ASEXUALITY REPRESENTATION RANT BELOW
This is a page from Supernormal Step, a really good webcomic made by Michael Lunsford. This page is really important to me, and I will now have a rant about media representation and asexuality and stuff that I’ve kept repressed for quite a time.
(Also, being aromantic and asexual are two different things, but I’m not gonna go through the entire ace-spectrum right now, so if these get lumped together in this rant it’s because of me being an aro-ace and lumping these two together more often than not.)
Okay, so this page is from a rather heartwrenching situation, and this is a page I relate to. This is the page that confirms the protagonist’s asexuality. This is a page where the protagonist expresses the thoughts that I never get to see in any media. I’ve been in this situation. It hurts. But it’s the truth, and it’s a truth too many people don’t know about because asexuality is wastly ignored. So despite the sadness of this panel and confession, it made me ridiculously happy. Because Fiona here has always been asexual (and possibly aromantic?), there just hadn’t been any reason to adress it yet. This is all within her character, not some great reveal or anything. And that’s the beauty of it. She just is. This is how it’s done. This is just the confirmation for something I already headcanon’d - I just didn’t think anyone cared enough to actually include real asexual characters just like that. So here it is. BAM. CANON ASEXUAL PROTAGONIST THAT IS ACTUALLY AWESOME AND A NORMAL PERSON AND A STRONG CHARACTER.
I’ve read some posts lately about slash-shipping, that there are so few (canonly) gay characters in media that slash is what a lot of gay people do because subtext is the best they get. And I realized I do the same thing: I assume every character to be asexual and aromantic until proven otherwise. Because it is almost always proven otherwise. Proper asexual and/or aromantic characters are almost nonexistent in media. (Also I don’t ship anything. I do enjoy a good romance and can squee along with that - but yeah this was a rant I made a long time ago so I’m not going through all of it again.) And the thing is, if you’re a privileged person, you’ll never understand the immense joy you get from seeing yourself get properly represented. I mean, I’m a white girl so I never completely understood the importance of media representation until I discovered how asexuality was represented. It’s one thing girls in media are messed up and/or missing as much as they do, but asexuality. That was a thing I never knew about before, something I never read about, never saw on TV… of course I didn’t know about it. A lot of asexual people can tell you about the “OH MY GOD OF COURSE” you experience once you learn about it. EVERYTHING MAKES SENSE. OTHER PEOPLE ARE LIKE THAT. And this is not only an asexuality thing, it’s about all the things that are hardly represented in media at all.
For the record, these are the messages I wish I saw more often in media:
Love does not automatically equal sex. Being childhood friends does not automatically equal romance. THERE ARE MORE WAYS TO HAVE A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP.
Let me tell you about the few canon asexual characters I’ve seen so far. I haven’t seen or read everything there is, so it’s possible there are much better representations out there I should know about but don’t.
Doctor Who. The Doctor is asexual. I’m fine with this. It’s never stated outright, but the majority of fans agree with this. The new who is romantic though, with Rose, the TARDIS and River Song. That’s okay, you can be romantic and asexual.
Sherlock Holmes. The original stories are good enough for me, and it is sorta stated in A Scandal in Bohemia that he has no interest in women or anyone at all. Then we have the modern adaptions… Well. Weeellll. The BBC one is supposed to be asexual and stuff, but since Moffat thinks asexuality is boring, it’s so full of queerbaiting Johnlock might as well be canon. I don’t think that counts as a good representation of asexuality if none of the watchers believe he is asexual. The same goes for the new movies. I haven’t seen enough of Elementary yet to say anything about it… So yeah.
House MD had one episode with an asexual couple. House is, by the way, based on Sherlock Holmes, but is absolutely not asexual nor aromantic. Anyway, there was this episode in either season 7 or 8, where one of the plotlines was a MARRIED ASEXUAL COUPLE. I thought this episode was a godsend, because they began explaining asexuality and how their relationship worked and how they were happy with it. Later we had Wilson reading a leaflet about it, and told House how 1% of the population was asexual. Of all things, House refused to believe there were humans out there that didn’t want to have sex, so he felt the need to prove they were fake. Well yes, the notion it’s impossible for humans not to want sex is one of the things asexuals hear a lot about. Get this; a lot of people refuse to believe people can be asexual. For the record, asexuality isn’t about not wanting sex, it’s about not being sexually attracted to anyone. (But there are people out there who don’t want sex, as well.) Anyway, the episode seemed to go very well, the writers had definitely done their research, they had stated asexuality was a thing and spread information about it… aaand then it turned out the ‘asexual’ dude just had a brain tumor and the ‘asexual’ girl was just faking it so she could be together with the man. HOORAY THE BRILLIANT DOCTOR HOUSE WAS RIGHT: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR HUMANS TO NOT HAVE SEX. I have never been more disappointed by an episode of a tv show in my entire life.
The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper is asexual. And there’s nothing wrong with his portrayal of it, it’s just the fact that it’s portrayed as a very funny characteristic. “Haha you haven’t reached puberty yet” “Haha you don’t want sex what’s wrong with you” and all the laugh tracks playing everytime he acts asexual. So yeah, everybody knows he is asexual and acknowledges it, but they all treat him like something is wrong with him because of it. And well, yeah, he is probably autistic and has OCD and he does a lot of bad things while interacting with people, but you can’t make me laugh about the joke that is his asexuality. Also, his relationship with Amy is horrible. They both want different things and I don’t think a good relationship works that way. I just feel sad for both of them.
And that’s about it, if I don’t include the my headcanons. This is why Supernormal Step has made me so happy today. And while we’re at it, webcomics in general are actually much better at representing all the things: strong female characters, races, different sexualities and so on. Why is that? Is it because they’re free, and media like TV only sells if it’s full of white het cis men? Is it because webcomic makers have the freedom to do what they want? I just don’t get it why it should be so hard for TV series, movies and published books to do the same things as a lot of really good (and famous!) webcomics do.