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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Aromantic Representation and Erasure: Why I Get So Worked Up Over It.

The obvious short answer is that I’m aromantic, which probably is enough reason in itself. But it’s so much more than me being aromantic that’s the reasoning behind it. There’s everything I’ve went through to get to the stage that I’m at now with my acceptance of my own aromanticism. Because I wasn’t always this accepting of my own identity.

I have probably slightly touched upon this topic in all of my recent blog posts that talk about aromantic representation or erasure and my aromanticism but I don’t think I’ve gone into detail about my own acceptance of my own aromanticism. Because it wasn’t easy. And it took me longer to accept myself being aromantic than it did when I accepted my asexuality. My asexuality I accepted right there and then, I saw the word asexual and went “yeah that’s me” but because of certain circumstances that I’ll now go into it took me longer to accept being aromantic.

The first thing would be that I was uneducated on aromanticism and the fact that I probably had internalized arophobia because of amatonormativity. This played a big part in me not accepting the fact I was aromantic because at the time I was questioning myself I was in a relationship. So when I saw the word aromantic I automatically thought “no I can’t be aromantic, that’s not me, I’m in relationship. There’s no way that I can be aromantic,” and so because of that I looked at the aromantic spectrum because I made myself believe that because of this romantic relationship I was in there was no way that I couldn’t feel romantic attraction, because otherwise what was I in this relationship for? But looking back on that relationship it never was romantic for me, it was what I thought was romantic. When asked out I never said yes, I actually said and I quote “let’s give it a try” this shows that I was never really sure on a romantic relationship and the fact that I had turned that same guy down once before. Also I had never really knew what romantic attraction felt like, I just denied it because you’re “supposed” to feel this attraction because who are we if we don’t have this goal to end up married, and in love? And because I was in what I thought was a romantic relationship I denied and denied what I wasn’t feeling to the point where I think I faked it so much that I ended up believing it myself. I loved him platonically I can’t deny that, I loved being his friend, and we had so much in common. But because of that and the fact that we slowly fell out of sync and out of friendship when he asked me out the first time I missed being his friend so much, that I confused it with romantic attraction and having a crush on him.

When I realised I was in fact aromantic I denied it because I feared that I’d lose him as a friend, to which I did in the end, all I ever wanted was a friendship but because of my lack of education on aromanticism and my internalized arophobia because of how I was taught to want and need a romantic relationship I mistakenly took what was a deep platonic relationship into something that was romantic. Due to that I broke boundaries that I hate myself for now.

My lack of education made me realise too late that I’m somewhat touch adverse and romance repulsed. The more I understood my aromanticism in this relationship the more I realised there was boundaries I had that I didn’t realise. The more I realised how touch adverse I really was. I just made myself break them because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do for the person you love. I realised that I was romance repulsed in a way that is probably strange, because I’m okay with it for other people, but the minute a character starts kissing another I become uncomfortable and that’s where I want it to stop. Maybe it’s also due to my sex repulsion as well because most of the time kissing leads to sex when it comes to media. I’m okay with small kisses, like a peck on the lips/cheek/forehead etc but the minute it lasts for over like 30 seconds that’s when I want it to stop. My touch adverseness is probably what you could class as both “normal” and “strange” at the same time because I don’t want anyone to touch me, especially strangers but if we’re close like friends, and sometimes family then I’m okay with it. I sometimes or rather most of the time go through phases where I don’t want even people close to me to touch me either.

There’s something I also want to bring up that probably played apart in not accepting my aromanticism. And it’s those motivational quotes for the future pictures. If you don’t know what I mean it’s when there’s a photo it can be minimalist or have a couple on it and it’ll say something like “you’ll find love” or “your prince charming is waiting for you” or whatever. It’s really dehumanizing towards people who don’t experience romantic attraction because they aren’t true for people like me who won’t get this. And it’s very invalidating. I think I see at least one every two days. I understand that the lack of education on aromanticism probably means that they don’t know that these pictures are harmful towards some people, and that they probably don’t mean no harm when they make them. But I truly do hate them. Because when I was younger and I was the only person in my friend group without having a boyfriend I clung to these pictures. I even had a “love quotes” app that I scrolled through daily to make myself feel better (or worse in some cases) and I saw these quotes and saw myself as unloveable and ugly, and that was the reason behind me not having a boyfriend, I had been asked out in the past by the unnamed person above and a few others (like two), which I had always said no to. But it never clicked that it wasn’t because I was unloveable it was because I was aromantic. I just never had the word for it.

Now this is the reason why I’m more vocal now on aromantic erasure and representation than I used to be. Because I fully accept myself being aromantic and I don’t want young people, old people, whatever age they are who are questioning if they are aromantic,  or if they don’t experience romantic attraction but don’t know the word aromantic to go through what I did. Aromantic representation in the media is so important, it needs to be shown, to be normalized that not everyone experiences romantic attraction, that not everyone wants to date someone. That people are fine living without a romantic partner for the rest of their lives. It’s not about me anymore, I’ve gotten to a good place with my aromanticism I don’t want anyone to experience what I did. I don’t want them to suffer from the pain of thinking that they’re unlovable, ugly, or broken. I want them to see that they are perfect as they  are. That not experiencing this attraction is normal. That having boundaries as an aromantic person is okay and that you shouldn’t break them for anyone.

And you know what having aromantic representation will not only educate but it will also start to break down the arophobia that some of us face daily. It’ll stop families, the media, etc force feeding the idea that everyone grows up to get married and finds the love of their life. It will normalise platonic partnerships. It will show that platonic relationships are not lesser than romantic relationships. It will show the importance of platonic relationships. And most important of all it will teach young children that if they discover that they are aromantic that it’s okay to be aromantic. 

It’s because of all of this that I won’t be silenced when I see aroace characters’ aromanticism be erased. It’s why I’ll speak up about arophobic ships in fandoms. It’s why I’ll continue to speak up about my aromantic journey, and the importance of aromantic representation until we get it. It’s 2017 aromantic representation is more important than ever.

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: 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.