beranyth textposts

Those perceptions that functioning in purity culture as an asexual girl is somehow easier are all complete nonsense.  

Sure, you may not have to bury yourself in shame for every sexual thought, but you’re still taught to see yourself as a commodity that you have no choice in giving away.  It might alleviate some of the pressure in the moment–give you an external excuse to avoid having sex right now–but it’s all about “saving it for your future husband.”  It’s training young girls to hinge their choices and their bodily autonomy off of a man they haven’t even met yet.  Everything comes back to the Imaginary Future Husband and his rights over you.  We were literally told how we’d be betraying him by kissing someone else, or having sexual thoughts about anyone but him.  You think there was any exception for those of us betraying him by not having interest in him at all?

Don’t want that husband?  Don’t want to have sex on your wedding night?  Too bad, that’s what you’re here for.  Bonus points on the relgious spin on the “soulmate” idea, where if you feel like this you’re resisting the Perfect Man god already has picked out for you–how dare you refuse his gift!  How ungrateful!

Purity culture is never about girls not ever having sex; it’s about men’s obsession with the idea of having a girl who has no sexual experiences but them.  It’s about putting control of women’s sexuality in the hands of men they haven’t even met yet.  It’s about keeping food unspoiled so you can eat it later.

A woman who always remains disinterested in sex isn’t seen as “keeping herself pure” forever–she’s seen as a piece of meat at the grocery store that no one buys and it just goes rotten and gets wasted.

Important things:

For all the talk that goes on about how aromantic people can have strong relationships too, and that platonic relationships don’t automatically fall a tier below romantic relationships

it does not make you any less if you are an aromantic person who does not have that/is not interested in those relationships

You could have a super close friend or two you share everything with, or a group of casual friends that it’s fun to hang out with, or a batch of distant aquaintances you enjoy the company of now and then

Or you could be happier solitary and don’t feel a strong need for intimate relationships of any sort, platonic or romantic

And you will be no less for it.

I might personally get super angry when people assume aromantic people can’t have powerful and intimate relationships with people, simply because those are the relationships I am most invested in myself–but pulling the whole “how dare you say we’re not human, we have intimate relationships too!” is just as gross as the “how dare you say we’re not human, we have romantic relationships too!” angle we face from parts of the asexual community.

Our worth and health and humanity is not defined by how closely our relationships can mirror heterosexual monogamy

there is something so insidious and disgusting about the fact that aromantic people have to trot out some One True Friendship to impress allos with when they start questioning our worth

when society teaches people to replace us the moment they even get near a romantic relationship 

not to mention how hard it can be to get close to people once that’s happened to you enough times

but nope, gotta have that perfect profound friendship that resembles a romantic relationship as closely as possible to show off whenever people start doubting you to get your Human Points back

I’m a little late to the party because of hiding from tags, but recently there has been a huge backlash against aromantic people–specifically aromantic allosexual people–with efforts to try to characterize them as “not knowing how to love” and “hookup culture” as heartless predatory sex fiends just out to use people and throw them away

There are so many things wrong and disgusting with this but I just wanted to make this post to remind anyone fighting back against the arophobia (and please fight back against the arophobia!!) to please:

I haven’t seen most of these happen yet but don’t want things I’ve seen happen in other circles (i.e. ace community) to happen here too.  Remember we all deserve protecting, we all deserve humanity, we all need to have each others’ backs.

I get really frustrated by how difficult it is to find or even headcanon aromantic or asexual female characters.

The ace or aro blogs I check on will often reblog or make posts about what characters can be interpreted as either, but almost without exception they’re all male (you might see the occassional Katniss Everdeen pop up but that’s about it).  Even my own list of ace or aro headcanons has only a few women on it, unless I outright ignore select bits of canon.  It’s upsetting because I know that a lot of the difficulties I went through coming to terms with my own aromanticism and asexuality could have been made easier if I’d had more female characters I could identify with on those levels, but even now when I"m out looking for them it’s so damn hard to find.

There’s two main reasons for this.  

1)  Mainstream media tends to include women only if they can “rent” their space by being a love interest or a sexual object to the male characters.  She’s barely allowed agency in responding to (or, as it’s often shown, caving in to) his interests, so forget about a female character included that exhibits no romantic or sexual attraction at all.  There’s a shitton of heteronormativity and racism wrapped up in here too, but others have done a much better job delving into that than I could.

2)  Mainstream sex-positive feminism tends to glorify an extremely specific, extremely narrow idea of “empowerment,” at the core of which is compulsory sexuality.  The measure of a [white] woman’s freedom, agency, and legitimacy all gets bound up in how frequently she has sex (and, for some reason, how often she punches people in the face, but that’s another issue).  This particular angle isn’t as anti-aro as it is anti-ace, but the message is still the same–there’s no room for women with no sexual attraction here, either, unless shown in an extremely negative, oppressive way.  Frequently, a shy or less sexually experienced woman will be added to the mix, only for the more sexually active woman to “free” and [insert naughty giggle here] ~corrupt~ her.  

In both categories, every positive attribute about them is often framed with the phrase “____ is sexy.”  Intelligence is sexy.  Toughness is sexy.  Reading is sexy.  Loneliness is sexy.  Punching bad guys in the face is sexy.  Being a world-destroying villainness is sexy.  On and on and on and on.  Not only is it extremely alienating to someone who never cared about being sexually attractive in the first place, but it’s all from the perspective of an external [male] gaze judging how appealing the female character is to them.  It’s a measuring stick with units of sexiness.

In the past I’ve gone into how damaging this can be and has been for ace women, but another thing in the end is how even when you’re looking for someone to identify with it’s “disproved” at every turn by the canon itself.  The precious few female characters that don’t end up in a romantic/sexual relationship are often given tons of lines about how much casual sex they have and often shame women who have less.  The ones that seem like they could be aro or ace at first get pulled away from us with a twist that oh, no, her heart was just broken, this dude will heal her and teach her to love again <3  Women in sexual or romantic relationships isn’t inherently problematic in the least, but when there’s nothing but that out there, what does that say to us aro ace women?

That’s why I sometimes get prickly when I see the lists of possibly aro or ace characters going around and there’s nothing but men on there.  We need to take a long hard look at the reasons behind why that’s the case, cause that’s just not good enough for me anymore.  I’m tired of having to look to only male characters for traits I can identify with.  I’m tired of the feeling I don't belong in my own gender because I’m not willing to accept someone else’s sexual interest or summon up interest of my own.

I WANT MORE ARO AND ACE FEMALE CHARACTERS AND I WANT THEM NOW

Acephobic comment sighted!  To-do list before responding to it with “but asexual people can have loving romantic relationships too just like you!” –

  • no
  • stop
  • don’t
  • can u not
  • stop for two seconds and think of a way to respond that isn’t simply telling them their real target is aro aces

Some tumblr buddies have been discussing how to explicitly write a character as unmistakably ace/aro, and though I don’t have any clear-cut answers I do have some ideas to throw around that could be useful:

(note, this is to my fellow ace and aro writers, not a list of how to avoid problematic things for allo people)

  • Character just flat-out, explicitly identifies that way.  We’re really pushed to avoid this, but don’t have to.  Can either feature them explaining it or just put them in a (wonderful, lovely) place of everyone taking their word for it and respecting their identity.  
  • Working in a fictional setting?  Maybe worldbuild a little to allow that identity to be established in some way there.  Even if you call it something else to fit the tone of your world, the mere act of explaining what that means to the reader can nail it down as an unarguable fact.
  • If a character is hiding that part of themselves, the narrative can highlight the difference between how they act and how they want to act–what they feel they are and what they feel is expected of them.
  • This one’s really hard for us, but never hestitate to put as much of your own experiences as an ace/aro person into your writing as you want.  This is less “how to keep people from misinterpreting” and more just ways to connect with ace/aro readers.  

Another thing is how other characters understand and react to that character, which is one of the biggest tools a writer can use for establishing anything about a character.  Make use of it!  Some examples:

  • Friends that know what is ace- and aro-phobic or what might alienate them and tell others off when they see it happening, or know when they’ll need to be a shoulder to lean on when it dredges up dysphoria.
  • Others who understand what they are and aren’t interested in, and just treat it as established fact.  
  • Instead of trying to get that single friend to “find someone” so they “won’t be lonely,” they actually make them less lonely by being their friend and consider the idea of pushing them to date about as useful as dragging someone thoroughly disinterested in sports to marathon old taped football games for a week.
  • If your setting supports it, they use the terms for identities and treat them as valid!  Like “I can’t wait to see what [character’s] dream wedding is like”  "I wouldn’t hold your breath, she’s aro" for a shoddy example
  • Allows more room for misinterpretation, but that method can be used whether identity labels are mentioned or not.  Writing characters that affirm that no, that character said they’re not intersted in relationships, stop trying to change them’ shows right off the bat you’re not diving into a plot of ‘this character thinks they don’t need ~love~ but ~just need to open their heeaaarttt~’ or 'this character isn’t interested in sex but just doesn’t know how good it is’ and so on

Unrelated notes: Remember that it is 100% up to you whether your setting has compulsory sexuality or amatonormativity.  Even if you set it in the real world, you are completely and unmistakably free to leave that shit out.  Meanwhile, writing those kinds of issues can be extremely suffocating, but it can also be cathartic, and reading about shared struggles can mean just as much to an ace/aro reader as rolling around in a world completely free of them.  Never feel guilty for preferring to write one over the other.

And remember that there really isn’t a way to keep people from ignoring all of the above and misinterpreting your character, purposefully or not.  "I can ship ANYTHING" and “I will make porn of EVERYTHING” are things fandom takes blatant pride in no matter the context.  I’ve found it to be a lot less stressful to think “how do I write this character so that no allo person can possibly think they’re anything but ace/aro” and to think of writing the story that other ace/aro people would want to read about.

Fellow ace/aro writers, feel free to add your own suggestions!

I know people are big on the “you can’t call him aro/ace because he’s not human” thing re: Cole but

Whatever you call it, I still gotta say I love that by far the most empathetic and compassionate character in the game, the one that can connect to anyone on the deepest levels if they let him, is one that bluntly and explicitly rejects even the slightest interest in sex/romance

These tropes almost always work the other way around and I’m used to the disinterested characters being the villians, the cold and heartless and ruthless, the ones that don’t give a shit about people in general.  I’m used to going to headcanon blogs and seeing walls of serial killers in their aromantic tag.

I’m not used to having a character whose very being is the essence of empathetic love and having them express the same confusion and disinterest in sex/romance that I’ve always felt.

Stuff like this is why I am not surprised in the least that when one of my posts about the relationship between asexual and/or aromantic people and fiction takes off I will get literally thousands of replys and asks from other aro/ace people 

all saying that they so, so wish they could write aro/ace characters themselves, that they want to more than anything, but they can’t shake the deep sense of shame and loathing they feel when they try.  That they struggle to think up storylines for them, that inspiration is a constant uphill battle of insecurity and self-doubt, that they constantly have to fight the terrifying creeping feeling that that character is expendable and unimportant because they are aro/ace

Aro/ace headcanons might seem like such a small thing, but the reason why I get so worked up about them is they can be such a huge stepping stone on the path to self-acceptance and, for those of us who hope to write, to actually creating ace/aro characters of our own.

We are inundated with media that tells us loudly–whether explicitly like Moffat’s “my character can’t be ace, he’s too human and also knows how to have fun” or implicitly through a hundred million poisonous tropes–that our stories aren’t worth telling.  That people like us are worthless and uninteresting.  That we’re best relagated to villains and redshirts and the moment a character becomes less like us–the moment a character shows [het] romantic/sexual attraction–they automatically become more human in the minds of viewers and writers alike.

This can be some pretty horrible shit to work through when you try to write aro/ace characters of your own. 

It can take ages for some of us to work up the bravery to take an existing character we like and realize that we can take those things that we identify with about them and say it’s because they’re like us.  That they don’t get any less interesting, any less human, if we imagined them as aro/ace.  (They might even get more interesting, because they open up a world of possibilities that media never comes near!)  That they can still hold on to their relationships and their place in the storyline, and if a character like that could even exist in our imaginations…maybe, just maybe, we can dare trying to create one of our own.

Or even to take a character we know nothing about and say “It would be great if they were ace,” acknowledging to ourselves that they would be just as interesting and just as compelling as if they were allo, stubbornly resisting the idea that a character being aro/ace is somehow a death knell.  And let me tell you, doing this in the face of the fandom people mourning the idea of a character potentially being aro/ace can be horrifically difficult.

I’m not even talking media representation here.  I’m talking about self-healing–how cathartic it can be to write a character who has the traits you’re most ashamed of, and say “they’re human, they’re interesting, they’re sympathetic, they can have a lifetime of friendships and hopes and dreams and adventures and aren't any less for the things they share with me.”  I’m talking about the power of taking an existing character and not feel you're ruining them by imagining them that way.

Attacking ace/aro headcanons because “I’m just enforcing accuracy” or “I just don’t want them to get disappointed” or “the writers said they’re not ace you’re just delusional” isn’t just some fandom drama–it can sabotage what can be a healing process for many aro/ace people.  It makes it even more daunting to be open about these kind of things.  It encourages others to join you in your mockery or to take it even further.

And this goes 100% for ace/aro people who attack those things, too.  Your experiences do not define everyone else’s.  You may not share the same struggles others do.  You may not have the same wounds and might not need that same healing process.  And that doesn’t give you the right to attack others’–especially in a context that invites allo people to attack them with you.

**Note: this is not implying that all aro/ace headcanons are free from being problematic–such as using them as a tool to get characters you don’t like out of the way, especially on a racial level, but that is definitely not what is going on here and not the concern of the people going on the rampage about this.

it makes no fucking sense to have aliens/robots/spirits/etc etc whatever kind of nonhuman to all have a m/f gender binary and inexplicable romantic/sexual attraction

it also makes no fucking sense to allow them to be other genders and elements of aromanticism/asexuality and then have ALL YOUR HUMAN CHARACTERS stubbornly stick to a m/f gender binary and all be alloromantic+allosexual

the moral of the story?  the problem isn’t the lack of wild creativity in worldbuilding w/nonhuman species, the problem is thinking being outside the gender binary or lacking either/both romantic/sexual attraction is so dehumanizing you can’t even imagine any sentient being of any sort being like that, let alone a.  ya know.  human being.

in other words just put the goddamn NB/aro/ace characters in the goddamn story just fucking do it

Having gotten over my bewilderment at those rebuttals to my romance-redemption-arc ramble, there’s one thing I really just have to focus on:

The whole “you can’t just imagine a character as aromantic cause that would make them 100% opposite” thing

This is so blatantly creepy and dehumanizing–not to mention ridiculous when looked at in the larger context of fandom.  You can have coffee shop AUs and high school AUs and zombie apocalypse AUs, you can reimagine characters as monsters or mermaids or mice–but aromantic?  That’s going too far.  That’s changing them too much.  In the context of the remainder of the posts, it was as if they’d taken it to mean “imagine them having all of their human connections stripped away and their mother abandoned them and they’ve never seen the sun.”  

I don’t find it coincidental that that is exactly how aromantic-coded characters in fiction are portrayed.

And then there’s the relationship itself–how many times are nonromantic relationships reimagined to be romantic?  It’s infinite!  Friends, enemies, even family–nothing is off-limits, and fandom is proud of the fact, with rallying cries of “ship everything that moves” and “they don’t even need to be in the same universe I can ship it,” etc. etc.  not that shipping is the problem, just illustrating a point

But temporarily reimagining a pivitol romantic relationship to be nonromantic is impossible?  If you see it as a downgrade, of course it is.  How could that relationship continue to have such a strong impact on that person’s life if it’s suddenly shallow and casual?  How can that person continue to care deeply if, by definition, we’re saying “Imagine if they stopped caring deeply”?

It all comes down to whether the difference between romantic and nonromantic is seen as type or rank.  If romantic relationships are inherently superior to nonromantic ones–and thus, alloromantic people are capable of deeper and moreimportant relationships than aromantic people–then this would make sense.  

But it’s not that way.  That is exactly the idea that harms us so much, and exactly the idea I want to destroy.

Something that’s been weighing on me for the past few months that I don’t think I’ve ever seen addressed before are the ways that aromantic people are specifically susceptible to abusive relationships.  

Not more susceptible, necessarily–the large majority of romantic relationships I’ve observed in my own friends and family have been abusive in some way–just that because of how little they’re acknowledged or discussed, more likely to go unnoticed and unquestioned.

Also this is mostly observation and speculation, so I am open to discussion with other aros!

First and foremost, I think, is the fact that abusive behaviors in friendships are rarely recognized as such.  Gaslighting, emotional manipulation, and controlling behaviors are things that can happen in any relationship, friend or family or romantic partner alike.  However, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard these things passed off as cute or devoted or mere insecurity when described between friends.  For example, I’ve seen dozens of popular textposts boasting about how angry they get if they see their friends talking to or socializing with anyone but them–in circles that would immediately recoil from the same attitudes between romantic partners.  The severity of these circumstances might vary widely, but the fact of the matter is this kind of culture just serves to encourage people in abusive friendships to consider that behavior normal or even thoughtful if someone’s doing it towards them.

Second, it’s really, really hard to get support if you try to back off from an unhealthy friendship.  Chances are there are a lot of mutual friends involved, and indicating that you no longer want to be friends with someone is passed off as “drama” or “stirring up trouble.”  If that person has any positive relationships with other people, they’ll dive in to assure everyone that their friendship is great and no abusive behaviors can possibly exist towards anyone else.  There isn’t really any code, any script for distancing yourself from a friendship like there is for having a breakup; I would never, ever say that breaking up with an abusive partner is easy, but people at least seem to understand what a break-up is.

Third–and this is where it all especially concerns me re: aromantic people–is the pressure we may feel to “prove” our humanity and worth through relationships.  An enormous amount of the counter-arguments to anti-aro attitudes (and something I’ve been guilty of participating in) is to emphasize how great and wonderful our nonromantic relationships can be.  Having to pull back from something you’ve been forced to use as proof that you’re just as human as anyone else can be devastating.  Is the rhetoric we resort to most often pushing people to stay in harmful relationships to show the world they're just as strong?  Do we feel afraid of leaving those close relationships because once we’re alone again we no longer have any defenses, any proof?

Granted, #1 and #2 aren’t unique to aromantic people.  Anyone can end up in a controlling, abusive relationship and find themselves going up against the same problems.  However, the fact that all of our relationships are nonromantic means that we get hit much harder with these factors.  That means a higher percentage of aggressions against us are likely to be excused or seen in a positive light.  That means further impacting the way we see ourselves and whether we feel we have the capability and the right to stand up for ourselves.  

I can think of two main things to encourage in countering this:

1)  In protecting aromanticism, resist the urge to validate it based on the quality of relationships.  An aromantic with no friends or with a long chain of bad friendships is just as human and just as worthy of defense as anyone else.

2)  To raise awareness of abusive behaviors in friendships and to promote them being taken seriously.  This could mean calling out signs of control and manipulation instead of ignoring them or saying they’re cute.  This could mean providing support for someone who’s faced an abusive friendship instead of looking the other way and insisting “I don’t like to get involved in drama.”

I suspect a lot of the reasons why abusive friendships aren’t taken seriously is that friendships are seen as Relationships Lite, a simplier, easier, and shallower category than romantic relationships.  In recognizing this isn’t true, that means not just promoting the ways that they can be good for us, but acknowledging the ways they can harm us.

idk if it’s a Problematic Thing or just a pet peeve of mine but yet another reason (aside from the aromantic allosexual erasure/excusing anti-aro alloromantic asexuals thing) I get so irked about the whole “writes post about aromanticism –> gets discussed as asexuality/reblogged with mostly nothing but #asexuality tags” thing is that a huge motivation for making those posts for me is to raise discussion on specifically aromanticism

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Seriously though Zenith would have been the perfect companion for every single pubside class why can’t all of them have a Zenith

The republic trooper having the constant presence of the Republic’s failures and the people left in oppression with them, and the reminder that there’s more reason to fight the Empire than preserving the Republic alone

The jedi knight having a hero of an entirely different sort behind them, nothing like the ever-praised Chosen One, a bloody-handed warrior of the overlooked and unknown who refused to let his people be looted for the Greater Cause

And the smuggler it would be like a reverse of Han Solo/Princess Leia (just with the face of the rebellion being a guerilla fighter from one of the most oppressed species in the galaxy instead of rich human nobility)–the classic story of drawing a smuggler into caring about a cause but less for idealism and being a better person and more for the spilled blood of those left behind

YOU GET A ZENITH SHE GETS A ZENITH EVERYBODY GETS A ZENITH

the attitude that if someone isn’t using their body for sexual purposes they're wasting it is extremely, violently acephobic 

we’re not food whose purpose is to be eaten left on the shelf to rot

we’re not a car that was built to be driven left to rust in a backyard

it doesn’t matter who these attitudes are said to or about; they’re harmful and dehumanizing and disgusting in every way

random Star Wars thoughts time

When you think about it, it doesn’t make sense at all for the whole “Jedi attachments” thing to automatically equal romance like so much of the universe’s material (and in turn, the fans) treats it, and not just as a critical fandom thought thing–just look at the original trilogy.

Luke went against the tenants of the Code in two major events, one which was nearly his undoing, and one that was his completion; neither had anything to do with romance, but both had everything to do with love:

The first was when he left his training to try to rescue Han and Leia from Cloud City–love for friends.  Attachment.

The second was when he resisted the destiny of having to kill his father to try to save him instead–love for family.  Attachment.

Both were perfect in the scope of the story for what this part of the Code meant; they were immensely dangerous and risky to their cause as a whole, without ever having to stray into the tired old Forbidden [Romantic] Love trope.  It played with the themes of the power and danger of love without acting like there was only one kind…only for much of the rest of the material to promptly forget that.  And more’s the loss for it.