I downloaded a “Stayin Alive” ringtone but I don’t know things…how do I actually get it to my phone??
for people in the Sherlock fandom who do art.
Somebody should if they haven’t already
do a thing with Sherlock kicking the American out of the window
THIS. IS. 221B!
If I were someone less invested in Sherlock’s asexual identity and more inclined toward making boring assumptions about fictional characters’ feelings toward other characters (ie: everything they do is motivated by the desire to fuck or romance or romantically fuck) then I might despair over this episode a little. But here’s the thing: I heavily identify with Sherlock, probably excessively so, and I can understand what might have been going on in his head as someone who is not only a celibate asexual but also someone who finds most of humanity of absolutely no personal interest.
People bore Sherlock. That’s the price of his cognitive ability. He’s too brilliant. He’s also extremely arrogant, narcissistic, etc. He finds almost everyone inferior to himself. Irene Adler is an exception. If she’s not his intellectual equal, she’s closer than anyone he’s ever met other than his brother. On top of that, she bested him. That never happens, someone kicking his ass. Once his ego recovered, he developed feelings for her that he hardly ever feels for anyone: not romance, but respect, admiration, a sense of familiarity. That’s a powerful sensation for someone who is accustomed to being isolated from everyone, different from everyone. He can see her as an equal. She interests him because he can’t figure her out readily. She’s a challenge, a question mark. Take away sex, take away romance, and what is a man of Sherlock’s mental capacities left with? The mind. Desire is mental for him. What Irene and Sherlock had going on was intrigue. For someone like Sherlock, intrigue that has nothing to do with his work is rare and therefore incredibly fun.
It is a mistake to look at that intrigue between Sherlock and Irene, an asexual man and a lesbian woman, and automatically assume that their attraction to each other is sexual and/or romantic in nature, as if that’s the only kind of compelling attraction that can exist between two human beings (or between a male and a female especially). In fact, that’s a boring interpretation. Irene may have been sexually attracted and/or romantically attracted to Sherlock by the end of the episode, as implied by the final scene where Sherlock bests her by guessing her pass code or when she tells him “I would have you right here until you beg for mercy twice”, but it’s fairly clear throughout the episode that the only reason she’s attracted to him at all is because he impresses her. And she impresses him. (Or were her indications to him of sexual attraction all just a part of her bluff, as she says to him on the plane? I think the audience is supposed to be just as mindfucked by both Sherlock and Irene as they are by each other. That’s what makes it interesting!)
Sherlock, as it turns out, is far more manipulative than she is. That manipulation isn’t fully revealed until the scene where Irene is with the Holmes brothers and Sherlock guesses her pass code, but once you go back and look at all of their flirtatious or one-sided fliratatious interactions, it’s easy to see that even despite their mutual intrigue, Sherlock was playing her the whole time in order to get at what he wanted: the answer. He may have allowed his ego to get the best of him when he decoded the email for her, but I feel like his desire to impress Irene with his mind has nothing to do with her being an attractive woman and everything to do with her already having proven herself of equal ability to him. He wanted to redeem himself, in other words—to re-establish his mental superiority or at least his ability to compete with her. He’s used to impressing ordinary people. Meeting someone who can outsmart him, who can think on his level, would only provide extra motivation to show off.
These are two people who are constantly playing a game with each other. And it’s primarily a mind game. Of course, Sherlock Holmes would love mind games. How often does he get to play a really good one with someone else? Think of The Great Game. He enjoyed, on some level, playing with Moriarity. It’s exciting. Even when Sherlock takes a loss, even if there are high stakes involving other people, he’ll still play for the fun of it. He’ll do anything to stop being bored.
And like I said, Sherlock and Irene are playing a mind game with the audience too. Is Sherlock as intrigued by Irene as he appears to be when he’s physically with her or is he bullshitting because he wants her to think he’s weaker than he is? Is Irene actually sexually attracted to Sherlock or is she playing a really convincing bluff in order to trick him into fucking over the situation while keeping herself safe? Or is it both? Was it a bluff to start out with and then became legitimate for her? Is the implied sexual attraction a bluff but the intellectual attraction real? Does Sherlock actually care about her or does he only pretend to care for the sake of using her to his own ends?
The episode never clarifies any of those questions one way or another. We only know that Sherlock and Irene are drawn to each other and that she leaves an impression on Sherlock, which is true to Doyle’s canon.
The other important thing to remember here is that asexuals are no less complex in their emotions than sexual people are, nor do aromantics experience less complex feelings about others than romantic people do. Assuming that every indication of general interest between two people is exclusively motivated by either romantic or sexual attraction and that asexuals and aromantics are therefore emotionally flat all the time is not only absurdly simplifying toward all humans but it’s borderline bigotry against asexuals and aromantics. There are so many other reasons to be interested in a person than romantic or sexual attraction. Hell, there are other reasons to flirt, to fuck, to desire, to enjoy one’s company, to mourn the loss of someone, etc, then just romantic and sexual attraction. I know romantic-sexual attraction is most people’s default assumption because it’s the easiest one to make, the one that requires the least amount of analysis and thought, and it’s also (to be fair) often the motivation between two romantic-sexual people who are attracted to each other’s respective gender. Nevertheless, romantic and/or sexual attraction are not the only reasons to be interested in someone, and asexuals aren’t less capable of being strongly interested in others just because their motivation is nonsexual in nature.
I think it’s GOOD that Sherlock is a celibate asexual virgin who has just demonstrated that he’s not always cold and emotionless toward everyone, that he’s capable not only of love and affection for the important people in his life (like John and Mrs. Hudson) but also capable of sympathy and kindness (toward Molly, for example) and that he can, for reasons entirely nonsexual and nonromantic, enjoy the game of flirtatious intrigue for its own sake, even while not having the typical end result in mind.
Asexuals are not a one-size-fits-all group, any more than the other sexual orientations. Some aces have sex, some aces get themselves off, some aces like porn, some aces like kink, some aces like to flirt just for the hell of it, some aces really like being physical with people in a nonsexual manner, etc. And likewise, some aces can’t stand the idea of having sex, some aces have no sex drive, some aces don’t like porn, some aces are put off by other people’s sexual advances, some aces don’t like to be touched, etc.
What kind of asexual (and/or aromantic) Sherlock is could be any combination of qualities. We know he’s a virgin now but we don’t know if he’s a repulsed asexual, an indifferent asexual, a libidoist or nonlibidoist, etc. He apparently has no interest in porn, if his comment about John’s computer is any indication.
My point is, as someone who is a celibate asexual with a sex drive and a very strong interest in relationships (I mean generally, not just couple relationships), I think it’s ridiculous to look at Sherlock and Irene’s interaction in Scandal and think that it’s definitively romantic and/or sexual in nature or that it makes Sherlock somehow less asexual and/or aromantic. While we’re on the subject, I just gotta say that while Sherlock might be—as some fans believe—homoromantic or biromantic, I have to remind you that aromantics are not less emotional about people than romantics are. Aromantics can and do partner with people. Aromantics and asexuals both can feel aesthetically attracted to others. Sherlock doesn’t have to be romantic to love John or to be partners with John, and he doesn’t have to be sexual or romantic to admire Irene Adler’s looks, her body, her mind, etc. You don’t have to want sex or romance to enjoy flirting. You don’t have to want sex or romance to enjoy the ego moments of having other people express attraction to you. You don’t have to want sex or romance to feel a compelling connection to someone.
Basically, there’s a hell of a lot of potential nuance to the way one person feels about another person, even when you take sex and/or romance off the table. And that’s one thing Moffat and Gattiss did brilliantly. They gave us a celibate asexual virgin man who is probably aromantic and they put him in a primary platonic relationship with a heterosexual man who clearly likes to date women but has already made up his mind about where his priorities lie. And then they threw in a lesbian dominatrix who may or may not feel sexually and/or romantically attracted to asexual!Sherlock despite the fact that he’s a man, without definitively telling us that her attraction to him is sexual or romantic. All they told us is that she’s attracted to him—but there are many forms of attraction. And finally, they made that asexual!aromantic!Sherlock care about her in some mysterious way, after becoming intrigued by her.
He doesn’t have to date her, kiss her, fuck her, marry her and have babies with her, or even jack off to her photograph to be interested, to care about her well-being enough that he saved her life, or to enjoy whatever magnetism lies between them. Maybe they aren’t “friends,” per se, but they are a man and a woman who are nonsexually and nonromantically involved with each other. That shouldn’t still be earth shattering in 2012, but it is, I suppose. And they’re not even straight!
I, for one, appreciate the demonstration that there are more options for human interaction besides A) “I am minimally interested in your existence” and B) “I want to fuck your brains out, fall in love, and live happily, monogamously ever after.”
I have to watch the ep. a second time but those are my thoughts after one viewing.