I’d be willing to wager that phrasing makes you think of sex work, and while that is one type of transaction, it’s definitely not the first I learned. The first example of this for me was in the animated Aladdin. I can still picture Jasmine in the red outfit, flipping a switching and beaconing the bad guy with a come hither tone of voice.
That is my first memory knowing that sexuality, particularly women’s asexuality, was something that was not so much felt, but offered. The next time I saw this type of behavior was a Stargate SG-1 episode where the men were chemically seduced by Hathor. The women were locked up since they are unable to be controlled in this fashion, hick up their shirts and get their flirt on with the male guards.
Science fiction is a common offender of this trope, which says fair reaching things about the assumed submission of women to men, and how men are slaves to their urges.
But today, I’d like to highlight how these examples teach aces that sexual behavior is something offered in exchange for something. This is a wildly dangerous situation when aces date simply because a friend is needed, or when aces have sex because protection is wanted. These events are at times consensual, but are transactional in a less obvious way than sex work.
For aces in particular, depictions of Jasmine’s red outfit inspired sexuality, or Stargate’s flirt ploy, can dangerously misinform aces about how to navigate the topic. Women’s sexuality is displayed as a weapon towards men, and one that far to easily can turned against us. A weapon not of our own consumption￼, and not for our own empowerment.
And without feeling earnest sexual attraction we have less of a chance to make course corrections into situations that make us feel respected.
While this article does not paint a complete picture of all the reasons aces might have sex, but it does ask for a growing awareness that the behavior of aces, and many other groups, are the result of simply trying to survive in a world where compulsory sexuality and amatonormaity are demanded.
And acknowledgment ￼that aces face this, that women face this, that anyone may￼￼ face this, might be able to keep our sexualities from feeling as if they were for sale to the hetro-patriarchy.
The first fifty to hundred pages on this book are fantastic. There was so many good lines about identity, depression, race and how all of those things are intermix in a confusing fashion that make it really hard to explain unless you are living it. At one point our main character Pab says, “I don’t even know what we’re arguing about at this point, but it’s clear that being locked in an idiot’s arms race of saying ignorant things is easier than having a real discussion.” That’s a fucking brilliant line, and contextually an even more brilliant summary on how important discussions often get handled.
The next hundred of pages however? A mess. The author’s acknowledgements make a point to say that second books are really hard and she broke her brain trying to write it and I think this book needed more time to actually bake in her mind since she did not what you wanted to say with this story so says nothing for most of the book, leaving us with this raw contradictory rambling of a book.
Reviews will highlight the gems in this story. Show the strength of Mary H.K. Choi’s writing style, but I don’t really see any reason to going to find those gems myself. An honest summary of the book would be two characters with self made problems who aren’t working together as much as they’d like because they aren’t honest with each other or themselves. Mary H. K. Choi’s first book, does not have this problem. Which makes Permanent Record come off more as an author deeply confused trying to empathize with both these two extremes and unable to bridge her own thoughts.
I want to end on a good note so I’ll say now and always, the hardcover of this book is a work of art. The dust sleeve being part of the cover, but yet not. The work that is hidden underneath the dust cover is amazing. I got my copy for like ten bucks versus the nineteen cover price so I don’t feel like the time or money was a waste. I just wish I had popular highlights in my paperback version that marked the hidden treasures so I could view the collective thing as work of art. More then any other book I’ve read that ability would also better reflect the theme. The online listing doesn’t do the cover justice, go look at it the next time you are in bookstore.
I’m officially calling this #spelunking trip over at 205 pages, when writing the review I tried to flip through the book but felt it fall even more apart. If you make it to the bicycle seen I feel like Lee over the idea of finishing this. If you’re the Pab here, or both at once, maybe this book is what you needed, like I hope it is what the author needed even if I’m left with more concerns then I started out with.
I’m still excited from Suicide By Ghost’s release a few months ago, but I got more news today! It’s honestly the news I hoped people knew were coming every since Creative Aces Publishing signed Jonathan Lopez. Our newest, PRESS START is such a cute story about having fun while healing. I think it’s going to feel like a breath of fresh air for everyone.
Here’s a transcript of the publishing announcement:
PRESS START from Rose Sinclair and Jonathan Lopez, a lighthearted novel pitched as Yuri On Ice meets Pokemon Go, in which Loren, a queer teen with a pension for creative problem solving when it comes to a new augmented reality gamed called Holo Heroes, is set for publication Summer 2020 by us at Creative Aces Publishing.
Waking Up The Sun front loads a protagonist who has anxiety and has already learned ways to cope with it. It mentions magic almost right away too, but my favorite part of that is that a potion is considered magic instead of just having a spell go “cure” him. It’s a great bit of world building I wish more things had. Having a lead character who has to consider their racing thoughts and find medicine because that’s part of their basic needs is so a plot point, instead of a casual one off line. That’s amazing to see.
Around the 20% mark you see the consideration of being lost in the woods and having to wash your clothes. These are such small things that most writers just ignore because they think it will ruin— whatever. But these are the exact things that makes Waking Up The Sun real and something that feels new.
The only criticism I have of this was I thought the writing could be tighter. Sometimes I thought why is this being mentioned now, or at all. It may not be the best read for the sex repulsed for similar reasons but maybe this review can serve as your content warning.
With that said, this book is why I like to read from LGBTQ authors, generally found from small publishers. They have a number of important things that aren’t found elsewhere. Both men in the pairing are sweet. Awkward only in an realistic way instead of being an often sexist adorkable trope. I think my favorite thing is how much they check in with each other, ask if the other is okay.
Publishing news isn’t rare, but making an announcement yourself is, and I’m so thrilled to say I have some news today!
Creative Aces Publishing was a brainchild I first had in 2015, and thanks to other aces over the years we published two community projects: What You See, an art book featuring two dozen aces, and Unburied Fables, an LGBTQ charity anthology benefiting The Trevor Project.
If you heard of us before, here’s how we’ve changed since then. Unlike other indie publishers, we seek to build from a community standpoint. Not only saying we put authors first, but also paying them a highly competitive rate unheard of for a group so small. Offering upwards of 50% royalty, and sometimes even an author advance.
As a full-service publisher, authors can also expect a professional looking cover design, comprehensive editing, a personalized marketing plan, training and support as an author from signing and beyond at no cost.
All made possible by a slow and steady mentality that makes sure you don’t get lost in a sea of other authors. Because of this, we aren’t currently open for submissions, but already have signed authors and will be making more announcements soon.
If you have any questions please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s what this means for anyone who knows me personally, I’ve been dealt a hand of cards that allows me to take the project to a level I always wanted and make it a full-fledged publisher.
I’ve been working for various publishers since 2015, and love helping authors. But I also see areas where many barely even get a chance because of factors around their disability or identity. As the company’s co-founder and creative director, I can’t fix the industry as a whole, but I can set a standard I believe in. One who’s core goal takes pride in creating art and supporting those artists.
Someone asked me for a list of asexual guys in fiction so here’s a wide collection across media times. But first, a warning. This list was made with what I know about the story. Any miscategorization is accidental and will be promptly fixed if you let me know. Some men might have been accidentally excluded because I don’t know enough about the character, the list will be updated when I do. | Masterlist found here | Send updates here
* Denotes I’ve read/watched/played it
If you are looking for a fun, silly, read I cannot recommend Jughead (2015) more! Written by Chip Zdarsky, and Ryan North you can see Jughead be a pirate, be a spy, hang out with a burger lady.
I love this series but it is not for the faint of heart. There’s a lot of death, and violence and our heroes constantly being in trouble. With that said, it’s an amazing series that has tons of diversity. The main characters are gods incarnate so if you love mythology be sure to check it out!
Another very cute series. Currently online only, but another light fun read about a group of werewolves who solve monsters problems like locating their missing cats.
I learned about this comic by quote RT-ing one of the authors with my shock that there was an asexual character and we’ve been friendly since. King Arthur is reimagined as a 21st-century multi-ethnic teen girl, and Lancelot is a black asexual. It’s lighter then Wicked and Divine, but definitely a fighting/adventure story. I’m trying to get a Volume 2 so ask your library for it if can’t afford a copy of your own!!
There is a new genre called empathy games. These games have the goal of making you empathize with the main character to show a point. Generally that you aren’t the one in power, but to some small degree I believe all games are empathy games.
I think a lot about representation in fiction, and lately about the representation of disabilities, everything from ‘my knee gives me a lot of trouble’ to those who rock a wheelchair. (I’ve been thinking a lot of legs specifically because mine have been hurting a lot. But, stay tuned maybe I’ll talk about a abdominal pain like I’m a Super Bowl ad.)
I’ve been fairly impressed when it comes to TV characters who have leg troubles. On TV now, there’s Raven from The 100 and Felicity from Arrow. As fantastic as they both are I started to wonder if there was a medium that could showcase the constant struggles better. And after a really tough and unusual boss battle I realized video games are perfect for this narrative.
No other medium makes you face the struggle. Books, TV, and movies are setup so we are empathizing with someone else. But with video games you are living it. Also little needs to be done to make these Triple A titles show disabled characters of all ranges.
Yesterday’s game of choice was Dragon Age: Inquisition so I’ll loosely use it to explain what I mean then you can apply it to your own beloved game.
This whole train of thought started because Dragon Age doesn’t have cure anymore. I’m usually the type of player who likes having a full health bar in order to kick ass, but now that’s practically impossible. After playing for a while I noticed how I played was different. I didn’t get nervous if it wasn’t full, I’d even take fall damage to save me some time. I started to live with that fact that health isn’t going to be perfect. And as someone who now has a chronic illness riding shotgun that’s a pretty good metaphor. You have to live with your “health bar” not being at 100% most of the time. In video games saving the world with very little health left is almost common place.
The game now has barrier instead of heal. Barrier gives you an extra bar that lasts a certain time and protects your real HP. Now it isn’t an exact comparison but imagine this was your self care. Even if you’re a squishy mage or have low health it doesn’t matter as long as you protect yourself in other ways.
Health is less important than it’s ever been before in other Dragon Age games. Your character is undeniably disabled, but no doubts arise because of this from the other characters. You are still their leader.
In Dragon Age you are given a party of four. In the real world asking for help can be tricky, but the game encourages you to have the help of others. You could play solo, but parties are actively rewarded.
And in video games in general, starting all the way back with Doom, you learn to keep fighting even with a busted up and bleeding face. If you or the NPCs get knocked out they get up for the next battle. All really important life lessons.
Yesterday, I had three mages and a rogue face a boss that had 39 times more health than my whole party combined. It was horrid planning on my part, but the party made me happy and now we were stuck. I had to shake things up and literally bring the fire. By taking my time and breaking the problem into smaller bits I was able to win.
So even if your real life “health bar” isn’t what others have, you just need to plan and take your time in order to knock down really any beast in the world. In Dragon Age Inquisition that sometimes means the boss and sometimes means the day because your glowing hand is acting up. I’d love to see games actually incorporate their graphic interfaces to show disabilities in a real way because no other platform can show it like they can.
A guest post by amazing Cait Spivey
I learned sexual desire from books and film.
At least, what it looked like. What it sounded like. How it is discussed. With that accumulated evidence, I got very good at acting out “desire,” even though it was at best boring and at worst, deeply uncomfortable.
When I came out, there was a lot of, “But you seemed interested in sex before!” As always, it’s difficult to explain, to those who don’t feel displaced by it, the pressure of constant messaging that seems to declare this is how normal people are, you are messed up, something is wrong with you. I learned and demonstrated sexual desire because I thought I had to, because it was expected, because it was bad enough that I kept falling in love with girls but at least I knew what that was.
I learned desire from books; I never learned that desire isn’t mandatory.
This is something I want to rectify in my books. In From Under the Mountain, it must be said, there’s not explicit representation—I was limited by both the setting (in which our modern terminology feels jarring) and by the pace and focus of the story. Only Eva and Guerline have time for a romantic relationship, and not much of it at that. But you can take me at my word when I say that canonically, Theodor Warren is panromantic asexual, and Aradia Kavanagh is aromantic asexual, and Guerline herself is a demisexual lesbian (something that gets explored more in the sequel).
[As an aside: last week, I tweeted a bit about how I love writing large casts, and I encourage readers to explore for themselves and fill in things I don’t put on the page. Some secondary and tertiary characters have canon attached to them that I may never get to share—for many, I haven’t had a chance yet to fully explore their lives. So many stories live in this world, and if you know them, by all means tell them.]
In most of the media I’ve consumed, sex scenes just seem like set dressing. Perhaps this is the point where my ability to empathize with allosexual people ends, but I’ve never seen a sex scene that feels powerful or necessary to the story, because sweaty bodies getting fluids on each other isn’t meaningful to me. It seems to me that what’s meaningful is all the emotions leading up to and following that—affection, vulnerability, passion—and one doesn’t need to bump uglies to get the most out of that cocktail. And even if that’s something one wants in real life, it’s not going to aid the storytelling (unless, as in certain genres, that’s the kind of story being told).
“But Cait,” you say, “You included a sex scene in From Under the Mountain!” Yes I did. But I’m the first to say it’s not necessary. I wrote it in because there was some hang time in the narrative, and I wanted to give Eva and Guerline their moment. And, as an asexual woman married to a sexual spouse, it was more than a little vicarious—what must it feel like from the other side? Surely it’s transcendent—surely it’s not just a sometimes pleasant sensation, akin to curling up in front of a fireplace? I’ll have to rely on others to confirm the level of my success.
It’s honestly funny to me how resistant some can be to writing asexual characters or, in fandom, theorizing that a character could be asexual. I get that desire must be powerful to those who experience it; I can understand that many view sex as some kind of Important Rite without which love is just really intense friendship, or something. I mean, they’re wrong about that last part, but I understand how they came to that conclusion.
But in these stories, the sex isn’t what makes us love these characters—right? It’s the characters themselves, and the relationships between characters that draw us in. Romantic relationships, friendships, family bonds. Sexual desire, contrary to popular belief, is not inherent to romantic love, and romantic love is not the only compelling kind of relationship.
There are many, many books, films, shows, out there that present love without sex, but the sex is always assumed—by fans, by creators, by a society that presupposes the universal importance of desire. My question is, why? Kisses, sex, they’re actions that, like all our actions, have only as much weight as our emotions give them. I’m as happy as anyone when my favorite ship finally kisses for the first time, but the kiss isn’t the only thing that can make me happy. I want Dean to kiss Cas because I know Dean is a sexual person, but I felt the same giddy rush when he said I need you.
I struggled to find a way to end this post, because one should at least try to put forth a solution when bringing up a problem. The problem is that the heavy focus on sexual desire in relationships erases a lot of people. It makes us doubt ourselves, it makes us submit ourselves to what is expected, it threatens us with these expectations.
How, then, to solve this?
I’ve decided to start a new feature on my blog called A+ Ships, to highlight ace characters and their relationships, gush over the connections and the moments that fuel them. With any luck, this will give us a space to celebrate our identities, and spread the word about how awesome we are.