My Asexuality and Writing Submission Part II: Fanfiction, the Forgotten Part

In my last post I talked a little about my personal history regarding writing and asexuality. I left a small part out: I have also written fanfiction with asexual characters, and asexual characters in relationships. I left it out for a reason, a reason that ties in with my last post’s overall theme: the growing nastiness and bad faith present in the tumblr asexual community.

I’ve been wanting to get the chance to sit down and write for this month’s Carnival of Aces all month. Asexuality! Writing! Two things I love to talk about it! Sign me up, siblings!

Ok. Today I finally got that chance. I checked the guidelines on the Call for Submissions post, and as usual, glanced at the comments to see what others had written about (I don’t like to reinvent the wheel twice).

Someone wrote about asexuality and fanfiction! Wowy zowy! That was great, I was excited. I love reading about those two things. I clicked on the post, read through it, and my mouth almost fell open. This person had some advice for people who wrote asexuals in fanfiction.

See, they had some advice for people who write asexuals in “mixed relationships” (an asexual and a non-asexual in a relationship). Specifically, for people who write the asexual having a relationship where they have sex with the non-asexual partner to make them happy–you know, advice for people like me.

They had three points. The first two were presumptions of the writer’s ignorance of asexuality and ace relationships. The third point though, really blew me away. And I quote:

“just stop fetishising Asexuality please and thank you.”

This is what I was talking about in my last post. Ignorant, baseless assumptions about people, and gross accusations against other asexuals. According to this person, my little stories, which were largely a form of wish fullfillment, where an ace character lived a happy domestic life in a beautiful home with their clever, charming and suave non-asexual partner who they happen to have sex with some times, is me fetishizing asexuality.

Who knew? I’m tired of this bad faith, of this lashing out and attacking other asexuals out of baseless assumptions. Of this rampant stereotyping and generalizing. “Someone writing about an ace having sex with their non-ace partner? Most be a disgusting fetishizing alloromantic allosexual scumbag! Just stop fetishizing us eww.

This sort of thing is exactly what I was talking about in my previous post. Albeit milder than many of the examples I see.

You may of course, read their entire piece for yourself. On Tumblr.

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17 thoughts on “My Asexuality and Writing Submission Part II: Fanfiction, the Forgotten Part

  1. I’m still reading your posts, but I’ve skimmed this one real quick (because I recently have written about Fanfiction & asexuality too… https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/being-an-asexual-fangirl/ and https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/being-an-asexual-fangirl-part-2/ )

    And before I comment more here and on your part 1 about non-fiction writing, I’d really love to know… are you in the Sherlock fandom, or any fandom where there are a ton of headcanons from a very large number of fans that a particular character is ace? Like it’s really easy to find new fics about that ace character being ace. Because I’m not active in any fandom like that. I’ve never seen Sherlock. Etc. And most of the “people are fetishizing asexuality” comments I’ve seen tend to be from people who have good reason to believe they see Allosexual people writing asexuality, and doing it “wrong” because they completely don’t get it. These are the same people who say they see asexuality being “cured” in fics in offensive ways and just various things that I, personally, have never stumbled across in fanfiction.

    I just think specific fandom stuff plays such a huge difference. Each fandom has its own subculture of what is acceptable to be written, and what is the norm.

    Okay give me a few minutes to actually read everything you’ve said now. Sorry for commenting early.

    • “and most of the “people are fetishizing asexuality” comments I’ve seen tend to be from people who have good reason to believe they see Allosexual people writing asexuality, and doing it “wrong” because they completely don’t get it. “

      There may be some people fetishizng asexuality. There may be some people writing fic about asexuality without knowing very much about it. That’s no excuse to make blanket statements about everyone who writes asexual/non-asexual stories.

      If I write advice directed at people who write asexual/non-asexual fics, I’m not going to make that advice “you’re ignorant, educate yourself here” and “please stop fetishizing us thanks”.

  2. So I saw that post before that you quoted, and had already simply “reblogged” it, no comment added. I didn’t object to the post when I read it, because the list of “don’ts”, while harsh, didn’t seem really “off” to me. I’d felt they’d made a lot of good points.

    Even when I read it the first time, though, I didn’t like the “Another pet peeve goes like this: character A is struggling with their lack of sexual attraction but existing romantic attraction to character B. Character A voices their concern, and character B goes “that’s called asexual”. Character B is exited, “there’s a word for it!” and then all is well. ” and “Asexuality simply isn’t well known. It seems so unrealistic for all these characters to know exactly what it is AND be accepting.” parts, dismissing the idea of this narrative as “unrealistic” because a) fanfiction doesn’t need to be realistic, like you said, aceinlace, it’s about wish-fulfillment in many ways… and b) because who are they to say how realistic it is. Uncommon doesn’t mean unrealistic. People can write about rare scenarios all the time in realistic manners, and it can be amazing.

    One thing I liked about the post when I first read it was this part: “Did you know that, while not the entirety of the asexual population, sex-repulsed aces make up a majority of it? The number of fics like this is very disproportional…” because it seemed to balance out the idea that it was NEVER okay to write about an ace being happy having sex… it was more the author of the post’s frustration that there is an overly low percentage of sex-repulsed aces in fanfic, or something. The author wasn’t saying that scenario never happened, just that it should happen less often in ace-based fanfics, given the statistical make-up of the community. I view it as something similar to people complaining about the lack of female (or non-binary) ace characters in fanfic compared to how many aces (and ace fanfic writers) are women and non-binary people. It’s not that men shouldn’t ever be written as ace.

    The anger might make me or other people uncomfortable, but it also catches attention and justified anger is not necessarily a bad thing.

    It’s frustrating if an asexual character in a fanfic isn’t what you want them to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s fair to attack all writers who do a certain thing. I think your objections to that post are 100% fair and completely understandable. The author of the post made assumptions that were harsh and unfair about the authors of such fanfics.

    But these are just my thoughts.

    • “while harsh, didn’t seem really “off” to me. I’d felt they’d made a lot of good points.”

      Really? I saw almost no valid points in their entire list.

      “dismissing the idea of this narrative as “unrealistic” because a) fanfiction doesn’t need to be realistic, like you said, aceinlace, it’s about wish-fulfillment in many ways… and b) because who are they to say how realistic it is. Uncommon doesn’t mean unrealistic. People can write about rare scenarios all the time in realistic manners, and it can be amazing.”

      Agreed. Some of my own experiences with asexuality have been pretty uncommon. Although–it’s not easy to tell what *is* and *isn’t* common for asexuals–we’re not exactly drowning in memoirs and narratives, or statistical information. And like you said, there’s nothing wrong with writing wish fulfillment, or rare things.

      ” The author wasn’t saying that scenario never happened, just that it should happen less often in ace-based fanfics, given the statistical make-up of the community.”

      It’s a somewhat dud of an argument though. Fiction is never going to be statistically, demographically realistic. How many people have met a dragon? 0. How many fictional characters have? Well, countless. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging, or asking for, more of X in fiction. But to argue that no one can write Y because the X-Y balance is demographically off is ridiculous. It’s so ridiculous that it sounds like a strawman argument–only Silvermoon is up there blatantly making it.

      So is aromantic-necromancer–with the added threat that they will “find you and bury you in the desert” if you write the thing they think people shouldn’t write about. On their “safe, positive blog for asexual and aromantic-spectrum peeps” no less. (http://aromantic-necromancer.tumblr.com/post/114539466060/if-youre-planning-on-writing-a-book-about-an)

      “The anger might make me or other people uncomfortable, but it also catches attention and justified anger is not necessarily a bad thing.”

      No one is complaining about their anger. I am complaining about their actions. It really makes me wonder, why is it that when someone is bringing attention to lies, misinformation, slander, harassment, bullying, abusive language, etc, that people so often rush to focus on how the person doing it is “justified in their anger” or “they have a right to be angry”. We’re criticizing actions–not emotions.

      Someone flinging poo at passerbys catches attention to–are their actions a good thing? Not all attention drawn is good.

      “it’s frustrating if an asexual character in a fanfic isn’t what you want them to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s fair to attack all writers who do a certain thing.[…] The author of the post made assumptions that were harsh and unfair about the authors of such fanfics.”

      I agree. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this with me.

    • I was thinking the same thing about the “unrealistic”/”all is well” thing. I mean, sure, everything may not end up going well– there’s conflict in everything– but I can certainly think of scenarios where things would end up working out better on the whole for someone after they’ve been introduced to the idea of asexuality.

      Also, much like the “fetishizing” thing, that’s one of those things that really depends on the fandom. And the tone of the story. And the characters. And the setting. And… yeah.

  3. Pingback: March 2015 Carnival of Aces Roundup – cinderace blogs

  4. I’m not sure if you agree, but I really like that there’s such strong disagreement occurring within the Carnival this month. This really touches on the creator/reader struggle, which is only implicit in some of the other posts.

    I find Silvermoon’s post to be a little bit glib. It’s like, “This is such an obvious problem, why don’t you just stop it.” It doesn’t really think about why creators do what they do. But it’s not really in the nature of the reader to think about that stuff.

    Perhaps a less glib version of the same complaint is this old piece. But even there, it can bring up anxieties. If I write about an asexual who has sex, or if I even enjoy a story about an asexual who has sex, am I contributing to a longstanding problem? What if I’m sexually active, does that mean representations of me are problematic?

    • “I’m not sure if you agree, but I really like that there’s such strong disagreement occurring within the Carnival this month.”

      I don’t think there is a strong disagreement coming from me, although others might feel that way about some of the other Carnival posts. I like seeing people talk about the kinds of things Silvermoon talked about. For instance, Cinderace had a really interesting examination of her own writing of asexual characters, and the effect they had on asexual representation and visibility. Aqua had a post that discussed writing mixed relationships and it was fine. Hibernia also discussed the aliens-as-asexual thing (another potentially touchy trope) quite well.

      I don’t have an issue with people discussing touchy or potentially stereotype-reinforcing tropes; I have a problem with the sloppy, poorly-reasoned, stereotyping, erasing and insulting things Silvermoon said about this issue. Silvermoon is the only one who didn’t discuss or examine these issues–instead, she made a list telling people “do this” “don’t do this” based on nothing more than her own biases and baseless assumptions.

      ” If I write about an asexual who has sex, or if I even enjoy a story about an asexual who has sex, am I contributing to a longstanding problem?”

      No. There is almost never any valid reason behind the idea that “X fictional thing must never be written about”. If there’s a lot of X in fiction, it’s because people want to write it, or want to read it. And those two things are the only things needed to justify a piece of fiction’s existence–either someone wants to write it, or someone wants to read it, ergo it exists.

      What harm are you causing by writing a story, or reading a story?

      “What if I’m sexually active, does that mean representations of me are problematic?”

      I would say no, but many Tumblr users seem to think so. You could try asking Silvermoon for some insight as to why anyone would believe that. I don’t have a clue how someone comes to that conclusion.

      • You’re right.

        There’s nothing wrong with encouraging, or asking for, more of X in fiction. But to argue that no one can write Y because the X-Y balance is demographically off is ridiculous. It’s so ridiculous that it sounds like a strawman argument–only Silvermoon is up there blatantly making it.

        I think when I first read it, I was perhaps reading into Silvermoon’s post things that weren’t there. I was likely reading it as a form of encouraging more of what they wanted… and idk. I have been convinced that I was not being nearly critical enough of what they wrote when I first read it. I tend to be biased toward enjoying any time fanfiction and asexuality are brought up in the same post on tumblr, so I was primed to hope for the best and read into it the most optimistic interpretation possible, perhaps? And since it didn’t directly invalidate my own identity/experiences, it wasn’t as obvious at a first glance that what was written was kind of awful and yes, invalidating of people’s experiences and identities.

        You have made a lot of logical points that I agree with, truly.

        • No, I understand that. We’re all busy people and we probably don’t have as much time as we’d like to go over people’s post and examine them critically from multiple angles.

  5. Hi! I’m the person in question from Tumblr.

    And I can definitely see a lot of good criticism here on my post that I wish I’d thought of back when I wrote it haha.

    About the asexuals having sex: I didn’t mean it as asexuals should never be written as having sex! I apologise if that’s the gist that my post gave off. I acknowledge that it was poorly written and explained (I should probably just stick to reading carnival of aces posts haha) but, to begin with, I’d written that post thinking about stories written by allosexuals (at least I assume) who didn’t seem to have strong understanding of asexuality. Regarding some of those points, it was more of an expression of frustrations at stories that don’t flesh out reasoning, where it really just seemed to be porn for porn’s sake (but oooh asexual, how exotic).

    TL;DR- I don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with a representation of a sexually active asexual if that is the intention (and not simply an inclusion of the presence of Asexuality as something exotic).

    “I find Silvermoon’s post to be a little bit glib. It’s like, “This is such an obvious problem, why don’t you just stop it.” It doesn’t really think about why creators do what they do. But it’s not really in the nature of the reader to think about that stuff.”

    That is true. I should have thought about that.

    “I have a problem with the sloppy, poorly-reasoned, stereotyping, erasing and insulting things Silvermoon said about this issue. Silvermoon is the only one who didn’t discuss or examine these issues–instead, she made a list telling people “do this” “don’t do this” based on nothing more than her own biases and baseless assumptions.”

    Yeah, in hindsight that’s kind of spot on. It was more of a personal venting of frustrations at the time, and I should have kept it that way- although opening it up to the carnival did allow me to be exposed to criticism that I needed.

    To be honest, I’m not very good at the kind of in-depth discussion and analysis that goes on in Asexual blogging spheres so I would probably be better keeping that to myself.

    Overall, I apologise for my words.

    • “Yeah, in hindsight that’s kind of spot on. It was more of a personal venting of frustrations at the time, and I should have kept it that way- although opening it up to the carnival did allow me to be exposed to criticism that I needed.”

      I understand that. Personal venting is meant to be just that—it’s intended to just get ideas, emotions, and thoughts out, without justifying or explaining those things, or examining them through an objective lens. And because of its personal, emotional nature it’s not usually up for critique—if a friend is venting, and they’re saying something that isn’t true, or is a generalization, we just let them get it out without calling them on it, because we know it’s not meant to be a rational, intellectual discussion, but rather a simple release.
      So it’s not that it’s so bad in itself but just that it’s not really suited for a wider audience.

      “ “To be honest, I’m not very good at the kind of in-depth discussion and analysis that goes on in Asexual blogging spheres so I would probably be better keeping that to myself.” .”

      I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Just get in the habit of looking critically at your own statements for truth and accuracy, and make sure you’re backing up what you say with evidence or reasoning, and avoid generalizations or assumptions about people/groups. You at least have a willingness to try to do better and to care about the impact of what you’re saying. You should keep trying. Not one of us is without flaws or mistakes.

      Don’t be afraid to write a post, and sit on it, so you can come back and edit it and pick apart its weakness later to develop a final draft.

      “Overall, I apologise for my words.”

      Thank you.

    • Silvermoon, I for one truly do hope you participate in the Carnival of Aces again. ;) I agree with everything aceinlace just said to you and I truly believe that the more variety of types of people we have participating… the more people who are willing to make mistakes that they can then be called out on… the better. ;) I think the fact that you aren’t used to doing in-depth discussion and analysis might mean that when you try, you will be coming from a fresh perspective, a perspective the rest of us could really benefit from. You replied respectfully to this critique of your post, and I see a lot of potential for you to write a more thoughtful Carnival of Aces submission sometime soon. So please, don’t be discouraged or persuaded not to participate.

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