You want to have a conversation about the valorization of “love”? Great — I hope you mean it.
In recent years, the concept of “love” generally (not just one form of it) seems to have become a recurring topic and object of scrutiny in aro blogging. A while back, Siggy included some relevant links in the Asexual Agenda Friday linkspam (a part of what prompted this post). One of those links has been since deleted, but the other one is about the rejection of love as a measure of human worth or morality. If you look around, it’s possible to find a handful of other posts in this same vein. For example:
- Alice-Luke contrasting love with compassion
- Techno advocating that we “separate the idea of love from our idea of humanity and moral goodness”
- K.A. Cook describing hir relationship to the word “love”
- Nzcienif describing their relationship to the word “love”
- Alex Crook responding to “how much the aromantic community likes to focus on love”
- Ace.Axolotl acknowledging “the idea that we are only acceptable if we love”
- Aro-Arrows on how “I don’t love the same way people around me do”
You’ll notice that some of these posts refer to “loveless aro” as a type of aro, but not all of them use this language, and some of them waver or distance themselves from it. From my perspective, “loveless aro” is salient less as a category than as an impetus for a (very anti-Platonic) philosophical discussion.
And what a discussion it could be, if y’all got serious.
Hear me out here. This challenge to the importance of “love” — does this only go in one direction, or does it apply in the reverse? You know that old song “You’re Nobody till Somebody Loves You”? Something always struck me as off about that sentiment, even as a kid, and I figure it deserves its place in this conversation. If feeling love isn’t the end-all-be-all, then being loved shouldn’t be treated like the only way to matter either, right?
You with me so far?
If this conversation is about how the emotions of “love” itself are not a moral good, then don’t stop there. Why only “love”? Is that the only emotion that gets moralized? You know it’s not. Why not talk about the way people moralize all sorts of other emotions, like hope? Or disgust? Or anger?
And if it’s not just feeling love that shouldn’t be moralized, but also being loved, then can’t we also apply the same challenge to all other emotions, in all directions?
(Why do you think I wrote Affective Contortions? No, really, why do you think I wrote that?)
If you take the conversation in this direction, then things get complicated fast — because sometimes emotion is relevant — and that means there’s something complex enough at hand to be worth unpacking.
What is the place of emotion in moral reasoning? In what ways should the importance afforded to emotion be curtailed? How relevant or irrelevant is it really? If it factors in, then what’s the formula? Are you actually going to sit down and sort out the meta-level questions about how to gauge right and wrong?
I want this. I want this conversation to shoot for the moon here.
Make it happen.