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.

Let’s Talk: Ignoring the “Aro” in “AroAce”

I’ve begun to notice a running theme happening at the moment when it comes to characters who are both aromantic and asexual. I’ve started to notice that non aroaces, this doesn’t include allosexual aros, always emphasise the “ace” in “aroace” but choose to ignore the “aro” part.

Being aroace is a big part of who I am and finding characters who are both aromantic and asexual is very difficult. As I’ve mentioned many times before I only really know of two. So when I find these characters I latch onto them like they’re my children. Because they’re the only representation I’ve got.

When I see people focusing on a character’s ace but deliberately ignoring the fact they are also aro it tells me that you don’t accept aromantic people. By shipping an aromantic and/or aromantic asexual character in a romantic relationship with someone else tells me you don’t accept aromantic people. It tells me an aroace person, who is like this aroace character, that you don’t think I, or the character, can be happy as we are, single. It tells me that you don’t accept me 100% you only accept half of me and I don’t want that. You accept me for being aroace or you don’t accept me at all. It’s like you’re saying that the aro part of us is dirty like “oh they are ~aromantic~” and it’s an awful message to send to aromantic and aroace people. It’s aro erasure. It’s arophobic. Whether you intend it to be or not but by denying an aroace character their aroness it’s arophobic. This character is AROace, not just ace, not just aro, aroace. It’s arophobic to ignore the aro part of aroace. Especially when the character is romance repulsed and you still feel the “need” to ship them with someone. I don’t care if you have the “right” to ship people, it’s hurting the aromantic and aroace community so please stop. Stop using shipping/romance to dehumanise and invaldiate aromantic people. We already have enough invaldation and dehumanisation as it is. This goes for show writers too, stop using the idea that romance “makes people human”.

It hurts the most when it comes from the ace community because I’m part of that too. But by erasing the aro part of an aroace character you are indirectly erasing half of my identity. And it hurts. I know being aro and being ace aren’t the same thing, but a lot of people are part of both communities and seeing erasure from a community you’re apart of is kick in the gut. Because they, allorom aces, should understand what it means to finally get representation for aces. So when a canon aroace book/comic character becomes just an canon ace character or we hear people say “even though [insert character] is in a relationship it doesn’t mean they can’t still be asexual” it’s a really big blow to the aromantic community, and the people who are aroace.

A canon aroace character becoming just a canon ace character is not a win. It’s half a win but a massive lose. Aromantic/Aroace people hardly get recognised. Maybe it’s because of the misconseption that asexual and aromantic is the same thing, or that aromantisism is lesser known than asexuality. But peope are both and the erasure of half our identity hurts.

Keep aroace characters aroace. Not one, not the other. BOTH.

 

Let’s Talk: That Scene in Shadowhunters 2×10. [Ace/Aro Rep]

So 2×10 of Freeform’s TV show Shadowhunters aired last night and I want to discuss one certain scene. The scene is the “coming out” scene between characters Raphael Santiago and Isabelle Lightwood.

Raphael Santiago before the show is/was what you call “word of God” or “post-it representation” because author of The Mortal Instruments series confirmed that Raphael was both aromantic and asexual in two different tweets. For years this was always a taboo subject within The Shadowhunter Chronicles fandom because people who weren’t aromantic and/or asexual would say this didn’t count as canon because it wasn’t “explicitly stated in the books”.

Now to my actual point, in 2×10 Raphael somewhat comes out as asexual, and in my opinion aromantic too. I’ve discussed this both on Twitter and Tumblr but I want to talk about it in more detail. The scene plays out like this:

It begins with Izzy is lying in Raphael’s arms & he’s stroking her hair, they’re talking about Alec at first.
Then Raphael says “Your happiness, your well being is all I care about.”
Isabelle: “That sounds like the Shadowhunter blood talking.”
Raphael: “It’s true. I haven’t felt this way about anyone in a long long time.”
Isabelle goes in for a kiss Raphael looks away, avoiding it, and tries to drink the blood from her wrist instead
Isabelle:“Kiss me”
Raphael:“It’s not like that. I’m not like that. I’m just not interested in sex.”
Isabelle: “Being a vampire made you this way?”
Raphael:“No. I’ve always been like this.”
*Raphael goes to say something else but gets interrupted by Isabelle’s phone ringing.*

First I’m going to start with the first 3 lines focusing mostly on “that sounds like the Shadowhunter blood talking” said by Isabelle and Raphael’s response “that’s true. I haven’t felt this way about anyone in a long long time.” This is aro coding. Whether it was intentional or not I don’t know but this is very obviously aro coded. The reason is because with Isabelle’s statement it implies that Raphael drinking Isabelle’s Shadowhunter blood is being used as a stimulant and symbol for romantic attraction. There’s two ways you can look at this statement. 1) He’s talking about being demiromantic (an identity on the aromantic spectrum) or 2) He’s saying that the blood is like a drug that has allowed him to feel something that he didn’t before.

Secondly, the most obvious part, is the ace coding from the minute he shows his disdain towards Isabelle’s kiss it shows asexuality and what really puts the cherry on top of the cake is when he says “It’s not like that. I’m not like that. I’m just not interested in sex.” Honestly they could’ve stopped there and I would’ve been satisfied but the best part of all of this is the fact that Isabelle asked him if was because he became a vampire and his answer was “no I’ve always been like this”. I can’t put it into words what this response means to me. The fact that it wasn’t caused by his vampirism is so important. It’s so important that they emphasised this, and that becoming a vampire didn’t change him. This part, about how he’s always been like this, is also slightly aro coded as well.

The issue I have overall with this scene is the lack of labels and the arophobia that is coming from it. I’m so thankful that people are emphasising and celebrating the fact that this obviously shouts that Raphael is asexual. But there is a lot of aromantic erasure happening in the fandom both deliberately and accidentally. I’ve seen a lot of people not realise that the scene was also aro coded because the first bit goes by so fast and the fact that just after he emphasises his disinterest in sex. But people have also deliberately denied Raphael’s aromanticism because of shipping. And saying things like “he can’t be aromantic because he’s in love with [insert character here]”, which hasn’t actually been stated in canon.

I have another issue with how allorom aces are celebrating and also ignoring the aromantic side of Raphael. Yes we should celebrate but this is very harmful erasure for the aromantic community. I’m both aroace, like Raphael, and even though I’m really excited and happy about this scene, the lack of acknowledgement of his aromanticism is damaging and upsetting. Because he was confirmed aroace by Cassandra Clare. Please don’t throw aromantic aces under the bus, because this was our representation. He’s always been aromantic and asexual, not one, both.

I want to end on a positive note and this scene was really beautiful, they handled it really well and I couldn’t have asked for anything better to be honest (except the labels being mentioned). I’m glad that the writers decided to keep this important part of Raphael’s character in the show and that they had always planned to do this. From the bottom of my heart thank you for doing something that other shows decided to ignore. Thank you so much. I’m really interested in seeing how they handle this. I feel like the scene was definitely unfinished so I can’t wait to see how they’ll handle it when the show returns in June. They’ve handled sexuality really well in the show so far and I’m so excited to see the rest of Raphael’s story.

I will be honest when my friend who was watching the show live told me that this scene happened I cried. This meant so much to me as both an aromantic and asexual person, this week wasn’t nice towards aromantics especially with a certain article that came out about a certain show about a certain character who was aroace in the canon by a certain actor who plays the character. And just getting this made my week so much better. It’s only up from here, one step at a time.

Raphael Santiago is canon asexual (and hopefully aromantic) in Shadowhunters. There’s a canon asexual character on my TV screen. I honestly can’t believe it’s happened.