A+: Aces Wild

So I’m going to try something different with this feature for the new year. As I’ve noted several times before, I go back and forth between thinking of myself as someone with an asexual identity versus someone whose life experience has basically been asexual, and that tension has made my contributions here somewhat schizophrenic. Rather than try to fix that, I’ve decided to embrace the duality.

For the next couple months at least I’m going to alternate between two themes here: “Aces Wild” will focus on asexual identity and representation. “Flying Solo” will focus on the experience of living as an unpartnered adult, whatever one’s orientation. It’s probably more structure than is really needed for a feature that usually only gets a couple dozen comments, but I’m still going to give it a try.

So, welcome to the inaugural edition of “Aces Wild”. According to the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network, “An asexual person is a person who does not experience sexual attraction.” But it’s more complicated than that. Asexuality is a broad spectrum, and anyone who identities with or has experience on any part of it is welcome to contribute here. No one is actually forbidden from contributing (because I hate that), but keep it on topic and respectful.

As for our first discussion topic, let’s talk about asexual representation across any and all media. We have touched on it lots of times before but let’s see if can take a look at the state of the asexual (non)union at the start of 2019.

I’m going to call out in particular one show I just watched that felt like a huge missed opportunity. Netflix’s Sex Education is about Otis, a 16-year-old English lad whose mum is a sex and relationship counselor with boundary issues. The main hook of the series is that Otis takes the insights into counseling he soaked up through osmosis and hangs out a shingle at his high school as a sex advice guru. Meanwhile, Otis himself is not only a virgin but can’t even bring himself to masturbate.

So is Otis asexual? Spoiler Alert: No, he just has “issues”. Which is fine, I guess. A lot of people who are not asexual do have various sexual issues. But if you’re going to make your main character a teenage boy who doesn’t wank, why not actually go the whole way and make him a groundbreaking ace character? An even larger issue than Otis is that everyone else in his high school seems to be fucking (or at least trying to fuck) nonstop. Apart from one short dialog in the very last episode, there is very little acknowledgement that there might be significant variation in interest in and readiness for sex among a random sample of 16-year-olds.

Ultimately, it is a show about teenagers having sex, so I can’t fault it too much for too many teenagers having sex. But I think this is exactly the kind of show that should make some room for  some ace representation, and the fact that it doesn’t feels, as I say, like a missed opportunity. Maybe in season 2.