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.

 

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.

Why AroAce Jughead Is Important: A Fifth Update.

Hi there, it’s me again. Since my last update on this topic things have got a lot worst in my opinion. In this blog post I’m going to talk mostly about just the aromantic side of Jughead’s identity, the erasure of it, and the erasure from both the ace community and alloromantic people in general.

The reason why I’ve decided to focus mainly on just his aromanticism is because I’ve seen a lot of non aroaces say “even though Betty and Jughead are in a relationship doesn’t mean that Jughead can’t be ace” when in all honest that statement is true, it is not true in Jughead’s case. Because he’s not just asexual. He is aromantic, and touch adverse, and romance repulsed as well as being asexual. Being asexual isn’t the “most important part” of his sexuality, the aromanticism is too.

Alloromantic Aces do not have the right to speak over aromantic asexuals! We aroaces have the right here. Jughead is aroace and you should not speak over us. Saying that he can “still be ace” but not mentioning his aromanticism anywhere is arophobic. Putting a character who is aromantic, touch adverse, and romance repulse in a relationship where the character should and would feel uncomfortable is arophobic. And it’s a common trait seen in aromantic people who are unsure or hate their identity. How do I know? Because I was this person. Changing Jughead to a gay ace, pan ace, bi ace, ANYTHING but aro ace is arophobic. Jughead has always been aromantic and asexual. Chip Zdarsky many times has confirmed this as canon, saying that was how he was writing Jughead.

I talked about my experiences with romance a lot in previous “Why AroAce Jughead Is Important” and in my #ArospecAwarenessWeek posts, as well as on twitter. But for people who haven’t I’ve always known that romance wasn’t for me, I’d always questioned it but because of the way the world views romance I hated myself for feeling different, I thought I was unlovable, ugly, and many other things. And because of that I forced myself into a relationship with a guy I had already said no to, we were really close friends. I would say he was my soulmate (but not the romantic kind, but I didn’t know this). And around two years into said relationship I started questioning my identity. I realised I was asexual and pretty much accepted it straight away, I’d always been somewhat sex repulsed, but what took me longer was accepting that I was aromantic. Because how could I be aromantic when I was in this, what I thought was, loving relationship. I love him right? I guess I did love him but not in the romantic sense, I probably never did. But because I was confused with what love was I just assumed it was. And because of that I denied my aromanticism and stayed in that relationship for at least a year. And I faced both acephobia and arophobia because of it. It’s taken me a long time to get me where I am with my aromanticism and the erasure hurts me so much because this was the first step for young aros to not experience what I did.

So bearing what I said about my personal life how can Riverdale fix this even with Bughead being canon? I talked about it a lot in this twitter thread but I’ll go into more detail. I know that it won’t satisfy us aros because in the comics Jughead is very confident of himself from the beginning, but if we really have to change things (like Riverdale has done with everything) they can easily change this to a self discovery story. If you’ve read my twitter thread you can probably skip this because it’s mostly repetition. Use Bughead (Betty and Jughead’s ship name) to show how amanormative the world is. Have them or Jughead realise that they’re better off as friends, and have Jughead realise what he’s experiencing isn’t romantic attraction but actually what is called a squish (an aromantic term for friendship crush). Use this to show how the world focuses on the “importance” of romantic love and how Jughead doesn’t fit that, how he really doesn’t fit it. Let him discover his boundaries as a touch adverse, romance repulsed aroace. This won’t fix the damage Riverdale has already done but it would give us the correct, and canon representation we always had.

The only problem, or rather two problems, I have with this way of making Jughead aroace is that the way Cole Sprouse is acting as Jughead doesn’t give off a touch adverse and romance repulsed vibe. Jughead in the comics would never touch Betty’s cheeks like he did in the show (I don’t really know what’s going on in the show, I’m going on a picture that I saw on my Twitter timeline). I don’t know who kissed who, or if that’s happened yet, but if Jughead initiated it in the show he would never do it in the comics. And if he didn’t his reaction would probably be so different to what it probably was. So the majority of the damage is done, but it can be fixed. But will they? I’m no longer holding out hope if I’m honest. I will continue writing about it, I will be continuing to fight this erasure.

One last thing: Riverdale writers if you don’t know how to write an aroace character well just ask an aroace, it’s not hard. To be honest we are all willing to help Riverdale if they genually would like to go ahead with canon aroace Jughead. Research is the key here. But if you don’t want to and if you thing that a character cannot be written well without romance then you really need to do some research or something, because that’s a very harmful way to think.

If you would like to see all my #AroAceJugheadOrBust related twitter threads I’ve linked all of them here. All my “Why AroAce Jughead Is Important” are now filed under its own category called AroAceJugheadOrBust and any future #AroAceJugheadOrBust related posts will be filed under that category as well.