Freedom-of-fanfic

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Tumblr
Name: freedom-of-fanfic
Date(s): July 2016 - present
Submissions:
Type: meta
Fandom: pan-fandom
Scope:
URL: https://freedom-of-fanfic.tumblr.com/
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freedom-of-fanfic is a Tumblr account focusing on pan-fandom meta commentary on purity culture, censorship, anti-shippers, and other related topics. They are also on Twitter.[1]
freedom-of-fanfic is an anti-harassment, anti-censorship blog focused on fandom spaces. It is focused on criticizing and deconstructing the current trend of using moral valuation as an excuse for intimidating fandom contributors into censoring themselves or leaving fandom.

The major points that come up over and over:

  • everything is permissible in fiction, whether it’s in ‘good taste’ or not
  • it is the responsibility of creators to tag and flag their content appropriately. it is the responsibility of consumers to blacklist and avoid content/content creators that will bother them or are not age-appropriate for them. (Caveat: current social media makes this difficult.)
  • nuance is important. there’s a balance between activism, awareness, and indulgence.
  • word definitions matter.
  • anti spaces (anti-shipper, anti-kink, anti-dark content) tend towards authoritarian thought patterns. they encourage black and white thinking, groupthink, isolation from all other points of view, and harassment of outsiders.
  • anti spaces tend toward exclusionist thought patterns. They encourage policing of others, identity/experience erasure, and gatekeeping content/resources.
  • harassment, death threats/suicide baiting, doxxing, assault, and slander/libel, whether directed at fanwork creators or people dedicated to tearing down fanwork creators, are never okay.
  • everyone is a fully formed human being with good sides and bad sides, and there is always value in considering another’s point of view, even if you reject their conclusions as harmful and false. (this blog spends a lot of time analyzing the conscious motivations and internal logic of antis.)


95% of the posts on this blog are long-winded text walls.[2]

Reflecting on two years of blogging, freedom-of-fanfic tweeted a thread on the state of fandom and anti culture:

my tumblr will be 2 years old in July. and tbh, the incredible fast-tracking that took place in those two years that took us fandom antis from a small-ish but loud group of ppl hating fictional ships to the wide-ranging, multi-targeted hate group it is today is pretty impressive.

and tbh, when you look at the internet's structure, viral sharing socmed, extremist partisanship, American post 9/11 culture, US sex ed/purity culture, and the overwhelming success of Dominionism, the rise of fandom anti culture seems so natural it's hardly worth remarking on.

anti culture is exactly what I would expect to get from a generation of queer/LGBT+ youth who grew up being taught that safety is worth more than freedom. That the State is the source of safety. For whom state persecution for being LGB only happens Somewhere Else.

(I'm not talking about persecution from classmates, but from the government. And I exclude the T on purpose: transgender rights are being revoked by the state as fast as they can manage it. (don't doubt for a second that the rest of Pride is next.))

anti culture is exactly what I would expect from a generation who never had trouble getting access to the sexual content they wanted: only trouble getting away from the sexual content they didn't want. (which is what the internet is as a whole, especially with viral sharing.)

anti culture is exactly what I would expect from a generation raised to believe that authority is the source of information, of safety, and of rights. if you're not getting those things from your authorities, you just need to swap the bad authorities with good ones.

& anti culture is exactly what I would expect from a country where the dominant religion is obsessed with sexual purity, preaches black&white morality, believes it has a mandate to 'purify' the nation of sin/sinners, & has perfected its stranglehold on public education.

America has become an authoritarian nation. It happened faster on the right than on the left, but the left is catching up. Antis are authoritarian leftists, trained by purity culture & post 9/11 State from birth & reinforced by radfems & exclusionists in fandom spaces.

tl;dr: when we look at fandom antis, I think we're looking at the future dominant culture of fandom. The majority of fandom may never actually agree with their censorship, but many will comply because dissent is too costly in a space that is, for most, just a hobby space.

(Let's be real: we already have much bigger fish to fry on the subject of protecting freedom.)

but the purity movement that fandom antis sit at the pinnacle of are just a symptom of a societal change in America that is far more deep, widespread, and consequential than freedom to fandom as we choose.

fandom is just a teaching ground for the authoritarians of tomorrow.

This doesn’t mean i think there’s no point in fighting back. If schools have failed to teach critical thinking, I think it’s even more important to encourage it wherever it’s possible to do so!

But I get sad sometimes. Fandom censoring itself in such a broad way is sad. But I feel it’s an inevitable period that has to be gone through when what we’ve had lately is such extreme freedom of expression in the form of internet spaces.[3]

Terminology

On the about page, freedom-of-fanfic includes a list of commonly used terms on the blog. Some words are accompanied by a tripartite definition: "the nice definition," "in simpler terms," and "this blog's take," while others are just generally defined. Defined terms include anti-shippers, anti-shipping, antis, anti culture/movement, exclusionist, REG (reactionary exclusive gatekeeping), and radfems/TERF/SWERF.

A sample definition:

anti-shippers:

nice definition: fandom members who self-identify as being opposed to fandom interest in, discussion of, or depiction of romantic or sexual interaction between two or more characters on moral grounds and believe in stopping content creation by any means necessary.

in simpler terms: they don’t want the ship they oppose to have any fan content whatsoever because they believe it is harmful to the moral fiber of fandom spaces, and they’re willing to go to great lengths to stop creators from creating for it.

this blog’s take: fandom members who subconsciously use a person’s ships as an excuse to ostracize and bully them out of a need to assert control over a part of their environment.[4]

Notable Posts

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

I really think that antishipping is a movement that’s gaining ground with the younger & newer arrivals to fandom spaces; a kind of ‘cool trend’, so to speak. In aggregate, antishipping culture is beautifully constructed to be particularly appealing to teenage or college-age people - and especially American people - who are marginalized, oppressed, often social outcasts in real life and often under-educated about their own marginalized identity, and I kind of wanted to get into why.[5]
this kind of ‘activism’ - the kind that uses the right words but ends up re-enforcing the same power dynamics that structural oppression creates - seems grossly prominent to me on tumblr, and radical feminism prospers in it. and I am extremely wary of anything that encourages transphobia, (trans)misogyny, and/or demanding perfection of disempowered people in leftist spaces. the transphobes and misogynists and blindly privileged people of the world don’t need the help.[6]
Okay.

shipping is not activism because shipping doesn’t do two important things that activism does:

  • shipping does not generate or act as mainstream representation
  • shipping does not increase awareness or change social values
and that’s okay. Shipping doesn’t need to do these things because shipping takes place in a microcosm. Fandom is but a tiny, tiny fraction of internet and social activity as a whole. No matter how ‘progressive’ we collectively are, only in the rarest cases will we make a meaningful impact on society as a whole.[8]
a lot of young people say that fanfic made them think abuse was okay, and I think it’s disingenuous to say they’re all lying. but why is this suddenly a problem? this is my theory as to why it’s no longer an understood thing that fandom is about fiction & fantasy.[9]

Responses From Other Fans

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

References

  1. As of July 15, 2018, their Twitter bio reads: "a discourse blog for my discourse blog. a sociological look at fandom and noises about letting humans, especially marginalized humans, be flawed."
  2. About page for freedom-of-fanfic. Accessed on July 15, 2018.
  3. Twitter thread by freetofic. Posted on May 7, 2018. Archived on July 16, 2018. Accessed on July 15, 2018.
  4. About page for freedom-of-fanfic. Accessed on July 15, 2018.
  5. "antishipping as the cool new trend, or: why are most antis under 25 years old?" Posted by freedom-of-fanfic on June 19, 2017. Archived on July 15, 2018. Accessed on July 15, 2018.
  6. the reason I am deeply concerned with radical feminism’s influence on tumblr/fandom is this. Posted by freedom-of-fanfic on February 5, 2018. Archived on July 15, 2018. Accessed on July 15, 2018.
  7. tumblr culture is dehumanizing others. Posted by freedom-of-fanfic on September 1, 2017. Archived on July 16, 2018. Accessed on July 15, 2018.
  8. Tumblr post by freedom-of-fanfic. Posted on July 12, 2017. Archived on July 16, 2018. Accessed on July 15, 2018.
  9. Tumblr post by freedom-of-fanfic. Posted on February 5, 2018. Archived on July 16, 2018. Accessed on July 15, 2018.