Weekly Roundup: Puzzle Pieces

I’m not very good at making these weekly roundups actually weekly… But anyway, here we are.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the second time and enjoying Jake and Amy’s romance just as much as I did the first time. I’ve also been rereading some romance novels by my favorite romance author, and really enjoying them.

As someone who is sometimes romance repulsed, and often completely uninterested, I can’t help but wonder why it is that I am enjoying these things. In the past I’ve thought “oh, it’s mostly straight people romance that I’m repulsed by.” These romance books are about gay men and I’m a cisgender a-spec woman who is mostly attracted to women. It’s basically got nothing to do with me. But then along come Amy and Jake, and actually, the bit about being mostly attracted to women is a lie too, it’s more varied than that.

One piece of the puzzle is definitely that real life romance bothers me a lot more than fictional romance does. Another piece, which I just realized this week, is that the amount of chemistry, the believability, how much we see the romance (or the relationship in general) develop, how clearly the attraction is shown, how much of a connection there is between the people.

Amy and Jake have an incredible amount of chemistry. Jake’s whole expression and body language changes at key moments when he’s really feeling/realizing his attraction to Amy. They do this thing where they’re talking and they realize at the same moment how attracted they are. The romance books by that particular author (KJ Charles, if you’re wondering) are similar, though in a much less visual way. I can’t explain how she does it, but you really understand and believe that the characters are attracted to each other, and it goes way beyond the superficial descriptions you see in a lot of books. (Here’s an article about her writing that explains how amazing it is way better than I could.)

Either way, the TV show or the books, it really draws me in and gets me invested, whereas romance that’s less convincingly or believably or deeply written is much more likely to make me respond with disinterest or repulsion. It’s always fun to figure out more pieces of the puzzles of why I like what I like, especially when it seems contradictory.

In other news, I’m excited about this kickstarter project for an aromantic anthology.

Following up on the Queer Home thoughts, I bought this coat rack, and it is wonderful.

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Carnival of Aces Call for Submissions: Symbols of Identity

This is the call for submissions for the March 2019 Carnival of Aces. You can find out more about the Carnival of Aces in The Asexual Agenda’s masterpost here.

The topic I have chosen is “symbols of identity.” This includes things like the black ring, the ace flag/colors and other ace-spectrum flags, and cake, as well as any other symbols that you feel are relevant. Listed below are a few ideas to inspire you, but feel free to write (or create other media) about these symbols in any way that you wish.

  • Your personal feelings about any of these symbols
  • Which, if any, of the symbols you incorporate into your life and how
  • The function of symbols within the ace community
  • How symbols of asexuality are perceived from outside the ace community
  • Symbols you wish we had
  • Other symbols of identity (e.g. the rainbow pride flag) in relation to asexuality

To make your submission, provide a link in the comments below or email me at royalsloths@gmail.com. I will check for submissions each weekend at a minimum, so if I haven’t responded to your submission by the end of the weekend after you submit, please resubmit!

I’m looking forward to reading all of your submissions. Thank you!

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Apparently you do know it when you feel it

The split orientation model is useful, as far as it goes, but where it falls apart for me is when we try to understand what romantic attraction actually is.

Sexual attraction is much more straight forward. Basically it boils down to “you see someone and think you’d like to have sex with them.” (Where the word “think” can have mental and/or physical components.) Even though I’ve never felt this, I can understand it theoretically, because sex is a well defined thing. I know what sex is, and I’m pretty sure I’d recognise wanting to have sex with someone if I ever felt it, so I feel pretty safe saying I haven’t felt it.

But if romantic attraction is “wanting to have a romantic relationship or do romantic things with a person,” what is a romantic relationship? What are romantic things? An alloromantic person says they do x, y, and z with their romantic partner, and have feelings a, b, and c, and it is definitely romantic. An aromantic person says they also do x, y, and z with their queerplatonic partner, and also have feelings a, b, and c, but it is definitely not romantic. So apparently you know it when you feel it, and you know it when you don’t?

Which is where it just leaves me bewildered, because what? How do you know? This doesn’t even make any sense. I’m definitely attracted to people, sometimes, but I couldn’t tell you whether or not it’s romantic. So I decided that the concept of romance just isn’t useful to me in defining or understanding how I experience attraction, and mostly don’t use a romantic orientation label, though I’ve been calling myself aro-spec lately.

Except apparently you do know it when you feel it, because I can now definitively say I have felt romantic feelings (attraction? desire? that’s a whole different question…) about someone.

There’s this person I’ve been attracted to, in whatever mysterious way it is I’m attracted to people. We’ll call this person T*. Last week I was out for a walk, exploring a (nearly empty) public garden, and out of the blue I had a feeling of “I wish T were here right now,” and it was definitely a romantic feeling. How did I know it was romantic? I don’t know; it just was. In contrast, a few weeks ago, I saw an advertisement for an adventure park and thought “If T were here, I’d suggest we do that together,” and in retrospective comparison, it definitely wasn’t a romantic feeling that time.

Did I experience romantic attraction, or romantic desire? I would say romantic desire, except the feelings were definitely aimed at/in response to a specific person, who just wasn’t present. Anyway, the feelings were very fleeting, just lasting a few seconds, leaving me going “Huh. Was that romantic attraction? Apparently you do know it when you feel it. Weird.”

 

*Not their real name or initial, for privacy

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A Queer Home

To follow up on my last post, after spending Christmas (and then some) with my family, in the house of my brother and his wife, I spent a lot of time thinking about wanting to have a queer home, and what that means. In large part, I was frustrated and stifled by the overwhelming normativity I felt in their home, much of which was not specifically related to queerness or lack thereof. It wasn’t all bad, though. My brother does most of the cooking. One evening they sat on the couch together mending clothing (I did some mending too), and that felt like the complete opposite of normative. Here is what I wrote in my pen-and-paper journal while I was there: 

“I am left with the question… how do I create a home that is fundamentally queer? How far does my conception of queer as ‘rejecting all normativity’ go? What is normativity and what is simply things one needs to do, like cleaning the bathroom and managing your money? Does decorating with pride flags and pride flag themed things make a queer home?[1] What about a queer history coffee table book? Does the coffee table book make it normative, or is it the perfect blend of queerness and normativity that upends assumptions? Or is it performative queerness with no substance?[2] If I discard normative things, what do I replace them with? Is having less living room furniture, and a stack of floor cushions, because I like sitting on the floor, queer?[3] It’s non-normative, anyway.”

1. It certainly helps! But if everything is rainbows and ace flags, it could get overwhelming really fast.

2. I don’t think I want a queer history coffee table book, but definitely a bookshelf full of only books with queer (and ace and aro especially) characters. Add plenty of Ownvoices authors and it will have substance.

3. No, it’s not

All of this, though, is essentially about how the home looks. What I really want is to figure out how to make my home feel queer. Is having a home that looks queer enough to make it feel queer? If I live with a partner, how do I ensure that we are not just living out the (hetero)normative stereotypes? My thoughts so far amount to sharing the cooking, cleaning, household tasks, etc. equally, but that doesn’t feel like enough, somehow.

 

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Weekly roundup: The holidays and community

So apparently spending the holidays with three (married, allo) couples can lead to some uncomfortable moments. It wasn’t anything big, but just enough small things to add up to me feeling a lot more romance repulsed than normal. I don’t remember feeling this way last year (same group of people), but I hadn’t yet gone through my romantic orientation crisis and recognized my occasional romance repulsion. So maybe it did happen and I just didn’t realize it.

Then I left my family and went off to a big dance event for the New Year’s Eve, feeling like I just didn’t want anything to do with romance. There’s one other ace person in that community, and just knowing that I wasn’t alone helped so much. I don’t actually know her romantic orientation, and we didn’t talk about my feelings, but just being around someone that I could assume would understand and sympathize if I said something made a difference.

Community is important.

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AVEN Thread on Cake?

I’m sure I’ve read an old AVEN thread where the cake thing got started, and it isn’t any of the ones linked here. http://wiki.asexuality.org/Cake

Help?

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Weekly Roundup: Limerance

I came across the term limerance when I was delving into old posts on attraction. I know I’ve encountered it before and looked up what it means, but it’s been a while and I wasn’t totally sure anymore. So I wound up reading the Wikipedia page, which, aside from a few assertions that it has to be based on romantic attraction (and one assertion that it has to include sexual attraction), was quite enlightening. As I was reading through the page, I realized “I’ve totally experienced this! In a major way! More than once…”

I texted my sister-in-law, because she’s the kind of person that I can just randomly text “I was reading about limerance today” to and she’ll roll with it. I included the Wikipedia link, and her response was “That sounds like the first stage of love for most people.” Then I said “Huh. Really?” and she said “Yeah, most people go insane. It’s very counterproductive.”

After that, I thought: All of these songs and poems about love–most of them are really about limerance. And suddenly, it makes a lot more sense why people write these songs, why there are so many of them. I’m still not interested in listening to them, but it makes more sense now.

Then, I clicked a link to the Wikipedia page on romance, and… bad idea. I just had to tell myself “no, stop, don’t let this limited understanding of romance mess with your sense of self.”

I’ve seen this poem more than once, but it strikes me every time. I’d love to have a nice poster print of it.

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