By Bryn Fawn
Valentine’s Day has recently come and gone. Many events were held leading up to and on the holiday, such as card making, making chocolate covered strawberries and Create-A-Creature. While couples had their dates and friends had Galentines, there is a minority of people who feel excluded from the holiday entirely.
According to WebMD: “Aromantic people have little or no romantic attraction to others. They may or may not feel sexual attraction. An aromantic person can fall into one of two groups: aromantic sexual people or aromantic asexual people.”
Aromanticism is also a spectrum, akin to asexuality. Their identities often are “yin and yang” of each other. For example, the “aro version” of demisexual would be demiromantic. Any sexuality can be used as a romantic attraction, and so attraction is split in half. This concept has been named the Split Attraction Model, (SAM).
Aromantic is often confused for asexual, and while both communities have much in common and find comradery, they are not the same. In fact, there is a second layer to attraction forgotten often as well: romantic attraction. SAM best demonstrates this phenomenon: an individual can be bisexual — sexually attracted to both or more sexes — but heteroromantic — romantically attracted solely to the opposite sex. Besides those in the aromantic and asexual community, SAM is not common knowledge.
What’s also not common knowledge is that Aromantic Awareness Week follows after Valentine’s Day each year. This year, the week of awareness takes place from Feb. 19 to 25.
Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week, the organization, has an informational page on their website titled “Aro 101” at arospecweek.org. The webpage showcases FAQs, social media sites and other resources for anyone interested in aromanticism.
Roscoe Duquette is a senior art major. They identify as aromantic “or at least on the spectrum of aromantic” and bisexual. Duquette shared that they are not heavily involved in the LGBT community and were unaware of the LGBT resources on campus; such as the LGBTQ+ Resource Committee and the LGBTQ+ Peer Support group.
Duquette feels aromanticism is often overlooked when it comes to attraction and queer identities.
“ Most of the time I see it discussed it’s usually with asexuality, which made me take a long time to realize that I am aro[mantic],” Duquette said.
Mars Doerr is a sophomore childhood education and special education major and a Community Advocate in Macomb Hall. Doerr does not identify as aromantic or any identity under the aromantic umbrella, yet does wish there were more educational materials out there for aromanticism.
Aromantics tend to be a minority in society, and norms reflect that. Love songs, breakup songs, romance media and so on are rampant. This is a part of heteronormative expectations. Heteronormativity is the societal expectation that everyone falls in love with a person of the opposite gender, gets married, has kids and passes this onto the next generation. Heteronormativity does not just affect asexuals and aromantics, as it can target queer individuals, it does include a subsection: allonormative. Allo is the “opposite” of ace or aro, where one does feel attraction.
Duquette commented on the prevalence of allonormation. They felt that it can be a destructive and harmful expectation to hold.
“I know personally I had tried to emulate what I thought a romantic relationship entails and it didn’t really work,” Duquette said. “I don’t have this understanding of this separate romantic version of love that everyone else seems to have.”
The societal pressure of finding a life partner can be crushing. It has sent some into violent outbursts, such as the likes of Elliot Rodger who murdered six because he was unsuccessful in obtaining a partner. He detailed his reasoning in his manifesto and videos he recorded of himself.
His manifesto, “My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger”, describes his plan for the attack: “Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my revenge against humanity. I’ve been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection, and unfulfilled desires all because girls have never been attracted to me. Girls gave their affection, and sex, and love to other men but never to me.”
Rodger has inspired and spurred more “incels”, involuntary celibates, to attempt and sometimes succeed in hurting individuals, especially women.
It does not always have to end in bloodshed.
“It just ends in a lot of hurt feelings,” Duquette said.
Many forget that love isn’t just romantic. There is platonic love, familial love and love that goes beyond words.
“Love isn’t just a romantic concept,” Duquette said. “I have lots of love in me for my friends, family, hobbies and passions.”