When I don’t like something, I usually describe it as not being “my jam.”
Most heavy metal music? Not really my jam.
The Walking Dead? Not really my jam.
Sex? Not really my jam.
I had had inklings of the fact that I might’ve had different sexual preferences than my friends for years, but I just assumed that I hadn’t found the right person, and that I’d grow into it eventually. That “eventually” never came, though, and as I got older, I began to panic. I was convinced that something was wrong with me; that what my friends were feeling was right, and my lack of feelings was wrong. I hated myself for not having any desire to partake in sex, and I wished more than anything that I could just feel normal.
That all changed when I first stumbled on an article discussing asexuality–I felt like I had gotten punched in the face. This was it; this was everything I had been feeling—or in this case, not feeling. I felt validated, like someone understood me, and it was such a relief to realize that I wasn’t alone in what I was feeling. Even though the majority of people I know still couldn’t fathom the idea of not being a fan of sex, I felt better knowing that nothing was wrong with me. I was asexual, and I felt so happy knowing that I belonged somewhere.
Surprisingly enough, my favorite comic has sex on nearly every page. Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals is a comic about Jon and Suzie, two people who discover that they can stop time whenever they orgasm, and use that power to rob banks. And although sex is the prevalent topic in the comic, I’ve never once felt uncomfortable reading it. The characters, humor, and heart transcended through the overt sexuality of the comic, and according to the letters section, I wasn’t the only asexual reader who felt this way. Several people had written in to Fraction and Zdarsky, expressing their surprise—and delight—at the fact that they could enjoy this comic without feeling alienated by the concept. In his responses, Fraction had mentioned that he and Zdarsky were playing around with the idea of an asexual sex criminal, but wanted to do the idea and the character justice, so they couldn’t make any guarantees.
Imagine my absolute, 100% elation when I started reading issue thirteen, and was introduced to Alix, the first asexual sex criminal.
I honestly wanted to cry as I read issue thirteen. I related to Alix so much, with her struggles to fit in and attempts to convince herself that she really did want sex. She starts out by repeating mantras to herself, things like, “It’s normal to blow your boyfriend. This is normal. I want this,” but as the issue progresses, she begins to realize that, “There is nothing wrong with me. I don’t need sex. I’m normal. I’m not antisocial. I’m not anti-love. I’m asexual.”
But wait! How could a character who doesn’t like sex stop time without having an orgasm? Well, Fraction and Zdarsky revealed that stopping time didn’t just have to do with having an orgasm, but also with adrenaline and euphoria, and that’s how Alix could stop time, not through orgasm, but through the thrill she got from base jumping. It sounds crazy, I know, but this whole series is an honest-to-god saga of crazy excellence, so this fits perfectly.
When I was only a few pages into the issue, I wanted to drop everything and write Fraction and Zdarsky an email just thanking them. It didn’t matter if it ended up in the back of the next issue; I couldn’t care less about that. I just wanted them to know that what they did mattered. The character they created impacted someone. I managed to finish the issue even though my hands were shaking by the end, and I wrote them an email saying just that—but not before sending my friend an all-caps text: OMFG SEX CRIMINALS HAS AN ASEXUAL CHARACTER
In keeping with the Hope Issue this month, I hope that more of this happens. I hope that more people can see themselves in characters, whether it’s in comics, TV shows, movies, or books. I hope that everyone can feel that moment when you just relate to a character, and it’s such a relief and a thrill and a joy. Everyone deserves that, and I hope that 2016 brings more of it.
Hell, if a sex-based comic can seamlessly introduce a character who is averse to sex, then there’s no other media that has any excuse.
Allison Racicot is the Audiobook Reviewer at Girls in Capes. She’s a recent graduate of Emerson College in Boston, and has a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. She spends too much time listening to podcasts and getting overly attached to fictional characters.