Asexual Characters


#1

By sheer coincidence I seem to have read two books with asexual protagonists, in the past week. They were actually acknowledged, within the text, as being asexual, embracing it as a sexual identity.

Since I remembered
https://forum.choiceofgames.com/t/where-are-the-aces-asexuals I thought that people might be interested in discussing asexual characters in movies, books, tv shows, games, etc, examples of good and bad representation, and whatnot, and if anyone’s got any recommendations.

Every Heart A Doorway by Seannan Maguire, is a novella about a boarding school, and what happens to people after they return from fantasy worlds, how they cope with the real world and leaving their fantasy worlds behind. There’s a mystery thrown in. It’s got an asexual protagonist, and also got a trans character.

Banner of the Damned by Sherwood Smith is an epic fantasy novel, with an asexual protagonist, in a world where a number of the characters aren’t straight. It’s the story of Emras, who is a scribe to a Princess, who eventually learns magic, and a whole lot of politics and stuff thrown in. (And which half the book blurbs seem filled with spoilers.)

Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon is a fantasy trilogy, with an asexual protagonist. It’s the story of Paksenarrion, who begins as a sheepfarmer’s daughter, joins a mercenary company, and eventually becomes a hero. It was one of those series that I used to reread when I was a lot younger, and I really enjoyed.

Clariel by Garth Nix (suggested by @Scribblesome) has an asexual protagonist. “The story’s great though personally I was a little disappointed that she’s portrayed as a general ‘loner’ type.”

Edited to Add:

Incidentally, I do think there’s a difference between asexual characters, like those presented in Lord of the Rings, where many characters are shown to have no romantic/sexual interests, and characters who actually acknowledge their asexuality in the text.


One sexual orientation left out
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Sexuality and how it's perceived
#2

A nice topic to raise and I think not something that is widely talked about or understood. I’ve known a friend who identified with being asexual to have been suspected of merely ‘holding out’ by people that knew them (not correct in this case), which I think shows how many of us can miss the point.

I hope you don’t mind my linking:

I have not read anything about asexuality. So thank you @FairyGodfeather for providing some titles here so I can read up a bit about how asexual characters have been portrayed.


#3

‘Clariel’ by Garth Nix has an asexual protagonist. The story’s great though personally I was a little disappointed that she’s portrayed as a general ‘loner’ type.


#4

@Nightcap Thanks for all of those links. It’s definitely not something generally spoken of, and it’s hard to find examples of asexual characters in media, especially protagonists.

@Scribblesome I see Clariel’s listed as a book 4. Does it stand alone, or do you need to read all of the others? Is the whole series good?

It’s one of the things I liked about Paksenarrion, that she’s a warm character, she’s good, she’s very human, one of her strengths is the way she makes friends. It’s nice when asexual characters aren’t portrayed as complete loners. Or as villains. Or as highly intellectual and yet completely unsocialised.


#5

I’ve read the Paksenarrion trilogy two-three times, what makes you say that she’s asexual? I seem to recall if not outright sex, then at least something coming close to coitus interuptus at one point with a love interest. I do remember she got raped in one of the books though, so obviously that’s gonna put her off. But it could also be that her paladinship is like Jeanne d´Arc and therefore a religious choice. Some really disturbing torture scenes at the end there btw.


#6

@MutonElite

Yes, there’s some really disturbing torture scenes, and I could certainly have done without the rape that occurs in the last book, and the sexual assault that happens in the first one. Neither of those things are tied to her sexuality though. She’s not asexual because she’s been assaulted.

Paksenarrion is asexual. I can’t think of what love interest you might be referring to, she doesn’t have one. At no point, in any of the books, does she express any sort of sexual attraction. Even when she’s asked if she’s interested in women, she says no to that too. I think there’s one of her close friends, Saben, that she wishes she could return his feelings, but that occurs after the fact. There’s nothing that comes even close to a romantic or sexual relationship for her.


#7

It was a while ago since I last read it, but besides Saben there was also the commander, the old wolf or whatever he was called and one of the paladins I think. Did Saben die? I think things started getting serious between them but then he died or something. May have to read them again I guess.


#8

The only example I can think of is Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory, and I’ve always hated the way they portrayed him and the way that’s influenced popular perception of aces. I stopped watching a while ago, but I heard that Amy recently “fixed” him, which makes it even worse. So I’m happy to know there are some positive portrayals out there.

Are all these books recently published or are they older?


#9

I’ve been debating with myself whether to spin off an Honorable Mentions category for interesting characters who weren’t openly asexual, but could have been. But hey, you’re back and I can ask for your opinion on this kind of thing! :birthday: Do you think any good would come of it? I do see a potential danger in spiraling into arguments about who’s a closeted asexual vs. a celibate analogue, but it feels like there’s something else I’m missing, and maybe more to the upside.


#10

I don’t want to look like Ignorant but I don’t understand very well what is the meaning of asexual in English I think It is different to what we have here.
Asexual in spain is someone who doesn’t have signs of any sex gender . I think for you meaning no have sex desire like celibate or similar?


#11

The prefix “a–” means “not”, so the word “asexual” literally means “not sexual”, if you look at the roots.

In reference to people, it means someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Folks who experience sexual attraction under certain circumstances are termed “gray asexual”.


#12

Here you go:


#13

Lol, I forget that . I am terrible . To my own defense It was more than a year ago. :blush: :frowning2: :sos: I will hide under a carpet :sob:


#14

I loved the Paks trilogy, although I never really realised she was asexual. Interesting.


#15

@MutonElite Paksenarrion, definitely didn’t have a sexual relationship with anyone in the books. She frequently shows up on lists of asexual characters. The TV Tropes page, for instance, (which is filled with spoilers) says “Asexuality: Paks just isn’t interested, she’s even asked at one point if she prefers women (she doesn’t), having rejected the advances of men in her cohort, and she maintains her disinterest through the whole story.” If you do a google of Paksenarrion asexual there should be a lot of hits.

@Mirabella I found The Big Bang Theory unwatchable. And yeah, that’s the sort of stereotype I find frustrating. Not that there’s anything wrong with being geeky and asexual, but the idea it can and should be fixed.

The Seannan Maguire novella’s very recent, as in it was released last week. It’s really short and the ebook’s rather expensive. I’d have loved to have seen the ideas fleshed out into a full novel. The Sheridan Smith novel’s a few years old, and it’s huge. I enjoyed the protagonist, but I have an odd taste in protagonists. The Elizabeth Moon novels are from the 80s I think and they do need a warning for sexual assault.

And now I’m reminded of Mercedes Lackey’s Tarma and Kethry stories. Tamra’s also, technically asexual. BUT that’s because she’s raped, her husband to be is murdered, then she sacrifices her sexuality to become a bad-ass swordswoman. Although I just read a positive interpretation of it. http://aroacereads.tumblr.com/post/106653827968/comments-about-tarma-of-vows-and-honor

@Sashira I think they’re worth mentioning. I think people take the positive examples where they can find them. So, I think Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, for example, totally count. Sherlock Holmes. The Doctor.


#16

Well the early attempted rape could be argued to have played a part in Paks’s reasoning as well. Whether or not the author intended for her to be asexual or if it was brought on by her circumstances, that’s what I’m wondering. If it was the latter then she wouldn’t be asexual, you can’t just acquire a new sexuality as far as I know. It’s easy to see similarities with ones own situation in a character and just assume that hey he/she must be X just like me.

For instance even if Frodo and Sam never did anything in the books, a lot of people see them as gay. And one of the latest Sherlock Holmes series also played around with the idea that Sherlock and Watson were gay.


#17

Perhaps a bit random, but the online comic Supernormal Step has an asexual protagonist. Although the comic itself is more about magic, different fantasy worlds and people messing things up. However there was a small and awkward romance arc where Fiona explicitly states that she’s ace.


#18

And the art development is also nice to look at. Just by the way.


#19

I loved the first few seasons of the Big Bang Theory because all the non-Sheldon characters were entertaining and the writing in general was good. I’ve always hated Sheldon, however.

@poison_mara It’s ok :slight_smile: It’s been a while since that discussion.


#20

I guess Sherlock Holmes would fall under the “highly intellectual and yet completely unsocialised” category. Still one of my favorite characters, though. The original, I mean.

Why people insist on pairing him with anything more than a good mystery is beyond me. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle even said that the probability of him loving anyone was pretty slim.