Seriously fandom: What what in the butt?

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Title: Seriously fandom: What what in the butt?
Creator: monimala
Date(s): March 1, 2007
Medium: online
External Links: Seriously fandom: What what in the butt?; archive link
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Seriously fandom: What what in the butt? is a 2007 essay by monimala that was posted on LiveJournal

Some Topics Discussed

  • icons
  • fight for your right for safe-for-work icons so fans can read porn at their jobs
  • someone's else pleasure is your ick
  • there's always a fan out there who's weirder than you
  • everyone's always drawing a line somewhere
  • Wincest
  • porn, explicit porn
  • fandom is too visible
  • there are too many "fanbrats" who don't follow the rules
  • is this all Livejournal's fault? MySpace's fault?
  • incest
  • warnings


Every time I try to put my thoughts together on this subject, I hesitate. I try to figure out the best, most tactful, way to bring it up. I even start sentences out loud. Like..."What the Hell...?" and "But why...?" And, really, there's no "best," no "tactful." Because no matter how nicely you put it, you're going to piss somebody off and garner the response of "if you don't like it, don't read it!"

The problem is, how can you NOT read it when it's all right there? I'm not talking about the specific communities, the sites, the places you have to click to get to. I'm talking about the incest and the graphic sex talk being right there in your face while you're just strolling through fandom at your leisure. It started with the cutesy terminology, "Weaselycest," and "Wincest," and has just spiraled into this smorgasbord of porny talk that makes you feel like you're calling a $3.99 a minute sex hotline.
Am I imagining it or has fannish content become more and more open? I remember, back in my day, you used to have to walk ten miles in the snow uphill to find UC fic and slash. Now? It's everywhere. Which, yay, is great for me. But along with that comes the flavor of the month, graphic incest, and headers that tell you exactly what the brothers are doing behind the cut-tag or the link. You can't scroll "friendsfriends" without seeing words like "buttsex" and "rimming," just out there, plain as day, like they're the most normal phrases in the world. Blah blah blah Nathan, Peter, lube, blah blah blah strap-on blah blah blah Dean fisted Sam, etc.

It's like a twofold problem. #1. Must we warn for EVERYTHING in a story these days? If I'm learning that the characters have sex in position A and position B, they cry about it, and somebody dies...why bother reading it? #2. What BNF decided it was "normal" (and don't get me into a discussion of "my kink is okay!", that's not what this is about) linguistically for people to talk about this kind of stuff? Or for people to create correlating NSFW icons and use them like they're going out of style?

I've had people post in my LJ using smutty icons and I'm like, "Gah!" Sure, I write adult fan fiction, but when did that serve as a green light for all kinds of porniness to flow into my space?

If it were primarily guys talking about hot sisters gettin' it on and muffdiving and whatever...would there be as much casual acceptance or would there be cries of "that's vulgar!" and "you're objectifying!" and "my ten-year-old daughter reads LJ! Stop it!"? When women do it, it's "embracing our sexuality and our kinks"? When guys do it, it's derogatory and disgusting? I loathe playing the gender card, but the question's more rhetorical than anything.

Believe me, I know things go in cycles in fandom. But this new trend of incest and TMI just floors me sometimes. It's the fact that, in our corner of fandom, it feels mainstream. Like it's taken over. Is that a product of LiveJournal, because we're all so close together? Or is it a product of the cycle as a whole? Is everybody into brothers doin' it or is it just everybody *here*?

Fan Comments

[leobrat]: I...agree. Sometimes it would be nice to just read some good old fashioned canon pairing (not that I write it that often myself...except for Robin/Stone, but I digress). The one place you can find a lot of canon (and I mean a lot, with no variation, which is the other extreme) is still soap fandom. Slash is still a pretty radical idea there, unless it's a joke (like Sonny/Jason). Although there has been a string of *very* hot, realistic, and actually beautifully touching Lucky/Patrick videos by reckless love. But yeah, I just don't understand all the brother-cest. A little bit, yeah, a piece here and there (and maybe I'm a prude, but I like my slash more with thinly-veiled metaphors and the word 'rimming' to me is not sexy). But entire fandoms based around this? Anyway, to sum up, yes I agree.

The problem is that it's hard to define tact and have rules for it. What squicks one person doesn't squick another. Now I'm perfectly fine with supporting "anything NWSF under a cut always" but beyond that?

Where do you draw the line? No incest, no mpreg, no slash? No cross-generation fanfic? No underage? Nothing that is illegal? What about sex with vampires, it's after all sex with dead people in a way. Does that mean also no violence and murder? What extra marital sex? What about fandoms where such disturbing relationships are canon and if you wrote from the POV or Hannibal Lecter or Octavia or Lily and wanted to explore their POV, of course it would look positive from their POV.

If anything I would say "Most incest/crossgeneration/whatever fic is unrealistic (especially as far as the psychological reactions are concerned) and I support the idea that fic should be more realistic" or even some version of "Unrealistic fic = badfic". With a dose of "Of course it's your right to write unrealistic fic, just don't get offended then when I call you unrealistic".

See, I think the "accept one squick, accept them all" mindset is kind of b.s. Why can't there be lines? Why shouldn't there be? Just because I think fic or icons with homosexual content is acceptable doesn't mean that I have to think that the same media with guy-having-sex-with-his-goat or siblings going at it is acceptable, too.

To take it out of the fannish realm for a second, that's the GOP's argument here for legalizing gay marriage, isn't it? "Once you allow gay marriage, what's stopping polygamy or someone marrying their dog?" Um...the fact that it's not the same thing?

Why must there be a free-for-all?

"Once you allow gay marriage, what's stopping polygamy or someone marrying their dog?"

Um...the fact that it's not the same thing?

Because you can boil it down to consent. The goat can't consent, neither can by our legal definition very young minors or very crazy people. There is a sensible way to draw a divisive line. :)

If you want to draw the line at incest, somebody else wants to draw it at homosexuality and a third person at non-canon relationships. If you can find a good way to formulate your divisive line (beyond "I really don't like it/I think it's really creepy") then I'm all for it. I have nothing but love for dangermousie who is very vocal about favoring canon relationships and being somewhat grossed out by radical UC combinations, slash OR het.

And I'm all for the "complex dysfunctional relationships (from big age difference to enemy ships to incest) should work a bit harder when it comes to emotional and psychological realism rather than go 'just because'" line.

Why shouldn't there be? Just because I think fic or icons with homosexual content is acceptable doesn't mean that I have to think that the same media with guy-having-sex-with-his-goat or siblings going at it is acceptable, too.

I'd certainly be grossed out if somebody posted some zoophilia fic. But if you actually find an audience for your tentacle or dragon sex piece, then by all means...

I'm somebody who finds herself in a lot of those "Why on earth do people ship this pairing (and don't write my much cooler fun pairing!)? Why on earth do they like this character (why isn't there more attention to X, sniff!)? Why are so many people watching crappy show X (when my obscure fun show is in danger of getting cancelled)? Usually the answer is people just do. I can argue at lengths of why I think that character X or pairing Y is bad for the show or extol the virtues of my favored show as opposed to that other show. Maybe you can even convince a person or two, but in the end people decide for themselves.

In my experience all those "People should..." and "Why don't people..." arguments just never work.
[lostvoice]: This, my dear, is why I don't do fandom. I'm a pretty liberal person, but there are lines I don't think should be crossed. Promoting incest, whether it's fiction or not? Is one of those lines.

Hrm, if it makes you feel better, I've had a very similar rant rolling around in my head for a while now.

I'm a pretty liberal lady, but some things I see waving around above cuts or in icons make me want to cringe. My lj is accessible by my parents--who actually post--and I would never use/say anything that I wouldn't want my dad to read. And I should add that my dad reads my fanfic, which is a whole new level of weird if you get right down to it, because happy!fluffy! is not my modus operandi.

But the anonymity of the internet allows for people to feel comfortable saying/doing/showing things that they really wouldn't want their dads to see if they thought about it. In fandom, almost no one has a dad looking over her [and yes, it is usually her] shoulder.

I had someone on my flist right around the time Supernatural kicked into high gear and this kid (emphasis on kid) was all about that. If you didn't like Wincest, CLEARLY you were a homophobe and yes, you were STILL a homophobe even if you love major slash pairings and support gay rights.

Not quite sure how *THAT* is supposed to work out but, *handwave* there you go.
[monimala]: It's all a part of lumping all "fringe" genres in with each other and it makes me want to stamp my foot and go "No! No! No!" Liking slash does not mean I have to approve of 'cest. No. Stop making it the same issue! If Sam and Dean weren't brothers, I'd probably be right out there with people slashing them six ways to Sunday. But they're not, so, nope! Sorry! They're going to stay all hetted up in my head, thank you.

You'd think you wouldn't have to [explain your tastes to others], huh? But yeah, on a regular basis I've been in situations where I've pretty much had to. I honestly didn't have to do this much justifying/apologizing when I 'shipped Doggett/Scully in XF and good god, that'd get you flamed everytime you stepped near the fandom period. Ten years or so in fandom, I've NEVER had to do this so much and yet, I still see some wincest fen playing the martyr's card of how they're so oppressed and can't be free to enjoy.

Huh huh.

I'm largely sticking with my own f-list these days and using comms only when I post fic. Easier on my nerves and less chance of me snapping and becoming queen of all fandom_wank for it :-p

But yes, it's a bit ridiculous that people who *aren't* into an incest 'ship have to run around explaining why and assuring everyone else that they're not going to turn into anti-incest crusaders hollering about the evols of fornicatin' siblings.

Basically, to me that's what the internet has always been about, for better or worse. Offering places where you can have your furry discussion club or talk about your astral marriage to Snape and Scott Summers or how you prefer your horse to your wife. I remember once searching for Gillian Andersen on yahoo groups and ending up with "Jerk off on Gillian Andersen" and "Jerk off on Ashley Cafagna" 'discussion' groups. The internet is full of weirdos has always been the first law of the internet to me.

Even aside from sexual interests, the internet is very much dedicated to fringe interests. Liking some obscure scifi tv show is already fringe interest compared to watching Grey's Anatomy or Desperate Housewives. Liking it enough to write fanfic, even more of a fringe interest. And it strikes me as strange when one fringe group gets upset at another fringe group.

One can't dictate what livejournal likes anymore than one can dictate what pairing explodes in a fandom. These things just evolve. But the beauty (and insanity) of the internet is that you can create your own fringe or niche support for anything. Nothing wrong with creating a "Canon, yay!" or "Gen, yay!" community.

When women do it, it's "embracing our sexuality and our kinks"? When guys do it, it's derogatory and disgusting? I loathe playing the gender card, but the question's more rhetorical than anything.

See, that's the problem of discussing with me. Because even if I don't want to *see* the guy's "Jerk off on Gillian Andersen" groups if it's avoidable, I very much believe in fair play. I reserve the right to not got go there or try to bleach it from my mind, but I don't really object to them existing (besides, objecting would be pretty pointless anyway, it's not like you can do anything against it).

If somebody wants to use their journal to talk excessively about their furry sex habit, that's up to them, it's their journal after all. My bad really for stumbling across it.

See. I think those interests are still very much fringe. It's just that the internet creates the illusion of it being universal because it is accessible and therefore visible from everywhere.

If you post at the Clark/Lana Sweet forum you can easily get the impression that slash (as well as people who like Chloe or Lois) don't exist. If you posted at livejournal, you could easily get the impression that no one likes Lana or Clark/Lana. If you post at a Lex/Chloe board or a Chloe/Clark board you will get yet another completely different impression.

Livejournal is not the internet. Usually, even the most slash obsessed fandom it's actually extremely easy to find places where people still go "House/Wilson, what?". And if you go to some fandom unrelated places you will usually stumble across "Fandom what? Fanfiction what?" opinions. I have a person on my friendslist (tielan who actually has some very fun opinions) who ships John/Teyla and bemoans the popularity of McShep or Shep/Weir on livejournal. Various people have told her to check out Yahoo groups or message boards but she's just too set in her livejournal ways. I'm sure if you had myspace rather than livejournal you would much fewer slashers.

I think this idea of fandom being one highway with a roadblock is just an illusion. Internet is more like this huge amorphous plane where everything is everywhere.

I think it does have a lot to do with LJ and blogging in general, specifically the whole "my LJ, I can post what I want" thing. And the thing is, I pretty much agree with that. While I may not want to see large meme graphics outside of a cut or phrasing that wouldn't even be heard on Deadwood in a subject line, I know that everyone's entitled to put whatever they want in their own journal, as long as it abides by the TOS. And I have the option of not reading it by not having those people on my flist or using filters or avoiding friendsfriends. I understand where you're coming from, I really do, but I think it's one of the pitfalls in a medium where people are posting to their own spaces and others choose to read them, rather than people using a shared space like a forum or mailing list.

That said, I do think society as a whole has become more accepting when it comes to graphic images/text and TMI. One of the recent indications of this is the latest AI scandal. Four years ago, Frenchie Davis got the boot because she posed topless to pay for her college education. Today, Antonella Barba gets photographed rubbing her vagina all over the WWII memorial to make a calendar for her boyfriend and she not only gets to stay on AI, she's seen as a victim. It's partly an offensive double standard (Frenchie is a large black woman and Antonella is a skinny white girl) but I think it's also partly related to the fact that a lot has changed in terms of society's tolerance of indecency in those four years. I blame the MySpace generation.

I don't think of myself as a prude, and it's not so much that it offends my sensibilities, it's just that it's -- tiring, is the word I think I want. And 90% of the time it feels like a bunch of teenagers who are trying to make themselves look tough.

And the icons. I just...argh. Of course I'm for freedom of speech and against censorship and such, but. I read when I'm working desk and we have no patrons. What if my supervisor sees one of these icons? It just seems...rude, to me. I can avoid clicking on a cut-tag if someone posts porny fic while I'm scrolling at work, but it's a lot harder for me to avoid those icons appearing.

While not based on a squick, I have totally unfriended people for having an icon of something I didn't like. And yeah, I have even unfriended comms I knew chances of something that would make me gag showing up. That's usually where you have to weigh your options, what do you want more, being part of that particular comm or living squick free. And yeah, I would unfriend somebody (especially if it was somebody I didn't know that well) if they posted an opinion that violently bothered me (for example in a political area/which party to support).

Though it has been my experience that livejournal has specialized communities for everything, from my experience, Supernatural for example has het communities, gen communities, even a Sam/Dean comm that allows only brotherly gen fic.

I do think that a plea for worksafe icons => very sensible.

WORD! Yes! It's tiresome. It's like a bunch of kids seeing how loud they can shout a dirty word they just learned and how many adults they can scandalize in the process. I want to say, "Dude, dial it down a notch." I'm all for smut, but must you be so loud and vulgar about it?

And, yeah, it's incredibly difficult to mask icons and graphics, though I've gotten to the point where I've disabled graphics over a certain size when I'm viewing LJ at the office. It's common courtesy, I think, to make sure your public icons are work safe..,and common courtesy is something I think fandom has been missing in recent years. There's more entitlement and more "it's what *I* want!" going on instead.

Haven't we had this conversation before? x 1,345?


Re: icons = worksafe icons in a community (unless it's specifically a NSFW community) is the polite and sensible thing to do. Worksafe icons in your own journal is a different story. If you believe that you would get into trouble for NSFW icons at work...don't read LJ at work.

Re: squicks = your squicks are not necessarily mine, just as mine aren't necessarily yours. What's vulgar to you is not necessarily vulgar to me. And on and on and on. Life is not going to conform itself to only what you (or I) think is good and right.
[medie]: Heh, have wanted to rant on such for a very long time. I've said in other comments here, I am all about 'ship what you want. I've got everything from Wincesters to pure-het only people on my f-list and just about every kink in between. They know I don't always share their kinks and they don't share mine but we usually respect each other. But good god, the fanbrats in the communities are getting ridiculous. I have seen majorly explicit Wincest icons used everywhere like they were going out of style. I really couldn't believe it. Even if I did like the pairing, I wouldn't do that. There's an invisible line in my head that I'm not going to cross about how I display my 'shippiness. The closest I come to an explicit icon really is a Chloe/Oliver one I made myself and there's no naughty bits showing. Which isn't to say I'm a prude, far from it, but it's one thing to have text on a library computer screen and a whole other to have full on penetration.

This is why I'm glad I'm not in the Supernatural fandom. Yeesh.

I have two bulletproof squicks, incest and RPS, and of them, incest is the one where I go, "No, no, hell no." There's a BNF writer, whose work I love reading, and I'd probably read anything she wrote if I was remotely familiar with the fandom (and sometimes even if I'm not). She's gotten into Wincest, and I haven't read a single one of those stories, and I don't plan to.

My problem with incest is twofold, 1) I find it disgusting and 2) out of the very few fics I've read, I find them unrealistic as hell. Where, may I ask, did people get the idea that sleeping with a sibling you've grown up with, been raised with, WOULDN'T give you major emotional trauma? From what I know of Supernatural, it's not a long shot to assume that Dean and Sam's upbringing has left them with some issues, and are there seriously fangirls who think the two of them screwing like rabbits would leave them with less psychological trauma and not MORE? WHAT?

At the moment I read mostly in Veronica Mars fandom, and the communities/people I have friended aren't like that i guess, because I just haven't seen it. I also read some Firefly/Serenity, and Doctor Who, and even less so there, I haven't even read anything even close to explicit in those two.

I used to read HP fan fiction all the time, and my original journal still has all that stuff friended and memoried, but I never read it, and even there while it did get a bit much it wasn't as bad as that, with the warnings i mean, the pairings did get quite disturbing sometimes.

Now as to the incest/rps thing, I have to admit that my first ship was Fred/George, but that was a long time ago, and then it got followed up by the trio, and then I found Veronica Mars and haven't been back to HP fandom as a whole since.

And on the RPS front, I will admit that when I first started writing that was what i wrote, but I now like to pretend that it never happened, because I think one day i just reread one of my stories, and went, this is awful, not just the writing, which may or may not have been bad, but what i was actually writing, (which only went to pg-13 a few times for swearing, but still). I like to think that I have grown up since.

And as for the NSFW icons, to be honest I don't think I have ever seen any.... That's wierd.....
[monimala]: Thank GOD my parents are barely computer literate. Though I did have issues for a while because one of my cousins in India found my LJ and my web site...and Vishnu only KNOWS what he thinks of me now. *shudder* "So, sweet little Mala likes to talk about girls and sex. Shaaaaaame!"