Naming and discovering new categories

31 agosto 2016

Esta entrada es una colaboración para el carnaval de blogs. Escribo en inglés porque es el idioma de este carnaval.

When I first came across the asexual community and read the descriptions of the terms it used, I didn’t identify with it initially, though these distinctions made a lot of sense to me. Despite the definition of the word “asexual” was a bit undefined that time because of the vagueness of “sexual attraction,” I considered really necessary to separate sex drive, sexual attraction and romantic attraction. Because of the lack of a good definition of “sexual attraction,” I considered myself hetero-hyposexual, but I immediately felt that the word “aromatic” described myself, so I wrote in my AVEN description “strongly aromantic.” Through discussion of the concept of “sexual attraction,” I finally recognized I had always been asexual, but I didn’t feel as identified as when I learnt of aromanticism. But the best word I found in the asexual community for describing myself was “squish.”

My reference for the definition of squish has always been the blog post Squish! by Trix. I had experienced squishes before, but I misidentified them heteronormatively as crushes if they were on girls and irrelevant if they were on boys. In the terminology of an older post, lacking the platonic category, I misclassified the girl squishes as romantic and the boy squishes as social. I think they would have been better classified as social, but amatonormativity made me consider some of them actual crushes. But they were platonic, and the word “squish” opened my eyes to a new category where I could recast many relevant feelings of my life. The platonic category has simplified the understanding of my feelings since I was aware of it, and the word “squish” has allowed an accurate communication with other members of the asexual community about my feelings.

The word “squish” was a breaking point of my policy about translation of asexuality terms between English and Spanish. Initially I kept a dictionary so that I could speak of asexuality in both languages, but I couldn’t find a word for “squish,” and the Spanish word “platónico” is quite different from the English word “platonic.” Anyway, the platonic category was so useful that we needed to use it in Spanish regardless the denomination. Some years later, some Spanish-speaking aromantic activists proposed terms for this category, like “arrobo” or “arrobamiento” for “squish” and “afectivo” for “platonic”, but the years when I had to use the English ones made hard for me to adapt to the new ones, especially “afectivo” because of it’s prone to confusion.

Other people may live happily unaware of the platonic category, but for me it was lacking words for one of our senses. If we identify the platonic feelings with hearing and romantic feelings with sight, my previous life was lacking terms for the sounds, being blind in a visual society. When I heard music, I thought I had to be seeing something. Realizing I was blind and that sound was a sensible reality, I could enjoy the music for itself.

Kinds of attraction: an analogy from phonology

28 agosto 2015

Versión en español

This post is a translation of the relevant parts of Tipos de atracción una analogía desde la fonología (in Spanish).

This post continues the discussion and the terminology of Asocial: the final frontier?, which I now review. First, we have romantic attraction, understood as separate from sexual attraction. Second, we have platonic attraction, and then the social attraction. In that post we considered the question of whether there is attraction further than the social one. Today we shall discuss what there is in between.

With each of these kinds of attraction there is a corresponding kind of relationship. For platonic attraction, the community coined the terms squish for the instances and objects of the attraction and zucchini for the partner in this relationship, though many people deem the latter unnecessary, having friend with adjectives. The issue is that friendship includes both the platonic and the social meanings. This post will deal with the relation between the classic trichotomy partner-friend-acquaintance and the finer distinction romantic-platonic-social-acquaintance, using as a source of analogy the phonology of Spanish and Catalan (a language spoken in Eastern regions of Spain, in bilingualism with Spanish).

Stressed vowels of Spanish and Catalan

Stressed vowels of Spanish and Catalan

Catalan language has 7 stressed vowels (à, è, é, í, ò, ó, ú) compared to the 5 ones of Spanish language (A, E, I, O, U). While in Catalan there is semantic difference between è and é, to the Spanish ear both sound like E, resorting to adjective (like open and closed) in order to distinguish them. The same happens with ò and ó, which sound like O to the Spanish ear, though I will focus on the E. In the spectrum between the A and the I, Spanish language sets 3 vowels (A, E, I), while Catalan language sets 4 (à, è, é, í), with the consequent differences it has for classifying a vowel in this spectrum.

Well, I think the same happens with the difference between couple and friendship and between friendship and acquaintanceship. As far as I know, for the precise discussion it is more useful to set 4 points in this spectrum (à=romantic, è=platonic, é=social, í=acquaintance) instead of only 3 (A=couple, E=friend, I=acquaintance), though a person whose ear is used to the the concept of friendship (opposite to couple and to acquaintanceship) will find the same kind of problems as the Spanish speaker that hears in Catalan è and é. Especially, in case of need to distinguish two different concepts, they will use one of their native categories (like friendship) qualified by an adjective (like close).

Asocial: the final frontier?

13 octubre 2014

Versión en español

This post is a translation of the relevant parts of Asocial: ¿la última frontera? (in Spanish).

In the short history of asexuality we have witnessed twice a reaction against which we should be cautious in order to avoid committing it a third time. I mean the denial of asexuality by the (allo)sexuals who, unable to conceive that someone may lack what they feel, deny that asexuality might exist arguing that sexual attraction is universal and lacking it would result in inhuman beings incapable of loving. In reaction to this, the romantic asexual raise the flag of love without sex and reply things like “asexuals can also fall in love,” invisibilizing and denying the aromantics. Moreover, forgetting the way they were attacked, they now defend the universality of romantic love and even claim that its lack would result in inhuman beings incapable of loving. In reaction to this second denial, the aromantic asexuals discovered the squish and reclaimed the (queer)platonic relationships. This sounds again as the invisibilizing and denying cries of the (allo)sexuals and the romantics, and I would not want that these findings so useful to our emotional lives were used for the invisibility and denial of the aplatonics. I have read claims of universality of platonic love, although I still have not read that its lack would result in inhuman beings incapable of loving, and I would not like to see it happened. We know that the aplatonics exist and are capable of loving. Even the aplatonic aromantic asexuals show other kinds of affection for other people: for their family, their non-platonic friends and their close acquaintances. Apart from family love, the affection toward this kind of friends could well be called social. The coinage is not mine, since I had already read “homosocial” before, especially in the context of “heterosexual and homosocial.” In the same way we are socially conditioned into heterosexuality, we are also socially conditioned into homosociality, but I think that in past times more than nowadays.

This social affection would correspond with social attraction, which would be what we call “to take to,” in my opinion. Thus, according to the social attraction, a person could be heterosocial, homosocial, bisocial (well recognized terms en sociology) and even pansocial or, why not, asocial. Nevertheless, does the term “asocial” do justice to the people lacking this affection? We have spoken out in favor of the aplatonics and would not want to see another turn in the cycle of oppression described above, but it seems that the various senses of the term “asocial” does yield the same meaning. Do I miss anything? A person can be asexual, aromantic, aplatonic… and asocial; is “asocial” the final frontier of human attraction? I can at least say that, being platonic, I am not an interested party in setting the frontier precisely in the first kind of attraction I experiment in this digging of attractions: sexual, romantic, platonic and social. Though I can’t be accused of partiality, I don’t want to boast of objectivity either, so I would like to get feedback from the readers. You may post your message either as a comment below or, if you prefer privacy, through the contact form. I would like to get replies especially from aplatonics and from asocials.