Riverdale’s AroAce Erasure: What I’ve Learnt From It.

It’s probably strange of me to write a post like this but honestly this erasure has given me such a learning curve as an aroace person and I thought you know what I want to shed some light in a sad and angry situation.

Obviously there’s some negatives to this erasure so I’m going to share those first. And then end on the positives.

Some people just don’t care. I can speak first hand that a majority of people don’t care, I’ve seen the reaction of people when I’ve had to unfollow dozens of people on a variety of different social media sites as well as going in the tags to block aphobic people. When you know people have seen your hurt and anger but are still choosing to ignore it, it really does hurt. It tells us that you don’t care about our struggles, our pain. The fact people don’t care takes me back to the fact that asexuality and specifically aromanticism are “invisible” identities which leads into my next point…

Lack of education. Without Tumblr I don’t know if I’d ever would have come across the terms “aromantic” and/or “asexual” because there’s so many things that we aren’t taught because of this heteronormative world. Similarly to what I’ve said above the lack of education on both aromanticism and asexuality is very obvious in the writers and the actor who is playing Jughead. Because throughout the past months many of them have said very invalidating and aphobic things, and it feeds off to the fandom, which use it against us. When an actor who was on our side with our representation turns against us we see it, the Riverdale fandom sees it and then we see that people are against us. And that they want us to experience that pain. If they don’t know much information on an aroace person’s experiences then they won’t know how much it is damaging when it comes to their writing. And because of the lack of education they flip our criticism and our want to educate into us being called “haters” and feeding off “discourse” when none of that is true. If the writers, and actors listened to the criticism, read through the #AroAceJugheadOrBust tag, read our threads they’d understand how much hurt we are suffering because of it.

Our voices should be heard but are being ignored. I still remember that moment when we found out that the writers knew about asexual Jughead (not sure if they knew about aromantic Jughead but they probably did) and that one of the writer’s knew the comic writer who finally gave the name “asexual” to a character who has been portrayed as such for years. I remember that anger that built up inside me, there’s most likely a post on this blog that I made about it. Why should we be heard? Because a show shouldn’t be allowed to cause this must hurt without a good reasoning or message. You know what the aroace erasure is telling me, especially with putting Jughead in a relationship with Betty? It tells me that I’m invalid, that I’m broken and need fixing. And how do I fix myself? I do that by putting myself in a relationship. That’s the message Riverdale is giving off to many aroaces. Break your boundaries, force yourself into a romantic relationship you don’t want. Sorry to burst your bubble Riverdale writers but I’ve done it in the past and it’s not great. It’s terrible. It’s damaging and dangerous especially for the aroace people.

Onto the (somewhat?) positives because even through this darkness there has been some light, surprisingly and I feel like my blog posts have been mostly talking about the hurt and anger of this situation (which is valid) but I want to talk about the positives because I wouldn’t be here without these positive parts of this situation. The positives aren’t really directly from Riverdale itself more so of the people I’ve surrounded myself with because of what Riverdale is doing.

Our pain, our anger, our disappointment is valid. This one I went back and forth with whether or not to put it under negatives or positives. Because the first half of the sentence is negative but the fact that I’m saying that it’s valid is a positive. Because it is a positive. We are allowed to be angry, we are allowed to be hurt and disappointed because they’ve taken such an iconic character from us and turned him into something he isn’t. Speaking for myself when discovering I was aroace Jughead was one of the few characters I found out was like me. And I used knowing this as validation. Because if the people around you aren’t accepting you there’s someone out there who does. There is other people out there like you. And that’s okay. This iconic character is aromantic and asexual just like you. You are valid. So the pain we are feeling, it’s okay to feel it, to embrace it, to share our stories to show the importance of the meaning of this character. All of it is okay. (I feel like I may have used “okay” a little too much here).

It’s made me stronger. Before this situation, especially if it happened when i was first figuring out I was aromantic and asexual, it probably would’ve broken me. Depending on where I was in my life I am grateful that it’s happened now rather than before. It’s made me realise that it’s okay to share my story as an aroace person and how this situation could affect aroace people badly because of the way a character who is like us has been twisted for a show. I now longer fear that this situation will get worse, I have a way to channel my anger and my sadness of the situation and I have the strength to overcome it and share it. This blog is evidence of my strength.

It’s made me more confident in finding good representation. I used to just cling to any representation that I could find even if it was harmful. But Riverdale’s twisted erasure has shown me that instead of looking for the bad I need to look for the good and that means looking elsewhere. It means finding #ownvoices books, and supporting actual aroace/ace/aro authors, who care about us being represented and wanting to share our story. Because of this situation I’ve started to read so many good books that have real and healthy representations of aro characters, ace characters, and aroace characters. And it’s a great way to feel so validated and loved because of this amazing work that people are doing with sharing their experiences through their characters.

It’s made me more confident in my own story writing. If you didn’t know for a whilst now I’ve actually been writing my own novel. This novel in fact has an aromantic asexual lead character. And this situation has given me a boost of energy to get my novel finished and out there, so that there is good representation and that my story, my experiences are heard. Because if you’re going to take away characters who represent me I’m going to make my own. For every aroace character who is straightwashed, or stripped of his/her/they/etc aromantic identity I will write another aroace, aro, or ace character to full my anger. Through writing a story with an aroace main I’ve been able to address so much that I couldn’t address before in the right words through my story telling and my characters. And it truly has made me feel better. I can take this situation, twist and bend it a little and have my characters react to it.

It’s brought me closer to both the aro and ace communities. I kind of felt like an outsider when it came to the aro and ace communities because I didn’t really know anyone and I was fairly new to discovering that I was aroace. But because of the erasure I’ve talked to so many aro/ace/aroace people who also share the pain and hurt of this situation and it’s helped me see and understand the amount of people are in our communities and that are hurt because of this situation.

It showed me who my real friends are. What I mean by this is that it’s showed me who exactly cares about the fact that a character that is like me is being stripped of everything he should be. And how much they care that it’s giving me a lot of hurt. Obviously I can’t stop any of my friends from watching a show but it’s shown me if they’d rather support an aphobic show or support their friend. If they’ve been there for me, and are helping out with the #AroAceJugheadOrBust campaign and if they are pointing out to other people that this cannot stand. It has really shown me who out of my friends care more about their shipping “rights” over their friend who this situation is making xir feel invalid most of the time.

It showed me who are both indirectly and directly aphobic. It’s probably ironic that this and my next point are on this list because both are probably for a lot of people are going to seem negative but for me they’re not. Why? Because I don’t want aphobic people in my life. Understanding the difference between indirect and direct aphobia has started to become more clear because of this situation. And direct aphobia is when people actively ship Jughead romantically with any character, even when aroaces have told them that their ship is aphobic and they’ve chosen to ignore it. Indirect aphobia is basically if the person is unaware of the situation and ships Jughead romantically “harmlessly”. You’re probably thinking how can someone not know about this especially with how much I’ve talked about it or other people have. It’s sadly quite simple. They don’t follow enough aros, aces, and aroaces who are speaking up about the erasure. Or if they follow just me, for example, they don’t see it because of timezones, or their Tumblr dash or Twitter timeline is so full that they never get a chance to see it.

It showed me who is specifically arophobic. As I’ve spoken about in previous posts it’s taken me a lot longer to accept being aromantic than it did being asexual. And through this situation I’ve realised how many people are more accepting of Jughead being asexual than him being aromantic. Because of their shipping “rights”. The reason why this is on my positive list is because I don’t want aphobic people, especially arophobic people in my life or anywhere near me. Having struggled with internalised arophobia for at least a year and finally overcoming it I don’t need to see people who are like “Jughead can still be asexual even if he’s with Betty” or some other shit excuse like that and deliberately ignoring and erasing Jughead’s aromanticism. I know exactly who I should and shouldn’t follow (and who I should block) when it comes to social media (my Tumblr life is so much more fun now that I no longer follow anyone who posts Riverdale and now that I’ve blocked (mostly) everyone in the romantic!Jughead ship tags).

I’ve probably repeated myself a million and one times not just in this blog alone but repeating stuff I’ve said before but the reason for that is because there are certain things that need to be addressed, that are so important that people need to know but aren’t listening too. It’s why many of us are saying the same things over and over again but in different ways.

If you want to know more about this situation please follow more aroaces. Boost our voices. And let us be heard. Don’t allow Riverdale or any other show *cough* Shadowhunters *cough* get away with aroace erasure (in Shadowhunters case just aromantic erasure). Because this hurts a lot of us.

Why AroAce Jughead Is Important: A Seventh update.

Fair warning this one is going to be full of anger, sarcasm and swear words. This is mostly a rant to be honest. Trigger warning: A LOT of aphobia. 

Every time something happens I tell myself “it can’t get any worse than this” and to my shock and amazement something worse happens. And this time this article by TeenVogue. An interview of Cole Sprouse about his character Jughead. And what has sparked this update is this section of the article:

“Jughead is 16 going on 17 (as  of episode 10),” Cole wrote. “Sexuality is fluid. And where his sexuality is headed has, already, been heavily discussed…Riverdale is a new universe, and we first need to think of Jughead as a human agent within his environment, his decisions about his sexuality are going to be informed by his upbringing and his immediate and longterm desires. Betty and Jughead’s coupling are a great example of such an informed decision.”

Let’s start off with the fact that in the beginning Cole was fighting for us, he even said that this part of Jughead’s character is important and should be shown. And now he’s saying this?! What aphobic bullshit is this?! Because what Cole said above is quite long I’ve decided to break it into parts because each section makes me angry in a different way.

First the aphobia and just blatant queerphobia in “Jughead is 16 going on 17”. This implies that being 16 or 17 is too young to know for certain what your sexuality is if you aren’t straight. The heteronormativity and amatonormativity in these couple of words are enough to boil my anger. How comes is okay to know for certain that you are straight when you’re 16 or 17 but if you’re figuring out you’re queer you’re suddenly “too young”. If I had the words aromantic and asexual I probably would’ve identified as them since I was probably 13/14. But because I didn’t I suffered through a lot of hurt and pain. Feeling broken. Not understanding who I was.

“Sexuality is fluid” I really love how sexuality being fluid only comes up when talking about a character who is or might be queer. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this come up when a character is straight. It’s only when people see them and headcanon them as queer or if they are queer. Yes sexuality is fluid in some cases. But it’s not for Jughead. Jughead is aroace. He is touch adverse and he is romance repulsed. He has been for years. This is no excuse for this aroace erasure or aphobia.

“Riverdale is a new universe”  THIS IS NO EXCUSE FOR AROACE ERASURE. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again if Jughead was gay the writers would have kept him that way. That outcry would have gotten this show cancelled in the first two weeks. This excuse means nothing. You don’t suddenly get to use that “it’s an adaption” excuse because you don’t want to play a character who you don’t understand. I’m so annoyed and shocked that this is okay with so many people. I just can’t see how they can’t see that this is so damaging. When has it ever been okay to change a queer character’s identity in the adaptation. NEVER until now. Just because being aromantic and asexual is lesser known and “more invisible” to a lot of people does not make this okay! It will never be okay.

“We first need to think of Jughead as a human agent” oh what lovely dehumanisation of aro, ace, and aroace people we have here. It’s not like I’ve not seen this before. Are you serious right now. Was Jughead not human before? Was aroace Jughead not human? Was he an alien? Was he a vampire? This is news to me. This is what amatonormativity it tells sex and romance is “what makes us human” and if we don’t experience it well boy do I have news for you, we are no longer human. I’m so infuriated with this sentence alone. Stab me in the heart it would heartless…oh wait…what heart? I mustn’t have a heart because I’m not human right? Fuck you.

“His decisions about his sexuality are going to be informed by his upbringing and his immediate and longterm desires” WHAT THE FUCK DOES THIS MEAN?! “By his upbringing” what bullshit is this? “his longterm desires”. The only desires Jughead should have is for eating burgers. Anything else is aphobic. Jughead has never shown interest in anyone or anything but burgers. I don’t understand how Jughead’s upbringing could affect his sexuality, especially his aroaceness. I swear if they are going to do the “his only aroace because he hasn’t met the one, and he closed himself off to romance because of his troubled past and didn’t want to go through what his parents did” (and what I mean here is experiencing his parents having a divorce) I’m going to flip. I’ve seen this so many times. Being closed off to romance and being aroace isn’t the same thing!

“Betty and Jughead’s coupling are a great example of such an informed decision” well this is just the icing on the cake isn’t it? The aphobia, the erasure, the amatonormativity, just I can’t put it into words. You know what Bughead is? Bughead is a great example of aphobic writers taking a character they know is aromantic, asexual, touch adverse and romance repulsed, stripping him of everything he is and forcing him into a relationship because they are so aphobic that they can’t see that not everyone, not every character, needs romance to “be human” and to be happy. It’s a great example of how much hurt they can bring to two communities because of a damn ship. It’s great example of stripping one of the few characters like me and telling me you know what we don’t like you like this, this is how you should be. Bughead is a great example of dehumanisation of aromantic people. Bughead is great example of heternormativity. Bughead is a great example of dehumanisation of friendships.

Riverdale is aphobic trash
Bughead is aphobic trash
Cole Sprouse is aphobic trash
The CW is aphobic trash

On a last note ALLIES WHERE ARE YOU? Why are you supporting this show that is giving us so much hurt? Why are you allowing it to carry on and have another season? Why are you not speaking up about this erasure? Why are you shipping Bughead? Or Jughead with any character for that matter? Why are you only speaking up about the Beronica queerbaiting but not the queer erasure? Why are you not here when aros and aces need you the most? Why don’t you care?!
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Can We Stop Dehumanising Aromantic People?!

I understand that the majority of things that I will discuss are probably things that alloromantic people may not realise are harmful towards aromantic people. I’ll be discussing various ways within and outside the queer community where aromantic people are often dehumanised. And I hope that it will educate someone on harmful things that dehumanise aromantic people. A lot of points I’ll be making will be repetition of things I’ve said in previous posts but I feel I need to emphasis them once again.

I want to start off within our own community, many of us (not all) are also apart of the asexual community or aromantic people have found safety and safe spaces within the asexual community, even if they are not because sometimes our communities intersect. There’s a common theme I’ve seen amongst some asexual, whom are alloromantic. I’ve noticed that allo aces who emphasise their romantic attraction to allo queer people or to allo cis straight people to say “look I date too I’m just like you”, “look I fall in love I’m ~human~”. That in itself should explain how this dehumanises aromantic people, especially those who don’t date.

My next point connects with the point above where people say romantic love is what makes us human. That not falling in love is the worst thing that could ever happen to someone. And that being single until you die is a ~bad~ thing. I’ve noticed that characters, especially female characters, are branded as unrelatable because they haven’t been in a romantic or sexual relationship. By saying romance makes us human you are telling people who don’t experience romantic attraction and don’t want to be in a romantic relationship that they are not human, that they have no reason to live because they won’t experience the “epicness” that is this version of love. It gives off the impression that you believe that romantic love is the meaning to life and that people who don’t experience romantic attraction or don’t want to date have no meaning in life.

I think by now mostly is aware of people viewing platonic relationships as lesser than romantic relationships, and the damages it can do to not just aromantic people. I’ve talked about this many times before both on this blog and on other social network platforms but I can’t stress this enough about how damaging this is. As an aromantic person my friendships are my world, they are my strength. They are a source of happiness for me. It links with the idea that most people view soulmates as romantic. For me my soulmate(s) are my friends. The people I feel I can trust with 100% of myself, that I can go to no matter what. My friendships are just as important as a romantic relationship is shown to be. Your friends are most likely going to be there for you your whole life, romantic love can come and go but your friends are there through thick and thin (most of the time. Value your friends as much as you value your partner. Friendships, both good and bad, have probably shaped you as much as your partner has.

In addition to this, the idea that everyone wants to get married (romantically). I feel like this idea is “taught” to us at a young age. When I was younger I always wanted to get married because that’s what I was told I should want but as I grew older I began to understand that no this isn’t what I want. I want to be surrounded by my friends. Marriages are great, but they aren’t for me. And it shouldn’t be taught to kids that this is something you should aim for in life, because that child doesn’t really know what they want at a young age, they are experiencing the world for the first time so allow them to make their own decisions and discover who they are. Allow your child to make their decisions on their future. (I realise I haven’t talked about arranged marriage here and I’m 100% not trying to demoralise them. Personally I don’t know much about arranged marriage and I definitely do not have the right to talk about them here. I do know that for some/most people arranged marriages are great and that they are one of the best things in their lives.)

I touched on characters earlier on about how characters are branded as unrelatable if they are aromantic but another thing I see is people say characters who aren’t in a relationship or don’t end up having one throughout the whole book/show/movie etc. are boring. That they are hard to write. I think this angers me the most because I’m dying to read a story, watch a show, etc. where a character isn’t put into a romantic relationship to drive the plot, I can’t relate to most canon couples because that’s not who I am. It’s not just aromantic people this affects because not every person has a romantic relationship during their teenage years or even in the early stages of adulthood. I’m 100% certain that romantic love isn’t what drives a person 100% of the time, why should this be the same for characters?

In relation to this there’s something both myself and many people both aromantic and not need to stop doing. And that’s headcanoning non-human and/or villains as aromantic. I understand, because I’ve personally done it many times, that non-human characters like Angels or Demons are very easy to connect with on an aromantic level (I headcanon Castiel from Supernatural, Crowley from Supernatural, and Lucifer Morningstar from Lucifer as aromantic/Arospec). Headcanoning mostly non-human characters, which I’ve done, says that aromantic people aren’t human and that they just “need to learn to love” and that they “don’t understand” humanity. And headcanoning villains as aromantic tells us that we are bad people, that the reason we are aromantic is because we “don’t deserve” love.

The next thing is alloromantic people denying aromantic headcanons because of their shipping “rights”. What I mean by this is someone telling another who headcanons let’s say Sam Winchester from Supernatural as aromantic (which I do) that they can’t because of their non-canon ship. Yes there may be many ways that this can be invalidated but using shipping as the reason isn’t okay. If you won’t invalidate another headcanon don’t invalidate ours. We find comfort with our headcanons because we have little to no canon representation (and the ones we do have a stripped of their aro identity *cough* Jughead Jones *cough* Raphael Santiago *cough*).

And lastly I can’t end this post without talking about aro erasure with in fandoms, yes this is about both the Riverdale fandom and Shadowhunters fandom. I’ve talked about this many many many times before, but I have to keep repeating myself because we are still being erased by both fandom and writers. By erasing an aromantic characters aroness you are telling hundreds of aromantic people that we are “abnormal”, that we “don’t deserve” representation. And by taking that character and making them alloromantic you are telling us that you’ve “fixed” the character by stripping them of who they are. Aromantic characters are just as important as any other character. Put yourself in our shoes, if you saw a character that was like you stripped of that part how would you feel? Pretty awful right? Stop doing it to aromantic characters. And stop with the “but aromantic people can still date” rhetoric because that dehumanises aromantic people who don’t date.

I most likely missed something but I’ve talked about the majority of things I’ve noticed a lot of the time.

If you would like to read more about this topic or aromantic posts that relate to this topic here are a few of my previous posts.

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