Monday, February 20, 2017

Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week!

This started yesterday and ends on the 26th. I think I read that the people behind it first had it as Aromantic Awareness Week. They realized the acronym for it, AAW, was the same one for Asexual Awareness Week. So, they added the spectrum part. It sounds more inclusive this way. Aro-spec people are the ones that fall kind of in between being aro and romantic. More of a 'grey' area. Just like with aces and ace-specs. Including these people is awesome! (I'm thinking of not using emoticons for the time being, I'm tired of the current ones I've found. So, there won't be any in this post.)

Again, aromantic just means not experiencing romantic attraction. I'm aro ace, so I don't experience that and sexual attraction. There's one more 'a' someone could be, and that's agender. Not experiencing something is in interesting thing to try and figure out. 

Aro aces basically get hit on 2 fronts by society: heteronormativity and amatonormativity. Heteronormativity is the idea as a society that everyone should be heteroromantic, heterosexual, and cis, or 'straight'. Most people don't know about romantic orientations, or even that they can be different from your sexual orientation. The ones who aren't straight/cis are looked at as weird, or inhuman, or that they have 'tendencies', or there's something wrong with them. Also, it's about how straight-centered things in society are. Like, most of the media is based on straight/cis people. Occasionally, you might have a gay character, but they're stereotyped. Same with trans characters. (I don't think I've ever seen a non-binary person being represented.) If, on rare occasions, there's an ace character, they're treated as though they need to be fixed. Some of the media gets it right, but it's super rare. Also, even for medical stuff it's 'straight'-centered. A gay man can't donate blood unless he hasn't had sex for months. (Can't remember the exact number of months...) Trans women are treated similarly, even though they might be straight. In fact, it might be because of that for some. It's really ridiculous. We're also told by society that you need sex. It's apparently listed as one of the things humans need along with food, water, and sleep. This makes aces feel like they're broken, or alienated, or inhuman. (Personally, I've felt alienated with being both aro and ace.)

Amatonormativity (hopefully I'm spelling this right) is when society says that humans need romance. That romantic love is the highest form of love, and everyone needs to achieve it. Other types of love are considered lesser than. This hurts aros. For me, platonic love or attraction is one of the strongest ones that I feel. Friends and especially close friends are very important to me, and I can love them to death platonically. It kind of hurts when some of my friends grow distant from me because they're in a romantic relationship. They spend a lot more time with them. It's kind of understandable, but makes platonic love lesser. Even when I was in a romantic relationship, some of my friends didn't want to hang out as much and became distant. My boyfriend seemed to try and suck up most of my time, and seemed to not want me to see my friends as much. It was a weird feeling. Added to the drowning or smothering feeling I got towards the beginning of that relationship. That never totally went away while I was with him. 

I've read posts even on AVEN where the aros are more represented than the general population, that say things like: "Aros don't feel or understand love. How could they not? They must be cold and heartless." I really hate this! Aros are perfectly capable of many other forms of love. There's platonic love, parental love, familial love, love for pets, love of country, love of food, neighborly love, love of cultures, love of your heritage, love of music, and many more. 

And, there are other types of relationships out there. I personally would love to be in a qpr or queer(some prefer quasi)platonic relationship. Some people use qpp instead, the last p meaning partnership. It's essentially a relationship that isn't sexual and romantic. So, it's more emotional and platonic. I still would like to be with someone, just, again, not romantically and sexually. It's a lot more than 'just' friends. Many people have a hard time actually explaining it to others. Anyone can be in this sort of relationship, but it's mostly aces and aros that know about it. For me, gender doesn't matter with this. I can be attracted platonically/emotionally to any gender. So, I'm kind of pan this way. 

The problem is trying to find a partner for it. Aros can date, but they might not really understand it. I honestly don't quite understand it, myself. I've tried. I thought in the past it was like trying to make friends, but kind of like those friends wanted things that I didn't care about. Leaving me wondering: why would they want those things? However, this relationship is a different sort of thing. Some people actually use a sheet that asks the possible partner what would be ok and not ok to do. Basically, a checklist of boundaries. Some couples are ok or enjoy having sex and doing certain romance coded things. The partner is sometimes referred to as a zucchini. I like the less popular one more, being pumpkin. It's a little cutesy, though. I still don't know why they would call their partners vegetables. Although, it's interesting. 

Some people in a qpr marry their partner. I think that would be interesting. Some get married to please their family, some for tax purposes and other governmental benefits, some to symbolize their relationship, some to show that other relationships are just as important and should be celebrated, etc. With weddings, in the past I've only thought about things like the dress and food. Not the actual partner...(Which might be another sign I'm aro.) I think if I were to marry my partner in that relationship, we could modify it. Make it so it's not so romanticized. Like, instead of kissing at the end, do a nice hug. Have the wedding as a chance to party, see family and friends, celebrate the relationship, an excuse to dress up, have good food, and more. It might be strange to others that attend it, though. I don't think we'd care what those people thought about it. Some couples even have kids, either through adoption, or the 'old fashioned' way, or IVF, etc.

A week from this Saturday, the local ace group will meet for the first time. I'm really excited about this! Maybe I'll meet another aro ace. Although, meeting aces in general would be awesome! Who knows, maybe I'll meet someone who wants to be in a qpr, too. I think that's one way to find one. A new member just recently joined the facebook group. So, we're back up to 10 people. Maybe we'll have more that show up at the cafe. That would be both a good thing, and a bad thing. The bad part would be that I hope they have enough room for us. The good part would be the number of people...Even if half are allies, that'd be great. 

Someone on fb recently made a bunch of pics with Star of Davids that have different romantic orientations' flags in it, and the ace flag in the background. They said people can freely use it. I thought it was really cool, so I made it my profile pic on fb and instagram. It represents that I'm a Jewish aro ace. Yay! 3 of my identities are represented! The flag they chose is the newest one. The dark green, light green, white, grey, and black one. I think I mentioned the meanings in the past. Although, many people still can't agree on those. There are 3 different flags that I know of. I personally like the 1st one the most (green, orange, yellow, black), but apparently that one's not that popular anymore. Still saw it being sold online somewhere when I looked up info on it in the past. So, some people still like it. 

I might try joining Arocalypes soon. It's basically like AVEN, but for aros. I think it might have even been made by someone who was apart of AVEN. It has the same layout, and they share similar news. The color scheme is a little hard to get used to. It has the current flag colors as borders, and the main color is like a bright light green. Kind of in your face. I don't think it's as active as AVEN, either. It only has about 400 members vs the hundreds of thousands AVEN has. Still, it would be interesting to be apart of that community. I'd get to know or read about people who are like me that way.

I also recently joined a closed fb group called Rainbows, Aces, and Unicorns (LGBTQIAPDFKS+). It lists the longest acronym for the community I've seen. The longest I usually see is up to the P, and they add a + to that. Maybe the D is for Demisexual and F for Fraysexual? Not sure about the others. Interesting anyways. They seem extremely inclusive. There are apparently a lot of aces and aros. (By the way, one of the ace symbols is the ace suit in cards. Hence, just saying aces as a symbolism in the title. An arrow is one of the main symbols for aros.) Many who are both. Many members represent the other letters, too. I really like this group so far. They seem really kind. I'm not used to a general LGBTQ+ group. I know of many ones that each deal with only one part of the community. So, this is good to see, and a semi-new experience for me.

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