Eitel © 2019.

Show Your Aces! Ace Representation in Sherlock Fanfiction

The asexual flag

If you are a "Sherlock" fan, not unlike myself, it is likely that you have come across a decent number of fanfictions where Sherlock is meant to be asexual. Many of us read Sherlock's character, whether it be in BBC, ACD, or any other of the multitudinous retellings of the famed stories, as someone who does not experience sexual attraction, or has no interest in the more carnal side of human nature. There is a good deal of subtextual evidence to support this reading, hence the numerous fics. However, from my perspective as an autochorissexual*, it is common to see asexuality misrepresented, or not represented in its many forms.

In fanfiction with a tagged Asexual Sherlock, we often see a Sherlock who has no interest in sex whatsoever, and it is a conscious choice on his part to abstain from sex. This is not an accurate representation of asexuality. Asexuality is defined as the absence of sexual attraction towards others. This does not mean that asexuals do not have sex, or have no interest in sex, because in many cases they do.

Asexual people, more commonly referred to as aces, often times feel other forms of attraction, these being sensual, aesthetic and romantic attraction. Demisexuals, a form of asexuality, feel sexual attraction ONLY after building a strong romantic relationship. Autochorissexuals don’t feel sexual attraction, but are capable of being aroused and are aroused by pornographic content, just not normally in relation to themselves. Asexuality has many facets and forms, which oftentimes are not displayed in fics that are tagged with asexual characters.

This does not necessarily mean that all asexual Sherlock fics are not accurate representations of asexuality because, for many people, these are representations that they can identify with. My purpose for this article is to bring to the forefront the idea that asexual Sherlock fics tend towards a very single minded representation, with very little variety in the forms of asexuality represented. For some fics, this is due simply to the way that asexuality is represented in popular media, and so it is the way the author believes asexuality is experienced. This is most common in authors who are not asexual themselves. For other fics, this simply is due to the way that certain people experience asexuality in their own life. And that is acceptable and encouraged, I applaud the authors who are able to bring their own sexuality into their writings.

Asexuality is a complex and often misunderstood sexuality. It can be frustrating for readers who are asexual to read asexual characters that they feel misrepresent them. For those authors who are not asexual, do not be discouraged! Feel free to write your asexual characters, but perhaps consider finding a beta who is asexual. That way you can understand your story from their viewpoint, in addition to your own. For those authors that are asexual, again, I commend you for writing your characters to represent yourselves. And for readers everywhere, of any sexuality, remember that not all asexuals are the same, and asexuality is a vast spectrum of experience and emotion. Don’t think there’s just one type or one way to be ace because there’s a lot.

For more information on asexuality and what it is like to be asexual, a fantastic resource is the Asexuality subreddit and accompanying wiki, which can be found here and here.

*Autochorissexuality is a form of asexuality where the person experiences a disconnect between themselves and an object of arousal. They can be aroused by sexual content but have no desire to experience it themselves. A more detailed description can be found here

1 comment