Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire: Live Tweet

Ages ago I live tweeted reading Every Heart A Doorway. This post has my original commentary, and adds my more recent thoughts at the end.

Content warnings for discussion of gore and eye damage (3 tweets in the middle, text to warn before they appear).

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I’m no more broken than you: Aromantic erasure in the asexual community

Recently it was announced that despite Jughead being canon aro ace in Archie comics he would be straight in the new Riverdale TV show. The asexual community rightly spoke out about this is unacceptable, and has been trying to pressure the show to keep Jughead asexual. However, some of this response has highlighted problematic trends in asexual activism.

Jughead is a canon aromantic asexual who is also touch adverse. While only the term asexual has been used in the text, his explanation of how he feels has made the rest clear. I haven’t actually read the comic, I don’t generally read comics and I disliked Archie comics when my brothers read them as teens, but despite that I have seen enough excerpts from them to be confident that this has been made as unambiguous as it could be without using the actual words.

Despite this, the backlash against the choice to make Jughead a character who “will have romances with women,” has primarily centred around his asexuality, not his aromanticism. There have even been posts that argue that it is fine for Jughead’s character to be changed this way, since he can still be ace if he experiences romantic attraction.

While it is true that aces can be alloromantic, arguing it in the case of this specific character is erasing and discarding his aromanticism as irrelevant or unimportant. There are other opportunities to discuss the need for a wider variety of alloromantic ace representation that does not involve erasing an aromantic character.

This is a far bigger issue than a single event or single character. Asexual activism, particularly when it is directed at allosexuals, frequently is handled in a way that is damaging to aromantic, touch adverse, or sex-repulsed aces.

In an effort to make themselves relatable to allosexual people, there is a tendency to draw comparisons. “Aces aren’t broken, we still can have romantic relationships!” “Aces aren’t broken, we can still have sex if we want to!” “Ace aren’t broken, we still like to cuddle and non-sexual intimacy!” are all things I’ve seen expressed. But when allosexual, sex-neutral/favourable, not touch adverse aces use those ideas to prove that they aren’t broken, they leave those of us who aren’t so relatable back in the broken category.

Because no, I am not going to have a romantic relationship just like someone who’s alloromantic. I am not going to be able to have sex if I choose, I’m sex-repulsed and that would be traumatizing. I am not going to be able to cuddle, because I am somewhat touch adverse, and especially touch adverse in situations that could be taken to be romantic/sexual in nature.

I AM NOT BROKEN.

And I am profoundly disappointed when alloromantic aces, who should understand this better than anyone, cast us aside in their push for acceptance.

When conducting asexual activism, it is important to consider who is being included, and who is being left behind. Alloromantic aces need to do more to learn to identify amatonormativity and arophobia in our community and activism, and refuse to accept it. Do not promote things that accept aces but hurt aros. Do not allow us to be collateral damage in the fight for recognition and acceptance. Do not allow broken to be the code for aromantic, sex-repulsed, or touch adverse.

We are here, we are not broken, we should not be erased.

 

 

Note: I’m using aromantic, sex-repulsed, and touch adverse similarly in this piece. They are not the same, and do not necessarily occur together. I have a difficult time separating them because they all apply to me, and at least two apply to Jughead, so it seemed appropriate in this case.

 

 

Poison Kiss by Ana Mardoll: Pseudo Live Tweet

Please see here for an explanation of how this post will work. I will post on twitter when I start/stop reading, and update the post as I add to it.

Going into this book, I know next to nothing about the plot, but do know that there is a Word of God aro ace character in it. I interact with Ana regularly on Twitter, and xie gave me a review copy of both Poison Kiss and the sequel.

Spoilers are likely to follow.

EDIT: Warning for discussing and quoting acephobic and arophobic content.

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Pseudo Live Tweet: An Explanation

I have gotten into the habit of live tweeting books when I’m reading them and expecting to comment on them about representation. It helps me work out my feelings as I read the book, and since it sometimes takes me ages to get around to a proper review (I should really work on this) it at least gives me something to point to when the book comes up in conversation.

However, I don’t think I can do this well when I know the author follows me. I think I will feel constrained about talking about the book as freely as I usually do, and it means that the author has to choose between muting/unfollowing me or having my thread keep showing up in their feed.

To handle this problem I have decided that for books in this situation I will do a live tweet, but entirely here. I will update the post as I go, adding onto the end like it is a twitter thread. It gives the author the choice if they wish to read my thoughts, and knowing it isn’t being shoved in their face should allow me to feel like I can write more freely.

Gatekeeping in Fandom: Young People Read Old SFF

 

When I was invited to participate in the Young People Read Old SFF project, I jumped at the chance. The premise of the project is to test if old science fiction stories could be a good introduction for young people (in this case 20-somethings) to get into reading speculative fiction.

For me, I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy for as long as I can remember, and I was already participating (although mostly lurking) in SFF fandom. Despite this, I haven’t read much of the so-called classics, and was willing to give them a try. I’ve also been reviewing old Doctor Who episodes on The Web of Queer for a couple years now, so I thought it would be interesting to do a similar project in a different format.

I’ve approached the reviews the same way I do Classic Doctor Who. I hold them to the same standards that I do modern stories. Especially because of the point of YPROSFF, I feel that I should be responding them to them as a modern reader. Unfortunately, the reaction I have received from SFF fandom has been drastically different from Doctor Who fandom.

I have been reading the comments (I know, I know) on James’s LiveJournal and on Facebook and I have found them extremely frustrating. The overwhelming response has been that I am a grouch and hate everything, and that I’m reacting to the stories “wrong.”

I’m starting to get the message. SFF fandom, or at least the part of it that’s reading and commenting on these reviews, doesn’t want my voice. They say they want to see how younger readers react to these reviews, but in reality they want to be able to tell me that I’m just wrong and irrationally hate things because I expect these stories to be better than they are. I get it, I’m a spoiled millennial who expects female characters to actually be people, and perhaps for the occasional queer character to appear on the page.

I entered SF fandom with Wheel of Time being nominated for a Hugo, and read through thinkpieces about how the Wheel of Time was bad and wrong and so were all the people who were voting for it. My experience with SF fandom has been the people who are supposedly the progressives telling me to shut up and go away.

I wonder why I bother trying to stay. At least Doctor Who fandom likes me.