Where Are the Passionate Aces in Fiction?

Some people have commented that most ace-spectrum characters tend to be very logical and relatively unemotional (or disconnected from their emotions). Two of the characters who are held up as examples of asexuals the most are Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who.

There is nothing wrong about having characters who are ace-spectrum and very logical and/or dispassionate … it is the lack of passionate, irrational ace characters which bothers me.

The underlying meme seems to be that, if you lack sexual/romantic feelings, it means you lack feelings.

That is not my experience. I consider myself overall to be full of powerful feelings. I manage my feelings to maintain my psychological balance, so it does not always show – but they certainly require management.

Looking back at my blog, I have discussed Shēn Diāo Xiá Lǚ in the following posts:


Asexual Themes in Shēn Diāo Xiá Lǚ part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, and part 8.
My Favorite Wedding Scene in All of Fiction
Yang Guo as an Asexual and Disabled Character

Is it debatable that Yang Guo is asexual? Yes. Is it debateable that he can be super happy, super sad, super angry, super silly, and spontaneously does creatively ridiculous things? Nope.

I think I end up talking about that novel so many times in this blog because that is the only major work I can think of which features a character who I headcanon as asexual who has powerful feelings which drive his creativity and irrationality. I want to discuss this type of character, in no small part because I consider myself to be a bit like this.

I also hope that I can get other people in the ace community to read/watch Shēn Diāo Xiá Lǚ and get it a place in ace culture. I realize the fact that the novel has never been published in English is a problem, but a) some people active in the English-language online ace community can read Chinese/Japanese/Indonesian/Thai/Vietnamese/Korean/etc. and thus can read a published form of the novel and b) some of the adaptations have been published/subtitled in English.

And I want more. I want more characters on the ace-spectrum who, without expressing sexual/romantic feelings, are fantastically creative, irrational, and passionate. Some of us are like this, or at least fantastize about being this way.

I want a diverse range – stories about many different kinds of passionate ace folk, in many different situations.

And I would like some character like this to, eventually, be considered as representative of ace pop culture as Sherlock is now.

If you know of any other fiction stories about characters who can at least be headcanoned as being on the asexual spectrum who are also creative, irrational, and passionate, please comment.

Otherwise, I suspect I am going to end up talking about Shēn Diāo Xiá Lǚ even more.


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17 thoughts on “Where Are the Passionate Aces in Fiction?

  1. Yeah, as a more emotional person, I can’t relate to most portrayals of asexuals in fiction. Back when I was blogging, I talked about Withnail from “Withnail and I” for the same reason you talk about Yang Guo. In my experience, I seem less emotional than most because I’m just used to keeping my feelings inside. Maybe a lot of asexuals feel that way. But I agree that in pop culture, the rationale seems to be that we just don’t have feelings at all.

    • Good to see you Ily, long time no see.

      `Withnail and I` is getting on my lists of Things to Check Out When I Am Done Travelling (currently, I am in rural northern Hokkaido).

      A college classmate also once commented that she felt I was not a very emotional person, and that during the years that she has known me, she never saw me get upset or angry. Well, I just tended to not get too emotionally active during college classes …

  2. Hi Sara what about Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory? Seems to me he could be classified as asexual. He is extremely intelligent and perhaps intellectually creative, but perhaps does not demonstrate a fuller range of emotions. Perhaps he’s more of a Sherlock again. Interested to know what you think…

      • Sheldon is neuroatypical and seems to probably have Asperger’s Syndrome. This doesn’t mean he can’t feel emotions, but he doesn’t EXPRESS them in a typical way. I haven’t really seen much of the show but I’ve read a lot about it and yeah he’s highly logical and scientific ALL the time. I never have heard anyone describe him as “Creative” or even “emotional”. He is more of a “non-human robot” in the way the comedy TV series treats him, to the dismay of many people who themselves are on the autism spectrum and think his friends on the show do not treat him the way good friends should treat fellow human beings.

  3. I’ve always thought the main character from Ellen Kushner’s The Privilege of the Sword was asexual. She gets a crush on both a boy and a woman, but never ends up doing anything about them, and when she becomes an adult she never marries or seems to have a romantic/sexual partner. But she is definitely passionate and driven, and feels very strongly for friends and family.

  4. As a writer, I’d argue that very few characters can get away with being dispassionate. They have to burn for something, if people are to empathize with them (which most writers will strive for).
    So, to me, passionate and unemotional are two very different things.
    That said, there seems to be an overabundance of highly visible (probably) ace characters who prefer ratio over feelings. I have no recs to add, and will strive to write more “feely” ace characters. My current one is more of a rational, too.

    • Hmmm … you are right in that dispassionate and unemotional are not the same (I assume that was a typo).

      However, as someone once pointed out (don`t remember who, sorry!) the very act of making ace-like characters unemotional is to make them more alien, and the readers are not necessarily supposed to empathize with them, thus othering them. For example, we are supposed to empathize with Watson rather than with Sherlock himself.

      • Hmm. I don’t remember, either. Anyhow. You (and they) are right that most people tend to prefer the more “feely”, expressive characters.
        Obviously, there’s a tie-in with the “robot” tropes.
        This probably won’t change for a while yet. Only way to counter is making more actual ace characters ourselves.

  5. Pingback: Takarazuka: Passionate, Yet Non-Sexual | The Notes Which Do Not Fit

  6. Pingback: Linkspam: July 4th, 2014 | The Asexual Agenda

  7. As mediainclusivity so wonderfully explained in this blog post: http://mediainclusivity.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/if-only-tv-acknowledge-asexuality-faking-it-1×4-know-thy-selfie/ the new MTV tv show “Faking It” as a character who is very easy to head-canon as demisexual. I highlighted the parts of the review that directly relate to Amy’s demisexuality:
    http://luvtheheaven.tumblr.com/post/90449243587/if-only-tv-acknowledged-asexuality-faking-it-1×4

    Now… On this show both Amy and Karma are the two main characters. We see their home lives, their friendships, their love lives. We pretty much know everything both characters are thinking. We’ve seen Amy cry, we’ve seen her excited about things, and I think while if you compare her to Karma, Karma is the MORE passionate/emotive character of the two, but I don’t know. Karma is more irrational – Karma is the dreamer and Amy (the asexual-spectrum one) is the realist. However, both girls have a lot of strong feelings and I don’t know. I think overall Amy is a good example of a character who is easy to relate to, who loves people fiercely, who is not all about science/facts/logic in her life but rather is just a “typical high school girl”.

    • She also has sexual feelings though. She’s demisexual, and in that sense she’s both asexual yet… not completely. Part of what makes her more easy to relate to is her STRONG feelings of being in love with her best friend, of even finding her friend sexy and loving the feeling of kissing her friend. How we KNOW when she tells Karma that kissing her was like kissing her sister that she was LYING, despite the fact that for many asexuals (like myself) that is exactly what kissing people we REALLY LIKE (or are even in love with) feels like. Finding an aro ace character who was not gray/demi to have this same range of emotions would be trickier. But it is just as important to feature these types of characters. 😉 Luckily I’ve found people writing Ace fanfiction have been able to turn allosexual characters into emotive/passionate aro-aces, sometimes. 😉 Or at least aces who often are NOT demi.

      • I just wish the show would give her that label explicitly. Because having an actual canonical demisexual character would be pretty amazing. 😛 I do really think both are important to represent. Because both are different.

      • Ah, how I love explicitly labeling characters as being anywhere on the ace-spectrum … but for now, I mostly have to settle for head canon labels.

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