Jump to content

Imperfect arospec rep is good too


Neon
 Share

Recommended Posts

Content warning: arophobia, internalized arophobia (specifically against arospec people who have dated and/or feel romantic attraction)

Kind of a rant, kind of a reflection, kind of a warning

 

 

I just have thoughts. About a year ago, I found out that a book character I really enjoy was confirmed as aromantic and asexual out of canon. The explanation from the author was that the character would have been aroace if the author had known that was possible when she wrote the books (Protector of the Small Series for reference). The author stated that although the character pursues romantic and sexual relationships in the book, those were not the result of attraction, but of not realizing there was a distinction between romantic/sexual and platonic/aesthetic attraction.

And I really do see that. I relate a lot to that character, and genuinely enjoy the series. But nearly every discussion I see about the confirmation is talking about how the character was in a relationship, and therefore cannot possibly be aromantic.

And that's just one example. Peridot from Steven Universe also gets this treatment, despite having canon hints at her being aroace. I have even seen this when people talk about Loveless.

Which is ridiculous. For starters, aromantic people can want and pursue romantic relationships. It's the absence of attraction, not the absence of relationships. But beyond that, I can confirm that comphet and amatonormativity are a hell of a drug. One of the reasons I relate so much to that character is because her genuine confusion about relationships in the books in some ways reflected my own confusion. Her "crushes" just disappearing after not being around the person for a week is an aro vibe.

Also, why are we dissing the little bits of representation we get? Why does aromantic representation have to be perfect to be acceptable? What even constitutes perfect representation? I think it's worthwhile to celebrate honest attempts by alloromantic people doing their best to accurately represent us.

Most importantly, I feel like that backlash pushes us into "gold star lesbian" territory. The idea that real aromantics never dated anyone shouldn't be given the time of day. It's alienating to aromantic people who didn't realize they were aromantic until later. It's alienating to aromantic people who feel romantic attraction.

This community is so accepting, and I would hate to see it devolve into infighting and gatekeeping. I haven't seen anything close to that happen on Arocalypse, and I hope I never do.

Edited by Neon
  • Like 15
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bless you for this post. I've been begging for romo-arospec representation for years now as I myself am in a romantic relationship and really want to see more characters like me. But I'm scared that if a thing like that becomes true, the aromantic community will either shout over how much they hate it or even attempt to outright cancel it as I've noticed half the community has gone from "we need more aro/non-romantic queer rep" to "no romance should ever be portrayed in fiction ever" regardless of where ever it's well written of if it makes another arospec feel validated.  

Edited by Lovebird
  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Neon said:

Content warning: arophobia, internalized arophobia (specifically against arospec people who have dated and/or feel romantic attraction)

Kind of a rant, kind of a reflection, kind of a warning

 

 

I just have thoughts. About a year ago, I found out that a book character I really enjoy was confirmed as aromantic and asexual out of canon. The explanation from the author was that the character would have been aroace if the author had known that was possible when she wrote the books (Protector of the Small Series for reference). The author stated that although the character pursues romantic and sexual relationships in the book, those were not the result of attraction, but of not realizing there was a distinction between romantic/sexual and platonic/aesthetic attraction.

And I really do see that. I relate a lot to that character, and genuinely enjoy the series. But nearly every discussion I see about the confirmation is talking about how the character was in a relationship, and therefore cannot possibly be aromantic.

And that's just one example. Peridot from Steven Universe also gets this treatment, despite having canon hints at her being aroace. I have even seen this when people talk about Loveless.

Which is ridiculous. For starters, aromantic people can want and pursue romantic relationships. It's the absence of attraction, not the absence of relationships. But beyond that, I can confirm that comphet and amatonormativity are a hell of a drug. One of the reasons I relate so much to that character is because her genuine confusion about relationships in the books in some ways reflected my own confusion. Her "crushes" just disappearing after not being around the person for a week is an aro vibe.

Also, why are we dissing the little bits of representation we get? Why does aromantic representation have to be perfect to be acceptable? What even constitutes perfect representation? I think it's worthwhile to celebrate honest attempts by alloromantic people doing their best to accurately represent us.

Most importantly, I feel like that backlash pushes us into "gold star lesbian" territory. The idea that real aromantics never dated anyone shouldn't be given the time of day. It's alienating to aromantic people who didn't realize they were aromantic until later. It's alienating to aromantic people who feel romantic attraction.

This community is so accepting, and I would hate to see it devolve into infighting and gatekeeping. I haven't seen anything close to that happen on Arocalypse, and I hope I never do.

Some fuck in a discord server I'm in said "any movie that doesnt have romance in it is aro representation" which is just flat out wrong

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Collie said:

I think even if an aro person wrote an aromantic character, someone somewhere would consider it a bad rep

Yea, I decided that three characters in my fanfic are alloaro. I can see people trying to complain about how I wrote them.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A lot of this discussion is about how it makes the aro community feel, representing everyone, and thats great. Its important to showcase a variety of experiences so allos understand not all aros are the same and there is indeed a spectrum. That there is not a perfect aromantic experience. But I think the point that gets lost in this discussion is starting off with something very simple so the allos understand what it means to be aromantic. A lot of allos seriously struggle with the very simple concept that someone doesn't feel any romantic attraction. They say oh your'e a late bloomer, who hurt you, ya know the drill. 

So imagine this from the average allos perspective who struggles to comprehend someone living without romance due to how much amatonormativity there is in the world. Allos don't even know that amatonormativity exists at first before meeting aros most of the time. So now you have very very little aro representation and the first bit of aro rep they ever see is someone who can't tell the difference between romance and sex as well as aesthetic / platonic attraction, may or may not have crushes that come and go (that may seem normal to them, oh yeah I have them come and go.) gets in romantic relationships (I do that says the allo). 

With all of these traits added on top of the aromantic identity don't you think an allo could lose sight of the main point (aro = little to no romantic attraction). Also remember allos don't distinguish sex and romance most of the time so this may not seem that different from their own experience. I believe that often times the romance and sex are interconnected for many allos. 

The character identity is going off in so many different directions, and if hypothetically this type of rep is the primary form then it could be rather confusing optics for many allos. For Aros that are involved with forums like this, they research labels, know other aros, know about the SAM model, have spent a lot of time questioning they know about these nuances and what it means to be aro very well because its personal for them. For an allo they are not likely to put as much effort into understanding aros. 

Don't get me wrong, we need to have a wide array of experiences showing what it means to be aro. But I think it would be very good if we also had representation that gives  easy optics for allos who are just wrapping their heads around the fact that you can experience no romantic attraction. If we have characters that are simple, for example one who never dates, thinks romance is weird, stays single, never feels any crushes, only has friends not a romo partner. That would be a pretty good start optically so allos can grasp the idea that someone can not feel any romantic attraction and we can live a happy life like this. If we can get allos to understand that alone then its a big victory for the aro community. 

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Ikarus said:

the point that gets lost in this discussion is starting off with something very simple so the allos understand what it means to be aromantic...That would be a pretty good start optically so allos can grasp the idea that someone can not feel any romantic attraction and we can live a happy life like this.

The point I was trying to make here is that by bashing all aro rep that doesn't have an aromantic character who has never thought they felt romantic attraction, has never had a romantic partner, etc., you aren't bashing the aro rep anymore, you are bashing actual aromantic people for not being good enough aromantics.

Beyond that though, depicting one experience over and over isn't representation, it's stereotyping.

You could just as well argue that the only educational aromantic rep should be partnering aromantics, because that will ease allos into the rest of the community. But at the end of the day, no one's aromantic experience is more valuable, or more important to learn about, than anyone else's experience.

Furthermore, by only representing one experience, no one is learning about aromanticism. They are learning about a single way to be aromantic, and will then go and say that anyone who doesn't fit that image isn't actually aromantic.

The way we get acceptance by alloromantic people isn't by excluding vast swaths of the community from being represented until a subjective goal. The way we get acceptance by alloromantic people is by having a vast array of aromantic experiences in mainstream media that are treated as normal.

Also, there are two kinds of representation. Educational, which I outlined above. But also representation that is specifically for the people within the community being represented. Not all representation is for alloromantic people to understand us. Some of it is for us to see ourselves in characters.

The point being though, the only bad aromantic representation is that which is deliberately malicious.

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Neon Definitely agree with everything you said. But optics for allos is still very important and an easy way for allos to better understand the more complex aro characters is for them to understand simpler characters who experience absolutely no romantic attraction. Since allos would realize, oh you can exist without having romantic attraction, which is the foundation of being aromantic. Having both types of representation is important, both simple and more complex. Representation can become confusing and alienating if its primarily about more complex aros without also having examples of simple aro types. Also rep can become exclusionary if the simple type of aro becomes the image in everyone eyes stereotyping all aros.

Here are a few different categories of aros generally speaking of course.

"Complex aro: feels romantic attraction sometimes, like the idea but not the reality, has a romantic partner / qpr, can't distinguish romance and platonic love."

"Simple aro: never dates, thinks romance is weird, stays single, never feels any crushes, only has friends not a romo partner."

Other aros: Romantically neutral, might try dating but doesn't care much for romance, etc. 

Im no expert on aro fictional characters but I wonder if there are more simple aro's depicted right now or more complex types. I haven't heard many examples at all depicting simple aros. It seems the majority are more complex types of aros at least in the mainstream like cartoons shows etc. I think we need at least one simple type of aro who actually calls themselves aromantic in the mainstream. But its tricky because we don't want that simple aro rep to stereotype all aros...A more complex aro and a simple one in the same media would work nicely

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 12/5/2022 at 8:19 AM, Neon said:

I have even seen this when people talk about Loveless.

Seriously ? I don't think the representation in Loveless is perfect, and I have no problem saying it, but I still think it is a good rep. The issue I have is not even the aro part lol (well, kinda linked, but it would be too long to explain). That's a book I would recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about aromanticism, even if Georgia and I had a completely different experience.

On 12/5/2022 at 10:59 PM, Ikarus said:

But optics for allos is still very important and an easy way for allos to better understand the more complex aro characters is for them to understand simpler characters who experience absolutely no romantic attraction.

Made me think about something I've seen, not about aro rep, but it can apply to all the representation : authors have to decide who is their audience, because they don't write the same when they talk to the ones they represent, and when they talk to the ones they don't represent; or when they talk to people who know the subject, and to people who don't.

So a good aro rep will adapt to their audience and will make them ubderstand whatever they want them to understand.

 

Also the key to good representation is diversity. I feel like a problem we have with these questions is that people will reject a representation that doesn't match their experiences as being a stereotype, and will want people to stop writing it; but different people have different experiences and that's what we shall see, diversity. Aros in QPRs, aros loving their friends, loveless aros, aros who tried romance, aros who never tried, etc. And that's why it is craazy to me to expect that a single character could be the perfect rep : no matter how hard someone tries, they will never create a character that will resonate with everyone in the community.

Edited by nonmerci
  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 minutes ago, nonmerci said:

they will never create a character that will resonate with everyone in the community.

This, because there are other kinds of attraction, too. There will be difference between alloaro and aroace. Aplaro and allopl aro, etc, etc. There are many things that are making it impossible to create an aro representation that could make everyone feel "oh, that's about me". Not saying about the fact that we're talking about fiction and fiction doesn't need to follow reality.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 hours ago, whatistheromance said:

Some fuck in a discord server I'm in said "any movie that doesnt have romance in it is aro representation" which is just flat out wrong

You would despise r/aromantic then, they think any piece of fiction with "no romance" is peak representation. I remember being so pissed when Squid Game came out and everyone on the sub praising it for its "no romance" rule when it bullshit because as a person who actually watched it:

  1. Spoiler
    1.  One of the supporting characters has a wife and kid, though only shown for a few seconds. It's obvious what he entered the game for.
    2. Two other supporting characters have an enemies-to-fuck buddies relationship, and even an outright hate sex scene. Maybe one could see it as aroallo rep, but it barely passes that. But it makes no sense because if something has to have a "no romance" rule than surely there would be a "no sex" rule to balance it out for the aces?

     

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, whatistheromance said:

Any specific examples you can link?

Ugh I cannot find it anymore, but there are posts where it's like "this new tv show has no romance! perfect for us aromantics!" like no?

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, Ikarus said:

A lot of this discussion is about how it makes the aro community feel, representing everyone, and thats great. Its important to showcase a variety of experiences so allos understand not all aros are the same and there is indeed a spectrum. That there is not a perfect aromantic experience. But I think the point that gets lost in this discussion is starting off with something very simple so the allos understand what it means to be aromantic. A lot of allos seriously struggle with the very simple concept that someone doesn't feel any romantic attraction. They say oh your'e a late bloomer, who hurt you, ya know the drill. 

So imagine this from the average allos perspective who struggles to comprehend someone living without romance due to how much amatonormativity there is in the world. Allos don't even know that amatonormativity exists at first before meeting aros most of the time. So now you have very very little aro representation and the first bit of aro rep they ever see is someone who can't tell the difference between romance and sex as well as aesthetic / platonic attraction, may or may not have crushes that come and go (that may seem normal to them, oh yeah I have them come and go.) gets in romantic relationships (I do that says the allo). 

With all of these traits added on top of the aromantic identity don't you think an allo could lose sight of the main point (aro = little to no romantic attraction). Also remember allos don't distinguish sex and romance most of the time so this may not seem that different from their own experience. I believe that often times the romance and sex are interconnected for many allos. 

The character identity is going off in so many different directions, and if hypothetically this type of rep is the primary form then it could be rather confusing optics for many allos. For Aros that are involved with forums like this, they research labels, know other aros, know about the SAM model, have spent a lot of time questioning they know about these nuances and what it means to be aro very well because its personal for them. For an allo they are not likely to put as much effort into understanding aros. 

Don't get me wrong, we need to have a wide array of experiences showing what it means to be aro. But I think it would be very good if we also had representation that gives  easy optics for allos who are just wrapping their heads around the fact that you can experience no romantic attraction. If we have characters that are simple, for example one who never dates, thinks romance is weird, stays single, never feels any crushes, only has friends not a romo partner. That would be a pretty good start optically so allos can grasp the idea that someone can not feel any romantic attraction and we can live a happy life like this. If we can get allos to understand that alone then its a big victory for the aro community. 

I agree with this in theory, but it shouldn't be the only type of aro rep that exists, or even the main one. There should be simple aro rep, but that rep should come with, possibly even in the same media, as more complex aros. Kind of like how aroace rep should absolutely exist, but so should aroallo and alloace rep

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I dislike the concept of "imperfect rep" overall, and how it's crept into queer communities. I especially dislike how it causes people to put pressure on queer creators to have "The Right Kind" of rep when that doesn't even exist. It's something that I worry about since two characters in my web serial are aro, but they're both a specific flavor which was based on the rep I wanted to see.

People are imperfect and identity is broad and complicated. There are many types of aro people, so there can be many types of good aro rep. I think it's important to have canonically aromantic characters who feel no romantic attraction, don't date, etc. and it's important to have aro characters who don't fit that stereotype. One type of aro rep doesn't negate or harm the others. Nonmerci summed it up really well- diversity is important. And the more aro characters we have, the more diverse experiences that get shown, and there will be more aro people who feel seen.

I do think it's good to have ""simple aro"" representation for educational purposes. But those types of aros also exist and they might just want to create rep that fits their experiences. Conversely, ""complex aro"" rep can also help introduce new ideas to allos. If they don't get it, then it's on them to learn more.

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Apex said:

I do think it's good to have ""simple aro"" representation for educational purposes. But those types of aros also exist and they might just want to create rep that fits their experiences. Conversely, ""complex aro"" rep can also help introduce new ideas to allos. If they don't get it, then it's on them to learn more.

^^^^^^I don't see why massive amounts, maybe even the majority, of the aromantic community shouldn't get rep until the unquantifiable goal of enough mainstream acceptance of other aros. I don't see why none of us should see anything but a stereotype until, again, the unquantifiable goal of, enough alloromantics understanding us.

I also don't understand how only having one aromantic experience will ever lead to understanding. Because if only one experience is shown, and that's what people base their knowledge of the aromantic community off of, they don't actually understand aromanticism. They understand a single version.

Aromantic representation has to be varied so that alloromantic people don't come away thinking of us as a monolith. Best case scenario, aromantics are consistently consulted about us being represented, and that representation encourages alloromantics to learn more. That doesn't happen if all representation is a single picture of aromanticism.

The only bad representation is that which is actively malicious, and even that can sometimes end up being accidentally decent.

3 hours ago, Apex said:

I dislike the concept of "imperfect rep" overall

By imperfect, I just meant every character that was canonically arospec, made by allies or other arospec people, but then dismissed as bad in some way by the aromantic community. I don't think there's actually any such thing as perfect or imperfect representation.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, Neon said:

By imperfect, I just meant every character that was canonically arospec, made by allies or other arospec people, but then dismissed as bad in some way by the aromantic community. I don't think there's actually any such thing as perfect or imperfect representation.

dw I knew that's what you meant ^^ That's the part that bothers me too (people dismissing rep because it doesn't fit their standards)

Edited by Apex
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm, not really a fan of the idea that me dating people as being labled as "complex", it's actually quite easy to understand, people are just too ignorant to not want to hear it.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 12/6/2022 at 10:51 PM, Lovebird said:

Hmm, not really a fan of the idea that me dating people as being labled as "complex", it's actually quite easy to understand, people are just too ignorant to not want to hear it.

Yes true.

I think it is important to remember that it is not necessarily easier to understand an aro who doesn't date and an aro who does, in particular when this is in representation and not just definitions (everything is harder without examples) : seeing the characters's experiences show how they differ from the "norm", so it is easier to understand what it means.

Also, there are people who will get romance-repulsed aros, and not at all romance-indifferent ans romance-favorable aros or the aro spectrum. But there is also the contrary : people who think it is impossible to be repulsed by romance, etc.

 

Experiences are different but not necessarily more complex.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 hours ago, nonmerci said:

Yes true.

I think it is important to remember that it is not necessarily easier to understand an aro who doesn't date and an aro who does, in particular when this is in representation and not just definitions (everything is harder without examples) : seeing the characters's experiences show how they differ from the "norm", so it is easier to understand what it means.

Also, there are people who will get romance-repulsed aros, and not at all romance-indifferent ans romance-favorable aros or the aro spectrum. But there is also the contrary : people who think it is impossible to be repulsed by romance, etc.

 

Experiences are different but not necessarily more complex.

I've had both allros & aros completely not understand why I date people. In case I have to spell it out for some of youse, I am romantically attracted to people on occasion, and that means I sometimes date people, but only if they are also attracted to me and we have good chemistry. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 12/5/2022 at 3:19 PM, Neon said:

Also, why are we dissing the little bits of representation we get? Why does aromantic representation have to be perfect to be acceptable? What even constitutes perfect representation? I think it's worthwhile to celebrate honest attempts by alloromantic people doing their best to accurately represent us.

exactly. im satisfied with what i got already and unless the aro rep is meant to be arophobic or else i just dont care

plus nothing is perfect in the first place if those people complaining truly want a slap in the face

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...