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: 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.