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Coyote

What is the "a-spectrum"?

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Well, since this conversation seems to be ongoing... it's worth mentioning that most people seem to be misusing spectrum when what they mean (at least in their own head) is a gradient. Most people seem to be using spectrum to mean that there are two opposing things with some mixture in the middle, say aromantic <=> romantic with some various middle ground like greyro, etc.

That's not what a spectrum actually is.

A spectrum is a set of values from a range of possible values. I've seen this explained really well in autistic spaces and it may be worth taking some inspiration from. See for example this article: https://neuroclastic.com/2019/05/04/its-a-spectrum-doesnt-mean-what-you-think/

In this sense, an aro spectrum (or romantic spectrum, depending on how you want to phrase it), an ace spectrum (or sexuality spectrum, again depending on phrasing), etc all make sense. Including either the wider or narrower definition of an a-spectrum.

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11 minutes ago, Lokiana said:

Given that start, I wonder when and how agender began to be grouped into the asexual and aromantic spectra(ums? I have no idea how English works and this is my native language.)

I tried looking up uses of "aspec" and "agender" together and found this post, which defines "A-Spectrum identities" as "Asexual, Aromantic, and Agender." This post was made in the year 2015, so... that alternate usage has been around basically for as long as the term has existed.

Wait, hold on a second... That post was made on March 5th of 2015, and yet warriorsdebt claims that xe and the others coined it "sometime in November-December 2015"? What?

1 hour ago, kernsing said:

I don't think that's mostly the word's fault; more of the sexuality & romanticism conflation thing society has going on in general, but I can see how "aspec" could feed into it.

Yeah I'm just snarking about this time-tested pattern of like-- "Here we have a problem. Let's create a new word to address that problem." *makes new term* "Strange, that doesn't seem to have fixed anything."

From my perspective all that's changed is that now people in the Tumblr cultural sphere have a whole new word they can foist on me and neglect to consider that not all aces might identify with. I tried to take an amateur "mogai" survey the other day, and the orientation question didn't give me any option to self-describe as ace, asexual spectrum, or even just asexual -- there was only "aspec" and a bunch of other things that don't apply. It's just a really weird situation when someone is evidently aware of the asexual umbrella and yet... still manages not to make it possible for me to answer the orientation question.

It's not just stuff like that, though. I've also seen multiple posts criticizing "the aspec community" and "aspec spaces" and so on and I'm like. What do you mean by that? In literal, actual terms, what do you mean? Like -- is it only the stuff specifically headlined as "aspec"? So -- what, some Tumblr blogs with "aspec" in the url and a few Discord servers? Or do you mean that as short form for "the asexual and/or aromantic communities," in which case... why are you conscripting me into this concept? If I run an ace blog or an ace PF comm, is that now an "aspec space," now beholden to what you're saying about what "aspec spaces"? Both interpretations seem so patently flawed that I figure I must be missing something, but the problem is people keep talking like everybody else is already on the same page about what "the aspec community" refers to in the first place instead of ever bothering to explain.

1 hour ago, kernsing said:

Is the comm creator agender?? (I don't know how to find out who a comm creator is on PF? Is that SquirrelStone?)

It's SquirrelStone, yeah. If she is, she didn't mention it.

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45 minutes ago, Coyote said:

Yeah I'm just snarking about this time-tested pattern of like-- "Here we have a problem. Let's create a new word to address that problem." *makes new term* "Strange, that doesn't seem to have fixed anything."

This is a pretty well known problem in a lot of spheres.

The more standards/words/whatever exist, the more they tend to conflict and fight - in general.

48 minutes ago, Coyote said:

From my perspective all that's changed is that now people in the Tumblr cultural sphere have a whole new word they can foist on me and neglect to consider that not all aces might identify with. I tried to take an amateur "mogai" survey the other day, and the orientation question didn't give me any option to self-describe as ace, asexual spectrum, or even just asexual -- there was only "aspec" and a bunch of other things that don't apply. It's just a really weird situation when someone is evidently aware of the asexual umbrella and yet... still manages not to make it possible for me to answer the orientation question.

This is what ends up happening when you create a new standard and insist on it being the New Best Thing. Sadly, that is almost never the actual truth in any setting, least of all when you're talking about people's feelings and identity.

---

So, the reason I brought up the real meaning of spectrum is because I feel it could help to solidify some of these terms. Instead of trying to define orientations in relation to each other, come up with some attributes that help split things. I don't want to try to start to come up with those attributes here and now, but with the right level of detail you start to get a picture of each individual person - an individual a/romantic spectrum. Then, comparing those spectra you will start to see patterns - the patterns that define the orientations and labels we use.

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Posted (edited)

I identified as agender for a number of years, and I personally never heard aspec going around in agender circles or something that any agender person used on context of their (lack of) gender nor to refer to some agender community.

It kinda sounds like "aspec = aro, ace, and agender" could be a confusion/misstatement of "the a in LGBTQIAPN+ stands for aro, ace, and agender" to me. But that's jmho and complete conjecture.

Edited by pressAtoQUEER
missing word
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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Lokiana said:

Given that start, I wonder when and how agender began to be grouped into the asexual and aromantic spectra(ums? I have no idea how English works and this is my native language

Just a suggestion because I don't really know, but I guess it is

1) Because of the a- : not knowing how aspec was coined, some people probably thought it was meant to include identity that begins with a (I mean, the a- that we inherit from greek in etymology)

2) Aspec can be used to describe people who has something define as the lack of something or, as @Momo said in the other topic, by a "no thanks"; and agender is refusing gender binary

 

Also it maybe just me, but I come to think recently that it's like LGBT+ : at first it was LGB, and then it began inclusive of trans people (if I am not wrong). Maybe, aspec is taking the same way and tends to include gender questions, and not only orientation?

 

Edited by nonmerci

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Posted (edited)
On 4/1/2020 at 1:12 AM, Coyote said:

I've seen it only very infrequently, but for instance, it's in the description for the PF community A-SpecUsers: "A place for support and friendship for asexual, aromantic, and agender pillowfort users." I asked the comm creator... why that grouping, and their response was basically "we all get the same crap." I don't really get that reasoning, but there you go.

Seems more likely to be "several different kinds of crap" in practice. With maybe some overlap at times.
 

On 4/1/2020 at 1:12 AM, Coyote said:

The origin story, apparently, is that "a-spectrum" was originally created on Tumblr in 2015 to mean "the ace spectrum and the aro spectrum" together in one word. This is something that strategicgoat, warriorsdebt, and whes did specifically because anti-ace & anti-aro bloggers on Tumblr kept conflating the two concepts. So their response... was to create a word for both concepts? ...And now we have the problem of that term, itself, inspiring a lot of conflation of the two concepts (where people will use "aspec" when what they actually mean is just "ace"). Great going, everyone. 

Something of a facepalm.

Edited by Mark

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, Lokiana said:
Given that start, I wonder when and how agender began to be grouped into the asexual and aromantic spectra(ums? I have no idea how English works and this is my native language.)

From what I hazily remember (haven't gotten around to checking archives yet), the grouping of asexual, aromantic, and also agender came about because of "Does/Should the A in LGBTQIA stand for Ally, or for Asexual [or Aromantic, or Agender]" debates in the early 2010s, especially on tumblr, so it's partially an association of identities centered around "absence of" type identities....but mostly about how they all happen to start with the letter "a" (hence, "a-spec" as a popular joint term for all 3 later, since it also focuses on that shared-first-letter connection).

It started as a trend of users on tumblr complaining about the use of A for ally instead of A for Asexual, followed by other users chiming in that "hey, aromantic folks are another A that gets left out", followed by more people eventually also adding "oh hey, agender people too". That was somewhat scattered, until...

...It all came to a head when that trio was particularly popularized/cemented by the ~2015-2016 #giveitback hashtag campaigns that centered around twitter and tumblr users calling out orgs like GLAAD and also later American Apparel that featured campaigns with A for Ally rather than asexual (or aromantic or agender).

The hashtag campaign was spearheaded by fuckyeahasexual, a very popular/influential blog on tumblr/twitter, who coined the hashtag and specifically mentioned all 3 a identities (asexual, aromantic, and agender) in their original post (something I think they had already been doing in earlier ace-community-internal discussions about the whole acronym thing). It got a lot of play both inside the ace community on tumblr and (perhaps more notably) outside of it as well, even getting mentions from wider LGBT online news and forums, so it was a lot of people's first exposure to that particular pairing (triad-ing?) of identities.

That campaign eventually led to this statement from GLAAD that I think also involved some feedback from AVEN, and also mentions the full a trio.

(I have my own feelings about that whole campaign, but that's another issue for another thread).

This occurred slightly before or around the same time as popularization of "aspec" terminology, although the two weren't initially directly linked; I don't remember exactly when this a-identity-trio concept got merged with the term "aspec" specifically but I think it was sometime shortly after this - if anyone is bored it could probably be found by digging through tumblr aspec tag pages (these links might help find the right times to start at). My guess is that some of the prominent early adopters of "aspec" were also involved in these other campaigns and merged the concepts (whether unconsciously, or as part of a conscious effort to not "leave out" agender people as part of their sense of the joint "a-" community), and then other users just repeated it on from there until it was seen as a semi-widely accepted truth.

I think it also ties back into the annoying ambiguity of "a-spec" for unfamiliar audiences - just as some users assume that it's just short for asexual when first hearing it, others assume that it must be for all a-identities, especially because of it's emphasis on that shared a- prefix).

-

Either way, at this point, there's enough users that treat it that way that that cat's out of the bag and I don't feel comfortable using it for efforts that don't include agender people or content...and since most of my work doesn't, I just don't use it all (on top of other complaints about it's ambiguity or the way it is used to conflate things that maybe shouldn't always be conflated).

Edited by sennkestra
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33 minutes ago, sennkestra said:

...It all came to a head when that trio was particularly popularized/cemented by the ~2015-2016 #giveitback hashtag campaigns that centered around twitter and tumblr users calling out orgs like GLAAD and also later American Apparel that featured campaigns with A for Ally rather than asexual (or aromantic or agender).

..."Back"? =/ ...That frames it like there was some prior tradition of using A for asexual/aromantic/agender and then suddenly people switched to using it for ally, but isn't the A-for-ally use the older one of the two?

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58 minutes ago, Coyote said:

..."Back"? =/ ...That frames it like there was some prior tradition of using A for asexual/aromantic/agender and then suddenly people switched to using it for ally, but isn't the A-for-ally use the older one of the two?

Oh, yeah, using A for ally totally predates any use of asexual, and (at the time at least) was by far more prevalent - "A for Asexual" was a new concept that largely popped up because there was that other A already in the "LGBTQIA" acronym to play off of. (Here's one example of how that happened). But a lot of people in these tumblr conversations who didn't have much experience in non-ace LGBT organizations and politics weren't always very aware of that history and based most of their arguments off of assumptions/guesses/other misleading tumblr posts they never realized they needed to fact check.

Interestingly, this is one argument topic that seems to have faded away a bit in recent years (perhaps as there got to be too many groups being recognized to just keep adding letters, as "queer" terminology became more mainstream, or as the LGBT community in general gained more of their own power and became more critical about centering "allies").  But I bet it does make the whole a- association thing a little confusing for people now.

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I do identify as agender but I don't think it should be under a-spec.  A-spec makes sense as a word for including the ace & aro spectrums and addressing issues faced by these communities which are often shared, whereas agender is not shared under that, if anything agender is tied to nonbinary and other gender terms bc it is a gender identity not an orientation like aro and ace.  Also it just....doesn't make sense to me? Agender isn't a spectrum like ace and aro are, "agender-spectrum" isn't like an established thing so why would it be grouped under a-spec. But yeah, while agender can also be represented by the "A", I really don't think it should be included in "a-spec", and that's my opinion as an agender person.

(not here to argue about the origin of terms etc but saw some people asking if agender people wanted it to be under a-spec etc and I am an agender person with strong opinions on subject so wanted to share).

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I have only skimmed the posts here so forgive me if I missed something important here. I was talking about this with my demisexual roommate literally last night. We actually agreed about the use of ace spectrum and aro spectrum as catch-all terms.

She is demisexual and does not feel at all connected to asexuality; she doesn't understand how she could. I also  do not understand how demiromantic people ,for example, would feel connected to me as an aromantic person. We only feel connected by our queerness; it's not a stronger bond than we feel with other folks under the umbrella.

I feel that use of the a- prefix which means NO doesn't leave space for "maybe", "under certain conditions", "only on occasion" and the like as they are not considered different flavors of NO in any other context to the best of my knowledge. I obviously claim other non-alloromantic people, but we're varied.

This concept makes me think of the Kinsey scale which is/was a  sexuality scale that excluded a lot of people and placed people on a spectrum with people who were very dissimilar. I haven't seen a bisexual spectrum being used everywhere like the a-spectrums even though bisexuality could more easily be placed on a sliding scale with a 2 on one side and an infinity symbol on the opposite end. :T

 

All of that to say I feel the aspec, ace and aro spectrums are unnecessary.

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22 hours ago, rabbitastic said:

All of that to say I feel the aspec, ace and aro spectrums are unnecessary.

This is not the topic I meant to raise by asking about the term "a-spectrum," so I'd like to draw a distinction here between 1) questioning "a-spectrum" (and what it refers to and why) vs. 2) questioning the aromantic and asexual spectrums themselves, as two separate topics. Since you brought it up here, though, I will talk about it.

The asexual spectrum is necessary to me. I am gray-asexual. You can't spell gray-asexual without "asexual." This is what makes it useful to me as an identity term and concept: an amended, fuzzier version of/cousin to asexuality. I suppose if you forced me to I could just identify as "gray," but I also identify as "ace," as the short form of "asexual spectrum," because my relationship to the ace community is central and important to me in defining/understanding/conceptualizing my gray-asexuality and where I stand in relation to societal norms.

23 hours ago, rabbitastic said:

I also  do not understand how demiromantic people ,for example, would feel connected to me as an aromantic person.

That's for them to say -- and maybe you should try looking up more demiromantic narratives -- but obviously, some of them do.

Demi folks can be varied, of course, in how they do or don't relate to aromanticism/asexuality, so I'm not too surprised about your demisexual roommate. At the same time, its origin story lies with the asexual community, which is what set the precedent for it being thought of in terms of that connection. And even before that, asexuality was already understood by a number of folks as an umbrella identity that could hold cover a variety of different experiences, which is a part of what led to the terminology of the "spectrum." There have been various intracommunity fights about this and how exactly to draw the lines, but that's the long story short. It's really not your business to go telling certain aces that they're not really ace.

On the aro side of things, if you're unfamiliar with demiromantic narratives and experiences and unsure how demiroms feel connected to you as an aromantic person, one thing you can do is 1) look up demiromantic info for yourself, or 2) ask for help, i.e. "Hi, I'm looking to learn more about demiromanticism and how it's related to aromanticism. Are there any demiromantics here or anyone who can link me to more info?"

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On 5/5/2020 at 9:17 PM, rabbitastic said:

She is demisexual and does not feel at all connected to asexuality; she doesn't understand how she could. I also  do not understand how demiromantic people ,for example, would feel connected to me as an aromantic person. We only feel connected by our queerness; it's not a stronger bond than we feel with other folks under the umbrella.

I'm demiromantic and currently a bit...irritated with this whole statement. Every demiromantic person is different and your roommate does not speak for everyone who identifies as demi-.

I identify with aromanticism because I experience things like aromantic people do. I did not experience crushes and was mocked for it from the time I was in middle school all the way through my senior year in high school. I was mocked for stating that I might not want to get married. I was literally isolated from my friend group and sent home crying because of my aromanticism. Connecting to people on a lot of romantic ideas is a weird concept to me. The way I approach relationships is different, and aromantic communities have helped me with that. Figuring out I was demiromantic was a hard thing, because I identified with aromanticism for so long before I ever experienced romantic attraction.

In short: 

On 5/6/2020 at 8:39 PM, Coyote said:

It's really not your business to go telling certain aces that they're not really ace.

And it's really not your business to go telling certain aros they're not really aro. 

 

On 5/5/2020 at 9:17 PM, rabbitastic said:

This concept makes me think of the Kinsey scale which is/was a  sexuality scale that excluded a lot of people and placed people on a spectrum with people who were very dissimilar. I haven't seen a bisexual spectrum being used everywhere like the a-spectrums even though bisexuality could more easily be placed on a sliding scale with a 2 on one side and an infinity symbol on the opposite end. :T

It's called the "m-spec" or "multi-spec". It's not a scale, and it encompasses all identities (bi, pan, polysexual/romantic, etc.) that feel attraction to more than one gender.

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On 5/11/2020 at 1:34 AM, Lokiana said:

I identify with aromanticism because I experience things like aromantic people do. I did not experience crushes and was mocked for it from the time I was in middle school all the way through my senior year in high school. I was mocked for stating that I might not want to get married. I was literally isolated from my friend group and sent home crying because of my aromanticism. Connecting to people on a lot of romantic ideas is a weird concept to me. The way I approach relationships is different, and aromantic communities have helped me with that. Figuring out I was demiromantic was a hard thing, because I identified with aromanticism for so long before I ever experienced romantic attraction

During the pandemic I have been able to take more time to talk to others who fit within the aspec category and read more in-depth discussions and writings from other folks with different perspectives. I am working to learn as much as possible, to be more compassionate as I expect that of others.  I am by no stretch of the imagination perfect or all-knowing; I am sincerely sorry for making so many assumptions and dismissing your pain. I am working to avoid this is the future.  My lack of understanding then [or at any point in time including the present!!] does not invalidate the experiences of others. I am truly sorry for saying otherwise.

On 5/6/2020 at 9:39 PM, Coyote said:

The asexual spectrum is necessary to me. I am gray-asexual. You can't spell gray-asexual without "asexual." This is what makes it useful to me as an identity term and concept: an amended, fuzzier version of/cousin to asexuality. I suppose if you forced me to I could just identify as "gray," but I also identify as "ace," as the short form of "asexual spectrum," because my relationship to the ace community is central and important to me in defining/understanding/conceptualizing my gray-asexuality and where I stand in relation to societal norms.

My apology is a broad one directed at everyone I have hurt with my unkind words including you. I appreciate your incredible patience and that you responded to my callous post at all. You are right that it not my place to tell anyone how to describe themselves at any point especially not ace people of any kind. Thank you for pointing this out to me.

It was in poor taste to for me to say that these spectrums are useless because they hadn't been useful for me personally. I'm an autistic person and haven't found success using the phrase 'autism spectrum' in my own life; however I would never try, have never tried, to take those words away from other autistic people. It was a major oversight on my part to attempt to do that in this situation 😧  

To add my 2 cents to The Actual Conversation: I feel that the a-spectrum/aspec should include identities related to gender for sure. My gender ID and sexual orientation  fluctuate in a way that seems random. For a while when I described my gender as neutral... that didn't really seem to go over well with my local LGBT+ community or in trans specific spaces though I described myself as trans. After some negative experiences, I didn't try to reach out again. I imagine things would have gone more smoothly with agender folks or other people in the apsec community near me and on the web based on what I'm reading and hearing now.  I have always had productive, reassuring conversations with ace alloromantic people without understanding the link; I have some grasp of that history now. As an allosexual aromantic person, I am absolutely comfortable sharing space with ace people, aplatonic people and agender people.... Annnd all of the differently named but connected identities too. And yet :T I do see why some people wouldn't be as comfy with the idea. . Going forward, I might use aspec when referring to myself when I'm looking for a specific kind of understanding that I have only found there. I don't think it's possible to make an exhaustive list of who fits. Maybe it is ??? I'm certainly not equipped to do it.

 

Is it strange to think more similar groups of people will be drawn to us and magically gravitate to our figurative/literal space(s)? I imagine everyone will just know it works and then it will 😅

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On 5/16/2020 at 7:37 PM, rabbitastic said:

My apology is a broad one directed at everyone I have hurt with my unkind words including you. I appreciate your incredible patience and that you responded to my callous post at all. You are right that it not my place to tell anyone how to describe themselves at any point especially not ace people of any kind. Thank you for pointing this out to me.

Apology accepted. Thanks for listening. :icecream:

On 5/16/2020 at 7:37 PM, rabbitastic said:

I have always had productive, reassuring conversations with ace alloromantic people without understanding the link; I have some grasp of that history now. As an allosexual aromantic person, I am absolutely comfortable sharing space with ace people, aplatonic people and agender people.... Annnd all of the differently named but connected identities too.

Really? huh. I don't hear that every day. I've been kind of unclear on how aromanticism makes a point of commonality that way. Can you say more?

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2 hours ago, Coyote said:

Apology accepted. Thanks for listening. :icecream:

 

Seconded. 🍦

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