The Sex Corner Or: How One Asexual Has Got Fed Up With The Usual Romantic Tropes and Sex Scenes In Books

Tuesday 20 October, 2015

Well, this is a post that goes well with Asexual Awareness Week!

I’m thinking of calling one corner of my room “The Sex Corner”.

No no no! Not like that! I’m not going all 50 Shades of Domestic Abuse Grey on everyone!

No. It’s one corner of my room where, in theory, I would throw, fling, chuck and lob books for containing Sex Scenes in otherwise interesting novels. Of course, I say “books”, but I can’t actually read physical books anymore, so I split my reading between my kindle and Audiobooks these days, and I can’t do anything to them because they’re expensive. And I doubt the insurance for the former includes “Damage by Asexual Rage”, and the latter belong to the library. And you should Never do anything to harm items from the library. (If you believe in such a place, there’s a special level of hell for people who damage items from the library, and it’s worse than the level reserved for people who talk at the theatre)

So anyway, instead, when applicable, I’ll write the titles down and then throw the them in the corner.

Why?

Because that’s where bad things belong, in the Naughty Corner. (You can groan if you life, it is a very tedious build up to a pun)

The first to go in there will be Solar by Ian McEwan, whose regular bouts of Sex scenes are jarring and off-putting. I get it, despite the main character (Michael Beard) not having much to offer, the man’s a womaniser and he had women eating out of his  hand, and everyone loves him. And how else was the author to prove that but with graphic descriptions!?

But, despite any contrived exposition that lead to these scenes happening, I don’t really get why the Sex scenes themselves are needed for the reader. Was it so the reader could believe these things happened to the character? A sort of “pics or it didn’t happen” thing, but in literary form? The first few felt like they were thrown in there for the Shallow Shock Value. Here’s an ageing man still having Sex. La gasp shock!! Surely a sum up line confirming that fact could have done the same job, if it was really, really needed. What I’m saying is, this went in to the Nth degree… and I’m not quite sure why.

Michael Beard is a scientist failing at his job, which is what caught my attention in the first place, so I’d have much rather it focused on that aspect. But, Oh no! We need a one hundred word description of what he looks like naked and, not to put too fine a point on it, failing to go? Really? Repeatedly through the book…? Okay then…

I know. I know what you’re thinking. I should have pitched the title across the room when I first ran into problems. I would have saved myself from having to hear the graphic description of indigestional distress, and then much later, sitting puzzled after the rushed epilogue-styled ending, if I had.

I just don’t get what McEwan thought it added to the story. I skipped as much as I could (a feat that deserves a medal when you’re dealing with audiobooks), and it made no difference to what I felt was the essence of the plot development. I still saw and understood how Michael Beard was a failure of a husband, father, scientist, lover, and an all around human being. And if, despite taking out the over-tired scenes of a sexual nature, those things remained obvious, then having them in, in the first place, obviously added nothing.

Right? So, belatedly in the Corner it goes!

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The second to be thrown in the Sex Corner is Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. Like Solar, there is a Sex Scene early on in the story. I compelled myself to skip on by and carry on. This book was recommended to me by a friend, so it can’t be all bad, right?

Wrong! From there, there was then the poor writing and narrative, and a pretty ridiculous romance. I should have given up whilst I was ahead!

The ridiculous romance went like this: Female Character (Alice) meets Male Character (Will). They’d met once before and  spent four hours or so in each others company working on a mutual project. Later in the evening of the day they meet again, danger hits. Alice tries to ask if they’re safe, once it looks like the danger has passed. What does Will do? He doesn’t actually answer the question, be just strokes her face. And then the danger returns.

A similar thing happens later on in the book, too. What does Handsy McRomeo do that time? Oh he just kisses her whilst she’s mid-question.

Yeah, Juliet, sod your safety concerns. His need to kiss you comes first. Sorry love. I’m sure you don’t mind!

Bonus? He spends days after those four hours being knocked out, waking up pining over her, and then getting knocked out again. What a guy! What a Romance!

Then there’s the sex scenes. Were they necessary? I mean, were they really necessary? I know i’m biased here, but considering there’s other parts of the story were the author just skimmed over a summary when more detail would have been appreciated, I really don’t see why a sum up of an extra marital affair couldn’t have done the same job.  It’s not just that her writing was all over the place, the decisions she made on what was kept in and what was skimmed over made no sense.

So, belatedly in the Corner that goes too.

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Thirdly, a book I actually gave up on, lest I repeat the same mistake a third time.

Dead Air by Ian M Banks. Different Ian, virtually the same protagonist. Or antagonist, really, seeing as the main character describes himself as Professional Contraryman. This is the story of a “Shock Jockey” who gets paid to go out of his way to offend everyone. I attempted to skip through four Sex Scenes, but I got fed up of playing “Guess The Plot Beyond the Minefield” , and imagined myself pitching the CD Case across the room.

And that’s what I’m going to do from now on. You know, people say to people like me “Don’t like, don’t read”, and I don’t think people appreciate how much we would remove from our everyday life if we sex-repulsed asexuals intentionally went out of our way to avoid or removed all things Sex related.

Well, to show just part of it:

TSC1

I don’t like, so I’m not going to read anymore.

Watch this space for more Sex Corner Updates.

AFJ: Arranging titles artistically so that you don’t have to.

 

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Asexuality Awareness Week – Day Four (Entry #1)

Thursday 30 October, 2014

First let me say that I know that I’ve let this ship sink somewhat, but I did not abandon it. I’ve been trying to update for months but between problems accessing my own computer and health problems, it’s been impossible to start and finish a post. By the time i can get back to it, the thread had been lost or the post was made completely irrelevant.

But I planned sticking to Asexuality Awareness Week. I had many ways for all areas of my life to celebrate it, but just before Monday, I came down with a flare up of Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome in my left hand, and accessing my computer became even more difficult. It also made using my phone in it’s place even more difficult. There is no good angle to position the phone in place whilst I type and I couldn’t hold the phone with one hand and type with my right. And the less said about dictating to my phone, the better.

Or as my phone would say: The best head about the taking, the fatter.

But as my hand has improved and my determination increased, I am sat awkwardly in front of my laptop.

So let the Awareness Week belated begin (Around these parts!)

Just a reminder of the basics: Asexuality is the lack of a sexual attraction towards other people, and/or the lack of sexual desire. It’s an umbrella term which also covers Grey A, which is a term for people who have fluctuating sexual desire or do find people sexually attractive, but barely and minimally; And it also covers demisexuality, which is when people have to have a romantic foundation with a person before finding them sexually attractive.

It also covers people who are aromantic, which is when people don’t have a romantic drive.

Not every asexual is aromantic, and not every aromantic person is asexual. Asexual people can also be heteromantic, biromantic and homoromantic. And, some asexuals do have sex, though I myself don’t nor do I understand how that’s possible.

The important thing is, is that even when we don’t understand something, sometimes we just have to accept it anyway.

So, them’s the basics! If you didn’t read any of my previous posts over the years, hopefully that sums it up for you.

Now, I have been an active participant in Asexual Awareness Week for three years, now. I’ve seen an increase of awareness and acceptance, I’ve kept track of celebrities who have labelled themselves asexual, and characters who were brought into pop culture as seemingly asexual. I then saw a shift in attitude towards asexuality. As acceptance for asexual people who have sex, for whatever their reasons or circumstances, increased and became the expected norm, acceptance for asexual people who don’t have sex plummeted.

People who have fought against ignorant questions and attitudes themselves turned to other people and did the same thing. I’ve seen plenty of asexuals who have sex state that there must be something clinically wrong with those of us who don’t.

I don’t understand why. If I’m meant to accept people who, to me, have changed the diameters of a term to include them, then why can’t they accept people who, to me, were the meaning of the word? Asexual. As in lack there of.

I said all this last year, and unfortunately, it’s either the same or even worse, depending on your point of view.

Popular Culture has very much taken a dive for the worst. Lady Gaga is no longer asexual. Though I did predict that as soon as she declared herself to be. All popular fictional characters we once undoubtedly knew were asexual have been put through the sexual desire mangler. I do realise that I am on the cusp of the controvercial fault line, because I know demisexual people who can relate to Sheldon Cooper. Unfortunately, I can’t see it the same way as they seem to do.

If the creators had said “This is a character who is asexual. He might discover, somewhere down the line, he’s demisexual, and it’s a struggle for him.”, well, I’d take it with a pinch of salt but I’d have no foundations for an argument. They didn’t do that, though. Almost from the start, creators and actors alike talked around the issue, never used the words or terms, and have said in many different ways that one day the character might grow up and find a girlfriend. But of course, that can’t possibly insult an asexual person, because they’ve never explicitly used the word “asexual”.

But, what can be an asexual’s struggle has become the butt of their punch line. I feel like any relationship between Sheldon and Amy is for a build up of Will They/Won’t They, although knowing how sitcoms work, it’s probably more “Of course they will, but when!?”.

I feel like this entire relationship is just a way of “normalising” Sheldon. It’s saying, “People who aren’t interested WILL become interested if the person is persistent enough” It doesn’t do any favours for asexuality or asexual people at all.

I’ve said before about the problem with giving any label to Sherlock Holmes. It’s only open to interpretation due to the lack of explicitness, and hardly anyone seems to be taking into consideration the times the books were written in. The telly shows don’t just interpret Holmes’s orientation in their own ways, they seem to interpret Asexuality in their own ways as well.

Stephen Moffat has said Asexual people are boring, that’s why his Sherlock isn’t asexual. The people behind the american version seem to confusing asexuality with celibacy (The conscious decision Not to have sex rather than a lack of desire). How are we meant to normalise asexuality if people keep going out of their way to give the mass media the wrong idea?

And there really hasn’t been anything else, that I know of, to bring asexuality out of the niche of internet and into the general public.

And I can tell this because, in the past six months, I have filled in two Equal Opportunities-like forms and there still isn’t an Asexual tick box for the Sexual Orientation question. That’s how invisible we are. People who are meant to be in the know about these sort of things either don’t know, or don’t care.

And that, yet again, is why this week is so important.

I’m sad that all my plans fell apart right before it started, but hopefully I’ll be able to do some catch up today.

And hopefully I’ll be back with more Awareness tomorrow. For more information and ranting, please feel free to look through my previous Asexual Awareness Week posts.

I’ve been your Asexual Failed Journalist.

Good day!