Artwork by Tiffany Lillie
Unfortunately, asexuals still aren’t having an easy time being included and recognized in Pride celebrations or elsewhere in popular culture. That is despite the fact that the occurrence of asexuality is being generally cited as about 1% of the population. In comparison, the U.S. homosexual and bisexual population is an estimated 3.5% of the total population, while the transgender community is an estimated 0.6%.
Asexuality hasn’t been widely talked about, accepted, or portrayed. When it has appeared, the very few examples of asexuals that appear in popular culture tend to be very stereotypical or disappointing.
Asexuality on TV
Take the BBC’s Sherlock, for example. Those involved with the show have claimed that they have portrayed Sherlock Holmes as an asexual. He is shown to be a genius who wants to amplify his powers of reasoning and minimize all other distractions. But the way this is shown is misleading: It gives the impression that asexuality is simply a choice to ignore your sexual feelings, which is precisely not what asexuality is. Asexuality is having a lack of sexual feelings, no matter how hard you might try to have them, and is not a choice.
Another example from modern-day television is Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Early in the show, Sheldon disclaims having any interest in sex. He, like Sherlock, is a genius who is socially awkward and wants only to focus on intellectual pursuits. This perpetuates the stereotype that that is what an asexual person would look like: male, super intelligent, and introverted.
But this show, too, furthers the idea that asexuality is a choice. In season 5 of the show, the writers give Sheldon a girlfriend. While their relationship is strictly romantic from the start, it eventually becomes sexual in season 9, when Sheldon inexplicably develops sexual feelings. The show implies that a true romantic relationship inspires sexual feelings, even for those who were formerly apathetic or averse to such a thing.
Hopeful for a different future
These sorts of representations contribute to asexuals feeling as if they are not being understood or accepted in society, in addition to all the other reasons. Right now our society is so sex-focused that advertising has practically turned into soft porn, and the roughly 3.25 million Americans who identify as asexual will likely have to face skepticism, prying questions, and alienation as a result of being honest about who they are.
To those 3.25 million, and all the others out there, I hope for your sake that society will see the light soon. Asexuality should be accepted, respected, and accurately represented. I cannot wait to see asexuality appear in movies, television, and everywhere else the way it ought to be. Until then, I wish you lots of luck in finding whatever types of relationships you’re looking for.
Who knows? Maybe DragonFruit will help you with that!