For those of you who are unaware of Chinese popular literature / culture, Guo Jing is the protagonist of The Eagle-Shooting Heroes (Shè Diāo Yīngxióng Zhuàn), which is one of the most popular Chinese novels ever, and thus one of the most widely read novels of the 20th century. It is more popular in the Chinese-speaking world than Harry Potter is in the English-speaking world, and it has been that way since it was first published in the 1950s.
I’ve mentioned in a previous post that Guo Jing may be demisexual. Now, I headcanon him as being demisexual.
And … it’s pretty darn close to being canon that he is demisexual. The novel is very specific about him not being sexually attracted to Huang Rong until they’ve become emotionally close to each other, and it is heavily implied that he is never sexually attracted to anybody else for his entire life. After thinking it through, it’s hard for me to think of him as ~not~ being demisexual.
In the Asexual Agenda’s interview with Robin from Taiwan, Robin says “Also, the Chinese culture considers everyone to be demisexual, so it is supposed to be normal not to have sexual desires outside of marriage.” On the one hand, I disagree with his assessment of ‘Chinese’ culture – I have encountered many examples in Chinese-language media of people expressing sexual interest in strangers. On the other hand, I see his point. I have noticed way more characters who could be interpreted as demisexual in Chinese popular literature than in English popular literature. Furthermore, being plausibly-demisexual is idealized, and showing too much sexual interest in strangers is considered a character flaw.
I do not want this to be construed as meaning that being allosexual (as opposed to demisexual) is stigmatized in Chinese culture. I am really not a good person to judge this for quite a few reasons, but my (possibly incorrect) understanding is that, in real life as opposed to fictional dramas, Chinese cultures regard being sexually attracted to strangers as annoying/unfortunate, but it can’t be helped and doesn’t reflect badly on one’s character.
As that post in the Asexual Agenda brought up, “Chinese culture doesn’t like to talk about sex”, which is my experience is very true. It took me years to even learn what the Mandarin word for ‘sex’ is since it’s hardly ever used, and even now I have difficulty using the word correctly because I almost never encounter native speakers using it, and thus can’t get an intuitive sense of it. English speakers have a tendency to use the word ‘sexy’ to mean ‘good’ or ‘appealing’ even in non-sexual contexts … suffice to say, Chinese speakers do NOT have that tendency.
This is no doubt a relief for people who prefer not to have sex constantly brought up in conversation. The flipside is that it is harder to know how other Chinese speakers experience their sexuality. Even in the English speaking world, plenty of asexuals assume everyone is asexual until they one day realize that other people really do experience sexual attraction/feelings. I imagine this is even more intense in the Chinese-speaking world, possibly to the point that even allosexuals may think that many people are really like demisexual Guo Jing.
Yes, lets get back to fictional wuxia characters.
Even though there are plenty of wuxia characters who might be demisexual, I think Guo Jing is the only one I can think of (I might think of others if I really prodded my memory) who fits ‘demisexual’ much better than ‘allosexual’. Characters who have as much evidence of being demisexual as Guo Jing are actually not that common at all, if only because the kind of details which would really shift the odds from ‘allosexual’ to ‘demisexual’ are often not included because of a generally tendency not to talk so much about sex.
Just to do a quick comparison with other Jin Yong protagonists (because they are easy for me to review in my mind quickly)…
Chen Jialuo – probably heterosexual
Yuan Chengzhi – probably heterosexual
Yang Guo – I’ve discussed this plenty already
Zhang Wuji – almost certainly heterosexual
Hu Fei – almost certainly heterosexual
Di Yun – possibly heterosexual, possibly demisexual
Duan Yu – almost certainly heterosexual
Qiao Feng – not much evidence in any direction
Xu Zhu – probably heterosexual
Shi Potian – I don’t remember
Linghu Chong – definitely heterosexual
Wei Xiaobao – definitely heterosexual
Not many characters who I can headcanon as demisexual. Jin Yong characters tend to notice pretty quickly when a certain person is really pretty and special, and it’s plausible (and in some cases, confirmed) that this interest has a sexual component from the start. It’s only in Guo Jing’s case that it’s spelled out that the sexual component to his feelings for Huang Rong doesn’t come until he’s been close to her for months. Of course, it’s obvious that Yang Guo was close to Xiaolongnü for years without any sexual feelings for her, but since it’s never demonstrated ever that he has sexual (as opposed to romantic) feelings for her, I interpret it as those sexual feelings never existing.
Finally, I personally like to headcanon Guo Jing as demisexual, Yang Guo as monoamorous asexual, and Zhang Wuji as polyamorous heterosexual because they are each protagonists of a single part of the Shooting Eagles trilogy. I like how they complement each other in quite a few ways – for example, their approaches to vengeance – and show different faces of the human experience. Think of them as demisexual – asexual – heterosexual adds yet another layer of contrast.
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