Purity Culture in Fandom

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Synonyms: purity, purity culture, Fandom purity wank, anti, Anti-Shipper: Current Use
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Purity culture is an environment that developed mainly on Tumblr, that criticized the use of certain "problematic" tropes in fanworks. In the mid-2010s, a number of Tumblr users began arguing that some kinds of fanworks should not be allowed on any platform. These criticisms were quickly labelled "purity culture", due to their basis in morality arguments. Other terms include "antis" and "Performative Morality". These fans often use social justice as a framework for their arguments. These somewhat resemble Fandom as a Safe Space discussions.

Some fans, apparently mostly young, are "calling out" fanfiction authors and platforms, sometimes using the term "sin". Their main issue was pedophilia, sometimes using the terms MAP ("Molesters And Predators") and CSA ("Child Sexual Abuse"). Some seem to be teens upset that adults were writing porn about teenagers (regardless of age of consent), and some even considered relationships with age gaps to be unhealthy.

This is particularly complex in comic and cartoon fandoms, such as the sports anime Free!, due to the vaguely young age of many characters. As "antis", it may have arisen in Homestuck and has been an issue in Gravity Falls, Steven Universe, Undertale and Voltron. Anti-Shipper Example Ships provides a list of fandoms where purity culture has called out problems.

Other problems brought up included rape, non-consensual sex, incest, kinks, pro-Nazi content, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, religious bigotry, misogyny, samboism, discrimination, mammyism, dehumanization, slash fic (considered to be fetishizing gay men), and not presenting abusive or unhealthy relationships in a purely negative light.

While purity culture lead to positive calls for better tagging and warnings for fanworks, a number of fans wanted to go further. Suggestions for enforcing or improving fanwork morality have included name calling, smears, comparisons to mainstream porn, organized negative comment storms, reporting the fan creators in hopes of deplatforming them, directly threatening messages, doxxing, reporting the Archive Of Our Own to the US FBI, and calling for curation to remove problematic content.

This is discussed in great detail in The Three Laws of Fandom and AO3 is open source.

Further Reading