Asexuality in fiction  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Asexuality in fiction from a 2006 Wikipedia article[1]

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is often regarded as another quintessentially asexual character. While his friend Doctor Watson is portrayed as charming and very much attracted to and, in the manner of a stereotypical Victorian gentleman, gallant towards various female characters, and indeed marries at least once, the detective dismisses dealings with women outside of his specific business as 'Your department, Watson' and even once sneeringly tells the doctor that 'the most winning woman' he ever knew committed infanticide for the insurance money. The story A Scandal in Bohemia (first published in the Strand Magazine in July 1891), however, introduces a female character whom Holmes admires excessively (she outwits him), and it opens with a frank explanation of the character's asexuality as it is seen by the narrator – as (almost) always, Doctor John Watson:

"To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer – excellent for drawing the veil from men's motives and actions. But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his."

Aghora, one of Alejandro Jodorowsky's Metabarons, was an asexual transman.

Samuel R. Delany's 1969 short story "Aye, and Gomorrah..." depicts a society where astronauts become sexless because cosmic radiation renders their reproductive organs useless.

In the original Doctor Who television series (1963–1989), the Doctor was almost always depicted as asexual despite his regular stream of attractive young female companions. Since the First Doctor's initial companion, Susan Foreman, was introduced as his granddaughter, it is often assumed, but never confirmed, that the Doctor had had at one time in his early life a partner of the opposite sex with whom he had at least one child. The 1996 Doctor Who television movie caused some controversy among Doctor Who fans by having the Eighth Doctor passionately kiss, more than once, his companion Grace. In the new series (2005–), the Doctor is occasionally flirtatious, and has a romantically tinged relationship with his companion Rose Tyler. Actor David Tennant who currently plays the Tenth Doctor, has assured fans that the relationship is still celibate or "a love story without the shagging." as he puts it. See also The Doctor and romance.

Most of the characters in SpongeBob Squarepants are often portrayed as asexual, but some rumors claim that SpongeBob is gay. Stephen Hillenburg has denied this, saying that SpongeBob reproduces by budding. This is the most likely statement.

One of the central characters of Isabel Allende's The House of Spirits, Clara, could be construed as asexual. In her later years, she expresses a lack of interest in coitus, commenting that it only makes her bones ache.

The eponymous central character in Kurt Vonnegut's Deadeye Dick is asexual due to childhood trauma.

In Ian Fleming's From Russia with Love, Red Grant is described as being an asexual. However, it is unclear whether or not this trait is passed over into the film version.

In John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, the narrator appears to be asexual. There is a brief mention that, in his teens, he is introduced to several female peers and is clumsy and ineffective in his attempts to make love to them. He remains a virgin when the book ends. In early adolescence he is tied up face-to-face with a major character called Hester (who jokingly calls herself "Hester the molester"). Although both find the experience uncomfortable and embarrassing, Hester goes on to have a sexual relationship with the title character. Later in the book, the narrator is referred to by others as a "non-practicing homosexual", a term also used by the board of trustees to describe Dr. Wilbur Larch in Irving's novel The Cider House Rules.

In V For Vendetta, the eponymous protagonist behaves in an asexual fashion, most conspicuously in his relationship with the heroine Evey Hammond (who, it may be noted, first met him after a failed attempt at engaging in prostitution with an undercover policeman). Evey is 16 years old in the graphic novel, the legal age of consent in the United Kingdom, and she ends up spending a great deal of time alone with V, whom she grows to admire and even possibly become attracted to - yet V never touches her. He does, however, ask her once to dance with him. All that said, possible reasons other than clinical asexuality abound:
- Given the storyline and V's background as a test subject in an ethnic cleansing project, it is not impossible that the enigmatic V is in fact of homosexual orientation. This, however, is clearly the least likely, and certainly least important, possibility.
- V clearly sees Evey Hammond as, more than anything else, a protege. He also, however, treats her in some ways like a daughter - he informally bequeaths his home and possessions to her, and can even be seen reading bedtime stories to her. This makes additional sense given her orphan status. Furthermore, V's successful "grooming" of Evey as a protege can be considered a form of asexual reproduction.
- Perhaps most significantly, V is portrayed as someone who has transcended his humanity and become the embodiment of an idea with seemingly no human identity whatsoever; sexuality being an animal drive, then, it would seem to no longer apply to him (assuming it ever did).

In his science fiction novel Distress (1995), Greg Egan imagines a 22nd century world where "asex" is one out of seven acknowledged gender settings. To quote from Distress:

"Asex was really nothing but an umbrella term for a broad group of philosophies, styles of dress, cosmetic-surgical changes, and deep-biological alterations. The only thing that one asex person necessarily had in common with another was the view that vis gender parameters (neural, endocrine, chromosomal and genital) were the business of no one but verself, usually (but not always) vis lovers, probably vis doctor, and sometimes a few close friends. What a person actually did in response to that attitude could range from as little as ticking the 'A' box on census forms, to choosing an asex name, to breast or body-hair reduction, voice timbre adjustment, facial resculpting, empouchment (surgery to render the male genitals retractable), all the way to full physical and/or neural asexuality, hermaphroditism, or exoticism." (Distress, paperback ed., p. 45)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Asexuality in fiction" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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