Round-Up: Stereotypes

Round Up of Submissions

Welcome to the round-up of submissions on the topic of ‘Stereotypes.’ You can see the call for submissions here: Thank you to everyone who participated! We had two responses, from students at Smith College.



  1. Do you remember those YA novels where the main character is on some all-encompassing quest to save their country or world? The ones where they might have had a romantic interest and relationship but it’s pushed aside for the sake of the world? I do. On one hand, it was always refreshing to have a story where romance, sex, and relationships weren’t a main focus. As a young aro-ace, those stories were always a bit more special because of what wasn’t there – relationships.

Yet something was always off. I didn’t want to have to defeat a dark lord and lose a finger (LOTR), overthrow a totalitarian government (Hunger Games), or regain my rightful seat as a princess (I’m sure there is some example) to not have a romantic relationship. Asexual and/or aromantic people aren’t disinterested in different types of relationships because they are trying to address pressing calamities. Asexuality and aromanticism do not require justifications to be valid.

To be fair, this stereotype pops up most where there is implicit but not explicit asexual and/or aromantic representation. Its fine for a character or a person to not engage in relationships if they have too much else going on in their life, I just wish we didn’t understand these characters as asexual and/or aromantic. This stereotype primes people to expect a justification for our identities that is not necessary.


2. There have been times that I have felt like a stereotype – and sometimes that was validating (because clearly I fit the description) and sometimes that was invalidating (because there is pressure to make it clear that we aren’t stereotypes). And then other times I felt the opposite – that the stereotypes didn’t fit me well – and again, depending on the day, that could feel validating or invalidating. The thing about stereotypes is that there are a lot of them, and many of them are contradictory (e.g. the naïve ace vs the ace who makes all the sex jokes). Some are fun – that we all like cake and dragons – and others are problematic, whether because they conflate distinct experiences or because they are the only popular representation of asexuality or aromanticism. And there’s nothing wrong with fitting or not fitting a stereotype, but there is a lot of pressure to make it clear that stereotypes aren’t completely accurate any time we are discussing asexuality and aromanticism, and while that education work is important, it is also stressful. When someone describes a stereotype that fits me, I have to determine how to respond – how to say that that’s not accurate because it’s a stereotype but it is accurate for me, except that maybe I don’t want to share those personal details, but I also don’t want them getting the wrong impression … – and if there was greater variety of representation, maybe that would be less needed, but at the same time, that puts the pressure on creators to make diverse representations all the time and sometimes to not make representations based on themselves if they fit a common stereotype – which isn’t fair.