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Coyote

What is the "a-spectrum"?

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Coming off of Laura's post and Neir's survey, I've been thinking again about this terminology and the model of identity it implies. "A-spectrum" is a term originating on Tumblr in 2015, as an attempt to refer to the aro and ace spectrums simultaneously. You might have seen it around.

 

There are an assortment of different issues to consider here. For example, as @LauraG pointed out, the distinction between "a-spectrum" and "ace spectrum" is not easily pronounced in real life in spoken English, and in my accent, they sound exactly the same. However, I'm making this thread because there are a couple of more theoretical questions I want to explore. Namely:

 

  • What is the "a-spectrum"? And should it be broader or narrower than that?

 

The term was originally created to refer to the ace & aro spectrums. However, that's not how everyone uses it. For example, I recently asked Neir @running.tally if their use of "a-spec" (for eir & Magni's survey) was also supposed to encompass aplatonism (in addition to the ace & aro spectrums), since that's another identity with an "a" prefix. They answered yes. I've also seen "a-spec" used to mean "aros, aces, and agender people." So it seems that not everyone is on the same page about what the term "a-spectrum" is supposed to mean. In that light, I guess my question is less about what "does" it mean and more about what should it mean. When people talk about a general "a-spectrum," do you think alloromantic allosexuals who identify as "agender" or "aplatonic" should be a part of that? And as aros and/or aces, do you feel that it makes sense to model those experiences on the same general spectrum as yours?

 

Personally, I don't identify on a general "a-spectrum." I identify as an ace, on the asexual spectrum. I haven't really been convinced that it makes sense to model my experiences & an allosexual aromantic's experiences on the same general unspecified spectrum, solely on account of the letter "a." But that's neither here nor there. Part of why I'm thinking about this is also -- is that what the aro community wants? An all-encompassing "a" umbrella, other than the phrase "aces and aros"? What are the pros and cons of that approach? I'm not sure that I've actually seen that thoroughly discussed before.

 

And back to the above, again: what are y'all's thoughts on the "a-spectrum" being broader (or not) than "aces and aros"? How far exactly does that stretch? And wherever it stops -- why there?

 

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Coyote, you've beat me to it! I was just about to make this forum topic.

 

I personally like "a-spec" as a term I can use for my aro and ace-ness simultaneously. I also think, though, that this is entirely personal preference for highly specific terminology. It may come back to that question - what are people's preferences on labels in terms of broadness vs. specificity? There are people who, for example, have a gender identity that often is considered part of the non-binary umbrella, but they don't identify with the non-binary umbrella label. We may have a similar thing going on.

 

We probably can't ever define a-spec's broadness prescriptively, because the use of labels is always up to a specific person (i.e., if someone feels like a-spec captures their experience, they can modify the definition as they wish and claim the label). But I am curious about demographics: how far does the a-spec label stretch, like you've said. We may never know where it will 'stop' but it would still be interesting to know where it continues.

For me personally, when I think of a-spec, I think of any identity - an orientation - that can have an "a" prefix. Asexual, aromantic, aplatonic, asensual, etc. But it may include other identities that are defined by "a" (absence/queer) and "spectrum."

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30 minutes ago, running.tally said:

Coyote, you've beat me to it! I was just about to make this forum topic.

 

:icecream:

 

30 minutes ago, running.tally said:

I personally like "a-spec" as a term I can use for my aro and ace-ness simultaneously.

 

Yeah, that's something I thought about including in the main post, too -- I can see it having that utility for people wanting to express a "both at once, undistingushed"-ness for a convergent identity. Evidently, though, that's not the only way it gets used. So I'm thinking -- does it have utility outside of that? If so, in what way? If not, is it the best tool for the job?

 

29 minutes ago, running.tally said:

when I think of a-spec, I think of any identity - an orientation - that can have an "a" prefix. Asexual, aromantic, aplatonic, asensual, etc.

 

So "orientations," specifically?

 

Wait -- "asensual"? Are people using that?

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Generally when I say (though realistically I write it much more often) a-spectrum it is not in regards to a specific individual but rather the communities or the groups of labels, and really I think it covers any of the a- prefixes, aromantic/asexual/agender being the most common, and as a 'spectrum' term it also includes all the grey- and demi- prefixes and their associated sub-labels.

 

If someone is using it as their orientation label I will accept it at face value that the term is what they believe best describes their experience, which of course to be really understood has to be explained by the individual, which leads to more variety of meaning in this case. But all of this depends on the context of the conversation it is used in. As long as it is clear whether someone is talking about their orientation (individual level) or the community (population level) when they use the word a-spectrum I don't see a problem with it being both a very broad term and a specific individual term. (but I also try to be very open and accepting so I'm not all that bothered by much...I'm lexiconically lazy)

Personally I think it is very handy having a very broad group name to refer to the people who's orientations are some sort of 'Nope' (excuse the crude generalisation) but the fact it is a homonym is not so great. 

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Still wish we didn’t call this a “spectrum.” Homo oriented people don’t call themselves a spectrum and neither do straight people so it makes sense for us to follow the same trend

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I think that yes, it should be inclusive. How inclusive is up to who feels like being included. If someone feels like their lack of a certain kind of attraction impacts their life and identity enough to seek out our community, then I think they should absolutely be included, regardless of how else they may identify. If someone pops in saying they're heterosexual heteroromantic aplatonic, then clearly something has compelled them to seek community for that; I don't think it would be fair to turn them away.

I'm also fond of the term "aspec" (ignoring the pronunciation issue) because, speaking of an allo aro, it's what- to me- joins the ace and aro communities together. I am not part of the asexual community. I cannot be part of the asexual community, don't want to be, and presumably they would not want me to be either, given that I am, as mentioned, not asexual. But at the same time, there is a ton of overlap between the aro and ace communities, not only due to the number of aroaces out there, but because of shared history and experiences. I think it's important to acknowledge that overlap, and to be allies to each other, so the aspec community is the union of both the ace and aro communities as one large, diverse whole. "Ace and aro" more implies a partnership than a single unified community, imo.

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4 minutes ago, Jot-Aro Kujo said:

implies a partnership than a single unified community, imo

You've articulated this perfectly. Exactly my sentiments.

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Broadly-defined a-spec communities and identities are clearly useful and important to some people, and I see no problem with that. 

 

I personally stick mainly to aro communities because I don't feel any connection with ace experiences, and have no interest in being part of ace communities. 

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On 8/27/2019 at 10:05 PM, Apathetic Echidna said:

I think it covers any of the a- prefixes, aromantic/asexual/agender being the most common [...]

 

As long as it is clear whether someone is talking about their orientation (individual level) or the community (population level)

 

...Orientation or gender, you mean? Or is the "agender" there more... conditional?

 

19 hours ago, Star Lion said:

Still wish we didn’t call this a “spectrum.” Homo oriented people don’t call themselves a spectrum and neither do straight people so it makes sense for us to follow the same trend

 

I have never in my life encountered anyone referring to themselves as a "homo oriented person." But regardless: why would it necessarily make sense for us to talk like straight people?

 

19 hours ago, Jot-Aro Kujo said:

I don't think it would be fair to turn them away.

 

Sure, I guess. It would be interesting to see what that personal narrative would look like. Since I don't see that currently happening at the moment, though, I don't see a need to address that hypothetical scenario. My intent was more to ask about the concept as a model, implying some kind of inherent commonality across the board. I think you could make some kind of case, for instance, for the intertwined nature of amatonormativity & sexnormativity (even if theoretically separable and sometimes appearing in isolated forms) -- which would have implications for grouping aromanticism & asexuality together, conditionally, under some circumstances. But as for some kind comparable of... platono... normativity? I dunno about that. I haven't seen anyone really explain a case for that yet.

 

19 hours ago, Jot-Aro Kujo said:

I think it's important to acknowledge that overlap, and to be allies to each other, so the aspec community is the union of both the ace and aro communities as one large, diverse whole. "Ace and aro" more implies a partnership than a single unified community, imo.

 

Can you elaborate?

 

I ask because I've seen some aros (ex. here & Crou in the post above) talk about membership only in aro-specific communities and/or communicate a preference for modeling ace & aro communities as two separate things. Is there a way to make the premise of an overarching a-community compatible with that?

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Interesting topic.

Redingote a-spec, I would think about anyone for whom an orientation is a "no" : aro, ace, aplatonic, non-alterous... I didn't think about agender because orientation and gender are different for me, but if they want to feel included, they are welcome of course.

 

50 minutes ago, Coyote said:

But as for some kind comparable of... platono... normativity?

I don't know if an allo ro and allosexual person would see it (or as a child maybe, when people encourage you to have friends and all). But inside the aro community maybe? As we say about squishes, it seems that sometimes aro are expecting to have squishes. Plus if the term emerged  (contrary to terms as asensual for instance, that I never saw), it must be because people feel this platonic pressure, I suppose.

20 hours ago, Star Lion said:

Still wish we didn’t call this a “spectrum.” Homo oriented people don’t call themselves a spectrum and neither do straight people so it makes sense for us to follow the same trend

Maybe they are on a spectrum too and don't notice? They certainly do in fact, I suppose that some allos feel crushes more often than other for instance. In fact I think there is a whole spectrum from aro to allo, and that there is even a fluid line where people calling themselves aro or allo is totally up to them, in the sense that it is at the frontier between the two. See what I mean?

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6 hours ago, Coyote said:

Can you elaborate?

 

I ask because I've seen some aros (ex. here & Crou in the post above) talk about membership only in aro-specific communities and/or communicate a preference for modeling ace & aro communities as two separate things. Is there a way to make the premise of an overarching a-community compatible with that?

 

Think of it like the LGBTQ+ community. Obviously (to pick an arbitrary example), gay people are not bi, and bi people are not gay, and I'm sure most of them would not consider themselves a part of those specific communities (i.e. I, as a bisexual, do not consider myself part of the lesbian community because I'm not a lesbian). But at the same time, most of them do consider themselves part of a larger unified community, based on the experiences that they do very much share and the benefit that can be gained from unifying with each other. That's how I feel about the aspec community; I don't consider myself ace, and I don't consider myself a lesbian, but I do consider myself aspec and queer.

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15 hours ago, Jot-Aro Kujo said:

That's how I feel about the aspec community; I don't consider myself ace, and I don't consider myself a lesbian, but I do consider myself aspec and queer.

A+ analogy! 

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On 8/29/2019 at 4:40 PM, nonmerci said:

aro, ace, aplatonic, non-alterous...

 

Non-alterous? o.o

 

On 8/29/2019 at 4:40 PM, nonmerci said:

I don't know if an allo ro and allosexual person would see it (or as a child maybe, when people encourage you to have friends and all). But inside the aro community maybe? As we say about squishes, it seems that sometimes aro are expecting to have squishes. Plus if the term emerged  (contrary to terms as asensual for instance, that I never saw), it must be because people feel this platonic pressure, I suppose.

 

The person who use to run Aplatonic Agenda was an alloromantic allosexual, and the person who first proposed "aplatonic" wasn't aro either, so I'm not talking about just within the aro community.

 

Part of the reason why I ask is because I see people, for instance, correcting people on the "proper" meaning of "aspec" (ex. here in this post, the contribution from @techno-trashcan) to say it means "ace and/or aro" -- but I can't recall seeing anyone try to "correct" people that the a-spectrum should also mean "aplatonics," so is that something that needs to start happening too, or no? 

 

23 hours ago, Jot-Aro Kujo said:

Think of it like the LGBTQ+ community.

 

huh. That's an example I do think of as a partnership or coalition, like how you described what "Aces and Aros" implies. The difference is that there are several organizations, resource centers, events, etc. that bill themselves as "LGBTQ+," whereas for general joint/overarching "aspec" community spaces/efforts, I'm not sure I'd be able to name any, besides.... TAAAP, for one, and the recent NYC Aces and Aros Conference. Both of which do the "Aces and Aros" wording. But anyway. Are these the examples you mean by general unified community, or... does "community" here refer to "the general demographic/population/group of people this could describe, regardless of interaction or coordination with each other"?

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On 8/29/2019 at 4:46 PM, Coyote said:

I have never in my life encountered anyone referring to themselves as a "homo oriented person." But regardless: why would it necessarily make sense for us to talk like straight people?

I did that to be specific because everyone is calling themselves gay these days and it’s like they’re having gay men be the representation of the entire queer community. Even their flag is being used to represent everyone. And it’s not about that, it’s that it’s an example. Monoromantic isn’t a spectrum because if you like more than one gender romantically at all, that would make you biromantic. Aromantic isn’t a spectrum because if you like any gender romantically at all, that would make you non-aromantic or “alloromamtic”

 

On 8/29/2019 at 5:40 PM, nonmerci said:

Maybe they are on a spectrum too and don't notice? They certainly do in fact, I suppose that some allos feel crushes more often than other for instance. In fact I think there is a whole spectrum from aro to allo, and that there is even a fluid line where people calling themselves aro or allo is totally up to them, in the sense that it is at the frontier between the two. See what I mean?

Yes, I’ve been saying that “alloromantic” is the spectrum. And yeah, everybody is on some type of spectrum but you can’t say “straight is a spectrum because each one of them experiences a different frequeny of attraction from another.” That’s a spectrum everyone is on from the aromantic on the nonexistent romantic attraction dot of the spectrum to the biromantic on the very frequent romantic attraction area on the spectrum. And yes, the label is up for you yourself to decide whether it’s accurate or not. People grow to find their more accurate label. There’s also the situation of what’s a more practical label for your everyday life in which I’m in full support of being practical. Practicality, I’ve found, actually makes the most sense in determining what’s aromantic and what isn’t

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1 hour ago, Star Lion said:

I did that to be specific because everyone is calling themselves gay these days and it’s like they’re having gay men be the representation of the entire queer community. Even their flag is being used to represent everyone.

 

..."their" flag? What flag? You mean the rainbow flag? The rainbow flag designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978 that represents the entire LGBT community? Is that the flag you're calling just for gay men?

 

1 hour ago, Star Lion said:

Monoromantic isn’t a spectrum because if you like more than one gender romantically at all, that would make you biromantic.

 

That's an excessively binary outlook. Nothing "makes" you bi besides identifying as bi, and there's nothing wrong with discounting exceptions or expressing priorities by identifying as something else.

 

1 hour ago, Star Lion said:

Aromantic isn’t a spectrum because if you like any gender romantically at all, that would make you non-aromantic or “alloromamtic”

 

....

 

So am I the only one seeing this? Is anyone else seeing this?

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3 hours ago, Star Lion said:

Aromantic isn’t a spectrum because if you like any gender romantically at all, that would make you non-aromantic or “alloromamtic”

Then where do you place greyromanticism, demiromanticism, and everything in the gray are? Do you think gray is alloromantic?

 

 

11 hours ago, Coyote said:

Non-alterous? o.o

I also see the term analterous, which has the a- prefixe. And I think it shares things in common with aromanticism and asexuality, like being define by an absence.

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1 hour ago, Coyote said:

The rainbow flag designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978 that represents the entire LGBT community?

I admit, I’m uneducated on the flag topic

 

1 hour ago, Coyote said:

Nothing "makes" you bi besides identifying as bi

That’s like me saying “nothing makes you mentally disabled except identifying as it.” There’s a truth to all these things and we often go through many labels to get closer to that truth

 

19 minutes ago, nonmerci said:

Then where do you place greyromanticism, demiromanticism, and everything in the gray are? Do you think gray is alloromantic?

Yes, I see all of those as alloromantic. They just experience their romantic attraction differently from the majority of alloromantics. This is why it makes sense for these people to have labels such as “demi-biromantic” or “gray-heteromantic” because it says that you experience romantic attraction to these people but in an irregular fashion. I also believe that these irregularities can most definitely be very isolating so it makes sense to include them as members of the aro community

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Hey, stop calling arospecs alloromantic. That's pretty fuckin rude and dismissive. If arospecs are somehow "allo" for feeling romantic attraction in any capacity, then bisexuals must be "straight" for being sometimes attracted to the "opposite" gender, and I'm sure we all know that's not true. (Or at least I should hope so, cause I ain't playing the biphobia game with anybody.)

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5 hours ago, Star Lion said:

Yes, I see all of those as alloromantic. They just experience their romantic attraction differently from the majority of alloromantics. This is why it makes sense for these people to have labels such as “demi-biromantic” or “gray-heteromantic” because it says that you experience romantic attraction to these people but in an irregular fashion. I also believe that these irregularities can most definitely be very isolating so it makes sense to include them as members of the aro community

I thought like this at the begining. But when I start labelling as grey, I saw how I am not allo at all (well, I'm now wondering if I'm greyro or aro, but that's another debate). I had one crush in my entire life. I won't be able to say what's my type, if I'm hetero, homo, bi, or anything, because I never had enough crushes experience to know, as one is not representative. I Don't see how I could fit in an alloro label at all. That would be completely contradictory with my everyday experience. And I suppose this is the same for a lot of people in the grey area.

I think it's upp to the person to define if there experience falls under the aro or the alloro label. Some people in the grey area will think about themselves as aro, other as alloro, maybe some will think neither of this label fit them. I think there is one Spectrum, from aro to allo; but that when we speak about an aro spectrum, we speak of everybody that feels their experience is an aromantic experience (like don't want a relationship, don't understand crushes or why they are important people,  and other things that I forget right now), even if they are in the grey area.

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On 8/31/2019 at 4:55 PM, nonmerci said:

I thought like this at the begining. But when I start labelling as grey, I saw how I am not allo at all (well, I'm now wondering if I'm greyro or aro, but that's another debate). I had one crush in my entire life. I won't be able to say what's my type

My belief is that this makes you more aro than greyro. Greyromantics experience romantic attraction and you don’t. You’ve experienced it before but you don’t anymore which would make you aromantic which would also be more a lot more practical of a label. I’m speaking from personal experience

 

On 8/31/2019 at 12:38 PM, Jot-Aro Kujo said:

If arospecs are somehow "allo" for feeling romantic attraction in any capacity, then bisexuals must be "straight" for being sometimes attracted to the "opposite" gender

That statement makes absolutely no sense

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1 hour ago, Star Lion said:

My belief is that this makes you more aro than greyro. Greyromantics experience romantic attraction and you don’t. You’ve experienced it before but you don’t anymore which would make you aromantic which would also be more a lot more practical of an experience. I’m speaking from personal experience

"I'm speaking from personal experience," you say, as you try to armchair label someone else's personal experience,

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25 minutes ago, Jot-Aro Kujo said:

"I'm speaking from personal experience," you say, as you try to armchair label someone else's personal experience,

I’m giving a perspective in response to what they described. Please hop off my case

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8 minutes ago, Star Lion said:

I’m giving a perspective in response to what they described. Please hop off my case

 

I'll get off your case when you stop trying to define how "allo" or "aro" people are without having been invited to. No one can define their orientations but themselves, and I know that a lot of arospecs actually do not feel welcome in the aro community because of people like you- People who tell them "Oh, actually you're just allo" or "Oh, you're aro now/you've always been aro and just had internalized arophobia". It is our job to make these people feel welcome and to feel accepted for who they are, and make them feel like they can define their own lives, without trying to police their identities and categorize people for them. Knock. It. Off.

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4 minutes ago, Jot-Aro Kujo said:

 

I'll get off your case when you stop trying to define how "allo" or "aro" people are without having been invited to. No one can define their orientations but themselves, and I know that a lot of arospecs actually do not feel welcome in the aro community because of people like you- People who tell them "Oh, actually you're just allo" or "Oh, you're aro now/you've always been aro and just had internalized arophobia". It is our job to make these people feel welcome and to feel accepted for who they are, and make them feel like they can define their own lives, without trying to police their identities and categorize people for them

I’m not trying to make anyone feel unwelcomed, I’m just saying that you can’t have a grey area of a non-existent attraction. The grey area would be of romanticism

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11 minutes ago, Star Lion said:

I’m not trying to make anyone feel unwelcomed, I’m just saying that you can’t have a grey area of a non-existent attraction. The grey area would be of romanticism

 

How can you claim you're not trying to make people feel unwelcome, while simultaneously saying their identities don't exist?

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