I get really frustrated by how difficult it is to find or even headcanon aromantic or asexual female characters.
The ace or aro blogs I check on will often reblog or make posts about what characters can be interpreted as either, but almost without exception they’re all male (you might see the occassional Katniss Everdeen pop up but that’s about it). Even my own list of ace or aro headcanons has only a few women on it, unless I outright ignore select bits of canon. It’s upsetting because I know that a lot of the difficulties I went through coming to terms with my own aromanticism and asexuality could have been made easier if I’d had more female characters I could identify with on those levels, but even now when I”m out looking for them it’s so damn hard to find.
There’s two main reasons for this.
1) Mainstream media tends to include women only if they can “rent” their space by being a love interest or a sexual object to the male characters. She’s barely allowed agency in responding to (or, as it’s often shown, caving in to) his interests, so forget about a female character included that exhibits no romantic or sexual attraction at all. There’s a shitton of heteronormativity and racism wrapped up in here too, but others have done a much better job delving into that than I could.
2) Mainstream sex-positive feminism tends to glorify an extremely specific, extremely narrow idea of “empowerment,” at the core of which is compulsory sexuality. The measure of a [white] woman’s freedom, agency, and legitimacy all gets bound up in how frequently she has sex (and, for some reason, how often she punches people in the face, but that’s another issue). This particular angle isn’t as anti-aro as it is anti-ace, but the message is still the same—there’s no room for women with no sexual attraction here, either, unless shown in an extremely negative, oppressive way. Frequently, a shy or less sexually experienced woman will be added to the mix, only for the more sexually active woman to “free” and [insert naughty giggle here] ~corrupt~ her.
In both categories, every positive attribute about them is often framed with the phrase “____ is sexy.” Intelligence is sexy. Toughness is sexy. Reading is sexy. Loneliness is sexy. Punching bad guys in the face is sexy. Being a world-destroying villainness is sexy. On and on and on and on. Not only is it extremely alienating to someone who never cared about being sexually attractive in the first place, but it’s all from the perspective of an external [male] gaze judging how appealing the female character is to them. It’s a measuring stick with units of sexiness.
In the past I’ve gone into how damaging this can be and has been for ace women, but another thing in the end is how even when you’re looking for someone to identify with it’s “disproved” at every turn by the canon itself. The precious few female characters that don’t end up in a romantic/sexual relationship are often given tons of lines about how much casual sex they have and often shame women who have less. The ones that seem like they could be aro or ace at first get pulled away from us with a twist that oh, no, her heart was just broken, this dude will heal her and teach her to love again <3 Women in sexual or romantic relationships isn’t inherently problematic in the least, but when there’s nothing but that out there, what does that say to us aro ace women?
That’s why I sometimes get prickly when I see the lists of possibly aro or ace characters going around and there’s nothing but men on there. We need to take a long hard look at the reasons behind why that’s the case, cause that’s just not good enough for me anymore. I’m tired of having to look to only male characters for traits I can identify with. I’m tired of the feeling I don’t belong in my own gender because I’m not willing to accept someone else’s sexual interest or summon up interest of my own.
I WANT MORE ARO AND ACE FEMALE CHARACTERS AND I WANT THEM NOW