For this week’s #writingwednesday and in honour of Pride Month, a snippet from fantasy drama wip: Juliet where the protagonist’s daughter, Sophia, and the antagonist’s daughter, Iona, bond on their sea voyage and discuss the ways their two cultures approach sexuality.
Aron took a coin from his pocket and flipped into the waves below. “For the sea gods. May they keep my kjaereste safe, back home.” He reached into his pocket and produced two more tiny copper discs, insisting the women take them. He placed a hand on his shoulder, inclined his head, and walked away.
Sophia held the coin tightly in her hand, thinking of her mother, of Sean, of her friends Evjor and Jeanne, of her cellmate, Valarie. She tossed the coin into the ocean, praying they stayed safe.
Iona rubbed at the copper. “I have no family I want to wish for. So instead I will pray the gods watch over those my mother has wronged.” Her coin too went into the waves. She stared after it for a while and then shivered.
“Let’s go back below,” Sophia said, putting one hand on Iona’s arm. As they walked she said, “What does it mean? Aron’s…sh— sha…”
“Kjaereste? It’s your beloved. Your darling. Your boyfriend or girlfriend.”
Sophia attempted the pronunciation a few times until Iona laughed and said she’d got it perfect. “It’s a nice word,” Sophia said, glowing with pride. It was nicer that Iona’s people were so open about relationships beyond a man and his obedient wife.
They went to Iona’s cabin and Iona sat on the bed, Sophia taking the chair.
“You speak the language fluently.”
Iona nodded. “My father thought it important for me to learn about my heritage. I can see how it’s difficult though, if you try to learn it as an adult.”
Sophia leaned back in the chair. “I’d like to try and learn a few words.”
“Here’s one you are probably already familiar with. Elskeravkvinner. A woman who loves women.” Iona gave a sly smile.
Sophia knew they’d become close, but they’d never discussed what she was now sure was a mutual attraction. “I’m not El— Es…I will learn to pronounce it correctly, I promise, but that’s not me. Not entirely.”
Iona, who’d become despondent at the declaration tipped her head. “What do you mean?”
“I am a woman who loves men and women. I’ve dated young men. I still find men attractive. I like to look at women but I’ve never found one I felt…desire for. Until now.” She lowered her gaze. “Anyway, I don’t know what I am, what the word is. Or the word for those like Sean, who desire no-one.”
Iona patted the bed. “Come and sit with me. I don’t know those words either. Maybe we need new words. Or maybe we don’t need to make distinctions.”
Sophia sat next to Iona and Iona leaned her head on Sophia’s shoulder. “There are distinctions. Men, women, princess, peasant. They matter.”
Iona put one hand on Sophia’s knee. “Not so much as you think.” She kissed Sophia’s cheek. Sophia turned her head. Iona gave her an encouraging look and Sophia leaned in. Their lips met.
There’s been pushback against asexuality in some places. Some tumblr posts insist that asexuals aren’t “oppressed enough” to be consider part of the LGBT+ community (those posts insist “queer is a slur” too despite significant commentary to the contrary on how important the reclaiming and use of the term is for many.)
There are posts accusing people of “sexualising” children by saying that we should acknowledge more than just heterosexual romantic and sexual attraction. That telling someone you’re asexual is “unneccessary” and exposing them to “information about your sex life”.
Posts saying asexuals just need hormones or counselling or to be raped.
Posts saying that asexual posts confuse people and prevent them from being gay because of “internalised homophobia”.
Most of those things have been, and in some cases, still are used as fodder against other queer groups.
“Trans people aren’t allowed in gay spaces because a transman with a woman is heterosexual”
“Bihets aren’t allowed in gay spaces!” (ie a bi/pansexual person in a relationship with someone of the opposite gender. The term bihet erases bisexuality by making same sex relationships gay, opposite sex relationships straight, and ignores trans people and nonbinary identities)
“Don’t mention lebsians or women won’t get married as they should.”
“Stop mentioning you’re gay, you’re throwing your sexuality in my face!” (As they wear a wedding ring and have a photo of their wife on their desk, secure in displays of heterosexuality)
“You’re not a gay man or a transwomen, you just need more testosterone and to pray harder to be the straight man you should be.”
“She won’t be a lesbian after I’ve f*cked her”
There’s been some interesting discussion about the Russian bots that infiltrated Tumblr and the rise of dissent amongst queer groups; “gold star lesbian” rhetoric, posts that are anti-bisexual and anti-asexual, a rise in TERF posts centering womanhood on menstruation and reproduction. It’s awful and it’s unacceptable.
Sometimes I think we write to explore the things most important to us. Sometimes however we write to explore other ways of being.
I’ve been posting fiction three times a month to the blog for a while now, 7th, 14th, 21st of the month; I’ve found Wednesdays works best so I’ve switched to the first – third Wednesday of each month for the moment.
I would like to use the fourth week to share something else – moodboards, reviews, prompts, or other non-fiction.
This time I’d like to talk a bit about asexuality. I’ve blogged about it before, and have written meta about characters I headcanon as potentially being on the asexual spectrum.
Things have been personally stressful lately and for an asexual, though it isn’t personal, sometimes it feels very personal to constantly face messages from the media, social networks, friends, or family that posit (1) sex is essential for a relationship and/or (2) relationships without sex as are not as important.
That is, the messages that call an allosexual being in a monogamous relationship with an asexual abusive, because the asexual person is “withholding” sex from someone who enjoys it. The messages that place a spouse on the top of some sort of relationship hierarchy. The constant message that sex is good and all people must want – or need, or deserve – it.
So much for asexuals and those people who cannot have sex for whatever reason.
As such, I’ve been thinking about changing attitudes via fiction and writing about asexuality.
I head-canon Da Vinci’s Demons’ Giralomo Riario as somewhere on the asexual spectrum. Not necessarily completely asexual but possibly grey-asexual or demi-sexual, maybe with some sexual attraction to all genders; I also think he could be biromantic and/or demiromantic.
I was reading an interesting story recently. It happened to be fanfiction, but I’ve had this experience with plenty of mainstream novels. I was enjoying the storyline, the plot was good, the author was hitting some of my favourite tropes and the story was, overall, well-told.
Then: bam. The relationship hierarchy* reared its ugly head.
Sex is Not Vital For a Loving Relationship (No matter what real or fictional therapists tell you)
Excerpt: This supposed professional just denied the existence of asexuality. She erased the right of not just asexuals, but people with physical disabilities which preclude sex, to be in a “loving relationship”. She basically implied that survivors of sexual trauma need to have/resume having sex or they cannot be loved.
Rarely does a week go by without my seeing an article that talks about sex, and how someone is not happy they are not getting enough of it. Regardless of the tone of the article however, there is the horror of the comment section.
There’ll be some sensible comments.
There’ll also be hordes of apparently sex-mad commentators who are keen to insist that there is no pleasure compared to that of using someone else’s body to gratify your needs. That someone who isn’t being fucked isn’t worthy of existing, let alone being in a relationship.
If someone isn’t having sex with you? Dump them. You’ve been together five years? Still dump them. You really love them and you’ve got a child together? Dump them anyway.
This week it’s this article, in the Guardian: