Asexuality In The Public Eye

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 4 2012 @ 7:43pm

Tracy Clark-Flory takes issue with the portrayal of asexuals in a recent episode of "House":

When the show’s cantankerous lead, Dr. Gregory House, learns that his colleague has a female patient who identifies as asexual, and is married to an "asexual" man, he bets him $100 that he can find "a medical reason why she doesn’t want to have sex." Through his signature unethical approach, House manages to run some tests on the husband under the guise of administering a flu shot. He finds that the man has a pituitary tumor that’s killing his sex drive. Then comes the ultimate reveal: The wife — or "giant pool of algae," as House calls her — is just pretending to be asexual to make her husband happy.

David Jay, founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), tells me the show’s treatment was "disturbing but not unexpected." Not only does the episode assert "that asexuality is problematic and pathological," he says, but it also tells people who actually accept asexuality as a valid sexual orientation — an acceptance Jay has long fought for — that "they’re wrong."

Tim Gunn recently revealed he hasn't had sex in 29 years. Blogger Figleaf is incredulous that people are so surprised:

Imagine, a man! Who doesn't have sex! Inconceivable! Almost intolerable!* But that whole "man must boink" business is as clearly socially constructed as a Windsor tie. What's really chilling is that a man who doesn't "boink" isn't just weird, he's broken and wrong and by gum we'd better fix him or else really break him!

Call it the opposite of the other obligatory gender construction, "slut shaming." A man who, when given a choice to take it or leave it picks "leave it" ought to be ashamed of himself. And the only reason people don't shame the crap out of them is there are just a whole lot more places to hide, and a whole lot fewer witnesses (how does one witness not doing it anyway?)

NYT street fashion photographer Bill Cunningham made a similar admission in a recent documentary, available on streaming. Previous Dish coverage of asexuality here and here.