Asexuality in Fan-Fiction

Originally posted on Tumblr and reposted here for archiving. Please note that my views may have changed since I wrote these posts. (Irrelevant but interesting side note: as you’re reading this I am arriving at university!)

I’m in a very talkative mood tonight (probably because of all the articles I just read) but I might queue this because I’m sure you’ll all get bored of me.

Lately, I’ve been really interested in fan-fiction. More importantly, I’ve been interested in fics that have an ace character. Maybe it’s because I can only think of sex in the abstract (which I’ll probably make another post about), but my favourite ship (CecilxCarlos from Welcome to Night Vale) is one that I can only think of in an asexual sense. Because of this, I found myself looking in the asexual tag on AO3.

And there I found something I never knew I wanted: ace!Cas.

Castiel is a character on Supernatural, and to cut a long story short (another thing I might talk about later), I love thinking of him as ace because the way he’s portrayed in the fics (let’s not talk about the inconsistency of canon) is something I really identify with. It sounds silly, but asexual Castiel and his relationship troubles with Dean make me feel better about who I am. And that’s wonderful, and I sometimes want to cry out of happiness when I read these fics.

There’s not many of these fics, however. And that’s annoying but fine with me – actually, asexual Castiel as a lesser-known thing would be cool for me, but from what I’ve gleaned, a lot of people in the fandom (when it doesn’t get in the way of shipping) see Cas as ace.

I love visibility as much as the next person, but this really bothers me for one reason: I think they see Cas as ace because he’s the stereotypical asexual. He’s a skinny white guy who’s awkward with people and personal space and is just generally socially inept. He’s Sherlock, the Doctor, Sheldon. He is literally nothing different from what we’ve seen before.

And that sucks. It sucks that people go ‘look at this introverted weirdo, he must not like sex’. And it sucks that that means that I feel uncomfortable trying to champion a head canon that is really, really important to me. It sucks that anything could get in the way of people identifying with a character (I’m looking at you, Moffat, with your ‘asexuality is boring’ comments that stopped Sherlock from being canonically ace and your way of sexing up the Doctor’s every female encounter), because it sounds silly but sometimes it can really help.

Basically? We need better visibility, even if it’s just in fan fiction, because only head-canoning awkward people as ace is not cool.

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2 thoughts on “Asexuality in Fan-Fiction

  1. Hi, I would like to know how your opinion changed. I’m not familiar with Supernatural – though I know character names, but I got on here looking for writings on fanfiction and asexuality, frustrated by how sexual things get in every single story in a completely different fandom.

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    • Actually, this is one of the posts that I mainly still agree with — I’ve been moving quite a lot of posts over from my Tumblr and only had time to skim-read them so I just put that disclaimer at the top of all of them just in case.

      The Supernatural fandom is actually pretty good for not making their ace fics sexual, possibly because there are actually quite a lot of ace!Cas fics (I think the amount pretty much doubled from when I wrote this to a few months after) and he’s a bit of an asexual icon, if you will — he and Sherlock (although I’ve not read much Sherlock fanfic so I don’t know what it’s like) are people that a lot of aces tend to see as representation, so maybe a lot of the fics are written by aces? I’m not really sure.

      It’s a shame that the fandom you’re reading fics from makes them so sexual, and I’m afraid I’m not really sure what to suggest other than (if you’re reading stuff on ao3) checking the tags and not reading anything that is tagged with sexual stuff or (if you’re not reading stuff on ao3) trying ao3, since it seems to be a bit more of a welcoming environment than ff.net etc to me. Actually, another thing that might be worth doing is checking Tumblr for fanfic feeds or reccs to try and find any ace-friendly stuff — or just reading fics with a T rating as well.

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