Tl;dr Aromanticism is STILL a footnote in discussions about asexuality and that means the arospec community has been completely burnt out just trying to exist outside of asexuality, so we should probably change that.
[EDIT: Since writing this post, some quiet whispers of Arospec Awareness Week have been floating around certain corners of the internet. Among other things you can check out this awesome comic and this incredible list of resources]
So usually this is the time of year when aromantic awareness week happens and it doesn’t appear to be happening (at least not that I can see). But I firmly believe that this shit is important, so I’m pretending it’s happening anyways.
I really wanted to celebrate Aromantic Awareness week this year. Both AAWs (asexual and aromantic) are struggles for me aroaces are both the gold star identity of each group and also blamed for all problems in both communities. But I was looking forward to embracing that discomfort alongside my fellow aroaces this year.
On one hand, there’s the assumption that asexuals are aromantic and that aromantic folks are asexual. I’m fulfilling that stereotype, woohoo!
On the other hand, there’s the understanding that asexuality and aromanticism are different and that comes with the expectation that aroace folks can separate those two parts of ourselves. Maybe some people can. I can’t. That’s a post for another time.
But there is no apparent Aromantic Awareness Week this year, so what I want to talk about is how completely drained and unsupported all of us arospecs are at the moment.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the arospec awareness week blog has remained inactive this year. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the aromantic voices I am hearing are small and exhausted. And I definitely don’t think it’s a coincidence that when I googled “Aromantic Awareness Week 2018” to see if anything was up, the second link was for Asexual Awareness Week.
And I don’t think it’s at all a coincidence that the most common place we find the word “aromantic” is as a footnote in a thing about asexuality.
Arospecs don’t get to exist except in terms of asexuality and that is terrifying.
This isn’t the fault of aroaces. This isn’t the fault of arospec folks. The aromantic community is tiny and usually under attack. We’re bound to burn out.
I don’t even think the problem is with the asexual community, although I believe the asexual community has a habitual problem of situating itself as an expert on subjects other than asexuality, including aromanticism (that goes into the post I will never write about why I don’t engage in online asexual communities).
The problem is that this is a society that hears “aroace” when someone says “asexual”, but then only views asexual people as human when they can prove that they are still “normal”. For an asexual person, the closest thing to society’s definition of “normal” (which is wrong, for the record), is romantic attraction.
And so, arospecs of all sorts are both dragged into situations they don’t belong while being completely ignored at exactly the same time. We’re attached to asexuals at the same time that we’re being distinctly separated.
This back and forth is enough to give anyone whiplash.
And this is certainly not sustainable.
The thing is, we’ve been so busy in this illogical back and forth between the completely contradictory things being thrown at us that we still haven’t taken aromanticism out of the footnote (and it’s been there for YEARS).
So maybe we should start with that.
And when I say “we”, I mean anyone who has ever dared to even consider “aromanticism” as a footnote or addendum to asexuality.
Once we’ve stopped doing that, us arospecs will hopefully start getting the space and time we need to truly share our voices, support each other, and spread awareness.