On Fear, Freedom, and Harry Potter Fan Fiction

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Title: On Fear, Freedom, and Harry Potter Fan Fiction
Creator: melusinahp
Date(s): July 7, 2007
Medium: online transcript, podcast
Fandom: Harry Potter
External Links: online transcript here, Archived version
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On Fear, Freedom, and Harry Potter Fan Fiction is an essay and podfic at Slashcast by melusinahp.

Topics Discussed

The Post

When I was thirteen years old I read a tacky romance novel called Emerald Embrace. It told the story of Liberty Fontaine, a plucky American blonde who was torn from the arms of her true love to be sold as a concubine to an Arabian prince. Eventually, she ended up in a cave with the Pirate king and his dogsbody, and I was introduced to the world of non-consensual erotica. I read that scene over twenty years ago, but I can still remember details about it better than I can remember the names of my co-workers in my last job. It had a profound effect on me.

After that, I would purposely seek out trashy novels that looked likely to contain similar scenes. I'd flip through the story, looking for the dirty bits like any adolescent, but the dirty bits that really caught my eye were almost always non-consensual. This pattern continued through the rest of my life. All kinds of written porn turned me on, but the stuff that -really- turned me on was inevitably dark.

I was ashamed. I thought I was sick, evil, that there was something deeply wrong with me. It was my deep, dark secret and I told no one about it, sure that they'd turn on me in well deserved disgust. I did everything I could think of to get rid of my fantasies, to change them into something less horrifying. I'd forbid myself to imagine rape scenes when I was masturbating. I'd force myself to imagine more vanilla situations. Inevitably, at the last moment I'd give in and let the images come that I knew would actually work. I thought I was alone, somehow damaged, a freak, a bad feminist.

Then I discovered fan fiction, and realised that I was normal, or at the very least part of a subset of normal. Here were other people, other women, feminists who wrote dark fic, purely for the sake of getting off on it. I discovered Amanuensis and Annephoenix and Kennahijja. And I relaxed. These were intelligent woman, nice women, not twisted psychopaths. I read meta explaining how these stories were fantasies, completely removed from reality, the characters were cipher we used to express the things swirling about in the murky depths of our lizard brains - not substitutes for the real thing.

And I felt at home. I felt accepted. And I was finally able to get off without shame.

Of course we need to write and post responsibly. Of course we need to label our fics with clear warnings so we don't traumatise anyone who doesn't like the kinds of fic we write. And we do. But I don't believe for one second that we have a responsibility to tone down our stories so that they will be acceptable by the mainstream. Personally, the word mainstream makes me break out in hives. The mainstream would be just as horrified by fluffy Sirius/Remus as it would by non-con Harry/ Lucius.

It took me DECADES to get to a place where I was able to fully embrace myself as I am as a sexual being, a feminist, a mother, a woman, etc. The Harry Potter darkfic community has been vital in helping me get to where I am now. I feel stronger and more empowered in my sexuality than I ever have in my entire life.

I'm not going to tone it down for the mainstream. If a corporation tries to silence me, I'll go elsewhere. I'll seek and find like-minded people and keep on revelling in my true self. I'm not going to keep the aspects of my sexuality that might be distasteful to the mainstream hidden away in the corners of my mind. Women have spent enough time feeling ashamed about their sexuality, feeling that they have to clean it up for public approval, make it pretty and nice, submissive, unthreatening. Now that I've found fandom, I refuse to do that any longer.

This is melusinahp, and that's my fandom opinion.