CoA prompt for Nov 2019 – “Aro Community Wishlists” [Call for Submissions] [tumblr crosspost] [Roundup]. The tumblr post was on 1 Dec 2019 and the link included in the roundup; this post has been scheduled in January 2020 in the hopes that will avoid link/pingback confusion. (I’ll try to remember to update later with the Carnival of Aros WP or user’s roundup link.)
A by no means exclusive wishlist:
Resources: For mental health professionals.
Despite previously internally freaking out about disclosure to the intake counselor, I actually stuck with simply answering questions without diving into explanations. I vagueblogged about it, but it would just take a little tweaking to phrasing on their questionnaire to reduce the mental translation.
Q: How long was your last [context: romantic] relationship?
Thanks for assuming that I’ve had one. Now, instead of filling in the amount of time, I have to add an answer the system wasn’t prepared for.
Q: How many intimate [translation: sexual] partners have you had?
Please just cut to the chase if you mean sex because intimacy isn’t exclusively sexual, and I’ll wind up with a different answer than what you’re trying to ask if I pick apart what an intimate partner means. (My first thought was emotional intimacy after having a question where I had to answer if I had someone “as a support”, but I can overshare emotional shit with far more people than I’ve “been sexually intimate with”.)
I would also appreciate if I knew I could mention quoi, greyro, or the aro spectrum in passing without needing to walk the therapist I’ll be assigned (for the actual counseling) through basic terms. I made a point of asking for an LGBTQ-aware therapist in order to hopefully avoid that for basic trans terms, but I honestly don’t know what they’re going to know yet.
Resources: For other health professionals.
It kind of depends on the area in question if a medical person really needs to grok a-spec identities or could get by with introductory knowledge, but if someone’s intake questionnaire only asks me about sexual orientation, I would ideally like to know they’d understand my answers if I were honest. This whole five answer deal doesn’t give me a lot of faith – 1) Hetersexual, 2) Homosexual, 3) Bisexual, 4) Other with space to write in, and 5) Choose not to disclose. I must admit that I wouldn’t really expect every medical specialist to ask, but if I have to get referred to someone dealing with sexual health, I really wish someone could offer them some training or something.
(Please not that I used ‘a-spec’ on purpose here. I know aros don’t want to be lumped in with aces while forming a separate community, but if we’re talking about updating that intake questionnaire and general awareness, someone should also be brought in to cover the ace part. As much as the split attraction model isn’t helpful for some a-spec people, it provides a quick way to explain why anyone is even trying to talk about aromanticism when the question was about sexual orientation. And fixing the gender choices under that section (also vented about). Like, thanks for the attempt, but please, actually do the LGBTQIA+ friendly thing right.)
Intra-Community: If general aro spaces are set up to be romance free for the romance-repulsed, what do the romance-confused do?
It’s where the quoi in the greyro/quoi really shines through, but I struggle with how I’m supposed to warn for romo [link] or contribute to something like RomoAlert [link]. Granted, some of these questions are community level works in progress, but when romance is a nebulous, ‘red-orange, qamuSHa’, 4i’ situation, it can come across like it’s horribly easy to set off romance-repulsion and make fellow aros uncomfortable. [qamuSHa’ means “I love you” in Klingon, which is being used as ‘language I assume the reader also does not know’ in the metaphor.]
Intra-Community/Subgroup: So . . . those quoiromantic folks?
It’s one thing to opt out of interacting with specific romance-repulsed users, but if I extend non-interaction to general aro spaces, I wouldn’t really have much of an aro community to interact with. It’s possible that spaces that make room for romance-favorability might be easier to navigate because I won’t be setting of someone’s repulsion on accident, but that doesn’t really solve the larger issue of how to handle quoiromantic interaction within aro spaces. (Not to mention that romance-favorability is sometimes talked about as if it’s a small, confusing, practically mythical section of the aro community, so telling quoiromantic people to just go hang out with the romance-favorable aros doesn’t actually come across as helpful.)
At least on tumblr, there’s a lot of pride merchandise and including quoi in aro-spec lists, so I’m writing from the assumption that quoiros are supposed to be included in the aro community. (See “(What) does the aro community want (with) quoiros?” [link] for a more uncertain take.) I’m not entirely sure where else people who don’t jive with romantic attraction, don’t understand it, and may not be able to differentiate it from other forms of attraction are supposed to go. Maybe quoiros could chill with the idemromantics, some of the nebularomantics, who knows how many others. *shrug* But, like, what will the aro community do?
I’m not saying that quoi/greyro people like myself should take over the limelight and be the focus of general aro resources, but sometimes, there’s a feeling akin to thinking your carpool group will remember you (you have a designated seat in the back and everything) only to realize that they’re rushing to your location because the driver forgot you. I don’t want to become the driver of the carpool just so I’ll get remembered, y’know? Mostly, I don’t want to feel like an afterthought that’s inconveniencing others with last minute accommodations, or something along those lines.
Subgroup: Aros who may experience hypersexuality.
I know I’ve seen acknowledgement (#positivity), but that doesn’t feel the same as actually addressing hypersexuality. Hypersexuality is talked about separately from allo/ace as self-identifiers because it’s not a sexual orientation, so a hypersexual aro may be allosexual, asexual, gray, demi, etc. However, when it comes to how aro community spaces are talked about, discussions of sex and sexuality can get roughly sorted under alloaro, so it’s likely a hypersexual person of any sexual orientation will utilize alloaro resources unless sex related discussions are not designated as happening in solely alloaro spaces.
~ Do aroaces want their own spaces for any discussions of hypersexuality in the aro community? Do they want to utilize ace community spaces? What about aros who aren’t comfortable with and/or don’t use the allo/ace division? I’m honestly not sure, but the impression that any aro who needs a space that allows sexual discussions is an alloaro means the seemingly common reassurance that alloaros aren’t “using” or manipulating sexual partners can fall flat.
Now, I am *not* saying that all hypersexual people, across the board, do in fact use and manipulate people, but it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how hypersexual aros can be portrayed as an example of a negative stereotype or be misinterpreted as attacking alloaros if they come in with questions or concerns about manipulating people.
~ How do hypersexual aros balance talking about negative symptoms/side effects/episodes, which may for example involve impulsively hooking up, with the need for alloaros to have an environment that’s affirming of such experiences?
~ How do hypersexual aros balance talk of management tactics (celibacy, reducing sexual encounters, etc.) with pushback that a less than welcoming attitude is bringing in sex negativity, or accusations that an ace is trying to take over the conversation?
Hypersexuality doesn’t always manifest as partnered sex, but it’s the most immediate example that I can think of that intersects with common alloaro talking points. Also, I must admit that I’m not 100% sure to what extent flirting and romantic impulsivity are tied to allo-allo expressions of hypersexuality (in which starting a new romantic relationship is tied up together with the sexual impulsivity), or romantic impulsivity is a possible manifestation of hypersexuality that’s not separated out in most resources.
(It’s only been through brief mentions in personal perspectives from others describing their (hypo)mania that I’ve seen some specificity about romantic impulsivity (focusing on flirting), but I’m not aware of any of them being on the aro spectrum. I’m also not sure how separate this may be for others who experience hypersexuality.)