Today we have a awesome post from book and movie reviewer Hayley Sprout, who is stopped by to talk about asexual representation in YA and reading sex in YA as an asexual person.
Why Asexual Representation Matters
Firstly I’d like to thank Jo for having me on her blog as part of ‘Sex In Teen Lit’ Month II! Sex seems to be such a taboo topic for people to talk about. And yet comes with pressure the size of King Kong and Godzilla combined. Who had their first kiss first? Who lost their virginity first? What age? There seems to be a competition with moments regarding sex and relationships. Like the first one to reach the finish line is rewarded with the most pride. But there’s more to it. Books have the ability to teach so much. They hold the key for people to escape the real world for a few hours at a time. We are able to follow situations and stories of people we feel a connection with. But this doesn’t help so much to people who don’t feel sexual attraction to others.
An asexual person is a person who doesn’t feel sexual attraction and/or has low interest in sexual activity. It’s not having a low sex drive. It’s not waiting to meet the right person. And it’s stupid to ask, "How do you know if you’ve never tried it?!" Well, how do you know you like someone if you’ve never been in a relationship? It’s also different from celibacy and/or abstinence as those are choices whereas asexuality is not.
Asexuality is still very new. I learned everything that I know about asexuality from Tumblr, of all places. From there I discovered The Asexuality Visibility and Education Network. And asexuality is a very wide scale. Some asexuals can have non-sexual relationships with people. And some asexuals may have sex to have children or simply just to “clear out the plumbing.” When I found pages and pages of posts on asexuality on Tumblr I genuinely felt that I wasn’t an outlier anymore. And it doesn’t make me feel like a special snowflake because I’m not doing something everyone else is doing. There are more ways to have intimate moments with a partner rather than sex.
If authors are going to write about sex they should do it right. They should cover all scales of sexuality including asexuals and pansexuals, who have next to no coverage in literature. And also, are there any novels that discuss sexual health? The sex education I had when I was younger was awful. Not everyone fits into a majority and it’s time those people are represented.
It’s incredibly frustrating to hear that sex is a major factor in NA novels; I feel a bit excluded because that just screams no representation for asexuals. I don’t mind reading about sex in YA, sex is something I’m perfectly content reading about, as I don’t feel like I’m personally missing out on anything because there are more important things happening in a book than just sex. Which is something that puts me off NA books if sex is a major factor in them.
I haven’t read any books with asexual characters. The only one I know of is in James Dawson’s 'All of The Above', which I’ve yet to read but I’m very glad that it’s a definite start for more asexual characters.
Thank you, Hayley, for such a fantastic guest post! I would also recommend heading to Gay YA, where they recently held an Asexuality in YA Series for Asexual Awareness Week - especially the post from Agent Agatha, Reading While Asexual: Representation in Ace YA where specific titles are recommended. I will be checking some of them out myself.