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Alloromantic aces, listen up.


I’m running into more and more posts where aces (usually alloromantic aces) are delightedly discussing newer works of ace representation, and that’s a good thing. I am glad that representation is starting to become slightly more normalised, and I hope this trend continues in building a fantastic library of works so all aces can find themselves depicted in multiple stories.

Could you please, though, consider using the word alloromantic in these posts, given that most of these newer examples of ace rep depict alloromantic aces? And, when they do depict aro-aces, be specific about the fact that the character is aro-ace?

It is frustrating to constantly see people make comments of the “check this book out! It’s got great ace rep!” sort only to read through the post and discover that this story doesn’t represent me. This story, often pushed by an enthusiastic reviewer as ideal representation that the ace-spec community as a whole should promote and celebrate, features a relationship and experience of attraction to which I cannot relate.

There seems to be this idea that I can and should relate to the ace part of an alloromantic character’s experience. That the ace part in the story is enough to represent everyone who is ace-spec. That, because the character is ace, specifying how they are ace is unnecessary, because ace is the only experience that matters.

For me, this is everything but true.

When I am ace, I am aro-ace or grey-ace-aro–in other words, always aro. I don’t relate to alloromantic ace depictions whatsoever. I don’t want to read stories about aces in romantic relationships that don’t reflect my experiences or struggles. I want to read stories about aro-aces going on quests with no romantic happy ending, or aro-aces being in QPRs, or aro-aces building a found-family of best friends–aces who have concerns and experiences shaped by also being aro. My asexuality is inherently bound up and defined by my aromanticism! I know my situation is complicated because I am abrosexual, so I don’t serve as a clear-cut example when it comes to how I feel about being ace-spec, but I don’t think I am alone as an aro-ace when it comes to feeling alienated from alloromantic asexual narratives.

When you don’t label posts that are about alloromantic ace rep as being about alloromantic ace rep, it’s very hard not to feel a sense that ace is deemed by the community as the only relevant part of being aro-ace.

It feels like an expectation that I should naturally be represented and included by characters who don’t have my experiences on the strength of us all being ace. It feels like it isn’t a problem to the reviewer that I am constantly reading posts to the end to discover that this celebrated representation wasn’t about me. It feels like nobody is willing acknowledge that, in a post where the reviewer makes claims that all aces need to support the book in question, that this book doesn’t and never will represent all aces.

A work doesn’t have to represent all aces to be celebrated. It doesn’t! So why are so many discussions about works with alloromantic ace protagonists based on an assumption that all aces will relate to them?

I’m not asking you to stop discussing or squeeing or celebrating media that depicts you an alloromantic ace. Just give me a tag or mention it in the post itself: tell me that this protagonist is alloromantic ace so I can quickly determine that this media isn’t for me. Just give me some recognition that alloromantic representation doesn’t represent all aces and this is understood and accepted by the wider ace-spec community.

Just give me a tag or mention in the post. Just use the word “alloromantic” somewhere. Please.

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Author: Penny Wilder

Penny Wilder is a queer human who writes and reads far too many books. She lives near Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and four cats. Her favorite thing to do at the end of a very long day is to curl up with her tablet and read. She does bookkeeping for nonprofits by day, and by night moonlights as a blogger, artist, illustrator, actor, director, performer, and also sometimes as a business manager for a fledgling theater company. (Not all at once though, because that would be crazy!) She has spent a good deal of her life working in theater; either onstage as a performer, or backstage doing just about every job imaginable. Her love of writing dates back almost as far as her love of reading.

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