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.
[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.
This seems like a good time to remind everyone to go read a very relevant post from two years ago (during another ace controversy flare up) about different types of aces valuing different parts of their identity differently. What Queenie talks about there was true then and is still true now, and I could stand to see more acknowledgement of the fact.
Go read the full post for Queenie’s take on four (4) distinct groups of aces divvied up by how they each prioritize their romantic and sexual orientations:
- Group 1: Aces who consider their romantic orientation more important than their sexual orientation.
- Group 2: Aces who consider their sexual orientation more important than their romantic orientation.
- Group 3: Aces who consider their sexual and romantic orientations equally important or who prioritize different orientations at different times.
- Group 4: Aces who don’t identify with a romantic orientation and thus consider this whole categorization system boring and pointless.
Fun fact: a lot of the bickering I’ve seen made 200% more sense to me once I realized that it was a lot of mainly Group 1 vs. Group 2-3 (with Group 4 mostly disregarded — hi! we’re here too!).
Listen, it’s fine to be in any of these groups. It’s fine if one part of your identity means more to you than another, and it’s fine if it doesn’t, and it’s fine if different people with the same nominal identity prioritize different parts of it for themselves.
It makes sense to me to argue interpersonal policy, what hurts people, etc., but it doesn’t make sense to me to argue that romantic or sexual orientation should/shouldn’t be the bigger deal to someone personally, and that’s actually a significant share of what I’ve seen people doing. So check out Queenie’s words, yeah?
Notes on “types of attractions as orientations” Part 1: neoliberal identity politics, Part 2: problems of orientation *independence*, & Part 3: QP relationships and/not platonic attraction
So many things. So many things I’ve been thinking about but wasn’t able to say.
- quoiromantic, wtfromantic, no I don’t have a romantic orientation, stop asking
- ace/q***r-debate rhetoric based on sorting aces by romantic orientation (stop)
- the assumption that, in absence of attraction, no one would want or form committed same-genderish relationships (wrong, wrong, hello hi, other people like me exist)
- identity-policing & “no you must have precisely zero of X type of attraction in order to ID as Y” & otherwise = gray
- insistence on a One and Only singular definition of an identity based solely on one Platonic factor
- respectability ploys of isolating variables & “this is completely independent from…” “this has nothing to do with…” (other experiences, gender, race)
- get away from “pin down what specific types of feelings and attractions you have, this is The Most Important and all we do here” & get into pursuing the political implications
- asterisk nominal recognition = not enough; the endgame should be changing the entire rule set and rebuilding it from the ground up
- actually naming and critiquing neoliberalism in the ace community
Some really good reads. Check ’em out.
I know RZ’s style is pretty jargon-y and academic though, so feel free to ask me (or them! I’ve seen them do this too) to translate any sections and talk it over with you.
- demisexuality was coined by sonofzeal and popularized by OwlSaint on AVEN; gray-a was coined by KSpaz there as well; Hezekiah (pianycist/metapianycist) has a nice summary of that history here
- Hezekiah is also the one who coined allosexual during some musings on whether going on testosterone would affect their (a)sexuality
- its romantic counterpart, alloromantic, was coined-slash-popularized by Queenie (queenieofaces)
- lithromantic was coined by Ian (stopanthropomorphizingme), who itself identifies as Stone, to describe its partner
- wtfromantic was coined as a snide joke by Sciatrix (writingfromfactorx), which you can read about here and here
- quoiromantic was coined as a synonym/alternative to wtfromantic by Cor (epochryphal), and you can read more about it in cos #quoi and #quoi bloggin tags (I recommend this post, this post, and this post for summaries)
- sex-favorable was coined by Talia, and you can read their reflections on it here
- allosexism was coined by lunasspecto [note: don’t consider this an endorsement of the term (see here and, more recently, here). I’m just including it for documentation purposes]
- autochorissexualism was coined by sexologist Anthony Bogaert
- aegosexual was suggested by eridanamporadefensesquad as an alternative
- queerplatonic and zucchini were both coined by , the latter being somewhat tongue-in-cheek
- arcsexual originated with Kisten Sadi’s arcsexuality blog
- squish was coined by Raisin on AVEN
- recipromantic was coined by Brooke (cameoes)
- amatonormativity was coined by Elizabeth Brake
- the #actuallyasexual tag was suggested by Hezekiah, an autistic ace (see notes here)
Feel free to add on! I’ll update this post with whatever y’all give me.
Alternatively titled: “Where do asexuals come from?” Part 2.
[content notes: talk of flibanserin junk, the aces/q***r debate, parsing aces by romantic orientation, internalized heteronormativity, and related nonsense]
On the one hand, when you’ve been in the ace community a while (and paid any attention), it’s easy to see what’s wrong with the Flibanserin rep’s statement that “Asexual individuals are not distressed, and therefore would not be a candidate for treatment with Addyi.” But it didn’t occur to me until much later what assumptions like that have to do with some of the assumptions in the aces & q***rness conflict, which has been coming and going in waves for years.
So I’ve seen some tumblr conflict going on over whether the idea of separate romantic & sexual orientations promotes homophobia (don’t ask; I’m not going to link anything because I can barely remove my palm from my face long enough to type this) and in response… I’ve seen people saying that the idea of romantic orientation was created by ACES for only ACES to use and NO ONE ELSE, and, uh.
- I support allos having access to that model if it’s useful to them, which it can be, and
- Is that even true? I vaguely remember being told that the concept — then called “affectional orientation” — actually originated in the bisexual community.
Anyone have any more information on the exact origins?
Several parts of Queenie’s recent post on greyromanticism (and the comment section beneath it) were highly relateable and helpful to me in putting words to my own experience. So then why is it, then, that I don’t identify as greyromantic?
In this post, I navel gaze, discuss semantics, get distracted, ramble, talk in circles, and contrast having a sexual orientation of gray-ace with having a romantic orientation of divide by zero.
Nothing quite like taking a survey and being asked how you identify in regards to romantic orientation, being pleasantly surprised at the inclusion of wtfromantic as an option, and then being asked to rate your frequency of romantic attraction.