Shortpacked! fandom, sit down. We’ve got to talk.
I, Wack’d, sole administrator and founding member of this blog, am asexual. More specifically, I’m a heteroromantic asexual, which basically means I’m straight but don’t really want to have sex with anyone.
So, apologies if I put my foot in my mouth below. I’m trying to be as respectful as I can, but some inadvertent FIM-Disease-ness is likely to pop up because…
I’m a straight white male. Excluding religious preference, I’m about as Hollywood-Normal as you get.
So, I’ll be honest: I don’t understand a lot of the less common nuances of human sexuality, be it gender identity, orientation or even existence of a sexual drive.
I understand homosexuality and bisexuality somewhat (as in, understand the urges, but not what it’s like to actually grow up and live with those orientations). Asexuality, transgender, pansexuality, polygamy… I understand the textbook definition of those, but… that’s about it.
I imagine many of the people commenting also don’t get them, and aren’t aware of that. The reveal, as I first read it, wasn’t about Ultra-Car being asexual, but that… she’s a robot, and a sex drive and anatomical correctness on a robot is about as logical as it would be for a… well, a car.
Maybe that’s the point? An allegory to make this more clear to those like me? But saying “why doesn’t she get the parts/programming installed” is a solution if you don’t understand the allegory to asexuality.
I’m definitely looking forward to future strips, Willis, because it seems like Malaya’s in the same position as me (…you know, stripping out “Straight-White-Male” part): She genuinely doesn’t get this aspect of Ultra-Car. It seems like she’d be a good audience-avatar to help educate the readers a bit more about… well, why a reprogram/refit would be like forcing someone to change their own orientation/gender?
Or maybe I’m an asshole for bringing it up…
The problem here is two-fold. The first is that it’s pretty blatantly not an allegory at this point.
Right there. Ultra-Car is, in her own words, a “homoromantic asexual trans-chasis woman.” That really should end any argument that there’s some sort of subtle nuance being missed by the audience, and yet here we are.
But let’s play Devil’s advocate. Let’s say it’s an allegory. That doesn’t change the fact that this is a character who is repulsed by sex and doesn’t want to have it under any circumstances, only that we’ve stopped calling her “asexual”. It especially doesn’t change the fact that advocating surgery and brainwashing to “fix” this character flaw is morally reprehensible.
That she’s a robot shouldn’t change that, because for the past decade of her existence we’ve had no problem acknowledging that she’s an individual with thoughts and feelings to be respected. Somehow, her autonomy gets less respect in the comments section now than when she was a car, despite the fact that if the issue was really with her being a mechanical lifeform you’d think it’d be the reverse.
And so what we’re ultimately left with is the idea that if someone looks human, they should want sex, and if they don’t, that needs to be “fixed”—which leaves some frightening implications for some of the flesh-and-blood humans in the audience.
1: I had forgotten about the one-off mention in there. It wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of the other commenters had missed that too.
Not saying they’re any less wrong in their stance, mind you. Of course, Malaya was right there, so the comparison still more than applies.
2: Allegory might be the wrong word? Not sure.
Here’s the way it comes up in my mind: UC is a robot, and therefore her being asexual is natural, obvious and comprehensible to a mind that otherwise had difficulty fully understanding asexuality in beings that, biologically speaking, reproduce through heterosexual activity.
Her background makes it easy for otherwise ignorant minds to accept her asexuality as being real. That’s probably why the reaction in the comments are largely “UC should get a programming/hardware change”, instead of “UC just needs to try it and she’ll totally enjoy it!”
Yes, they’re wrong and pig-headed, but they’re wrong and pig-headed in a way that can lead them to better understanding how wrong and pig-headed they’re being, instead of just standard ignorance, intolerance and idiocy.
Like I said, allegory might be the wrong word, and by no means do I want to discourage you from being angry about how UC’s being treated by the comments. Your last paragraph? Dead on, absolutely correct, and if Willis is not taking this in that direction I’d be honestly surprised.
…which is what speculative fiction can be so good at illuminating, and getting across to the people who are, otherwise, good, honest people who just don’t understand what the problem is: Change the text of the dilemma to make it easier to fit into their minds, but keep the subtext, the meaning, intact, and then drive the connection home.
…again, huge apologies if I’m offending. I’m trying not to, but… well, that’s kinda the point: It can be very easy to offend if you just don’t understand where another person is coming from.