My last article will be dedicated to asexual representation in media. I would like to focus on the depiction of a/sexuality in media and the roles that asexual characters usually perform. Furthermore, I would like to draw attention on depictions of asexual individuals in the media.
Giving us a broad overview, the youtuber LatinAlice discusses asexual characters and the depiction of asexuality in fictional media. Some characters, like Sherlock Holmes (series: Sherlock) or Sheldon Cooper(Series: Big Bang Theory) are assumed to be asexual (by the queer community at least) but will sometimes have romantic and/or sexual partners throughout the show. This implicitly communicates how sexuality is considered a natural, basic need, an instinct and drive without which a person cannot be complete. Following this assumption, the dehumanizing nature of it becomes clearer, asexuality makes you less human, which is as LatinAlice points out ‘the ultimate form of othering’. They also discuss an episode of Dr. House, where one doctor has an asexual patient and Dr. House bets that he will find a medical explanation for it. By the end of the episode, Dr. House is proven right and can alleviate the ‘symptoms’ for the patient, yet his problematic assumption stays in tact. His approach is somewhat violent toward people who identify as asexual since he basically invalidates such identity in communicating that asexuality means there’s something going very wrong.
Similarly, the talkshow ‘The View’ invited the founder of AVEN, an informative website on asexuality, to discuss what asexuality entails. But instead of properly listening to the interviewee’s statements, most of the participants prefer to insult him or ask indecent questions. A very striking moment is when another panelist inquires if he ‘had sex with himself’, a question so personal and public it would generally understood to be impolite and rude. Worsely even that when he answers, said panelist persists with their question. Here, two things become apparent: firstly, he is not taken seriously at all and the existence of asexuality is constantly contested by the other panelists, secondly, the way he’s being talked about is sheer sensationalism, a dehumanising public humiliation. The debate is therefore more of a freak show than an actual interest into the lives and desires of asexuals.
On January 6th 2017 Vice published an article, headlined by ‘We asked Asexuals for their sex fantasies’. You may wonder why the title is self-contradictory. It seems to remain unimaginable to not have any sexual desires, and a societal way of processing is questioning the existence completely. Surprisingly, many asexuals report that they experience no sexual fantasies whatsoever and explain how they fantasise about their career, future pets or children and other goals that they have.
Here the societal quest for residual sexuality seems to be a prominent one when discussing and exploring the field of asexuality. The allonormative and also medical/sychological assumption that everyone has to have a sexuality and sexual desires comes into play.
Apart from these unfortunate representations of asexuality in the media, there is really not much talk about due to underrepresentation or rather invisibility. Rarely a character will identify as asexual, especially when there deemed to beautiful and attractive. There is much to be changed if society wants to be inclusive of all genders and orientations in media.
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* the asterisk implies that ‘woman’ is a social role that some people identify with. Some people will be read as female but do not identify as such, these may or may not want to be included in this social category. The asterisk indicates that being a woman is not a biological fact but a social category that one can assume for themselves.