aro_elise Posted October 1, 2017 Share Posted October 1, 2017 This is something I wrote on tumblr. I'm a pretty avid reader and a huge fangirl--I read plenty of fanfiction, including the sexual ones, and something has come to my attention, repeatedly. It led me to think about how important positive media representation is. I don't think any of my followers are aro, so they don't care, but I thought you guys might be interested, so here's my post: This is regarding the following trope: character (let’s call them Joe) is known not to be romantic, Joe meets someone, that all changes. Let me elaborate. Maybe the author indicates that Joe isn’t one for relationships or, worse yet, “serious” relationships. (Yes, worse: whatever the hell that means, it does not necessarily mean ‘romantic relationships’. I would certainly consider a lifelong friendship more serious than a year-long romantic relationship. So there’s problem #1.) Maybe the author states that Joe has never been in love or even explicitly identifies them as aromantic. I’ve seen it before, only because I was specifically looking for such stories. What I’ve rarely seen is the character remaining that way. Time and time again, Joe enters into, or is already in a relationship, whether platonic, sexual, or both, and by the end of the story, it’s romantic. The ultimate happy ending. This is damaging mainly because it perpetuates the idea seen virtually everywhere that romantic relationships or love are the best or most important kind. Again, this is often called 'true love,’ suggesting that other types of love are not (or are less) legitimate or strong. To an aromantic confident in their identity (like me), this sort of narrative is offensive and frankly, tedious. To one who’s unhappy or unsure about identifying as such, it’s invalidating and likely deterring them from choosing or continuing to do so. And to anyone, regardless or identity, it’s an unhealthy mindset. It’s times like these–in other words, pretty much constantly–that I feel my aromanticism is a blessing and a curse: the former because a life spent searching for the supposed one person who could bring me true happiness sounds like a sad life indeed, and the latter because if I hear one more phrase to the effect of “you just haven’t met the right person,” I’ll introduce them to my fist before they can introduce me to their idea of this magical person. It’s like telling a supposedly gay girl (let me clarify: homoromantic) that she’ll find the right guy, or writing such an experience for such a character. And something tells me that wouldn’t be well-received. You’re not being inclusive for writing a character of a marginalized identity if you then write its correction, as a positive thing, no less. If anything, that’s worse than nothing at all. So let’s stop trying to invalidate and correct people’s orientations, because no, it won’t make them happier, it won’t make their life better, and unless their identity happens to change of its own accord, it won’t work. Notice I started out talking about fiction and ended up talking more about real life. That’s because the prevalence and impact of the media we consume, intentionally or otherwise, is immense. I’m not saying that romance in fiction or in life is a bad thing, not at all; what I’m saying (and I hope by now I’ve conveyed it quite thoroughly) is that the persistent idea of it as the 'be-all, end-all’ shows not only a lack of acceptance of people whose orientation and/or choices don’t include that, but a lack of creativity. If you’ve stuck with me, this is a genuine thanks for your time. I’d very much appreciate your sharing it, not only by reblogging but by taking the message into consideration in your writing and your life. -- So yeah, I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but if you have any thoughts, I'd love to hear them. 5 2 2 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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