Question of the Week: November 11th, 2014

Are there any labels that technically apply to you, but which you prefer not to use?

I know there are a lot of relatively new romantic orientation labels from the past year or so, and I feel at least some of them apply to me.  Like “recipromantic”–I feel romantic attraction only when I think it’s reciprocated.  But I don’t use the word because I guess I don’t really feel the need to connect to other people with that particular experience.

About Siggy

Siggy is an ace activist based in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and has a Ph.D. in physics. He has another blog where he also talks about math, philosophy, godlessness, and social criticism. His other hobbies include board games and origami.
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15 Responses to Question of the Week: November 11th, 2014

  1. Spade says:

    I’ve been feeling some of this with gender stuff, but that’s a complicated subject I could write a whole post about.

    On a different topic, I could probably self-describe as greyro, technically, and as labels go it’s not one I mind people using for me, but it’s also not one of the first words I’d reach for, because when comes to my own orientations I don’t feel like I’m as much “on the aromantic spectrum” as I am on the ace spectrum. I’m not sure how to explain it, really, except to say that it’s just not something I feel the same way about.

  2. luvtheheaven says:

    I think I feel this way about terms like “virgin” and “celibate” or “abstinent” to describe myself. I don’t self-identify with those terms. To some degree I feel this way about “Gray-romantic” too, and “Queer”… like I think I am gray-aro and on the aromantic spectrum, or I might even be aromantic and some definitions of aromantic apply to me… but I prefer the term wtfromantic lol and/or just explaining my romantic orientation in detail to whoever is interested because it matters to me that I not be misunderstood, and I think wtfromantic works best as a label to describe that. I consider wtfromantic to be a subset of gray-aromantic. And I consider asexual to be a subset of queer, for me at least it is, so I’d rather be more specific and always tell people I’m asexual rather than be vague and say I’m queer. I also don’t want people assuming the wrong thing by thinking queer has a different definition than the all-inclusive one in my mind, so I like to avoid calling myself queer despite feeling that I do belong under that word.

  3. Mxtrmeike13 says:

    I could definitely use “sapioromantic” to describe myself, but I don’t; for my purposes I feel like asexual, and specifically demisexual work just fine for myself and my relationship.

  4. Seth says:

    There certainly are. Umbrella terms like ‘queer’, as luvtheheaven noted, can be too be vague to be useful in most contexts, or lead to false assumptions. Notably, I am technically trans*, in that my identity does not perfectly match my birth sex, but if I just say “I’m trans*” and leave it at that, people would justifiably assume that I mean I’m FtM, which I’m not.

  5. GreyWanders says:

    ‘Queer’. If I had to rank sexualities by how well they fit me, ‘straight’ would be at the very bottom of the heap. By many definitions I am queer, but for some reason the word has never felt comfortable.

  6. Hollis says:

    I am very not-comfortable with labeling my romantic orientation beyond “I am romantically attracted to people*). It’s really just a hot mess. I dislike both bi and pan romantic because they just don’t sit right, though I’ll go with “bi” if I have to pick something.

    I’ve gone back and forth as to whether or not I fall on the aro spectrum, too. Because some of the time, I feel what is very clearly and explicitly (to me, at least**) romantic attraction. Some of the time, I feel what is very clearly and explicitly, for lack of a better term, platonic attraction. But most of the time, it’s a great big mix of the two. It’s also generally not a clear platonic———-romantic spectrum but more like “pick three traits from Column A and three from Column B and two more traits from either Column” type of deal.

    *Some of the time, in certain circumstances. Terms and conditions apply (but they’re a secret! And they seem to act like the Iowa Gambling Task where the change once you’ve started to figure them out! But unlike the Iowa Gambling Task the rules are really unclear! Have fun figuring that out!)

    **Due to some of my (albeit limited) experiences in romantic relationships, it seems like there are parts of romantic attraction that allo people consider integral to romantic relationships (beyond sex) that I just don’t get. But I’d like to get some more data so I can classify that as a “my ex and I had different expectations” vs “society/the general populace and I have different expectations”.

    • Erin says:

      Yeah I feel similarly unable to label my romantic orientation — if you press me I will say that I probably technically fall under panromantic and I wouldn’t be unhappy about people describing me that way, but I would always wrap the term in something like “I identify as panromantic”, unlike with asexuality where it seems very true to just say “I’m asexual.”

  7. Ella says:

    Words like “virgin” always felt strange to me. I don’t think of myself as a virgin, even though I’ve never been involved in any sort of sexual activity. I find the concept just doesn’t apply to me. Same goes with celibacy. Even things like “first kiss”, since I’m aromantic.

    I also have difficulty with grey-romantic. I identify with aromantic way more, but I have had one experience of romantic attraction that was pretty significant. I guess because it’s not an on-going pattern of grey-ness I don’t feel like it explains my feelings well.

    Oddly I’ve always felt comfortable with the word Queer to describe myself. As more of a personal label rather than one to communicate to others. I identify as ace before I identify as queer, but I still believe I fall under the queer umbrella.

  8. Arrela says:

    This is really interesting! See, I identify with queer first and “maybe ace spectrum probably idk how am I supposed to know this so specifically it’s all just a big mess” second. I guess that means I could use grey-asexual? But. That’s such a specific term, and I am definitely too perpetually confused to commit to any specific terms. Which is probably why I went with queer as well, rather than bi or pan or gay, because I don’t feel like I fit comfortably or securely into any one thing.I guess I feel like when I’m stuck with N = 3 (or maybe 4, see, I don’t even know this. Nor do I know what this is a number for other than “some kind of feelings for some people probably”) it’s just not a big enough sample to make any trustworthy generalistions from. I could be aro spectrum as well, I suppose? I relate to the definition of recipromantic, at least kinda, but, like, my argumentative brain argues that it makes no sense because it’s not possible to reciprocate feelings that aren’t there and also like maybe it’s just me being pathetic? Who knows, not me. I don’t know anything. I’ve given up and I am fairly okay with that. So I’m sticking with queer and probably ace spectrum in some way.Though I’m guessing that if I wanted to I could go with demi-homoromantic grey-pansexual or quoiromantic demi-homosexual or biromantic grey-homosexual or even homoromantic asexual OR SOMETHING I mean they’re all possibly correct and they all feel like far too much of a commitment to something very specific? Whatever, I’m queer and clueless.

  9. maralaurey says:

    Cupioromantic. I fit the definition pretty well but even thinking of using it (for myself; I don’t particularly mind if others use it) makes me feel like I’m condoning a bunch of internalised amatonormativity. Instead, I use grayro. It fits my experience better anyway, but there are problems with that term too (such as the fact that I still identify with the more romantic end of the spectrum even though I’m not actually particularly close to that end).

    I also don’t identify as queer. I’d say I was part of the queer community, but using it as an identifier for myself or anybody else makes me feel inexplicably queasy.

  10. Sciatrix says:

    I flip flop a LOT on romantic orientation, and will use pretty much anything from homoromantic to greyromantic to aromantic to wtfromantic to capture what I’m feeling at this moment in time–but I don’t actually necessarily hold any of them as distinct identities. It feels to me more like I’m grabbing at the best proxy for what I actually feel while speaking a language without a super great analogue. Incidentally, if I’m speaking verbally I’m much more likely to explain that I find romance confusing and say “I’m what-the-fuck-romantic” if pressed for an exact identity than I am to use “wtfromantic” as a word, and I pretty much always pronounce it “what-the-fuck-romantic.”

    (I also deliberately try to avoid homoromantic for a couple of reasons–one being that my strong-attachment history is nearly as weighted towards nonbinary people as women, and another being that I don’t like the sound of the word, since “homo” is a term that kind of personally irritates me and that I have bad associations with. I’m much much more interested in saying “I’m primarily interested in women” or “I’m not into dudes” or “My partners, T-who-is-nonbinary and H-who-is-female!” I also have a very personal distaste for anything that begins gyno-, because I think the root is intrinsically kind of ugly. Everyone else can use words like gynosexual and gynoromantic all they want, but I don’t want to attach them to myself.)

    I don’t really have a distinct identity along the libido spectrum, either. And while I fit closer to “repulsed” than “indifferent” right now, for a very long time I refused to identify with any term along that spectrum, too. Neither of them seemed very relevant to conversation, since sex and the possibility of sex within a relationship are actually not the main reason I decided some time ago that I was only interested in committed relationships with other aces. (The short answer to that one is that I really need my primary partner(s) to be able to easily get certain things about my personality and reactions to relationships/queer spaces/other things that pop up in my life, and that in my experience is really hard to find outside of people who are REALLY familiar with ace culture, which translates pretty much entirely to other aces. On the other hand, it’s not like I’m looking any time soon, so it’s rather a moot point.)

    Gender stuff is pretty complicated–I could probably identify as genderqueer or something along those lines, since while I identify as female it’s not actually a gender tradition of normative femininity, and I’m rather uncomfortable in very gendered-female situations. (I tend to think of gender traditions that correlate along with other aspects of identity like race, class, and subcultures that are subsumed within larger encompassing categories of gender, but I get the sense this is a relatively unusual view. And my gender tradition fits broadly within “female” but nooooooot so much in the sense of normatively female, so–anyway, this is complicated.) But I don’t want to mess around with pronouns and my feelings seem to be considerably more complex than I generally want to get into if I’m using identity shorthand, so I generally avoid anything that sounds like it’s a gender identity that isn’t part of “female.” (I’ll use “gender non conforming” but not “genderqueer” or “non binary,” for example.)

  11. I tend to distinguish between labels/identities and descriptions. For instance I use “non-libidoist” as a description when it’s relevant to the discussion but I don’t really consider it as a label or identity that I would claim (I also find the terminology a bit odd, but it was what was in common use when I first began reading asexual discourse).

    For the most part I consider “asexual” as my primary identity or label (in terms of asexual discourse). I sometimes use “aromantic” also. When I first started blogging on Tumblr I considered that as a description only. I’ve warmed up to it a bit recently as I’ve been exploring more of what it means in my life, but I still consider my asexual identity to be more important to me than my aromantic identity.

    “Celibate” and “sex-averse” are descriptions that are important to me but I don’t really use them as labels or identities. By contrast, “non-libidoist” is not particularly important to me, or it only becomes a relevant factor after most everything else.

    Several of the other commenters brought up the word “virgin” and that’s a really good example of a term that technically describes me but which I almost never use. I feel that it has a lot of heteronormative connotations that I don’t like.

    In general, the various sexuality and romance related labels/descriptions that I use tend to describe me accurately. There isn’t anything “gray” about my sexual or romantic orientations, nor are they at all fluid even over an extended period of time. So it’s mostly a matter of what I choose to emphasize or take as important.

  12. Lewis says:

    I could probably identify as aromantic, but since I always found romantic attraction to be confusing I tend to go with wtfromantic. I’m always debating whether I ever actually had crushes or if I strategically chose who I had a “crush” on/had some very strong squishes. Personally, I think it’s the latter for many reasons I won’t get into here.
    I could also identify as both sex positive and sex averse. However, while they are in completely different categories, it might be confusing for some people to see how I could be both. Typically I just explain my mindset (“Go out, take care of yourself and your partners, and make sure everyone knows what’s going on and agrees to it. Just don’t involve me in any way whatsoever.”), which doesn’t encounter as much resistance.

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