Representation

4th November 2015

-Please note this is a post transferred from my old blog so the date of publishing does not match the date of writing.-

Seeing this article today got me thinking, isn’t it about time we have more representation in mass media? And from that, this rant was born. (You’ve been warned.)

Recently it was confirmed that Deadpool will in fact be a pansexual character. You wouldn’t know this, but I am a giant marvel nerd and I was hugely excited just to get any new information about the upcoming Deadpool film, so hearing this made my day. Finally, a character who is simply, straightforwardly, pansexual. Too often characters who are attracted to more than one gender are described as “not liking labels” or “being confused”. The terms bisexual, pansexual and polysexual are silenced and shoved into a dark corner, never to be spoken of.*

In most mass media it is constantly reiterated that polysexual characters are “just confused”, thereby telling everyone who is sitting in front of the screen that if they’re polysexual, their identity is not valid, that they must just be confused. Even in Orange Is The New Black, a forward-thinking show in most respects, no-one even considers that Piper could identify as anything other than gay or straight. She has loved and dated both men and women and yet in 26 episodes the word “bi” is said once. Piper is just represented as going through phases of being gay and then straight, re-enforcing the stereotype that bisexual people need to just ‘pick a side already’. Surely we need to be showing people through every media outlet that their identity is valid and perfect.

This doesn’t just go for polysexual characters, think about the last time you saw an openly asexual or demisexual character. Or a genderfluid character. If you’re sat there stuck for a single character, it’s not that you need to watch more TV, its that these characters are simply never represented. I get so frustrated when people say to me, “But why does representation even matter?”. Representation is important to remind people that their identity is normal and valid. The messages that are portrayed in media outlets can have a massive impact on how society views people and how people view themselves. By confining black actors and actresses to small, non-speaking roles you are implying people are trivial and unimportant simply because of the colour of their skin. By making all hispanic characters cleaners and drug dealers, you are telling hispanic children that they have no prospects and no chance at success. By portraying all gay male characters as flamboyant and outgoing, you are telling shy gay men and children that they either have to be eccentric, or be straight.

So yes, having Deadpool as a canonically pansexual character is a step in the right direction, but it is truly sad that having a non-heterosexual character is cause for celebration. Representation should be the norm, not a rare luxury.

*Of course, it’s completely okay to be figuring out your sexual identity or to decide that you don’t want to label yourself. Your identity is entirely valid no matter what you identify as, or if you don’t identify as anything at all.

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