Tuesday, January 24, 2012

House M.D. vs. Asexuality

Perhaps the greatest danger of asexuality gaining greater visibility is even more inaccurate portrayals of asexuality and asexuals themselves.  Perhaps it's just the cynic in me, perhaps I've just been overexposed the numerous "asexuality isn't real" arguments, but I find myself doubting that asexuality will ever be accepted or seen as a valid sexual orientation.

Last night, I had taken a break from my homework to watch one of my favorite shows: House.  Imagine my excitement when an asexual woman, in an asexual marriage, turned up.  It was a welcome surprise.  However, as the show progressed, I found myself getting more and more depressed.  Right up until the inevitable conclusion: asexuality is curable.

Before I get into all the ways the show completely misrepresented asexuality (and the inevitable and lame defense for why), I wanted to point out an incredibly interesting fact.  The character of Gregory House is based on Sherlock Holmes, who is arguably one of the first asexual characters in popular culture.

Last night's episode of House had an "asexual" woman seeking a flu shot.  The second House was brought in on the situation, the dialogue turned into the old argument of asexuality being an abnormality that must be cured.  "Sex is the natural force that drives our species."  Therefore, asexuality is unnatural.  Any character that argued against this was automatically wrong and worse, was looking for someone to prove them wrong.  The character of Wilson started out neutral, but by the end of the episode, he agreed with House's conclusion that asexuality didn't exist.

At one point in the episode, there was a debate between the interns about the benefits of asexuality and perhaps unsurprisingly, they all revolved around incredibly shallow generalizations.  Asexuals are immune to advertisements (untrue) and therefore their self-esteem must be better (yeah, because constantly being told your abnormal and sick just does wonders for your self-esteem).

As they got closer towards a medical reason for asexuality, the conclusion was that the woman had to be sexual and there was something wrong with her husband.  First House speculated that he was a closeted homosexual before finally concluding that there was a reason for his decreased libido.  The reason turned out to be a tumor near his pituitary gland.

This was where the episode turned from mildly irritated to completely offensive.  When confronted with the diagnoses, the blonde wife immediately turned into a sex kitten.  She was practically bouncing up and down, insisting that her husband have the operation because "a girl has needs".  Her husband was hesitating, understandably so, and did not want to give up his identity.  But that didn't matter, because there is no such thing as asexuality and chaste romance.

In minutes, House had reduced asexuality to a sexist narrative that was nothing short of derogatory: Women are only asexual for men.  Men are only asexual due to some physical ailment (or because they're closeted homosexuals).  House went so far as to flat out say, "[Asexuals] have a wildly screwed up world view."  One that must be corrected, preferably by a white, heterosexual, educated male.

This episode is reflective of society's general view of sex: There just has to be sex for no other reason than its natural.  The producers would likely counter this conclusion and defend the episode by stating that it wasn't meant to be reflective of all asexuals.  Just that select number of asexuals that might be asexual due to physical ailment.

If this were true, than how come we never seen any other sexual orientation being "cured"? It's because that asexuals are the last sexual orientation that it's okay to declare "unnatural" and therefore dismiss.  It makes me so angry that people take advantage of the fact that there aren't as many asexuals as there are other sexual orientations.  Just because there are fewer people doesn't mean we don't have feelings.  We are entitled to the same rights and the same respect as any other sexual orientation. 

What the producers and writers of House did was nothing short of bigotry in my opinion.  We decry the organizations that claim to have a cure for homosexuality.  We should feel the exact same way about anyone or any organization that claims to cure asexuality.

There is no cure for asexuality.  All the asexual community wants is recognition of that, of their very right to exist and live the life they choose.  Is that really so much to ask?

I'm using this again because it's my favorite asexual graphic to date

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