Every time I hear there’s going to be a new asexual character in mainstream media, I get really excited… Until I remember what most allosexuals think of aces.
The most recent gut-punches came from two of my favorite authors.
The first: VE Schwab confirmed on twitter that Victor Vale will come out as asexual in VENGEFUL, the sequel to VICIOUS. Sadly, this characterization falls into some bad tropes in ace rep and while Victor Vale is one of my favorite characters, I’m not excited about this new development. So much so, I’m considering skipping the sequel entirely.
The second: I read RAMONA BLUE by Julie Murphy. This book is an amazing story for people questioning their sexual orientation and the main character’s arc is dealt with beautifully, but the asexual character is portrayed as unfeeling, hating everyone, and at the end she cries “actual human tears.”
I’m really tired of getting my hopes up when I hear about a new ace character and then having the representation be so poor. If you’re considering writing an ace character, keep reading for pitfalls and bad tropes to avoid.
Bad Asexual Tropes
Being associated with death: Aces are just normal people living their lives how they deem best for them. This weird association between lack of sexual attraction and death is harmful because it tells aces that the only place they can be themselves is in the realm of death. And that is blatantly untrue.
Being unfeeling: All emotions don’t stem from lustful feelings. Just because someone doesn’t experience sexual attraction doesn’t mean they don’t experience a full range of emotions.
Being less than human: Unfortunately, there’s a feeling among allosexual people that if a person doesn’t experience sexual desires, there is something deeply wrong with them and they aren’t quite human. Sexual desire is not a trait that makes someone human and to insinuate that is pretty awful.
Being frigid: Again, aces experience a full range of emotions just like everyone else. And yes, there are sex-repulsed aces, buuuut there are also allos who are sex-repulsed or touch-averse. This isn’t an inherently ace trait, but it seems to be mostly applied as such.
So what can you do?
If you’re thinking of writing an ace character, RESEARCH. I can’t emphasize how important that is. Read academic articles. Read experiences written by ace people. If you’re confused about something, reach out. And if you think you know enough to start writing, research some more because I guarantee you, there’s always more to learn.
Just remember that asexuality is not a monolith. There’s an entire spectrum and every experience is varied and valid.