From time to time we republish our favorite posts. This originally ran in August 2010. The film, now called (A)sexual, has been a huge success, and is out and available on Netflix and Hulu!
We first heard about Angela Tucker's in-the-works documentary Asexuality: The Making Of A Movement from Elizabeth, one of her subjects, when she left a comment on our website. As Elizabeth showed us, there's some interesting overlap and conflict between issues of virginity and asexuality [See one of our First Person essays here and this too.].
Angela and I had some coffee and baked goods the other day and talked about the intersections of our respective film topics.
On the definition of asexuality: An asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Unlike celibacy, which people choose, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who you are. There is considerable diversity among the asexual community; each asexual person experiences things like relationships, attraction, and arousal somewhat differently.
About the film and its goals: My documentary, Asexuality: The Making Of A Movement (working title), is about the growing movement around asexuality. The film will bring more visibility to asexuality and that is one goal. Another goal is to create a dialogue around sexuality that is from a different lens that usual. That was what interested me personally. The subtitle is "the making of a movement", but a movement is really about people. So the film has characters in it. It is a profile of David Jay, one of the leaders of the movement and a few other people who identify as asexual. But it's also about larger ideas, like how one can be part of this burgeoning community in this really over-sexualized world.
On asexuality and the mythology of 'losing your virginity:" I’m not asexual myself but the topic of virginity comes up a lot in our interviews for the film. David Jay always says that the word virginity bothers him because it implies innocence and he is not innocent. It’s a cheeky answer but he is onto something with it. If you experience no sexual attraction, this whole notion of losing your virginity as some passage to adulthood doesn’t really apply. Does that mean that you never mature if you don’t have sex? We all know that is not the case for sexual or asexual people.
On asexuals who have previously been sexually active: Some characters in the film have had sex before and some have not. In the asexual community, it seems to run the gamut. Some people need to hear that there are asexuals who have had sex. They need to know that they have tried it and use that as proof that asexuality actually exists. If you’ve had sex with a lot of people and still choose to identify this way, you are legit but if you haven’t had sex before and choose to identify this way, you are … well, there’s never an answer for that. It’s always funny to me because there are lots of things you don’t need to try to know you don’t want or need to do them. Still I acknowledge that this is a point that matters to people.
On the romantic relationship of Elizabeth and her husband: Elizabeth and Brian, her husband, are very much in love. We met them when they were dating and it has been great to see their relationship develop. (We even filmed their wedding!) I learned a lot about love from making this film and they were a big part of that. They do have a romantic relationship. What goes on there is between them.
The challenges of creating an asexuality movement: Visibility is a big goal of the community and I think that makes sense. So few people know anything about asexuality so I think the focus should be in getting more people to understand it. Fundraising for this film has been incredibly difficult partially because films about sex are hard to get funding for but also because there is a lot of skepticism around asexuality. It has made us even more determined to make it.