(What) does the aro community want (with) quoiros?

A post about being quoiro amid aro-ace conflict & feeling unsure of my relationship to the aro umbrella. Crossposted. One part personal reflection post, one part invoice to the aro community, and one part gratuitous smattering of links — all centering around two questions: Does the aro community want quoiros to be counted among them? And if so, am I supposed to consider myself to be, in certain circumstances, “basically aro”?

The salience of this question for me is bound up in certain aro-ace intracommunity issues that span multiple online platforms. With that said, just to give you an example, one of the current recurring points of frustration involves the misuse of the Tumblr tag function. Examples of where people have talked about this include here, here, here, & here. There’s also an issue of silencing to contend with — I’ve proposed one idea that I hope should help with a part of that, and I’m interested in further feedback about that idea, but that’s not what this post is about. Beyond that, the problem also includes the more general reductive talk that crunches aromanticism as if it is an ace-specific identity, amatonormativity in the ace community, and more. For more details on the issues, see K. A. Cook’s Allo Aro for Allies Link Post. In this post, I’m only going to focus on a few relevant specifics.

A note on using “allosexual” in this context: this post will use the term “aro allo” for aro allos per their own preference, although I am aware of criticism. For further context on this topic, you may be interested in a history of words used to describe non-aces.

Hello, who are you?

If you’re not a regular reader here, allow me into introduce myself. My name is Coy. I have been personally identifying as quoiromantic for about five years, after a brief period of questioning before that. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, you can read up on the origins of “quoiromantic,” what people use it to mean, and why it’s relevant. For myself, I use it to mean not having a romantic orientation. The term can be considered a surly response to the romantic & sexual dyad as a community norm, and in that sense, I have something in common with folks who are “just aro.”

But more generally? I don’t know where I stand with the aro community as a whole. That’s a question that I’ve mostly been able to leave on the backburner, but now that I’m aware of some aros very clearly preferring more separation, it’s begun to feel more pressing to sort out. And I don’t know how to sort it out. I don’t know where I stand with aros.

Why not?

This ambivalence of mine may come as a surprise or a disappointment to you, if you’re used to seeing quoiros named as a part of the aromantic umbrella. I took a glance through Tumblr yesterday to collect some examples of this: you’ve got this blog whose description says quoiro is on the aromatic spectrum, glossary pages which call quoiro an aro spectrum identity, pride artwork/clothes in posts that call quoiro part of the aro umbrella (example, example, example), posts about being aro tagged as quoiromantic, and posts about/representing quoiromanticism tagged as aromantic, aro art, or even just aro. You can also check out this post with extensive commentary on a problem of misnaming aromantic pride as asexual; the artist’s choice to include a representation of quoiromanticism among the aromantic spectrum pride leaves, by contrast, goes unremarked upon. And personally, like Aceadmiral, I find it all a little… confusing.

From this, if this were your only frame of reference, if this was all you ever saw about quoiromanticism, you might conclude that of course the aro community considers quoiros a part of the aromantic community, of course it does, no question, absolutely, and that’s a good thing, because we’re being “included.” Of course. You might say. If that were your frame of reference.

That’s not my frame of reference.

My frame of reference is people talking like there’s a great divide between aromantic aces and alloromantic aces. My frame of reference is the eight-years-and-counting Tumblr flamewar premised in part on sorting aces by romantic orientation. My frame of reference is the pressure to pick a side. My frame of reference is people treating me as though to say “you will be subjected to this categorization system and you will be sorted.”

My frame of reference is being subjected to this within and without ace community.

And now, yes, the aro community, too.

The Great Divide

In order to talk about my current impressions of the aro community, I need to talk about where that impression is coming from. My contact with the aro-community-as-such has been limited — I made an Arocalypse account in 2016 but didn’t post there much — until now. This past February, with the launching of the Carnival of Aros, the host blog chose the relationship between the aro & ace communities as the theme. This choice was met with criticism you can read about here and here, and the Carnival submissions themselves can be found at the final Roundup. Eventually, I took a look… and winded up going down a rabbit hole that’s now landed the aro community more thoroughly my radar. Consequently, I’ve gotten more occasion to see how the aro community is talking, including the pervasive talk of the great divide.

By the great divide, I’m talking about the tendency to separate aromantic aces from alloromantic aces as if you can make a clean, clear cut that way, as if the separation is completely black and white, as if you can sort us all that way without leaving anybody out. One of the Carnival of Aros submissions, for instance, advised “don’t forget mention aroallos along with aroaces and alloaces.” This isn’t something specific to that one blogger. It’s generally representative of this pattern to how people talk about aros & aces: as if we can all be split up into either aro allosexuals, aro aces, or allorom aces. This is also a problem for aros without sexual orientations, too, not just for people like me. Listening to talk like this, it feels like we’re being expected to “just choose.” Or, further, taken in combination with how some aces refer to quoiro as an “aro spectrum identity,” it feels like I’m expected to “just choose” to interpret myself as “basically aro.”

Alternatively, in some extra fancy cases, you may see someone throw in an additional category — ex. splitting up aces into “allo-aces, aro-aces and non-SAM aces” — which I hate, because I am not a “non-SAM” ace. The rise of the “split attraction” designation has been frustrating for a whole thicket of reasons, something I have already written reams about. I’ll spare you the details this time, because if you want to know, you can follow those links. But another curious thing about this kind of talk, to me, is it is not disruptive. It suggests some vague awareness that not every ace has a romantic orientation, but I haven’t encountered a time when this recognition was used to challenge or criticize the great divide that names only “aro aces” and “allo aces.” I can’t tell if it’s just something I’ve happened to miss, but regardless, that’s not really among the fights that I’ve seen play out.

Now let me tell you about the fights that I have seen play out.

Claiming Aro Ownership

From my perspective, reading up on it, current aro community talk (or discourse, because discourse means talk) has featured a curious amount of… cultural protectionism, for lack of a better term. Or in other words, claiming certain things as aro terms or aro symbols. This would be fine if the particular cases of this were not so misrepresentative and unduly keen on enforcing the great divide.

For instance, you’ve got the (now recanted) accusation that aces “co-opted” the ace of spades as a general ace community symbol. In reading this sentence, you may immediately recognize that this as, in a word, silly. The original accusation was premised on the (misinformed) idea that each suit of cards was (supposedly) relegated according to whether you’re aro ace, allorom ace, gray-ace, or demisexual. That all relies on splitting up aces by romantic orientation — not to mention the confusing treatment of grayness there — and the whole notion was both completely arbitrary and needlessly inflammatory… but it’s not the first time I’ve heard something like that. It’s not the first time I’ve encountered someone trying to impose that kind of system on us. Based on, again, yes, playing cards.

Card suit sorting was also the premise of an ill-advised tumblr event in 2015 that told aces to participate by holding up an ace card. Which card you were told to use was determined by whether or not you were 1) alloromantic asexual, 2) aromantic asexual, 3) demirom/demisexual/grayro/gray-asexual, or 4) questioning. Yes, exactly like that. Splitting aces up by romantic orientation & grayness, again. I have no idea why it was considered so important to assign us particular cards suits at all, let alone divide them up like… that. This arbitrary sorting system left no space at all for asexuals with no romantic orientation — and was criticized as such. And that wasn’t even the complete extent of the mess.

While this may have been a pretty small-scale spat, all things considered, it’s now the #1 thing I associate with people trying to impose this silly card suit sorting nonsense on ace community symbolism: demanding that we all sort ourselves by romantic orientation. The Great Divide. And now it’s not just something I associate with ace intracommunity issues; now, it’s something I associate with aro tumblr’s habit of talking about aces like we’re stealing our own stuff.

The most impactful example of this to me is “queerplatonic,” which keeps getting claimed as “coined by the aromantic community, not the asexual” (repeatedly), as “a term by and for aro people” (repeatedly), and as “aro community terminology” that needs to be defended from allorom aces, as visualized via the “I made this” meme. These ways of talking about the origins and trajectory of queerplatonic are oversimplifying more complicated reality: both in 1) retroactively claiming the involvement of a 2010 “aromantic community” and 2) in conscripting everyone involved into an “aro” or “aro spectrum” identity, just because they weren’t specifically alloromantic, while also 3) downplaying the relevance of their asexual identities, once again expecting romantic orientation to be as much or more important for everyone.

That all would be annoying enough in its own right. But.

Non/romantic Absolutism

A lot of this adamant claiming of queerplatonic has relied on making clear, absolute distinctions between the romantic and the nonromantic. This hardnosed commitment to an absolute division 1) creates a completely unworkable mandate for people as quoiromatic as myself, who don’t subscribe to using that division in the first place, and also 2) reinforces the very “this or that, no other option” binary that the original conversation it emerged from was reacting to in the first place. Letting queerplatonic express ambiguity on that front should not be treated as threatening. Talking otherwise — taking the stance that queerplatonic’s relationship to the category of “romantic” needs to be monolithic, specific, and absolute, or in other words, that it needs to be premised on a romantic/nonromantic division — is an anti-quoiro stance to take.

When Luna tried to intervene into one of these conversations and bring up quoiromanticism, this seemed to go completely over people’s heads. The responses they got included lines like “if quoiromantic people personally include romance in it that’s okay,” and “for some people it’s not romantic if its not sexual,” so “those people should be free to use queerplatonic.” These inscrutable responses condescendingly treat us like some kind of special exception who gets a pass, while also apparently misunderstanding the definition of quoiro to begin with. I don’t “include romance” in anything, because that’s not a meaningful category to me, and “it’s only romantic if it’s sexual” doesn’t describe my experience in the least. I don’t identify as quoiro to express convergence; I identify as quoiro because the concept of “romantic or not” isn’t useful to me. These very responses are talking about my identity while still treating me like I’m supposed to be subscribing to that system, and I don’t. Why are you assuming I do?

It’s a frustrating thing to have seen unfold. I don’t know how to get people to stop talking about me like this — people who know the word “quoiromantic” and people who are ostensibly, if you do place us under the aro umbrella, “my community.”

Personal Experiences

I shouldn’t just base my perspective on gross oversights like, though. I should base it on my experiences. Problem is, my experiences… are mixed.

On the one hand, I am grateful to the folks under the aro umbrella who’ve made a deliberate effort to make space for me. When I first expressed uncertainty as to whether I should even talk about the Carnival of Aros (let alone consider participating in it), Sennkestra not only answered but even made a Carnival FAQ and asked for my feedback on it. Sennkestra’s February 2019 Carnival submission also made a point about the aro/allo binary, explicitly advising readers not to forget about wtfromantics. When I suggested changes Arocalypse’s 101 definition of quoiromanticism, it was made, no fussing at me for asking. And when I expressed to Raven my uncertainty about my relationship to aros, they were very gracious about it, telling me that they consider quoiros entirely welcome in the community, without phrasing that welcome in any absolutist terms. I appreciate that more than I can say.

On the other hand, in the-aro-community-as-such, or in aro spaces with a more deliberate focus on aromanticism as the centerpiece, or with aros who prioritize an aro identity, the overall pattern doesn’t look like that. While it would be cruel to make a sweeping judgement about the aro community as a whole just because of that, on a personal level, in terms of my personal relationship to the community, I can’t help being affected by my personal experiences. And it just so happens that many of those experiences have taken the form of fights, fights, fights, and more fights. That may be my own fault; you could even say I started it. I’ve gotten into plenty of fights with aces and demis, too. Ain’t nothing special about that. This factor shouldn’t need to be important.

Except.

What do I want? What do you want?

I’m sure it’s hindsight bias at work, but this all seems so much murkier than the Gray Wars of 2013-2014. Seeing that conflict play out in no uncertain terms showed me exactly what ace tumblr thought of gray-asexuals and what the arguments on each side looked like. I was a questioning/newly-identifying gray-asexual at the time, so it left a mark on me — enough that I’m now quick to defend grayness as a concept, including where grayromantics are concerned. One grayromantic, Laura, recently claimed that the ace community is now better about handling grayness than the aro community is, which surprised me. Personally, I don’t have enough context to agree or disagree. All I know is that, from my point of view, things definitely used to be worse. And yet.

From seeing enough people come to the defense of grayness explicitly, I got the sense that, even if there was some hostility there, there was also enough of the community committed to seeing me as “one of them” that the resolution there was comparatively simple. Gray-asexuality as an identity emerged from an asexual forum; asexual people largely accept gray-aces under the umbrella; the experiences of sexuality I related to the most were ace umbrella experiences in general; I knew where I stood. At the time, I wanted my place among aces and I didn’t feel like I’d need to fight hard for it, because other aces already had.

With aros? I don’t know what I want. I don’t know if I want a warmer welcome or if I want people to stop tagging their quoiromantic posts with #aro, and I don’t know if I want to be a part of a community so everloving quick to misrepresent my identity while acting like they’re doing me a favor. I don’t know if it makes it better or worse that so many tumblr aros are choosing to reblog artwork in superficial support (using the striped flag instead of the other one, but we don’t talk about that) — but when it comes to the issues I already described above…. mostly crickets. Mostly.

I don’t know what the aro community wants either but let me tell you, no amount of reblogging quoiro “pride art” is going to make me feel like the aro community cares about addressing the great divide, non/romantic absolutism, or compulsory romantic orientation.

These days, troubled by an unanswered question, trying to make sense of all this, I’m feeling like I’m at a place a lot like what Elizabeth described here — distant, uneasy, re-examining things. I’m not sure whether or not I should be reaching out, like she has done, or taking the more arokaladin approach. Do I want to be part of a group that’s hurt me? Sacrificed me for the greater good? Claimed quoiromantics as their reblog fodder, but when I, a quoiromantic, speak up on aro community language, called me an “ace outsider” who shouldn’t be talking?

Do you think you get to have it both ways?


73 responses to “(What) does the aro community want (with) quoiros?

  • raavenb2619

    “you will be subjected to this categorization system and you will be sorted.”

    the sad irony is that this is, at least to me, queerness is all about escaping this forced categorization, and yet so often we end up creating a new system that’s almost as bad. This is larger than just an alloro/aro issue though, (“gay or straight”, “cis or trans”, “aroace or allo aro”), which makes me think it’s rooted more in language/rhetoric and tribalism than anything else. You mentioned that you’re interested in language, do you have any ideas for how to solve not just this battle, but future ones as well by avoiding a false binary/enumerated list? As far as I can tell, it starts with good intentions (ex “let’s mention aroaces because everyone only talks about alloro aces”), but devolves into something bad (“you’re either alloro ace or aroace with no other options”)

    the very “this or that, no other option” binary that the original conversation it emerged from was reacting to in the first place. Letting queerplatonic express ambiguity on that front should not be treated as threatening.

    I have…mixed feelings about this. I think it’s definitely important for there to be a word that’s purposefully ambiguous and about queering the traditional notion of how relationships work (in a different way than how relationships that aren’t male-female queer traditional notions, that is), and I think queerplatonic should be that word. I also think it’s important for the aromantic community to have a word that strongly indicates that a relationship is non-romantic. The aro community has definitely interpreted queerplatonic to be that second word, and at this point people have enough emotional attachment to it that trying to deny that second meaning will always be an uphill battle that can’t be won. The best solutions I have are “english words are allowed to have multiple meanings” and “let’s create a second word for that second meaning”, but I’m not really optimistic about either of those. (This lack of vocabulary also connects to something else I and other aros have been feeling, an inability to describe ourselves as not in a relationship (ie single) without conveying that we’re in the dating pool (ie single). Some people have proposed some alternatives, but none have really resonated with me yet.)

    And when I expressed to Raven my uncertainty about my relationship to aros, they were very gracious about it, telling me that they consider quoiros entirely welcome in the community, without phrasing that welcome in any absolutist terms.

    always happy to support a friend :)
    Re: are quioros aro, do you know if there’s a general opinion among other quoiros? I don’t know how feasible a survey would be, but it might be useful information to have (ie if the quoiro community is fairly split, maybe instead of saying quoiros are or aren’t aro, we should say some are and some aren’t and it’s a personal decision)

    in aro spaces with a more deliberate focus on aromanticism as the centerpiece, or with aros who prioritize an aro identity, the overall pattern doesn’t look like that.

    My best guess is that this is because these aro-centric spaces are a sort of safe-haven from a strongly alloromantic world, so grayness and ambiguity is interpreted as bringing in some alloromanticism and thus a threat, which again leaves me wishing we had something better than tagging for creating different community spaces. Hopefully once the proposed aro community site (sort of like AVEN but for aros) actually happens, things can get better on that front.

    One grayromantic, Laura, recently claimed that the ace community is now better about handling grayness than the aro community is, which surprised me.

    My personal take is that the Gray Wars ended pretty decisively as including graysexuals in the ace community, so I think that’s why people will jump to defend and include them. I think a similar but less strong push to include grayros happened/is happening(?) in the aro community. That doesn’t mean that we’re actually better about talking about grayness, though.
    Re: “ace outsider”, I saw that but didn’t say anything at the time. Would you like me to message the person who said that?

    Do you think you get to have it both ways?

    I’d say yes. I’d imagine some people would say no, that it’s an unfair advantage, but it’s clear that forcing you and others to stick with one side forever, whether individually or on a community level, is oppressive, and part of combatting oppression is advocacy.

    Is it alright if I post your article on my tumblr?

    • Coyote

      You mentioned that you’re interested in language, do you have any ideas for how to solve not just this battle, but future ones as well by avoiding a false binary/enumerated list?

      Well, that’s a pretty big question. I don’t know how broadly you mean by that, but my impression is that a part of the issue is pretty wrapped up in essentialism. I don’t know how familiar you are with the conversations around essentialism, though. Should I explain more, or do you already know what I’m talking about?

      I have…mixed feelings about this. I think it’s definitely important for there to be a word that’s purposefully ambiguous and about queering the traditional notion of how relationships work (in a different way than how relationships that aren’t male-female queer traditional notions, that is), and I think queerplatonic should be that word. I also think it’s important for the aromantic community to have a word that strongly indicates that a relationship is non-romantic.

      Asking about the utility of different definitions is something I did at the end of this post, if you’re interested.

      (This lack of vocabulary also connects to something else I and other aros have been feeling, an inability to describe ourselves as not in a relationship (ie single) without conveying that we’re in the dating pool (ie single). Some people have proposed some alternatives, but none have really resonated with me yet.)

      The one that I’m aware of is nonamory. I take it you’ve seen that one?

      always happy to support a friend :)

      :3

      Re: are quioros aro, do you know if there’s a general opinion among other quoiros?

      I don’t. What I do know is that there’s more than one outlook out there. There are some quoiros who, like the example I linked in the main post, will refer to it as a part of the aro umbrella. I haven’t really seen that elaborated on. The folks I’ve seen who *have* elaborated more on that question are Aceadmiral (here), Sciatrix (here), and Elizabeth (here). There’s also another post I’ve read by Sciatrix that says more about this but due to contextual factors I’m not sure about linking it. Note also I don’t think Elizabeth uses the word “quoiro” outright in that post, but it is a word that she’s recently used to describe herself, so that’s why I’m including her. …There’s… not that much of a connected “quoiro community” as such, so I don’t have a conveniently accessible pool to draw from here.

      For the record though just to make this plain: I am interested in hearing from other quoiros on the questions I raise in this post.

      grayness and ambiguity is interpreted as bringing in some alloromanticism and thus a threat, which again leaves me wishing we had something better than tagging for creating different community spaces. Hopefully once the proposed aro community site (sort of like AVEN but for aros) actually happens, things can get better on that front.

      huh. It’s interesting you should say that. I wasn’t about to look at it that way, since I think those particular conflicts have been a lot more just about me being an insufferable person, not about people taking issue with my identity. If that’s a factor involved, though — then that would reflect basically the same mentality as the anti-umbrella aces.

      In any case… I’ve repeated this a few different places now, but: I *strongly* support trying to build community spaces via other means than/in addition to Tumblr tags. I keep hearing people talking about the stress of spam and off-topic content (not to mention outright harassment), and those are all factors you can combat if you have a moderator, which Tumblr tag searches can’t have. This is just one of the several reasons I keep wanting to write some big screed on how Tumblr as a platform itself is harming any attempt at building community there.

      I don’t think what you mentioned there will be a solution, though. If I’m understanding you correctly. You mean the initiative that involves Magni, Tost, Neir, Ramen, and Sea, right? The last I heard about that project, their plan was to use squarespace, and they didn’t mention anything about having a forum or a social media aspect to the site. I got the impression from their posts that it was more supposed to be informational. Was there a different “AVEN for aros” website you were thinking of?

      Re: “ace outsider”, I saw that but didn’t say anything at the time. Would you like me to message the person who said that?

      I would love for that person to be prompted to explain what the hell he meant, yes. I think this is something that would have made more sense for him to just leave a comment on my post if he had a problem with it, so that we could sort that out directly without involving other people, but when someone chooses instead to publicly badmouth me on a different platform with no comment section, I don’t have much recourse but to rely on other people, it seems. But this is all just a long way of saying: thank you.

      “Do you think you get to have it both ways?” I’d say yes.

      …I don’t understand this answer, so I will try explaining differently what I meant by the question. That question was a reaction to what looks like people saying “Quoiros are a part of the aro community” and “You are not a part of the aro community, because you’re quoiro” at the same time. To me, this is hypocritical and confusing. I want to criticize this behavior but more importantly ask people to just give me a straight answer and be consistent with it, instead of treating me like both a member and an outsider at the same time. I would like some more clarity on what aros expect of me (or any other quoiro) in relation to their community.

      Is it alright if I post your article on my tumblr?

      Yes. Almost everything I post to this blog is okay to link.

      • raavenb2619

        I don’t know how broadly you mean by that

        There’s this historical pattern of people making binaries/categories that are supposed to include everyone, and then other people fighting against the binaries/categories because they are restrictive and/or they don’t fall into them. (I say categories/enumerated lists to refer to stuff like “you’re either straight, gay, or bi” which isn’t a binary like “you’re either straight or gay is”). Since this is a pattern that pops up a lot, I’m wondering _why_ it shows up so often, and what can be done to stop it from happening in the future. Rather than treat the symptoms (the existence of restrictive categories), why not cure the disease (stop people from creating restrictive categories in the first place)? Or put another way, how do we integrate queer theory/queerness as an ideology into society?
        Wikipedia and google aren’t very illuminating on essentialism, so go ahead and explain.

        this post

        thanks for the link to this, this was very informative and a good read. (A small nitpick that you might not be able to anything about, but if I search for “etymology of queerplatonic” it doesn’t come, and I’m more likely to use the word etymology than genealogy if I want to find it again. Any chance you can use WordPress’s Magic Search Engine Optimization Tagging Whatever (TM) so that it comes up under etymology as well?)

        I’m aware of nonamory, but I don’t use it for myself. Part of that is that I don’t find it to be a suitable response to “Are you single?”; society doesn’t really understand how someone could be not in a long term relationship, but also not looking for one. (There’s another false binary for you). Part of that is also that I’m still figuring out if a QPR is something I might be interested/comfortable in (and if not, what does my future look like?)

        This is just one of the several reasons I keep wanting to write some big screed on how Tumblr as a platform itself is harming any attempt at building community there.

        [note that I wrote this reply before reading onward] maybe wait till the aro site becomes a thing, and then make it more general and reframe it as endorsing moderated spaces, rather than just complaining about unmoderated Tumblr tags?

        You mean the initiative that involves Magni, Tost, Neir, Ramen, and Sea, right?

        yep.

        The last I heard about that project, their plan was to use squarespace, and they didn’t mention anything about having a forum or a social media aspect to the site.

        oh hm. it’s entirely possible that I just made that up? I feel like I read something about something, but I could have just as easily gone “AVEN Forums are a thing that have AVEN in their name, so an ‘AVEN for aros’ would also have forums”. I’m also thinking about getting an Arocalypse account but I’ll probably procrastinate on that because procrastination is a thing that I’m good at.

        I don’t have much recourse but to rely on other people, it seems. But this is all just a long way of saying: thank you.

        wait, so is that a “yes I should message him”? And if yes, should I try to discuss just with him, or rope you in as well, or get just the two of you to talk, and/or suggest that he remove “aro outsider” from his reblog, and/or what else?

        I want to criticize this behavior but more importantly ask people to just give me a straight answer and be consistent with it, instead of treating me like both a member and an outsider at the same time. I would like some more clarity on what aros expect of me (or any other quoiro) in relation to their community.

        ohhhh okay i interpreted your question as being “do you, hypothetical quoiro reader, think it’s okay for quoiro people to have it both ways” and responded accordingly. (Rereading it, my interpretation doesn’t really make sense in context.)
        I agree that as a community, we should probably have a decision. I’d hope that what I’ve expressed before, (you’re welcome if you’d like to be, and that can be a decision that changes over time), ends up winning but I guess we’ll have to see what other people think.

        • Coyote

          Since this is a pattern that pops up a lot, I’m wondering _why_ it shows up so often, and what can be done to stop it from happening in the future. Rather than treat the symptoms (the existence of restrictive categories), why not cure the disease (stop people from creating restrictive categories in the first place)? Or put another way, how do we integrate queer theory/queerness as an ideology into society?
          Wikipedia and google aren’t very illuminating on essentialism, so go ahead and explain.

          Hmm. Well, it’s been a while since I’ve talked to anybody on this topic, but… to take a stab at it… I think the expectation that the “correct” number/list of categories *can* be discovered… has to be somewhat tied up in essentialism, somehow.

          One type of essentialism you may be familiar with is biological essentialism. The standard sexist format of that on the topic of gender is something like “women are feminine because they’re biologically wired to be caring mothers” or whatever — it’s a claim to what a gender is inherently like because of the body. So critiques of “biological essentialism” (under that name) are something you’ll see in some feminist writing. But it’s not just generic sexism that does this. Transmedicalists also promote a type of biological essentialism by arguing that gender can be identified in the brain — that each gender has a type of physical, identifiable brain structure. That’s also a type of biological essentialism.

          But if you strip off the “because body parts” explanation, an idea can still be based in essentialism. For example, say somebody argues that “aromantic means does not experience romantic attraction, and everybody either experiences romantic attraction or doesn’t, so you’re either aromantic or you’re not, and it’s possible for you to be right or wrong in describing yourself as aro because that’s the definition and only if it matches the definition is it objectively correct.” That’s an essentialist approach to aromanticism, right there. You may also notice that that seems like the kind of argument that would go hand-in-hand with identity policing, and you’d be right.

          Essentialism, in general, is about identifying true inherent “essences” of things. An essentialist view of romantic orientation is incompatible with a social constructionist view of romantic orientation (i.e. that romantic orientation is a social construct). If you take the essentialist approach, then you assume that there *is* a true universal categorization system that is The Truth, and what work simply remains is to discover what that system is, rather than to recognize any given system as a deliberate human creation.

          Any chance you can use WordPress’s Magic Search Engine Optimization Tagging Whatever (TM) so that it comes up under etymology as well?

          lol. I’m not that good at SEO, but I can try.

          wait, so is that a “yes I should message him”?

          Yes.

          And if yes, should I try to discuss just with him, or rope you in as well, or get just the two of you to talk, and/or suggest that he remove “[ace] outsider” from his reblog, and/or what else?

          …You know, that makes sense to ask, but I’m not sure. Partly because I don’t know the guy and I don’t know how he’d take any of that. And also I don’t know if we have accounts on any of the same platforms that would make this easier. I guess… I’m just curious to see how he’d answer “What makes you call Coyote an outsider?”

          (Admittedly there are some benign possible answers to that!)

        • raavenb2619

          So, if you’re familiar with prescriptive/descriptive linguistics, essentialism is a sort-of top-down, these are the rules and attributes prescriptivist philosophy that would rather force people/data to fit its model that adjust the model to fit the people/data?

          What makes you call Coyote an outsider?

          Alright I’ll ask him that.

        • Coyote

          That… sounds about right I think, yeah.

    • Coyote

      Since it’s been a few days — any update on AC?

      • raavenb2619

        I have no idea what you mean by that. What’s AC?

        • Coyote

          Sorry — tumblr user aroclan.

        • raavenb2619

          Oh yeah. On Saturday, I said:

          Re: https://aroclan.tumblr.com/post/185015356155/but-actually-are-their-any-alternative-terms-to
          I saw your post in this thread, and I was just wondering, what makes you call Coyote (ey run The Ace Theist over on WordPress) an outsider?

          On Sunday, he replied

          being on wordpress, apparently _not_ being on tumblr (saw an anon ask to another blog saying ‘coyote here’), and being fairly ace-centric (which is fine, i’m unapologetically *aro* focused, but it’s not a good place to promote community wide terms from)

          On Sunday, I replied

          Oh, so it’s a question of platforms (tumblr vs wordpress)?

          , and haven’t gotten another reply since

        • Coyote

          Thanks.

          …And, uh. huh. Okay. That’s… that sure is one way of looking at it. Naughty me for not using Tumblr, I guess. And apparently being “ace-centric” (his term, but okay, sure) means that… “it’s not a good place to promote community wide terms from”? Or was that in reference to WordPress again? I’m afraid to say anything for sure about this.

        • raavenb2619

          Yeah, I’m not sure what to make of it. Giving total benefit of the doubt, the first two could be interpreted well if you also stretch “outsider” to be poor choice of wording. I’m not sure what the “ace-centrism” is about exactly, because it doesn’t stop you from still engaging with the community and community discussion?

          It’s, um, ://

  • raavenb2619

    That doesn’t mean that we’re actually better about talking about grayness, though.

    I just remembered, I don’t know if you heard about the whole oriented/angled aroace debacle? My understanding of it is that someone coined oriented to refer to so called “endcase aroaces” who feel an attraction meaningful enough to them to be an orientation label (so bi-oriented aroace, for example). Someone asked the coiner if it extended to people who were on both spectrums, the answer was no, and so someone else coined angled to mean the same thing but to include (for example) demisexual aros, grayromantic aces, demisexual demiromantics, etc. So, there’s definitely still progress to be made.

    • Coyote

      I just remembered, I don’t know if you heard about the whole oriented/angled aroace debacle?

      I’ve encountered some of that, yes. The impression I have currently is that b.a.a. is both committed to misunderstanding the breadth of gray experiences and also committed to plugging their ears against criticism.

      • raavenb2619

        Yeah, I don’t have a full understanding of exactly what happened (b.a.a coined oriented; black-aros felt they lost something because of the narrow definition of oriented, so they coined angled; people said black-aros called/thought b.a.a was an exclusionist; more stuff happened?; idk what the state of stuff is now), but I agree that the wording of how b.a.a defined oriented is…not great, to put it lightly.
        In your link, you said

        I’m not thrilled about “oriented” (specifically) as a distinguishing label because, tbh, it makes it sound like folks don’t think of aromantic and asexual as themselves orientations

        Is that an objection with the concept itself, (ie expanding the use of angled so that anyone who’s arospec and acespec could potentially use it would _have the same problem_)? Or is it an objection with the word “oriented” because we talk about different “orientations” and “orientation language”, (ie that expanding the use of angled so that anyone who’s arospec and acespec could potentially use it would _avoid_ the problem)?

        • Coyote

          Or is it an objection with the word “oriented”

          That one. It’s a silly wordchoice for that concept, if not an outright insulting one.

        • raavenb2619

          Hm. At first I didn’t really see it, especially since I have a tendency to look at new coinings in a vacuum of how the rest of the language surrounding a topic works, since the words we choose don’t matter, but the words we choose also do matter, so…
          Do you know if the coiner of angled is okay with broadening angled? I also just like the sound of it better the oriented.

        • Coyote

          Nah I wouldn’t know. You’d probably have a better idea of what’s going on with that area of talk than I do.

  • luvtheheaven

    This is a complicated post with so many links and a complicated conversation with Raven in the comments. I should’ve gone to bed an hour ago but here I am. Lol…

    I don’t know if you saw this post of mine on my blog:
    https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2019/04/30/yearning-for-queerplatonic-to-be-recognized-as-not-romantic-and-other-scattered-thoughts

    But in there I wrote:

    You’d think after adopting the WTFromantic label over 5 years ago and it still in 2019 feeling like “wtfromantic” or “quoiromantic” are accurate to describe me, that I’d be done changing my labels but… I am not fully satisfied with just wtfromantic or just quoiromantic as my identity. I used to think “wtfromantic” was good enough, but once I entered a queerplatonic relationship, and after it ended when I knew I’d be online dating again to try to find a new queerplatonic partner, I decided that I prefer that as an explanation/description rather than my orientation/identity.

    I’m really starting to think I’m pan-alterous, (demi-sensual, maybe technically homo-aesthetic,) and entirely aromantic. Maybe I’m entirely “end scale”/”end point” aromantic (what was the term I saw on aro tumblr recently?) yet am an aromantic person who hopes for a committed partner of any gender. Because I am not nonamorous, I feel I don’t fit in with the “mainstream aromantic narratives” of permanent singlehood as a defining component. (Note that in my mind, there are very heavy air-quotes around the word “mainstream”.) A QPR is my dream goal. No matter how much aro people defend queerplatonic relationships as specifically aro terminology, it’s… hard to shake whatever feelings I have. The feelings that I’m not aro enough if I desire one this strongly. But. I’m starting to get comfortable with the idea that after years of thinking everything over, analyzing all my emotions, etc… maybe I really am fully aromantic. Maybe the pan flag still can apply to me, but not because of any romanticism (nor sexuality) but rather because of which genders of people I’d be willing to partner with, and become committed toward. Maybe “alterous” terminology, which (ironically?) I initially thought was very unnecessary and internally dismissed when I first heard it, is exactly what I needed all along.

    Etc etc. I went on and on. But… The reason I quote myself here is to say I do consider myself quoiromantic, where if you asked me if I’m quoiro the answer would be yes, although i don’t often use the word. For many years I’ve considered it (or being WTFromantic as a synonym) to be one potential subset of “grayness” for the aro spectrum, and that if a hypothetical person is gray-ace then ace communities are theirs, and in a parallel way if a person is grayromantic then aro communities are theirs. I think when I first adopted the WTFromantic label I didn’t think I was under the aro umbrella and used it as a “neither, none of the above” term but with time i just. Got sucked in by the idea that “of course” if I still don’t think I’m alloromantic after years then I’m not, and being not alloromantic leaves nothing but the aro spectrum. I bought that (rough) binary without thinking about it critically. I let myself use “the aro community” to find the only people i might see talking about things relevant to my thoughts toward long-term partnership or not understanding romantic attraction etc. But I’m not a very active participant for plenty of reasons and one of which is yeah I feel like my experiences aren’t the “correct” ones for me to really belong. I do feel like the aro/alloro decide I’ve been seeing for a long while forced me to subconsciously align pretty clearly with one side. I saw it on Twitter too which is an ace and aro space I haven’t seen you mention at all Coyote but has many issues too but following some aro bloggers on Twitter i really saw the anger at alloro aces for a long time and it just. It was clearly “you’re totally alloromantic or you’re aro” over and over and over, constant reminders of how I don’t really relate to their strict idea of aro but not wanting to be on the side of alloros even more than that or idk. Just knowing i definitely wasn’t alloro so I must be aro. Kinda like how when younger, a decade-and-a-half ago, I knew i didn’t sexually desire the same gender so i must be heterosexual. I never considered the neither option. I mean i did in some ways. I really clung to the gray part of gray-aro or the spectrum part of aro-spec when defining my identity. I couldn’t forget how much i was neither in some ways. But at the same time i really clung to having already chosen a side.

    It’s more about what I’m sure at this point I’m not. I’m sure I’m not alloromantic. Being aro is more of a weird umbrella area so I’m not sure I’m not that. And that’s good enough for me to think “I guess I just belong here, especially since I have to belong somewhere”.

    [Also I should really update my blog to say “end case” aro. Whoops…]

    • Coyote

      “end scale”/”end point” aromantic (what was the term I saw on aro tumblr recently?)

      Yeah that seems to be the term some people are using (example) and I… don’t really like it. Feels very linear. (I’m trying to pick my battles here, but it’s hard!) Admittedly I don’t know what people are using for asexuals though either — I remember some discussion about this in 2014, and I don’t know that that reached a resolution. What I’ve been using, though, is “core aces” or “core aros,” in some cases, and in others, spelling out the full word. Iunno. It’s a practice in flux, I guess.

      Anyway! Good to hear from someone who is both.

      I let myself use “the aro community” to find the only people i might see talking about things relevant to my thoughts toward long-term partnership or not understanding romantic attraction etc. But I’m not a very active participant for plenty of reasons and one of which is yeah I feel like my experiences aren’t the “correct” ones for me to really belong.

      :( That’s a sticky spot to be in. On the one hand, yeah, if quoiros *aren’t* a part of the aro community… I don’t know where else we’d go. Logistically it doesn’t make sense to have as many tiny fractured communities as possible. If I want to connect with people on remotely this kind of basis, if I want to find other quoiros, then… aro umbrella spaces are a place where it makes sense to look. But there are some serious see-saw cycle issues to be addressed about the diversity of aro narratives. I know that “feeling like they don’t have the correct aro experiences” is something shared by a lot of people over all sorts of things. Just the other day I saw somebody circulating a list of terms that included a term for “not experiencing queerplatonic attraction” [edit: found it] and… I was like, is that– is that really something people are feeling alienated over? Apparently (although no links to further details on that). It hadn’t really occurred to me to see it as *that* much of a community norm. And likewise — Ib wanting a term for people who specifically don’t experience attraction (of any kind)? They clearly feel like attraction narratives dominate the two communities.

      and it just. It was clearly “you’re totally alloromantic or you’re aro” over and over and over

      Oh man yeah that reminds me of the assumptions people made about Vesper when they said something about the Jughead backlash…

  • Vesper

    Claimed quoiromantics as their reblog fodder, but when I, a quoiromantic, speak up on aro community language, called me an “ace outsider” who shouldn’t be talking?

    “ace outside”? ogod, that sounds so Tumblr. i need to see this. *clicks link*

    …the author [of “non-rosol”] is an ace outsider who expects “baby aspecs” to listen to the elders who abandoned them to the sharks years ago. (and who faults us for not knowing the history that was actively deleted during that abandonment.)

    dear god, it was so much better (read: worse) than i’d anticipated. the sting of someone not only misunderstanding and misrepresenting you / something you’ve said, but also billing you as being part of The Problem… when you’ve been vocally lamenting / criticizing “The Problem” for what feels like ages….!

    …okay, maybe now i’m ranting about my own past experiences with this kind of thing more than i’m talking about what’s happening in the post you linked to. my bad.

    …another curious thing about this kind of talk, to me, is it is not disruptive. It suggests some vague awareness that not every ace has a romantic orientation, but I haven’t encountered a time when this recognition was used to challenge or criticize the great divide that names only “aro aces” and “allo aces.” I can’t tell if it’s just something I’ve happened to miss, but regardless, that’s not really among the fights that I’ve seen play out.

    this whole usage of “non-SAM” as a category / keyword thing seems to have arisen on Tumblr soon after i drifted away from the platform, as i’ve only become conscious of it indirectly via your posts… having said that, it doesn’t surprise me at all that this is the direction that things haven taken on Tumblr. that is, that a third “oft out” category was created as opposed to more people challenging or criticizing and subsequently dismantling the existing allo- / a- binary itself.

    the whole thing just seems so incredibly ironic to me on multiple levels, especially since for a while there it felt like i was the only one on in my part of Tumblrland being vocally frustrated with repeatedly being assumed to be alloro let alone to have a romantic orientation at all, which was subsequently used as the basis for questioning my discussion of aro-related anything. can’t help that it feels incredibly tongue-in-cheek to me now that despite the apparently growing recognition of “non-SAM” people on Tumblr, those who do identify as quoiro/wtfro or as being without a romantic / sexual orientation are still being misunderstood and / or left out to dry.

    I’m not sure whether or not I should be reaching out, like [Elizabeth has done, or taking the more arokaladin approach.

    if you do take a more arokaladin approach—which i am in no way whatsoever encouraging you to do—allow me be the first to welcome you to the club.

    • Coyote

      dear god, it was so much better (read: worse) than i’d anticipated.

      Yeahhh, maddening for all sorts of reasons… so in the main post I just focused on the one that was the most relevant. I am, frankly, annoyed. At a lot of it. Including “using” “scare quotes” to “quote me” on a term/phrase I didn’t even use. Do a ctrl+f on the post they were talking about and tell me if you find the term “baby aspecs.”

      if you do take a more arokaladin approach—which i am in no way whatsoever encouraging you to do—allow me be the first to welcome you to the club.

      <3

  • luvtheheaven

    (I commented before Vesper but because I included a link back to my own WordPress blog i guess it’s stuck in moderation…)

    I guess I should click and look at the Ace outsider thing… Uhhh….

  • raavenb2619

    what was the term I saw on aro tumblr recently

    probably endcase, from the whole oriented/angled debacle. If you ask me, it’s not a great term.

    I’m sure I’m not alloromantic. Being aro is more of a weird umbrella area so I’m not sure I’m not that. And that’s good enough for me to think “I guess I just belong here, especially since I have to belong somewhere”.

    I wasn’t active at all during the Gray Wars (I didn’t even know I was queer at that point), but this aligns nicely with an argument for inclusion that I saw at one point. Demis, grays et al don’t feel included or understood by allos, so even though they’re not identical to endcase aces, we ought to widen our community to support them if they want us to, because we get more from supporting people who are 70, 80, 90% like us than we do from fighting them. (And ditto for aromanticism)

    • Siggy

      Wait, so what does “endcase” mean? The only place it was defined in this thread was luvtheheaven’s “entirely aromantic”, which doesn’t mean anything to me.

      • Coyote

        My understanding is that people use “end case” to mean “the ones who experience no [insert relevant axis here] attraction.” This seems to go hand in hand with thinking 1) the only reason to identify as “aromantic” or “asexual” is on the basis of (non)attraction, and 2) the rest of the spectrum/umbrella is for people who *do* experience [insert axis here] attraction.

        They probably don’t even see a problem with that.

        • Siggy

          Okay, but bad modeling aside, what’s the difference between “end case aromantic” and “aromantic”?

        • Coyote

          1) If you’re asking me, dunno. I wouldn’t have bothered to make a distinction. 2) If you’re asking about usage/what I’ve seen… you’ve got some people saying that “aromantic” is an umbrella term (for the aromantic umbrella). Note the tag “aromantic includes everyone arospec.”

        • raavenb2619

          I think that endcase/handle/whatever you want to call it is meant to specify that someone can say with confidence that they never ever ever experience romantic attraction, to contrast against other people in the aro community who might occasionally experience romantic attraction (like grays, demis, etc) and people who might not be sure if they experience romantic attraction or totally understand what that means (quoi, wtf, etc). Aromantic is generally taken to mean aromantic umbrella/aromantic spectrum, so since the coiner of ‘oriented’ wanted it to just be for people who can say with confidence that they never ever ever experience sexual or romantic attraction, the coiner used “endcase” to clarify

        • Coyote

          I see a problem with that (with “endcase,” with oriented, with that whole definition of what either of them means), which is that it’s defining aromantic/asexual and grayness both very narrowly in terms of just “attraction.” But there are lots of different reasons to use orientation language for more than just “attraction.” I don’t want to commit that hard to a system which tells people there are “right” or “wrong” labels for them based on that one single factor. Reasons for different identifications with different parts of the umbrella have always been complex.

        • raavenb2619

          Yeah, that makes sense. Instead of framing it in terms of attraction, it should be in terms of what labels people use, so that it’s a self-ID thing instead of categorizing other people. Which is also why I think that having two terms (oriented/angled) is a bad idea

        • Siggy

          Thanks for the explanation. Well I’m going to tentatively say that having “aromantic”, “aro” and “arospec” all referring to the same spectrum seems like an absolutely awful way to arrange the terminology. It strikes me as a really bad attempt at inclusion, like “we were really including the whole spectrum all along, we were just doing it in a way that was totally invisible and not reflected in our glossaries or anything.”

          I’m trying to think if there are analogous situations in ace activism, and I guess most of the orgs are called “asexual”, like we have “The Asexual Agenda” even though it’s about the ace spectrum, and the admin (me) is gray-A rather than asexual. But that’s just for SEO purposes. I wouldn’t say that “asexual” refers to the spectrum.

        • Coyote

          I agree! If people mean the umbrella, I’d rather they say that, and then leave the specific to be the specific.

          I also have to wonder how much “only seeing the word aromantic, with some people implicitly using that to mean the umbrella, without saying so” has affected grayros, in light of posts like this.

        • Siggy

          Well, my approach to this issue would be to totally reject “end case” or “core” or any other such terms, and instead point at the definition of “aromantic” in aro glossaries until people either change the aro glossaries or accept that the term they’re looking for is “aromantic”.

  • raavenb2619

    “core aces”

    I’m not really a fan of that either because it feels too close to something like “pure aces” in that it sets up a sort-of hierarchy. Maybe, now that we’re past the Gray Wars, we don’t need a term because the distinction between “endcase aces” and grays et al isn’t important? Except that we still have a problem with grayness, it seems (oriented/angled)

    • Coyote

      Definitely “pure asexual” is something I want to avoid. Very value-laden implications there. But I also want to avoid anything else that’s premised on a very linear metaphor of some people being “more asexual” than others, with some people being “the most asexual.” We don’t need that kind of outlook being endorsed. Besides the obvious, it also implies that different kinds of gray-aces can fall on different “points” on the linear spectrum i.e. some gray-aces are grayer than others, as Siggy talked about here. And I want none of that attitude.

      What I am okay with, though, is viewing asexual people as like the handle of the asexual umbrella, being that it’s them for whom that the umbrella is named. And so that’s the kind of thing I was thinking of with “core aces.” Maybe that’s not the best way to express that thought, though.

      …Alternatively, also, like I said, I want to draw the distinction between “asexuals” and “the asexual umbrella,” so that the former can be the more “specific” one, if people feel the need to specify for some reason. Which they sometimes do. For instance, for talking about the Gray Wars, it can be relevant to mention that some of the people sticking up for us identified as “asexual,” not as gray-asexual or demisexual or anything else.

  • raavenb2619

    this whole usage of “non-SAM” as a category / keyword thing seems to have arisen on Tumblr soon after i drifted away from the platform, as i’ve only become conscious of it indirectly via your posts

    brief note, I don’t think I’ve seen “non-SAM ace” anywhere, just “non-SAM aro”, which might mean something, or I might just not be connected enough to that part of the ace community on tumblr.

  • Siggy

    One of the consistent complaints I’ve seen on aro tumblr, is people saying that the ace community always places people into asexual or allosexual boxes. This is an issue for aro people who are just aro, and it seems to be the main driver for “non-SAM” or the whole unit/neutral/whatever aro conversation. You might have noticed that out of all the terms you coined, they just considered “rosol” and ignored all the rest because that was the one addressing their main concern.

    So, I’m bringing this one up because there’s an obvious comparison to be made, and I wonder if it might be rhetorically useful to get the aro community to see that they’re kind of doing the same thing.

    • Siggy

      Of course, it would help if I knew exactly what they were complaining about with respect to always being placed in an asexual or allosexual box. They almost never provide examples of what they mean, so I’m not sure if what they’re talking about is what I would consider to be anti-gray/demi sentiment.

      • raavenb2619

        Yeah, I was wondering why none of the various gray terms worked (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Part of it I think could be a cultural issue, that with grayness being strongly associated with the ace community, graysexuality et al doesn’t feel like it has enough distance from asexuality. At this point, though, I think most non-SAM aros are onboard with coining some new terms, so they probably won’t adopt grayish terminology. (Part of the non-SAM aros are also displeased with the focus on their sexual orientation over their aromanticism, as well as the assumption that they have a sexual orientation, but that’s a different issue)

        • Siggy

          Well, there are certainly differences between the concerns of gray/demisexual people within the ace community and the concerns of neutral/non-SAM aros. I wouldn’t expect them to adopt gray-sexual terminology.

          I’m just wondering, what exactly are they seeing in the ace community? Are they seeing posts that are hostile both to neutral/non-SAM aros AND gray/demi people? Or is the hostility more particular to neutral/non-SAM aros? This is why it helps to point to specific examples.

    • Coyote

      huh. That’s a topic I’d thought about — how to talk about aros w/o sexual orientations, how [edit: phrasing] I noticed they have something in common with me as a quoiromantic — but not from that community indictment angle.

      • raavenb2619

        If you do, I’d suggest you avoid phrasing it like “we are the same/similar” and instead aim for “i noticed some similarities, let’s talk about the issues we share and don’t and how to help each other”

      • Siggy

        Agree with raaven. You want to be careful with analogies, because there are like a million little differences and people are going to point out all those differences whether they’re relevant or not. I wouldn’t really use it as an argument, more like a discussion-starter, a way for us to all learn something. I would be curious to learn what the ace community could do to help aros who are hurt by the allosexual/asexual binary.

  • Coyote

    Continued from upthread.

    Note: Looks like it’s all in the replies, rather than as reblog additions, so I can’t link specific ones I’m responding to. I’ll just quote stuff instead.

    So since they and others seem to find that important I’m good with letting them have “oriented” and coming up with other words. […] I’d rather leave “oriented” and “angled” with their respective coined definitions out of deference to their creators and their extant communities

    I’m not sure what this is saying. It sounds like they’re shrugging off b.a.a.’s gatekeeping attitude though.

    if it were me, i’d define handle aro/ace as something like “someone who only identifies as aro/ace (regarding their romantic/sexual orientation), and never experiences any romantic/sexual attraction”. i’d also include aro/ace as another category under the umbrellas in your diagrams

    Yeah no this is trying to combine the idea with a numerical/quantifying approach, which is exactly what I want to get away from. The “never” is also still a “never *attracted*,” specifically, still putting the focus on attraction to the exclusion of all else. This would mean making a distinction between 1) an asexual-identifying person who has never experienced attraction, does have a libido, does experience sexual desire, & does actively pursue and enjoy sexual relationships, and 2) an asexual-identifying person who experienced sexual attraction once in their life, has no libido, has no sexual desire, & does not have or want sexual relationships. Why? Why would we even do that. Why would we center one of those as a special kind of especially-asexual person? I don’t want to quantify people that way. Maybe I should have just stuck with always only spelling out “asexual” when that’s what I meant instead of giving any other designation to not-specifically-gray-areas, I dunno.

    The only thing I (myself) was trying to get at with the “core/center of the umbrella” idea, when I was talking about it — and which I think “handle” is a clever metaphor for — is identification, or what people *already* identify with. Not an additional personal label or category, not pinning down a specific type of experience, but just a way of being able to indicate between “aces in general (which includes gray-aces, people who use other prefixes like demi, etc.)” and “core/handle aces (whose identity label is ‘asexual’ specifically).” If people are overly fixated on Attraction as The Primary Element of these descriptions, then to me that’s a problem. It’s a problem that, granted, I think mostly just comes from it being talked about a lot and being one of the thing that gets featured in little soundbite summaries, not so much a deliberate act of ill-will, and not something I’d blame anybody in particular for… but still something I want to call into question. It’s important to me that these communities not get too hung up on attraction to the exclusion of all else.

    Conversely…

    my only point is that the phrasing of this post suggests that everyone who only identifies as aro (and not some other arospec identity) is someone who never experiences romantic attraction.

    I didn’t read it that way, but if it’s possible to interpret it that way, then I’d agree that could be worth amending somehow. Although I don’t know… how.

    Hmm. I wonder if you changed the text “handle aces/aros” on the handle of the graphic to “asexuals” and “aromantics”… if that would help any with showing that the “handle” metaphor points toward anyone who identifies as “asexual” or “aromantic.” If that’s in fact what you meant, I guess. Is that what you meant?

    • kernsing

      My comment (“I’d rather leave ‘oriented’ and ‘angled’…”) roughly translates to: [my attitude] I dislike being confrontational, especially about identity language and to someone like b.a.a. who is not open to conversation, so [my behavior] when I write out the words “oriented” and “angled” when referring to the concept or a general group of people, I intend for them to mean the definitions that align with what the coiners of the term have said. (However, if someone says they’re an oriented aroace despite not fitting into the exact criteria b.a.a has set out, I’m going to call them an oriented aroace. If I want to refer to everyone who is an oriented aroace, I might say “oriented aroaces, inclusive of those who do not fit the criteria of the coiner.”) I hope that is clearer than the vague “I’ll let them have the words” thing.

  • raavenb2619

    This would mean making a distinction between 1) an asexual-identifying person who has never experienced attraction, does have a libido, does experience sexual desire, & does actively pursue and enjoy sexual relationships, and 2) an asexual-identifying person who experienced sexual attraction once in their life, has no libido, has no sexual desire, & does not have or want sexual relationships. Why? Why would we even do that. Why would we center one of those as a special kind of especially-asexual person?

    i gotta say, you’re much better at phrasing that than I am. I’m not sure how to succinctly express that in the replies. I’m curious, do you think/perceive the intense focus on exactly 0% attraction as being intentionally and/or unintentionally anti-gray?

    Not an additional personal label or category, not pinning down a specific type of experience, but just a way of being able to indicate between “aces in general (which includes gray-aces, people who use other prefixes like demi, etc.)” and “core/handle aces (whose identity label is ‘asexual’ specifically).”

    yes exactly! I don’t actually want to see it used as an identity or used that frequently, it’s just supposed to be a word that we have if we need to make a distinction between the entire umbrella and the handle, say if we’re talking about how the media only focuses on the experiences of the handle.

    Re: changing the text, I don’t have any issues with that, but I’m not sure that alone is going to solve the confusion, since it seems to me it’s a question of how important 0% attraction is.

    • Coyote

      i gotta say, you’re much better at phrasing that than I am. I’m not sure how to succinctly express that in the replies. I’m curious, do you think/perceive the intense focus on exactly 0% attraction as being intentionally and/or unintentionally anti-gray?

      heh, uh, thank you.

      Unfortunately, I don’t know that it *can* be expressed concisely. I think trying to squish an extended discussion like this into just the replies of a Tumblr post will, necessarily, interfere with its ability to go into depth like this.

      Re: anti-gray, well, I can’t help associating it with that (and pushing people into grayness), yeah, although it might be a step too far for me to put it into those terms directly. It doesn’t sound like these people are saying “these are the real aces/aros, and the others are just gray” or “just fakers” or anything like that. And all the more credit to them.

      What I am hearing, though, is some kind of faith/investment in designating certain *kinds* of asexuals and aromantics apart from the rest of those who identify with the same terms, and I don’t understand the reason for that investment, because my only prior exposure to that kind of talk is asexual absolutism. Ostensibly, these users think it’s an especially important narrative somehow. Not just to themselves, but for talking about people in groups. Is that helping them accomplish anything in particular, community-wise? Or is it just force of habit, at the risk of arbitrarily dividing people?

      yes exactly!

      Cool. We’re at least on the same page about that then. :)

      since it seems to me it’s a question of how important 0% attraction is.

      On the subject of percentages (since that kind of description was also used by Ib and Kernsing, and since I’ve seen it around before) — I get that people are using it to express absolutes, but conceptually I find it kind of confusing. Am I, a gray-ace, expected to be able to put a number on the “percentage” of attraction I “experience”? …Setting aside the question of what “100% attraction” would look like (what, attraction to 100% of all human beings?), I can’t quantify my number of “experiences” of “attraction” to begin with, because for me it’s not as distinct or countable a thing as “number of times I’ve experienced a bee sting” or anything — and anyway, “attraction frequency” itself isn’t even the central exclusive basis of my identity. As long as we’re talking about variance about that among asexual people, I also want to say that’s not the formula for me, either.

      • raavenb2619

        Re: percentages, sorry, I’m not trying to suggest that everyone can or should try to put a meaningful percentage on their attraction, because it’s not a very useful model for understanding different experiences. I’m just using the phrase “0% attraction” to distinguish between the two groups that are being talked about. 1) There’s my/our broader group which, to borrow from your link, might involve people who experience “involuntary, nebulous and personal and poorly-defined emotions – regardless of frequency, interpretation, context, or significance to the person in question” and might use aromantic as the only label to describe their romantic attraction. There’s also their narrower group, which is similar to our group, but doesn’t include the people described by the quotation; that is to say, to be included one must “”experience 0% attraction””. Does that make sense?

        • Coyote

          Oh yeah I’m not trying to put that on you. I’m just saying that’s a…. really hair-splitting distinction, and I think it’s silly to put too much faith in that as a system. I don’t know what it would accomplish except making some people more insecure over where they fit, as is already the case with the asexual/gray-asexual distinction.

    • Siggy

      I’m curious, do you think/perceive the intense focus on exactly 0% attraction as being intentionally and/or unintentionally anti-gray?

      I’m not much invested in this convo–as I’ve already mentioned upthread, I’m opposed to the whole idea and think “aromantic” should suffice. But as for the 0% attraction, that doesn’t strike me as anti-gray exactly, it seems like the main losers of that particular philosophy are people who aren’t gray, but who are said to be gray for ~reasons~ while ignoring what they themselves say might say is important about their experiences.

      I would, however, point out the possibility that some gray people in fact experience 0% attraction. There are lots of reasons to identify as gray besides attraction. I don’t know about grayromantics, but gray-A people might identify as such because of sex drive or sexual desire. Or you know, even just plain discomfort with the label.

      • raavenb2619

        are people who aren’t gray, but who are said to be gray for ~reasons~ while ignoring what they themselves say might say is important about their experiences.

        to clarify, you’re referring to people who aren’t gray, but are told by other people that they are/must ID as gray?

        I would, however, point out the possibility that some gray people in fact experience 0% attraction. There are lots of reasons to identify as gray besides attraction. I don’t know about grayromantics, but gray-A people might identify as such because of sex drive or sexual desire. Or you know, even just plain discomfort with the label.

        mm yeah, that makes sense. it seems like the community has maybe drifted a little from the Platonic ideal of never policing other’s identities? maybe it was never truly there in the first place, but certainly when I was figuring stuff out for myself, I felt there was a big emphasis on self identification

        • Siggy

          to clarify, you’re referring to people who aren’t gray, but are told by other people that they are/must ID as gray?

          Yeah. Or they’re at least told that they’re not “handle” to use your term.

    • kernsing

      I think some of the conversation on defining “handle aro/ace” fell through due to misunderstanding—I was under the impression that “handle aro/ace” was meant to replace “endcase aro/ace” with the same definition as “endcase aro/ace” as people were using it, AKA the narrow “never attracted” one; while your (uhh actually I’m not sure who this comment is replying to, but it should be raaven) intention was to replace “endcase aro/ace” as well as expand the definition to be less restrictive. Is that right?

      • Coyote

        I have no idea where “endcase aro” even came from.

        • raavenb2619

          @coyote I suspect (but can’t confirm) that endcase originated in the oriented/angled discussions, in that oriented was for endcase aroaces only.
          @kernsing I think that’s an accurate statement of what you and I thought, respectively. I have two issues with “endcase”. The simple issue is that, regardless of the meaning and who ‘counts’ as endcase, I prefer “handle” as a term that means roughly the same thing and ostensibly could be used interchangeably. The complicated issue is that (and Coyote, feel free to weigh in on this) I don’t think making a distinction of “100% no attraction” is useful of a good idea. If someone IDs as asexual because they felt sexual attraction exactly once a long time ago, and doesn’t ID as graysexual or related terms (that is, they only ID as asexual with regards to sexual attraction), then my intention is that they would ‘count’ as handle ace. (And ditto for aro)

  • Rachel

    Whew, looks like I’m late to the party.

    – As an actual, 100%, USDA-certified aro, I am also really put off by the recent upheaval of the aro community. So you have my sympathies. Maybe I’m just lucky to be lacking in negative experiences with “the other side,” but the level of mutual hostility has never made sense to me. I wish all the communities involved would stop treating each other like boogeymen.

    – As someone with her own quoi identity (though not quoiromantic), I understand feeling conflicted about committing to a community that only superficially resembles your own identity. I understand the discomfort of getting lumped there because “close enough,” and then being framed as an outsider because you aren’t “a real _____.”

    – As an actual, 100%, USDA-certified aro, I think that quoiromantics should have a place in the aro community IF THEY SO DESIRE. Because quoiros certainly don’t fit in with the actual alloromantics and end up facing many similar issues to us aros. But I also understand not wanting to either. But seriously aromantic community, get some integrity already. If quoiros are our own, then act like it.

    • Coyote

      Whew, looks like I’m late to the party.

      Nah, this is still my most recent post. Not late at all.

      Maybe I’m just lucky to be lacking in negative experiences with “the other side,” but the level of mutual hostility has never made sense to me.

      The conflict (from what I’ve seen of it) includes some grievances that are legitimate (and that I share), some that are extremely platform-specific, and also some that are more dubious (as discussed here), and that particular mix makes it hard to talk about without getting into more specifics. The second paragraph on that has some links to more info, if you’re interested.

      I think that quoiromantics should have a place in the aro community IF THEY SO DESIRE. Because quoiros certainly don’t fit in with the actual alloromantics and end up facing many similar issues to us aros. But I also understand not wanting to either.

      Thank you. Even though I’m still conflicted, it’s nice to hear the friendly responses. Also good to hear for another quoi of some stripe!

      But seriously aromantic community, get some integrity already. If quoiros are our own, then act like it.

      I think that can be a part of the problem, in some ways — simply claiming quoiros as “aro spectrum” is how you get people saying things like “queerplatonic was coined by arospecs,” which in turn is easily slid into “queerplatonic was coined by aros,” which in turn is easily parsed as “queerplatonic was coined by aromantics,” especially when there’s not much attention paid to the complexity there. And that’s a part of what I meant in asking if I’m supposed to interpret myself as “basically aro” in order to make sense of that. A lot of the stuff I’m talking about here doesn’t read as deliberate anti-quoiro hostility so much as… presuming to “include” us by expecting us to settle into a homogenizing & absolutist approach to romantic orientation.

  • Linkspam: June 7th, 2019 | The Asexual Agenda

    […] Coyote asked what the aro community wants to do with quoiros. […]

  • kernsing

    I waffle around a lot with having opinions about “this is how everyone should Treat Words (especially contested category words),” so this comment is more like a data point related to this discussion. I sometimes call myself quoiro (also in use: greyro/lithro/arospec/aro/???) because the concept of romantic attraction doesn’t seem to apply to me; I relate a lot to that “Aro-ish: Permanent Questioning” post that’s been linked on this page but with more romance aversion and sexual attraction. I consider myself part of the aro umbrella (I think having some level of romance aversion, which I can’t quite define past “Love stories are bleh and also that time I almost tried Real Life Romance,” makes me feel more connected to the concept of aromanticism & the aro community). I like grey areas, and it makes me unhappy that people are being ingroup-outgroup-ish/binary in their rhetoric. I wish people would stop doing that. It feels like the aro community (AKA the tumblr blogs I follow) has gotten more hostile/accusatory as of late, and that has been a bit uncomfortable.

    Related: I don’t consider myself quoisexual, but once I wrote something like “I feel ace around allo people and allo around ace people” and I think that’s still true (tentatively calling myself greysexual at the moment. I fall under the ace umbrella. I’m part of the ace community? Aligned with the ace community? Who knows … I sort of want to call myself quoisexual); whenever people talk about aroaces vs. alloaros I feel like some outside observer.

    I do think “let people be X if they want to” is in general a good principle, though. (me, trying to be assertive: *vague waffley hands* “in general,,,”; I talked about having being unhappy/uncomfortable in this comment and that made me uncomfortable because what are emotions; what I am trying to say in this parenthetical is that I don’t like lying and that not including this information about being *handwave* at emotions feels like lying to my tired monkey brain so I have included it because I do not want to argue with my monkey brain today.)

    More note: personally I like the striped quoi flag better because sorry epochryphal I like pretty much everything co writes about greyness but the question mark flag design looks … how do I express this … Big in a way that’s not aesthetically pleasing to me?? I don’t know. (Though I once saw a triangle variant and I was like Yes.) I am interested though: where did the striped flag come from???

    • Coyote

      I am interested though: where did the striped flag come from???

      Well, the designer of the black-white-green-blue version has since deactivated their tumblr account — going off of this post — and the black-green-blue-gray design was made by Eris, aka tumblr user chaotic-evil-gender, who has since changed urls to ellephant. I’m not able to find the original debut itself, however. As far as a timeline, all I know is that it must have been from before or around 2015. This stuff has… not been well-preserved. Tumblr ephemerality strikes again.

      The triangle variant you’re thinking of was probably by Mangle, and I think the shape change is a neat move, although I’m happy to do without that “one is for the orientations and the other is for the prefix as a whole” business.

      In any case, thanks for commenting. I can see how romance aversion could feel like a salient factor there.

      I sort of want to call myself quoisexual

      Go for it.

      I like grey areas, and it makes me unhappy that people are being ingroup-outgroup-ish/binary in their rhetoric. I wish people would stop doing that. It feels like the aro community (AKA the tumblr blogs I follow) has gotten more hostile/accusatory as of late, and that has been a bit uncomfortable.

      I think Tumblr as a platform tends to bring that out in people, which is why I think any worthwhile community needs to branch out and not use Tumblr as its primary home base. Intending to write more about that at a later point.

      But anyway: since I can’t be sure who you’re thinking of or which tumblr blogs you follow, do you mind giving an example? Understandable if you don’t want to. I’m just wondering if there’s any accusations lately I’ve missed.

      • kernsing

        I went and checked which aro blogs I follow, and there’s not that many actually—so revised parenthetical: aro community (AKA the tumblr blogs I follow and whatever other tumblr blogs I end up on when browsing the app). Anyway, the hostile/accusatory atmosphere thing, I think I feel that mostly because I went to read up about the oriented & grey aroace-specs discourse on b.a.a.’s blog when I saw mention of it. Also I came across some “if you don’t reblog then you’re against us” stuff during the aro vs. ace drama, and that sort of language always bothers me. I don’t remember the blog or have the specific post on hand, though, and my memory could be faulty; it could’ve been worded more mildly (“reblog” could’ve been a more generic “share our voices”; not sure but it still had unpleasant associations).

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