Let’s Talk: Fandom Is Unwelcoming To Aros

This was originally posted on my twitter as a thread but since I decided to cut down and not go into details about certain parts, and realising some of the things I could have added to the thread later but didn’t I’ve decided to make a blog post about it. Disclaimer if you read the thread there will be a lot of repetition.

If you don’t know what fandom is, fandom is basically the name given to a group of fans. Usually they can be found as a collective on social media, the most popular social networks that you can see examples of fandom are Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram. Over the years I’ve experienced fandom mostly on Instagram (not anymore), Twitter, and Tumblr. The most popular place that I use to connect with fandom is Tumblr. Since that’s where I’ve seen a lot of the fandoms I’m in come together.

As I said in the thread at the moment on mainstream television and movies there are no canon aromantic characters that I know of. I’m sure this is because of lack of awareness that aromanticism actually exists but let’s say that there is for a moment. Because I believe there are definitely some aro coded characters, whether that was by accident or not. But thanks to shipping I feel like they close the door on characters potentially coming out as aromantic because it has become such a prominent thing in fandom. People, for the most part, ship two characters together because of the chemistry between the actors and so that ship suddenly becomes popular because there’s “no way that won’t happen right?” Which I feel, with more aromantic awareness or let’s say a writer is aromantic or knows about aromanticism, may end up having writers backing out and becoming afraid of having a character come out as aromantic.

Why do I feel this? Because backlash from shippers is something that happens in every fandom and sometimes shippers can be scary, mean, and horrible just because their ship didn’t or hasn’t become canon. Shippers become scary when they feel like they’ve been baited or wronged when their ship doesn’t become canon because of their misinterpretation of a dynamic or the amount of chemistry that a pairing has. I’ve heard, these might just be rumours, over the years mostly in TV Shows that some writers have felt pressured to make a ship or another canon because certain shippers have become so loud and scary that they felt they needed to do it and it didn’t matter if this character was aromantic coded before hand, or if they were in a romantic relationship with someone else, they suddenly feel like they have to do it to get the views.

Personally I believe there has been many aro coded characters throughout all the television I’ve seen over the years but all of them have ended up going down the same route. And that was getting their romantic storyline, even the characters who didn’t seem phased at all with romance or “couldn’t” be romantically involved with someone because of whatever reason. Even characters who are canonically aromantic in their source material have been erased and made to be straight. Jughead Jones from Riverdale and Raphael Santiago from Shadowhunters were both actively erased of both their aromanticism and asexuality (Raphael was sort of confirmed as asexual in the 2×10 of the show but still the word wasn’t used, which I will go more into detail about whilst talking about them being aro).

I’ve been in fandom a long time and there’s something very common I’ve seen amongst the allormantics within the fandom and that is wilfully ignoring that a character is canonically aromantic. Their reasoning? Because either it’s “not canon enough” because it was confirmed by word of god from the author on twitter (like with Raphael) or even with so much evidence it’s “not canon enough” because the word wasn’t used (like with Jughead). And they do this just because of their “right to ship”. Not caring that this actually hurts real aromantic people.

In the same vein another thing that I’ve seen, which is very popular among alloromantics wanting to feel better about themselves actively erasing a queer identity just so they can ship them is bring out the “aromantic people can date”, which they are right that is true. But the moment you brought that up they have thrown every aromantic person who doesn’t date under the bus and implied that they can only relate to the aros who do date. So allonormative much? And most of the time the characters that they bring this excuse out with are the ones who don’t want to date. Jughead for example for years has expressed how much he doesn’t want to date, but do they care? No.

Something that really made me angry was I believe it was in December I saw one of Tumblr’s metrics post and of course it was the one for “Best Ships”. And guess what ship was on there? Bughead aka Jughead Jones x Betty Cooper, which is/was canon in the show. A ship that actively erases a queer character’s identity. I do have to admit that it’s not the fault of just fandom/shippers alone when it comes to Jughead because the writers actively made this decision to erase his aromanticism, but it doesn’t make me feel any better. A lot of shippers probably don’t know that he is supposed to be aromantic because it hasn’t been talked about much by people outside of the aromantic community.

Similarly within the Shadowhunters fandom Rizzy, the romantic and no longer canon (I believe) ship for Raphael Santiago and Isabelle Lightwood, was I would say the most hated ship in the fandom. The reason? It would have to be because of the aromantic erasure right? Right? Well… no. It’s because Rizzy is not only an unhealthy ship but because it gets in the way of their OTPs. Mostly Saphael (a non-canon romantic ship between Raphael Santiago and Simon Lewis) and Sizzy (a book endgame romantic ship between Simon Lewis and Isabelle Lightwood). I’ve been in The Mortal Instruments since 2014 after I read all of the books and Shadowhunters fandom since the show was announced. I believe and the aromantic erasure within The Mortal Instruments fandom has been prominent since before the show even existed. I’ve had countless messages sent to me that Raphael being aromantic isn’t actually canon because Cassandra Clare said it on Twitter and then said it was her own headcanon (you can’t have headcanons for your own characters). I’ve seen countless people say that it’s okay to ship Saphael, Rizzy, or Santifell (another Raphael ship involving Ragnor Fell) because aromantic people can and do date, which felt very invalidating for me as an aromantic who doesn’t. Especially since when I found out the show was straightwashing his aromanticism I was incredibly hurt and alloromantics decided to come message me on anon that I pretty much had no right to be upset because “it practically was never canon anyway”.

The last show I want to talk about until I go more into the headcanons part of this blog post, and something that I didn’t touch upon in my thread because it would’ve been too long otherwise and that is BBC Sherlock and how Sherlock Holmes is very heavily aro coded, more than probably any TV character I’ve ever seen. And how the fandom, especifically the Johnlock (the romantic shippers for John Watson and Sherlock Holmes), has made me turn away from the fandom and made me stop enjoying the show due to their unwelcoming and sometimes aggressive opinions on their ship. If I remember correctly there is an episode, I think it’s either in Season 3 or Season 4, where Sherlock practically uses the definition of aromantic (and asexual) to describe himself without saying “I’m aromantic”. But the reaction to the season 4 finale made me feel so unwelcomed and invalidated because their outroar on how the writers had been baiting Johnlock from the beginning, which I just couldn’t see since to me Sherlock has been heavily aro coded since day one. Plus I saw a lot of myself reflected in Sherlock and the way they got angry about not having their ship become canon was just awful to be honest. Plus John had just lost his wife, but this is going off track so I’m going to leave this here. Like I said above it was like they were wronged, like they were promised something and it was taken from them. And sometimes this makes them (not all) say awful things to the writers, which is scary.

Moving on specifically to aromantic headcanons. Queer headcanons are widely accepted until that headcanon is being aromantic. Suddenly the aromantic headcanon gets shut down, pulled a part, ignored, or invalidated. It’s like they’re thinking “how can this character, a character that I can relate to ~be like that~?” Because there’s no way a relatable character can actually be aromantic now can they?

Something I didn’t touch upon but was reminded of was that aromantic headcanons aren’t accepted by alloromantics unless they find the most awful character within a book series, a tv series, or a movie and find it in themselves to give them an aromantic headcanon. I’ve seen it within fandoms I’m in, a character I absolutely loathe because of how immoral he is was headcanoned as aromantic and it made me feel awful. It was Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern otherwise known as Sebastian Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments series (who has also now appeared within the Shadowhunters TV Show). If you are unfamiliar with this character he is the main antagonist for the later books, who is a murderer that has killed children, he’s also a sexual abuser, and also tried to get into a romantic relationship with and kissed his sister. Like The Mortal Instruments has a lot of characters alone but it’s also part of a bigger universe called The Shadowhunter Chronicles so there’s probably millions of characters, better characters,  that could be headcanoned as aromantic but you just happened to choose that one? Did you not even think how damaging that could be if an aro person saw it? Well guess what one did and it made them feel terrible about themself. Because we don’t seem like humans to alloromantics. Headcanons like this prove it, we are seen as murderers, as non-human creatures, characters incapable of any emotion. Just because we don’t experience romantic attraction. And I’m tired of this.

So it’s because of things like this that we can’t see ourselves reflected in the media that we consume or the fandom that we love, so it begins to drive us away. Because if we don’t feel like we are actually in the fandom or welcomed there what is the point in staying? Especially if we are reminded daily that we “aren’t normal” and that we are the “strange” part of fandom because we view a character, whether they are aro coded or not, as aromantic or we don’t ship characters at all in whatever we are reading or watching.

I should say that I am someone who does ship a lot of ships but at this point I’ve come to realise that I don’t know how I actually ship them. Whether I just enjoy their dynamic and want to see more scenes with them together or if I actually ship them romantically or if I just feel forced to ship something. Like there’s definitely pairings that I’m more invested in but is it because I relate to the characters more? Or do I want to see them become romantic? I just don’t know anymore.

Fandom used to be a place I loved that I felt welcomed in but not anymore and I’m tired of it. I no longer feel comfort in any because my headcanons are always shut down, and shippers feel like they’re the “superior” part of fandom, that they are above everyone else. And how they actively help the erasure of canonically aromantic characters who were originally erased by their TV adaptations.

Shippers don’t care, I know this. The backlash I’ve gotten over the past year or so for being so outspoken with #AroAceJugheadOrBust and the aromantic erasure with Raphael is evidence of that. They only care about their ship being canon and endgame, it doesn’t matter who they throw under the bus, erase, and dehumanize in the process.

TL;DR Fandom & Shippers stop being so terrible towards aromantic people, aromantic characters, and aromantic headcanons. Stop dehumanizing us and driving us away from fandom. Thank you.

Sorry for my inactivity when it comes to this blog hopefully 2018 won’t be similar to 2017 where I’m active for the first couple of months then go M.I.A. I do plan to do more positive posts when it comes to aromanticism and asexuality instead of negative ones about erasure. Here’s to 2018!


Why AroAce Jughead Is Important: An Eighth Update

I’m back and this can only mean one thing, Riverdale is airing it’s second season. This blog post is mainly going to focus on three different things. The first is the news that Jughead apparently said the dreaded three words (“I Love You”) to Betty, which coincides with the second topic the sneak peek to the first episode of the new season between Betty and Kevin and lastly is a certain article by DigitalSpy. Heads up for mentions of acemisia and aromisia, and mention of the Bughead sex scene from the season one finale. This blog post is coming late as the article was posted a month ago but at the time I felt I expressed most of what I was feeling on twitter, but with the news of the sneak peek I decided that it was time to talk about that too (note: I know the first episode of season 2 aired last night on the 11th but I haven’t, thankfully, seen anything to do with what happened other than this sneak peek hence why I’m focusing only on that).

The word “love” doesn’t always have to mean romantic love but because of this amatonormative world society has wired us to think that it does. I briefly talked about this here but I hate that society has made me and everyone else think this way. I’m always checking myself and rereading over things to make sure I haven’t jumped to the conclusion that whatever I’m reading isn’t just talking about romantic love but all forms of love. But I am going to assume in this case, since I never saw the scene and that Bughead is sadly a thing in the show, that Jughead meant love in a romantic sense. And from what I can tell Jughead was the person who said it first, which honestly I don’t understand.

The sneak peek, which you can find here, is a scene between Betty Cooper and another Riverdale character named Kevin (I don’t know much about Kevin I’m sorry). The scene plays out like this:

Betty: He told me he loved me
Kevin: Wait what? Jughead Jones said “I Love You”
Betty: Yeah
Kevin: Mr “I’m weird I’m a weirdo”?
Betty: And I told him I loved him back

Not only is there an aromisic vibe coming from everything that Kevin says I just eyeroll at the whole scene. The only thing I knew, until I was informed on this new scene, was that dreaded sex scene that I found existed because of tumblr gifsets (my poor sex repulsed eyes). From what Kevin says immediately it tells me that he thinks that Jughead can’t or won’t fall in love because he’s strange/different and that he won’t say the dreaded three words because of it (I believe in the show his character falls under the “loner” type character.) The aromisia that comes from this is stemmed from the idea that everyone will fall in love eventually even the so called “weirdos”.  So thumbs up for more amatonormativity. I’m honestly not sure what angers me more the sex scene or the fact Jughead said “I Love You” because both of those scenes, even though I haven’t seen the sex scene (I sadly saw gifs that was enough) or this “I Love You” scene, seem really out of character to me.

If you follow me on twitter you may remember that I stumbled upon this article because I was trying to find out whether or not the Jughead 2015 comics have been cancelled (I still don’t know whether this is true or not). The article is titled “Riverdale star Cole Sprouse addresses asexual Jughead possibility in season 2” already before even clicking I was wary about what the contents might be giving Cole Sprouse’ past of amisic comments. And let’s just say after I clicked it things didn’t get any better.

The first part of the article I’m going to discuss is this quote said by Sprouse himself:

Of course, I havent stopped the dialogue. Im sure Im quite the pest. Cant spoil too much unfortunately, but this topic was one of the first I discussed with [Riverdale creator] Roberto before this season started.

And I think this quote really speaks for itself. If you haven’t read update seven of what sadly became a series of blog posts then you’ll realise how this quote basically erases everything Cole Sprouse has said and that this is a blatant lie. Maybe he hadn’t stopped talking about it behind the scenes I wasn’t there I can’t vouch for anything. But from everything that we’ve seen and heard about how this version of Jughead isn’t that version of Jughead and all the other amisic comments that he’s said over the course of the year. Then yes I’m angry. If you truly haven’t stopped getting this representation then great but that doesn’t excuse or erase all of the terrible things that you said about my community, about our representation. I still remember how I felt each time Sprouse said something amisic, I still remember the disappointment and anger I felt having wanting to believe that we had someone on our side fighting for us but them ending up turning against us. Apologise for the terrible amisic comments, apologise immediately don’t just pretend they didn’t happen because we are hurt.

The second part, the part that infuriated me more than the fact that Cole Sprouse and everyone else seems to have forgotten his amisia (especially acemisia since he and everyone else mostly erased Jughead’s aromanticism) was this part of the article:

So, if you want to see asexual Jughead in the future, its time to start spamming the show’s creators.

I’m sorry I can’t even put it politely anymore how ignorant can you be that you haven’t noticed that we’ve been spamming the writers for over a year. And not only that they also have forgotten to talk about Jughead’s aromanticism (but sadly that’s the lest shocking thing to happen in this article). On the day that Riverdale aired the first episode of it’s first season we as a community launched #AroAceJugheadOrBust and #JugheadRepresents where we spammed our twitter accounts trying to get the writers’ attentions on whether or not they were keeping Jughead asexual and aromantic. We ended up with silence. I remember that day clearly (or rather night for me). Riverdale aired at 2:00am GMT (my timezone) and I remember staying up for at least three hours launching this movement. And we got nothing in return.

Yet we still continued to make blog posts (hence why there’s eight other blog posts like this one you’re reading, as well as others). We continued to spam, make threads, created petitions and so many other things. Some of us (included myself) poured our hearts out, poured out personal things that we have experienced just so we could be heard. And yet this article comes out and basically tells us that all our hard work, all the things we shared were for nothing? I made seventeen threads about the #AroAceJugheadOrBust movement over the course of the year, most were done in the early stages of the show. I’ve continuously made blog posts on both this blog and my tumblr trying to spread awareness of Riverdale’s erasure. And what did I, and the rest of the community, get? Silence absolute silence. And more erasure. More “discourse” and gatekeeping, more amisia and invalidation because of something that the Riverdale writers could have prevented.

In the sixth update of this series I talked about a podcast where a Riverdale writer talks about knowing the aroacejugheadorbust movement exists. So the spamming that we have done has been seen and heard yet they haven’t changed a thing. So why should we continue to spam when they’ve repeatedly thrown it back in our faces by ignoring us, erasing our identity, saying acemisic and aromisic things to our community, creating scenes like that one in the finale that there really isn’t any coming back from (I created a thread here if any of the Riverdale writers are reading this and actually want to fix the mess that they’ve made with the Bughead nonsense). Why should we waste more time trying to get the writers to listen to us when they’ve been ignoring us this entire time? I think as a whole we are just too tired at this point and we would rather put our energy towards books/tv/movies/etc that have explicitly stated aromantic and/or asexual characters written by actual asexual and/or asexual people without having to deal with erasure like this again (this goes for you too Shadowhunters).

Could their be a ninth update on this? Most likely, because sometimes your pal needs to vent out some frustration. Could Riverdale actually fix anything? Yes they could but the true question is would they?

A/N: If you are unfamiliar with the term “amisic” it is a less ableist way of saying “aphobic”. So [x]misia/misic is being used instead of saying [x]phobia/phobic.

Also I want to apologise for the lack of posts in the past few months, I’ve had zero inspiration or motivation. It’s kind of sad that something negative was what gave me motivation and inspiration to write another blog post.

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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Let’s Talk: The Trope “True Love’s Kiss Breaks the Curse/Spell”

This post is heavily inspired by the recent musical episode of The Flash, which was a crossover with Supergirl. Just to clear something up this is not a review of this episode but rather my take on a popular trope that found it’s way into this episode’s plot. This trope is the idea that true love’s kiss, true love usually portrayed as romantic love, can break the curse/spell. Which leads to romantic love being shown as the most powerful form of love and how it can conquer anything.

I should say that this episode left me angry and dissatisfied for many reasons other than the reason that inspired this post, but because this isn’t a review episode I won’t go into any details of the other reasons for my anger or dissatisfaction (but if you follow me on Tumblr you would probably know my other reasons, as I liveblogged the episodes).

If you didn’t watch the SuperFlash musical episode I’ll some up what this post was inspired by. Basically the villain of the episode, played by Glee star Darren Criss, puts Barry Allen (The Flash) and Kara Danvers (Supergirl) into a coma and takes them to a hallucination world where they are basically in a musical. Darren Criss’ character’s whole reasoning behind doing this is to prove that Westallen (Barry x Iris)’s love can conquer all and that they are “true love” and the same goes for Karamel (Kara x Mon-El). Basically Iris kissing Barry and Mon-El kissing Kara broke them from this musical dream. I won’t go any further because I don’t want to start a shipping war and this post isn’t about my dissatisfaction of the comparison of Westallen and Karamel.

I want to talk about how harmful this trope is to aromantic people. If “true love” is equal to romantic love, which was portrayed in the SuperFlash episode, even in the majority of Fairytales, and most of the time in shows like Once Upon A Time. If someone like me, an aromatic person, was out into this situation where romantic love is supposed to break the curse/spell or wake us up or whatever the scenario than we’d remain cursed. We’d never wake up. Because we don’t experience romantic attraction so who is going to break the curse/spell/etc if we don’t experience what has been showed in many shows “true love”? That in itself is very invalidating.

The next thing I want to talk about is how this episode, and many other shows/books/movies/etc, use this trope to portray that romantic love is the strongest form of love out there. When it isn’t. Romantic love isn’t the most important and strongest love in the world. It’s not. And it will never be. Romantic love is not stronger than platonic and/or familial love. Every type of love is strong.

I think this is why I love the Maleficent live action movie. They proved that true love is not always romantic and that platonic and familial love is strong as well. It proves that no matter what type of love you feel it’s strong enough to break the curse. That no matter what love you feel it’s strong enough to empower you. This trope, that romantic love is the strongest version of love, isn’t just damaging and invalidating towards aromantic people, it also invalidates non romantic types of relationships. And it’s tropes likes this that lead to people prioritizing romantic relationships over platonic ones.

I’m not saying that this trope needs to die I’m saying that shows/books/etc need to portray “true love” as something other than romantic love. And in SuperFlash‘s case not use it to prove and drive ships into being canon and being together. For Kara, why did they have to use Mon-El, who she broke up with in the recent episode of Supergirl, to prove “true love” or that Mon-El’s love is strong enough to wake Kara? Why couldn’t it be her sister Alex? (don’t get me started on the fact that 2 of the Supergirl main characters, including Alex, weren’t in this episode). Even J’onn J’onzz, who was actually there, who sees Kara like a daughter. Why couldn’t they have used him to wake Kara up? In regards to Barry, even if Barry and Iris hadn’t started dating this would still work as they had been friends since childhood and this could have been portrayed as platonic. So it could have non romantic connections. But even so, why wouldn’t Joe try to save him too? Joe’s like a father to him. I can’t believe Caitlin and Cisco wouldn’t want to save Barry, their close friends and I doubt either of them want to lose another person. I just would like to see this trope used in other ways than proving that romantic love is “stronger” than other versions of love.

To end on a positive note I’m going to list some positive uses of this trope that doesn’t dehumanise aromantic people, or non romantic relationships that I’ve seen:

  • Maleficent being the one to break Aurora’s sleeping curse – Maleficent (Familial love)
  • Emma Swan breaking the curse and saving Henry – Once Upon a Time (Familial love)
  • Regina Mills breaks the one year memory loss curse – Once Upon a Time (Familial love)
  • Merida breaks curse on her mother and brothers – Brave (Familial love)

From the ones I’ve seen, which is a very few, it seems that there needs to be more uses of this trope using platonic love.


Why AroAce Jughead Is Important: A Sixth Update.

I wonder how many of these I’m going to have to do before we actually get acknowledged. So this week a podcast came out with one of the writers of Riverdale and let’s just say I’m not very happy with what was said during this podcast.

The first thing I want to discuss is that fact that we were referred to as “Riverdale discourse”. When it comes to fandom, or LGBTQIA+ issues “discourse” is always used badly. The movement #AroAceJugheadOrBust is not discourse, it’s a movement. We are here to speak up about the wrong doing of a show that is actively erasing our identities. Of course we aren’t going to stay silent about it, we want to be heard, we want to be represented, we want Jughead to be the character he is, not this imposter. When it comes to fandom the word “discourse” is the equivalent to calling us haters. Yes we may hate Riverdale but we have a valid reason. No one wants to see the only rep they have taken away from them.

Next I want to talk about the part that really fueled my anger and it’s the fact that another writer, the one with the most influence, knows about asexual Jughead and knows the comic writer (Chip Zdarsky) who properly canonised asexual Jughead by using the word (I’m not sure if the writer knows about Jughead’s aromanticism but if they personally know Zdarsky it must’ve come up once at least). And as well as all of this they have decided to ignore it in season 1 and don’t even have plans for it in season 2. I would’ve been angry if they didn’t know but then discovered about it, but the fact they knew from the beginning and still chose to ignore it deliberately, makes my anger harder to place into words. They decided from day 1 that they would take this aromantic asexual character, who many people really connected with, and thought the best way would be to destroy everything he is just to force him in a relationship with Betty.

If I wasn’t angry with what I said above I was definitely angry now. The writer in the podcast confirmed that they’ve heard or read about the #AroAceJugheadOrBust movement/seen our concerns about the erasure and are actively ignoring us over it. They are ignoring us, this isn’t a question, it’s a fact. Instead of acknowledging the pain of two communities they would rather keep us hurting. They would rather us suffer the loss of our only representative, who is unapologetically aroace, than acknowledge their wrong doings. Who does this? Who would rather their viewers suffer with harmful erasure, than do something that was canon from the first place. It’s disgusting.

The writer did suggest that we keep voicing our anger but we’ve been doing it for months now, and we are continuously being ignore. They are hearing us, seeing us but they don’t care enough to acknowledge us. Why is it only okay to erase aromantic and asexual characters? Since when has it been okay to erase canon LGBTQIA+ characters? How long am I going to have to face my representation stripped away from me?

Respect characters who are LGBQIA+ in canon. Respect them. Don’t erase them.


Let’s Talk: “Romantic Asexual” Raphael [Aro erasure]

An interview came out between two of the show runners where they confirmed that Raphael would not be aromantic because he has a “deep romantic connection” with Isabelle Lightwood, and that they would be exploring them more in the second part of season 2, and how his coming out as asexual would affect their relationship. Oh and the fact that he doesn’t use labels.

Angry is an understatement.

As you may or may not know Raphael was confirmed on Twitter by author Cassandra Clare to be both aromantic and asexual. These were confirmed in two different tweets, the asexual one first and then the aromantic one a few days or months after. So Raphael Santiago is “word of God” aroace. Not just asexual, not just aromantic. Both.

Now onto my point. By confirming that Raphael will not be aromantic for the potential and development of Rizzy (Raphael and Isabelle’s ship name), a ship that 95% of the fandom despise anyway, is arophobic and aro erasure. They are changing, whether deliberate or not, an aromantic character to fit an allonormative relationship, a toxic and unhealthy one at that.

I talked a lot about why you shouldn’t ignore the “aro” in “aroace” in yesterdays post but I need to emphasis on some points. The fact that we have little representation as aroaces, and the fact that we need them. Having two characters who are aroace ripped away from us is so damaging (yes I’m talking also about Jughead and Riverdale here). It teaches aroaces and aros that we shouldn’t love being aro, that being aro is wrong and that we need to fix the fact we are aro. It tells aros and aroaces that “romance makes a person human”. And that you only accept half of who we are. Stop aro erasure already. If you can’t write a character without romance then maybe you should write a character at all. Romance doesn’t define a person. If you really don’t know how to write an aro/aroace character well ask an aro/aroace. It’s that simple. We would rather you ask us than decide to erase half of their identity.

We already have to face a lot of arophobia within the fandom and how they’ve denied Raphael’s aromanticism for years, saying that it’s “not really canon” or whatever just because they want to ship Raphael with another character. Shipping should not be at the cost of a whole community. Shipping should not invalidate someone’s identity. Shipping should not ERASE someone’s identity. 

Don’t get me started on the fact that he won’t be using labels, just because he’s a vampire doesn’t mean he hasn’t been introduced to technology or something that would introduce him to the world “asexual” AND “aromantic”. By not using labels this increases the aphobia because it can be twisted once again to “not really canon” because the words were never used. Labels are not dirty words. They are words to help define who someone is. This doesn’t just go for Raphael, none of the characters on Shadowhunters have used their labels. Magnus hasn’t said the word bisexual, Alec hasn’t said that he’s gay. Only the story telling and the choice of lines have really told us what their sexuality is. LGBTQIA+ people like me need labels to feel reassured in our representation and by not using them you’re telling us that our labels are dirty.

We don’t want your half arsed canon, we don’t want your arophobia. We want Raphael for who he is aroace. You can’t just canonise one half of who he is and throw away the other. It’s not fair. Romantic asexual Raphael is not a win. Fix this before it creates more damage. Also stop making a LGBTQIA+ person’s identity about the other person. Also don’t make Raphael’s asexuality about Isabelle, this isn’t about Isabelle at all or about “how she it’s going to affect her”. This is about Raphael. Period.