According to CNN , one in every one hundred adults is asexual. And yet, most people still do not understand this identity at all. Asexuality is defined by not feeling sexual attraction towards people. This does not mean that an asexual person cannot experience romantic attraction, or that they don’t have/like sex. It’s just that the attraction isn’t there. This is different from celibacy, as celibacy is an active choice, rather than the orientation of asexuality.
Picture it this way: you open the fridge. There’s tons of food in there you could eat, maybe even foods you really like. But you’re just not feeling anything in there. So you shrug, close the fridge, and go back to whatever it was you were doing. This is kind of what being asexual is like.
But you wouldn’t know it from the (lack of) representation we get in the media. With all of the identities that are beginning to be explored in media, I hoped asexuality would be one of them, but I have yet to see that. In every instance that asexuality is brought up in movies or TV shows, it’s quickly dismissed as fictitious, or something that can be fixed by, you guessed it, having sex. Never on television have I seen asexuality treated as anything less than a disease.
Every time we’re represented, it’s never treated seriously. It’s seen as a problem that needs to be overcome because allosexual people (people who experience sexual attraction) want to have sex with asexual people. It’s played off as a lie, a joke, or confusion on the asexual’s part. In the end, it is always something that is resolved or fixed by the end of the story. Usually by, you guessed it, the asexual person having sex.
It’s messages like this that make youth feel trapped in their identities, make them feel like they’re broken, or there’s something wrong with them. These youth will force themselves into believing that they’re wrong unless this changes.
I once had a teacher who claimed to be very progressive in LGBTQIA+ areas. But when we talked about asexuality, he claimed that people were only asexual because they were autistic. And why did he claim to know this (extremely false) idea? Because he saw a movie that was “based on a true story” of an asexual person.
The media constantly portrays asexuals incorrectly, and this idea is extremely damaging not only to actual asexual individuals, but to the everyday knowledge of asexuality people have. It’s an extremely misunderstood identity. Queer people don’t want heteroromantic asexuals in their LGBTQIA spaces because they’re “not queer” if they’re het ace. (Hello? Are we forgetting what the A stands for again? Why are we allowing some, but not all asexuals?)
If you want to watch something that portrays asexuality in the correct way, check out The March Family Letters, which I talked about in my last article here. If you want to learn more about asexuality, check out this amazing infocomic.