Snapewives

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The Snapewives are women in Harry Potter fandom who believe that they channel Severus Snape, are engaged in romantic relationships with him, and see him as a vital guide for their daily lives.

Snapewives were active mostly in 2006. They have since deleted all of their webpages and forums. Some of the content was cut and pasted and discussed on fandom_wank:

See: "Severus, come to me/ Be the light for me/ So I can see/ Life's beauty/ Guide me to destiny."; WebCite, October 22, 2006

About

From the Daily Dot:

Andrew Blake's habit of channeling alternate personalities wasn't exactly unheard of in the world of fandom. Some people view this practice as an extended kind of roleplay; others see it as a lifestyle that deserves basic respect, understanding, and consideration.

Fandom Wank, of course, showed none of the above when it stumbled across the Snapewives; but to be fair, the Snapewives don't seem to fit into an identifiable category of behavior. Were they multiples? Roleplayers? A really ambitious writer's circle?

Or were they just a collective of well-meaning but deluded women who seemed to believe themselves to be married to Hogwarts Professor Severus Snape?

If so, they certainly wouldn't be the first. Medieval women like Hildegaard Von Bingen and St. Theresa were visited by spiritual ecstasies from the Lord; female spiritualists in the 19th century like Emma Hardinge Britten spoke of communing with spirit mediums.[1] Throughout the world, stories of religious leaders who "fall in love" with their chosen deity abound.[2]

The Snapewives certainly revered their beloved fictional Harry Potter character enough to form a religious practice--one of them, a fan named Lady Darkness, even wrote him her wedding vows, under the title "My Unbreakable Vow to Severus Snape."

Before the Snapewives saga was over, she would tearfully break up with Severus, recognizing that her love for him was keeping her away from caring for her kids, and acknowledging that "he was right" and she was not the woman for him. But not before Fandom Wank had a field day, combing through their blogs and finding [http://web.archive.org/web/20130311072442/http://www.journalfen.net/community/fandom_wank/1015949.html?thread=134116749#t134116749 endless examples] of their views on Severus Snape ("do not call him just Snape, he hates that").

The denizens of Fandom Wank discussed whether they were stirring an innocent nest of hornets with this one, since the Snapewives weren't exactly hurting anyone. And in the end, Lady Darkness herself might have had [http://web.archive.org/web/20130311073112/http://www.journalfen.net/community/fandom_wank/1015949.html?thread=135035277#t135035277 the last word]: "It isn't forbidden to dream and love. And just because those morons don't know how to, doesn't mean we don't." [3]

Zoe Alderton in the journal Religions wrote seriously about Snapeism, citing Romano's references to Sts. Hildegarde and Theresa and to Emma Hardinge Britten in the Daily Dot article. She contextualizes the wives' experiences in terms of a "fiction-based faith", explaining that it is neither unique nor insane. She also points out that most of the fingerpointing and howling mockery go to making other fans feel better about themselves -- they are in a subculture often deemed insane by the dominant culture, but at least they're not "going too far".[4].

Reactions

Most reactions by fans, and non-fans, is one of mockery, finger-pointing, and exaggerated horror.

Snapewives is, hands down, my most favourite HP wank ever. More even than MsScribe, more than Doctor Who Killed Snarry, and more than the whole fucking Cassandra Claire thing, Laptopgate included. [5]
Also, reading this Snapewives is making me feel better about myself because no matter how much I love certain things…I’ve never entertained any of this. [6]
I'm not used to discussing the latest fandom gossip with non-fandomers. It takes a little getting used to, but OTOH I think it's safe to say that I was not the most freaked out person at the table. ;)

My personal opinion is that you have to judge these things by the norms of the subculture of which they are a part. And by the norms of the subculture of Snapefans and other Slytherfen, Lady Darkness and friends are stark raving insane.

That, and no one in their right minds would write a soppy love letter to Snape of all people and think it would impress him, surely?? I don't know who these fangirls are crushing on, but it's not the Snape I recognise. It's not the crushing I find laughable - haven't we all been there at some point or other? It's the horrific characterisation. [7]

Some fans found the mockery uncomfortable and shaming.

Re-reading SnapeWive wank, for the actualfax first time I felt really uncomfortable with the entire subject matter. Not because it wasn't batshit, but after reading for years in the snark communities--and also existing on this plane of existence--batshit is the rule. I know no non-batshit people. Frankly, the non-batshit seem untrustworthy and smell weird, like eggs. I'm just saying. Granted, this is a level that most of us cannot--no pun intended--dream of ascending to, but still...

[snipped]]

[Of course, I come from the school of thought that 'serious' does not equal 'not fun'; fun is serious fucking business. We are not immortal and I have like, what, only sixty years left before mortal funtimes are over; that's not all that much time.

[snipped]

If I were speaking in stereotypes, then women totes overinvest in romance and it's unrealistic and dangerous and they could like, mistake it for RL and fuck up their kids if that shit isn't watched and kept goddamn ironic. If I were speaking in stereotypes, then men totes overinvest in romance and it's unrealistic and dangerous and they shoot their love interests to death IRL. I'm not sure, since it doesn't seem to come up a lot, but I'm pretty sure that fucks up the kids more. And also, the woman is dead, but whatever, we're talking about a man and his kids. In most murder cases, I rarely if ever see someone state that someone shouldnt' have access to their kids when they kill their partner; in Snapewives, I saw people worriedly recommend a visit from CPS more than I was comfortable with.

This came up in MsScribe too, actually; the weird thing was, there was a lot of OMG NO SHUT UP at the idea of calling CPS because she was using multiple sockpuppets to play a really fun game of munchausen by internet proxy, but I think the dealbreaker was she was ironic enough about it. It's not even that I think there's a double standard here; I think it's a very consistent standard. MsScribe's actions, though destructive, sometimes personally, were in retrospect clever; she was manipulative and played on stereotyping, and it wasn't like she believed her own sockpuppets were real or something. They were tools for a goal.

Snapewives just think they're married to Snape; that's not clever at all. [8]
There's an uncomfortable element there of "We are not the ones who take it too far. They take it too far. We know we do not because we are not them.", yes? [9]

Some fans understood the fine line that fandom sometimes draws.

I feel bad about the general pointing and laughing I do at crazy fan behavior, for similar reasons, but I still do it. I guess I just... at some point, I have to just say, "Yeah, I am sometimes -- many times -- a nice and empathetic person. And sometimes I'm a dick." I mostly keep my "LOL SNAPEWIVES WTF" comments to private conversations, because at least the Snapewives and the like won't get their feelings hurt by me. It's definitely about social policing, it's definitely about, "Well, yeah, I'm mentally ill and it sucks, but at least I don't think Snape's (a) real; (b) my boyfriend on the astral plane who (c) dumped me*, yay, I'm less crazy than that fan over there!" It's definitely fucked up. But... idk. Sometimes, I'm a dick. [10]

Further Reading/Meta

References

  1. Communing with spirits as a medium. See also The Britten Archive and Chasing Down Emma.
  2. More precisely, the Wives most closely resemble the Gopis, the 108 milkmaids who seduced and were seduced by the young Krishna. His abundance was such that he was able to pleasure them all equally.
  3. Aja Romano, The 10 best tales of online drama from 10 years of Fandom_Wank at The Daily Dot, March 11, 2013
  4. Zoe Alderton, ‘Snapewives’ and ‘Snapeism’: A Fiction-Based Religion within the Harry Potter Fandom. Religions 2014, 5(1), 219-267; doi:10.3390/rel5010219
  5. comment post in an offline Tumblr post, 2012
  6. comment post in an offline Tumblr post, 2012
  7. Welcome back, my friends, to the Wank that Never Ends...; [ WebCite], October 25, 2006
  8. post by seperis: Unpopular fannish opinion: i feel bad about mocking the snapewives, see that post for much more and more comments to it
  9. sapote's comment to Unpopular fannish opinion: i feel bad about mocking the snapewives
  10. post by wembley: Unpopular fannish opinion: i feel bad about mocking the snapewives, see that post for much more and more comments to it