How to use Asexuality’s superpower of invisibility.

There’s a long standing joke that Asexuality’s superpower was invisibility. It started as a way to reclaim being made to feel invisible all the time. It was such of a thing that when Assassin’s Creed’s Evie has the master perk of tuning invisible I joked that was her ace canon confirmation. This jokes appear all over and even have Stonewall Nominated nonfiction books named after them in “The Invisible Orientation” which is dedicated to discussing asexuality.

But ‘invisibility’ is not a trait exclusively asexuality’s superpower. I’ve talked before about bi erasure and how that too renders someone’s identity invisible.

As of writing this, Supernatural ended after 15 seasons last night and there is lot of behind the scenes story to talk about where most people just laugh it off as queerbaiting to be mean. But it is truly a case of queer process as well.

Because if 2020 has taught me anything it’s that the process we make as a community in huge part is done by otherwise unknown queer people showing up and and fucking running full speed at something. If and when caught or where tip toeing is needed say a “Legacy” show owned by The WB. It becomes an Elementary school style red light green light game.

Queer writers and actors under contacts are often reduced to near morse code proxy of liking tweets. For example Misha going back and liking his own tweet from 2013 after Castiel being queer was made canon in 2020 to confirm that he did indeed attempt to reassure a nervous queer fandom now and then.

At the start of this year I had a celebrity encounter that also played out in this fashion. The more known a queer person is as queer the less freedom to create radical change they have. To those who stick it up dedicated to added representation gain it in inches.

Even this blog is under more scrutiny because it is now considered by some as a “big name player” despite just being a tumblr blog. Our perceived tone becomes an issue, if one of us is hurt and says ow, we get dehumanized. How dare we as activists show a pain. We basically get told “You can’t say ow in public you’ll scare the kids. You can’t make waves, it will scare off new allies.”

And I tell you all of that because that’s in spaces where money is not exchanging hands. There’s no “Man” paying our salary no “Corporate is here today” visits. No network demos, no cons planned around the fandom. Once you add that all in, you have something well… supernatural.

For the seven years I’ve been an asexual activist the general main focus of everyone within the community was awareness. But we must never forget that invisibility is asexuality’s superpower.

I wish it was something that wasn’t needed. That we could freely be, and do, and write the tv scrips we believed in without subtext. If you haven’t been spotted. Pick a lane and drive like hell. But sometimes to make progress you have to be spy-like and plant seeds of change in the things you do when no one is looking.

If you’d like more on this and how it relates to television shows further check out occamshipper on tumblr for some really killer commentary on the capitalist feedback loop that social media creates with a fandom. Or read more about asexuality and fandoms on our blog.

Asexual characters in sex scenes – Should You Do It?

This is actually a cross post from the Fuck Yeah Asexual blog, since I always find the subject of asexual characters important and thought it should be shared in a new format here.

It started with an anonymous ask that went like this:

“I have been seeing a lot of smut with asexual characters having sex. I understand that some Asexuals will still have sex. But I don’t get why some Ace people want more Asexuals in smut. Isn’t that like wanting Gay people in heterosexual smut? I just don’t understand the defense of non tagged asexual characters in fanfiction.”

Here’s our answer if asexual character’s should, well, do it:

We can agree content should be tagged appropriately to help people find or avoid it. The anon’s question is wildly dismissive of the aces. People they already fully acknowledged exist. Why should one person get to see their experiences represented but other’s can’t? Why must we deny expectations of a singular ace experience. Since it would deny the lives of so many people in our own community.

More importantly, we should we never insist on a narrative that contributes directly to our own oppression. One that would ensure allos, allies, and aphobes walk away with a tremendous misunderstanding of asexuality. One that encourages a narrow understanding of what asexuality is. We were there for this type of asexual exception before. We worked for YEARS to shut it down, to spare future aces. So know learn it now: this attitude that aces can never engage in sexual things is one of the most violent tools in the aphobe quiver.

The not so cute sleight of hand attempt at equating the very existence of the fictional asexuals in sex scenes as always wrong makes it clear that the anon asker desires a world where aces are a stereotype. You’ll find no support for that here, and we will not cast stones at aces writers who do write sexual content.

There should be discussions on the number of stories that feature ace characters who are sexless and those who aren’t. Concern about the difficulty of finding the content that does exist due to inadequate tagging are also very understandable complaints, and we’re sympathetic to them.

That’s not actually what the anon asked however. They specifically lashed out at their own community–not the fictional representation, but the real, living, human aces who create or ask for or enjoy that content. Their complaint *as worded* is not a gripe about the fiction landscape, it is an attack on real people, and one that directly mirrors specifically oppressive movements among aphobes.

The anon didn’t ask for sympathy in their difficulties with finding the kind of stories they want to read. They asked us to join them in leveling vitriol against “aces who want [the content anon doesn’t like]” and against aces who “defend [portrayals of their own lives].” That is absolutely not a conversation we will participate in. Especially given how closely it echoes aphobic arguments that do things like deny any ace the right to consent, put forward rape apologia, exclude aces from relationships of any kind, and homegenize and dehumanize the entire community. Let alone echoing the very schisms that have haunted this community since it’s inception.

There’s a lot of history behind this question.

We’re more than happy to encourage conversations like the one this anon wanted to have. Or about how best to accommodate those experiences and where things might be falling short. But that will not happen at the expense of our own community members.

We can have good faith with each other even after comments like this which can read as harsh. Here’s proof of that as the original anon came back and added the following:

“Hey! I was the Anon about Aces in smut. I’m really sorry if I hurt you in any way. I am trying to learn more about Asexuality after one of my friends came out to me recently and was talking about that subject specifically. I am a pretty young lesbian and am trying to learn more about the entire LGBT+ community. Thank you for responding, I appreciate your time! Again I apologize for any hurt I caused, that was by no means my intention. I hope you have a good day!”

Dew adds, Hey thanks! I really appreciate the follow up on this. I know I came out swinging on that ask, but you unintentionally hit on some very tender points. In some really specific ways that unfortunately mirrored attitudes that have historically been very dangerous for the ace community.

But I’m really glad to hear that the underlying motive for that anon ask was ignorance and not malice. Please know that ignorance is not a character flaw; it’s the natural state of humans and easily changed. It sounds like your heart is in the right place and you’re eager to learn more so that you can be a better ally to your friends. That’s awesome, and if you want some more resources on how to approach this topic with a better understanding of ace community history and respect for the diversity of ace experiences.

Others brought up that they actually trust aces writing this more than others. Dew went on to say: There’s definitely a wide range of the quality of depictions of asexual characters of all sorts of experiences. It can be easier to trust ace-spec writers to be coming from an informed and respectful place.

I would of course caution that this doesn’t fall perfectly across clean lines based on the identity of the writers. Nor dismiss the efforts of allies who also approach the subject respectfully. (Recall that the broader aspec community does include allo members!) Nor discount that aces can also externalize their own possible struggles with internalized aphobia.

However, it can be particularly cruel to dismiss the efforts of ace writers. There are valuable discussions to be had about the differences in writing asexual characters from and internal vs. an external perspective. Especially considering how plentiful misinformation and erasure are.

When people suggest that only aces should write asexual characters we have disagree with that blanket statement.

Fuck Yeah Asexual doesn’t stand for stark divisions across identity lines. We can and should talk about what constitutes a respectful portrayal, where the common pitfalls are, and what damage can be done from irresponsible or misinformed understandings of ace experiences without this level of insularity. Not every ace will magically produce a great ace character, and not every allo will magically produce a terrible one.

If only reading works by other aces is a boundary you want to set in your own life, please do so! As I addressed in the previous ask, there are patterns in play that make that an understandable choice.

We won’t, however, support extrapolating that boundary out until it cuts off anyone who isn’t asexual (and this effort nearly always wants to exclude the wrong “”kind”” of asexual. People must be free to write about aces in ways that don’t push way questioning folks or all the allies-in-the-making who won’t ever learn what their mistakes are because we’ve isolated ourselves from them. Nothing good or productive comes from broadly applying that kind of us vs. them approach to entire communities. – Dew

There is absolutely room to talk about the behavior of allosexuals in regard to their fandom treatment of canon asexual characters. There’s also absolutely room to talk about some publishers making a fetish-like “Demisexual For You” trope. Which is a perversion of the biphobic “Gay for You” trope.

But honestly the media we’ve gotten from a main stream source has been from allosexuals inspired by aces, ace works, and ace activism. It’s more of a conversational story feedback loop. That’s the nature of all media.

If you wish you view the asks in their original context you can via that day’s archive. https://fuckyeahasexual.tumblr.com/day/2020/11/20.

How Acephobia in Fandoms Spread Ace Terminology

I have truly witnessed acephobia in fandoms like no other. Truly one of the funniest moments in a fandom for me was in 2016. Ubisoft posted under a long tumblr post debating Jacob Frye’s (bi)sexuality this simple message:

bi and acephobia in fandoms

It started with a post of a straight woman emailing a random Ubisoft staff member. Her demands? Declare Jacob Fray straight. It’s also among the best usages of an official platform using it to protect bisexuals and end biphobia.

But there’s more to this story. To aces in the dragon age community, we knew her URL. SolasTheWolf was what ace fans called an “Allo!Solas Fan.” The term allo means other, and allosexual meaning someone sexuality attracted to others. Basically a word based on existing naming conventions to mean non-ace.

A New Open World For Acephobia in Fandoms

Dragon Age: Inquisition released late 2014 and a huge active fandom until around 2016. Before this allo was used only by aces. Key question here: Why did a bunch of aces call a group of predominantly straight women allo rather than straight?

It’s because for every ace fan in a fandom space there are camps of acephobes. They’d actively go around harass asexuals for seeing themselves in the characters. The Allo Solas fandom in particular did this like no other. By setting themselves up in direct opposition to aces, their behavior became defined by their allosexuality, not their heteronormativity. This is the pivot when acephobia in fandoms became actively willful. It wasn’t about them being straight, it was about them being anti-ace.

Some of the allo dragon age fandom was also really racist. They vowed to “give us” a black character in the game as a “trade”. Why? It’s because they didn’t feel sexually entitled to a black women being a largely straight white group of women. They wanted Solas. A “bad wolf”. All the ace coding in the world did not stop from their violently aggressive patriarchal projections onto his character. These fans also would tweet the Dragon Age writers asking to confirm that Solas had sex with the player character. The writers never did. A year later the DLC confirmed it in canon dialogue. (The second funniest fandom moments I’ve been a part of.) But they stopped short of giving Solas a label.

Calling people “allo” here was never about aces being separate fellow LGBTQ people. It was pointing out the sexual entitlement of characters who weren’t sexual. Aces showed up, publically in fandom spaces.

Using Solas to help explain the nuances of asexuality to groups who never heard it before helped spread asexual visibility.

And it’s also why I have such a strong negative reaction to those who try to sort of Allo!CharacterName pattern. Because the history of that is one of white sexual entitlement. The assumption that those who weren’t overtly sexual were secretly dirty, nasty, and kinky underneath. Words used by straight women about their own desires.

It became a near meme to stick “Allo” before character name, or brand your url with it. Some would say “I’m a proud Allo!!” instead of embracing their own queer identity. They picked up the sex negativity left by those straight fans and turned it on themselves. Falsely claiming aces were the ones called themselves dirty. Relating to the sex negative lie of sex being dirty. While the straight women were gleeful with it their kinkiness and acephobia. LGB people doing this in the community doing were choking on homophobia. They hadn’t unlearn and started in on their own acephobia as if that was the cure for it.

“Allosexual” is not an sexuality on its own, it’s sole purpose was to help explain asexuality and acephobia. It’s far more like “cis” than any other community term.

For good or bad, asexuality and allosexuality became far more common words after this. The biphobia around Jacob Fyre and the acephobia surrounding Solas are linked by the same thing. Women who wanted bad boys who only wanted women. Nothing else would do for them.

Read more about the cross roads of fandom behavior and queerphobia in our media criticism tag.

#Growing Up Ace: First Lessons In Transactional Sexuality

Transactional sexuality. I’d be willing to wager that phrase makes you think of sex work. That is one type of transaction. Definitely not the first I learned. For me the first example was in the animated Aladdin. I can still picture Jasmine in the red outfit. Like flipping a switching and beaconing the bad guy in a hither tone of voice.

That is my first memory knowing that sexuality. Particularly women’s (a)sexuality, was something that was not so much felt, but offered. Only ever seen as a type of transactional sexuality for something else. Behavior for behavior.

The next time I saw this was a Stargate SG-1 episode. Hathor chemically seduces the men, women are locked up instead. Their plan? Hike up their shirts and get their flirt on with the male guards.

Science fiction is a common offender of this trope. Not only does this say fair reaching things about the assumed submission of women to men. It also takes agency from men, claiming they are slaves to their urges.

Today, let’s highlight how these examples teach aces that sexual behavior is something offered in exchange for something. Aces may date because when needed a friend. Or have sex because protection is wanted. These events are at times consensual, but are transactional in a less obvious way than sex work.

Without feeling earnest sexual attraction asexuals have less of a chance to make course corrections. Dangerous situations happen with misread behavoir.

This article does not paint a complete picture of the reasons aces might have sex. Instead asks for a growing awareness that the diverse behavior of aces. Many who are simply trying to survive when compulsory sexuality and amatonormativity are demanded.

Be sure to check out our other articles about media criticism and asexual activism to learn more.