He laughed again and hid his face under the blanket. “Why are you so nice to me?”Alice Oseman, Radio Silence (2016) p.108
“Because I’m an angel.”
“You are.” He stretched out his arm and patted me on the head. “And I’m platonically in love with you.”
In 2017—somewhere on the stumbling journey to identifying myself proudly and loudly as asexual—I read Alice Oseman’s young adult (YA) novel Radio Silence. When I reached the passage quoted above, I stopped in my tracks. It was the first time I had seen those words put together to such an effect. Friends could say they loved each other, of course, in a fleeting and fluffy sort of way. But to imply that you could be in love with someone in a purely platonic way? That you could refer to something as a love story even if it was about characters who were “just” friends, who never even thought about dating one another? It was a little bit revolutionary.
But that, of course, is the revolutionary heart of aromanticism and asexuality—the quiet, but resonant, revolution inherent in the articulation of different kinds of love, in the deconstruction of the dominant social narratives of romance and sex. As I kept my eye on Oseman’s forthcoming novels, it transpired that this revolution sits at the heart of her writing, making them deeply resonant for aro/ace readers even when not featuring the identities directly. And when they do feature aro-ace identity directly, the quiet revolution is front and centre, and the results are incredible and incredibly important.
Read the full article in AZE Journal!
A while ago, when I dug deep into the appeal of a certain fictional outlaw and a certain fictional assassin, I made a passing mention to the potential of reading Arthur as on the asexual spectrum. While this is a thought that’s been bouncing around my head like an old Windows screensaver for a long time, and something I’ve thrown around with friends and loved ones a bit, it’s not something I’ve ever put down in longform. And yet, I thought, what is a personal blog for if not the occasional slightly eccentric, semi-academic deep-dive character study that may be of interest to yourself and maybe three other people?
In this post we’ll look at a few things: the straightforward bits, like analysing interactions from the text itself (it is a game mechanic that this man does not bone), broader story beats (for example, the narrative’s deliberate emphasis on non-traditional relationships and found family, a very ace-resonant business), as well as some other paratextual framing stuff such as what reading him as ace adds to some of the narrative’s themes, and the all important qualifier of resonance that I discussed in this post: I’m ace and I vibe with him. Let’s dive in!
Cowboys are not for the heterosexuals Continue reading
Sex is considered an intrinsic part of being human, and the development of a relationship with sex and sexuality an intrinsic part of growing up. This societal narrative leaves people on the asexual spectrum—those who do not experience sexual attraction—on the margins and considered abnormal. This can have an especially negative effect on asexual adolescents who are not experiencing the ‘rite of passage’ that is sexual desire and experimentation with sexual relationships. This is why—as with all queer identities—it is important to represent and normalise asexuality within fiction, particularly fiction aimed at young people.
In this paper I examine two young adult novels with asexual protagonists—Kathryn Ormsbee’s Tash Hearts Tolstoy (2017) and Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love (2018)—and how their protagonists’ asexual identity is woven into their coming-of-age stories and romance arcs. I explore the tropes, stereotypes, and misconceptions that have traditionally informed media depictions of asexuality, and how these novels divert from them to provide a more accurate and nuanced representation of the asexual experience; and, in doing so, establish patterns and tropes of their own from which a uniquely ‘asexual narrative’ suggests itself.
This academic paper is now published, out in the world, and free to read in RoundTable!