Ask: Ace Identity and the SAM

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sporadic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

An anon asks on Tumblr:

To be honest, in the past I was on the exclusionists’ side with the SAM (Split Attraction Model). It’s harmful! Stop forcing it on people! Attractions don’t need to be separated like that! Even though I myself am technically aroace. I was angry because I felt like I was being erased and spoken over in the ace community. I felt like I was being forced to separate my romantic and sexual attraction when they weren’t separate. It made me furious that I couldn’t make a post or comic calling myself asexual without some ace commenting, “no, asexuality is actually x aces can do/feel y that’s not what asexual means!” As if I’m confused.

So basically I hated that the SAM was forced on the word asexual any time someone used it. I’ve somewhat changed my mind recently: I now understand that splitting attraction is crucial to some people, but I do think we need something else because I can also understand genuine reasons why some are adverse to it and feel like its forced on them. There has been concern with using existing terminology and splitting them into romantic and sexual attractions.

Maybe instead of doing this we could create terms that are shorter and mean the same, combining the two attractions into one distinct identity. For example, a panromantic asexual is, uhh, tresexual? Not the real alternative–just to show what I mean. Arosexual or aseromantic could be umbrella terms for aspecs who feel one type of attraction and not the other. I’m not saying we should abandon the terms we have now.

Like I said, I’m not against the SAM any more (I’m sorry I ever was) and definitely think anyone can identify how they want. But I think we as a community need labels that are more concise and convey more information. I think it will make it easier for aspecs to find people that are most like them instead of just one part.

Just so folks know: you (general you) don’t need to insist to me that you’ve changed your ways. You don’t need to prove to me that you’ve learnt better. You can just say “I no longer believe that” and leave the conversation there. I dislike the purity culture tendency of having to constantly demonstrate one’s growth and resulting apology in order to reveal a less-palatable truth about the people we were, and I’m not going to demand it of the people who are doing the risky and dangerous thing of revealing their past in conversation with me.

We can’t grow as a community unless we talk about the beliefs we held and why we held them. We will fail in outreach to others if people don’t feel safe to talk about their history–we will fail to learn the unspoken undercurrents of why harmful attitudes are compelling. Folks who have learnt and changed are a vital bridge between two sides, and I think any requirement to constantly apologise or offer up reassurances for making a mistake long after is only going to stop the people we most need to hear from talking to us.

And oh is this a reason we need to better discuss and understand.

Continue reading “Ask: Ace Identity and the SAM”

Ask: Surviving Hate, Erasure and Amatonormativity

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sporadic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

An anon asks on Tumblr:

Hello, I love reading your posts and I think all the activism you do for the aro community is beautiful and needs to be done, so thank you so much <#. I personally realized I was aroace a month or so ago–How do you manage just being an aromantic person in just daily life without getting crushed under all the erasure and ignorance in the world? I’m worried about going into the adult world as someone with this orientation because of all of what I hear about aros not being heard and all the stories about aces being taken advantage of, and I’m honestly scared of all the ignorance and amisia I keep hearing is in the world. I’m not out to more than my close friends and family and the online communities I’m in, but you don’t have to be out to be hurt by antagonism or ignorance from others, and the amatonormativity I keep seeing *everywhere* is starting to make me feel hopeless. What do you do with these feelings? Thank you for reading this and for your blog <#

Thank you so very much for the kind and lovely words, anon!

I will agree with you that you absolutely do not have to be out to be hurt by hatred, erasure, dismissal and invisibility, because this line of thought isn’t said enough for my liking.

First, I’ll point out that self-care is important. If you haven’t already, get to know what what distracts you, what makes you happy, what takes you away from anxiety or frustration, be it books or TV or crafts or talking with a friend. Have these things ready as a waiting toolbox for when you need to escape the pressures of the world. Keep books or music that make you happy on your phone or in your bag, have a stash of a food you like in the cupboard, know where you can go to relax and decompress. Pursue hobbies unrelated to activism and give yourself space to enjoy them.

Second, please know that you can and should make full and shameless use of unfollowing, blocking and blacklisting options. If you want to make for yourself a paradise where your dashboard bears no mention of allosexism or amatonormativity, do it. Having these spaces allows you to more easily bear those situations where you can’t avoid debating your existence, and you are under no obligation to endure, explain and educate. You are always allowed to put your needs, your safety and your limitations ahead of both other people’s demands and the fight to be seen as human. You are always allowed to choose some battles and let others ago. You are always allowed to say that you are done with a particular conversation and stop. You are always allowed to say that you are not capable of this or any other fight. You are always allowed to centre your needs, anon, and while I am less good at this than I’d like to be, it is difficult to accomplish everything else I discuss if you can’t make a point of establishing the boundaries you need to survive.

I do two things with my feelings, anon, that allow them to rest more easily inside my skin: creativity and gratitude.

Continue reading “Ask: Surviving Hate, Erasure and Amatonormativity”