I’ve seen the beginnings of a trend that conflates aro-ace experiences of aromantic erasure in a-spec spaces with allo-aro experiences of allosexual-and-aromantic erasure.
I am troubled when this notion of we’re all aros together and we all experience aromantic erasure is used to silence allo-aros from talking about our specific experiences. This line of thought seems reasonable because there’s been no real discussion on what allosexual-and-aromantic erasure in a-spec spaces looks like. When you don’t know what allosexual-aromantic erasure is, it’s not so unreasonable to think it similar to aromantic erasure.
When allo-aros experience aromantic erasure in general a-spec spaces, we are simultaneously experiencing allosexual erasure alongside it. (This is because we cannot exist in a-spec spaces by virtue of our allosexuality alone, and aromanticism is not a centred a-spec identity.) This makes our experiences of erasure in a-spec spaces different from those of aro-aces, and we need this difference recognised.
It’s also worth noting that these points are interconnected and similar: a lot of these instances of erasure can’t happen without the concurrent existence of others. I’m listing these to create this sense of exposure and clarification, because even allo-aros don’t know the breadth of our own erasure.
I’ll also say that erasure doesn’t have to be intentional to be erasure. A lot of this doesn’t happen from malice; some of it happens from good intentions and a lot of it happens from the history of aromantic communities and culture evolving from asexual ones. It’s still erasure.
So please find a list of over fifty instances I consider allo-aro erasure, along with a few parenthetical explanations.
(People unfamiliar with terminology used in this post should first read this guide on using a-spec community terms.)
Allosexual Aromantic Erasure in A-Spec and Aromantic Spaces Is:
Community Composition and Identity
- The assumption that all a-specs are asexual unless otherwise specified
- The assumption that all aromantics are asexual unless otherwise specified
- The assumption that “aro” as a non-SAM identity is only open to aro-aces
- The belief that aromanticism as an identity and community is only open to asexuals
- The belief that asexuality and aromanticism are always related, connected or joined identities and experiences
This is additional to the challenges presented by the reality that allo-aros are (at present) a tiny sub-section of a small community (the aromantic community) that developed from the asexual community. This truth isn’t strictly erasure, but it makes erasure more difficult to challenge.
- The belief that there is always a separation between aromantic and allosexual identities (treated in the opposite to asexuality, above)
Some of us have our allosexual identities and our aromantic identities irrevocably intertwined and don’t wish to separate them, privilege one or deny one to have community for the other.
Representation and Information
- References to allo-aros in aromantic informative content stopping at phrases like “not all aromantics are asexual and not all asexuals are aromantic”
- The lack of detailed allo-aro content in aromantic informative content
- The tendency for the a-spec community to focus on asexuality and aromanticism shaped by asexuality in informative content, treating allosexual aromanticism as an exception or unusual
We’re often a one-sentence reference or a short paragraph tacked onto the end of broader aromantic information (which is rarely treated equitably to asexuality in a-spec spaces). A focus on asexuality also means that lines like “not all aros are asexual” aren’t accompanied by narratives depicting and reinforcing this truth. It is difficult for questioning allo-aros to believe allo-aros exist when most a-spec content centres on asexuality.
- A lack of informative content about allosexual aromanticism accessible for questioning allo-aros without first deeply interacting with the ace, aromantic and a-spec communities
In order to find real information about allosexual aromanticism, we need to dig deep into the aromantic community–which is itself rarely accessible to anyone who hasn’t dug deep into the asexual community.
- The assumption that work-safe references to sexual attraction as shaped by aromanticism in a-spec and aromantic spaces needs warnings beyond category tags like “allosexual”, “allo-aro” or “pansexual aro”
- The assumption that aromantic content that speaks more to aro-ace experiences never needs category tags like “aro-ace” or “asexual” if it doesn’t centre too much on asexuality
- The assumption that content by an aro-ace is always general aromantic content and applicable to all aromantics, including allo-aros
- The assumption that if the word “asexuality” isn’t mentioned, depictions of it are applicable to all aromantics, including allo-aros
- The assumption that content that displays ace of spades symbolism without obvious uses of purple or the word “asexual” is general aromantic content
Aro-ace content belongs in general aromantic spaces, but it should be tagged as “aro-ace” or “asexual” as well as “aromantic”. We need your recognition that you are an aro shaped by asexuality, as I am an aro shaped by allosexuality, along with ability to blacklist.
That allo-aros feel pressure to tag and advise for allo-aro content while aro-aces often don’t tag for asexuality at all (and many asexuals tag asexual-only content as aromantic!) says a good deal about asexual centring in aromantic and a-spec spaces.
Allosexuality and Sexual Experience
- The lack of information on what (allo)sexual attraction feels like when shaped by aromanticism
- The lack of information on what aromanticism feels like when shaped by (allo)sexual attraction
- The lack of specific spaces for conversations about aromantic shapes of allosexual experiences
- The lack of conversation and information about navigating safe sexual relationships specifically targeted at aromantics
- The lack of conversation and information about safe sexual practices specifically targeted at aromantics
Many allo-aros have no idea how to navigate sexual life, interactions and relationships centred on our needs as an allo-aro. It is presumed that allosexual-and-alloaromantic resources serve us. They don’t.
- The assumption that FWB, hook-up and fuckboy/girl culture is inherently inclusive of allo-aros
- A community culture (mirrored from Western society) that often codes and contextualises sexual behaviours as simultaneously romantic
- A community culture of avoiding sexual references and sexually explicit content in a-spec and aro spaces when discussing our aromanticism, even when advised for in tags and under read more cuts
- An unspoken requirement for allo-aros to push (allo)sexual experiences and identities to the side in order to fully participate as aromantics in the aro and a-spec communities
When we don’t feel as though we’re allowed to make sexual references at all for fear that they’ll be too sexual or even too romantic, we lack information, representation and resources.
Language and Terminology
- Terminology centred on non-romantic relationships and attractions that acknowledge the potential for sexual relationships as an afterthought
- Limited allo-aro involvement in coining most a-spec-community-wide terminology
- A tendency for informative content available in general a-spec spaces to contain or reference the exclusionary interpretations of these terms, even when non-exclusionary or non-erasing interpretations exist
The language in common use, especially that originating from asexual, a-spec and aro-ace spaces, was rarely made with allo-aro needs in mind. It does not work for us more often than the a-spec community likes to acknowledge.
- The lack of use of “allo-aro” and “allosexual aromantic” outside of the aro community
- The lack of use of “allo-aro” and “allosexual aromantic” inside aromantic informative/educational content in both a-spec and aro spaces
- The use of “non-asexual aromantics” instead of “allosexual aromantics” in informative and positivity posts, always labelling and positioning allo-aros in reference to asexuality and the asexual community
Many formal aromantic informative pieces talk about how not all aromantics are asexual without ever using the term allosexual aromantic. This denies allo-aros information about and access to their own identity term.
Please note that not all non-asexual aros are allo-aro, but content only referring to allo-aros should use allo-aro over “non-asexual aro”. Content referring to all non-asexual aros should use that phrase alongside “allosexual aromantic”, or phrases like “allo-aros and non-SAM aros”, until the community finds a better term than “non-asexual”.
Relationship to Aromanticism / the Aromantic Community
- Use of terms like “aromantics and allo-aros” as though allo-aros aren’t included in the word “aromantic”
- Conversations that look at the benefit allo-aro creativity or activism can bring to the aromantic community
- Conversations that treat allo-aros as additional or extra to the aromantic community, as though we’re not already a fundamental part of why the aromantic community exists
We’re aromantic. We’re part of the aromantic community. Aro-aces are seen as a natural part of the aromantic community by default; nobody argues the worth of their activism or whether they should be included. While this is well-meant, it undermines the reality that allo-aros are also by default part of the aromantic community with no additional need to prove our worth.
- The comparative lack of allo-aro input in the historical development of community events, publications, language, identity mores, relationship terms and behaviours common in a-spec and aromantic spaces
- The need for allo-aros to continually engage in activism in a-spec and aromantic spaces, meaning that places that are meant to be our home in our own community require us to educate and explain over finding connection and support
- The need for aro-aces to speak for allo-aros outside the aromantic community, resulting in a well-intended habit of aro-aces speaking over allo-aros even within our aromantic community
- The dominance of aro-ace bloggers, blogs and content in aro-spec spaces, meaning allo-aros have no ability to escape a relationship with aro-ace content if we wish to engage with the aro community
- The inability to discuss our alienation from asexual content without the risk of offending or angering aro-aces in the aromantic community
In order to be part of the aromantic community, allo-aros are obliged to build and maintain a relationship with an identity that isn’t ours. An expectation for aro-aces to build and maintain a relationship with allosexuality in aromantic spaces is not mirrored in the same way.
Aro-aces deserve the right to see aro-ace content in aromantic spaces, but we need to address this imbalance in terms of what content dominates and how it impacts allo-aro participation in our shared community. Only then can we renegotiate a relationship that doesn’t tend to allo-aro erasure.
- The posting of general aromantic content that references asexuality and asexual experiences (as part of being aro-ace) in allo-aro tags
Allo-aro spaces exist in part so we can get away from omnipresent references to asexuality. Crosstagged general aro content referencing asexuality in our tags doesn’t allow us that.
- The conflating of allo-aro and aro-ace erasure by aro-aces as the same shape of aromantic erasure, irrespective of the differences allo does bring to our experiences
Yes, the reason for this post is itself another shape of allo-aro erasure.
Relationship to Asexuality / the Asexual Community
- The forced relationship to the asexual community as the developers of the community events, publications, language, identity mores, relationship terms and behaviours common in a-spec and aromantic spaces
- The requirement to centre and applaud the asexual community as a-spec language creators, even when their interpretations of some of these terms are harmful to allo-aros
- The requirement to continually centre and acknowledge the asexual community as a-spec and aromantic community founders
When the ace community leads the making of environments that are not equitable for us, it’s frustrating to be asked to express gratitude for their creation of a culture of inequality.
- The inability to scroll through aromantic tags without seeing asexual content, art and media dominating, especially asexual content with no reference to aromanticism
- The assumption that asexual-specific content about not experiencing sexual attraction, without reference to aromanticism, belongs in aromantic spaces
This carries with it the insinuation that allo-aros have no right to expect asexuality to not be centred and central in aromantic spaces (never mind a-spec ones). It others us even within our own community.
Relationship to the A-Spec Community
- The assumption that in a-spec spaces our aromantic identities must be the dominant and central part of how we identify ourselves
- The reality that the phrase “a-spec community” in practice means something closer to “asexual and a few aros who aren’t ace” and is centred on asexual content, activities and activism
- The frequent use of “a-spec” to mean “asexual” in a-spec spaces, as in “a-specs and aromantics”
A community space that is meant to be for both asexuals and aromantics all too frequently shows that asexual leaders regard aromantics as an afterthought.
- The frequent positioning of members of the asexual community in leadership roles for a-spec community spaces and events
- The dominance of asexual bloggers, blogs and content in a-spec spaces, meaning allo-aros have no ability to escape a relationship with asexuality and asexual content if we wish to be part of the general a-spec community
- The inability to discuss our alienation from asexual content without the risk of offending or angering allo-aces, aro-aces and non-SAM aces in the a-spec community
Allo-aro alienation from asexuality is treated as a shape of asexual antagonism or erasure, even though asexual content intrudes into aromantic and allo-aro spaces. Asexual alienation from allosexuality is treated as a just and acceptable response to a culture outside the a-spec community.
A-specs need to remember that outside the a-spec community, allo-aros are villified and demonised as heartless predators. The vast majority of depictions of and references to allosexuality do not include allo-aros.
- The fear that asexuals, dominating a-spec spaces, will regard us as predators for experiencing (allo)sexual attraction (not without historical precedent)
- The asexual centering in a-spec spaces, meaning that allo-aros are often reliant on aro-aces speaking on aromantic issues in a-spec spaces
- The asexual centering in a-spec spaces, meaning that allo-aros are often reliant on aro-aces speaking on allo-aro issues in a-spec spaces
- The asexual centering in a-spec spaces, meaning that asexuals are unaccustomed to listening to allo-aro voices on a-spec, aromantic and allo-aro issues
It’s not that allo-aros and aro-ace don’t have similarities in our aromantic erasure. They do. We are aromantics.
We need asexual a-specs to recognise that in the a-spec community, where it is presumed most people are asexual, the allosexual part of allo-aro erasure adds a new dimension to our experiences. To focus on the aromantic part and ignore the allosexual is to perpetuate the oldest problem allo-aros face in seeing equitable treatment–the assumption that our allosexuality doesn’t or shouldn’t matter to our aromanticism.
Please, let’s stop pushing it aside.
Author note: this post has been updated and revised (August 2019) to add a few more shapes of erasure now common in aromantic a-spec spaces and to remove a couple that felt too similar to others.