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.

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Why AroAce Jughead Is Important: A Fourth Update.

You’re probably thinking something like Lauren didn’t you just post the third update like a couple of days ago? Or something like that right? Well I know I recently just done update three but there’s been photos floating around Twitter of either the new episode that has just aired or the new episodes coming and I literally am so angry that I need to vent it out.

I first want to talk about the Jughead kiss picture that has surfaced and the other one where Jughead is extremely close to the same girl (I think it’s Betty, I’m not 100% sure I’m not an expert on the show characters and who is playing who because I don’t watch it). I want to explain why this infuriates me so much. Jughead is a character within the comics who has repeatedly said how much he doesn’t like kissing, how uncomfortable he is with people touching him, hugging him etc. They are throwing this character out of his canon boundaries, they’re throwing our aroace character back in our faces and showing us that this is the “right” way a character should be. Riverdale was supposed to show the aro and ace communities that we are perfect the way we are, that we don’t need fixing and that it doesn’t matter that we are aroace and we don’t fit the “norms” of society.

Jughead in the comics would never stand for this, this would make him so uncomfortable. It makes me so uncomfortable. I don’t know how many times I can say this but Riverdale is telling me that I need to be fixed, that I need to conform with this world that thinks sex and romance is so important, which makes me uncomfortable. Why are people allowing this to happen? Why aren’t more people outraged by this?

The second thing I would like to talk about is the Riverdale fandom and how they are so accepting of this erasure and heck even shipping people with Jughead. I need allos to walk in our shoes for a moment. The world is telling you that to be human you need to have a relationship and sex, you need to experience romantic love. Now imagine if you find out that you don’t experience both romantic and sexual attraction. You realise that the world won’t see you as a human being, that you’re this broken being, and so that the world feels sorry for you being this way. Now imagine finding this character, such an iconic character that is exactly like you, that is touch adverse, aromantic, and asexual. Imagine how freeing it is to understand that this character is just like you and that’s okay. That you aren’t broken. Now imagine you get an adaption of the source material of that character, you’re so excited to finally see a character like you on TV and they decide to do a full 180 of his character. Suddenly that character is no longer the character you once knew, the character that helped you understand and love yourself for being aroace. NOW understand how damaging that is to the aro and ace communities who have just begun to love and accept themselves, or to aros and aces who are just discovering who they are. Understand how we’re seeing this character, who is just like us, being ripped from us, changed, thrown into this amanormative world that favours, applauds you, for sex and romantic love. Imagine seeing the ONLY character like you be conformed to society’s “rules” because it’s what will make the character “human”. I want you to understand how damaging this change is to us. How even shipping this character with people is damaging to us.

By shipping Jughead with another character you, not only Riverdale, is telling us to conform to this. Telling us that we need sex and romance to live. When in reality we don’t. I love being aroace. I’ve accepted myself as aroace. But this is breaking it all down, this is making me start to question myself, the world. And that’s not okay. You’re telling aroaces that it’s okay to feel broken, that we need to accept this change and move on. When we don’t, we should be trying to stop this, we should stand up for our representation. We shouldn’t back down.

Jughead was our only representation, and taking it away from us was the worst thing to do. We won’t stop fighting for our representation. No matter what. #AroAceJugheadOrBust is here to stay.

Why AroAce Jughead Is Important: A Third Update (Yes Seriously)

I can’t believe I’m here again, this is the fourth post now about this subject and STILL nothing has been done about it. This blog post is gonna focus mainly on two things 1) a certain tweet from Archie Comics on twitter and 2) the new Jughead writer.

Yes we are still being ignored, yes we are still trying our damn hardest and nothing is coming out of it, but you know what isn’t being ignored? Jughead’s love for burgers. Yes hallelujah thank god his love for burger eating isn’t being erased (note: sarcasm). If you are wondering what the heck I’m going on about I’m talking about this tweet from Archie Comics on Twitter:

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This really fueled the fire within me, because not only where we being ignored it seems that the source cares more about the erasure of something Jughead loves over something that makes him who he is, his aroaceness. Don’t get me wrong I know that Jughead’s love for burgers is a part of his character (Lauren you just contradicted yourself here) but to be honest that’s not what we care about, you could change his lover for burgers to the love for cabbage and no one would probably care. What we care about is the erasure of his aroaceness, the erasure of real people, the erasure of something that meant so much to people, so many people saw themselves in Jughead just because of this. Riverdale took representation from us, no one finds representation in burgers. I am not a burger who wants to be represented on TV, I’m an aroace who deserves their representation that was given to us in the comics play out on the TV screen.

I’ve said this so many times but by taking away our representation you are telling us that romance is the most important thing in life, and that you need to find a partner. I know this is going slightly off topic but the interview that Cole had where he says Jughead will have “relationships with women” is very out of character for Jughead. He literally says he doesn’t like to date, how can you misread that? We are not “boring” or “no fun” to write about. A character should reflect real life and not everyone’s endgame is marriage, kids, or romantic love. We are human too. We are not broken toys that need to be fixed. That is the message erasing Jughead’s aroaceness is reflecting on the aro and ace communities. That being said aroaces can have romantic relationships I’m not saying that Jughead himself can’t, what we want is just the confirmation that he is aroace in the show. That’s it. We want Jughead himself to say four words. “I’m aromantic and asexual”. It’s not hard.

The second thing I want to talk about is the new Jughead comics writer. He is an aphobe. So not only are we losing our representation in the show there’s a high chance we could lose it in the comics too. This is what the writer Mark Waid said about Tr.mp on twitter.

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This is so insulting to the ace community, in so many ways. I can’t even begin to tell you how this made me feel. This was written sixteen days ago. This is the person who is now in charge of a comic where the main character is asexual. Not only has he offended a whole community he’s got the whole basis of asexuality wrong. Even if, and that’s a BIG if, Tr.mp was asexual why would he “try 2 convince us of sexual prowess” when most asexuals are sex repulsed or sex indifferent? Personally it makes me feel disgusted, just by this tweet he’s branded a whole community on the actions of a man who probably isn’t even asexual. And this man is going to be writing the comics for one of the most iconic aroace characters? Please Archie Comics reconsider.

I really don’t want to go through this all again, I don’t want to experience the loss of my representation through THE SAME CHARACTER just on two different fronts. I don’t want to have to start using #AroAceJugheadOrBust for the comics as well. I want my representation to stay. Riverdale broke me enough, I don’t want to experience it a second time. Aroace Jughead means so much to a lot of people because he’s all we’ve got.

There’s three (possibly four but this one is a bit iffy with the confirmation coming from twitter and not the source material, according to the fandom) characters that I’ve always seen or known as aroace (as in clearly shown as not interested in romance or sex, or used pretty much the definitions of asexuality and/or aromanticism without using the words “asexual” or “aromantic”) and I’ve nearly lost them all. None of them, none of them are aroace in their shows, even if the character is said to be aroace in their source material. Aroace erasure isn’t a new thing, the clearest one that I know about started back in 2012, with a writer who writes two shows I watched, but that’s not what this post is about, that’s an entire different post. I just want people, not just Archie comics and the Riverdale writers, to listen to us, to fight with us. To stand with us. And stop this erasure from happening, but from what I’ve seen from the past and the present it feels like we are fighting alone.

Even if we have to fight alone I will fight until the end. Jughead Jones is aroace end of story. Nothing can change that. And we will make sure that you know it too.


Update: Mark’s tweet has been deleted, but that doesn’t change the fact of what he’s said and his actions to what he’s done afterwards. He says that he’s a listener but continues to block aces who voiced their concern about this tweet. So. Yeah.