AroSpecAwarenessWeek: Day 6 – Amanormativity

Friday, February 24: Write about your experience with the amanormativity we’re all subjected to. Amanormativity, for those who don’t know, is a societal expectation that forming an exclusive, central, amorous relationship is a universal goal. Did it affect you a lot growing up, is it something you’ve just begun to experience or notice a lot, or does it affect your life in any way at all? What are some of the things that really bother you about this? How does this manifest in the expectations the people in your life have on you? Feel free to use this prompt as a means of venting.

Did amanormativity affect me a lot growing up? Yes, of course it did. I talked a bit about this on Twitter yesterday, but I’m going to repeat myself and go into more detail as I don’t have a character limit here. I think amanormativity affected me in a way it probably would affect anyone aromantic or not. I honestly wish I knew what aromanticism was when I was probably at the youngest of 11, or the first year of secondary school. The reason for this is because it’s very common for people in secondary school to start getting into relationships, at lot of my friends started getting ones in year 7 (11/12 depending on where your birthday fell) and in my friend group I was the only person who hadn’t had a relationship all the way up to the age of 15. And because of this, and the way the world viewed relationships I thought that I wasn’t worthy of love, that I was unlovable, that I was “too ugly” for a boyfriend. And I hated myself because of it. I used to write diaries when I was younger and most of them where about this topic. About how ugly and unlovable I was because I hadn’t had a boyfriend at the age of 13-15. When I was still a child.

In addition to this I honestly thought I was broken, because I had always question what romantic love (or rather attraction I just called it love) was. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t question what it was. I feel as if I was educated on aromanticism a lot of how I felt about myself in the past wouldn’t have happened. I probably wouldn’t have hated myself as much. And through learning about aromanticism I would’ve learned about aro terminology like squishes, I think I mentioned this before, but what I thought was a crush I now know was a squish. And I even remember I faked crushes at one point because you had to have a crush because if you didn’t you weren’t “normal”. Because of the amanormativity of this world I broke a lot of boundaries that I set for myself because I thought that I had to, I did things that I regret to this day and even don’t want to speak about because it was what the world viewed as “right” or “important”.

The longer I’ve realised I am aromantic the more I notice the amanormative comments that media, and my family make. It’s always the same thing that romantic love is “the most important thing in the world” and that you’ll “find the one”. And I hate it so much, like I’m not out to my family but to my mum I’ve pretty much come out without saying the words “I am aromantic”. We could be watching something that has nothing to do with romantic relationships and my mum will bring up boyfriends (she thinks I’m straight when I’m in fact not cis, heteroromantic, or heterosexual), and marriage. And even when I say that I don’t want one, she’ll reply with pretty much what I said above, that it’s a “phase”,  that I’ll “find someone” and even when I deny all that she acts like it’s the worst thing to live alone, and not have this “epic romantic love story”. I think at first she thought it was because I had a bad break up, but that was now nearly over 2 years ago. And because of this amanormative world she thinks if I’m not straight (into guys because I’m afab, assigned female at birth) that I must be gay. God forbid if I was bisexual. For her it’s one or the other, she probably doesn’t even realise or know that 1) her “daughter” isn’t female and 2) that there’s more genders and sexualities than just the ones on “LGBT”. Anyway back to the point even if it’s not directed at me and it’s directed at my brother I’ve began to notice when relationships come up in conversation. And I’ve gotten to the point where I just eye roll really obviously. But they don’t seem to notice.

It really bothers me that the world, and even I at first, thought that you “have to be attracted to someone” because “everyone’s” endgame in life is marriage, and kids. I don’t want this, I used to but I think that’s because you’re brainwashed into thinking that way so when you start growing up and figuring out who you are, you begin to realise that maybe I don’t want this? Maybe I want something else. And that’s okay. But this world doesn’t see it that way. I’ve noticed this with celebrities, the magazines and the press are always asking who is this person dating, if they’re pregnant, and when they’re getting married. And not everyone, even celebrities, might not want this, even if they aren’t aromantic.

My mum’s expectations of me, because I’m afab, is that I “should” get married and have kids. She’s even said that she wants me to get married and have kids so she can have grandchildren. She doesn’t care about my feelings on this, she just cares that I have a vagina. I’ve even full out told her that I wasn’t born to give her children, but she shrugged it off, and she’s brought it up so many times.

I definitely think amanormativity has affected the way I view shows/movies as well, because for someone who is aromantic I ship a lot of characters. Like I love when characters don’t have relationships, sometimes just kissing makes me uncomfortable but I probably do ship that character with someone because that’s what you’re “supposed to do”, if they have chemistry you’re “supposed” to ship them. I definitely have a lot more OTPs (One True Pairings) and people I just ship but aren’t at OTP level than I do BrOTP (Platonic OTPs) and I feel like amanormativity is at fault because I see 2 characters (or sometimes three or four) who have really good chemistry and I automatically ship them romantically, I’ve noticed this with a lot of other people too.

I feel like I can’t finish an amanormativity post without bringing up Riverdale and their aromantic erasure with their character of Jughead Jones. I feel like amanormativity has a lot of part in the reason why Jughead isn’t and most likely won’t ever be aromantic on the show. Because people find characters who don’t have a relationship “boring” or “hard to write”. I feel like Riverdale is trying to “fix” Jughead, a character who is touch adverse, romance repulsed, aromantic and asexual because it’s not the “normal” thing to be. No one is romance repulsed, touch adverse, aromantic, and asexual right? No of course not. It’s not as if I’m not all of these things. It’s not as if I was finally getting my aromantic representation on-screen (I’m not going to talk about asexuality because that’s not what this week is about). No. Everyone is so into romance and sex. God forbid if they show a romance repulsed, touch adverse, aromantic character on screen. God forbid.

This is the thing right, non aromantic people see aromantic people (or characters) and think “I’m so sorry that you are this way, it must be so tough on you” or they try to “fix” us or tell us that “it’s a phase” or we “haven’t found the right person yet”. No! I don’t need your apologise, if I had known about aromanticism I probably would’ve identified as it at the youngest of 13. I’m now 19. And I highly doubt that it’s going to change any time soon.

I really hope that in my life time being aromantic is more “normal” and that people accept that not everyone views romance and sex the same way. But to be honest I don’t see it happening, the more my life goes on the more the world becomes dependant on romance. And I truly hate it.

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