed at that, 40 books containing asexual representation is nothing to sniff at, especially considering how prevalent the claims are that the representation just doesn’t exist. Clearly it does because I read almost one book with ace rep per week.

This was a personal challenge I set myself, just as the year before, I set myself the challenge of reading predominantly internationally[1]. This time, however, it was part of a concentrated effort to actually read the books with asexual characters that I’d been accumulating and to discuss the representation they contain.

After I discovered asexuality around 2013, I let that knowledge sit quietly and soak in this idea that I wasn’t just odd and that I wasn’t alone. Slowly, I explored the spectrum and discovered more about myself. Slowly I started to accumulate books that I was terrified of reading either because the author is allosexual and I was scared they’d get it wrong or because the author is, like me, ace spec and I was scared of invalidating their experience by discussing it because it wasn’t mine.

But the more books I bought, watching them be buried under other shinier and newer acquisitions, and the more I realised how hard it is to find good representation even though the internet should be a great boon in this[2], the more I wanted to sit myself down and read the books I had despite my fears.

After a year of reading asexual fiction, I’ve noticed a few things about the way asexuality is treated in fiction and represented in books that feature explicit and deliberate asexual representation.

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Jughead is Aromantic and Asexual. The End.

Posted March 29, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Ace & Aro Studies / 0 Comments

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CW & TW: Discussions of arophobic and acephobic content.

Note #1: Comments are turned off by default on this post for mental health reasons. I’m really sorry to aromantic readers who wanted to comment. If you want to reach out to me via other means, please do!

Note #2: Im not aromantic asexual, but alloromantic demisexual. While I’ve done my best to ensure I’m not accidentally perpetuating arophobia, I cannot be 100% sure I’ve succeeded. Anything in this post/article that perpetuates arophobia is my fault. I apologise for it in advance. In the interest of full disclosure: an aroace friend read this over for me as a sensitivity reader, but any and all issues in this article exist because I messed up.

Note #3: OMG! I am the worst! So so so so many thanks to my friend for reading it over for me. <3 Again, any and all issues in this article are 100% on me, not them. If you think I messed up, blame me and only me. ‘s My doing. Also, please tell me so I can try to address it asap?

Jughead is Aromantic and Asexual. The End.

Firstly, let me start with this: I am not here to discuss whether it’s okay for Riverdale to write Jughead as an alloromantic allosexual (or an alloromantic asexual). It isn’t and this is not up for debate. Let me explain why as briefly as I can.

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Demisexual Writing Tips

Posted October 28, 2016 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Ace & Aro Studies / 0 Comments

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Last night, I did a short(?) series of tweets discussing tips on how to write demisexual characters in your fiction. Those tweets have been storyfied here. WHOOHOO! The tweets focus on how to write demisexual protagonists, though it’s probably general enough to give you an idea on how to write any kind of demisexual. (That said, less screen space and no pov time makes it really hard to show a character as explicitly demisexual, so my recommendation would be that, if you want to include demi representation in your stories, make it a prominent character, so you have the space needed to explore how demisexuality works.)

And because I tend to write out longer tweet threads/storms like this before I start tweeting, here’s the original too. It’s slightly different at points because I do rephrase a little as I tweet, usually to allow for the character limit, but it’s effectively the same thing.

tl;dr best tip version: Let characters become firm friends first and then slowly layer in your demisexual character’s sexual attraction. Layer it. Also read the linked tumblr posts on how to avoid invalidating other ace spec sexualities and, when you’re looking for sensitivity readers don’t forget about the rest of the spectrum. Everyone will have something valuable to say about how you handle it!

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Books with (presumed) Asexual Characters

Posted October 31, 2014 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Ace & Aro Studies, Miscellaneous / 6 Comments

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Thoughts. The text 'rambling thoughts' underneath a burning lantern. For rambles, thoughts, and not-essays.

A few days ago, I compiled a brief list of books that I know feature asexuals or people strongly presumed to be asexual. Subsequent discussion suggested that perhaps it would be nice to have them in a nice and handy blog post list, so. Here it is! ^_^ I hope people will find it useful and please don’t hesitate to mention any books you know of in the comments!

Also, please note that the list below features predominently SFF since, as readers of my blog probably gathered, that’s the bulk of what I read. There is also brief commentary and this list is compiled in no particular order whatsoever beyond that I’ve put my own stories last.

Hope this helps people out!

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