I have always thought that one of the most important goals for asexuals is to become proportionately represented in the media. On an average day in America, for those ages 15 and up, 2.8 hours a day will be spent watching TV. (American Time Use Survey Summary). While time spent reading varies more by ages, it is important to note that the older an age group is, the more time they spend reading, with individuals quite a bit older (75 and up) spending the most time reading.
Why is that significant? Because it means that reading about asexuality is probably one of the best ways to spread information about asexuality to the older population. Asexuality has a (incorrect) reputation as an internet-only orientation, probably because the main way most of us asexuals have found out about asexuality as an actual movement, organized group-type thing, was through the internet. That is the main way we connect with each other and exist as a community. We are few and widely-scattered around the globe.
Internet and computer use is more common among younger age groups. Although there are many tech-savvy seniors, I have also known many who absolutely do not want to make computer usage a part of their lives. Completely understandable, I think. It does, unfortunately, mean that if most of our writing and activism continue to be present only online, and is absent from more traditional means of communication such as television and novels, we will be leaving large amounts of people out of reach of knowledge of asexuality. While we have our meatspace presence in pride parades and asexy t-shirts, few of those will reach as many people as we would if we had a main character who was asexual on one of the crappy sitcoms that litter our television line-up. We will not reach as many people by walking around as living asexual billboards as we would if there had been just one named asexual student at Hogwarts.
Why is it important to reach out to people through the mainstream media? Because, as I have pointed out, we spend much of our time consuming it. We learn a lot through it, and it is a window out into the world. Probably most of the factual knowledge I have learned in my life has came from novels (and I know, that sounds terrible—novels are fiction! Fake, right? Well, most of them are chock full of research and real facts and things based in reality, even if the character’s lives and individuals stories aren’t fact.)
I have known that I was uninterested in sex for much of my life. I have known that I was neither a woman nor a man for most of my life as well. But—when I came into my teenhood, that wonderful time of struggling to find one’s identity, I rejected what I innately knew to be fact, that I was asexual and neutrois, because I did not know that those were valid things to be. When I looked at the world around me, in real space, on TV, in all the books and comics I consumed, everyone was a man or a woman, a boy or a girl, and everyone was expected to hook up one day, to get married or to date or to be interested in the opposite sex (or more rarely, the same sex). Sure, there were people who weren’t interested in finding a partner, but that would be because they were mentally ill, or misanthropic, or obsessively workaholicking, or were hideously ugly assholes who didn’t want to date anyone in their league and had bitterly given up. In other words, being uninterested in sex was a symptom of some other unfortunate state, not a valid orientation in itself.
(The internet held no contrary views to that that I could find; most of my sources of information being from LGB and feminist perspectives, which were mostly presenting the “If you’re not interested in sex, it’s not your fault, it’s just a result of being raised in a sex-negative society. Work through your issues and become a happy sex-having person, because that is vital to happiness, etc etc” type thing. I never managed to stumble upon AVEN because I did not know the key word that would have described my state: asexual).
So I think it is absolutely vital to have asexual characters represented accurately in the mainstream media, not just to increase our visibility, but to lend a desperately-needed sense of normalcy to asexuals. When most people have already encountered asexual characters on their TV screens and in their favorite novels, there will be, I think, a lot less of the complete incredulousness we asexuals face when telling someone of our orientation. I think the importance of media representation for minorities cannot be overestimated—consuming media is a huge part of most of our lives. Achieving representation in traditional media is a vital chance to spread knowledge and visibility, as well as support, to older asexuals.
American Time Use Survey Summary: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm