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Defining Aromantic and the Difference Between Official and Personal Definitions

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On 6/28/2019 at 7:22 AM, Star Lion said:

 

On 6/27/2019 at 4:07 PM, Coyote said:

Do you believe that everyone has a "true" romantic orientation, which is separable from how they do or don't identify?

It’s hard to say considering that labels are complicated as we have all different confusing circumstances such as people only attracted to cars, people only attracted to androgyny, etc. What I will say though, is that some people identify in ways that really don’t match what their actual experiences are and there might be a better (non-micro) label that would work better than what they’re using. Whether this is out of ignorance, a different perspective, or an attention seeking mindset

 

I used to think more like you. In 2013, I wrote a whole multiparagraph blogpost on why I thought attraction-based orientation definitions were the best definitions. In retrospect, though, I made a bunch of logic errors, like arguing "We can't define X as Y, because some Xes are not Y, so therefore X is not Y," where it was plain that I was already assuming a given population that "counted" (or not) instead of arguing for why they should be counted that way. It's been a long convoluted path away from that prescriptive way of thinking, for me. Some of it had to do with, for instance, learning about the less-than-straightforward histories of different terms and witnessing some of the conflicts within the community over tensions between different narratives, as well as reading the blogs of people like Hezekiah, who in 2015 put together a linkspam on asexual prescriptivism

 

When you say "some people identify in ways that don't match what their actual experiences are," the extent to which I agree is that there are plenty of cases of people looking back and realizing they were identifying as something that actually wasn't the best fit for them. That's their own call to make. It's nobody else's place to make it for them. Telling someone that they're not really aromantic, or not really greyromantic, or anything else in the same vein, is identity policing.

 

(And that's bad.)

 

Presumably, you can see on my posts here that I've set my "Romanticism" as Quoiro. By some people's standards, this is a "microlabel." Are you going to tell me that there's another label that would "work better"?

 

On 6/28/2019 at 3:53 PM, running.tally said:

Such a shift in defining a queer community will definitely be met with resistance by someone or other and my own experiences with conflict regarding these things is why I've appeared so hesitant in this thread.

 

From my POV, some conflict is inevitable. It's just a matter of figuring out which enemies you'd rather have.

 

On 6/28/2019 at 3:53 PM, running.tally said:

@Coyote, believe me, I would love to show you evidence because I know that taking things at face value online is dangerous (especially with people who, like you've said, are just looking to rile me up), but some of my experiences have been in person.

 

I see. I did wonder if that might be the case.

Sorry you had to deal with that. :icecream:

 

On 6/28/2019 at 3:53 PM, running.tally said:

I've heard very well-meaning individuals who are genuinely afraid that aros will take away resources from everyone else "just because they don't feel romantic attraction," saying that queer people need resources for "having queer experiences, not for lacking them."

 

I see. This is helpful, actually. Well, helpful in the sense of helpful to know what's being said, for the purpose of strategizing what to say back. You know what I mean.

 

If I may ask -- or if you remember -- can you recount what foot you started off on, in those exchanges? Was it something like "Can we extend this program to aromantics?" [starting with organization -> group] or "I'd like to distribute some brochures here on aromanticism, which is..." [starting with group term -> definition] or "Some other aros and I would like to host an event here at the resource center" [starting with group -> organization]...? Do you recall any of the leadup?

 

I ask because I wonder what would happen if, for instance, you started off with something more [social context -> group], like "Because of amatonormativity, which is the romantic part of heteronormativity, a lot of people grow up with the expectation that they're supposed to fall in love and get married. We grow up hearing about weddings and romantic love and soulmates and love stories, hearing about crushes in middle school and high school, seeing advertising for online dating sites, watching movies and reading books with romantic subplots no matter how forced they are -- it's enough to really compound the stress for queer people who have very slim chances of finding a romantic partner. It's also especially bad for people who don't like romance or feel romantic feelings at all, who are sometimes even told that they're heartless monsters. And the way that our society expects marriage, including with tax benefits and everything, means it can be especially hard for people who can't authentically live that way. That's a part of why we're working to build an aromantic movement that fights amatonormativity and promotes acceptance. Since the 2000s some people have started identifying on the aromantic spectrum because [etc. etc.]"

 

...the idea being, you might be able to reel people in if you start off with what's more familiar to them. Does that make sense?

 

On 6/28/2019 at 3:53 PM, running.tally said:

I just want to be able to have a coherent response to these types of people when they do inevitably come along and go "Uh, but that's confusing and doesn't make sense! So it can't be queer!"

 

I think the things I've been suggesting so far have been pretty coherent. Hopefully you can let me know if not.

 

I'll ask a question though: Do you think the people you're thinking of can be successfully shut up with a single-instance response? ...where "single-instance" here means "saying one thing," as opposed to dialogue and back-and-forth requiring multiple responses and responses-to-responses over time.

 

On 6/28/2019 at 3:53 PM, running.tally said:

As for perspectives (essays, articles, etc.), 100% yes. We plan to have our News Feed be dedicated to that. Right now, what you see in the feed is general and has been curated by the AUREA group because we just started. We have a general monthly What's Going On post we plan to do, to talk about what is being discussed or debated in the community.

 

By the way -- will the What's Going On posts have an RSS feed? Siggy would like to know.

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On 7/1/2019 at 12:04 PM, Coyote said:

By the way -- will the What's Going On posts have an RSS feed? Siggy would like to know.

 

I'm happy to tell you that they do now! Just implemented it, actually - it applies to the entire News Feed. 😊

On 7/1/2019 at 12:04 PM, Coyote said:

I ask because I wonder what would happen if, for instance, you started off with something more [social context -> group], like "Because of amatonormativity, which is the romantic part of heteronormativity, a lot of people grow up with the expectation that they're supposed to fall in love and get married. We grow up hearing about weddings and romantic love and soulmates and love stories, hearing about crushes in middle school and high school, seeing advertising for online dating sites, watching movies and reading books with romantic subplots no matter how forced they are -- it's enough to really compound the stress for queer people who have very slim chances of finding a romantic partner. It's also especially bad for people who don't like romance or feel romantic feelings at all, who are sometimes even told that they're heartless monsters. And the way that our society expects marriage, including with tax benefits and everything, means it can be especially hard for people who can't authentically live that way. That's a part of why we're working to build an aromantic movement that fights amatonormativity and promotes acceptance. Since the 2000s some people have started identifying on the aromantic spectrum because [etc. etc.]"

  

 ...the idea being, you might be able to reel people in if you start off with what's more familiar to them. Does that make sense?

 

 

On a more personal perspective, I really like this as an outreach strategy. I don't necessarily think it's 100% foolproof, but I think it certainly helps to find common ground with other queer people to help transition the conversation.

 

I do wonder though, how this might impact later discussions on amatonormativity in queer communities, because I don't find that I entirely agree with the perspective that it's a part of heternormativity. If we frame it that way in our original approach and then attempt to discuss amatonormativity in, for example, the focus on gay marriage as one of the major tenements of LGBTQ+ rights, that we as a community may get the reaction of having to re-educate after introducing it in that manner, because the thought will be "I'm [x-identity], there's no way I can be amatonormative! That's a part of heternormativity, and I'm not a part of that!". (Although, I suppose that is somewhat inevitable.)

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16 hours ago, Lokiana said:

 "I'm [x-identity], there's no way I can be amatonormative! That's a part of heternormativity, and I'm not a part of that!". (Although, I suppose that is somewhat inevitable.)

 

I don't see it working this way. Many American Blacks are very homophobic, despise being told by the Left that racism and homophobia are parts of the same cultural hegemony.

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19 hours ago, Lokiana said:

On a more personal perspective, I really like this as an outreach strategy. I don't necessarily think it's 100% foolproof, but I think it certainly helps to find common ground with other queer people to help transition the conversation.

 

I do wonder though, how this might impact later discussions on amatonormativity in queer communities, because I don't find that I entirely agree with the perspective that it's a part of heternormativity

I don't think it's a part of heteronormativity either. Homosexuals and bisexuals can be amatonormative too. Amatonormativity can't be reduced to heteronormativity, even if it is a part of it. I think it's more general than that.

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On 7/1/2019 at 6:04 PM, Coyote said:

I ask because I wonder what would happen if, for instance, you started off with something more [social context -> group], like "Because of amatonormativity, which is the romantic part of heteronormativity, a lot of people grow up with the expectation that they're supposed to fall in love and get married.

I don't think this approach is likely to work.
Especially with LGBT+ who've worked hard to promote "marriage equality". Which has had the effect of separating amantonormativity from heteronormativity.
If anything amantonormativity (along with mononormativity) has been bolstered.

 

On 7/1/2019 at 6:04 PM, Coyote said:

We grow up hearing about weddings and romantic love and soulmates and love stories, hearing about crushes in middle school and high school, seeing advertising for online dating sites, watching movies and reading books with romantic subplots no matter how forced they are -- it's enough to really compound the stress for queer people who have very slim chances of finding a romantic partner. It's also especially bad for people who don't like romance or feel romantic feelings at all, who are sometimes even told that they're heartless monsters. And the way that our society expects marriage, including with tax benefits and everything, means it can be especially hard for people who can't authentically live that way.

The difficulty is that people who are used to seeing marriage, including the tax breaks, as a right historically denied to not hetero(romantics) are likely have difficulty understanding social obligation and expectations of marriage being normative.
Though this article on Marriage fundamentalism suggests that "just like you" respectability politics might have been a major factor.

 

Any normativity effectively says "Everyone should do this". Which will invariably mean that anyone who doesn't will encounter indirect discrimination.
(Direct discrimination often requires "Toxic normativity": "Anyone who dosn't do X is defective or needs fixing". Though people facing indirect discrimination can, easily, internalise such a belief.) 

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59 minutes ago, Mark said:

Any normativity effectively says "Everyone should do this". Which will invariably mean that anyone who doesn't will encounter indirect discrimination.

(Direct discrimination often requires "Toxic normativity": "Anyone who dosn't do X is defective or needs fixing". Though people facing indirect discrimination can, easily, internalise such a belief.) 

 

That's a good term: toxic normativity. Some normativity is necessary, not all lifestyles are equally wholesome and constructive. Toxic normativity goes beyond healthy disapproval of destructive lifestyles and arrives at "my way is only true way". Even when dealing with self-destructive and plainly stupid people, one can behave in ways which don't help them to change but only alienate them and fill their hearts with resentment.

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On 7/4/2019 at 5:49 PM, Lokiana said:

I'm happy to tell you that they do now! Just implemented it, actually - it applies to the entire News Feed.

 

Cool beans.

 

On 7/4/2019 at 5:49 PM, Lokiana said:

On a more personal perspective, I really like this as an outreach strategy. I don't necessarily think it's 100% foolproof, but I think it certainly helps to find common ground with other queer people to help transition the conversation.

 

I hope so!

 

On 7/4/2019 at 5:49 PM, Lokiana said:

I do wonder though, how this might impact later discussions on amatonormativity in queer communities, because I don't find that I entirely agree with the perspective that it's a part of heternormativity. If we frame it that way in our original approach and then attempt to discuss amatonormativity in, for example, the focus on gay marriage as one of the major tenements of LGBTQ+ rights, that we as a community may get the reaction of having to re-educate after introducing it in that manner, because the thought will be "I'm [x-identity], there's no way I can be amatonormative! That's a part of heternormativity, and I'm not a part of that!". (Although, I suppose that is somewhat inevitable.) 

 

We do already have the "I can't be cissexist/transphobic, I'm gay" type of line, which is a problem, and the problem doesn't contradict the fact that heteronormativity and cissexism are related.

 

Granted, presenting amatonormaticity as only a subcategory of heteronormativity would be an oversimplification, yes. Adjust as you see fit. I think starting out by pointing out where they overlap is an important starting point, that's all. 

 

8 hours ago, Mark said:

Especially with LGBT+ who've worked hard to promote "marriage equality". Which has had the effect of separating amantonormativity from heteronormativity.

 

The precise approach to take will depend on the specifics of your audience, naturally. Since you mentioned it, though -- it might be useful, in one way or another, to bring up the critiques of marriage coming "from inside the house," so to speak. The contemporary aromantic community isn't the first to criticize marriage. Elizabeth Brake isn't either. There's precedent for those critiques specifically originating among gay people themselves, ex. this 1980s essay "Since when is marriage the path to liberation?"

 

Given that history, before anyone starts talking about aromanticism per se, it might be worth finding out if a given LGBT addressee is already aware of those critiques, how sympathetic they are to those ideas, etc. And even if a given activist supports/supported the expansion of marriage in the States or anywhere else, that doesn't necessarily mean they won't think the critiques have a good point. There are more ambivalent people, too, who seem to have viewed it as an in-the-mean-time lesser-of-two-evils kind of option for helping to address healthcare and immigration. Doesn't necessarily mean they're necessarily gonna be gung-ho about wedding bells and singlism.

 

I mean, I guess we could keep exploring hypotheticals, but also maybe @running.tally can tell us more about the kind of people ey's had experience with?

 

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@Coyote I am late to reply to this because I was abroad for the past week and a half (I'm also quite tired so apologies if I have a weird tone in this response) but AUREA did implement the RSS feed (as mentioned by @Lokiana in this thread - thanks!). :) 

 

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From my POV, some conflict is inevitable. It's just a matter of figuring out which enemies you'd rather have.

Definitely.

 

And also thank you for the sympathetic ice cream. 💚

As for what I encountered, 

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"Can we extend this program to aromantics?"

^^ this is most often what I started with. It would typically then lead into my trying to explain aromanticism to them and if I started giving too long a nuanced speech, they would shut me down with "OK, don't need to know that much, just give me a quick spiel." This would then either lead into the experiences I described earlier (where aromanticism would be shut down because of my inadequate short definition) or, in the nice instances, someone saying "That sounds complicated and I don't really get it but I'll read up on it later" (which is the ideal response for me - someone genuinely interested in aromanticism but perhaps not having to spoons to explore it at that particular moment). Thing is, even with this latter case, sometimes people just aren't prepared for some reason or other to engage right away in a big discussion.

 

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I'll ask a question though: Do you think the people you're thinking of can be successfully shut up with a single-instance response? ...where "single-instance" here means "saying one thing," as opposed to dialogue and back-and-forth requiring multiple responses and responses-to-responses over time.

No, I don't. Usually I try to open up dialogue. Problem is, what you lead up to that dialogue with (i.e., the introductory sentence or two) is important. That's why I've been asking the question of this thread. People need a starting point.

I, like Loki, like your outreach strategy though. It may be better to not mention the "aro" word outright, but lead up to it with some major themes instead. Or at least start with other common ground that isn't terminology-related. Honestly, I already do that with a lot of people. Though, always having to lead up to "aro" without being able to just say "I'm aro" and instead having to explain its intricacies is not feasible for a lot of us who simply don't have the spoons.

 

I should also mention I'm in no way an expert on this topic. I haven't mentioned aros to queer organizations that often, simply because being out isn't always something I want to be in every context. I typically test the waters in the organizations first, to see if I can be safe. Unfortunately, I don't always get it right and it leads to the awkward situations I've described earlier in the thread.

 

A lot of what everyone's said makes a lot of sense in theory and will work for a lot of people. But what I'm asking in this thread is one way to go about it - starting from a definition that we can all agree is 'good enough.'

If I say "I'm aromantic" and someone says "What does that mean?," I'm not always going to launch into a discussion. Sometimes (often) I am constrained by time and need to give a brief.

 

At the moment, the definitions we have up on the AUREA site are what we have as 'good enough' definitions. If anyone has suggestions for these, that's what I'm looking for in this thread (for AUREA but also for my own personal understanding of how people define "aromantic"). Other discussions about how AUREA or how aromantics in general should approach queer organizations to include aros are separate from this topic (though I find these equally interesting :)). Thank you, though.

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