Being an Only Child, and Being Aromantic

I recently ran a thought experiment: is being aromantic like being an only child? Since I am an only child and aromantic, I think I’m qualified to answer the question.

As an only child, I do not have any biological siblings, and while I might conceivably form sibling-like adult relationships, the boat of having a childhood history attached to such relationships has already sailed. While it is conceivable that I could still form a deep romantic bond with somebody, at this point, I consider that to be quite unlikely. Therefore, I consider both ‘sisterhood’ and ‘romantic bond’ long gone from my deck of cards.

Obviously, I didn’t control how many siblings I had, whereas I at least have influence over whether or not I have romantic partners. But do I really control it? I cannot control whether or not I fall in romantic love with someone, and if I’m not romantically in love with someone, is it a true romantic bond?

What do I wish for more, a sibling or a romantic partner?

I’ve made my peace with both my lack of siblings and lack of romantic partners, but if a genie could grant me one – and only one – I would pick a sibling. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t choose to be siblingless, and maybe if I really *did* have a sibling, I would wish that sibling away.

What do I get more flack for?

Being aromantic. Definitely.

That’s not to say that I get zero flack for being an only child. There are people who pity me because I don’t have any siblings, and I hear about people saying that all only children are spoiled brats, and so on. But I get less as an adult than I did as a kid, and there are enough well-known only children in the world that it’s not considered particularly strange.

The flack I feel for being aromantic is exponentially greater.

It is almost certainly partially due to aromanticism being much, much, much less understood than only-childhood. However, at least in American society, much less importance is attached to sibling-sibling relationships than romantic relationships, so by lacking romantic relationships, I am breaking the social norms much harder than by lacking sibling relationships.

A lot more people think my life must be empty and meaningless because I lack romantic relationships than because I lack sibling relationships, even though I see no objective reason for romantic relationships to be more important for sibling relationships.

Is it a useful example?

Most people in American society understand that life can be full, interesting, and meaningful without siblings. Does substituting ‘siblings’ with ‘romantic partners’ help people understand how being aromantic can be okay too?


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Female Characters – Without the Romance

I just read this Candi strip.

In case you can’t read it, here is a transcript:

Laura: Don’t most of the stories you read have some kind of romance in the plot or something?
Jess: It’s not always the main part of the story, but yes.
Laura: So what’s wrong about getting to read the actual result of the romance. [NOTE: While I dislike the notion that sex is by default the main result of romance, it is consistent with Laura’s character that she would say something like this]
Jess: Nothing, but do you only watch porn, or do you watch a variety of TV shows? Sometimes they show sex, most don’t, and you’re still watching them, yes?

Now, as I’ve said before, I do like romance in fiction, and most of the fiction I read has some romance.

But this strip got me thinking … what romance free fiction is out there?

I could think of two general categories:

1) Children’s fiction
2) Stories where 70%+ of the characters are male

Maybe, if I think hard enough, I’ll think of a fictional story which is dominated by female characters, is aimed at an adult audience AND which does not have romance or sex.

I almost mentioned play “Nickel and Dimed” as an example of a story with mostly female characters and practically no romance … but then I remembered that it’s based on a non-fiction book. Curses. But, when I think about it, there are plenty of interesting non-fictional stories which revolve around females without having romance or sex … so why can’t fiction be the same?

And I think it’s important for such stories to be told. When I was a child, one of my favorite things about the So You Want to Be A Wizard books is that the relationship between the female and male protagonists was EXPLICITLY non-romantic and non-sexual … alas, it’s for children, so it doesn’t count. I also like that the female and male protagonist in the His Dark Materials Trilogy could work together in a totally platonic way … until I read the ending of The Amber Spyglass … ewwww (note: I normally do not react to sexual or romantic content by saying ‘ewwww’, but I think the ending of The Amber Spyglass merits such a reaction).

So, here’s my question:

What works of fiction a) have at least 60% female characters b) are aimed at an adult audience and c) have no (or almost no) sex or romance?