(A)sexual or How a title completely disappears from Netflix

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So my last post about the disappearing titles excluded a fourth subsequent discovery, a 2011 documentary called (A)sexual. I watch it right before the deadline, and now while I’m looking for it on Netflix, it’s as if it never existed. It reminds of that awful movie with Julianne Moore (The Forgotten) where everybody forgets they had children because of something something something.

Back to the movie, which you can find on IMDB still (try my link below or try searching for David Jay, the main subject, typing (A)sexual stumps the IMDB search as well). This is a documentary about people who have no sexual attraction, called Asexuals. I had seen the Montel Williams episode years ago with David Jay (yes, I’ve spent too much of my life watching bad tv) so I was aware of this population of people. My viewing partner (aka my wife) was not. Although the documentary was interesting, it felt more like an intro to the subject for both of us, and left us with unanswered questions. Is anyone further exploring the supposed link between autism and asexuality? for example. This documentary is only an hour and 15 minutes, so any in-depth discussion might still its thunder a bit. The aforementioned David Jay is a main focus of this film, and over the course of the documentary goes through a realization that both I, my wife, and the always entertaining Dan Savage, who was interviewed in the documentary, found troubling. Is it fair for an asexual to have a relationship with a sexual being? Dan and I also were bothered a bit by asexuals positioning themselves as a movement/group that seeks to fall under the LGBT banner. (Savage humorously calls the resulting LGBTA an “alphabet soup”). I completely understand their need to raise awareness, but I don’t think they have gone thru the same struggle as homosexuals for acceptance. It doesn’t seem that the consequences of asexuality extend beyond social awkwardness or being misunderstood. Maybe they still have a struggle ahead of them in that sense, because even the LGBT community has trouble understanding it at this point. I guess that is the main problem with the documentary- it makes you aware of asexuality in an entertaining way, but does it really help you understand it? Do you really know what makes these people tick? For the most part, no. And since Netflix has made this title disappear like a child in a bad sci fi movie, you may never find out for yourself.

The Asexuality website if you want to learn more: http://www.asexuality.org/home/

My IMDB rating: 6 out of 10 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1811293/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1a

My Netflix rating : 3 out of 5

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4 thoughts on “(A)sexual or How a title completely disappears from Netflix

  1. I haven’t actually watched this movie, but my roommate has, and I’ve heard things about it. Probably could have been done better.

    I don’t know about there being any “link” between autism and asexuality, but both the autistic aces and allistic (non-autistic) aces I’ve heard from would prefer people quit acting like that’s some kind of lead. There’s some overlap, yeah, but it’s not like there are no allosexual autistic people. The more important issue is the prevalent desexualization of autistics and disabled people.

    “Is it fair for an asexual to have a relationship with a sexual being?” What does this mean?

    I find it more troubling that you don’t find it troubling that people are being pressured into sex they don’t want. So in that sense, yes, mixed-orientation romantic relationships can be troubling in that some allosexuals feel entitled to sex and end up sexually assaulting or raping the ace — and even if they don’t, the ace might feel guilty about not being as sexual as they imagine their partner wants them to be and might feel like they “owe” them things, which can be very damaging to the relationship as a whole and to the ace as an individual, if not cleared up with proper communication and acceptance. It’s not like those relationships can’t work, though. They can and have.

    Anyway, if an allosexual person doesn’t want to be in a romantic relationship with an asexual, literally no one is forcing them. They can break up if it’s such a problem. In fact, it’s happened — I’ve heard of asexuals coming out to their partners only to be broken up with on the spot. And that’s really depressing for the rest of us. Knowing how much animosity some allos have toward aces trying to have romantic relationships, it makes crushes and dating that much more nerve-wracking an experience, and it can make you kind of hate yourself.

    Dan Savage is notorious for animosity toward bisexuals, trans people, women, PoC, etc. so I shouldn’t be surprised at what I’ve heard about his comments in that movie. Still, it did shock me when I was reading a conversation he had with David Jay (not in the movie, it was on some DS podcast) in which he literally compared asexuals to pedophiles, which is not just offensive but baffling.

    “because even the LGBT community has trouble understanding it at this point.” Yeah. Julie Decker, who’s come out to way more people than I have (understatement), reports that queer folks are mostly welcoming to asexuals, but there are also a lot (on the internet, especially) who vehemently oppose any alliance because “asexuals aren’t oppressed”. If being a target of disbelief, hostility, and corrective rape isn’t enough to count as oppression for you, okay, but just because the non-queer segment of the asexual population doesn’t go through the /same/ things as allosexual queer people doesn’t mean that 1) we don’t have anything in common or 2) it’s not a big enough problem to warrant attention. I really dislike this attitude of making asexuals jump through hoops to “prove” they have it bad enough with continuously moving goalposts. The argument (which has happened dozens of times already) usually goes like this: someone gets annoyed that asexuals are being noticed and talked about at all, and so they complain “nobody gets shit for being asexual”. So some aces point out that this is incorrect. Then someone who doesn’t understand the definition of asexuality says “It’s not like anyone’s FORCING you to have sex” and then they have to be reminded that corrective rape exists. So by that point they start insisting “nobody’s being beaten or killed for being asexual”, which as far as we know is accurate, but it’s frustrating to see that treated as the /only/ qualifier for “real” problems, especially when asexuality is met with such similar responses as LGBT identities are — “It’s just a phase” “You’re lying” “You’re making that up for attention” “That’s unnatural” “You just hate men” “Were you abused?” “You’ll change your mind someday” and worse — which, coincidentally, are the attitudes that lead to the larger forms of violence that queer people face. I fear that the lack of anti-ace violence may just be a matter of numbers and a matter of time. We have an opportunity, at this juncture, to stop that from happening, and this dismissive resistance — that our problems aren’t “bad enough” yet — is one of the biggest obstacles to ensuring that they never do get bad enough.

    “I guess that is the main problem with the documentary- it makes you aware of asexuality in an entertaining way, but does it really help you understand it?” Probably not. If you have more questions, you can ask me or some of the other aces on wordpress. I know at least one that takes questions. http://iamaceaskmehow.wordpress.com/ask-a-question/ You might check out some of Julie Decker/swankivy’s stuff on tumblr and youtube, too.

    Anyway, that link at the end is AVEN, not just the asexuality website. It’s one of many asexuality websites. And despite the fact that it’s one of the top results on Google, it’s one of the last I’d recommend, for various reasons. Here’s an FAQ for people just dipping their toes in the water. http://asexualawarenessweek.com/asexuality-101/ And there are lots of other links I’d recommend too, but you can see my links page for that.

    • Thanks for the reply.

      First of all, I think you were aware that I was reviewing a movie, and any questions I had came as a result of watching the movie. Any documentary that MAKES me go somewhere else to answer essential questions has failed on some level, in my opinion. Your response to my post was more informative in some ways than the 75 minute movie.

      That said, you use several terms that the movie doesn’t even touch on: allosexual, ace (yes I know where that term would come from, but it’s not used in the film), and corrective rape. Unless these are brand new terms, and in the case of corrective rape, a new phenomena, then that would again be a fault of the film.

      The question I should have asked is “Is it fair for a CLOSETED asexual to be in a relationship with a sexual person?” If that question doesn’t make sense now, then please let me know (It’s a question that’s asked in the movie, but not really explored to my satisfaction). Going back to the film again, I wasn’t even really sure what a romantic relationship with an asexual person looks like. It would have been nice if the film had a true relationship between an asexual and a sexual person (they presented one couple as such, but I’m not completely convinced that they both weren’t asexual).

      “I find it more troubling that you don’t find it troubling that people are being pressured into sex they don’t want.” Again, I got no sense that anyone was being pressured into sex from this movie. The only mention of feeling pressured came from asexuals talking about their past, and the asexual THEMSELVES trying to force themselves into being sexual. The pressure as the movie presented it seemed to come from asexuals not yet understanding their asexuality. No one in the film who understood their asexuality and was out as an asexual made it sound like this was a real problem (beyond David Jay’s desire (or feeling pressured?) to have a family and children, which is more of a societal pressure that no one is safe from).

      As far as the problems the asexual community faces as being accepted in the larger LGBT movement, or the prejudices and dangers they may face, you did a better job of explaining it than the movie did. The movie presented it as:
      Problem: “Gee, people don’t understand that I don’t want to have sex.”
      Solution: They pass out flyers to people at a Gay Pride Parade. People still misunderstand but are not really hostile or threatening.

      Problem: “Should I or should I not tell a partner that I’m asexual?”
      (My) Solution: Tell them (again, the consequences you laid out were not really developed or explored).

      I guess in summary the film was like a 6th grader’s book report when what I really needed was an in-depth expose of all things asexual. Thanks for your reply, and good luck.

      • Definitely, yeah — I have to agree, from everything I’ve heard about it, that it’s pretty insufficient.

        An explanation just in case you didn’t infer — allosexual is the word I use for a person who experiences sexual attraction. The film probably just uses the word “sexual”. There are some complicated politics behind this that might take a while to explain, but you can take my word for it that allosexual is the better/safer term and gets more use in the online ace discussion I’ve seen.

        Corrective rape is not a new phenomenon, and the corrective rape of LGBT people is a recognized issue referring to any rape committed with the intent of “fixing” someone and making them heterosexual/cisgender. For obvious reasons, it happens to asexuals too.

        “Is it fair for a CLOSETED asexual to be in a relationship with a sexual person?” — For me, this question raises a couple of issues. First of all, does the asexual /know/ they’re asexual? How much education and resources do they have about asexuality? How much social support do they have elsewhere? Those are important considerations, and what’s not fair is to put the burden completely on the asexual person if they aren’t given any words or legitimized ways to express their feelings. In order to make sure a closeted asexual /can/ recognize their asexuality as anything but a shameful disorder/personal problem, we have to spread access to that information in the first place. We currently have a culture that makes it very hard for asexuals to recognize that as a valid part of themselves, and that’s shown in a lot of aces’ discovering-asexuality narratives.

        Anyway, the other thing about coming out to a romantic partner is that, first of all, coming out is a very personal decision for the individual to make for themselves, and one of the biggest things preventing aces from coming out (especially to the people they’re dating) is fear — fear of loss, fear of misunderstanding, fear of retaliation. Allosexuals have a track record of just plain not taking it well, as if saying “I’m not sexually attracted to you” is the same thing as “I don’t love you”. And even if given a chance to explain, answering questions can make the ace feel like they’re on trial if the questions don’t also come with assurance of acceptance. It can be seriously scary. And even then, even if the allosexual believes them and doesn’t get angry or accuse them of anything, a lot of aces fear that their partner would prefer to date an allosexual and that it might even be a deal-breaker. So there’s a lot of apprehension about letting people know that something they take for granted isn’t there.

        On principle, I think you should trust whatever people say their orientation is, but I’ll also note that this question about what a romance with an asexual person “looks like” is a very common source of confusion. The answer is that it can look like anything, which I know isn’t very satisfying. On the question of sex: some have it, some don’t. As to the latter, there’s been so much confusion (“But how can there be a romantic relationship without sex?”) that Queenie wrote a post to address it. http://asexualagenda.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/but-what-about-the-sex-asexuality-relationships-and-the-metaphorical-cake/

        Asexuals do pressure themselves into doing sexual things, it’s true. But where does that come from? That’s a huge failing of the film if it didn’t address that in any way. The culture teaches that that’s what you’re “supposed” to do, what you’re “supposed” to want, especially within romantic relationships, and little consideration is given to other possibilities. Just last week, when I went to see Catching Fire, there was a movie preview in which a character implied that men (inherently) cannot resist sex, which is not only inaccurate in general, but also fuels the idea that all men want sex and that asexuality and manhood are incompatible identities.

        Coming to a better understanding of asexuality does/can relieve the pressure to some degree, but asexuality is not widely recognized enough for that to completely do the job, and since there’s very little recognition of asexuality as a legitimate orientation, that doesn’t stop the cultural pressures from continuing to wear on you. I’ve seen asexuals wishing they could stop being asexual just to fit in, despite having found the word. Again, finding a label does help, immensely, but that alone doesn’t fix everything.

  2. Sorry for a late reply. Life is busy at the moment. Just a few more comments in response to your last reply…

    The movie does talk about where the pressure comes from for asexuals to have sex, but again in a superficial manner. I think the emphasis on the self-pressure in the film is from asexuals not aware of their identity yet. There is also the reaction from “allo”sexuals that is mentioned in the film in several places as a pressure that asexuals internalize. Your example of the preview you saw before “Catching Fire” is an area of pressure that the film practically ignores: the messages sent to people thru media as to what it means to be male, female, etc.

    As a heterosexual male, the romantic relationship presented in the film was not really representative of the true conflicts an asexual and sexual person would face in a relationship. The male in this relationship was basically relieved to not to “have to perform” in bed. It was quite possible that performance anxiety was not the only thing that he was avoiding. Although I think a lot of sexual males relate to performance anxiety issues, I think it would have been better for the film if there was a relationship where the sexual person really wanted sex and how they dealt with it.

    I suspect that a former girlfriend of mine was asexual (and/or low-level autistic). We didn’t have sex (which she might have chalked up to religious reasons, but religion doesn’t prohibit affection as far as I know, and she was not affectionate), and she ended the almost 1 year relationship by saying “I’m not attracted to you” and she felt she was forcing herself to like me on some level. It’s not easy being on that side of a breakup either. If she was asexual, it would help me understand a bit more why she would try to stay in a relationship with someone she wasn’t sexually or physically attracted to.

    “On principle, I think you should trust whatever people say their orientation is”- That is something I completely agree with.

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