(BEAR WITH ME ON THE TITLE. I PROMISE IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT IT’S PARODYING. …ACTUALLY IT’S THE EXACT OPPOSITE. PLEASE FORGIVE ME)
Hah. Remember when I said I was going to get back into this? Yeahhhhhhhh I did really well with that. But hey! I’m trying? Points for effort?
I feel like I had a topic I wanted to talk about here, but now I can’t remember what it was, so I’m going to talk about something. (This summarizes most of my life, honestly. As my grandmother would always say, “If you’ve forgotten what you were going to say, it was probably a lie.”
Can’t tell where my sense of humor comes from, can ya?
In any event. I’ve been reading (guess. Go ahead. Guess.) a M.C.A. Hogarth trilogy (bet you never would have guessed) and something has come to my attention that I’ve seen a lot in real life, but never had a good way to talk about it in terms of literature, but Micah has provided several characters that I can use to discuss this. So let’s just jump into it.
Non-romantic and/or non-sexual physical contact.
I’ve had discussions about both this and saying “I love you” and not having it Always Have To Mean Something Romantic And/Or Sexual with friends of mine, but I’ve never known how to address it in fiction. Romances are a big part of modern literature, of pretty much any flavor. And don’t get me wrong! I love a good romance, and I’ve got a bunch of them on my Kindle. I enjoy writing them, too. But sometimes, even personally, I just want to curl up with someone and feel safe and secure, and not have to worry about whether or not that person thinks I want to have sex with them. Or, even worse, have it assumed that I do, and have unwanted advances.
Morgan Locke, in Hogarth’s Blood Ladders trilogy (which you will see reviews for in time), deals with this in several instances, with varying degrees of implementation. I don’t want to name names, because it’s fun seeing them come to pass naturally, but while Morgan does have a clear, romantic and sexual interest, there are also very profound loves shared between him and other characters that don’t need to be sexual. Don’t need to be romantic. Don’t need to be anything more than an incredibly deep, profound, and intimate bond between two people–and Hogarth makes it very clear that that is what she is doing. Morgan makes it clear that the love for these people is different. And these other relations do not have a significant bearing on his romantic inclination. It’s a wonderful balance.
I’ve seen this also in Hogarth’s Dreamhealers series, with Vasiht’h and Jahir. The very premise of their story, in many ways, focuses on the inherently non-sexual and non-romantic relationship between the two of them. Vasiht’h, being a Glaseah, had no interest in sex; they are (I believe completely) an asexual race. Jahir does have a sex drive, though he’s squashed it rather impressively over time, and some of his struggle becomes how to express that. But at all times, no matter what he faces, his relationship with Vasiht’h is first. The link to his partner, to the other end of his mindline, is not something he will waver on. Neither of them well. It’s so wonderful to see the intimacy of the friendship and know that at no point, will it be complicated by sex.
Yet again, I will reiterate that I don’t think sex is bad. I don’t think it needlessly complicates everything. However, I have seen far too many authors use it as an easy way to add a level of tangle and angst to a story, where there doesn’t need to be. (I’ve seen too many real life relationships where as soon as sex was included, everything got messy.) True, I do come at this topic from a grey-A viewpoint. Sex isn’t particularly important to me. Everyone always told me, in response to my answer of “well I never have” when they all complained about how long it had been, that I didn’t know what I was missing so it didn’t count. Well, I “know what I’m missing” now. And some…three? I think it’s been three years since my last “tumble” shall we say, and I’m still not particularly bereft.
What I miss is the physical intimacy, not the sexual kind. The tactile comfort, the emotional closeness. I enjoyed the enjoyment of my partner, not particularly anything else.
So when I see characters like these, who have these amazing friendships that can fall into such intimacy and never be tangled in the sheets…there’s something peaceful about it. It’s hard to explain. But it’s good to remember that not all intimacy needs to be sexual. Not all love needs to be romantic. I love my best friend more than most other people in this world, but I have no interest in taking her to bed with me. (And I’m pretty sure she’d say the same of me!) I think it’s important for all of us to have these gentle reminders, and not forever be trapped in the loop of “all love means sex.”
There should be a fandom term for that. Shipping seems to be inherently romantic. Squishing? Can we squish things? I think that sounds suitable.
I squish Jahir and Vasiht’h forever. ❤