When I started keeping tabs on the aro community on Tumblr, and I saw many complaints about ace communities. I think it’s important that ace communities are made aware of these complaints, so I offered to publicize any complaints that were sent to me. Here I’ve compiled several responses, and I’m presenting them without commentary so that you may discuss them in the comments.
No WordPress account is required to participate. Just use a pseudonym, any pseudonym. And please be nice–it was brave for people to send me these replies, without really knowing much about me or what to expect.
For each of the responses, I suggest the following discussion questions:
- Is the issue being described something you’ve personally seen?
- Do you agree that the the issue being described is a problem? Are there any complicating factors?
- Did you learn anything? Is there any aspect you don’t understand?
A lot of our frustrations come from 1) ace bloggers posting asexual-only content in the aromantic tags and 2) from the default assumption that “aromantic” means “aromantic asexual” unless otherwise indicated.
Exclusionism adds another layer to this, which is why we vent rather than try to get the wider ace community to pay attention most of the time. Because aromanticism is so rarely discussed outside the context of asexuality, almost all of the aromantic community understands that any of our complaints will be thrown into the Discourse and used by exclusionists to pit the aromantic and asexual communities against each other. Therefore, the most discussion of asexual-erasing-aromantic I’ve seen so far is intracommunity discussion of how aroaces have, in trying so desperately to get away from amatonormativity in asexual spaces, created an aromantic community that was mostly aroace and did not allow aroallos room to discuss their experiences of sexuality in light of amatonormativity. That has changed somewhat, and hopefully will continue to change and make the aromantic community more inclusive.
However, the wider ace community does not seem to care so much about amatonormativity, and it pushes aroaces like me out of those spaces sometimes because aromanticism (in my experience) shapes our daily lives at least as much if not more than our sexuality does.
I just get annoyed that when I search for aro content, most of the posts are ace. AroAce posts are expected — they’re aro too. But posts about asexuality and not aromanticism should not be tagged as #aro etc if they’re not aro. Thats just how hashtags work. Common tagging courtesy.
Siggy’s note: for examples of “asexual-only content in aro tags” here is a post with screencaps. This is one of the most common complaints I’ve heard.
An anonymous person said:
I’m an aro and I do have a complaint about the ace community as a questioning ace: I feel like the ace community as a whole is focusing on the fact that “real aces” are artists and creators, not cold scientists. I’ve also never seen anything that directly supports that view, but I’ve always gotten that vibe. As someone who’s generally seen as “cold” (I’m just like that, I take no offense and I don’t view it as at all connected to my aspec-ness) and is a scientist, that sort of feels… wonky? Idk.
techno sent me links to two articles. First, an Open Letter to the (Allo)Ace Community, from an aroace, excerpt below:
The years of having my aromanticism treated as a subset of asexuality, even of my own sexuality, have worn me down. And yet, have I casted you aside? I will not disown myself. I will not let you get rid of me or sweep me under the rug. No matter how much you erase aromanticism, I will still be here. I will always be one of you, a less than desirable piece of the ace community that you wish you could push away. I will not be your pawn. I will not let you tokenize my aromanticism as a one-off slide on every asexuality powerpoint presentation for diversity points.
Second, a comment on erasure of aro characters, excerpt below:
Friendly reminder that aro erasure, even if a character is still asexual, is arophobic. Ignoring, condoning, or celebrating the erasure of aromanticism makes you an arophobe, even if you are asexual. Being asexual does not give you a free pass to be arophobic; we are not the same.
Aro erasure is not just a price to pay for asexual representation. Ace representation can not be a win if it is at the expense of aroaces.
Finally, techno had the following additional comment:
A lot of us aros simply take issue with ace folks who don’t identify as aro speaking over us on our issues or treating our communities and language as completely interchangeable. Ace being treated as an umbrella term (and, conversely, the umbrella term aspec being used to only mean acespec rather than its proper usage, which is to cover both the ace and aro spectrums) for aro and ace is a major pet peeve. As an aroace, I have become increasingly frustrated with the amount of non-aro ace folks assuming that our experiences are the same, that all ace representation or resources immediately include me, and/or that my aromanticism is simply a facet of my asexuality rather than its own concrete identity.