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. 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, 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.
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: I‘m 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.
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!
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!