October 25th was Asexual Awareness Day. This is a day dedicated to educating and informing the public about asexuality as it is often erased as being part of the LGTBQIA+ community. The dictionary defines asexuality as free from sexual desires or sexuality. Asexuality is not to be confused with aromantic, which is the lack of romantic attraction to others. Asexuality is a spectrum, asexual identities can range from slight or occasional sexual attraction to no sexual attraction whatsoever.
Asexual representation is nearly void in the media. In an episode of the MTV show Faking It, a show centered around a high school predominantly consisting of marginalized groups, there was an asexual character who appeared for about 10 seconds. In that brief time span, they proclaimed “I’m asexual” and that was the end of it. There was no discussion, no further background on the character and the character was never seen again.
This representation was a lot, considering that most of the asexual representation in the media is never canon.
An example of this is Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. He is noted to have asexual tendencies but throughout the show, his lack of sexual desire is used as a punchline. This erasure is not only apparent among fictional TV and movie characters but also expands to historical figures.
Throughout history, there has been a long record of asexual people being stripped of their identities. For example, Edgar Allan Poe has been suggested to have been asexual by many of his biographers. Joseph Wood Krutch, a well known Poe biographer, suggests that “Poe did not need women in the way that normal men need them, but only as a source of inspiration and care, and that Poe was never interested in women sexually.” Poe’s asexuality is practically never mentioned and completely disregarded in his biographies. In the movie The Raven, which is based off of his life, he is depicted as extremely promiscuous. Another prominent example is the French king, Louis XVI, who has been noted to have asexual tendencies in his wife’s biographies, but he is presented as having an erectile dysfunction in the movie adaptation of Marie Antoinette.
Living in a hyper-sexual world along with the constant erasure of asexual characters in the media can be harmful to people who are struggling to find self-acceptance.There is preconception in society that if you don’t feel attraction it’s because you haven’t met the right person and this can be extremely toxic. UC Merced student Connie Hashiguchi who identifies as Asexual Aromantic wants questioning-asexuals to know: “You are not broken. You are not less. If this is who you are, then no one has the right to tell you you are not. Asexuality is not a phase, or a choice, or a symptom of mental trauma. It is something to be proud of, and we would be glad to call you one of our own. You are not alone.”
It is important to be mindful of every group that’s part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Everyone deserves to be seen, heard, and respected.
Featured image credit: Faking It
Picture credit: https://sexualdisorientation.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/asexuality-its-my-acethetic/