elsa and anna hairstyle switch!! \(´∀｀)♡
First and foremost: Make the sex scene easy to skip. Please. It should be possible to ignore that whole section of the story and still follow the plot and characterization. Why? Because many asexual people, like me, are sex-repulsed, and reading that stuff is unpleasant for us. Sometimes I have to put down an otherwise excellent story because the author keeps putting graphic descriptions of sex into it,. No level of writing skill will help when I’m cringing at every other page. You could relegate the sex scene to its own chapter, or put warnings at the start and end of it, or publish a separate version of the story without the sex scene. Just make sure that people can read your stuff without worrying about sudden encounters of the genital kind.
Know the reasons why the asexual character chooses to have sex. Their motivations will have a huge impact on how they feel before, during and after the sex scene. For a character who is not gray-asexual or demisexual, sexual attraction will not be a reason, so you’ll need to decide on something else. Here are a few just off the top of my head:
- "I love my partner and enjoy bringing them sexual pleasure."
- "I’m curious about what sex feels like."
- "I want to have children."
- "I get horny/aroused sometimes, and the physical release feels good. I don’t mind having a sexual partner during that."
- "I don’t care about sex, but I have a kink that I really enjoy, and I don’t mind if sex is part of the experience."
- "Sex is useful for me to get what I want." (May be said by a sex worker, by person who gains benefits from a sexual relationship with someone rich or powerful, or by all sorts of people.)
- "I had sex because I thought that I owed it to my partner."
- "I had sex because I wanted to fit in / be normal / it’s what I thought people were supposed to do in relationships."
- "I thought that if I kept trying I would learn to like it."
- "I didn’t choose it, I was sexually assaulted."
(Of course, gray-asexual and demisexual people may also choose to have sex without experiencing sexual attraction, for similar reasons.)
Remember that aesthetic attraction and sensual attraction exist, too. An asexual character may still be “physically attracted” to their partner and love to watch or touch them, even if there’s no lust involved.
If the character is strongly sex-repulsed, or if they don’t know they’re asexual, be extremely careful, because you can step into a pile of consent issues there. It’s probably better not to depict them having sex at all.
If sex without sexual attraction is difficult to write about, consider writing a gray-asexual or demisexual character. Gray-asexual people either feel sexual attraction very rarely, or they may feel sexual attraction but not want sexual relationships, or their feelings of attraction may be ambiguous between sexual and non-sexual. Demisexuals act and feel asexual 99% of the time, but if they’ve formed an emotional bond with someone, then they might later become sexually attracted to that person. Although experiencing sexual attraction doesn’t necessarily imply that these characters will want to have sex, the fact that they can feel sexually attracted to their partners may make it easier to write sex scenes with them. A 100% asexual character could also enjoy having sex without experiencing attraction, but for non-asexual writers that may be harder to relate to and write about.
You could write a great story about a character who identifies as asexual but who actually turns out to be demisexual or gray-asexual instead. Just make sure that you write it in such a way that it doesn’t cast doubt on the identities of people who actually are 100% asexual. It would also be wise to put foreshadowing of the twist in there so that the gray-a/demisexual label doesn’t seem forced or implausibly convenient.
Have the characters talk about boundaries, compromises and consent. Every asexual person has different ideas about what forms of physical intimacy they enjoy, and what makes them uncomfortable. Have your asexual and non-asexual characters talk about what they need to feel satisfaction in the relationship. An asexual character who isn’t willing to do penetrative sex may still be fine with foreplay, heavy petting, kinky stuff, and other X-rated things. Or maybe they aren’t. Honest, open communication is essential for every relationship, but with asexual characters it’s even more vital, because the characters can’t expect that “normal” relationship scripts will apply to them.
Consent can be a tough question. A considerate non-asexual partner should show concern that they are not pressuring their asexual lover into unwanted sex. Asexual people can be very vulnerable to being coerced or manipulated into sex, especially because our culture treats sex as mandatory in healthy romantic relationships. Asexual people who do not realize they are asexual may consent to sex that they otherwise would have rejected, because they believe it is their duty, or they think that withholding sex will make them a bad partner. This can be traumatizing and painful.
If you want to portray a healthy act of sex between an asexual and non-asexual person, then you must make it clear that the asexual character is not being pressured into it - not by their partner, not by society’s expectations, and not even by their own internalized acephobia. They should demonstrate that they are fully capable of rejecting sex and do not feel obligated to do it, but are consenting to it freely and happily.
Don’t use a sex scene as the culmination of a romantic story arc. Why? Because this reinforces the idea that sex is the goal of romantic relationships. That’s hurtful to asexual people. Even for asexuals who enjoy sex, it’s not a central factor for them, and they’re usually A-OK spending their lives without it. Instead, culminate your romantic arc with a non-sexual scene that demonstrates the love, trust and commitment between the characters. This could be a wedding, a daring escape from villains, saving the world together, a reconciliation after a fight, or even just a sweet day of domesticity together. There are thousands of ways you could play this. It could be before or after the sex scene, but make sure that it’s there.
And finally…I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Don’t “fix” the asexual character. Don’t cure them of asexuality. Don’t make them change their mind about it after a night of really good sex. Don’t make them decide to “give up” being asexual just because they’ve fallen in love. If you really want an asexual-spectrum character who feels sexual attraction, make them demisexual or gray-asexual instead, and include some foreshadowing of it, too.
Now go forth and write some decent smut, you pervs.
Photography: Erika Astrid
Model: LeAnn McIsaac
Hair & Makeup: Marissa Lyons