Let’s Talk: “Just Friends”

There’s nothing I hate more, actually this is probably a lie but go with it, the phrase and the tone of voice that comes with the phrase that has the words “just friends” in it. What I mean is it’s usually used in a phrase similar to “they aren’t ~just friends~” (I hope you read that in the same tone of voice that I was thinking it in) or “we are just friends”. The phrase or even just the two words themselves give me a negative vibe towards platonic relationships. It’s as if the person saying them is saying “oh no they aren’t friends, they are something better, something more.” It’s a phrase that implies that friendships are lesser than romantic relationships.

Saying two people (usually two cisgendered, heterosexual, heteroromantic and white) aren’t “just friends” or that they’re “more than friends” not only has an arophobic undertone to it but is also used to force heteronormativity. This is because people, mostly the older generations, see two people who they think are male and female who are most likely have a platonic relationship but they view it as something romantic, because of their views on what they think is “opposite gender”, when in fact there’s more than two genders and no opposite gender, and how they have probably been taught or have “learnt” that being straight is the “default sexuality”, which again isn’t true because there is no default sexuality. Due to this they’ll always see two people they perceive as male and female as something other than platonic. Because girls and boys can’t “just be friends”.

Not only does this phrase belittle and invalidate most friendships but it also usually invalidates people’s sexualities and genders. I know many of you reading this could be thinking that I’m reaching here. But as someone who is constantly misgendered and perceived as female and straight I have a little experience. Because whenever I had a guy friends, which was always platonic, people always said or thought there was “something more” between us. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this term used when two girls are friends, or two boys are friends. Why? Homophobia/Biphobia/Panphobia etc and heteronormativity.

As an aromantic person who values their friendships a lot, calling them something “lesser than” romantic relationship offends me and belittles the importance of my friendships to me. For one person their romantic partner may be the most important person in that person’s life. But for me it’s my friends. I wouldn’t be where I am now without my friends, even the ones I’m no longer friends with. Platonic relationships are so important and you shouldn’t undermine the value of them. No matter what you’ll always have you friends, they may come and go but they are some of the most important people in your life. Value them. Value them as much as you would value someone who is your romantic partner. Because your romantic partner hasn’t always been there like your friends have.

Here’s a list of the phrases that are similar to “just friends” that really need to go:

  • “They are more than just friends”
  • “They aren’t just friends.”
  • “There’s something more between them.”

There’s probably a dozen more that I’ve forgotten but you’ve gotten the idea of what I’m trying to say.

It’s 2017 can we stop belittling friendships and stop saying that romantic relationships are something more than platonic relationships. They aren’t. End of story.

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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.

Let’s Talk: Aro/Ace Online Safe Spaces

Or rather lack thereof. Personally I don’t know any other aromantic or asexual people in real life, so I have to use the internet and social media to talk to people like me. I believe that’s similar for a lot of aromantic or asexual people. And a lot of people go to Tumblr or Twitter for these so-called safe spaces.

If you read my last post you’ll know that “ace/aro discourse” is a thing that I believe developed on Tumblr. Where people try to hate and gatekeep aros and aces from the LGBTQIA+ community and post arophobic content in our safe spaces (otherwise known as tags). And because of this I fear just going on Tumblr let alone going in our tags to find validation and safe spaces.

I’ve seen a lot of gatekeepers say “make your own safe spaces” but when we do like make another tag that hasn’t been infiltrated with aphobia, aphobes find it and that tag is no longer safe either. Since I’ve become more active in both the aro and ace communities we’ve created at least three new tags/safe spaces on Tumblr, but all of them are no longer safe. We can’t go outside of social media because a lot of us don’t have anywhere to go. And it’s so infuriating because sometimes something can happen in my personal life (usually it’s going to family dinners) and someone will say something and I’ll feel invalidated so I need our safe spaces to allow myself to feel valid. But where can I go if our safe spaces are invaded by aphobes and would just make myself feel worse?

Nowhere.

Our safe spaces aren’t safe. As “ace/aro discourse” has grown the more unsafe our tags get. Even though we have a tagging system and there’s a potential blacklist there’s still no way to avoid the aphobia within our tags. Because people don’t tag it as aphobia. I fear following people just in case they post “ace/aro discourse”, I constantly have the fear that I’ll stumble upon “ace/aro discourse” or some sort of aphobia on my Tumblr dashboard or my Twitter timeline.

So how are we supposed to create our own safe spaces, like you said, when our spaces keep being invaded by people who don’t want us to have safe spaces.

How is this fair?

Why do you hate us that much that you want us to feel terrible all the time. Let us have our safe spaces. If you don’t want anything to do with the ace or aro communities leave us the hell alone. It’s that simple. Stop trying to invalidate us all the time. We are tired of it. We just want our safe spaces to remain safe.

Let’s Talk: The Weaponisation of “Cishet” [Aphobia TW]

“Cishet” was a term that meant “cisgendered, heterosexual, and heteroromantic”. It was usually used by the LGBTQIA+ community to identify people who were not like them, otherwise known as people who are straight. But as technology has improved,  and social media has improved and become more popular it has become a weapon against asexuals, aromantic, and aromantic asexuals of all genders and/or sexual or romantic orientation.

If you are asexual, aromantic, aroace, or even questioning any of this I would either recommend you don’t read any further or you read with caution. I’m going to discuss why I hate the word “cishet” and how it’s been used against me a nonbinary aromantic asexual, and the aro and ace communities in general.

If I’m honest I don’t think I’ve ever seen “cishet” used in a non aphobic manner. I don’t even know how it started but I do know it’s the main thing that is used in “ace/aro discource”. Ace/Aro discourse, usually found on Tumblr (I think it originated there), is when people try to gate keep aromantic and asexual people from the LGBTQIA+ community and/or invalidate our experiences. Just all out horrible things said towards the ace and aro communities.

Aros, aces, and aroaces are not “cishet” because they either aren’t (depending if they are aro, ace, or aroace) heteroromantic or heterosexual. And a lot of the time the aro, ace, or aroace person who is being called “cishet” isn’t/aren’t cisgendered.

The usage of “cishet” has been used to invalidate all and every aro, ace, aroace person’s identity by saying we are “basically straight”. It has been used to tell us that our experiences aren’t “that bad” and that we should “suck it up” because we could have “had it worse”. It tells aros, aces, aroaces, who have suffered from abuse, rape, etc because of their identity that it doesn’t matter, that they should just accept it and move on. Which isn’t true. Every aro, ace, aroaces experience is valid, whether they be good or bad experiences.

When I see the word “cishet” used naturally in a normal conversation I’m really wary of it. It makes me nervous, because I try to make my experience safe around social media (I’ve never heard or seen the word used outside of social media). Because I use social media to help talk about issues, and educate people, as well at times to remind myself I am valid as an aromantic asexual. But the usage of “cishet” against me sometimes stops that.

I’ve heard that in the past “Cishet” was also used to gatekeeper and invalidate both bisexual people’s experiences and identity as well as trans people’s identities and experiences. But because I was introduced to the word “cishet” through “ace/aro discource” I don’t really have the right to talk about this.

Before I started questioning my gender I thought I was a cisgendered heteroromantic asexual before I realised I was aromantic so it changed to cisgendered aromantic asexual. And during that time I did not once have the word “cishet” used against me. But since I realised I was nonbinary it’s been used against me multiple times. I talk a lot about asexuality and aromanticism on Tumblr and people who don’t even know or follow me will tag my posts, comment on my posts, about how I’m “cishet” and how “aro/aces aren’t queer” or aren’t “valid in the queer community” or that we “don’t have the right to reclaim the word queer”. (I use queer because I have so many labels, but that’s a topic for another day). I have enough trouble as it is in real life with my gender because I’m “seen as female” I don’t need the term “cishet” thrown at me as well. It invalidates me as an nonbinary person, as someone who hates the fact that they are perceived as the assigned gender at birth. It also invalidates my experiences as both an asexual and aromantic person.

A good (probably a bad choice of word here) example would be when I made a post about respecting aromantic and asexual characters (this one). And one of the comments, in a mocking tone a similarly to how I wrote it, was something along the lines “you know what would be nice? gay/lesbian/trans characters. You know what would be nicer? People respecting those characters are gay/lesbian/trans and not ignoring it” I’m not 100% sure that they said trans characters, and I think they said something about ace/aro people “being straight”, and their username was proof that the comment was aphobic, but because I blocked them and I can’t remember exactly what their username was I can no longer see the comment on my post thankfully.

I’ve seen more people use “cishet” against non cis people, and aroaces more than I do towards actual allo cis straight people. The fact is that cisgendered heteroromantic asexual exist, and cisgendered heterosexual aromantics exist and the usage of “cishet” really invalidates their experiences as either an asexual or an aromantic person. “Cishet” is hardly ever used against allo cis straight people, it’s used against aromantics, asexuals, and aroaces more than anything. It’s used to invalidate, and gatekeep all and every aro, ace, and aroaces from the LGBTQIA+ community. I’ve seen non LGBTQIA+ people gatekeep aros, aces, and aroaces from the community, which makes no sense.

I’m really sorry if I’ve repeated myself, but I really needed to get this off of my chest. I will clear one thing up, if I ever use the word “cishet” I’m usually speaking out against it and I’ll always use quotation marks to show that I don’t mean it in an aphobic manner, and I will never use it casually in a conversation to talk about all cis straight people. I probably missed some key points as well, but just being on tumblr alone can show you how easily it’s weaponised against the aro and ace communities.

Stop using “cishet” to invalidate non cisgendered, heteroromantic, and heterosexual people.

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.