Ace Tropes: The Asexual Succubus

Sara K. blogs at The Notes Which Do Not Fit, and has written a number of book reviews of asexual fiction. She is continuing the ace tropes series.

“So what is my assignment, then?”

“Succubus.”

Abbie blinked slowly at her, certain that she must have misheard. “Excuse me?”

“Succubus,” Renata repeated, her voice becoming clinical again as she continued. “A being that draws energy from sexual activity or impulses. Every being here gathers energy in one way or another—well, except for ghosts, they tend to siphon it more than anything, but…” She paused, resting a hand on her shoulder, her expression growing concerned when Abbie shrugged away. “Are you all right?”

“I cannot be a succubus. Would you look at what I died in?”

Renata read her shirt, which had a giant pirate ship on it with the caption Asexual Pirate Doesn’t Want Your Booty. She raised her eyes to Abbie’s face again, looking vaguely confused. “So you’re…”

“I’m ace, yeah.”

– “Welcome to Your Afterlife” by Stephanie Rabig

Earlier, we looked at what happens when “Ace Meets Incubus”. But what about when the succubus/incubus/etc. is ace?

Technically, this falls under the broader trope of ace-as-nonhuman/inhuman since succubi/incubi/etc. are nonhuman. But I feel that the effect of “The Asexual Succubus” is very different from what most people talk about when they talk about the ace-as-nonhuman/inhuman trope. The types of nonhumans which aces are usually associated with are robots, extraterrestrial aliens, and others which stereotypically lack emotions or are nonsexual (at least, when they are not female – female extraterrestrial aliens tend to be very sexualized, and I do not know of any example of a female extraterrestrial alien being labeled as asexual). By contrast, succubi and their equivalents are generally hypersexual. (Non-female) robots and aliens being marked as ace is congruent with their general stereotypes, whereas a succubus marked as ace goes against the stereotype.

Okay, so two things which are generally considered to be opposites – hypersexual succubi (or equivalents) and aces – are combined into a single character. What then?

This trope is like “Ace Meets Incubus” in that it tends to be played for humor. Who would ever expect a succubus to be asexual, LOL? The humor, however, tends to be thin veneer for a pile of angst. Even in the shortest, fluffiest example of this trope that I know of (Minority Monsters) there are hints of angst.

A theme common to all examples of “The Asexual Succubus” I know of is that the asexual succubus (or equivalent) resents the compulsory sexuality thrust upon them. That is understandable, especially since compulsory sexuality seems to be even more intense for succubi and their equivalents than for ordinary humans. In “Welcome to Your Afterlife” Abbie is forced to turn into a succubus because someone in the underworld is trying to ‘correct’ her asexuality. Abbie has to gather energy, and because she has turned into a succubus, she has to gather energy by seducing humans. In “Lost and Found,” Nerissa, a selkie, lives in fear that her magical thrall (which she cannot entirely control) will inadvertently seduce a human and then that human will capture her (to be fair, she would probably be scared of that even if she were not ace, but being ace does not improve the situation).

Now, one might notice that people may be sexually attracted to aces even if those aces do not have magical thralls, and that this sexual attraction might motivate them to do things which create problems for the aces they are attracted to. Though there may be examples of this trope involving male ace characters, I do not think it is a coincidence that every example I’ve encountered of this trope involves a female ace character. People who are perceived to be female are more likely to be sexually objectified, whether they want it or not.

I think this trope takes the real life experience of aces being expected to sexually perform and having their inner feelings dismissed because ‘all people are sexual beings’ or something, and dramatizes the experience with the metaphor of making the ace character a succubus.

Examples:
Minority Monsters
“Welcome to Your Afterlife” by Stephanie Rabig
“Lost and Found” by J. Holland (selkie rather than succubus)

Discussion Questions:

1) How do you think this trope compares to other depictions of nonhuman aces?
2) Is there anything to be gained by having a story about an asexual succubus, rather than just having a story about an ordinary ace who is sexualized by others?
3) Would you rather read/watch stories in which aces meet incubi/succubi, or stories about incubi/succubi who are ace?

About Siggy

Siggy is a physics grad student in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and makes amateur attempts at asexual activism. His interests include godlessness, scientific skepticism, and math. While not working or blogging, he plays video and board games with his boyfriend, and folds colored squares.
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11 Responses to Ace Tropes: The Asexual Succubus

  1. luvtheheaven says:

    I’d like the happy ending to be the ace succubus getting the relief of meeting an immune ace human. Lol.

    I think I’d probably rather read about this trope and having to deal with the angst and complexities of multiple different people being drawn to them, but it’s hard to say for sure without experiencing examples firsthand myself. I’d certainly want it to be serious enough and have some angst regardless.

    • Sara K. says:

      It would be great if you wrote that story about the ace succubus meeting the immune ace human!

      • Rivers says:

        I second that!

        • luvtheheaven says:

          You guys are of course tempting me. I have a few ideas for twists to make the story more angsty since my ace/ace relationship recently ended in a ball of flames and I don’t necessarily want to make only a sunshine and rainbows idea. I feel like I need to research by consuming lots of fiction with succubus/incubus/etc in order to know how to write it first though so… I will get started on that lol!!

  2. Rachel says:

    1. It makes for an interesting inversion, in that it subverts expectation rather than caters to it. Though it still carries the issues of asexuality as a totally non-human trait (though Abbie is an exception obviously).
    2. This trope provides a way to explore the effects of external sexualization in a way that’s less… laden in real-world prejudices I guess? It may make this trope easier to portray and read about if it isn’t encumbered with quite as much IRL baggage.
    3. …eh? *shrugs*

  3. Rivers says:

    Very interesting trope. I think it has a lot of potential to pick apart real-life issues without going into the baggage that real life can have. Because of how it contradicts people’s general assumptions, I personally like the idea of an ace succubus as opposed to that of a robot or alien.

    Even though I do like this trope, I would prefer ace meets incubi/succubi to an actual ace succubi (though combining them as luvtheheaven suggested sounds really cool). The latter has the potential to get into some uncomfortable waters if the ace succubi is forced to go through anything they are uncomfortable with, which I understand could be part of fully fleshing out this trope, but as a repulsed aro/ace it wouldn’t sit well with me.

  4. ettinacat says:

    I’d like to see a different twist on this, personally. I really want to see an ace succubus who is fine with sex, maybe even enjoys it (possibly because of succubus instincts), but sees it more like eating than sex. The closest thing I’ve seen to that is Raphael (ace vampire) being interested in someone for her blood.

  5. Tabitha says:

    This trope sounds kind of disturbing to me–forcing an ace character to seduce people, or to at least be an object of desire for everyone they meet, just seems really icky. I feel like the idea of unwanted sexual attention can be explored just fine without a magical reason for it happening. (This reminds me of the recent Jughead plotline where aroace Jughead is the victim of a love spell that makes all the women of Riverdale attracted to him. That storyline, and the fact that it was played for laughs, was understandably upsetting to a lot of aces and aros.) The premise of “Welcome to Your Afterlife” especially sounds troubling to me; did you find it problematic, or was it not as bad as I’m interpreting it to be? I’m curious about how it was handled in “Lost and Found” too, if you feel like sharing a bit about that one as well. (But if you’d like me to stop quizzing you about individual books I can certainly do that!)

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