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Rose

Heterosexual Cisgender Aros

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As a heterosexual cisgender aro female, I walk precariously on a tightrope of misunderstanding between the "straight" community at one end, and the LGBT+ community at the other.

 

To my straight friends (and by "straight" I mean the heterosexual, heteroromantic, cisgender people), particularly the male ones, I am an utter confusion. All of them that I have come out to understand my aromantism and agree THEY would never pursue a relationship with someone unless their romantic feelings were reciprocated, yet cannot see why I struggle to find a partner. The question always comes up "well, sure, I would not pursue a non-romantic sexual relationship with you, but isn't that every guy's dream?" *Face palm* I have yet to figure out if guys honestly believe THEY are the only ones who want romance and cannot extrapolate that  (almost) EVERYONE feels that way...or if stereotypical heteronormative relationship roles are so deeply ingrained they can't imagine that all other males are anything less than sex-crazed, emotionless people. Both seem sad options.

 

On the other hand, several of my LGBT+ friends who (even though I am out as aro to them) refer to me as the "straight ally". Thank you (for the erasure of my romantic orientation and also, indirectly, the importance of romantic orientation in determining how we all pursue our relationships)? Yeah, no. Yet often I don't feel "queer enough" or "LGBT+ enough" to contradict them, especially if there are people in the room I am not out to.

 

Do any other cis heterosexual aros feel they experience these or other problems unique to their gender/sexual/romantic orientation combination? 


 

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On 4/8/2017 at 4:39 AM, Rose said:

I have yet to figure out if guys honestly believe THEY are the only ones who want romance and cannot extrapolate that  (almost) EVERYONE feels that way...or if stereotypical heteronormative relationship roles are so deeply ingrained they can't imagine that all other males are anything less than sex-crazed, emotionless people. Both seem sad options.

Well, isn't it the latter, that causes the former?

 

To give you one example how deeply ingrained such stereotypes can be: take this specimen (by Amanda Marcotte, no less) of widely-shared bad science reporting. In reality, the study says something about the Y-chromosome lineages which men managed to pass along over time. And those lineages can die out just because of a relatively small difference in reproductive success accumulating over time. This study is then misunderstood and presented as the completely wrong claim: “Back in the days, 5% of men had large harems and the other 95% of men had to live as single.”.:facepalm:


So we have tons of people including even a prominent feminist, who are so strongly influenced by the worst stereotypes of the powerful alpha male with a dozen women laying themselves at his feet, that they find such a ridiculous scenario totally plausible.

On 4/8/2017 at 4:39 AM, Rose said:

On the other hand, several of my LGBT+ friends who (even though I am out as aro to them) refer to me as the "straight ally". Thank you (for the erasure of my romantic orientation and also, indirectly, the importance of romantic orientation in determining how we all pursue our relationships)? Yeah, no. Yet often I don't feel "queer enough" or "LGBT+ enough" to contradict them, especially if there are people in the room I am not out to.

At least as an aromantic woman you sufficiently stick out as “strange”, lol. I'm usually just seen as the irresponsible bachelor type. It's similar as with ace women. There are many people who believe that being asexual is just the natural state for the “human female”.

On 4/8/2017 at 4:39 AM, Rose said:

Do any other cis heterosexual aros feel they experience these or other problems unique to their gender/sexual/romantic orientation combination? 

Probably the biggest problem for cis het aros is to never find out that they are aro. At least we avoided this. ;)

So, what still annoys me the most is that aromanticism is either seen as some character flaw or as a fancy excuse which I made up because “in reality” I just can't get a girlfriend.

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On 4/8/2017 at 3:39 AM, Rose said:

To my straight friends (and by "straight" I mean the heterosexual, heteroromantic, cisgender people), particularly the male ones, I am an utter confusion. All of them that I have come out to understand my aromantism and agree THEY would never pursue a relationship with someone unless their romantic feelings were reciprocated, yet cannot see why I struggle to find a partner. The question always comes up "well, sure, I would not pursue a non-romantic sexual relationship with you, but isn't that every guy's dream?" *Face palm*

 

So, just to add a personal anecdote to this. I recently sorta low-key 'came out' to my sister. I didn't use the term 'aromantic' (plus I'm still not 100% convinced it applies to me...) but I did say something along the lines of: look, I've been thinking a lot about some 'stuff' recently and I don't think I really desire many of the defining aspects of conventional heterosexual relationships. I like the idea of having somebody I like and respect as a friend and is important in my life - and we also have sex together - but I probably wouldn't want to live together, share a bed together, have a family together, or any of several more things/behaviors that it's assumed will come as part of the 'hetero-normative relationship package deal'. Then she said, semi-jokingly, something like "so, you're a guy then!"  And that response surprised me (but don't be mean to my sister in the comments! She's cool really :P)

 

I was surprised because I thought I was articulating something fairly unconventional and assumed that most people (including male people!) actually rather like all those conventional romantic behaviors that come as part of the 'hetero-normative relationship package deal' (whereas I'm more inclined to regard them as problematic obstacles to achieving the sorts of relationships I desire with the opposite sex!)

 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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15 hours ago, NullVector said:

I was surprised because I thought I was articulating something fairly unconventional and assumed that most people (including male people!) actually rather like all those conventional romantic behaviors that come as part of the 'hetero-normative relationship package deal'

You should have only be surprised if you thought that incorrect beliefs about the other gender are rare.

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On 08/04/2017 at 3:39 AM, Rose said:

As a heterosexual cisgender aro female, I walk precariously on a tightrope of misunderstanding between the "straight" community at one end, and the LGBT+ community at the other.

My belief is that heterosexual cisgendered people are the majority of the aro population. Something which, typically, isn't reflected at all in the aro community.
 

On 08/04/2017 at 3:39 AM, Rose said:

To my straight friends (and by "straight" I mean the heterosexual, heteroromantic, cisgender people), particularly the male ones, I am an utter confusion. All of them that I have come out to understand my aromantism and agree THEY would never pursue a relationship with someone unless their romantic feelings were reciprocated, yet cannot see why I struggle to find a partner. The question always comes up "well, sure, I would not pursue a non-romantic sexual relationship with you, but isn't that every guy's dream?" *Face palm* I have yet to figure out if guys honestly believe THEY are the only ones who want romance and cannot extrapolate that  (almost) EVERYONE feels that way...or if stereotypical heteronormative relationship roles are so deeply ingrained they can't imagine that all other males are anything less than sex-crazed, emotionless people.

That does seem a very strange position to take. It's effectively highly normative people failing to realise that their position is normative and ubiquitous.
Have you tried to explain to them that just about everyone else thinks the same way that you do. Hence you can find yourself in a minority of one when it comes to relationship aspirations.
 

On 08/04/2017 at 3:39 AM, Rose said:

On the other hand, several of my LGBT+ friends who (even though I am out as aro to them) refer to me as the "straight ally". Thank you (for the erasure of my romantic orientation and also, indirectly, the importance of romantic orientation in determining how we all pursue our relationships)? Yeah, no. Yet often I don't feel "queer enough" or "LGBT+ enough" to contradict them, especially if there are people in the room I am not out to.

An element that has disappeared the LGBT+ community (before it was even called that) is the recognition of non normative relationships. In that respect the whole thing has become rather less "queer" than in the 1960's and 70's.

 

On 09/04/2017 at 7:25 AM, DeltaV said:

Probably the biggest problem for cis het aros is to never find out that they are aro. At least we avoided this. ;)

Due to there being virtually no awareness either aromantisism or the split attraction model within the "straight scene".

 

On 09/04/2017 at 7:25 AM, DeltaV said:

So, what still annoys me the most is that aromanticism is either seen as some character flaw or as a fancy excuse which I made up because “in reality” I just can't get a girlfriend.

I suspect that it is very common for aromantics to be told that they "just havn't met the right person yet" or that they are "immature". Especially any who are self evidently interested in romantic coded activities (which includes sex).

 

16 hours ago, NullVector said:

So, just to add a personal anecdote to this. I recently sorta low-key 'came out' to my sister. I didn't use the term 'aromantic' (plus I'm still not 100% convinced it applies to me...) but I did say something along the lines of: look, I've been thinking a lot about some 'stuff' recently and I don't think I really desire many of the defining aspects of conventional heterosexual relationships. I like the idea of having somebody I like and respect as a friend and is important in my life - and we also have sex together - but I probably wouldn't want to live together, share a bed together, have a family together, or any of several more things/behaviors that it's assumed will come as part of the 'hetero-normative relationship package deal'. Then she said, semi-jokingly, something like "so, you're a guy then!"  And that response surprised me (but don't be mean to my sister in the comments! She's cool really :P)

I'm guessing also no financial entanglement with that person. If so the term for the package is "nesting behaviour".

 

16 hours ago, NullVector said:

I was surprised because I thought I was articulating something fairly unconventional and assumed that most people (including male people!) actually rather like all those conventional romantic behaviors that come as part of the 'hetero-normative relationship package deal' (whereas I'm more inclined to regard them as problematic obstacles to achieving the sorts of relationships I desire with the opposite sex!)

It seems to be socially acceptable for men to play hard to get in terms of romance.
But since there is no romantic equivalent of slut shaming things arn't quite the same as the expectation that women play hard to get in terms of sex,
This may also explain how aro men and ace woman can be less apparent than ace men and aro women.
 

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On 4/9/2017 at 0:25 AM, DeltaV said:     

To give you one example how deeply ingrained such stereotypes can be: take this specimen (by Amanda Marcotte, no less) of widely-shared bad science reporting. In reality, the study says something about the Y-chromosome lineages which men managed to pass along over time. And those lineages can die out just because of a relatively small difference in reproductive success accumulating over time. This study is then misunderstood and presented as the completely wrong claim: “Back in the days, 5% of men had large harems and the other 95% of men had to live as single.”.:facepalm:


So we have tons of people including even a prominent feminist, who are so strongly influenced by the worst stereotypes of the powerful alpha male with a dozen women laying themselves at his feet, that they find such a ridiculous scenario totally plausible.  

Plus, in historical societies that did have polygamy, most also had male warriors and frequent wars. So most of the men who didn't marry didn't marry because they'd died young in battle. It's not like there were all these lonely frustrated single men everywhere. And usually the polygamous men were a small minority - you might have the leader with a few hundred wives and concubines, and all the other surviving men are monogamous. (One of the record holders for most children conceived by one man is Ishmael Ibn Sharif, from the 1600s, who was Sultan of Morocco and had nine wives and a lot of concubines. He had 867 children.) We can't be sure about prehistoric times, but historically, even when polygamy was allowed, typically most men were monogamous and only a few high status men engaged in polygamy.

In the Bible, it's stated that a Hebrew man was expected to marry his brother's widow if he'd died childless, and have children with her, who were treated as his brother's children.     

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17 hours ago, Ettina said:

Plus, in historical societies that did have polygamy, most also had male warriors and frequent wars. So most of the men who didn't marry didn't marry because they'd died young in battle. It's not like there were all these lonely frustrated single men everywhere.

Still, in the absurd claim of 17 times more mothers than fathers, this wouldn't help much. If such a population would lose half of their young and middle aged men, there still would be 8 frustrated single men sitting around for every harem-owner.

 

And losing that many men is not something that happens easily. The following compares the actual 1946 USSR population pyramid, comparing it to a fictional one in which World War II had not occurred (blue: "men", red: "women", dark blue: "loss of men", dark red "loss of women", grey: "loss of births"), and it's not even the case here:

2015-05-01_07-24-07__e8ab762e-efb9-11e4-

18 hours ago, Ettina said:

One of the record holders for most children conceived by one man is Ishmael Ibn Sharif, from the 1600s, who was Sultan of Morocco and had nine wives and a lot of concubines. He had 867 children.

Is this even biologically possible? If our good Sultan didn't magically pick out those women who were around the time when they were ovulating, it couldn't have worked. It just takes far too long to get a woman pregnant to father 867 children.

18 hours ago, Ettina said:

We can't be sure about prehistoric times, but historically, even when polygamy was allowed, typically most men were monogamous and only a few high status men engaged in polygamy.

I wonder what the most polygynous society of which we have historical evidence might be. Even a ratio of two mothers per father sounds fantastical.

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1 hour ago, DeltaV said:

And losing that many men is not something that happens easily. The following compares the actual 1946 USSR population pyramid, comparing it to a fictional one in which World War II had not occurred (blue: "men", red: "women", dark blue: "loss of men", dark red "loss of women", grey: "loss of births"), and it's not even the case here:

2015-05-01_07-24-07__e8ab762e-efb9-11e4-

Looks as though something around 1916 (WW1?) and around 1936 had a huge effect on birth rates in the USSR.
Even in the case of WWII reduction in births seems to have been the greatest factor affecting population.

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On Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 4:38 PM, Mark said:

I'm guessing also no financial entanglement with that person.

You guessed right! All-round independant existence is important to me. I want to remain with somebody solely because I like them - not because of some mutually engineered co-dependant entanglement long past its sell by date! Erich Fromm coined the term 'standing in love' (as opposed to the conventional ' falling in love') which I liked.

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On Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 4:38 PM, Mark said:

It seems to be socially acceptable for men to play hard to get in terms of romance.
But since there is no romantic equivalent of slut shaming things arn't quite the same as the expectation that women play hard to get in terms of sex,

That's an interesting way to look at it :)

 

Perhaps the dynamic is a kind of inverse to slut-shaming? As in, once the relationship becomes 'official', the man is typically put under a lot of pressure to participate in overtly romantic behaviours. If he 'holds out' for any length of time then that's seen as un-virtuous behaviour by (most) non-aro onlookers (he's not doing enough 'nice things' for his new girlfriend, etc). With women and pressure to act sexually early in the relationship, the expectations are typically inverted. Now 'holding out' for longer is generally seen as more virtous behaviour and 'giving in' 'too soon' as less virtuous behaviour.

 

I suppose people should just mind their own business and not and gossip and judge around other people's relationship choices (I know, I know, it's an impossible dream! ;))

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22 hours ago, Mark said:

Looks as though something around 1916 (WW1?) and around 1936 had a huge effect on birth rates in the USSR.
Even in the case of WWII reduction in births seems to have been the greatest factor affecting population.

Good question. You have to remember that generations have “echos”. If there was a drop in births because of World War I and the October revolution, for example, this will give an echo around 20 years later, when those women are now around 20 years old and start to have children. In modern societies those echos would occur later, because the age at the first pregnancy increased.

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On 4/10/2017 at 6:00 PM, NullVector said:

Then she said, semi-jokingly, something like "so, you're a guy then!" 

This is a reaction I've gotten in regards to my sexual behavior several times! xD it's totally wrong, because, in my experience, guys are quick to attach or "claim territory" or what the hell ever. 

 

Admittedly, I've also thought that about myself, until I noticed the men's behaviour I was involved with. If I hadn't discovered romantic orientations, I'd just think I was a 'ho. xD

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14 hours ago, LunarSeas said:

This is a reaction I've gotten in regards to my sexual behavior several times! xD it's totally wrong, because, in my experience, guys are quick to attach or "claim territory" or what the hell ever. 

Yeah, I don't really know where this apparently commonplace belief that women are the 'more romantic' gender came from!

 

Could be wrong here, but I actually think the jelous/posessive behaviours you mention apply fairly equally to both sexes (e.g. a lot of girls really don't like the idea of their boyfriends checking out other girls or being friends with them!) But then, when you consider the darker side of (unrequited) romantic infatuation, stalker behaviours are more typically associated with guys, as I understand it.

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On April 11, 2017 at 11:38 AM, Mark said:

My belief is that heterosexual cisgendered people are the majority of the aro population. Something which, typically, isn't reflected at all in the aro community.

Makes sense--but that's the problem: you only hear from the ones who are clued into their romantic identities from the larger LGBT+ community....I suppose you have some degree of aromantic erasure too, that further limits people's (typically very limited) knowledge of aromantism.

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5 hours ago, Rose said:

Makes sense--but that's the problem: you only hear from the ones who are clued into their romantic identities from the larger LGBT+

Absolutely! 

I'm a heterosexual guy who ended up on the Aven website a few months back, out of idle curiosity (there's no way I'm asexual, lol). That's where I read about romantic orientations for the first time and some things started making sense. I'm 31 years old and had never heard of it before that (or really thought much about what 'romantic' even meant).

 

EDIT Proper sex education in school might have saved me some time? But I can imagine strong resistance from more 'conservative' groups to including anything like aromantic identities on a curriculum (challenging the sanctity of monogamy and marriage, oh, the horror!)

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5 hours ago, Rose said:

Makes sense--but that's the problem: you only hear from the ones who are clued into their romantic identities from the larger LGBT+ community....I suppose you have some degree of aromantic erasure too, that further limits people's (typically very limited) knowledge of aromantism.

IME aromantic erasure is ubiquitous. Including within the LGBT+ community.
The difference is more one of limited knowlage of the split attraction model being present with in LGBT+, but not in the "straight scene".

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9 hours ago, NullVector said:

Yeah, I don't really know where this apparently commonplace belief that women are the 'more romantic' gender came from!

Maybe because traditionally women are expected to be "gatekeepers" of romance.
 

9 hours ago, NullVector said:

Could be wrong here, but I actually think the jelous/posessive behaviours you mention apply fairly equally to both sexes (e.g. a lot of girls really don't like the idea of their boyfriends checking out other girls or being friends with them!) But then, when you consider the darker side of (unrequited) romantic infatuation, stalker behaviours are more typically associated with guys, as I understand it.

The traditional expectation is that men are the initiators/pursuers. Thus expected to ask out; propose; make grand gestures; woo; etc.
There's a good video which shows how the difference between actions being "romantic" or "creepy/stalkerish" is if they are welcome or unwelcome.

I'm trying to understand this from the POV of someone who sees jelous/posessive/infatuation behaviours as intrinsically negative. To the point where I'd see a "girlfriend"/"boyfriend"/"paramour" who did not "check out", etc as being a problem. A serious problem if they were ending pre-existing "friendships" (and/or "relationships").

When it comes to romantic gestures I just tend not to get them or to think "That's the last thing I'd want to do to people I care about".

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2 hours ago, NullVector said:

Proper sex education in school might have saved me some time? But I can imagine strong resistance from more 'conservative' groups to including anything like aromantic identities on a curriculum (challenging the sanctity of monogamy and marriage, oh, the horror!)

Often even those more 'liberal' are not that clued up when it comes to things like the difference between sexual and romantic attraction or non monogamous relationships.
(In the latter case they may only be familiar with the likes of "swinging" and polynormativity. Which are rather derived from monogamy...)

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On 15/04/2017 at 9:41 AM, LunarSeas said:

This is a reaction I've gotten in regards to my sexual behavior several times! xD it's totally wrong, because, in my experience, guys are quick to attach or "claim territory" or what the hell ever.

I'm not sure if it's men or women who do this more. Seems more that girls and guys would go about this differently and/or use different ways to describe this.
Also allos seem to actually like this. Whereas I find the whole idea revolting and the antithesis of "loving behaviour". (IMHO treating a person as "territory" is to attack, bully and abuse them. If they really, honestly, want this following the basic principles of SSC negotiation and having safewords seems a minimal requirement.)

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3 hours ago, Mark said:

There's a good video which shows how the difference between actions being "romantic" or "creepy/stalkerish" is if they are welcome or unwelcome.

I really would like it if there was a consensus about a minimal set of rules to avoid being creepy and stalkerish. But nearly everything I've read about it basically comes down to just stopping any such interaction.

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12 hours ago, Mark said:

The traditional expectation is that men are the initiators/pursuers. Thus expected to ask out; propose; make grand gestures; woo; etc.
There's a good video which shows how the difference between actions being "romantic" or "creepy/stalkerish" is if they are welcome or unwelcome

 

I'm always surprised at just how fixed and inflexible those gendered expectations still are. It's like the 1960s came along and shook everything up, but then afterwards it just settled back to where it had been before! (can you say a bit more about what the gay and lesbian 'scenes' were doing and saying differently re. relationships in the 60s and 70s? You mentioned it in passing further up and I'd be interested in hearing more about it. I was reading that some modern gay activists see the concept of gay marriage as a capitulation to heteronormativity and/or amatonormativity, for instance / a kind of betrayal of or distancing from historical gay communities, which were a lot more radical)

 

Like you I'm not really comfortable with the typically 'male' initiator/pursuer role, but as @DeltaV pointed out above, there aren't really any proper guidelines for how men (and women) can go about these things differently... (I mean, if I'm expected to 'pursue', but don't pursue, and some woman I like is expecting to be 'pursued' - and keeps waiting because no socially acceptable alternative protocol is suggested - well, then nothing ever happens!)

 

Why, traditional gender roles?! Why did you do this to me?!? :rofl:

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5 hours ago, NullVector said:

I'm always surprised at just how fixed and inflexible those gendered expectations still are. It's like the 1960s came along and shook everything up, but then afterwards it just settled back to where it had been before!

It even seems to be the case that the likes of Internet dating sites reinforce these roles and expectations.
I suspect the reason is that the 1960's didn't actually shake things up as much as was assumed and that nothing has ever been done to really question the basic idea of gender roles.
 

5 hours ago, NullVector said:

(can you say a bit more about what the gay and lesbian 'scenes' were doing and saying differently re. relationships in the 60s and 70s? You mentioned it in passing further up and I'd be interested in hearing more about it. I was reading that some modern gay activists see the concept of gay marriage as a capitulation to heteronormativity and/or amatonormativity, for instance / a kind of betrayal of or distancing from historical gay communities, which were a lot more radical)

 

One obvious person to look at is Brenda Howard. Known as "The Mother of Pride". Who was bisexual, non-monogamous and kinky.
There's also the reaction to the 2015 film Stonewall. People who were actually there spoke up to correct the film makers.
Even into the 1990's the term "gay scene" could mean a kind of club based hookup culture, primarily amongst gay men. Whilst this certainly was impacted by the media's portrayal of AIDS as a "gay plague" the political campaigning about marriage also appears to be a factor here.
 

5 hours ago, NullVector said:

Like you I'm not really comfortable with the typically 'male' initiator/pursuer role, but as @DeltaV pointed out above, there aren't really any proper guidelines for how men (and women) can go about these things differently... (I mean, if I'm expected to 'pursue', but don't pursue, and some woman I like is expecting to be 'pursued' - and keeps waiting because no socially acceptable alternative protocol is suggested - well, then nothing ever happens!)

I'm Gender Queer. This means that my position (and experience) can in some cases be more "male"; in others more "female" and in yet others neither. My instinctive "choice" here is closer to the typical female role. In that I typically want to be asked or invited. Being 'persued' dosn't sound remotely attractive though.

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As far as "pursued" and "the pursuing" roles go, I can do either. I don't see why it's so strictly gendered either. But my occasional sexual aggressiveness always comes off as "male." And definitely my aromanticism, not wanting to be "tied down." (With the terminology used around marriage, you'd think the straights were all aro, lol)

But whether I initiate sensual/sexual contact, or am more passive, depends on my mood and partner. Everyone's different, and I'm just there to have a good time. :P

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Haven't we gone completely off-topic? :P


Anyway, we're not interested about romantic advances. If you're troubled by the video Mark linked, it's going to get worse, because there are extremely few IRL situations in which you can be honest about your aro intentions from the start without it becoming easily close to harassment.

 

Even if the issue becomes enshrined into law, they can't clearly define it and instead lazily just point to undefined social norms:

Missouri Revised Statutes

566.095. 1. A person commits the offense of sexual misconduct in the second degree if he or she solicits or requests another person to engage in sexual conduct under circumstances in which he or she knows that such request or solicitation is likely to cause affront or alarm.

2. The offense of sexual misconduct in the second degree is a class C misdemeanor.

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Thanks for the links @Mark :)

21 hours ago, Mark said:

I suspect the reason is that the 1960's didn't actually shake things up as much as was assumed and that nothing has ever been done to really question the basic idea of gender roles.

Yeah, probably not. And you will find traditional gender roles reinforced absolutely everywhere! To give an example, I tried some Salsa classes recently. It provides some structure/rules for initiating contact with the opposite sex, which I like. But at the same time, it totally reinforces fixed, traditional gender roles (men actively lead/initiate and women receptively follow/reciprocate).

 

21 hours ago, Mark said:

I'm Gender Queer. This means that my position (and experience) can in some cases be more "male"; in others more "female" and in yet others neither. My instinctive "choice" here is closer to the typical female role. In that I typically want to be asked or invited. Being 'persued' dosn't sound remotely attractive though.

Okay. Just to be clear, I don't want to be pursued either! I'd rather throw out the whole pursuer-pursuee model entirely and replace it with people negotiating whatever roles seem right for them at the time. Without any fixed gendered roles being assumed in advance. 

 

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