hi, i was just wondering if you could clarify why it is problematic for the AVEN survey to include questions about romantic orientation? like, i get that AVEN has some issues. their methodology is pretty subpar, and they're generally shitty when it comes to survivors of sexual violence (ace or otherwise). but i'm not quite sure what the issue with rom orientations is?? not trying to start a fight, just curious. i ID as aro ace and i want to make sure the way i ID isn't stepping on other folks?
there r a couple diff reasons that i posted that particular screencap:
the first is just that, uhhhh, WTFromantic is patently absurd. “grayromantic” or “demiromantic” are also ridiculous and founded on skewed ideas of what the average human experience with romance is. like… honestly, there does not need to be a specific term that means “only starts falling for someone after knowing them,” that’s literally how romance works??? it’s ridic.
but those are quibbles with specific parts of that section. to answer your question more broadly, i disagree with the concept of romantic orientation. there are a couple reasons.
- the sexual orientations don’t need romantic counterparts - all of the -sexual suffixes refer to “sex” as in male or female, not doin it. now that may feel somewhat archaic to some people, who feel that our ideas about “sex” and maleness and femaleness have been complicated since then, but it’s clear that the intent in creating these words and even the phrase sexual orientation has always been - to what sex (or fill in gender if you’d like) are you oriented? not “who do u wanna bone” but “who attracts you.” thus, heterosexual, for example, doesn’t just have to mean that jane wants to have sex with dudes, and in common english it usually never means only that she wants to have sex with guys. it means she’s attracted to them, wants to date them, want to have sex with them, whatever. it just means, she’s oriented toward guys in this part of her life. so the original coining of the hetero-, homo-, bi-, and aromantic terms stemmed from a false - even a non - problem.
- i truly do not believe it is an easy or even possible task to separate out “sexual attraction” from “romantic attraction.” no, that doesn’t mean that i think it’s impossible to lack a desire for sex but still want to partner with people. rather, i think what asexuals call “sexual attraction” and “romantic attraction” are more nuanced and interconnected than just “do i wanna have sex with them” and “do i wanna date them.” there is significant interplay between the two, and i think if you asked the average person, who was not obsessed with picking apart every type of “attraction” and classifying it, they would struggle to clearly delineate where one began and the other ended. i mean, lbr, i don’t think i’ve ever read an asexual blogger put forward a description of these two that did not vastly exaggerate what both of these attractions are in order to make them sound as distinct as possible.
- do they even have any social purpose? because “sexual attraction” and “romantic attraction” are so very intertwined, the vast majority of people have a “match.” or, what do asexual bloggers call it, orientation congruence?? you’re aro ace, i’m homosex homorom. does adding a romantic orientation add any information, or does it just feed into the current tumblr obsession with splitting hairs and categorizing everything, in the hopes of finding some kind of new marginalization? some asexual bloggers contend that there are some people who are incongruent - for example, all of the hetero, bi, and gay asexuals. but that’s not an argument for romantic orientations (see #4). other incongruences involve two attractions - the fabled homoromantic heterosexual, who definitely does not exist. perhaps there are homoromantic bisexuals - but are they any different from the many bi women who despite their attraction to men choose not to partner with them for other reasons? is a “homoromantic bisexual” really just a special kind of bisexual, or are they just a “bisexual who’s only looking to date girls atm”? idrts
- now, what about str8, bi, and gay aces - or aromantics who are str8, bi, or gay? remember my 1st point about what the “sex” in hetero/bi/homosexual means? yeah. imo a str8 ace is also a heterosexual - a person oriented toward the “opposite” sex. the problem, imo, is that people try to place asexuality on the same dimensions as the rest. in that case, asexual would only refer to people like u - attracted to no one. but many people use it only as “no sex feelings,” which is entirely independent from to whom you’re attracted! it may be more useful to either accept this concept of asexuality and hand it over to u aro aces, as attraction to no one, and form community simply around lower sex drive or interest in sex - or, trash that concept and instead posit asexuality as a different measure of sexuality altogether, not of ur orientation but of ur general sex-type feelings. (i have reservations about this second course of action, ofc, bc i feel like it will fall into the same problems as current ace discourse does wrt misogyny, alienation of survivors, etc.) tbh i kind of feel like whether u wanna have sex with ur partners or not is a strange thing to make a core aspect of ur identity and more something that would be shared on a case-by-case basis - and before i get tons of angry anons, i want to mention again that i’m a person who has a p low interest in sex itself.
i hope this wall of text makes sense, anon - i had to go clothes shopping with my mom today and it was exhausting, so i might be writing in gibberish rn for all i know. u don’t necessarily have to agree w me or anything, i just hope u can see where i’m coming from/what i’m thinking!