CW & TW: Discussions of arophobic and acephobic content.
Note #1: Comments are turned off by default on this post for mental health reasons. I’m really sorry to aromantic readers who wanted to comment. If you want to reach out to me via other means, please do!
Note #2: I‘m not aromantic asexual, but alloromantic demisexual. While I’ve done my best to ensure I’m not accidentally perpetuating arophobia, I cannot be 100% sure I’ve succeeded. Anything in this post/article that perpetuates arophobia is my fault. I apologise for it in advance. In the interest of full disclosure: an aroace friend read this over for me as a sensitivity reader, but any and all issues in this article exist because I messed up.
Note #3: OMG! I am the worst! So so so so many thanks to my friend for reading it over for me. <3 Again, any and all issues in this article are 100% on me, not them. If you think I messed up, blame me and only me. ‘s My doing. Also, please tell me so I can try to address it asap?
Jughead is Aromantic and Asexual. The End.
Firstly, let me start with this: I am not here to discuss whether it’s okay for Riverdale to write Jughead as an alloromantic allosexual (or an alloromantic asexual). It isn’t and this is not up for debate. Let me explain why as briefly as I can.
Jughead may be a fictional character, but there are real people who are aromantic and/or asexual who deeply identify with the way Jughead has been written. For some, Jughead is the only fictional representation of their experiences that they’ve ever seen. For some, it’s the only positive representation they’ve seen that doesn’t imply that they’re broken or inhuman.
If you look through the Twitter hashtag #AroAceJugheadOrBust, you’ll see many aromantic and asexual people discussing their experiences an what Jughead means to them. You’ll see people discussing how good it felt to have words for their experiences and to have anything at all that doesn’t imply that they’re not broken, are human, are normal just like everyone else.
Those who were aware of the Archie comics were aware that Jughead was written in a way that very strongly suggests he is a touch-averse aromantic asexual and has been since the comics began a good 73 years ago. In 2016, Chip Zdarsky, then the writer of the Jughead comics series, confirmed that Jughead is asexual by explicitly using the label on the page in the comic. There is no such explicit confirmation on-page that he’s aromantic, though there are panels where he declares “I am not a romantic person” in front of the whole school and, with the exception of cross-overs or comic alternate universes, he has always been written as someone who doesn’t like to be touched, who isn’t interested in dating or kisses and who thinks that burgers are better than sex.
So can you argue that Jughead is not aromantic? Sure. You can also argue that water is dry, mind you. Even though the comics don’t use the words (except 2016’s use of ‘asexual’) because the coinage of these terms and our understanding of asexuality and aromanticism is fairly recent, the Archie comics offer us 70+ years of behaviour that very strongly implies that Jughead, if given words for his experiences, would describe himself as a touch-averse aromantic asexual.
We frequently use far less evidence to theorise that a character is, say, gay. (Some examples from recent pop culture: Sherlock, Smallville, Supernatural, Merlin. Just to name a few. And, uh, not to open a can of worms here, but in a post about aro and ace erasure, I can’t mention Sherlock Holmes without pointing out that his inclusion here is problematic since he’s widely read as an asexual character.)