Jughead Jones is a character from the Archie comics who has been coded as aromantic asexual for decades. Last year, he was finally made asexual in canon, and though the word “aromantic” is never used, it’s pretty clear he’s aro as well (the writer who made him ace in the comics already confirmed via Twitter that he is aro too). So: Jughead Jones is aromantic asexual.
Raphael Santiago is a minor character from The Mortal Instruments series. After the ending of the series, the writer, Cassandra Clare, confirmed via Twitter that he was in fact aromantic and asexual. Since it’s post-it/Word of God rep, it has problems, but it’s canon: Raphael Santiago is aromantic asexual.
Still with me? Good. Here’s where things get ugly.
Riverdale, a TV show based on the Archie comics, premiered a few weeks ago and Jughead wasn’t aromantic or asexual in it. In fact, he kissed a girl in the last episode, when the Jughead from the comics, the romance repulsed guy who disliked being touched, would never have done so. Hot takes popped up everywhere to say that hey, it wasn’t that bad, because he could still be ace, right? Ace people can kiss! And date! So why couldn’t Jughead kiss and date, too? Weren’t us, the mean aroaces, being too harsh, too angry, and actually hurting aces with our strict definitions of asexuality? (Never mind that we never defined asexuality, only Jughead’s aroaceness).
The worst offender was the writer of an article defending Jughead and Betty’s kiss, a panromantic ace I shall not name, who not only erased the fact that Jughead was aro but who complained to the aromantic aces and allies who called them out that they, too, needed representation. After all, ace rep was ace rep, and we have none! So why couldn’t Jughead kiss some girls and be an heteromantic ace in peace? Why did we have to complain about his aromanticism being erased? Why, when he could still be ace? Ace people date and kiss, remember? It still could be representation!
Something similar is happening with Raphael. Admittedly, Shadowhunters, the TV show based on Clare’s books, went where Riverdale didn’t dare. Raphael doesn’t say he’s asexual, but he says on the last episode that he doesn’t like sex and refuses to kiss Isabelle. The showrunner actually uses the word in a interview, but no mention is made of his aromanticism, and for reasons I explained in this thread, I don’t believe they will make him a canon aromantic person. Still, many alloromantic aces have been going around calling it a win, and while I don’t blame them for being happy, I do have issues with calling this kind of erasure a win of any kind.
Two aromantic asexuals being pushed to being only asexual, and these people ask why we are angry? Why, if it’d still be ace rep? Why, if it’d be a “win”?
These people, these alloromantic aces, don’t understand one thing: we are not the same.
We are not the same.
We just aren’t. My experience as an aromantic asexual person is different from yours as an alloromantic asexual person. It just is. It’s different to grow up feeling no attraction at all, or little to no attraction – it’s a different kind of dehumanization, of demonization, of otherization, of discrimination. Aromantic asexuals are considered less human. We just are. If my word on this isn’t enough, then stop and ask yourself why these shows and people are so hellbent on excluding me – and on including you.
Why? What is it about aromanticism that makes showrunners pretend we don’t exist and fellow aces turn their faces when we say we do? What’s so bad about saying no to love that an aromantic asexual character is allowed to say he doesn’t like sex on TV, but not to say he doesn’t like romance? What is the difference? Why is it here where everyone draws the line? Why is it okay to not feel sexual attraction in this case, but not okay to not feel romantic attraction?
I will tell you why. I’m not available to anyone. Neither is Raphael and Jughead, and lots and lots of aroaces, some of us not even as queerplatonic partners. There aren’t love stories to be told about us or sold about us. If Jughead and Raphael are made ace and aro, their ships sink, unless their fans are okay with queerplatonic relationships and most aren’t. For many people, for most people, if you take the romance out of someone, that someone loses its meaning, its interesting aspect. That’s how focused on romance our society is. Ships can survive without sex, but in a society so focused in romance that it can’t even comprehend queerplatonic relationships, they can’t survive without romantic love.
There is also the little matter of we aroaces being considered too weird, too different. Cis allo straight people can’t relate to us the way they can relate to you, alloromantic aces. After all, romance is universal, right? Except it isn’t. And if we are in the picture, we are reminding everyone of that, and some people just don’t like that, don’t like us.
We are not the same.
I don’t care that aces can date and have sex and kiss girls or boys or nb people. Not when it comes to Jughead Jones and Raphael Santiago. Because it doesn’t matter. You, ace person who date and have sex and kiss girls, are not the ace person being represented by them. They are not here to represent all of us. They are what they are: aromantic and asexual. In Jughead’s case, romance repulsed and touch averse. Probably in Raphael’s, too. They represent some of us, not all of us, and when you push for them to represent those they are not, you saying which of us are more important, which of us deserve so much more attention and rep that you’d go as far as trample canon to give them that which isn’t theirs by right. You are so desperate for rep that you don’t care about the message you’re sending to aromantic asexual people – that it’s okay to nod and agree that we are too fucking weird and unnatural to be on TV as long as you get your precious asexual rep.
And you think that’s okay, you’re an arophobic piece of shit.
It’s important to notice which rep it’s being given in the place of aromantic asexual rep, and that is heteromantic asexual rep, the most palatable ace rep of all. Think about that. Think about why aromantic ace rep is stolen to be given to the most palatable to the cis allo straight audience. I’ve already told you why in this very post. It’s all about scoring diversity points while keeping safe with the audience they don’t want to piss off – and if that doesn’t make you mad, well, then what will?
We all deserve rep. But pushing for your rep when the canon rep is not yours is not the way to do it.
Again, we are not the same.
And our differences matter.