Disclaimer: As I am no way an expert in the subjects about to be discussed; I’ll be grateful if you can point out the problematic aspects in the following.What is asexuality?
According to AVEN, an asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction.1
Asexuality is a sex orientation that exists along a spectrum. Some feel romantic attraction. Some don’t. Some masturbate. Some have sex. They are all different.
What problem does asexuals face in real life, and in fandom?
If homosexuality is the love that dares not say its name, asexuality is the orientation that doesn’t even have a name. In daily life, there is nearly to none awrareness of asexuality. The media is full of story lines of people becoming fully grown through sex. If people say they’re not into sex, they are often taken to mean avoiding the matter and not taken seriously. In a personal anecdote, one was told it was just because zis biological clock hadn’t clicked yet. The sex-obsessed society puts a lot of pressure on asexuals. They were seen as immature or inhuman. Sexless relationship is described as neutered relationship. People can only get to be more human through sexual relationship.
In the media, they ‘re either inhuman, evil, or socially clueless. We have Doctor Who, who’s an alien. Shelden in Bigbang Theory, who is described as an alien. Sherlock, who’s a sociopath. Dexter, who’s a serial killer.2
Even among the LGBTQ movement, asexuality is like a unicorn. The fandom didn’t fare better. The slash debate last year demonstrated a double erasure of asexuality.3
Common Challenge faced by asexuality and female sexuality.
Patriarchy enforces a male-dominated heteronormative paradigm that every sexuality representation is under its scrutiny. Female sexuality has always been an issue. It has been molded, shaped, and controlled by the patriarchy. Women were punished for just having a sexuality. They were either imagined as chaste virgins or greedy devouring monsters. Despite strides of feminism, discourse about female sexuality is still dominated by male gaze. Freud was notorious for introducing penis envy to show the inferiority of women, that they were “jealous” of men. Modern women face a double-bind situation. If they refuse sex, well, no never mean no. If they welcome sex, they are demeaned and judged as not deserving the protection of patriarchy. Hence the rape culture. Female sexuality is seen as subjugate to male sexuality, largely defined by altruistic notion of traditional femininity. Females were historically desexualized by the society.
The challenge of asexuality comes from its pervasive invisibility. Because they defy safe definition of heteronormative sexuality, their sexuality are deemed as a disease, a phase, unreal, unhealthy. Their romantic relationships don't count. They are included in the DSM. However, their struggle “don’t count”, even in the context of LGBT movement. 4
Oppressions on female sexuality and asexuality do not happen in a vacuum. Rather they both exist in an interrelation network which oppress minority equally. They needed to be understood and (destroyed) together.5
Females and asexuals are not mutually exclusive groups.
Why asexuality in femslash?
Asking this question is somewhat like asking why to introduce disability, bisexuality and female homosexuality, people of colour into fiction. Because it is a part of human life. Because the more representation of minority in fiction, the bigger step it is pushing for acceptability and normalization of the minority. Femslash has always been seen as a step to accept female sexuality, and it can definitely go a further step toward addressing the reality of fluidity of sexuality.How can femslash reflect the reality of asexuality?
Femslash is often defined as a story that depict two or more canonically female-identified people in a sexual or romantic relationship. But relationship is a loaded word. In recent days, intimate relationship is always an euphemism for sexual relationship. But it doesn’t have to be like this. We have to be aware that there is a spectrum along relationship, including particularly close friendship, traditional but not sexual coupling and other unique combination. "It can be just about women making a deeper connection to each other that's erotic, but not necessarily sexual," as spoken by jazzypom.
Research is always important. Just like writing about any minority, proceed with respect and humility. Be prepared to back down.
What’s femslash with one or more asexual female-identified characters like?
There’s love, humour, angst, or just like other femslash. Except that one or more of them is not into sex. The resolution of a story doesn’t always result in sex. Femslash with one or more asexual characters are still uncommon, and I only found 3 labelled as such on AO3 as I'm writing. They are:
Title: Don't Want to Know What I'll Be Without You
Fandom: Aoi Hana
Summary: Akira's seen that look before. It makes her heart ache to remember Fumi-chan's quiet despair when she told Akira she liked her that way. She'd do anything to keep Fumi-chan from looking like that again.Read it on AO3.
Title: A Country That Has No Language
Fandom: St. Trinians
Summary: Because really, how can you explain a polyamorous relationship consisting of an asexual domme, a lesbian sub, and a vanilla bisexual? They fit. They love each other. Isn't that enough?A Country That Has No Language
And the last one from me:
Summary: Another chapter of Belle and her companions' expedition to a lost ancient city, and Belle discovers something more too.
Further reading:Asexy Sex Scenes 101Asexual information and perspectiveFONSFAQ: Asexuality
- "Overview." Asexual Visibility and Education Network. Asexual Visibility and Education Network, n.d. Web. 23 May 2011. <http://www.asexuality.org/home/overview.html>
- pippin, . "FONSFAQ post -- asexuality in fiction." N.p., 26 004 2011. Web. 23 May 2011. http://pippin.dreamwidth.org/95781.html
- kaz, . "Some words are rather unpleasant to read in this context...." N.p., 14 001 2010. Web. 23 May 2011. http://kaz.dreamwidth.org/215605.html
- mirielenfield , . "LGBT Community." asexuality. N.p., 21 009 2010. Web. 23 May 2011. http://asexuality.livejournal.com/766364.html?thread=13612956#t13612956
- Harris-Lacewell, Melissa. "Intersectionality." The Kitchen Table. N.p., 16 003 2009. Web. 23 May 2011. http://princetonprofs.blogspot.com/2009/03/intersectionality.html
How do you explore asexuality in femslash? What’s the joy/challenge of writing about it?
What do you think can be done to make femslash fandom more friendly for asexuals?