Marcella shook her head. “Anything sexual makes you not an Ace. Touching yourself is included in that. So is kissing and lots of other stuff that we don’t do.”
A lot of the people looked surprised by that, and Seth raised his eyebrows. “Uh. I like kissing. But I don’t have sex or think about sex or anything like that. And you’re being combative.”
–Of Monsters and Men, Chapter 14
It’s common for fiction to depict allosexuals policing the identity and behavior of aces. But sometimes, the policing comes from other aces. This can particularly sting, because it can happen in spaces that are supposed to be safe. It might also come from people that you hold in respect or in authority.
I would say that most people here have had experience with Ace Police at least once in their life, or at least have been affected by hearing about it second-hand. But in fiction, it appears to be somewhat less common. Between Sara and I, we know of three examples:
- In Of Monsters and Men, by Caitlin Ricci, Seth goes to a therapy group for aces, and one week he tries a different day of the week and meets someone who insists that aces can’t like masturbation or kissing.
- In Finding Your Feet, by Cass Lennox, Evie refers to an episode at an ace meetup where someone took issue with her not being out to her family.
- In the movie The Olivia Experiment, Olivia goes to an asexual support group. Afterwards, the leader pulls her aside and suggests that she look at other support groups because some people just use asexuality as a way to hide. I discussed this example in more detail a few years ago.
What’s the common thread? All three examples involve some sort of Ace Group! It makes sense, after all, that you can’t have ace police unless you have at least two aces. And you probably want even more than two aces, otherwise half the aces are jerks.
Once a story features an Ace Group, it seems natural to also add Ace Police, since that adds a little character conflict and allows the story to confront another ace misconception.
One thing that surprised me, based on this small sample, is the variety of forms that ace policing can take. I initially expected, based on my own experiences, that most policing would be about romantic orientation, gray/demi exclusion, or the inclusion of asexuality in queerness. But in our three examples, one of them is about behavior that appears sexual, one is about being out, and one is about “hiding”.
The three examples feature also different reactions to the Ace Police:
- In Of Monsters and Men, Seth clearly doesn’t enjoy the encounter, but is clearly able to handle himself in an argument. He’s more worried about the other people in the group.
- In Finding Your Feet, Evie is very upset by the encounter, and later vents her anger and doubts to her dance partner.
- In The Olivia Experiment, Olivia seems to just accept what the group leader tells her. This precipitates the titular experiment to have sex.
Given the major variety in the examples we have so far, I would be interested to see what other permutations of Ace Police are possible.
Although, to be honest, one of these examples is not like the others. In The Olivia Experiment, there isn’t any critical examination of the Ace Police. The movie never really goes into the fact that a lot of Olivia’s problems can be blamed on that one ace group leader being a jerk. So this may be an obvious point, but it’s important that whenever a story features Ace Police, they should also be paired with a rebuttal.
Unfortunately in real life we are not so lucky, and we always seem to find people who are Wrong on the Internet who apparently haven’t yet been paired with a rebuttal.
The Olivia Experiment (movie)
Of Monsters and Men by Caitlin Ricci
Finding Your Feet by Cass Lennox
- What specific things do you expect Ace Police to police?
- What responses would you like to see from the other ace characters? Should it deeply affect them, or should they have a way to counter everything?
- How do you feel about the black and white nature of Ace Police? Could a story portray an Ace Police character in a semi-sympathetic way?