Misunderstood asexuals: ‘Slow’, the film that gives them visibility without judging them | Wellbeing | S Fashion

Immersed in Pride month, when examining the acronym LGTBIQA+, the controversy that the A still generates today is striking, which responds to asexuality, the sexual orientation that is characterized “by not feeling sexual attraction towards other people or feeling it not very intense, infrequently or under certain circumstances,” as noted Asexual Community Spain, the Spanish Association for Bisexuality. In Asexuality: prevalence and associated factors in a national probability sample Psychologist Anthony F. Bogaert concluded that approximately 1% of the population is asexual. 20 years after this study, the Center for Sociological Research (CIS), after having launched a survey on social and emotional relationshipspoints out that 0.4% of the Spaniards participating in the analysis claim to be asexual.

The movie Slow, available on Filmin, by Lithuanian director Marija Kavtaradze, is one of the first film productions to address asexuality head-on. Lithuanian filmmaker Marija Kavtaradze writes and directs this film whose main characters are Elena, who teaches dance classes, and Dovydas, who works as a sign language interpreter. The moment they meet, a beautiful bond is established between them. However, her relationship is tested when Dovydas confesses to Elena that he has romantic feelings for her, but he is asexual, meaning he does not and has never felt sexual desire for another person. “It’s about different physical needs and how they affect a relationship, the relationship with our own body, the expectations we have about what a romantic relationship should be like, gender roles in relationships, and the need to gain approval through desire.” and sex. Above all, it is about self-acceptance and honesty with oneself and others,” Kavtaradze assures the platform. “Sexuality is such a broad spectrum that sometimes it is difficult to represent it in a precise way, especially because each couple is different, and can also change over time,” she points out.

“2.5 years of celibacy and, honestly, I have never been better,” said Julia Fox in the comments of a Tik Tok video showing an unfortunate Bumble campaign in which the dating app tries to joke about celibacy, thus making the least discussed sexual orientation enter the hottest debates and conversations of the moment. However, it is important not to confuse celibacy with asexuality, even though they share some superficial similarities. “Celibacy refers to the personal decision to abstain from sexual relations, usually for religious, spiritual or personal reasons. On the other hand, asexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by a lack of sexual attraction towards other people. The confusion arises because both situations involve the absence of sexual activity, but the motivations behind each are different. While celibacy is a conscious choice, asexuality is an innate sexual orientation that does not necessarily imply a choice to abstain from sex,” explains Valérie Tasso, writer, sexologist and ambassador for Spain of the brand of sexual pleasure and well-being objects. LELO. He comments that in addition, a lack of understanding about sexual diversity leads to asexuality being overlooked or misinterpreted, which can cause people to mistakenly associate a lack of interest in sex with the choice of celibacy.

In ‘(a)sexual Revolution’ (G, 2022), Celia Gutiérrez lists some of the most widespread myths about asexuality, a concept that, by the way, is not included in the RAE, which only has the term “asexual.” A warning: there are many myths… “Asexual people are like this because they have a conservative opinion about sexual relations or because they do not have adequate sexual education.” “Asexual people believe they are superior for not having sexual relations/they are against sexual relations.” “An asexual person is actually repressing themselves.” “People become asexual because they can’t get (sexual/romantic) partners/they are shy.” “People are indifferent if someone is asexual, the claim is unnecessary.” “There are asexual people who have sexual relations, therefore they are normative and do not suffer oppression.” “Teenage asexual people are too young to know that they are.” “You can’t know if you are asexual if you have never had sexual relations.” “He is asexual because he hasn’t found the right person.” “If (insert condition), you are not truly asexual.” “Asexuality is a fad/invention/phase.” “It is impossible to be asexual, because you cannot live having (few/no) sexual relations.” “Asexuality is not a sexual orientation.” “Asexual people do not suffer oppression, being asexual has never been illegal/they are not physically abused.” “That happens to everyone, we all go through a time when we are asexual,” she points out. “Sexual desire and sexual attraction are different things, they do not have to be related to each other. I recommend Asexualpedia page (and my book!) to fully understand what each one consists of. The basic idea is that sexual desire/libido is what is colloquially known as “being horny”, without further ado, while sexual attraction is what happens when sexual desire is focused on a specific person. Therefore, there may be libido without feeling sexual attraction,” he assures.

The importance of the visibility of the most invisible orientation

As Tasso emphasizes, the lack of asexual representation in popular culture and media narratives has made it impossible for many people to find characters or stories with which to identify their asexual experience. “Visibility and representation are crucial to the normalization and acceptance of any sexual orientation,” she says bluntly. The Serie heartstopper managed, thanks to Netflix, to bring to the mainstream universe plots in which transsexuality, eating disorders and of course, different experiences when coming out were essential, but in the first season of the acclaimed audiovisual adaptation of Alice Oseman’s novels , whose narrative epicenter focuses on the romance between Nick Nelson and Charlie Spring, some missed the presence of asexuality. It was in the second season in which a moving and revealing scene, Isaac Henderson’s character, until then portrayed as a shy and inveterate reader, discovers through the words of a boy that he is asexual. “I speak from my experience as an asexual person and aromantic In a world where romance and sex are valued above all else, when you don’t feel those forms of attraction, you grow up feeling like there’s something about you that’s different, but you can’t find the words to describe it. Therefore, when you discover them, you feel freedom and euphoria as you free yourself from expectations and pressures.” Those are the words that make the character identify her sexual identity. Oseman herself, who identifies as asexual and aromantic, wrote ‘Loveless’ (Fandom Books, 2021), a novel whose protagonist is also one. In fact, when reading an excerpt from the book, it is easier to understand the monologue of Heartstopper. “I came up with a plan. Very soon he would go to university. There I would have the opportunity to reinvent myself and become someone who was capable of falling in love, someone who fit in with my family, with people my age, with the world. I would make a lot of new friends. I would sign up for all the clubs. I would have a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend, for that matter. A couple. I would have my first kiss, and I would have sex. I was just a late bloomer. I wasn’t going to die alone. I would try harder. I wanted to be loved forever. “I didn’t want to live without love.” Those words make the idea of ​​freedom resulting from getting rid of ties and expectations make absolute sense.

Many people wondered after seeing Slow why the character Dovydas, asexual, is not in a relationship with someone who is also asexual. Throughout the film, on several occasions, he has to stop his partner in some way, and having to constantly justify his orientation entails significant emotional exhaustion for him. “Asexual people may feel misunderstood, isolated, or pressured to conform to social norms that do not fit their identity. This can result in anxiety, stress, low self-esteem and in some cases, depression. It is essential that asexual people receive support and understanding from both their loved ones and the community in general to reduce these negative effects,” says Claudia Melgar Escribano, psychologist, sexologist and couples therapist at Ruth González Therapy. He assures that for this reason, at a therapeutic level it is vital to have an understanding attitude, while the circle close to these people could provide a safe environment to share how they feel and what being asexual means for them. “The key to maintaining a romantic relationship in this situation is open and sincere communication. It is important for both parties to express their needs, desires, and boundaries clearly. The couple should work together to find ways to meet each other’s emotional and physical needs, which could include specific commitments and agreements about physical intimacy. Understanding, empathy, and mutual respect are critical to the success of any relationship, regardless of sexual orientations,” she explains.

Another of the most analyzed scenes of Slow is the one in which the protagonist discovers that her partner, asexual, has been masturbating in the bathroom. “The perspective that asexual people don’t masturbate demonstrates that this fact is not necessarily true, which can be disconcerting to people who are familiar with this belief. On the other hand, the feeling of arousal can arise without the desire to find a partner, so yes, some asexual people masturbate,” notes the LELO team.

The reason why asexuality is one of the most invisible sexual orientations, says Celia Gutiérrez, is that it is one of the ones with the least historical track record in activism and visibility work. “The claim is so recent that it is still unknown to many sectors of the population. Invisibilization is one of the big problems of the asexual community. Furthermore, the assumption that all people are sexually attracted to and interested in sex is a deeply ingrained idea, making it much harder to eradicate than other preconceptions about sex, such as assuming that all people are straight, for example,” he explains.

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