maychorian (maychorian) wrote,

On Fandom Reactions

My Big Bang icon has never been so appropriate.

I know a lot of people are tired of hearing about this. But I haven't stopped thinking about it. And so I'm going to say even more about fandom and how we talk about things like the latest unfunny business. If you're not interested, please do scroll on by.

Here's the thing: I keep being struck, over and over again, by how very different this discussion is than the last one. Last time it was about someone in fandom making bone-headed statements about sexual assault, blaming the victims, and continuing and continuing to NOT GET why that was offensive. This time it was about someone in fandom making a bone-headed story full of unconscious racism, and so on, same thing. Similar circumstances, different issues. And the biggest difference was not in the form of the bone-headedness or the non-apology apologies afterward, but in the way fandom reacted to the two separate incidents. Or rather, reacted to the reaction.

In both cases, there was a little mud-slinging at the beginning, but then people settled down to talking about it seriously. In both cases, some people didn't get what the problem was, especially those who were in a position to never have to deal with the issues at hand. In both cases, the instigators' friends stuck up for them in varying degrees of ferociousness. And that's where things start not being quite so analogous.

When people understood the facts of the victim-blaming business, almost everyone backed down. I saw SO MANY people change their minds about whether or not this was okay. It was incredibly heartening, as a victim of sexual assault myself, to see so many people who got it, who were on my side, who looked at the facts objectively and agreed with me that "This is not okay." I had never been more proud of my flist and my fandom. Sure, there were the rare exceptions, but everyone I knew and respected was with me.

Do you remember? I wrote a post about it. I was very angry. I used bad words. I allowed no room for dissent. I told the person who had said the hurtful things to STFD and STFU (mostly because she had used that language herself, but even if she hadn't I might have used it anyway).

No one told me to watch my tone. No one told me that even though I had a right to be angry, I still shouldn't talk like that. No one said that because she hadn't meant to be so hurtful, I should be more understanding and forgiving. No one was worried about her feelings (with maybe one exception, and at least if they did they didn't respond to my post). The comments I got were overwhelmingly positive and supportive of me and my pain.

I'd like to think that if I was a person of color who had been hurt by the latest business and chose to post about it, the responses would have been similar. But I don't know, you guys. This is making me doubt.

This time we had all kinds of derailing going on. And the tone argument came up again and again and again and again. People didn't want to educate themselves. Many, many folks were (and are) more concerned with their own comfort level than the comfort level of people who are vulnerable to hurt.

What makes the difference? I keep thinking about it. Why were these two situations with similar beginnings, similar middles, similar ends, and in the SAME GROUP OF PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET so, so different?

And what I've got is that fandom is a female-dominated space, which is why the first time worked out all right. But it's also a white-dominated space, like just about everything is most spaces are in the English-speaking world (edited for poor wording). And so this happens.

That means we have problems, you guys. Fandom has problems. We all have problems. We need to work to fix them. If some kinds of reactions (derailing, tone argument, "but what about their feelings," "you're ruining the fandom with your pain and rage") aren't okay in relation to sexism and rape culture, then they're not okay in relation to racism and privilege, either.

Here's poisontaster on comfort in fandom, and musesfool on the same thing, and also dotfic too.

To dotfic, after my usual round of cogitating, I said:

I think maybe feeling safe is a part of our privilege. When people don't speak about these things, those of us who are privileged not to have to think about race and racism, who don't have to watch out every freaking moment of every freaking day for things that might hurt us...well, our path is smooth sailing. Fandom is groovy and cool and there's no risk of the discomfort of having to be aware of racism. But while that's happening, fandom is certainly not safe for those who do have think about it. Who don't have that privilege of never being offended. Wow, that kind of fandom is unsafe for them.

So now, as in that link you gave ash48 from a Korean who feels safer now that privilege is being threatened, things are a little different. Now it's not such easy, smooth sailing for the privileged. Now we have to think. Now we have to be aware that we might be accused of being racist, and those accusations might be right. That's not comfortable, so we are not assured of complete comfort anymore. OUR PRIVILEGE IS GOING AWAY OH NOES.

But by God, I think that's a good thing.

I want us all to have the privilege of "feeling safe." And like poisontaster said, if some us aren't feeling safe, then none of us should.

So yeah, no, I don't feel quite as "safe" as I might like. But it's okay. I'll deal.

Fandom, I love you. But this is still not okay.
Tags: fandom, meta, racism, rape culture, unfunny business
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