Fannish spaces, girls, and the culture of silence.

May 10, 2010 16:32

I've been thinking about this post for months, and there's no easy way to say it. It's born out of a lot of thinky thoughts on women, fandom, rape culture, and basically all the things I've been posting about lately.

In January, I made this post about gay subtext, and I was overwhelmed at the response it had. Then I made another post about Read more... )

us, je veux ton monkey wrench, fandom

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bookshop May 10 2010, 21:05:55 UTC

you know, i emphatically think it is a thing where we all help each other evolve. Like, Myra and I were watching the trailers for all the movies pre-IMII and at one point I sort of stared at the screen and said something like "Are there actually ANY WOMEN in these movies?" because they were all boys' stories and boys doing boy things and more boys in more action-adventure films, and - oh, hey, wait, there's a girl, oh, look, she's getting kissed.

and i *know* that i wouldn't have been as attuned to this a year ago as I am now; I know that it's because of fandom as a community speaking out about Racefail that I started to open my eyes to so many things both inside and outside fandom, in terms of privilege and gender and sexuality.

i love love love fandom! and i want/need to do so much more to make it a *truly* progressive space. so my first step is talking about it. thank you for letting me. <3

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duowolf May 11 2010, 07:40:45 UTC
Not really on topic but have you tried Nightwish? They're an awesome rock band with an equally awesome female singer.

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molokomolotov May 10 2010, 21:17:03 UTC
i totally understand about the fandom thing. i mean, with the shows i watch or any fandom i'm in i tend to dismiss most of the women in them because women in a show or what have you seem to only serve as a love interest, which is not something that i want in a strong female character that i would love to see, which is why i tend to gravitate towards the men in the fandom. it sucks, i know, i just wish these tv shows/books/what have you would write a stong female character that I want to like and support and fangirl over. it's very much a hit or miss with female characters for me.

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bookshop May 10 2010, 21:24:32 UTC

See, I've heard that as an excuse SO often from people in fandom, and I've used it myself before. But after a while I look at things like the character Chuck in SGA, who originally didn't even have a NAME until fandom went "oh hey that guy let's write about him!" and created this whole backstory for him. Or just look at some of the things that have been done with minor characters in HP, for example: whole backstories and universes have been created for characters like Peter Pettigrew and any number of the Death Eaters.

So what stops us from taking that mentality and applying it to women? Main characters or minor? We just so rarely do that for the girls. And when we do they get called Mary Sues. It's really frustrating. :(

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sirriamnis May 10 2010, 21:34:36 UTC
One of the reasons I started writing fanfic was to insert strong female characters (I've been told contrary to my mea culpas that my OC's do not actually qualify as Mary Sues, and I'm arrogant enough to accept that). It's something I've done since I was very small while watching the original Battlestar Galactica, and why I was ecstatic that Starbuck was a woman in the update.

I don't mind slashfic, and I've read some spectacular slash. But the idea of only focusing on the boys just seems so alien to me.

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molokomolotov May 10 2010, 21:55:56 UTC
i wish i could latch on to strong female characters. the ones i have loved have been killed off (FUCK YOU, KRIPKE) so it's hard for me to find strong female characters i like as women and characters.

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brimtoast May 10 2010, 21:25:31 UTC
I absolutely agree that fandom has (serious, scary-upsetting) problems about women. One thing that still makes me prefer it to other places that have problems about women, though, is that here at least people are talking about it.

Of course, talking isn't the same as taking action, and taking action can be a lot harder, especially when so much energy gets built up around these m/m pairings and that's where the interest and investment is, and it becomes like "yes, wow, it's awful that women are being ignored, but these male characters are the characters I'm already in love with." And detaching a bit and re-attaching to a fandom or pairing that is more female-friendly can be hard. Especially when those female-friendly pairings tend to have a lot less action happening around them. I mean, even with a writing challenge to write female characters, it's a bunch of scattered female characters rather than one strong fandom. It's like the big m/m pairings are these rivers with grand currents that will sweep you up and take you places, and in ( ... )

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bookshop May 10 2010, 21:44:45 UTC

I completely agree with you about a lot of this. For me, personally, it all comes back to last year and Racefail, because for me, personally, watching people go through that and stand up and speak about it means that I can't continue to be passive--like, it is the very least I can do to make up for all the crap those fans and writers had to go through, to not just keep on writing and pursuing the status quo. And once you start thinking about changing it's like your eyes just keep being re-opened to how much more work there is to do. But you can't stop--I can't just go back, like you were saying, to that place where everything was comfortable and easy. Because now I know what kind of things I'm empowering by doing that, and I can't go back to that place of ignorance. I mean, I could, but I'd be doing so with full awareness of what kind of harmful system I'm enabling.

Regarding the grand rivers v/s the tiny streams -- this is actually one reason why I really love a) The Devil Wears Prada fandom and b) femslash_today. Because in both cases you ( ... )

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brimtoast May 11 2010, 01:25:46 UTC
DWP fandom sounds lovely! That sounds like exactly the kind of thing I was saying I'd never seen but would love to see. I had no idea it was actually *out there.* The world is slightly better than I'd thought, hooray!

femslash_today looks cool, but I am generally happier following recs or authors I already know than browsing through fics (because I tend to feel compelled to finish stories even when they're not very good, so I try to only start ones that I have reason to believe will be good.) I suppose I should go looking for het or femslash reclists. Do you know of any good ones?

I did just recall one great het-and-femslash podfic I listened to, so my contribution to recs is that. And there's a lot of OT3 stuff I've found and loved with two men and a woman, but I feel like, while that's a step in the right direction, it's not as far a step as I'd like to be taking. It is nice that it's out there, though. I'd say that's how I have mostly satisfied my RAWR WANT MORE LADIES feelings about fanfic thus far.

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law_nerd May 11 2010, 02:31:27 UTC
Ein-Myria has an excellent list of (mostly) femslash recs. Includes a section on DWP that is a great intro to the best of the best in that fandom.

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miaruma May 10 2010, 21:30:14 UTC
I agree with you on so many things in this post, especially how women in canon are marginalized and written out of fandom/disliked purely because 'they break up the ship', and I admit to have fallen into that category more than once. Why this happens I can only explain to myself with pseudo-psychobabble, so I won't attempt to, but it is just devastating nontheless. It doesn't help that there are so few canons that give us female characters I can and want to identify with and that those canons often tend to have little to no fandom(The Good Wife being one of the few shows on TV now that does have some of the best female characters out there and yet... no fandom ( ... )

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bookshop May 10 2010, 22:46:25 UTC

To use myself as an example: in 2002 my friend C came to visit me, and while she was visiting she let me read and beta her N*Sync fanfic, where her main character, also named C, meets and falls in love with J.C. while the band is on tour. It was a fun fic. She was really proud of it. And I read it the whole time thinking LOL NOOB because her fic was so obviously a Mary Sue fic. But the thing was: she didn't know it was a Mary Sue fic. She was more or less brand-new to fandom, had come into Popslash via ff.net, and didn't know that there was a derogatory term for what she was writing. And all I remember about the fic now is that it was fun and she was really excited about it. But me--I'd only been in fandom a few years at that point myself, and I'd already gotten accustomed to hating and mocking a Mary Sue. So privately, I mocked hers. Why shouldn't i? And I still hate that I did that. Oh, and C. had already decided at that point to throw in some Lance/Justin slash, because she knew it would be popular. I don't think we ( ... )

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miaruma May 11 2010, 00:45:11 UTC
Ah, but i think your assumption (or rather: slash-fandom's assumption) of slash=good is faulty, because as you said in the same sentence, that slash is popular. Popular does not equal good, or at least it shouldn't! I think what it reveals is just how desperate people are to have the Cult of Nice on their side. That is a problem of fandom on the whole, and it is quite natural to want to be complimented, preferably a lot. And the issue with Sue-shaming is that it is mostly not done to the authors face, but behind their back. Of course people quickly assimilate, because that's how they make friends, that they then adopt the 'social' etiquette isn't really their fault, but rather the fault of the group they are trying to become a part of ( ... )

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tsukikage85 May 11 2010, 01:12:17 UTC
This makes me wonder about male "Mary Sue"s. Do they even exist? If they did, wouldn't they be as strongly discouraged as female ones? If they don't, is that possibly evidence that girls' fandom isn't quite as self-hating as we think?

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amy34 May 10 2010, 21:43:23 UTC
Word.

My first attempts at writing were slash. I loved slash then, and I love it now, but I came to realize over time that I had issues about writing women. So I wrote a het romance, purely to challenge myself to confront some of those issues. It was a mostly male POV novel, but I wrote a strong heroine and really enjoyed writing her. Now I am writing a female-POV romance with an even stronger heroine, and it's my favorite piece of fiction I've written yet (of course, I think that about every story I write, at the time that I am writing it). I still love me some good m/m romance, but I'm glad that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. Writing women, and getting more comfortable writing women, almost feels like it's been therapy for me.

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bookshop May 11 2010, 00:17:56 UTC

it's so reassuring and encouraging to read this comment. i feel like the biggest challenge is just getting back in the saddle again, so to speak, and then once we're there, we realize for ourselves how much fun it is and how easy it is to just, you know, not leave out the girls. so yes. thank you for this. :)

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braidedmane May 11 2010, 21:58:29 UTC
This comment resonates with me ( ... )

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amy34 May 13 2010, 20:18:24 UTC
Oh, heck yeah, go for it! I had the same experience as you; I simply perceived m/m as sexier, without realizing that part of the reason for that was that I had some issues about female sexuality ( ... )

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