15.17: Asexual Representation

Your Hosts: Dan, Tempest, Mary Robinette, and Howard

Generally speaking, asexuality is a sexual orientation or identity typified by the absence of a desire to have sex. It’s *way* more complicated than that, however, and in this episode Tempest helps us unpack it so that asexual characters can be written more effectively.

Liner Notes: Want to dig deeper? Over at Writing The Other there’s  a master class on writing asexual characters taught by Lauren Jankowski.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson


Take two characters from your current WIP.  Write a meet-cute, and have both characters be asexual, yet romantic

Let’s Talk About Love, by Claire Kann, and narrated by Adenrele Ojo

5 thoughts on “15.17: Asexual Representation”

  1. wow, thank you very much for this episode, as an aro/ace myself i really appreciate this. As Tempest said, we are so rarely portrayed in fiction it’s nice to have that sort of recognition here.
    If i may put some things that bothers me mostly about that whole aces in media discourse (but of course you points are absolutely valid and i agree 100%, it’s just i have some personal pet peeves here). One thing is that many people don’t know or forget, that ace people actually can have a sexual relationship? Like, there are people who are sex repulsed, but not all of us are, some are not interested, and some can just not have attraction but actually have a high libido. You can have sex for other reasons that the attraction to the other person, and as long as ace person is not repulsed they can be happy in a sexual relationship (like if they feel romantically for the other person of for various different reasons).
    And another thing is a plea to other fantasy and sf writers – please don’t make your only ace representation an alien or a robot or anyone that have asexuality as another aspect of their otherness. It really bothers me when it happens. Like, if you have other ace characters in your story it’s ok, but if that’s the only such character you have… just leave it, you’re not helping.
    Again, thank you for amazing podcast and i hope my two thoughts would help someone with writing this representation. I really appreciate what you’re doing here. Also, thank you Tempest for the book rec, i need to check this one.

  2. Thank you very much for this episode. As an ace myself its very nice to see it talked about.
    If you do another episode on this topic I’d like to have an expanded conversation on how to let your reader know when you think a character is ace, versus you simply aren’t focusing on relationships with that character. Personally I’ve found this especially hard if the character likes making dirty jokes because that seems to imply they think about sex when it really just means puns are irresistible.
    Thanks again.

  3. The quartet, Dan, Tempest, Mary Robinette, and Howard, stepped back and considered the issues surrounding asexual characters and asexual representation. What is it? How do you write an asexual character? How do you tip off readers that a secondary character is ace, without having a “By the way, Bob, I’m asexual” announcement? For the answers, read the transcript, available now in the archives.

  4. Thanks so much for this episode. Im one of those straightcismiddleagedwhiteguys but i do want some representation. I very much appreciate the notion of a love hierarchy generally because there is a lot to work with.

    One of the things that I find important for me to think about is what the reactions of others says about the society and also as an example for non ace readers. I find myself wanting to have my other characters model acceptance and welcoming. Some of my characters are nonbinary (in one current WIP) and one thing I’m trying figure out whether I replicate the bigotry we find in our society in my fictional world . On the one hand, its humans, so of course they’re bigots. Also, its not clear dystopias should be accepting places. On the other hand, I dont want to perpetuate that habit of mind. Frankly, In this case, I am taking advice from another episode where there are a small number with negative attitudes, but the rest of the characters and the society disapprove of those attitudes.

    Thanks for doing these episodes. They’re extremely helpful even if you never write a single ace character.

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