What I Got out of Everywhere House as an Aro Ace Reader

The cover of 'Everywhere House' which shows the phrase 'Women Fight Back!' graffittied on a wall above the legs of a dead body. I recently read the novel Everywhere House by Jane Meyerding. It is a murder mystery set in the radical feminist lesbian community of 1970s Seattle.

Some aspects of the story which stood out to me as an aromantic asexual are:

1. The protagonist, Terry Barber, is a lesbian woman. Her best friend, Roger, is a heterosexual man. On Terry’s end, she hides her close friendship with him from her radical feminist lesbian companions because they would disapprove of her close friendship with a man. Her friend, understandably, does not like being treated like a dirty secret. Likewise, as he gets on with his heterosexual life and eventually gets engaged to a woman, he struggles with maintaining the friendship with Terry. Most interesting to me is that it is clear that Terry is more comfortable with and more willing to confide in him than with her lesbian girlfriends. I like that it turns the relationship hierarchy (romantice + sexual relationships are more important than friendship) upside down.

2. There is a lot of discussion of queer politics, particularly how different lesbian groups interact with each other. For example, Terry’s girlfriend, Ellie, is an assimilationist lesbian – she just wants lesbians to be treated like ‘normal’ people. By contrast, Terry’s housemates want to change the political and social order. However, among the ‘political lesbians’ there are many different strains of radicalism, and Radical Lesbian Group A may have very bad feelings about Radical Lesbian Group B. Asexual group politics are not quite like that, however the idea of subgroups within subgroups, sometimes based on thoughts rather than experiences, is familiar. Of course, a major theme is the interaction between lesbians and society as large, how lesbians (particularly radical feminist lesbians) are considered less credible ~because~ they are lesbians.

3. The sex scenes were pretty awkward. It wasn’t that they were all fade-to-black – fade-to-black sex scenes can be pretty smooth – it felt more like obligatory sex scene + super fast and jerky fade to black. By obligatory, I mean that it felt like the sex scene was happening because the writer (or the editor, or somebody) decided that a sex scene was necessary to demonstrate Terry’s lesbianness rather than because the plot or Terry’s feelings seemed to be leading into a sex scene. Since I have read very little lesbian fiction, I was willing to entertain the possibility that I simply am not familiar with the conventions of lesbian sex scenes.

Since this is a novel about lesbians published by a publisher (New Victoria Publishers) which specializes in lesbian fiction, I had assumed that Jane Meyerding herself is lesbian. Shortly after finishing the novel, I found out that, actually, Jane Meyerding is asexual. Knowing that the writer is asexual (and possibly aromantic, though since she has not said that explicitly, I’m not going to assume) put all of the above in a new light for me.

I don’t know whether or not Jane Meyerding identified as asexual at the time she wrote this novel. Either way, I think it is a worthwhile contribution to the literature of Fiction by Asexual Writers.

1 thought on “What I Got out of Everywhere House as an Aro Ace Reader

  1. Pingback: Linkspam: August 26th, 2016 | The Asexual Agenda

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