This is for the August 2015 Carnival of Aces.
Here’s my attempt to imagine what features would make a society/culture friendly for aromantic and asexual spectrum folk.
No Prude-Shaming (or Slut-Shaming)
I think the absence of prude-shaming is an obvious given for any society to be fully welcoming of asexual folk, given that the majority of aces prefer not to have sex. The absence of slut-shaming is less essential, but in groups which don’t prude-shame but do slut-shame, resentment can build up to the aces who ‘have it easy’ (I suspect that a significant amount of negative reactions to asexuality come from this type of resentment). The best thing for aces (and everyone else) is to not judge/shame merely on the basis of sexual activity or lack thereof.
Mutually-Agreed Chosen Family Relationships Are Legally and Socially Sanctioned
If two or more people want to become each other’s family members, they can get legal recognition of this relationship with minimal fuss. Each person in this chosen-family relationship has the option to unilaterally terminate it. It is not the same as ‘marriage’, since it will lack many of the assumptions/connotations that marriage has in many societies (most notably the assumption that there will be sex and possibly procreation). Furthermore, marriage will not offer any legal/societal benefits beyond what is available to other chosen-family relationships.
In other words, rather than privileging marriage above all other chosen-family relationships, all mutually-agreed chosen family relationships would be on the same legal and social footing.
There Will Be No Stigma to Lacking ‘Partners’
Some people – including a significant number of aromantics and aces – have little interest in forming any kind of relationship which would justify the type of legal/social recognition described above. Their choice (or inability) to get chosen family members would not be stigmatized.
Diverse Sexualities/Relationship Styles Will Be Accepted
In this culture, people would understand that sexuality and relationships can happen in diverse ways, and will accept them unless they cause unjust harm (I add the word ‘unjust’ because some kinky people want consensual harm to happen in their personal relations).
Emphasis on Mutual Satisfaction in Personal Relationships
Rather than trying to make personal relationships fit specific shapes, the emphasis would be to create mutual satisfaction within relationships. It will also be obvious to everyone that pushing/pressuring someone to do something they don’t want to do is contrary to establishing mutual satisfaction. Sometimes there will be overriding considerations – for example, if a pyromaniac is constantly starting potentially dangerous fires, stopping them for starting dangerous fires is more important than mutual satisfaction. However, one person wanting to have sex will NEVER override another person’s lack of interest / opposition to having sex.
This Society Is Possible
First of all, there are many potential societies/cultures which can meet all of the above criteria (in fact, I suspect there are / have been societies/cultures which have met all of the above criteria, but I’m no anthropologist). I’m not trying to design a specific society / culture – rather, I’m trying to think which features would make a culture/society ideal for ace-spectrum and aro-spectrum people.
Second, all of these things would benefit a lot of people who aren’t on the ace and aro spectrums. That means there are many potential allies who can help establish such a society/culture.
Third, though I don’t expect to ever live in a society / culture which has all of these features, I think any culture / society can at least move in the direction towards being like the society / culture I described above, and even incremental steps in this direction will do a lot of good.