It’s no secret that aromantic characters are rare in both books and TV. There are few stories out there with aro characters, and even when we find them there is the question of whether we are interested in book/movie/tv show. I wouldn’t, for example, be very interested in a contemporary book with an aro character (unless it was about the character being aromantic) because I’m a fantasy/sci-fi kind of person, so that limits our options even more.
That’s why, I think, aro (and ace) people have so many aro headcanons. If the world won’t make space for us, we end up making these spaces ourselves by exploring characters from our favorite books, movies and tv shows and making them like us. Fanfics with aro characters are rare, but there are many, many aros writing about these headcanons.
And some people are really bothered by it.
Every time a popular character is headcanoned (?) as aro (or ace) by an aro/ace person, the world go up in flames, especially on Tumblr, a site crawling with aphobes. It’s not rare to see someone say an aro or ace headcanon is homophobic, racist, ableist or whatever else, and though I do believe some characters shouldn’t be headcanoned as aro/ace (esp some characters of color, who are so frequently desexualized – Vivienne from Dragon Age comes to mind), most of time these people are trying to do two thing, the first being silencing us.
Headcanoning a gay/lesbian/bi character as a-spec isn’t inherently homophobic/biphobic because gay/lesbian/bi aros/aces exist.
Headcanoning a character of color as a-spec isn’t inherently racist because ace/aro people of color exist.
But aphobes won’t hear any of that. They use these arguments to keep us from having headcanons, which keeps us from exploring our identity and, well, just having fun. I’m a firm believer that headcanons are okay as long as representation isn’t being taken away from another group, so when a character isn’t shown canonically feeling sexual/romantic attraction, headcanoning them as ace/aro is perfectly fine.
One example is Yuri from Yuri!!! On Ice, who is headcanoned as ace, especially demisexual, by many ace fans, or Yurio, from the same anime, who is headcanonned as aro, especially demiromantic, by many aro fans. These two headcanons aren’t inherently offensive and wrong, because Yuri can still be in love with Viktor and can still feel sexual attraction if he’s demisexual. There is no desexualization happening, no representation being stolen. If anything, the anime gives space for this interpretation (I mean, Yuri x Eros, anyone?).
But aphobes won’t hear any of that. They want us silenced, quiet, small and invisible, because our mere existence bothers them.
Which brings us to the next reason: they are just disgusted by ace/aro people.
And I’m not even talking about the aggressive, on your face kind of aphobes here. I’m talking about the mild aphobes or the ones who don’t even consider themselves aphobes (yeah, aphobes proudly admit they are aphobes most of time). Aromanticism and asexuality are constantly demonized and othered – for many people, being aro or ace is the same as not being human or not being interesting, so they absolutely don’t want their faves being aro or ace.
If their faves are aro or ace, they are boring, abnormal and weird.
That’s why you will rarely see allosexual people headcanoning the hot guy or girl as ace or the nice, friendly boyfriend/girlfriend material as aro. Being aro or ace, most of time, means “not available to you” and well, doesn’t that bother a lot of people?
It’s about being or not being seen as desirable, be it sexually desirable or romantically desirable. For these people & for aphobes, making a character aro or ace is stripping them of what makes them interesting, and that’s why aro/ace headcanons of popular characters bother so many people. They hate the idea that these characters aren’t available to other characters (to their ships) & are completely happy on letting the aro/ace headcanons for the undesirable characters.
For the old characters.
For the ugly characters.
For the boring characters.
For the robot-like, cold characters.
There is a reason why many aro & ace stereotypes are about us being robots, aliens, cold and frigid. They don’t see us as human and they don’t want their characters to not be human, therefore said characters can’t be ace or aro.
Simple, isn’t it?
At the end of the day, aphobia is the reason.
I talked a little about it on my review of The Mortal Instruments. (SPOILERS FOR TMI!) Why do you think Cassandra Clare made Raphael Santiago the aro/ace character? Why him, who was already dead and gone, and not one of the main characters, most of whom are straight?
Because Raphael was already not available to anyone by being dead. Because Raphael was never written as desirable, as one of the options. Because she wouldn’t have to pair an arospec/acespec character with one of the allo characters, which, maybe, in her mind, would ruin everything/make everything boring.
Raphael Santiago was declared aro/ace because no one wanted to fuck or date him. That’s why.
That’s also why I believe we should keep making and writing about our aro and ace headcanons. It might bother a lot of people, but headcanons are important, both to us and to the community as a whole. We are making our own space and normalizing aromantic and asexual characters. It’s essential and it’s fun and we deserve it.
For me? Yurio will always be arospec, and his and Otabek’s queerplatonic relationship will always be an awesome headcanon.