Fandom is not your safe space

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Title: Fandom is not your safe space
Creator: unknown
Date(s): Jun 26th, 2015
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External Links: Fandom is not your safe space, Archived version
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Fandom is not your safe space is a tumblr essay posted on June 26, 2015. It touches on a wide range of topics:

The author of the essay is unknown. The tumblr account (fandomisnotyoursafespace) was created specifically to post the essay, and no other identifying information was provided.

As of 27 August 2016, the post has 25,365 notes.

The Essay

"Fandom is not your safe space.

Nor should fandom be your safe space. Fandom is for people to explore all sorts of possibilities in fiction and art. Not all of those possibilities are going to be fluffy, “wholesome,” “healthy,” “uplifting,” or whatever other adjective the Morality Brigade here on Tumblr wants to trot out.

Fiction is not reality. Depiction is not endorsement. No, it may never be “just a movie/fic/artwork,” but that does not make it reality. Fiction serves particular purposes, and one of them is to permit us to vicariously experience certain dangerous or otherwise unpleasant things safely.

If you believe that the purpose of fiction is to “uplift” us and fiction that does not is wrong and bad, congratulations: You’re a right-winger. (Or maybe you’re on the extreme left. When you get that far out to the ends of the spectrum, it doesn’t matter.)

If you think that anyone who writes or reads noncon is a rapist or rape apologist, you are too stupid for words. If you think that anyone who ships an incest ship or an adult/teen ship is an apologist for incest or pedophilia, you are too stupid for words.

It is none of your business what other people write, draw, and ship. Let me repeat that: It is none of your business what other people write, draw, and ship. You do not get to tell them they’re “trash,” you do not get to concern-troll them with passive-aggressive nonsense like “love yourself more uwu,” and you absolutely do not get to harass them off Tumblr or elsewhere.

Also, their past trauma or lack thereof is none of your business, either. Nobody has to present their “cred” as a rape or incest survivor before they’re allowed to enjoy fanworks that don’t meet with your approval. Total strangers don’t owe you their backstories. For that matter, not even your friends owe you every detail of their backstories. Mind your own business.

Don’t want to see all this “problematic” content on your dash or elsewhere? Unfollow people. Learn how to use Tumblr Savior, XKit, AO3 Savior, and similar tools. Control your own online experience. It is not the responsibility of others on this site to take care of you, who are a total stranger to them. Given how heavily female Tumblr skews, such demands are nothing but reinforcement of the expectation that women are supposed to take care of everyone else but themselves. (Yes, women are still oppressed as a class, even before you factor in intersectionalities.)

It’s amusing how some of you have the “courage” to dogpile, harass, and stalk others on this website whose taste doesn’t meet your oh-so-pure standards. People who create fanworks are soft, easy targets to kinkshame, aren’t they? Especially when, again, most of them are not cis straight men. Women have been policed and shamed throughout history for exploring their own sexuality — including by other feminists. The 1980s were full of feminists policing other feminists:

Often conflated with radical feminism, antiporn feminism grew out of radical feminism in the late ‘70s and early '80s—as did its counterpart, pro-sex feminism. The feminist porn wars of the '80s are largely forgotten to the general public by now, but at the time they were heated, divisive, and intensely personal. In 1982, Bar­nard College’s Center for Research on Women held a conference called “Towards a Politics of Sexuality,” which was picketed by antiporn feminists for including explorations of s&m and overall pro-sex viewpoints along with discussions of race and sexuality as well as sexual history (many of which were published in the 1983 anthology Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality).

Yes, sex-positive feminism was eventually co-opted by patriarchal forces, but it started out because a great many feminists were heartily tired of radfems telling them they were “traitors” and “brainwashed” for liking anything but the blandest, most euphemistic, and most painfully egalitarian erotica. (If you like that sort of thing, more power to you. Your tastes don’t make you better than the rest of us.)

Getting back to the here and now, I don’t see you going over to 4chan or Reddit with these morality campaigns. More importantly, I don’t see you organizing to go after big media corporations, especially those whose TV shows, movies, and books help form the toxic backdrop of misogyny, racism, rape culture, homophobia, transphobia, and similar bigotries behind everyday modern life. The occasional blogpost calling out this animator or that author, no matter how many notes it gets, is not the same thing as an organized campaign.

No, harassing David Gaider off Tumblr doesn’t count, not when Bioware makes more of an effort with social justice in its games than any other game company does. You can scream all you want about how “allies suck.” You need them in the real world, beyond the hothouse environment of Tumblr. If people in general could be trusted to do the right thing for the right reasons all the time, without pressure, there would be no need for any kind of activism at all.

Nor does screaming “pedophile” at John Green and insinuating that any grown man who reaches out to teenage girls is “creepy.” Yes, his “cool dad” act is annoying, and his books leave a lot to be desired. Have you considered that such outreach is part of his job as a YA writer? Have you also considered that stigmatizing men for trying to be mentors to adolescents, when you have no evidence that they’re actually perverts, reinforces traditional gender roles?

Tl;dr: Fandom is not your safe space. Tumblr is not your safe space. AO3 sure as fuck isn’t your safe space. People will post things you don’t like in all three spaces, which they have every right to do. Get over it, grow the fuck up, take responsibility for your own mental health, and stop confusing your oversized sense of entitlement with “social justice.”


  1. safe space , #fandom , #triggers , #squicks , #policing , #kinkshaming , #kink-shaming , #incest, #pedophilia , #rape , #rape fantasies , #feminism , #feminists , #radfems , #radical feminists , #mcu, #hydra trash party , #da:i , #da: inquisition , #dragon age: inquisition , #wtnv , #welcome to nightvale, #welcome to night vale , #homestuck , #sherlock , #the johnlock conspiracy , #snk , #aot, #shingeki no kyojin , #attack on titan"

Reactions/Reviews

[olderthannetfic]:

Brav@! I have some related meta I’m slowly chipping away at. There has been a sea change in fannish thought over the last ten years, and it is not towards more diversity of fanworks but towards more dogpiling and scaring people out of taking chances artistically.

Everywhere I look, I see older fans opting out of even bothering to have meta discussions on Tumblr or in namespace because it’s not worth the emotional energy of arguing with zealots about whether you have a right to your own fantasy life and hobbies.

I see some reblogs commenting that the feminist porn wars thing came out of nowhere, but it didn’t for me at all: that’s the very first thing I think when I see sexuality-policing screamfests on tumblr. We’ve been here before: women’s spaces are full of women replicating the damage male dominated society does to us.

There are always a few toxic bullies in any subculture, but let’s not put up a smokescreen for them by having perfectly ordinary fans try to shame each other like this. It’s not a normal, default, inevitable part of fandom, and it’s not acceptable. [1]

[holdharmonysacred]: Actually, why IS fandom so damn focused on romantic ships? Like holy shit, most of the problems we have with genuinely bad ships (like fucking incest ships) wouldn’t be a problem if people just. Stopped shipping EVERYTHING romantically. Why do even people look at, say, a relationship between siblings, and go “Yes, this is a romantic relationship, not familial”? Can they just not turn off the romance goggles for five minutes???

Like man, I’m all for exploring the relationships between characters, but having fandom content be 90% shipping is just obnoxious. Can we just chill out with the romance? Please? [2]

[reply to holdharmonysacred]: No. Because shipping is fun. End of story.

And there are no “genuinely bad ships” unless you’re a dumbass anti who can’t tell the difference between fiction and reality. Please to be shoving your concern trolling and anti-sex prudery up your ass, kthx. [3]

[reysistantis]:

I don’t know where this recent idea came from that fiction has to be perfectly healthy anyway. Fiction is not inherently healthy and never has been, its not real, its for exploration and imagination. Fiction is separate from reality and that is why we like it. What you write about is not what you condone, Stephen King is not serial killer for writing about murder. People are not being “abuse apologists” for shipping two characters in a less than healthy way.

I’m sick of this new trend.

You don’t have to like a ship but you want to know what is actually hurting people? What is not promoting healthy behavior? Harassing shippers, telling them they’re disgusting over fiction, that kind of shining behavior antis exhibit. [4]

Further Reading

References

  1. http://olderthannetfic.tumblr olderthannetfic.tumblr
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