An Open Letter to Caitlin Moran

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Open Letter
Title: An Open Letter to Caitlin Moran
From: fireplum.tumblr
Addressed To: Caitlin Moran
Date(s): December 2013
Medium: Thumblr post
Fandom: Sherlock
Topic:
External Links: "An Open Letter to Caitlin Moran". Archived from the original on 2017-04-27.
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An Open Letter to Caitlin Moran

The Tumblr post has 7367 notes as of September 2018.

It was one of the many outraged reactions to a journalist's stunt of having Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman read some slash fanfic aloud at a very public gathering.

Some Excerpt

Alas, in our Internet age, what a difference a few hours makes.

In a rather spectacular manner, you managed to antagonise an entire fandom made up almost entirely of young, liberal-minded women like me, aka your core readership. How did you accomplish this? On paper, it doesn’t sound like much: you picked an erotic Sherlock fanfic off the Internet and made the stars of the show read an extract aloud for shits and giggles. But while it was most certainly shit, it wasn’t giggles for anyone, and least of all for us.

I think it’s pretty clear from your actions that you don’t know squat about fandom, or else you would’ve guessed that it would take only a few hours for this to make the rounds all over social networks. No one in the Sherlock fandom has been spared the video of this public lynching of a fan’s writing. And this isn’t like Charles Dance doing a dramatic reading of Fifty Shades of Grey on television. True, fanfic can be found on public platforms, but that doesn’t mean it’s fair game. Contrary to books, which are actively promoted on publication and submitted to reviews and, yes, mockery, fanfic is written by fans and for fans. Fanfiction writers don’t seek to get the attention of the general public, and even less of the people involved in the source material. Basically, we just want to be left alone in our sandbox to play.

I’m sure you know what you did wasn’t illegal* [see footnote]. But what you failed to realise is that it was cruel. You were too lazy or sloppy to do your job properly, so you decided to take a piece of fan creation you knew would embarrass the actors and used their reaction to turn it into ridicule, because that’s what all the cool kids like Graham Norton are doing. You didn’t stop and think for a second of how the author of the piece would feel. Because that’s not what you do, Caitlin, is it? Up there on your Olympus of edginess and pseudo-intellectualism, you don’t give a flying fuck who you offend, and especially not the nerds sitting at the table near the rubbish bin in the cafeteria, as this recent tweet of yours so brilliantly demonstrates:

[see original post for screenshots]

I fail to see how sexual intercourse or lack thereof has anything to do with impassioned involvement in a pop culture product, but then the infamous “she’s too excited over something, someone get a dick between her legs” adage is old as dirt, and we fangirls are commonly branded as hysterical, frustrated biddies. Only that kind of noxious garbage doesn’t usually come from a self-proclaimed feminist who built a career on female empowerment.

I’ve been wanting to write an essay about the misrepresentation of fangirls for a while now, but I’m tired, to be honest. I’ve already posted thoughts on the subject and others have written about it too, better than I could have. And in the end, it all comes down to one simple thing: misogyny.

Making fun of fangirls for being too emotional while giving sports fans a free pass is misogyny. Using the same glass-wearing, inhaler-wielding, plain-looking stereotypes of nineties sitcoms on fangirls while geeks are hailed as the new hipsters is misogyny. And passing off erotic fanfiction or fanart as immature and grotesque in a society that still struggles to accept female self-stimulation as normal and natural, as opposed to male masturbatory practices, is misogyny.

Yes, Caitlin, yesterday you helped perpetuate misogyny. I don’t care if you were just trying to be funny and clever. I don’t care if you supposedly read fanfic yourself. I don’t care how bad you thought that particular extract was. If you had picked the most gag-worthy example of weeping cock purple prose, I wouldn’t have cared either. That is not the point. The point is that you just added a nice shiny brick to the wall of dumbing down, stereotyping and ultimately undermining female assertiveness and desire. Congratulations.

I would plead with you to think long and hard about what you’ve done and apologise to the people you’ve hurt and humiliated, but I know you will never read this letter. I am well aware of the David and Goliath proportions of this fight. You have almost 500K followers on Twitter and I have 24. With a little luck I’ll get this reblogged a few times, and you’ll continue to write in a national newspaper. But that’s precisely what fandom is about, and precisely what people like you will never understand. It doesn’t matter how many followers we have, or how many people read our fanfic or look at our fanart, or how many of them will like it. We do what we do because we need it to express ourselves, and because we are unable to stay passive when we feel strongly about something. And it will be a cold day in hell before any self-satisfied celebrity journalist with a superiority complex can stop us.

No love,

Me.

The Added Footnote

"‘Fair dealing for the purposes of humiliation, embarrassment & mockery’ is a bit of a contradiction in terms.", December 16, 2013

References