Dear "Slash" Fandom

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Title: Dear "Slash" Fandom
Creator: effingdeixis (thequixoticbedhead)
Date(s): May 7, 2013
Medium: online
Fandom: the writer is a Supernatural fan
Topic:
External Links: cassandra is gay , Dear "slash" fandom,, Archived version
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Dear "Slash" Fandom is an essay by effingdeixis. The essay argues, among other things, that slash fandom is wrong to shame fans who advocate for showrunners to make their slash pairings canon. Although the essay is not directed at any particular fandom, effingdeixis is in Supernatural fandom, so it may have been prompted by ongoing disagreements over the Dean/Castiel ship.[1]

It was posted to Tumblr in May 2013 and had garnered over two thousand notes two years later.[2]

"Shame on you for being a hypocrite, not for your shipping habits."

Topics Addressed

Excerpts

Yes, I’m talking to you.

You, person who shipped Kirk and Spock from day one. You, person who likes to pair up every two good-looking dudes who show up on the screen together. You, person who has that one gay OTP you can’t seem to escape. You, person who carefully looks at character interactions and picks out the pairing you just know would work. You, person who simply loves fanfiction.

All of you.
Ah, my dear, rule-following slash shippers. I’m sure you mean well. You want all ships to be considered equal, and isn’t that a beautiful thing? We are all welcome to our interpretations. It’s very egalitarian, and I respect that. In a world in which we all shipped things equally unlikely to happen, I think it’d be a fine philosophy — so, historically, it has been.

But it’s just not anymore. It’s based on that equal implausibility assumption — that notion that all slash ships are given to be impossible, which makes no one better than any other. And that notion is outdated.

Times are a-changin’, and the old philosophy is now doing more harm than good. Because, in the past, you never considered that someday something might come along to challenge the equal implausibility assumption. So you took the philosophy to its logical extreme.
The problem is, you’ve taken the egalitarian shipping policy to the point where canon doesn’t matter anymore — where slash ships are seen as so far removed from any realm of possibility that you brush off anything in the text of the show that might suggest otherwise. Well, I don’t ship it, and the show likes to make jokes about gayness, so it just didn’t mean anything, and it never will.

That attitude is harmful. It’s erasing. It’s so, so bad for the advancement of queer representation in media that it’s hard to know how to begin explaining it. You’ve gone from just accepting the notion that slash ships never become canon, to perpetuating it. I know you think you’re giving your helpful, educated, open-minded opinion as a fellow slash shipper. You’re only trying to show us the error of our ways — trying to save us from falling victim to our fantasies! And I get it. You mean that everyone can have their private ships and fantasies without bothering others. You mean that it’s bad to appropriate advocacy as a means of seeing those two hot guys fuck. But what you actually end up saying is that it’s okay to fantasize about queer relationships, but it’s not okay to ask for them to actually be represented.

(If it’s not immediately obvious how terrifyingly backwards that is, I urge you to stop and think about it. Because it’s truly sad how many people don’t see a problem with this line of thinking.)
I’m sorry you feel that way. I know the advocacy brand of slash shipping can get a little…er, militant, and I know some people within these movements are prone to stirring up hysteria. But the fact is, this is not about selfishly seeking validation for private homoerotic fantasies of fictional characters. It’s not about feeling entitled to seeing everything you want to see in the shows you watch. Maybe that delusional, entitled fangirl straw man exists somewhere, but it’s not an excuse to deny the validity of an entire movement — in the end, it really is just a straw man. Like it or not, this is all very much tied up with the advancement of queer representation in the media, and the longer you try to deny any connection, the more you hold us back.

So stop and listen for a moment, because I promise you all the fuss is not just because of a particularly large group of particularly obnoxious fangirls.

There are tons of academics (in writing, publishing, film studies, screenwriting, queer studies, and so on) and genuinely queer people (and both at the same time!) who recognize that we’ve finally found something different. Something special, something new, something…hopeful.

Fan Responses

Most fans reblogged the post with enthusiastic agreement, and one even translated it into Portuguese. A few people wanted to know or tried to guess which fandom she was talking about, prompting the OP to respond that she'd never even watched Sherlock and this just showed how broadly applicable her comments were.

Some additional commentary in the reblogs:

The thing that makes me the most sad about seeing, for example, Destiel shippers in the Supernatural fandom and Sterek (or Allydia, Stissac, etc.) shippers in the Teen Wolf fandom vilified and talked down to or used to fuel online voting contests when the creators of the shows seem to have no actual intentions of following through on bringing these pairings–or ones like them–to the screen is that other shows have done it [included queer characters] in the past.[3]
The don’t ask, don’t tell policy as it applies to slash shipping needs to stop. We need to stop telling fandom not to ask actors about slash ships.... Stop worrying that it will embarrass the actor. And start worrying why you are a fan of someone who is embarrassed to talk about a romantic and sexual relationship between two men.[4]

One thread turned into an argument over the "original" definition of slash, with a side trip to arguing over the Bisexual Dean argument.

References

  1. One argument between the OP and another fan in the reblogs does specifically address how Dean/Cas shippers who want the ship to become canon are treated by other slashers who don't care about whether the ship becomes canon.[1]
  2. 2,613 notes as of 23 May 2015.
  3. reblog by amirosebooks, Archived version, posted February 19, 2014.
  4. reblog by artlesstumbles, posted 12 September 2014.