So over on Salon, Christopher Wallace has a piece about English detectives and asexuality. I’m reading along, going, ‘Yes, yes, OK’ — anyone with two wits to rub together could figure out that Holmes was probably asexual — until I came to this:
It is a tricky thing, making of an abstemious protagonist a vivid personality. It is usually in the so-called base passions, the Tolstoyian temperaments, that a character reveals himself.
And then I stomped around for a while like Godzilla, crushing small cities underfoot.
I can understand where Wallace is coming from, insofar as romance is often the source of conflict and tension in many narratives, but to imply that a character can’t be well developed without a romantic object is just plain stupid.
Maybe it’s just the approach of Valentine’s Day that’s got me all wound up, but I am so absurdly sick of the assumption that one is somehow not a full person without a romantic partner. Particularly if you’re a woman, you must be unfulfilled unless you’re paired off with someone. I’m pretty comfortable as I am at the moment, and I’d like to think that my character does a pretty good job of revealing itself — quite vividly, thank you — all on its own.
The comments on the Salon article do a pretty good job of roundly critiquing Wallace on every point from the Holmes canon to sexual politics, but good grief.