Originally posted on Tumblr but reposted here for archiving. Please note that my views may have changed since this was first written.
As the title suggests, I was an avid reader when I was little. They used to ‘challenge’ us to read six books over summer, and I’d read six books in a week. So instead of learning about the world by going out there and trying things for myself, I learnt about things from books.
I learnt that girls meet guys and stare at them. Stare at his lips, or his face, or his height, or how slim he is – if you like a guy, you look at him. What I got from that, as an asexual, was that girls like pretty guys.
It always kind of niggled at me that the girls always stared at the guy’s lips, but it never clicked that I was different to the girls I read about because, hey, I though boys looked pretty sometimes, right? So how could I be different?
This is one of the reasons why I’m so up for separating types of attraction (even if, in recent reflection, I’ve found that it’s a bit more complicated than that for me) – YA books write sexual attraction in almost entirely the same way as I experienced aesthetic attraction, so I never realised that there was a difference between sexual attraction and thinking someone looked pretty.
It was kind of confusing, as I’m sure you can imagine.
I could go on about censorship of YA novels and how they should be more sexually explicit, but I think YA probably isn’t the only genre with this problem – I think adult genres don’t make a clear enough distinction between sexual and aesthetic attraction, either. And that’s probably because most of the English-speaking world thinks of them as the same thing.
Maybe to write an asexual character, you don’t have to attempt to portray a ‘lack’ of something. Maybe you just need to portray the thing we’re lacking first.