An asexual flag flies at Stockholm Pride in 2012. (trollhare / Flickr)
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Opinion: We need more asexual representation in the media

Asexual representation in the media has been little to virtually nothing.

When you first read that line, you probably did not even understand what that term meant. Asexual? What is Asexuality and why is it important to have this representation in the media? Asexuality (ace for short) is a sexual orientation for people who experience little to no sexual attraction. They make up 1% of the population and represent the letter A in LGBTQIA. According to an article on BBC’s the Social, there have been some Asexual characters in the media, such as Todd Chavez who is confirmed to be Asexual in the Show Bojack Horseman.

However, we still have a long way to go. I believe that the Media should use their influential power more. They could do this by including more characters and members of the asexual community, to educate others and give visibility for aces, and to eliminate the negative stigma surrounding asexuality. With more representation in the media, asexuals can finally be recognized by the larger culture and get needed support and recognition they need from allies.

Asexuality is a sexuality that exists and should be recognized. An article from The Asexual Visibility and Education Network reads, “An asexual person does not experience sexual attraction — they are not drawn to people sexually and do not desire to act upon attraction to others in a sexual way.” While it is an uncommon sexuality and is rarely heard in today’s media and society, it is still something that thousands of people around the globe, closely identify with, and should be recognized.

As they believe it is a sexuality that defines their attitude towards people they are attracted to, since most Asexuals can experience forms of attraction such as romantic, platonic, and sensual attraction. The Asexual Visibility and Education Network states, “Asexuality is a growing subject of research in psychology, sexology, and other academic fields. While estimates for the asexual proportion of the population are limited and may vary, the most widely cited figure is that we are roughly 1% of the population.”

Most asexual characters in the media are not confirmed, which leads to large stigma surrounding the asexual community.

“Ambiguously asexual characters have dominated mainstream media for the longest. Although many consider certain characters in popular fiction as asexual, most have never been confirmed as such.

According BBC’s the Social, to the general public these characters just look like they “haven’t met the right person yet” or “are just married to their jobs.” Most often than not, people in the general public are unfamiliar with Asexuality, so they tend to misinterpret these characters, which leads to a lot of misunderstanding and causes the public to believe Asexuality does not exist.

An article from BBC’s the Social states, “Ambiguous representation is a problem because it tells the asexual audience that, although the character may indeed be asexual, they don’t want to confirm it for fear of alienating the heterosexual audience.”

This type of negative representation can be harmful to people apart of the Asexual community, as they are almost being shunned by the media, to push the idea to the general public in order to cater to the heterosexual audience, that Asexuality does not exist and shouldn’t be recognized in the media.

Lack of representation in the Media can make Asexuals feel like outcasts and choose to stay hidden about their sexuality. An article on the Mary Sue reads, “We barely see characters admit to not desiring sex, or an asexual person navigating their sexual orientation in an empathetic and thoughtful manner as a gay character coming out would.”

Due to this, asexuals can feel unheard and feel like outcasts in a dominantly allosexual (someone that does experience sexual attraction) world. Without positive and efficient representation in the media, asexuals are pushed to the dark, and most choose to stay in the closet, keeping their sexuality a secret from others.

The Mary Sue article also goes on to state, “The result is one that is often frustrating and alienating, as Asexuals feel pushed to the periphery, living in a culture that carters to allosexuals (a term considered to be the opposite of asexual, or an individual who does experience sexual attraction) while neglecting or undermining the feelings of its asexual population.”

Asexuals have to live in the dominant culture that mostly caters to allosexuals. With this, comes the feeling of being alienated and ignored, since everyone is used to the media portraying only the allosexuals. Which stresses the importance of better and positive media portrayal of asexuality, to help combat the stigma and give Asexuals the voice they need to fully express themselves and help educate others, without feeling outcasted.

Despite the importance of recognizing asexuality in the media. We still need to recognize that some people do not even recognize asexuality as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and some even demand to exclude it.

A 2017 article published on Medium reads, “Those arguing in favor of excluding asexuality from the acronym base their arguments in the logic that the LGBT community has historically been one of a fight against the shared systematic oppression of homophobia and transphobia, and that asexuals are not systematically oppressed; in fact, they are technically still straight.”

Asexual people can still be heterosexual, which means most asexuals are often not discriminated against for being asexual. Which leads many to believe it is not a valid identity to be put along with the other sexualities.

The article proceeds to state, “Though it has been argued that asexuality should be included since other identities that have been, such as nonbinary and pansexuality, the case can still be easily made that nonbinary people and pansexuals face systematic oppression, while asexuals do not.”

However, I would argue that, despite asexual people not facing systematic oppression, it is still a sexuality that is apart of the LGBTQ+ community, and must be included. 

Overall, I believe it is important to include asexual representation in our media. Not just representation, but efficient and positive representation. This type of representation will not only be positive for the media, but for the asexual community to finally be recognized, and to hopefully spread awareness around the stigma that the community continues to experience. In addition, asexual representation can be a positive experience for the allosexual audience to be more educated on the matter, and help learn more about what they can do to help support asexuals.