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How ‘Riverdale’ Is Erasing Asexuality and Aromanticism

I don’t get crushes. I just — found her interesting! It’s a friendship crush, if anything.

Ever since the newest adaption of the Archie comic’s Riverdale came out, the CW has come under fire from A-spec audiences for the erasure of Jughead’s canon asexuality and aromanticism.

Aromantic and asexual audiences have had little to no representation in the media, and even when you think of characters who are intended as asexual or aromantic, almost every single one of them keeps their sexuality ambiguous. Characters who wear the aromantic or asexual label proudly are few and far between – and having that representation taken away is never okay.

Jughead Jones has been coded as aromantic and asexual (as well as touch averse) for a long time, and in 2016, it was officially confirmed to be canon. His only two ‘loves’ were his friends and his food, and he has spoken out against being romantically or sexually involved with anyone multiple times throughout the comics. So why, in 2017, has it suddenly become acceptable to erase the representation that so many people have waited so long for?

Jughead’s relationship with Betty may be a nice ship to boost some ratings, but it is incredibly harmful to young aro/ace audiences. Imagine going through life being told you’re less than human, in a world that heralds love and sex as the most universal human experiences. The songs on the radio, the shows on TV, the movies in cinemas – none of it is for you.

Imagine growing up feeling as though the only word to describe you is broken or maybe even cold-hearted. Now imagine having the only mainstream character like you taken and molded to be exactly what you’ve been told you have to be.

Riverdale had a chance to put an aromantic, asexual character on our screens in one of the most popular shows of the year, but instead turned him into nothing more than the straight, white male character that works oh-so-well. But it has not gone unnoticed. In mid to late March, a-spec audiences and allies alike took to Twitter with the tag #AroAceJugheadOrBust in protest.

Representation being taken from minority groups is more than disrespectful – it’s harmful, and when it comes to the aro/ace spectrum, it enforces the idea that we don’t exist. Because it’s more ‘normal’ for Jughead to love Betty than to love nobody.

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Hunter is a young trans activist from Australia with a particular interest in representation in the media. They can be found venting on Twitter at @yaelbarons.

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