I like to think of myself as a socially liberal and progressive person. My vote is always most likely to go toward the candidate who supports marriage equality and wants to reform our country’s many racist institutions. I consider myself a feminist, because I understand that feminism’s ultimate goal is equality between the sexes, not the destruction of men, as some seem to think. I don’t think this country, let alone the world, is anywhere near where it needs to be in regard to tolerance and understanding of various cultures (as evidenced by the backlash against Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl ad, among many other things).
All this being said, there is a point where we as a society need to reevaluate which groups are actually being oppressed. When I saw a poster in Stevenson for a meeting of “romantic minorities,” I almost beat my head against the wall. The rise of Internet social justice movements through websites like Tumblr has led to a point where literally every aspect of a person’s personality becomes part of an identity that makes them a “minority.” This kind of thinking is absurd at best and damaging to actual minorities at worst.
I don’t mean to pick solely on romantic minorities, but for the sake of this viewpoint I am doing so, because it was their posters that got me thinking about this. Looking at the advertisement for this group, a few terms stand out. The first of these is “demiromantic.” According to AVENwiki (part of the Asexual Visibility and Equality Network), a demiromantic is someone who “only experiences romantic attraction after developing an emotional connection beforehand.” Not sexual attraction. Romantic attraction. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t romantic attraction require an emotional connection by definition? Isn’t this how most people operate? Have I been misled about what love is for my entire life?
The other term that had me doing immediate Internet research was “queerplatonic.” I was again taken to AVENwiki, which describes it as “a relationship that is not romantic but involves a close emotional connection beyond what most people consider friendship … The commitment level is often considered to be similar to that of a romantic relationship.” Does this really mean anything? Having one or two extremely close friends sounds typical to me. Does this commitment level mean it’s possible to cheat on my friends? That just sounds petty.
My larger point here is not that these romantic identities are ridiculous but that identifying them as “minorities” is a great way for privileged, often white, cisgendered and heterosexual students at a private liberal arts college to act oppressed. I realize that sometimes college feels like a place where everybody is trying to have as much sex as possible, but, I assure you, that is not the reality.
Even if it were the reality, “romantic orientation” is just a personality trait. Nobody has ever been discriminated against in the workplace because they are lithromantic (“a person who experiences romantic love but does not want their feelings to be reciprocated”). There is no institution in this country that prevents someone from climbing the economic ladder because they have a low sex drive or don’t want a romantic relationship.
I think that the phrase “check your privilege” is often misused to dismiss the opinions of people in privileged positions, even if they have a good point. However, There is no better time to use it than when it comes to a completely non-oppressed person identifying as a minority. Focus your social justice endeavors on the people who could actually use allies.