In fiction, there are sometimes magical abilities which exploit characters’ sexual and/or romantic urges. For example, there is the myth of the sirens who use their song to lure victims to their doom (though it’s mainly in Christian-influenced interpretations that this lure is described as being sexual and/or romantic – pagans did not describe the sirens that way).
But what if somebody does not have any sexual or romantic urges to exploit? If a character is asexual and/or aromantic, are they immune to those magic abilities which exploit sexual and/or romantic attraction/desire?
In some fiction stories, the answer is yes, and the fact that the ace/aro character is immune to these magic abilities which affect most people is an important plot point.
For example, in the webcomic Heartless, vampires use people’s lusts as a part of their form of mind control, called the ‘allure’. Clara Danvers, the protagonist, is asexual, so the ‘allure’ simply does not work on her.
Why do I call this ‘ace/aro immunity’ rather than ‘ace immunity’? Because fiction does not always clearly distinguish between sexual feelings and romantic feelings (shocking, I know). Sometimes it is not obvious whether a character is immune because they are ace or because they are aro. And the concept of being resistant to magical sexual appeals is very similar to the concept of being resistant to magical romantic appeals, so until there are a lot more examples which are specifically ace and specifically aro, I am comfortable with collapsing the two into a single trope.
In Cracked: A Magic iPhone Story, the ‘immune’ character is explicitly both asexual and aromantic, so it is not clear whether he is immune to the effects of the magic iPhone because he is asexual or because he is aromantic (actually, the story says that the character is immune because he is asexual and aromantic).
If anyone is wondering why I am not listing any examples involving succubi/incubi, that is because 1) there are so many succubi/incubi in ace fiction that I think it merits a separate trope 2) the ace characters are usually not immune to the succubi/incubi, they just react differently (for example, the ace character may really want to cuddle the succubus/incubus).
Though this is a trope which is primarily found in speculative fiction, it’s related to the common idea that ace and aro people lack some of the vulnerabilities most people have. It is true that a lot of people are tempted into taking unwise actions because of sexual and/or romantic feelings, and that ace and/or aro people MAY not feel that kind of temptation, and thus are less likely to take the unwise action. And sometimes ace and/or aro people express gratitude for not having to deal with that kind of thing. On the other hand, there are so many other things in this world which tempt people to take unwise actions that not experiencing a particular kind of temptation does not necessarily make much difference. Furthermore, plenty of people who do experience sexual and/or romantic temptations are adept at resisting them when it is in their interests to do so.
“Cold Ennaline” by R.J. Astruc
Cracked! A Magic iPhone Story by Janine A. Southerd
Eth’s Skin (webcomic)
- If you’re reading a story with an ace character and they run into a bunch of sirens (the kind who appeal to sexual feelings), how would you expect the sirens to affect the ace character?
- Does this trope help readers understand ace/aro experiences? Why or why not?
- Some aces do experience sexual feelings of some kind (demisexuals, aces who aren’t attracted to people but have high libidos, and so forth). How might such ace characters fit into a story using this trope?