I respect if y'all are angry. That was pretty angry-making, and I hope you're all tweeting the writer and giving her the education she so richly deserves. But speaking for myself, I wasn't really angry...just disappointed.
Thing is, I've come to expect this from House. And I'm not a hater. I'm one of the few die-hard fans this show has left. But I've come to accept that the medicine might as well have been written by my cat's ass. Ever read Polite Dissent? They should hire that guy, at least for the medical stuff. (Note that his review for this episode says nothing about the asexuality plotline. He may not be aware of asexuality issues, or may not feel qualified to speak on them, or maybe it's just that he speaks out against medically impossible things, and it is not technically impossible for one man to have a libido-killing tumor, and one woman to be lying.) I've wondered for years why they don't just hire that guy. This is broadcasting on national television, you can't just source it from Wikipedia and that Cracked article that blew your mind last week.
Scratch that, I don't think most of the writers have been to Wikipedia.
My point is, I've come to accept that the medicine is terrible and the social issues are dodgy. The fail sort of spreads to other topics--I remember a pretty big astronomy fail a few episodes back, and it came from House, which is annoying, because he's supposed to be smart.
Hey guys, remember that episode with the blogger? The one where blogging was portrayed as a deviant pursuit that would destroy all your real-life relationships?
I really, honestly, have lost count of portrayals that were inaccurate and downright offensive in ways that went beyond the medicine. There's almost a freak show display of anyone who is in any way different from Standard McNormalton, The Average Joe. I could already hear the carnival music, step right up, step right up, witness the amazing woman who doesn't want sex....
But I had a glimmer of hope this episode, that maybe House and Wilson were being set up as straw men. Not because that's in line with the show's usual writing--it isn't--but because their dialogue was so Bingo Card-y that I didn't think they could be anything else. I mean, laying it on a bit thick there, you guys?
As House and Wilson smoked their cigars, the threatening specter of asexuality defeated for good, I still wasn't angry. But I was baffled. Whoever had written this, I felt, really couldn't comprehend the idea of not wanting sex, and thought you'd have to be broken to be that way.
And I actually can imagine what it would be like to want sex. It isn't hard. I want lots of things. All I need to do is picture: instead of those things, sex. But for the life of me, I can't imagine sex being so amazing that I'd go looking for a tumor in anyone who didn't want it.
I...can't imagine any human trait being so universal that I'd assume there's something wrong with you if you don't display it. I mean, like, other than breathing. But lumping sex in with breathing? Is that really how some people see it?
I'm honestly confused that anyone could think that way! I mean, like House's comment about the guy dying of boredom before his tumor could kill him....House doesn't even have sex all that much! And even when he does, I think he'd be the first to say that it's medicine that gives his life excitement and meaning, not getting his dick wet. He buys the services of sex workers, but mostly seems to get actual massages from them, and it's been brought up in the past that all that Vicodin has probably caused erectile dysfunction, and the leg pain might make sex more strenuous even if he could get it up. His relationship with Cuddy was chaste for decades, longer than the couple of the week's ten years, then when they finally did commence screwing, I still believe it was the romantic connection that meant more to him, since sex itself was something he could easily buy. House's priorities have never been sex, and he's not easily distracted by sex. He occasionally uses sex[ual harassment] to troll his female co-workers, but that's about manipulation and dominance, not actual sex. When Cameron wanted to actually screw him, he chickened out.
Why is sex of supreme importance only when someone is asexual?
The comment by the husband in this episode, that he wouldn't become one of them, with a note of disgust, seemed to imply that as an asexual, he thought asexuals were better than *sexuals. (And hi, I've decided I like the asterisk thing and the reasons for it, I think that was a few posts back? Anyway, back to topic.)
I've seen swankivy address this in educational posts in various places. Sexuality could be associated with distraction, shame, and even a lack of control, so someone who doesn't have sex (especially since some may describe their feelings as "repulsed") might see themselves as more in control, more pure, more clean, even...more evolved. (Which I believe was in an early version of the script. -____-)
And on that topic, I've been wondering about the shortened term "ace." On the one hand, it's short, and feels nice with other monosyllabic orientations like "straight" and "gay." It feels less clinical and more casual than "asexual." But "ace" also implies, well, you know...awesome. At first I was like, "Hey, no reason we can't be positive about our orientation, right?" but then I started wondering if it was counterproductive, if our positivity was being construed as holier-than-thou-ness. I've seen "ase" around a few places, which makes it clearer it's shortening asexual and not tooting our own horns. I don't know, any thoughts on this? I'm starting to blush whenever I tell someone I'm "ace."
Most of this has been just my rambling, about the show in general, about my own feelings, etc. But now, on the off chance she will read this:
Dear Katherine Lingenfelter,
I appreciate you wanting to bring visibility to asexuality, that you had to meet network demands in your script, and also your apologies to the community. But....meet me at camera 3.
Okay, first of all, I'm glad you went to AVEN to do research! Problem is, I couldn't tell at all. :( I was actually yelling at the screen "OMG DO A GOOGLE SEARCH BEFORE YOU WRITE THIS." That's bad! And I'm not angry at you, I feel bad for you, because this is clearly not what you meant to come across, and as a writer I know, if the readers/watchers aren't picking up what you thought you were putting down, it's your fault. And that sucks for you.
One of the things you might have noticed on AVEN is that most asexuals actually do masturbate. Actually, about the same percentage do as *sexuals who masturbate. Orientation is about who you want to rub you down there who isn't your own hand. I could fap for ten years straight, while being married to someone else, and if I never showed any interest in letting them join in, I'd still be asexual. Get it?
What this means is that lack of libido, genital damage, nerve damage, et al, do not make a person asexual! They make a very frustrated *sexual person, or an asexual who would still be asexual (but might start masturbating) if you removed the tumor or what-have-you. Lots of people have sexual dysfunction and do not identify as asexual. So not only have you insulted asexuals, but you've de-sexed *sexual people with sexual dysfunction. Great job!
Point two is kind of a biggie. See, I get that this is a medical mystery. And I get that you're trying to include asexuals! Totally cool with both these things. But making asexuality the medical mystery is inherently problematic. Imagine if you decided to include a trans character (that would be great!) and then made their gender identity a symptom (that would be awful!). Believe it or not, sexual and gender minorities have other traits besides that. They could have any medical thing wrong with them that anyone else could have. They could have personality quirks. Character flaws!
The real problem with what you did here isn't that you erased their identity. It's that you made asexuality their entire identity to begin with. They were cardboard cutouts with [asexual] stamped on them. And this isn't how you include minority characters. You don't present them as freaks or curiosities based on the thing that makes them minorities. Like how Foreman isn't "the black doctor"--
He kind of was in that episode, wasn't he? I mean, what with all the weird racial epithets in House's post-its.
I'm so sorry.
Well, on the bright side, you had some good one-liners, and I did appreciate Park's candor and House volunteering to plough Wilson's furrow. Those were good moments.
Oh, and maybe this got lost in all the drafts, but I was expecting the theme of the episode to be something about fidelity and perhaps chasteness. The two plotlines seemed to have that in common, but they never really came together with one unifying element. Unless the point was just that women are really good at not screwing for love even when they want to? Which is kinda....sexist I guess? Or something? I don't even know anymore.
But anyway! For future reference, you can contact me any time if there's stuff you want to know about asexuals. You did say you found the topic fascinating. If it satisfies your curiosity, yes, I masturbate, and I've even had sex. I actually don't have any strong feelings one way or the other about sex. I was pretty happy about it at first, because it's like I'd learned a new trick I could do with my vagina, and I mean, I'd been carting that thing around for years, about time it did something other than bleed all over the place. But in terms of like....being compelled to do it, or getting something out of it? Noooot really. Oh, and I've never been raped or sexually abused, though you really shouldn't imply that abuse is a possible cause for asexuality, since if you go purely by numbers, accepting that a certain percentage of people will be asexual (1%-ish) and a certain percentage of people will be sexually abused (I've seen the one in three women number around, and higher) you have to accept that there is going to be overlap. Then you realize that every time you ask an asexual if they were sexually abused, you run the risk of triggering them and forcing them to relive painful memories, for something that is still irrelevant to their orientation. Lots of asexuals weren't abused, and lots of people who were abused aren't asexual, so I see no correlation. I have yet to meet a single person who identified as asexual and attributed it to sexual abuse.
Um, anyway, I think that's it.
PS: I'm going to write a fic where House finds the tumor in his brain that's been stopping him from fucking Wilson into next week, has it removed, and they go at it like bunnies in springtime. You're welcome! :D
PPS: After this rant, you may wonder, why do I like House? It's because I'm convinced House is a modern-day shaman practicing magic medicine in an urban fantasy. And because the character dynamics are a lot of fun, and the pop psych is entertaining when it isn't doing....this. Which is sometimes!
It's one of my favorite shows, honest. That hasn't changed.