Happy Arospec Awareness Week, everyone! I was planning on posting here almost daily during this week, but a medicine I’m taking knocked me off and left too exhausted to do anything but drag myself to uni. But here it is, my first (of three, at least) post for #ArospecAwarenessWeek!
One of the arguments used by aphobes against the inclusion of aromantic (and asexual) people in the community is that there are no laws against us, therefore we face no oppression (which isn’t the truth – in some countries, for example, marriages can be annulled if they aren’t consummated, that is, if the couple doesn’t have sex). This is a simplistic view of oppression – gay, trans, bi, pan, etc, people aren’t just oppressed because there are laws against them (or laws that don’t protect them), though that is of course part of it. They are oppressed because society sees them (us) as lesser and treats them accordingly to this view, pushing them to the margins of society, arguing that their ~way of living~ is wrong and sinful and unnatural. It’s because they aren’t part of the dominant group, not only because there are laws against them.
You can marry, you aren’t oppressed! these people scream, ignoring that gay marriage is now legal in the U.S. (and most of them are american) and that being able to marry isn’t a no oppression card. Bi people have always been able to marry if their partner is of the opposite binary gender, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t oppressed, does it? Of course it doesn’t (unless you are a biphobe). The you can marry argument is just recycled biphobia and an evidence that these people are only mad we aren’t gay, as I said in this thread.
But it got me thinking, again. Oppression isn’t just about laws, oppression is about being denied your humanity, being denied safety, being denied representation and health and dignity, or a place safe enough for you to explore yourself. I could go on and on here about how aro and ace people are oppressed; about the conversation therapy aro/ace people go through, about the many aro/ace victims of corrective rape, about the aro/ace teens bullied and ridiculed for being aro/ace, about the sexualization of aro people, about the infatilization of ace people, about the demonization and dehumanization of both, about the erasure of both asexuality and aromanticism from literally everything…
Well, I could go on, but I won’t because smarter people have talked about them and because these aren’t the main problem – they are the symptoms of this main problem, the way we can tell yeah, this problem exists.
And this main problem is simple: we just don’t fit what society deems normal.
That is the root of the oppression the LGBTQIA community as whole experience (maybe of every marginalized group). Society is heterosexist and homophobic because it doesn’t consider gay people to be normal. Society is transphobic and cissexist because it doesn’t consider trans people to be normal. Society is biphobic, panphobic, etc, beause it doesn’t consider bi and pan and ply people to be normal. Society is intersexist because it doesn’t consider intersex people to be normal.
In the same way, society is allosexist and aphobic because it doesn’t consider aromantic and asexual people to be normal.
That’s literally it – if you are not a cis, straight, allo perisex person, you aren’t normal to this transphobic, homo/biphobic, aphobic and intersexist society. That’s where our oppression comes from – from not fitting in. From not following the script.
It doesn’t come from laws. Laws are created against us because we don’t follow the script. Or we aren’t protected by these laws because we don’t follow the script. Laws (or the lack thereof) are symptoms, not the disease.
Speaking as an aroace person, it was impossible for me to miss this message – that I wasn’t normal, that there was something wrong with me. And the message went so deep and was so strong, that I spent seventeen years of my life knowing something was off, knowing that I was somehow different, and yet I didn’t realize that what I didn’t feel was romantic and sexual attraction. Because I couldn’t even imagine the possibility of a human being not feeling both. It not just went against everything I was led to believe – it was never brought up, never considered, never pointed as an option.
I want to repeat this, because I want people to understand just how absurd it is: I spent most of my life not feeling romantic and rarely feeling sexual attraction, knowing that I was different and yet I never considered the fact that maybe, just maybe I didn’t feel them. I assumed that whatever it was that I felt – aesthetic attraction – was sexual and romantic attraction until I couldn’t possibly believe in it anymore (around high school). Then I just thought I was a late bloomer, a weirdo, a freak, because surely I would fall in love eventually, right? That’s what people do, so I should be able to do it, too.
I consider myself lucky because I didn’t do anything regrettable with this in mind. I didn’t date anyone in hopes I would feel something eventually, which, as I now know thanks to what I’ve seen what ace/aro people say, could’ve put me in dangerous situations. I didn’t go to a therapist, which here, in Brazil, I’m sure would have only caused me frustration, dehumanization and even conversion therapy. I just waited.
Nothing changed. Nothing happened.
The miraculous person who would “cure” me didn’t show up. They never existed.
I made peace with that when I realized what I was, what I am. Three years ago I finally accepted (yes, accepted, because I knew of the existence aromantic and asexual people since at least six years ago, but didn’t apply the labels to me because I wanted to be normal) I was ace and aro. Nowadays I love being ace and aro most of time. It wasn’t always like that.
The life I see ahead of me doesn’t fit what society deems normal. Maybe I’ll find a queerplatonic partner, but I don’t find it likely (I’ve never even met another aromantic person in meatspace). I’ll probably never marry, never date, never have sex, and it’ll probably exclude me from the life of many of my possible future friends, as it did in the past with my former friends. I’ll see my few friends marrying and building families, and I probably won’t have a family of my own. I won’t have children, so who will take care of me once I’m old? Who will care? My friends, all of them being cared by their own families, taking care of their own families? Where would I fit?
It’s sobering to realize that society wasn’t built for people like you. That there isn’t a place for people like you.
I see it in my writing even nowadays that I’m a much happier aromantic asexual than I was a few years ago. I still shy away from queerplatonic relationships and from aromantic & asexual characters who don’t want a relationship. I still think, maybe I could just go on with a romantic relationship? Wouldn’t it be more interesting? Better? More meaningful?
It’s Arospec Awareness Week and honestly? The main thing I wish for is that no more aromantics will grow up not knowing what they are. That no more aromantics will grow up without a safe space, without acceptance from others and from themselves. Awareness is just the beginning of it, but it’s still something we desperately need. Once we have it, then maybe, just maybe, these wishes will come true.