I observed an online chat session where people were exchanging dating advice. What struck me was how many of the people (mostly in their early 20s) seemed to not know how to ask people on romantic dates. Other people gave advice like “you got to put yourself out there, otherwise nothing happens.”
The closest thing I have to experience with romantic dating is guys asking me out. I always said ‘no.’ I have nothing against any of them, I just never wanted a boyfriend.
Intellectually, I understand that asking someone to romantically date you is hard because it feels so important and personal. Emotionally, it doesn’t feel like it should be hard. That I put such low stakes to this is a sign of how aromantic I am.
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A few days ago Prism & Pen published my essay, “Are Aces Doomed to Just Be Tokens in LGBTQ+ Spaces?” (That’s the anti-paywall link; it will give you access to the story even if you aren’t a paying Medium member.)
Submitting this essay left me feel nervous beyond the typical nerves of submitting to a publication for the first time. First, entering an unfamiliar LGBTQ+ space as anything other than a mere ally gives me trepidation. My personal experience is that most LGBT spaces aren’t intended for aces or aros. Some of this is based on experiences over a decade ago, when LGBT organizers were far more unaware of asexuality. On the other hand, the small minority of LGBT people who are hostile towards aces and aros are more vocal today than ten years ago. If an LGBT space doesn’t clearly accept aces and aros in a way that’s easy for outsiders to see, my assumption is that it’s not a space intended to include aces or aros.
On top of all that, my piece included some criticism of something a Prism & Pen editor said. Criticizing the editor who chooses whether your essay gets published is a risky move. However, James Finn has shown before that he cares about showcasing a variety of views and not just works which confirm his own opinions, which is why I thought my piece still had a chance of getting accepted. And he accepted it for publication. This increases my trust in him as someone who values discussion among multiple viewpoints.
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I’ve been avoiding reading reviews/commentary on Ace by Angela Chen so that I could write this post with minimal influence by others.
First of all, as someone who has been reading ace blogs for more than ten years (wow, has it been that long?), none of the broad themes in this book are new to me. I did not know most of the specific stories profiled in this book, and it has some angles/nuances which are new to me, but no brand new high-level concepts.
I think, at this point in time, it would be difficult to publish a book about asexuality for a general audience without including a lot of asexuality 101. I appreciate that this book managed to include any asexuality 201, but only the most familiar (to ace bloggers) 201 material. For example, the book references the classic ace blog post “Hermeneutical Injustice in Consent and Asexuality”. That is Asexuality 201, but it’s 201 that is so thoroughly established in the ace blogging canon that it’s not news to anyone who has been around ace blogging for a while.
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What is this novel about?
Prince Gerald wants to live without marriage and sex. Yet he was born as one of the princes of the Thousand Kingdoms, where all princes, princesses, and princexes must begin participating in a royal rescue at the age of eighteen and be married by their early twenties. Gerald’s mother will only let him choose whether he wants to be a rescuer or a rescuee. After he refuses both roles, he wakes up to find that he has been magically transported to a tower guarded by a fire-breathing dragon in the middle of an inhospitable desert so that he can be ‘rescued’ by his future spouse.
He needs to rescue himself to avoid being ‘rescued’. But that might not be enough. In order to secure his freedom, Gerald might have to dismantle the entire system of young royals rescuing other young royals. If the royal rescues keep on happening, not only will Gerald be trapped, but many others will continue to be trapped in a much crueller manner.
What sexual and/or violent content does this novel contain?
There is discussion of sex, including references to characters having sex off-page, but there is no on-page sex (not even fade to black). There is violence, including putting collars on the necks of children, which cause wounds, infections, and pain as they grow older yet the collar doesn’t grow bigger with them. And a character badly burns another character, causing severe injuries (and detailed descriptions of the burn injuries). Weapons with blades also are used to injure others.
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This is Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week!
For the purpose of promoting awareness, I’m going to throw out a few reading suggestions. This isn’t a carefully considered list; it’s me casually throwing around ideas in celebration of the week:
1. About a year ago I read Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman, which features an aro-ace protagonist. I’ve already forgotten the details of the book, but I really liking it much more than I expected. I can recommend it to people who want a novel with an aro-ace protagonist.
2. Read some essays by aro-spec people about being aro. I plan to read interviews featured at AUREA right now in a couple days.
3. Read something from a very different culture and/or time period about romance, fiction or nonfiction. Even though I already intellectually understand that interpretation of romance is to a large extent culturally-constructed, actually seeing how it is differently constructed reminds me of this at a deeper level. And understanding, on a deeper level, how much understanding of romance is dependent on culture reminds me not to take our cultural ideals of romance too seriously. On the other hand, I also sometimes find that the understanding of romance in a very different culture/time period can also be very similar to how our current culture understands romance, which might lead me to think that trying to change our culture may be futile, so no guarantees! One suggestion to this effect: “Symposium” by Plato (the original source of the concept of ‘Platonic love’) (And I want to make it clear that I personally disagree with a lot of the ideas in “Symposium”)
I could try to come up with some more quick suggestions, but instead I think I’ll get started on reading some of those interviews posted at AUREA.
Have a happy Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week!
I recently served as a host for the Carnival of Aros and chose the theme “Love” (here is the round-up post). I’ve been pondering the submissions, and thus, I now have some further reflections on love.
A theme in many of the submissions is that love (especially but not just romantic love) is given an unduly exalted position in our culture. A few quotes in this vein:
“Love has such an inflated meaning / That it’s become meaningless to me;” from “Love Is Just a Feeling” by Magni
“Multiple people express a desire to not cheapen love. Allow me express an opposite desire: love should be cheap enough that I feel comfortable ever claiming it.” from “Those Magic Words” by Siggy
“Call me a faker, call me a fraud / But I think you’re all mistaking romance for god” from “Obsessed With Love” by Chara C.
“Even those who decry one species covert others, romantic traded for platonic, the flower pot placed on a pedestal just the same.” from “Love is a Flower” by Briar
I recommend that you remember the idea behind these quotes – that the value of love is overblown in our culture – because I’m going to reference it in the conclusion to this post.
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First of all, I heartily thank everyone who submitted to this carnival.
I am making TWO lists. The first list is purely links for people who want to access the submissions in a compact form. The second list contains descriptions and quotes. All submissions are represented in both lists, I’m just trying to accommodate different reading styles. Both lists are in the order that I received the submissions.
SHORT FORM LIST
I Ramble About Love. by Sara K.
“Those Magic Words ‘I Love You'” by Siggy
“Obsessed With Love” by Chara C.
“Love vs. Radical Kindness” by techno
“My Experiences Feeling Demiplatonic” by Magni
“Love is Just a Feeling” by Magni
Carnival of Aros – Love by Neir
“On ‘I Love You'” by Lokiana
“What about love?” by Scoop
“My experience with “love” being aromantic” by Isaac
“Love Is a Flower” by Ax
“The Baggage of Love” by Briar
“Growing Up Platoniromantic: Colours of Love” by Blue Ice-Tea
“Thoughts and Quotes about Love” by Soulriser
“Some Thoughts on Love” by raavenb2619
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This poem by Chara C. is a submission to the December 2019 Carnival of Aros with the theme ‘Love’.
“Obsessed With Love:” by Chara C.
The story of true love
Has been told time and time again
The kiss, the kids, the happily ever after
The not understanding why they can’t be “just” friends Continue reading →
This is for the December 2019 Carnival of Aros: Love.
I often use the word ‘love’ in a casual way. For example, in my everyday life I might say something like ‘I love persimmons’ in the sense that I strongly like eating persimmons. However, when the concept of love is being discussed at a less casual level than ‘I love [to eat] persimmons’ I might not automatically roll my eyes, but I will be wary. My default expectation that either such discussions will not be meaningful (and thus a waste of time), or that it will conflate romance and love and/or ignore the lived experiences of aromantic people and/or shame people for ‘failing’ to feel/express certain emotions, and thus be a net negative. Sometimes discussions of ‘love’ do not fall into these pitfalls, but until proven otherwise, I expect that they will. Maybe that explains why I cringed a bit when I chose the blog post title ‘I Ramble About Love’.
Given all of this, why did I choose the theme ‘love’ for this month’s Carnival of Aros? I chose the theme because I do think ‘love’ is very worthy of discussion, and if there is one group I expect to (mostly) avoid those pitfalls and discuss love in a way that is meaningful to people with my lived experiences, it’s people who, like me, are under the aro umbrella. Well, I suppose aro people also sometimes say meaningless (to me) things about love too, but I think the odds that they will something that is meaningful (to me) are much higher. Continue reading →
The Carnival of Aros is an aromantic / aro-spectrum blogging festival. This is my first time hosting the carnival, and I chose the theme “Love”.
Submissions do not need to be in response to any particular prompt, but here are some prompts for people who want a little inspiration:
– you may react to the misconception that ‘aromantic people cannot feel love’
– you may comment on the conflation of romance with love from an aro perspective
– how does you position under the aro umbrella (quoiromantic/greyromantic/aromantic/etc.) affect the way you experience love?
– are there any specifically ‘aro’ forms of love?
– does your position under the aro umbrella affect the way you react to generalized comments about love, such as ‘the world needs more love’ even when those comments are not specifically pointing to romance?
If you do not have your own platform, or if you wish to be anonymous, I can accept guest posts and host them on this blog. You may send submissions by commenting on this post or sending them to
DecemberCarnivalofAros@thenotes.e4ward.com (this email address has been deactivated because the December 2019 carnival is over). If you comment or send me an email, and I do not respond within three days, assume that I did not receive the comment/email and try again.
I will post the roundup post on January 2, 2020. I will accept submissions until January 7, and retroactively add them to the roundup post.
I look forward to your submissions!
UPDATE: The round-up is here!