gem fusion & nonsexual relationships

[cw: implied CSA under one interpretation; Steven Universe spoilers for Season 1 & 2]

Y’all.  C’mon.  Not this fusion = sex thing again.

As many folks, including Vesper, have pointed out, interpreting fusion as simply a direct analogue of alien!sex has skeevy implications for Steven (age 14), since, may I point out, if fusion = sex, then his adult guardians have had “sex” in front of him on multiple occasions and have even encouraged him to practice “sex” positions with them.

So, in short, get that out of here.

However, you wouldn’t be wrong to point out that there are some rhetorical parallels in how fusion is talked about compared to, in the real world, how sex is talked about.  Obviously, sex and fusion aren’t the same thing.  But they can both occupy a similar role in some select situations.  And from that, we can take a message about gemkind & fusion and translate it into a message about humankind & sex.

In other words, if you want to do the fusion = sex thing in an interesting way and come out the other side with a positive message relevant to asexuals, you would look at the dynamic between Pearl, Greg, and Rose in “We Need To Talk.”

Early on in this episode, it’s established that Pearl is jealous of the budding relationship between Greg and Rose, so in an attempt to discourage Greg, she tells him this:

Listen, Mr. Universe. Rose may find you charming, but that’s only because you’re human. You’re a novelty, at best. […]  Well, that’s simple!  Humans can’t fuse!  Fusion is the ultimate connection between gems. And you, are not, a gem.

What she’s saying there is that Rose and Greg cannot have a valid, meaningful relationship because they cannot perform “the ultimate connection” and experience the “standard” for physical intimacy.

But as the show goes out of its way to, um, show, Rose and Greg do have a valid, meaningful, long-term relationship — without ever once managing fusion together.

The way Pearl talks about fusion features huge, glaring parallels to how some people think about sex in the real world, so much so that it jumped out at me on my initial viewing of the episode.  In light of that, the message of this episode conveys that you don’t need sex or gem fusion or any other special activity to validate your relationship.  It’s all good and well if those things play a central role, but it’s not the magic ingredient in every recipe, and you’re not as doomed as Pearl claims without it.

The actual key to relationships, going by this episode, is something far simpler and more difficult: communication.

Everything else is optional.

Anyway, if you want to read sexual implications into fusion, that’s how I’d do it.

[ Also, OP, hello… you’re missing the obvious implication that because this species doesn’t have sexual reproduction, all of them are asexual and all of their relationships are nonsexual.  And, I mean, yes, it’s because they’re aliens, but *shrug* as long as we’re looking to aliens for asexual representation… there’s more than just the antagonist. ]

2 responses to “gem fusion & nonsexual relationships

  • Vesper (nighstar) (@nighstar)

    took me forever to see this post, but i really like the points you’ve made.

    what Pearl said to Greg in the “We Need To Talk” episode off handedly caught my attention, but i never thought of it in the way that you talk about it here. probably because i don’t think about sex at all, least of all while watching Steven Universe, but eh. now that you’ve mention it, i think that that episode really is a great example of how there is *some* parallel between what fusion is for gems and what sex is for (some) humans and how there could be relevant positive message(s) for aces in SU.

    also: “you’re missing the obvious implication that because this species doesn’t have sexual reproduction, all of them are asexual and all of their relationships are nonsexual.”

    lololol how did this not occur to me either, especially given how i’m so adamant about pointing out that the gems are genderless, given that gems do not even have the social concept of gender? suddenly SU is even more awesome.

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