When Allos Screw Up

I returned home today from my best friend’s house. I spend the holidays with her and her polycule because they’re awesome people who I absolutely adore. I use the brief vacation to bask in the feeling of safety unique to their house and get a decent amount of writing done.

There are times when I wish I could spend holidays with my nuclear family, however it has been made abundantly clear that I am not and never will be safe in this house around certain relations. You see, I’m a proudly and openly aromantic asexual woman, a feminist with a colorful vocabulary, and an adoptee.

And Dad’s side of the family fucking HATES that! It started with threats, bullying, and escalated to cyber harassment and suggestions of violence. And those not involved in the feud, looked the other way. Even when I was crying for help and shouting, “I don’t feel safe! They are crossing my boundaries and that’s not right!”

I was greeted with silence and the message was clear: you’re unnatural, you have no rights. Their straight tears and feelings matter more than your sense of safety and your boundaries. They’re human, you’re not.

This ties into what this blog is about: when allos completely fuck up portrayals of asexuality. Because I feel there’s this insidious indifference to the harm it does to actual asexual people. I get the sense most allo authors just shrug and go, “Meh, whoopsie” and then move on. Or they go on the defensive and cry freedom of speech.

And most allo readers just kind of let them get away with it. Because that’s the acceptable thing to do. Because conflict is so uncomfortable and icky. And it’s not like it was intentional, right?

But I’m getting ahead of myself just a bit.

On the bus ride home, I was flipping about my Twitter and I noticed one person who I follow writing about a book she had just finished reading that revolved around killing the sole aro-ace character because she had turned into an evil monster. The book ended with two allo characters gleefully planning their wedding now that the evil monster had been defeated.

That book, Clariel by Garth Nix (note: the sequel to this novel, Goldenhand, involves the allo heroes planning their wedding after slaying the monster), frequently turns up on lists of books with “good ace representation” because most of those lists seem to be made up by people whose idea of good representation is “hey this character isn’t overtly sexual” or AVEN followers who care more about allies than actual aces.

If that sounds bitter and makes you feel defensive let me explain: I am in pain. Most aces are in pain.

Allo indifference fucking hurts. The fact that you can make a career on a hill of bodies of asexuals is despicable. We’re more than cannon fodder. We’re not monstrous. We’re not evil or twisted or cold.

We’re goddamn human beings! We have feelings and we experience love. And, like everyone else, we look for ourselves in the media we consume.

And what do we get?

Monsters. Killers. Villains. Things that need to be defeated, conquered, buried and forgotten. Creatures to be murdered, shunned. The evil threatening the heroes of the story.

Imagine a young asexual reader picking up Nix’s series and seeing themself for the first time. Imagine that small spark of hope that maybe, just maybe, they aren’t broken.

Only to see that representation turn into a monster, one that is slaughtered so other characters can have their happily ever after.

Because people like that reader don’t deserve any kind of happy ending.

Allo authors are allowed to write terrible portrayals of asexuality because that’s the acceptable narrative in our society. But what about those of us harmed by those narratives?

Let me tell you something, that acceptable narrative? Yeah, it says it’s perfectly fine to dehumanize someone like me. It reinforces the idea that it’s perfectly okay to enact cruelty on aces in real life, it’s fine to shun them because they’re “weird.”

Suddenly it’s acceptable to chase them out of their own house because you don’t one of those creatures in your family. Because that’s how every single goddamn narrative we’ve grown up with has painted asexual people like me. It’s the reason why so many of us were in the closet for so long, why so many of us are still in the closet.

It’s why so many of us grew up feeling broken, crying to ourselves when we were sure no one could hear us. It’s why so many of us remained invisible for so long.

You’ll excuse me if I have absolutely no interest in allo feelings or their moaning about creative freedom. They are literally making money off asexual invisibility and taking advantage of their ace fans, then turning around and telling them they have no place in the world. That they’re unnatural, monstrous, villains, undeserving of a happy ending.

And that is seriously fucked up.

— Signed: an ace author who is seriously 100% done with allo bullshit

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About Lauren Jankowski

Lauren Jankowski, an author from Illinois, has been an avid reader and a genre feminist for most of her life. She holds a degree in Women and Genders Studies from Beloit College. In 2015, she founded “Asexual Artists,” a Tumblr and WordPress site dedicated to highlighting the contributions of asexual identifying individuals to the arts. She has been writing fiction since high school, when she noticed a lack of strong women in the popular genre books. When she’s not writing or researching, she enjoys reading (particularly anything relating to ancient myths) or playing with her pets. She participates in activism for asexual visibility and feminist causes. She enjoys speaking about genre feminism, a topic she is quite passionate about, and hopes to bring more strong heroines to literature, including badass asexual women. Her debut novel was "Sere from the Green," the first volume in her ongoing series "The Shape Shifter Chronicles." The sequels, "Through Storm and Night," "From the Ashes," and "Haunted by the Keres" are also available. All books can be purchased through Amazon, CreateSpace, or Smashwords.
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