Asexuality and Fandom

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Trope · Genre
Synonyms: ace
Related: asexuality
See Also: asexual_fandom
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
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According to AVEN, "An asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction,"[1] although asexuals may define asexuality differently.[2]

In fanworks, an asexual or "ace" character or relationship usually does not display much or any interest in sexual sensations. Fanworks that include asexuality range from rare to more prevalent depending on the fandom.

Fandoms With Ace Characters (Fanon or Canon)

Assassin's Creed: Many fans have expressed the headcanon that Ratonhnhaké:ton ("Connor") is on the asexual/aromantic spectrum.[3][4][5][6]

The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon Cooper is often cited as an example of a character who is asexual in canon.[7]

Bojack Horseman: Todd Chavez is an openly asexual character.[8]

Dishonored: Head writer Harvey Smith confirmed on Twitter that the assassin Daud (antagonist of the first game and protagonist of the DLCs) is asexual. An in-game book says that "sex had never interested him".[9]

Doctor Who: Especially fans of the classic series often viewed the Doctor as being asexual. Some fans were therefore dismayed by the 'shippy vibes included in the newer series.

Dreaming of Sunshine: The main character Nara Shikako is canonically aromantic and asexual, although the author, Silver Queen, has said she doesn't mind people shipping Shikako in their recursive fanfiction.[10]

Leverage: Some fans think that Parker is ace.

Mass Effect: The salarians in general are considered to be an asexual race,[11] but the most prominent example of the salarians' asexuality within fandom is the character of Mordin Solus. While he eventually sees Commander Shepard as a good friend, he politely turns down any notion of a relationship with them -if they are not in a romance with another character at the time-, but adds that if he were to "try human", he would "try" Shepard (interestingly enough, he says this to both male and female Shepards).[12]

Les Misérables: Enjolras is often interpreted as being asexual, due to Hugo's description of him in the Brick.[13] However, Enjolras's sexuality is not clearly defined in any canon and is mainly understood through interpreting Classical allusions, and is accordingly one of the most commonly debated issues in the Les Mis fandom.

One Piece: Monkey D. Luffy is sometimes thought to be asexual.

Sherlock Holmes fandoms: The character of Sherlock Holmes is sometimes seen as being asexual.[14]

Some writers like exploring what this means for his possible romance with Watson. Holmes/Watson or Sherlock/John fic where Holmes and Watson first get together and Holmes is asexual and Watson is not often has some element of angst as they negotiate their romantic relationship. John is often portrayed as missing sex and many stories end in a compromise where their relationship has some consensual sexual element. One common plot in Sherlock BBC fanwork ends with Sherlock convincing a reluctant John that he is comfortable participating in some sexual activity with John.

Sherlock Holmes's brother, Mycroft, is also sometimes characterized as asexual and other characters rarely.

Stargate Atlantis: In SGA fic, the character of John Sheppard has multiple times been written as asexual.[15] This may in part be due to the fanon trope that he is touch-averse.

Trigun: Vash the Stampede has romantic storylines in canon but is often perceived as asexual.

Asexual Characters and Sex in Fanwork

Some fans have expressed concern over the prevalence of asexual characters, for whom sex is not a focus, being depicted having sex in fanwork. One fan writes this is perhaps an effect of sexual people writing asexual characters as well as a problem with the constraints of the romance genre in general:

Well, seeing as how 99% of the population is sexual, that's their frame of reference and they may have a hard time breaking out of that. Sadly, gen fic is pretty rare, and I've noticed that there are certain tropes for fics that involve romantic relationships. Unfortunately all of these tropes assume that romance invariably leads to sex, even if said sex isn't shown in the fic. It becomes an expectation of the genre (if fanfic can be classified as a genre), and a lot of people can't figure out how to work around that expectation. It becomes easier to figure out a reason why the ace character has to have sex than to go against the archetype of how romantic relationships in fictions are Supposed to Be.[16]

The pattern of asexual characters altruistically entering into sexual relationships in fanwork is also criticized by other fans.

. . . the narrative of "I'm not sexual, I just like giving you handjobs" is one I can't relate to. It tires me to read stories about "ace" characters without seeing evidence that their relationship to sex actually differs from sexual people. It's not unthinkable for me that some aces would want to have sex, for a host of reasons, but I'm tired of the "magic, selfless ace, who just wants to please" trope. I'd love to read the "magic, selfless sexual, who just wants to please" trope, now; I think it's time to write some of that.[17]

Depictions of asexuality can be idealistic when it comes to the willingness of all asexuals to engage in sexual activity:

Honestly, I think the balance of ase-in-porn!fic vs. ace-no-porn!fic should be considered on a character by character, fandom by fandom basis. In some, it will definitely be more probable than others due to canonical characterization…. At the same time, I also admit to concern that all of the sex fic and happy endings will create a misconception that all asexuals will always be able and willing to compromise and that doing so is no big deal.[18]

Overall there is a lack of variety in relationship patterns in fanwork, especially involving asexuals:

[The "magic self-less ace" trope] can create unrealistic expectations of relationship dynamics that are difficult to pursue in real life. Doesn't mean it shouldn't be written, but too much would be troublesome. Eh, what we really need is a good bouquet of different fic types, so they can be compared and contrasted for possible usefulness as role models.[19]

Tagging on AO3

Tagging on Archive of Our Own is always a somewhat contentious topic. An user on the anon meme fail_fandomanon asked, "Nonnies, Character A is asexual but not aromantic. Should I use Character A/Character B or Character A & Character B in the relationship tag?"[20] which got a good spread of responses:

That's very obviously /. -1 on the tagging Asexual A. Unless the fic is about them being ace, there's no need for the tag.

-1, I wouldn't tag Asexuality unless it was a fic about exploring a character's asexuality, but tagging identity headcanons helps both people who share the headcanon to find it, and people who are strictly into different headcanons to avoid it.

ayrt

I feel like it's like tagging for trans character when nothing in the fic really tells you the character is trans other than the absence of evidence of them being cis. It's like tagging mentioned ships with their relationship tags. False advertisement especially when nobody would know the character is ace without the tags saying it.

ayrt If that tag is the only way you'd know, and the only indication is they don't fuck, then yeah I wouldn't bother tagging it. Since the author thought it was important enough to mention in the initial question, I was assuming it was brought up in the fic, which I would tag for. Fics I would tag with Asexuality as trope in addition to the character tag would be things like character introspection about their sexuality or relationship negotiation between ace character and non-ace partner.

I disagree about not tagging with Asexual Character. This is how the "Asexual Character" tag becomes nothing but regurgitated issuefic product, if the only fics that use the tag are ones where it's all navel-gazing about asexuality. People complain about that all the time, but it won't change until people start posting fics that are just about asexual characters living their lives, while being asexual.

There's a middle ground between "this is thoroughly issuefic" and "you wouldn't know if I hadn't tagged it."

Example Fanworks

James Bond:

The perks of Constancy by superpol
A James Bond/Q story about James Bond navigating his relationship with an asexual Q. Includes relationship negotiation.

Harry Potter:

love like the love in storybooks by dirgewithoutmusic
A series of snippets on ace characters in the HP universe.

Leverage:

The Not Your Teaching Tool Job (AO3 link) by BlackEyedGirl
Has Parker as a biromantic asexual in a relationship with Hardison and Eliot. The story revolves around her trying to explain to them her feelings on sex.

DC Comics:

What's Red And Black And Broken? by dofensphinx
Harley just wants a normal life now, she wants to go to work and go home, handsome billionaires and villainous exs were not part of the plan, but nothing ever went according to her plans. (Harley Quinn/Bruce Wayne)

Marvel Cinematic Universe:

Rogers & Barnes: Partners by triedunture
Bucky Barnes/Steve Rogers, Steve and Bucky's friendship has been rocky ever since Bucky confessed his tender feelings and Steve left him out in the cold. Can asexual, completely-in-love-with-his-angry-best-friend Steve complete the mission and win Bucky's heart? (Yes)
The A in Team by orphan_account
Avengers OT6 with asexual Clint. Taking the OT6 from makeouts on the couch to the bedroom hits a snag when the team discovers that Clint is asexual and, while he's a big fan of all the kissing, he's really not interested in sleeping with anyone. The team are determined not to leave him out though - they just need to find something that works for everyone. (Incomplete)
love is for children and other lies by Fahye
War is the child's emptiness, the surrender of identity, the transformation into a simple system: purpose goes in, action comes out. (Natalia Alianovna Romanova, and everything that she became.)
Walking like a man, hitting like a hammer by TardisIsTheOnlyWayToTravel
"Darcy was convinced it was going to become part of SHIELD’s oral history forever, like that time everyone on this one op was doused with sex pollen and the only one who didn’t screw someone senseless was then not-yet-deputy director Agent Hill, and Robards said it was because she was a frigid lesbian and Hill told him that the term was asexual and if he was going to be a bigoted asshole about it he could at least get her orientation right. And then Coulson made him go through the hardcore diversity and sexual harassment training as punishment, because everyone knew Hill and Coulson were bros." Maria Hill is honestly pretty happy with her life.

Teen Wolf:

The Sum of Its Parts series by KouriArashi
Includes an asexual relationship between Derek and Stiles, with Derek being asexual. While Derek's portrayal at the beginning may suggest he lost interest in sex due to sexual abuse, it is later cleared that he was always asexual.
Doesn't Add Up by Goldenpetal13
Has an asexual Stiles and describes an evolution of his relationship with Derek.

BBC Sherlock:

A Love with No Name series by aceofhearts61
In which asexual Sherlock and straight John are platonically in love life partners.

Inception:

Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Yearning RAs by sevenimpossiblethings
A college AU in which Eames and Arthur are both Resident Advisors, and Arthur is asexual. (Arthur/Eames)
Leading with my heart by acidpop25
Arthur may be asexual, but he and Eames are in love all the same. (Arthur/Eames)
Puzzles by enchantedsleeper
Movie gap-filler which shows the progression of Ariadne and Arthur's relationship throughout the film, and an asexual Arthur grappling with his romantic feelings for Ariadne. (Ariadne/Arthur)

Fullmetal Alchemist:

The Inside of Emptiness by Tierfal
This series features an asexual/demisexual Edward coming to terms with his identity and navigating a romantic relationship as an asexual person (Roy/Ed.) Riza Hawkeye is also depicted as asexual in this universe.

Supernatural:

The water is bluer in dreamscapes by Sa_kun
Dean stops having sex after Hell. Actually, he was never that into it in the first place.
Redemption Arc by galaxysoup
Castiel awakens in a forest with an empty feeling in his chest and a deep sense of dread.

Les Misérables:

Earthquake in Suspension (or, A Love Story in Three Acts) by Kaleran
Prompt: Valjean And Javert Realize They're Ace And/Or Aro, And Everyone Is Accepting, And They Are Happy. On a cool June night on one of the many bridges in Paris, Valjean fractures something in Javert with a simple touch and a soft plea that sends a tremor through his soul. Valjean stubbornly teaches him mercy, kindness, and the language of touch, and Javert is metamorphosed.
A Reflection of Starlight by AutumnGracy
Curiosity causes Valjean to follow Javert to the Seine, and what he sees there changes everything. Now they must struggle to understand one another as their worlds come crashing down around them. A story about compassion, tenderness, and reconciliation. Based entirely on Brick canon.
Benefit of the Touch by Chrissy24601
Valvert pairing where one or both are asexual. Javert has a nightmare after the barricades and Valjean comforts him. Would love a fic with sharing a bed, awkward old virgin cuddling and comfort. Plus if it focuses on Javert being distrustful or even somewhat fearful of the human touch and gradually becoming able to enjoy it.
The Next Step by grlnamedlucifer
Valjean has a feeling Javert's waiting on him to be ready take the next step. The problem being, he's not really sure that's ever going to happen.

Communities & Resources

Meta & Discussion

References

  1. "Asexual Information and Perspectives". Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  2. lavvyan. "This entry is brought to you". Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  3. "Asexual Connor". 
  4. "Connor/any, asexual relationship, fluff". 
  5. "Connor was, in my headcanons, grey-aromatic asexual". 
  6. "Today's Queer Headcanon of the Day is: Connor Kenway is asexual and aromantic". 
  7. At one point Penny asks Leonard "What is Sheldon's deal?" and clarifies that she means his sexuality; Leonard replies that as far as any of Sheldon's friends know, "he has no deal." A later episode has Sheldon declaring that he is "quite aware of the way humans usually reproduce" but if he and his friend Amy were ever to have children, it would happen "in a lab with petri dishes."
  8. Sammy Nickalls (September 8, 2017). "Todd Chavez Is TV's First Out-and-Proud Asexual Icon". Retrieved July 24, 2018. 
  9. "Dishonored wikia". 
  10. Silver Queen, response to an anonymous ask on dosbysilverqueen.tumblr.com. Posted 20 August 2016. (Accessed 27 July 2018.)
  11. "Due to their method of reproduction, salarians have no concept of romantic love, sexual attraction, or the biological impulses and social rituals that complicate other species' lives. Male-female relationships are rare (due to the scarcity of females) and more akin to human friendship. Sexuality is strictly for the purpose of reproduction." - Mass Effect codex entry on salarians
  12. Female Shepard and Male Shepard conversations with Mordin.
  13. Enjolras’ sexuality in The Brick, one of the most clearly articulated interpretations of the canon that reaches the conclusion that Enjolras is asexual.
  14. For example, see BBC Sherlock's sexuality.
  15. For example, see Asexual_fandom's delicious tags for SGA (Accessed 31 March 2011)
  16. "Comment to "Writing Asexuals in Sex Scenes"". 
  17. "Comment to "Writing Asexuals in Sex Scenes"". 
  18. "Comment to "Writing Asexuals in Sex Scenes"". 
  19. "Thoughts," reply to Calvinahobbes's comment to "Writing Asexuals in Sex Scenes" by Ysabetwordsmith
  20. Nonnie in Post 1025's Ask meme thread. 2019-02-04