Slashsing the Invisible: Bodily Autonomy in Asexual Fan Fiction

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Fanfiction is a medium that is set in a discourse characterized by sex and romantic relations. Asexuality might, at a first glance, be impossible to incorporate this content. It is however not so. While the number of published slash fanfiction with one or more asexual characters remains small in comparison to sexual slash fanfiction, an analysis of themes and issues in connection with romance and the body in asexual fanfiction might help shed a light on how both sexual and asexual slash work as medium for the negotiation of sexualities and equality. As fanfiction grew from being seen as the obscure writings of women, searching for daring romance (Bacon-Smith, 1991), into being regarded as a valid discourse of criticism and debate about gender, sexuality and orientation, the variety of sexualities included in fanfiction grew as well. Awareness about asexuality informed fandom, And the number of fics in which one or more main characters were asexual grew (Fanfiction.net, AO3, 2016). Like with other fanfiction, asexuality fanfiction's authors also entered into this argument with the normative. Desire is regulated, medicated and controlled. (Foucault, Spurgas, 2016) Society regards sex as performance, the male body is under medication as well: lack of sexual attraction creates a problematic discourse where the body must be medicated or undergo therapy to fit in, or to be desired. The individual's right to express their orientation is erased as they do not fit into a sexualised discourse. (Bordo, Foucault, 1990 & 2003). Although some asexuals are sexually active, asexuality is inherently invisible; it is almost indistinguishable from celibacy (choice), or sexual dysfunctions (illness), and it must therefore be either cured or convinced into disappearance (Aven, Spurgas, 2016). Like Omegaverse fics which discuss equality, the right to the body, the right to decline sex, and idea that nature and desire take precedence over informed decisions, asexual fanfiction enter into this discussion with the normative as well. Again, it is the right to the body that is questioned, the asexual character's situation somewhat similar to that of the omega in relation with an alpha. Although the sub-genres have these themes in common, the asexual character, contrary to the omega, no matter whether the asexual character is romantic or aromantic, has to explore orientation without sex, and thus, the asexual fanfiction becomes a discussion with a society in which the medicalized lust and the expected performance of sex is the norm. Asexuality-themed fics might be where we find masculinity is questioned and redefined as well; society's view on male sexuality rarely includes the view of male sexual attraction. In order to investigate the themes of bodily autonomy and relationships, a broad selection of the approximately 6,000 asexuality-themed fanfics on Fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own (AO3, Fanfiction.net, 2016) is analysed to determine how authors describe asexuality (crack, kink or realistically), how these stories deal with relationships and equality between partners, and not least how they handle the resolution of asexuality, especially in regards to the medicated sexuality and acceptance of bodily autonomy
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Darker Side of Slash Fan Fiction : Essays on Power, Consent and the Body
EditorsAshton Spacey
PublisherMcFarland
Publication date2018
Pages25-49
ISBN (Print)978-1-4766-7121-5
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4766-3174-5
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Fingerprint

Fiction
Invisible
Sexual
Sexuality
Autonomy
Discourse
Equality
Romance
Attraction
Therapy
Illness
Nature
Celibacy
Individual Rights
Male Body
Disappearance
Masculinity
Controlled
Lust
Acceptance

Keywords

  • fan fiction
  • asexuality
  • bodily autonomy
  • fan studies
  • sexuality
  • fans
  • fanfiction
  • slash fiction
  • slash

Cite this

Westberg, L. H. P. N. (2018). Slashsing the Invisible: Bodily Autonomy in Asexual Fan Fiction. In A. Spacey (Ed.), The Darker Side of Slash Fan Fiction: Essays on Power, Consent and the Body (pp. 25-49). McFarland.
Westberg, Lysa Hannah Pernille Nielsen. / Slashsing the Invisible : Bodily Autonomy in Asexual Fan Fiction. The Darker Side of Slash Fan Fiction: Essays on Power, Consent and the Body. editor / Ashton Spacey. McFarland, 2018. pp. 25-49
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Westberg, LHPN 2018, Slashsing the Invisible: Bodily Autonomy in Asexual Fan Fiction. in A Spacey (ed.), The Darker Side of Slash Fan Fiction: Essays on Power, Consent and the Body. McFarland, pp. 25-49.

Slashsing the Invisible : Bodily Autonomy in Asexual Fan Fiction. / Westberg, Lysa Hannah Pernille Nielsen.

The Darker Side of Slash Fan Fiction: Essays on Power, Consent and the Body. ed. / Ashton Spacey. McFarland, 2018. p. 25-49.

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

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Westberg LHPN. Slashsing the Invisible: Bodily Autonomy in Asexual Fan Fiction. In Spacey A, editor, The Darker Side of Slash Fan Fiction: Essays on Power, Consent and the Body. McFarland. 2018. p. 25-49