I Am Not Voldemort: An Essay on Love and Amatonormativity

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Content Advisory: Discussions of and references to love, amatonormativity, ableism, neurodiversity, autism, familial abuse and partner abuse.

This June, I saw an increasing number of positivity and support posts for the aromantic and a-spec communities discussing the amatonormativity of “everyone falls in love”. I agree: the idea that romantic love is something everyone experiences, and is therefore a marker of human worth, needs deconstruction.

Unfortunately, a majority of these posts are replacing the shackles of amatonormativity with restrictive lines like “everyone loves, just not always romantically”, referencing the importance of loving friends, QPPs, family members and pets. Sometimes it moves away from people to encompass love for hobbies, experiences, occupations and ourselves. The what and how tends to vary from post to post, but the idea that we do and must love someone or something, and this love redeems us as human and renders us undeserving of hatred, is being pushed to the point where I don’t feel safe or welcome in my own aromantic community. Even in the posts meant to be challenging the more obvious amatonormativity, it is presumed that aros must, in some way, love.

I’ve spent weeks watching my a-spec and aro communities throw neurodiverse and survivor aros under the bus in order to do what the aromantic community oft accuses alloromantic aces of doing: using their ability to love as a defence of their humanity. Because I love, they say, I also don’t deserve to be a target of hatred, aggression and abuse.

But what if I don’t love?

What if love itself has been the mechanism of the hatred and violence I have endured?

Why am I, an aro, neurodiverse survivor of abuse and bullying, still acceptable collateral damage?

Continue reading “I Am Not Voldemort: An Essay on Love and Amatonormativity”

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Hallo, Aro: Friendship – K. A. Cook

Cover image for Hallo, Aro Allosexual Aromantic Flash Fiction. Cover features dark pink handwritten type on a mottled green background with a large line-drawn peacock feather, several sketch-style leaves and swirly text dividers. Green arrows sit underneath each line of text. A translucent overlay of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold alloaro flag sits underneath the text.

Hallo, Aro is a series of flash fiction stories about allosexual aromantic characters navigating friendship, sexual attraction, aromanticism and the weight of amatonormative expectation.

Contains: A sapphic aromantic who wishes to partner a dragon’s handmaiden without the complications of a romantic relationship, but finds comfort in her friendship with her own dragon.

Links: PDF | EPUB

Length: 993 words / 4 PDF pages.

Advisory: Depiction of amatonormativity and expectation of romance in relationships from both sexual partners and parents.

She fears speaking it, but she likes days spent with Azhra, likes nights spent with princesses, likes this unconventional life far from a home that never suited her. If freed of navigating her lovers’ romantic expectations and desires, what more can Elisa want but caves, treasure, dragons and handmaidens?

Continue reading “Hallo, Aro: Friendship – K. A. Cook”

Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Gracie

Handdrawn watercolour-style image of a sparse forest of redwood trees growing among grassy hills, with a white and orange fox sitting in the grass at the base of a tree on the viewer's right-hand side of the image. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Artist Profiles sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Our latest aro-spec creator is Gracie, known here on Tumblr as @mattdaddorkio, @gracietheshadowwriter and @abookishace!

Gracie is a prolific aromantic and asexual writer who writes the Magnus Bane/Alec Lightwood pairing from Shadowhunters, and her work can be found on AO3 under the username gracie_the_shadow_hunter.

With us Gracie talks about romance and shipping as an aro in fandom, her enjoyment of a good love story and the power of prompts as encouragement! It’s wonderful to see an aro creative’s take on and interest in romance, so please let’s give Gracie all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aromantic and creative.

Please note that the last two images, under the cut, feature kissing. These images are underneath the answer to the question “How can the aro-spec community best help you as a creative?” if our romance-repulsed followers would like to use that as a stopping point.

Artist Profile - Gracie

Continue reading “Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Gracie”

What If It Isn’t – K. A. Cook

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green and yellow pine trees growing against a mint-hued sky. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Fiction sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Cover for "What If It Isn't" by K. A. Cook. Cover shows a colourful pastel fractal/dripping-glass style background, predominantly peach-orange and light blue. The title text, in black serif and antique handdrawn-style type, is framed by three black curlicues. A fourth curlicue borders the author credit at the bottom of the cover and a fifth forms a frame at the top.Pretending to be girlfriends while casing an art gallery with Keiko shouldn’t be a problem, but once Jessie realises things have gotten a little too real in the façade they’re showing to the world, the only thing to do is ask.

Contains: a queer, allosexual, greyro autistic protagonist, stimming, unwanted commentary on capitalism and the trend of companies making expensive versions of disposable items, explicit use of the words “greyromantic” and “queerplatonic relationship”, heavy-handed metaphor, an observation on the matter of what is romantic anyway, and a happy ending … as long as nobody gets caught later on.

Links: Patreon | WordPress | Tumblr

PDF, EPUB and MOBI editions are available for download from Patreon.

Length: 2, 097 words / 6 PDF pages.

Advisory: there’s a fair bit of cuddling and touching along with non-explicit/really vague sexual references. I don’t describe Tangles in too much detail, so here’s a link to the Tangle tag on my stim blog if you’re wandering what Jessie’s stim toy is. This piece is also light on things like polishing and any actual knowledge on how one might case an art gallery.

What if her love is a dull, flickering, rare thing, so insubstantial it makes better sense to disregard it as meaningful? What if her love is quiet and companionate at best while Keiko loves with fairytale passion, a woman who wants and needs to be wanted?

Continue reading “What If It Isn’t – K. A. Cook”

Ask: Characters and Absence of Love

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

An anon asks on Tumblr:

What is your opinion on characters who have no love at all (not just romantic love, but all kinds)? Obviously, they’re often demonized (*cough*Voldemort*cough*), but if they aren’t could they work without being inherently arophobic? I (an aro) am thinking of writing a story where a character loses their ability to love and Doesn’t React Well, but eventually learns to accept it. Should I go through with that? If so, are there particular arophobic tropes to avoid?

I am somewhat biased in that I’ve written an aro character who means “all love” when he says he doesn’t love (and this is explored further and more explicitly in his future stories) so, as someone who has a complicated relationship to love myself, bring them on.

I am so tired of seeing “love” billed as the ultimate indicator of a “good” character while “inability to love” is the ultimate indicator of “evil”–despite the fact that some of the most difficult things I have endured came about from someone else’s love. If relatives bullied me and friends-who-wanted-to-be-boyfriends stalked me despite and because of their ability to love, why should an inability to love mean anything  when love just as often motivates cruelty? In my opinion, there is nothing inherently misrepresentative of aro-specs in a character’s inability to love–just the social tangle of ableism and aromisia and amatonormativity from other people in unquestioned assumptions that ability to love makes a protagonist. Why should it?

Continue reading “Ask: Characters and Absence of Love”