ACE by: Angela Chen

An engaging exploration of what it means to be asexual in a world that’s obsessed with sexual attraction, and what the ace perspective can teach all of us about desire and identity.

What exactly is sexual attraction and what is it like to go through life not experiencing it? What does asexuality reveal about gender roles, about romance and consent, and the pressures of society? This accessible examination of asexuality shows that the issues that aces face–confusion around sexual activity, the intersection of sexuality and identity, navigating different needs in relationships–are the same conflicts that nearly all of us will experience. Through a blend of reporting, cultural criticism, and memoir, Ace addresses the misconceptions around the “A” of LGBTQIA and invites everyone to rethink pleasure and intimacy.

Journalist Angela Chen creates her path to understanding her own asexuality with the perspectives of a diverse group of asexual people. Vulnerable and honest, these stories include a woman who had blood tests done because she was convinced that “not wanting sex” was a sign of serious illness, and a man who grew up in a religious household and did everything “right,” only to realize after marriage that his experience of sexuality had never been the same as that of others. Disabled aces, aces of color, gender-nonconforming aces, and aces who both do and don’t want romantic relationships all share their experiences navigating a society in which a lack of sexual attraction is considered abnormal. Chen’s careful cultural analysis explores how societal norms limit understanding of sex and relationships and celebrates the breadth of sexuality and queerness.

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Content Warnings: Mention of ableism, racism, incels, and rape

Up until a few years ago, I heard asexual used here and there but without a clear definition. It was hard to understand and to wrap my mind around, I kept going to the definition I knew, from high school biology, and didn’t understand how a human could relate to it. One of the many lessons I’ve learned from Tiktok was to dig deeper and be open to learning more. After seeing more videos on my FYP, on Tiktok, where asexuals were talking about their experiences, some of which lined up with experiences of mine, I knew that I needed more information.

This book taught me that asexuality is a spectrum, there is no single experience of being asexual. We’re able to hear about the experiences of many different people who fall on the spectrum and how many obstacles they’ve faced in understanding themselves.

This book made me realize how much pressure, and expectations, society puts on us when it comes to sex. Why is it that we expect everyone, at some point, will want sexual relationships? Why do we place so much pressure, and shame, on people who don’t want sex? These are just a few of the questions I asked myself while reading this book.

I still have so much to learn about asexuality, and sexuality in general, but I feel like I have a great start with reading this book. There are other resources, and books, listed in the back that I’d like to also read through to have more understanding.

Published by Noelle Loves Books

Growing up, Japanese and Indigenous, it was hard to find books that showcased stories and worlds that accurately portrayed Noelle’s experiences. Fantasy quickly became her main love, as you could really be anyone, anywhere. As the years went on, and technology grew, Noelle was finally able to see more stories and authors that looked and felt like her. Noelle is open to all genre’s though she can mostly be found reading own voice, fantasy, and romance. Ratings: 5 Stars: Completely blew me away 4 Stars: Loved the story but didn't feel completely blown away by it 3 Stars: Liked the overall concept of the story but either had poor execution, had a lot of plot holes, or was written poorly 2 Stars: I struggled to understand the plot, poorly written, or just had really unlikeable characters along with a poor writing 1 Star: Horribly written, major plot holes, or extremely unlikeable characters and plots.

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