This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Saras Jaiswal. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Have You Seen Any Asexual Characters In Your Favourite TV Shows? Me Neither!

More from Saras Jaiswal

Television has a way of depicting characters that are “relatable”.

The relatable trope in Western media is usually represented by a white, cis-het man, with more than half of his sense of humour based on misogyny and queerphobia. Of course, a “softer” side of such a man is depicted as well, making him a subject of sympathy and love for the audience.

Joey and Chandler (played by Matt Le Blanc and Matthew Perry respectively)—lovable morons, or misogynistic men-children, or both? Representational image. Photo credit: portlandmercury.com

Think Chandler from the famous TV show “FRIENDS”. It doesn’t take much effort for a writer to create a problematic character who also puts the audience at ease.

To watch such content is to conveniently normalise the idea that the only story worth watching is that of cis-het people. This might be one of the reasons why an identity like asexuality has not found its way to mainstream media, yet.

Bojack Horseman Did A Fine Job

A writer can only bring authenticity to their work by making sure that whatever they are writing does not fall prey to whatever “sells” in the market… After all, the media industry intends to profit from keeping its audience deluded in narratives that only provide solace to the ones who are already comfortable.

Some shows, however, have tried to break barriers like these by employing genuine “relatability” and not the kind that is usually manufactured by the media.

With a diverse variety of characters, Netflix’s “Bojack Horseman” is a good example of a show like this. One of the main characters is “Todd”, an asexual person who comes into his own throughout the course of the show.

Todd, a character from the show “Bojack Horseman” came out as asexual in a 2017 episode. Here, he is showing off his profile on a dating app meant for asexual people. Representational image. Photo credit: Film Daily.

Bojack Horseman has depicted asexuality on screen pretty holistically. From the time Todd wasn’t sure of his asexuality in “That Went Well”, to him finally feeling comfortable about using the term “asexual” for himself in “Hooray! Todd Episode!”, the show managed to capture the entire process of someone figuring out sexuality, beautifully.

Just because Todd is asexual, doesn’t mean the show reduced him to his lack of sexual attraction to others. He goes on to date many people in the show: allosexuals and asexuals, both. He also realises his passion for childcare and becomes his friend Princess’ Carolyn’s nanny.

Where Does Indian Media Stand?

When it comes to asexuality, its representation in the media has been extremely less, so much that many people don’t even know that the A in LGBTQIA+ stands for asexuality.

More so in India, where conservatism around sex is blatantly highlighted on screens and ironically, asexuality is invisibilised. And of course, the sharp difference between the both is never discussed.

Yes, the Indian version of the relatable characters is quite typical too, presumably an upper caste, rich man with conventional good looks. Complimentary to this would be a plot where he is trying to find himself, spiritually, in his own isolated existence.

Obviously, he has a heteronormative relationship with a girl, which only aids his own growth and nothing else. 

Something almost every Indian millennial or gen Z person will have noticed is the sharp discomfort that arises in our homes and families, whenever some idea depicted on TV is unfamiliar to them.

For instance, a film where a woman has a keen interest in exploring her sexual self. Paradoxically, a film where she has no interest in exploring her sexual self would also be seen as odd.

The Humane Struggle Of Finding Yourself

Of course, revolutions don’t happen on TV screens, but even a small effort into the representation of the diverse identities can help both, individuals who associate with these identities and those who don’t, to understand themselves and the world around them better.

In pop culture, the idea of “sex” is either too glamourised or too stigmatised. Hence, asexuality hasn’t found the place it must rightfully claim.

Struggles aren’t meant to be just showcased, but showcasing them has an ability that cannot be replaced: of appealing to the individual in a way that no other medium can; of initiating a dialogue about these struggles, with the hope that it gains recognition.

Activists like Meghna Mehra, the first asexual student leader studying at Delhi University, speak up so that perhaps someone at the other end of the country wondering about their asexuality, can begin to understand themselves a little better.

Meghna Mehra, the first asexual student leader of India. Representational image. Photo credit: @comrade_meghna, Instagram.

How Do We Proceed From Here?

When we as the audience constantly stay aware and critical of the ideas we are being subjected to, it is only then can we hope to make our spaces truly inclusive and diverse, be it in popular culture or our very own neighbourhoods.

We need to view realities beyond our own lives and recognise diversity, which is much more colourful than the dullness of the “black and white” characters we have been programmed to relate to.

Maybe, it is time we move beyond Kabir from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Chandler from FRIENDS, and offer the screen to the ones we haven’t heard from, in a while.

Perhaps, we can talk about Jughead, from Archie Comics, whose asexual identity was erased in a Netflix show based on the comic: “Riverdale”?

Featured image is for representational purposes only.

Note: The author is part of the current batch of the Writer’s Training Program

You must be to comment.

More from Saras Jaiswal

Similar Posts

By Sas3 Tranimal

By Mythili Kamath

By Harshit Agrawal

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below