kaigou: sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness. (2 flamethrowers)
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Recently I read a post about writing a relationship between an ace (asexual) and a heterosexual. One of the points made was that asexuality wasn't really defined/specified as a way of being until relatively recently in history; previously an asexual woman would've been raised to a) not even think of sex because Good Girls Don't and b) to expect that at some point, she'd find The One and then it would all just happen like everyone says. So asexuality could easily have been buried under the social assumptions, especially for women.

I mention that because the topic has been bubbling in my head since the early plotting stage of my current story, and now I'm at the point where the character (to whom this all applies) is on the page. She's not POV for other reasons (and not because I don't want to get into her head, just to make that clear), but I've slowly solidified my certainty that she's definitely asexual. I'm less sure that she's aromantic, but that's mostly because my impression is that "aromantic" means "neutral/lukewarm about falling in love" though I'm not sure I have that right. She does have immense capability to love, and would very much like a loving relationship (what others might call an abiding, deep, platonic friendship), and is probably quite affectionate with close friends. She's not standoffish in that sense, and she's about as far from "socially inept" as you can get. She also very, very much wants to be a mother, and would probably be an amazing, nurturing, instructive mother for whom her children are the central point of her life.

She does know sex = pregnancy = children, so sees sex as an unavoidable means to a desired end. And roughly speaking, that'd just be once every three to four years, so it's not like it's every night, or even every month. Seems to me she'd still very much be of the "lay back and think of England" school, with little interest in the sex act and mostly happy when it's over -- and happier still to find out she's pregnant and kids are on the way.

As the story is kind of an alt-universe of the mid-1500s, we're several centuries before anyone gives a name to her way of being. On the plus side, she comes from (and has married into) a relatively sexually free society, where (within the bounds of a certain proscribed relationships) all sexes can be (are even expected to be) equally pro-sex. So a married woman saying she wants sex, and more of it, is not a bad thing. There's no assumption that women are sexless beings who passively suffer through the sex act.

Which means, I'm thinking, that her stated disinterest in sex can't then be written off as she's just being a Good Girl who can't/won't admit she does secretly want it. In contrast, one of the POV women is the absolute opposite: wanting sex, saying so out loud, going after it, and then demanding more -- which I set up to show that women's sexuality doesn't carry the Xtian/Western notions of being evil or wrong. Which means a Good Girl, upon marriage, would want to be with her spouse, sexually, on a regular basis.

Given that setup, would this character ring the bell of a recognizable asexuality? Or would she just seem kind of, idk, prudish, given that she does want a loving, deep friendship/relationship with other people and is also a very nurturing, maternal kind of person?

Incidentally, I've got another character with Aspergers-like qualities: awkward in social situations, narrowly-focused, who has three children and is a firm, if somewhat absent-minded and slightly oddball parent. That character uses art to catalog and study people's facial expressions, so to 'understand' how people feel, she draws them.

I mention that because while the asexual character and the Aspergers-like character are close friends, they're also very different, and I'm tired of the notion that if someone is one, they must also be the other. IMO, Sherlock Holmes and House both need to die in a fire for putting that correlation in people's heads. I recall a few of you on my flist/dwircle have self-identified as aces, and it's pretty clear to me from your words that the overlap is not automatic. Plus, the Aspies on my list have made comments (to me, and on their own journals) about just having to work harder at the emotional content of things -- not that they don't want to fall in love, just that doing so is a slower, longer, or more considered process.

The irony of the asexual character is that she could have been an excellent spouse to the central POV character, for whom childhood sexual abuse turned sex into a commodity. As in, sex is something uncomfortable, shameful, and painful that you put up with in order to either get good things you want, or to get fewer bad things you don't want. It's not something you do just because you like it and it feels good. A partner for whom sex isn't necessary (except in that step of baby-making) would probably have been a comfortable, safe place for the abuse survivor, being someone who wouldn't pressure him to be sexually active. At least, seems to me, especially considering being a political marriage, they were still quite young when married (he was 12, she was 17).

The reason for even bringing up her attitudes is the after-the-fact revelation of why they were at cross-purposes. Her revelation (about not wanting to be sexual) means what she really wanted was exactly what would've made him feel safe. But both were retreating (for different reasons) from the expectation that sex would be required, and both sought to protect themselves in some way to make sure the other didn't push to fulfill it. So I want to make it clear that it's not that he's not The One, but that she simply doesn't require/desire sex to be part of her life -- and my understanding is that this qualifies as asexuality, so I want to make sure I get it right. Or as right as I can, considering it's fiction.

(also, screening comments since this is a public post. if you're okay with your reply being public, just let me know.)
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kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
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to remember

"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

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