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Being aro in education


Philbo Wiseroot
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For high school, I just focused on learning as much as I could and became alienated from all of my peers, including a few friends. I was aware that people were expecting me to get together with someone: my best friend at the time would tell me, "Aww, you'd be so cute together with someone else who was just as shy as you since you'd both be blushing all the time." And yet no one was appealing to me. My older sister went through a yearbook with me, trying to figure out my type, and all I could say was that a few people were "cute" because I couldn't tell her none of them

 

College was kind of a mess for me as I started claiming my experiences as ace, then aro at a later time. I got caught in the idea that "maybe I'm this way because I haven't tried connecting to people, maybe I'm missing out" or "maybe I'm not non-binary because I haven't tried thinking of myself as my assigned gender at birth". I tried acting out a different gender for a semester and confessed (for the first and only time) to a not-really-friend-but-on-good-terms guy who I kind of admired and would have been comfortable trying to touch. Luckily he didn't accept, but....I'm still embarrassed by the memory to this day, even as I'm glad that he rejected me. Sometimes things are not worth trying out, even if you just want to experience it. -_-

 

what was yours?

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I think that "find love" notion is more noticeable in undergraduate study, and in my experience, mostly came from people outside of academia. In fact, most of my conversations with my colleagues tend to be related to my field of study, and grad school has been especially awesome, because I can engage people in deeper musical discourse that I just never got even at the undergrad level. My orientation just doesn't come up in academia.

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1 hour ago, Tumblrweed said:

My older sister went through a yearbook with me, trying to figure out my type, and all I could say was that a few people were "cute" because I couldn't tell her none of them

I can relate... my mother was ALWAYS asking me: "so, which guy is the most interesting? oh, come on, there HAS to be ONE! Or would it be a girl? You can tell me if it's a girl, I won't judge you! Stop pretending to be above everything, it's okay to be attracted to someone!" etc...

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School was... well, not nice, for a whole bunch of reasons. I wasn't interested in any of the guys at any point ever... and people noticed this and sometimes asked me about it. The one time, 2 of my "friends" tried to set me up with some guy from another school... they basically introduced us and then literally ran away... I found that very strange at the time. Anyway, it was convenient for me to tell people who ask that I'm interested in that guy, from that other school, that they can't possibly know, so that kinda got them off my back a bit. :P

... not entirely though because apparently there was a rumour floating around about me being lesbian at some point.

 

College was better, and I was actually interested in a lot of the people there. But in friend-y ways. Although at the time I had no clue about aro stuff and I thought relationships were like a better version of friendship or something, so there was a bit of confusion there. Long story. Anyway, my female roommates in the first year drove me so mad that I wanted to switch them out and rather have a guy roommate. I got frustrated at how that wasn't allowed, and how weird other people thought that was. There were many reasons why they drove me mad, but part of it was because of their relationship dramas that I always had to hear about. There was a lot of that... Like the one week they'd be sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo over the moon with each other, and the next week they're crying all over the room about whatever. And then the next week she's with some other dude. Or something.

 

Even the people I liked had some relationship dramas going on, but generally they seemed more sensible, so it was okay.

 

I personally didn't really care about my grades either, in school nor college, but I guess that's a story for another time. I also found it weird at how people got soooo stressed over not getting an A on some test. And I'm sitting there like... "Did anyone die? No? ... OK" ... maybe their parents freak out over those things and that's why they did, I dunno.

 

Oh, there was a fun moment in college. I stayed after class to use the computers the one day, and there was this girl from another class using the computer next to me. She was being very friendly, which I eventually figured out was probably actually flirting, when she asked me if I'm single. At the time I was actually dating a guy, so I told her that, and she looked really surprised. She was convinced that I wasn't straight... and it turns out she was right. Not in the way she thought, but still... interesting. Apparently I give off pretty strong "not straight" vibes to people who know what that looks like. I have no clue what that looks like. :rofl:

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9 hours ago, SoulWolf said:

Apparently I give off pretty strong "not straight" vibes to people who know what that looks like. I have no clue what that looks like. :rofl:

 

I'm not sure what gives people that vibe, but that's been happening to me a lot ever since I finished school. It's actually pretty funny and also a convenient way to come out without it being an awkward turn in the conversation.

 

I found being aro at school pretty hard, but I didn't know why (cause I didn't know I was aro ace) because the whole dating thing was pretty in your face quite a lot of the time and I didn't know why it made me so uncomfortable. The (unspoken) pressure drove me to the point of accepting relationship offers I didn't want and that never ends well. So of course at that point everyone assumed I was straight which made coming out later on a bit more complicated.

 

I think being any form of not straight at school is hard. Even if you fly under the radar like I did, classes were always extremely awkward. Firstly, everything was ridiculously and unnecessarily gendered to the point where I felt a lot of dysphoria, and since it was immediately alleviated when I graduated I was pretty sure I'm cis. Stuff like school balls/dances and many class discussions about gender in life skills, media and English made me feel so othered. The more I noticed these things the more they bothered me. I imagine this would be so much harder for trans and nonbinary people at school.

 

Secondly, there wasn't really any talk of sexuality in any form. There wasn't a GSA, there was no mention of it in life skills or sex ed despite there being plenty of opportunities to integrate queer identities in a relatively gentle and non harmful and extremely helpful way, as I look back on my education. This might have to do with Australian schooling but it was mostly due to it being an Anglican private school.

 

Luckily, I haven't faced any of these problems at university. I've been a lot more comfortable after escaping the heavily gendered school uniforms and "class discussions". I imagine that if I had continued studying media like my friends I'd be dealing with a lot of that crap still.

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I never really felt this pressure but my mother is also working class and always put a lot of pressure in my studies rather than my social life. We never talk about dating only about grades and the fact I am able to study. Right now I think it's even less likely because 1) I mostly study to get money and a future and not to "find someone" (in my country you can get the some amount of support from studying if you or your parent don't have a too high income) and I think she gets the vibe that it something I do for practical reasons where I have to cut off social aspects of my life in order to study. Beside that Half of all my classmates are Muslims, and Christians and Muslims arnt really expected to be dating.

 

I think it was mostly when I was younger that everyone talked about sex and dating. Sure I like to have good classmates and can still find some of my classmates hot, but in general I find the school setting to be a prett bad place to look for dating material unless you study something you really love.

 

Btw. Since I'm allosexual I think my experience been less harsh. When I was younger I thought I was always in love with some of my classmate, but it turned out I was mostly just attracted to them or wanted to become friends. I also " lost my virginity " around the same time most people did, So I guess I didn't feel as the odd one out at any point, only for being queer.

 

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On 20/09/2016 at 8:21 PM, Pufflehugs04 said:

Given the whole "school, college, and/or university is where people find love" idea that tends to float around, what are/were your experiences of education as an aro?

 

I found this time incredibly difficult.
Being aromantic and wanting to form Queer Platonic Relationships (before either term was coined) certainly didn't help.
I recall wondering why the only possibilities were purely platonic friendships or exclusive relationships. Without the possibility of anything "in between".
 

 

 

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I was mostly oblivious to all the romantic relationships going on all around me during high school. I felt no pressure to get in a romantic relationship either which made things really easy for me. Now that I'm at uni, I notice this sort of stuff even less. The stereotype of uni students is that they all want to get drunk and have sex, and seeing as I'm not interested in either of those things, it all just goes by unnoticed by me.

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5 hours ago, Mark said:

I recall wondering why the only possibilities were purely platonic friendships or exclusive relationships. Without the possibility of anything "in between".

Simple: people like black and white scenarios. Shades of grey take more time and energy so people tend not to do them.

4 hours ago, Zemaddog said:

it all just goes by unnoticed by me

When I think about it, I don't really notice it either, other than the relationships that people are already in.... except for that one couple last year :(

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10 hours ago, aussiekirkland said:

I think being any form of not straight at school is hard

Let me count the ways: >:(

  • Gendered school uniforms - for me, girls and boys both wore a shirt and tie, but skirts were only for girls, and anyone could wear trousers.
  • Heteronormative (male focused) sex ed - we essentially had a descriptions and pictures of male STDs and demonstrations of putting condoms on in high school, and we had to watch a birth in primary school. Nothing on girls or sexual/gender minorities.
  • At least when I was at school (left in 2009), everything that isn't good is "gay"
  • For aces, the virginity question! O.o

Anyone have any others?

 

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I feel so lucky to have moved to a school with no uniform in the last three years of secondary. I always hated when boys and girls were split up for whatever reason. What's the point? And my old principal was really obsessed with having everything 50/50 gender wise. As in girl/boy 1:1 ratio of course. I don't understand why? Who cares? They're always saying how gender doesn't matter, so why go to the trouble of splitting people up in regards to their gender to make it 'even'?

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Ugh, since we're on the gender topic... I actually felt borderline violated every day for having to wear dresses/skirts to school. Also, the assumption that because we all have female parts, we should be perfectly okay with just undressing in front of each other for PE. I actually think those things were worse than being bullied every day for 8 years. Kids being jerks is one thing, but having basically the entire structure of the system against you is quite another... especially since everyone else seemed perfectly fine with it. :facepalm:

 

Also, the random comments by teachers and parents about "safe sex" and stuff always surprised me... I was somehow oblivious to the idea that kids my age were having sex (probably). I mean, now I just assume that they were, but at the time I didn't really even think about it.

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8 hours ago, Pufflehugs04 said:

Gendered school uniforms - for me, girls and boys both wore a shirt and tie, but skirts were only for girls, and anyone could wear trousers.

My school uniform was more strict than that. It was basically the same, except the girls couldn't wear pants, only skirts.

 

8 hours ago, Pufflehugs04 said:

For aces, the virginity question! O.o

I seriously got asked how often I masturbated in year 10. When I said I didn't, I got called a liar.

 

7 hours ago, Dodgypotato said:

And my old principal was really obsessed with having everything 50/50 gender wise. As in girl/boy 1:1 ratio of course.

Of course, in this context, gender means assigned sex. Because there's no way that your gender could be different from that right? Also, I agree that that is stupid. Reminds me of this weekend we did for music, where we had to sit girl, boy, girl, boy. Makes no sense.

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19 hours ago, Mark said:

 

I found this time incredibly difficult.
Being aromantic and wanting to form Queer Platonic Relationships (before either term was coined) certainly didn't help.
I recall wondering why the only possibilities were purely platonic friendships or exclusive relationships. Without the possibility of anything "in between".
 

 

 

I suppose I was lucky in having most of my time in college just having FWB going on, and it was kind of normal in my circles. Of course, being heterosexual helped. 

 

The trouble came when I fucked a guy at a party and he was a virgin and got it in his head that this meant i was THE ONE and i stupidly got into a relationship with him because, ok, good sex, he worships me, this is love, I guess???? Then he tried to choke me in my sleep. 

 

Ffs, I can't sound normal when i talk about college. 

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6 hours ago, Zemaddog said:

Of course, in this context, gender means assigned sex. Because there's no way that your gender could be different from that right? Also, I agree that that is stupid. Reminds me of this weekend we did for music, where we had to sit girl, boy, girl, boy. Makes no sense.

Yeah, but they called it gender. There was an out NB person at the school, not sure how they fit them into their plans...

 

Also, I think I'd just be breaking the rules everyday at your school.. There's no way they'd get me to wear a skirt! D:

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7 hours ago, Zemaddog said:

I seriously got asked how often I masturbated in year 10. When I said I didn't, I got called a liar.

Same thing happened to me. And the worst thing is: when you're not straight, it's somehow OK for others to probe your sex life, even outside of school, where it's at least expected. I'm seemingly always asked what lesbians "do".

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3 hours ago, Dodgypotato said:
9 hours ago, Zemaddog said:

Of course, in this context, gender means assigned sex. Because there's no way that your gender could be different from that right? Also, I agree that that is stupid. Reminds me of this weekend we did for music, where we had to sit girl, boy, girl, boy. Makes no sense.

Yeah, but they called it gender. There was an out NB person at the school, not sure how they fit them into their plans...

 

Also, I think I'd just be breaking the rules everyday at your school.. There's no way they'd get me to wear a skirt! D:

It's actually weird to me that people see you as female. But you know how it is, there's only two genders...

 

1 hour ago, Pufflehugs04 said:
9 hours ago, Zemaddog said:

I seriously got asked how often I masturbated in year 10. When I said I didn't, I got called a liar.

Same thing happened to me. And the worst thing is: when you're not straight, it's somehow OK for others to probe your sex life, even outside of school, where it's at least expected. I'm seemingly always asked what lesbians "do".

I didn't even know I was ace at this point. It was just a conversation some guys aorund me were having and when they came round to me I told them the truth and they didn't believe me.

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48 minutes ago, Zemaddog said:

It's actually weird to me that people see you as female. But you know how it is, there's only two genders...

My family find it astonishing whenever someone 'mistakes me' (in their eyes) as anything but a woman. They're thoroughly convinced that I get offended for some reason when people do?

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On 9/22/2016 at 7:27 AM, Zemaddog said:

I was mostly oblivious to all the romantic relationships going on all around me during high school. I felt no pressure to get in a romantic relationship either which made things really easy for me. Now that I'm at uni, I notice this sort of stuff even less. The stereotype of uni students is that they all want to get drunk and have sex, and seeing as I'm not interested in either of those things, it all just goes by unnoticed by me.

Basically this. I don't interact socially enough for relationships to come up that much, and my parents are too busy trying to convince me to make friends to say much about relationships.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I went through the 'boys!' phase quite quickly, and got a small crush on one of my best friends that faded after about 2 weeks (never doing that again!). After that I started to question my orientation a but until I came across aromanticism. It's still a little annoying how much people insist that I must have a crush on someone, because frankly if I did I'd probably ignore it anyway. 

 

After a short indecent last year where a QPR got a bit too romo for comfort, I ended up telling most of the kids in my classes that I was aro as an explanation for the situation, ans most now know that I'm not one for crushes or have some sort of knowledge that relationships aren't my thing. I'm glad most of my closer friends are supportive of it though.

 

Something I am dreading though is if we have to write about anything too romantic in future classes... Oh well.

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