The Big Bang Theory and Asexuality

So, recently my best friend and soul-mate has written a blog post on The Big Bang Theory that is causing controversy in her life. It is entitled Asexuality in the Media, and I urge you to read it. Readers of my blog know that I am bisexual, and it is an issue I speak on constantly. Well, Kelly is asexual, and it is something she writes on a lot. And if bisexuality is the hated little brother in the sexuality family, then asexuality is the cousin everyone forgot we had. So here I am, voicing my support and giving my take on the asexual Sheldon debate (albeit from a less-informed place).

Friends, I detest The Big Bang Theory. Everything about the show make my skin crawl. I know it’s popular, but that doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s selling premise is that it’s a group of average nerds with nerdy humour talking about nerdy things. I can promise you that none of that occurs. There was promise in the earlier seasons for a show I could stand to watch, but ultimately this fell through, and we were left with a carcass filled with expired potential and problems. Perhaps one day I will write a blog on my issues with the show. Today, it is about Sheldon, Amy, and Shamy.

When Sheldon Cooper was introduced to us, he was not like the other nerds. He was abrasive, clinical, and showed no interest in Penny whatsoever. In fact, he showed no interest in anyone, either romantically or sexually. He disliked being touched, a trait which had remained consistent until recent seasons. His lack of interest in sex, relationships and intimacy led many people, including myself, to believe that Sheldon was an asexual character.

To those of you who aren’t versed in the spectrum of sexuality, asexuality is by definition the lack of sexual attraction. This does not necessarily mean it is the lack of romantic attraction though. Like with all sexualities, the romantic part does not necessarily line up. It’s fully possible to be a heteromantic asexual, as it is to be a homoromantic bisexual.

So when Amy Farrah Fowler comes along in season 3, we meet another potential asexual. Just like Sheldon, she is uninterested in sex and is content with her hobbies. When the pair engage in a relationship, it is a perfectly normal and functioning one, ideal for the two.

The problem, of course, comes when others interact with the pair, and the sudden change in narrative direction.

A lot of jokes in The Big Bang Theory, especially in recent episodes, stem from Sheldon’s lack of desire for intimacy. And yes, this is solely the fault of Sheldon, as Amy has undergone drastic change. Gone is the woman who was content with her experiments and the intellectual attraction she felt to Sheldon. This Amy is a raging mess of repressed sexuality, and she’ll be damned if she doesn’t get the physical contact she now craves from Sheldon.

Here is the crux of the issue with the Big Bang Theory: Sheldon’s sexuality is up in the air. He is depicted as the text-book example of an asexual person, but we are never given confirmation. Like I’ve said in other blog posts, without the word of the writers to back up what we believe, we are forever subjected to fighting for the representation we desperately want. Unfortunately for asexuals watching The Big Bang Theory, asexuality is a joke. The most common punchline these days seems to be “Sheldon won’t have sex”.

And why should he? Ignoring for a moment the issue of sexuality, consent swings both ways. Amy has tried manipulating Sheldon mentally and emotionally in to getting what she desires, and Sheldon is depicted as not understanding or being highly uninterested. He is led to believe that how he wants a relationship isn’t normal, and he often submits to Amy’s wants. His own friends mock his sexual beliefs, and this is what is most upsetting about the show. Even if they do decide to complete this U-turn on Sheldon’s character, the joke is still aimed at people who just do not feel a sexual need. 1% of our population identifies as asexual. That number could be more with actual educational representation. That doesn’t come from shows and characters who are shown to be mistakes or jokes.

At the end of a recent episode, it is decided that kissing is romantic, and Shamy kiss. And lo and behold, that cures some of Sheldon’s asexuality. Yes, kissing is romantic. But only when it someone both parties want and no one is coerced in to.

The Shamy relationship had such promise as an actual piece of representative media. Now it is something which harms a sexuality looking to be noticed, and Kelly has to fight on Tumblr to get people to stop saying her interpretation is wrong. There are enough straight couples in the media. What is so wrong with having an asexual couple who work, and who don’t need to be the joke or to be cured?

And so, dear readers, we reach the end of another blog post.

Let me ask you this: can you think of any asexuals in the media? What do you think of the Shamy relationship? And do you think representation is even important in shows like The Big Bang Theory?

Let me know your thoughts.

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About Stephanie Gallon

I'm 22 years old with first class honours in BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing. I'm currently studying MA English Studies. I'm an author, a blogger, and a zealot of all things written. I write on everything from comics, to feminism, to advice on university life.
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5 Responses to The Big Bang Theory and Asexuality

  1. Great and nice blog. It’s also very interesting. We also have a website about Uzairs theory of everything.
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    Like

  2. saarta says:

    I understand your critique, although I am myself an asexual person who likes the show. The reason I watch it is Sheldon’s asexuality. I guess I watch it because it’s the only asexual tv character I know of and I feel a need to know what’s happening to him. I identify with him because he gives an outsiders perspective on sex. Not sure though how many people actually understand that Sheldon is really laughing at them, but that’s how I feel. I too wish it could be outspoken and I live in fear that Sheldon will “discover his sexuality” and that he and Amy will have sex. And I could live without the constant jokes about Sheldon not being human, but robotic or extraterrestrial. But on a lot of these occasions Sheldon is the one who comes out the winner (in my eyes at least). He has dignity and won’t be bullied. On a behind the scenes episode, the creator describes Sheldon as someone who is “living life on his terms” which I thought was quite beautiful.

    There is one episode where Sheldon is forced to work together with Barry Kripke, whom he despises. He is then horrified to realise that Kripke has solved some mathematic problem that he has not. He then plays along with Kripkes assumption that his thinking abilities is affected by having sex: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=630aTGzWexo

    I love the knuckle shake, I think it’s super cute and funny!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. adox says:

    ❤ thank you

    Like

  4. Nikki says:

    A short live (two season) comedy series called Sirens had an ace side-character. She was great because she dated a non ace and stood by her no sex thing and they showed that.

    Like

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