I’ve seen the beginnings of a trend that conflates aro-ace experiences of aromantic erasure in a-spec spaces with allo-aro experiences of allosexual-and-aromantic erasure.
I am troubled when this notion of we’re all aros together and we all experience aromantic erasure is sometimes being used to silence allo-aros from talking about our specific experiences. But I believe this line of thought seems reasonable because there’s been no real discussion on what allosexual-and-aromantic erasure in a-spec spaces looks like. When you don’t know what allosexual-aromantic erasure is, it’s not so unreasonable to think that it’s always similar to aromantic erasure.
When allo-aros experience aromantic erasure in general a-spec spaces, we are simultaneously experiencing allosexual erasure alongside it. (This is because we cannot exist in a-spec spaces by virtue of our allosexuality alone.) This makes our experiences of erasure in a-spec spaces different from those of aro-aces, and we need this difference recognised.
(Aro-aces are not privileged for being asexual, but inside a-spec spaces there is a real assumption that folks are asexual, not allosexual.)
It’s also worth noting that these points are interconnected and similar: a lot of these instances of erasure can’t happen without the concurrent existence of others. I’m listing these to create this sense of exposure and clarification, because even allo-aros don’t know the breadth of our own erasure.
I’ll also say that erasure does not have to be intentional to be erasure. A lot of this doesn’t happen from malice; some of it happens from good intentions and a lot of it happens from the history of aromantic communities and culture evolving from asexual ones. It still diminishes allo-aro voices, though. It’s still erasure.
So please find a list of forty-five instances I consider allo-aro erasure, along with a few parenthetical explanations.
Allosexual Aromantic Erasure in A-Spec and Aro-Spec Spaces Is:
- The assumption that all a-specs are asexual unless otherwise specified
- The assumption that all aro-specs are asexual unless otherwise specified
(This is additional to the reality that allo-aros are a tiny sub-section of a small community that developed from the asexual community.)
- The assumption that “aro” as a non-SAM identity is only open to aro-aces
- The common reference to allo-aros in aromantic informative content being only “not all aromantics are asexual and not all asexuals are aromantic”
- The lack of detailed allo-aro content in aromantic informative content
(We’re often just a one-sentence reference or a short paragraph tacked onto the end of more broader aromantic information. General aromantic information rarely provides detail or insight into allo-aro experiences.)
- The lack of information on what (allo)sexual attraction feels like when shaped by aromanticism
- The lack of information on what aromanticism feels like when shaped by (allo)sexual attraction
- The lack of specific spaces for conversations about aromantic shapes of allosexual experiences
- The lack of conversation and information about navigating safe sexual relationships specifically targeted at aromantics
- The lack of conversation and information about safe sexual practices specifically targeted at aromantics
- A culture of avoiding sexual references and sexually explicit content in a-spec and aro-spec spaces when discussing our aromanticism, even when advised for in tags and under read more cuts
(When we don’t feel as though we’re allowed to make sexual references, we lack information. Many allo-aros have absolutely no idea how to navigate sexual life, interactions and relationships centred on our needs as an allo-aro.)
- Terminology centred on non-romantic relationships and attractions that acknowledge the potential for sexual relationships as an afterthought
- The requirement to centre and applaud the ace-spec community as a-spec language creators, even when their interpretations of some of these terms are harmful to allo-aros
- A tendency for informative content available in general a-spec spaces to contain or reference the exclusionary interpretations of these terms
- Limited allo-aro involvement in coining most a-spec-community-wide terminology
(The language in common use, especially that originating from asexual, a-spec and aro-ace spaces, was often not made with centering allo-aro needs in mind, and at times it does not best work for us. )
- A lack of informative content about aromanticism and allosexual aromanticism that can be found for questioning allo-aros without first accessing the ace-spec and a-spec communities
(We so often don’t know that we exist until we find information about asexuality, usually a brief mention in discussions about aromanticism. I believe there’s many unknowing allo-aros out there, but because finding information on aromanticism requires interacting with asexual and a-spec spaces, it’s exceptionally difficult for allo-aros to recognise our own identity. Especially for cisgender and heterosexual aro-specs.)
- The lack of use of “allo aro” and “allosexual aromantic” outside of the aro-spec community
- The lack of use of “allo aro” and “allosexual aromantic” inside aromantic informative/educational content in both a-spec and aro-spec spaces
- The use of “non-asexual aromantics” instead of “allosexual aromantics” in informative and positivity posts, still labelling and positioning allo-aros in reference to asexuality and the asexual community
(Many formal aromantic informative pieces talk about how not all aromantics are asexual without ever using the term allosexual aromantic.)
- The assumption that general aromantic pride without specific allo-aro mentions is fully inclusive of allo-aros
(Without someone specifically saying I am welcome, I truly don’t know that I am. This happens because of the a-spec community’s unspoken assumption that aro-specs are ace-spec and the far smaller numbers of allo-aros in a-spec spaces. All the points of erasure in this post create a feeling that I am not welcome in a-spec spaces, so we require specificity to counteract it.)
- The assumption that content that speaks more to aro-ace experiences doesn’t need to be tagged “aro-ace” if it doesn’t too much center on the ace
- The assumption that content by an aro-ace is often general aromantic content, applicable to allo-aros
(I am fine with aro-ace content in aromantic spaces, but I need you to tag it as aro-ace. We need your recognition that you are an aro shaped by asexuality, as I am an aro shaped by allosexuality.)
- The assumption that in a-spec spaces our aro-spec identities must be the dominant and central part of how we identify ourselves
- The assumption that there is always a separation between our aro-spec identities and our allosexual identities
- The requirement to push our (allo)sexual experiences and identities to the side in order to fully participate as aro-specs in the aro-spec and a-spec communities
- The inability to understand that alloromantic-and-allosexual communities for our allosexual identities are not accommodating of our aromanticism
(Some of us have our allosexual identities and our aromantic identities irrevocably intertwined and don’t wish to separate them, privilege one or deny one to have community for the other.)
- The forced relationship to the ace-spec community as the developers of the community events, publications, language, identity mores, relationship terms and behaviours common in a-spec and aro-spec spaces
- The comparative lack of allo-aro input in the historical development of community events, publications, language, identity mores, relationship terms and behaviours common in a-spec and aro-spec spaces
- The requirement to continually centre and acknowledge the ace-spec community as a-spec and aro-spec community founders
- The need for allo-aros to continually engage in activism on these issues in a-spec spaces, meaning that places that are meant to be our home in our own community require us to first educate and explain over finding connection, empathy and support
(When the ace community leads the making of environments that are not equitable for us, it’s well beyond frustrating to be constantly asked to express gratitude for a culture of inequality.)
- The inability to scroll through tags like “aromantic” without seeing asexual content dominating, especially asexual content with no reference to aromanticism at all
(This negatively impacts aro-aces as well, but I think you’ll agree that it’s more alienating for allo-aros and some non-SAM aros.)
- The dominance of asexual bloggers, blogs and content in a-spec spaces, meaning allo-aros have no ability to escape a relationship with asexuality and asexual content if we wish to be part of the general a-spec community
- The reality that the phrase “a-spec community” in practice means something closer to “asexual and a few aros who aren’t ace” and is centred on asexual content, activities and activism
- The reality that the general a-spec community evolved from asexual spaces, meaning aromanticism is inherently positioned as an afterthought in need of constant questioning and challenging
- This nature of this evolution meaning that asexuals run the better-known a-spec community spaces and events, making it harder for allo-aros to safely interact
- The fear that asexuals in a-spec spaces will regard us as predators for experiencing (allo)sexual attraction, something not without historical precedence
- The asexual centering in a-spec spaces, meaning that allo-aros are often reliant on aro-aces speaking on aromantic issues in a-spec spaces
- The asexual centering in a-spec spaces, meaning that allo-aros are often reliant on aro-aces speaking on allo-aro issues in a-spec spaces
- The asexual centering in a-spec spaces, meaning that asexuals are unaccustomed to listening to allo-aro voices on a-spec and aro-spec issues
(Allo-aros have little presence in general a-spec community leadership, activities, information and events. Aromanticism, when it is centered here at all, is voiced first by aro-aces, and asexuals in a-spec spaces are not accustomed to hearing allosexual aromantics talk on a-spec issues with the same granted authority as fellow a-specs.)
- The dominance of aro-ace bloggers, blogs and content in aro-spec spaces, meaning allo-aros have no ability to escape a relationship with aro-ace content if we wish to engage with the aro-spec community
- The knowledge that we can’t build spaces completely free of asexual content in a-spec and aro-spec spaces, forcing a relationship to and negotiation with a centred identity that isn’t ours
- The need for aro-aces to speak for us in so many circumstances, resulting in a well-intended habit of aro-aces speaking over allo-aros even when not necessary
(It’s right that aro-aces have aro-ace content in aromantic spaces. But I do want it acknowledged that allo-aros are required to have, build and center this relationship with an identity that’s more dominant than ours and yet is not ours. Acknowledgement will go a long way in moving this from erasure to something we can renegotiate.)
- The inability to discuss our alienation from asexual content without the risk of offending or angering allo-aces, aro-aces and non-SAM aces in the a-spec community
- The inability to discuss our alienation from asexual content without the risk of offending or angering aro-aces in the aro-spec community
(We need to be able to talk about this with the understanding that we’re discussing a cultural dynamic, not individual behaviour, that pushes allo-aros to the side in our own spaces. Only when we can discuss it can we renegotiate, again, cultural norms that better fit everyone’s needs.)
- The conflating of allo-aro and aro-ace erasure by aro-aces as the same, irrespective of the differences allo does bring to our experiences
Yes, the reason for this post is itself another shape of allo-aro erasure.
It’s not that we don’t have similarities in our erasure. It’s not that some points of our erasure aren’t the same, because they are. It’s that the allo part of allo-aro erasure adds a whole new dimension that isn’t as deeply recognised as it should be. It’s that the allo in allo-aro erasure is erased in favour of the shared aro part.
Please, let’s stop pushing it aside.