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Asexual Erasure: A Historical and Mass Media Phenomenon

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

Asexuality has come to the forefront as of recently, Cole Sprouse came out and said he wants his character in Riverdale, Jughead Jones, to be asexual. Cole has been fighting very hard to make Jughead asexual. He told HollywoodLife that he’s been unsuccessful so far. “Asexuality is not one of those things in my research that is so understood at face value and I think maybe the development of that narrative could also be something very interesting and very unique and still resonate with people, and not step on anyone’s toes,” said Cole,

“I think sexuality especially is one of those fluid things where often times we find who we are through certain things that happen in our lives,”

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. College student Connie H. 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.

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