Remodeling: on the Reclamation of the Term “Split Attraction Model”

This is a post about the ace and aro communities’ reclamation of the term “split attraction model” from the most recent anti-ace online harassment wave, picking back up on the discussion from here. A quick recap of that post: romantic orientation & differentiating types of attraction are not the same thing, and “split attraction model” is an anti-ace-derived piece of terminology that lumps the two of them together. For that reason, I’m here referring to ace & aro use of the phrase as a type of reclamation, in that it was imposed on us from the outside and now some have adopted it.

In this post, I do some more thinking out loud about the semantic work that the phrase “split attraction model” does and does not accomplish. The post has roughly three main parts. First, I share some of my understanding of why the term surfaced in the first place, in order to contextualize how it’s been reclaimed and is used now in the present. Second, as a response to that, I’ve present five narratives to complicate the resulting binary. Third, I’ve got some tentative suggestions for finding a way forward.

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Romantic Orientation and the “Split Attraction Model” are not the same thing

A few days ago, when I mentioned on Pillowfort that I wanted to write something about the development of the “romantic orientation” model, I was helpfully pointed toward this post on the “split attraction model” at Historically Ace. I appreciate that, and I think it’s a handy collection of information. However, I have a problem with that post: it’s not actually a history of “the split attraction model” as a term itself. The phrase “split attraction model” appears in the post only three times, two of those times being as introduction and the other solely to specify that something else would not be considered an example of it. The timeline of that post ends at 2007, which is actually before the phrase “split attraction model” even entered into circulation in the ace community.

For comparison, I think this is like if I had written “a history of relationship anarchy” and then only, solely charted examples of the use of queerplatonic — which is to say, maybe it’s not wildly-off base, but it still falls short of what it actually promises. As related as they are, and as much sense as it makes to discuss the two alongside each other, the history of one is not the history of the other. A history of the “split attraction model” still remains yet to be told.

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On “friendship”

In our conversations about norms, standards, desires, and expectations for relationships, such as in the conversations around queerplatonic and alterous, I’ve seen a lot of comparison against friendship as a familiar point of reference; it’s a term you’re supposed to be already familiar with, as groundwork for the mapping of other terms in relation to it. A lot of the times, when invoking it in this way, people will talk about “friendship” in ways that bother me with their implications. So, because I’ve gotten to thinking about that some more, I’ve returned to asking: what is friendship? We–

Wait– Hold on, wait– No, come back–

Darn. I think I just lost a reader.

Well, for those of you who are still here: in thinking about this, I’ve so far come up with about five (some potentially intersecting, some not) different models for what someone might mean by friendship — and I’m not even sure exactly which one I prefer out of the bunch.

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Bonus Round: Queerplatonic-Adjacent Concepts

Originally, my Genealogy of Queerplatonic (Part 1) was going to have multiple sections, but due to length I ended up cutting a lot of extra links I’d collected on other different-but-related concepts. I’m now sharing those links here, in their own post. In other words, even though this post mostly isn’t about the concept of “queerplatonic” by name, you can think of this post as a kind of Part 2.

Featured in this post: a set of smaller link compilations on relationship anarchy, platonic orientations, alterous attraction, and more.

[Note: This post has been crossposted to Pillowfort. Edited 3/21/19.]

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A Genealogy of Queerplatonic

This post is a sampling of links charting the development of the term “queerplatonic” from 2010 to 2019. The concept has been back on my radar again, so to speak, and I’ve been thinking about saying more about it, but I’ve realized that in order to respond to certain patterns, I’d need to document them first. This post represents my effort to do just that.

Accordingly, I’ve tried to refrain from building toward any particular argument or central claim. Instead, I leave most of that to you. However, I am wary of this post being linked or cited in any way which outright contradicts my understanding, and so I have provided a couple paragraphs of summary down at the end, to pick out some of the most distinct patterns I have observed. If you are linking this post and need to condense it into a shorter summary, please make use of those paragraph in some way.

[Note: This post has been crossposted to Pillowfort. Updated 3/10/19. See also Part 2.]

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Queerplatonic is not an aro term

Or, now that the clickbait title has got your attention, let me make that a claim with a little more nuance: to say that “queerplatonic is an aro term” is a statement that, if it is made, deserves to be qualified. And I’ll explain why.

[Note: this post has been crossposted to Pillowfort. Updated 3/8/19.]

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Quoiro/WTFromantic: a brief timeline of disidentification with & personal rejection of romantic orientation

[Note: this post has been crossposted to Pillowfort. Updated 3/19/19.]

Since I’ve been thinking lately on the topics of those-who-struggle-with-labels and the process of getting new terms to take root, I decided I’d put together a brief timeline of one specific subset of that: disidentification with and personal rejection of romantic orientation.

Featured in this post: the coinage and meaning of wtfromantic, the subsequent coinage and meaning of quoiromantic, some discussion over competing definitions, and a sampling of personal reflection posts on the topic demonstrating its continued relevance over the past eight years. Formatted by year, with select text excerpts in blockquotes.

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Insecurities and Consent

For some people, asking for consent feels like asking someone their opinion of your inherent desirability and maybe even your worth. Rejection of an activity can feel like a rejection of your entire self.

This is a problem. It’s not healthy for your entire relationship to be on the line every time you ask someone for sex. You need and deserve to be secure in your own desirability and worth without relying on the unpredictable sexual urges of other people to maintain that security. Your partners need and deserve the space to say “no” freely and without emotional pressure. […]

Plan ahead of time how you can work through these feelings without making your partner feel punished or obligated to change their mind. If you have a regular partner, it might be good to let them know about your insecurities and how you plan to handle your response, so they know, for instance, that if you need to go for a walk or take some alone time, you’re not punishing them and you don’t want them to change their mind to placate you – that you know it’s your responsibility to work through your feelings and that you’ve got it handled.

You can also preempt some of these insecurities by working on finding other ways to feel good about your body or to feel close and connected to another person in a way they do freely consent to.

–TDF, “Insecurities and Consent”

Today I’ve added this as recommended reading onto my sex-as-worth principle post.

PF Promo

I’ve talked some on here about and what I see in it, both in this short post and in this Carnival of Aces post, so I just thought I’d let y’all know that their Kickstarter is currently over 80% funded and has a little more than a week left to go.

While I understand having reservations, I’ve really enjoyed my time there so far, and there’s been a lot of discussion about how Pillowfort’s similar and different features encourage a different social dynamic from what a lot of us are used to (for instance: in this comment section and several other places, I’ve seen PF users mention that the site’s features have helped them participate in a lot more interaction and real conversations).

That interactivity, in addition to PF Staff’s responsiveness and PF’s anti-harassment tools, makes worth looking at if you are another beleaguered ace tired of the status quo. Aces have talked about the problems with AVEN at length and have talked about how Tumblr has become a hostile environment (in general, and for aces in particular) with the way a post of yours can easily spin out of control and get you flooded with harassment. Suffice to say, there are a lot of elements in play over on Pillowfort that I think can significantly alter those dynamics that by now feel so ingrained. For instance, how would you like it if, upon deciding one of your posts was a bad idea, clicking “delete” on one of your posts also deleted the reblog-copies off the blogs of anyone who had reblogged it? And deleting it literally deleted it from the whole site, not just from your own blog? You could actually make sure that no one ever saw it again. Or, one better, what if you wanted to put the post back up again but keep it away from unfriendly eyes? What if you could keep parts of your blog public while also setting an individual post to “viewable to mutuals only”? Can you imagine how that would change the game?

…And that’s only some of what I value about Pillowfort. I meant for this to just be a short two-sentence “hey check out the kickstarter” post but once I get going talking about this place, it feels like there’s so much to say. But please, check it out and see for yourself.

At the moment, PF is still in closed beta and will remain so even for a time after the Kickstarter, but beta invites can still be obtained via the Kickstarter for the next few days for just $5, and if you want you even can use the demo account right now for free. So you’re invited to take a look around!

Watching through the window vs. closing the blinds and building a pillowfort

This post is for the July Carnival of Aces, on the theme of “then and now.”

In the past five years or so, my relationship to the ace community has changed, gradually. There’s a difference between saying that and saying that the ace community has changed, and I don’t think I’m in touch enough now (or have ever been) to confidently make a case like that… but, because there are so many bloggers I know who are burned out on ace discussions or dead sick of the usual unmerry-go-round, I also know I’m not alone in feeling tired, and drifting, and withdrawing, and sometimes, closing the blinds. But this isn’t a post about being jaded and frustrated with the state of things (as fair as those posts are). This is also a post about changing my online practices to better suit what I actually want out of ace blogging, and how that’s still a work in progress for me.

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