Carnival of Aces: What Accurate Portrayal Means
This month’s Carnival of Aces concerns the asexual spectrum and fiction. One of Dominique’s suggested questions asks to judge the imporance of having asexual-spectrum people “portrayed accurately and positively” in fictional media.
Although it is true that a lot of asexual portrayals are of asexuals who lack interest in partner-relationships or who have disabilities, I have observed that when arguments are made for the accurate and positive portrayal of asexuality, often, by “accurate,” the speaker means romantic and not having any disability. It is common for media to stereotype asexuals as completely uninterested in relationships, or as asexual because of a disability, and there is a trend in the asexual community toward combatting those stereotypes by doing things that have the effect of replacing them with new stereotypes.
I would like to see more romantic aces in fiction, but not because the portrayal of aces uninterested in relationships is inaccurate. I would like to see portrayal of asexual-spectrum people that is diverse: I would like to see all kinds of asexuals represented in fiction.
Additionally, in the case of characters with disabilities who are also depicted as uninterested in sex, I would like the fictional medium to make it clear that being uninterested in sex and having a disability are unrelated. The stereotypes of people with disabilities being uninterested in sex and of asexuals necessarily having medical conditions are stereotypes that we can challenge without asserting that no asexuals have disabilities (or that no people with disabilities are asexual).
With respect to the stereotype of asexuals being uninterested in relationships, fiction creators should make it clear that being uninterested in relationships is unrelated to being asexual. I’d like to see representation of a diversity of preferred relationship styles among asexual characters: aromantics who want nonromantic partners, aromantics who don’t want any kind of partner-relationship, romantics that happen to be in nonromantic partnerships, and romantics who desire or are in romantic partnerships.
The only way to have an accurate portrayal of asexuals is to have a diverse portrayal of asexuals.