Yes You Are Allowed

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Title: Yes You Are Allowed
Creator: shinelikethunder
Date(s): December 22, 2014
Medium: Tumblr post
Fandom: panfandom, Captain America
Topic: writing advice for fanfic
External Links: original post, Archived version
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Yes You Are Allowed is a 2014 Tumblr post by shinelikethunder

The original post has no title, and the one used here on Fanlore comes from the second line of the post.

Original Post

More musings on writing advice:

Honestly, I think “yes, you are allowed” is something a lot of fandom needs to hear right now. We had, what, a decade of “what not to do” writing advice, starting with anti-Mary-Sue campaigns and on through sporking and fanficrants and RaceFail, and now everything is this cracked parody of social justice and ~this is problematic~ is the ultimate “what not to do.” And just look at the messages we’ve taken to heart: don’t get too big for your britches, everything has to be accurate and realistic, no one the reader is supposed to sympathize with should be within shouting distance of “problematic.” We’re writing about these larger-than-life characters whose lives are full of over-the-top, implausible events, and it’s like we’re afraid that if we handwave or take narrative shortcuts or spin crazy yarns about their adventures or don’t treat Bad Shit Happening with the expected amount of solemnity, somebody’s going to call us out for not doing our due diligence.

In fact, the one “yes, you are allowed” message we’ve taken to heart is that we’re not beholden to the original canon, which is a phenomenon I… have mixed feelings about. But the point is, that message combined with the fear of fucking up, of writing “unrealistic” or “problematic” stories about monsters and aliens and superheroes, means that mundane AUs and domestic fic are the path of least resistance. And not only is fic being pushed towards the generic, the moral pressure that drives fandom SJ makes it feel almost… risky?… to stray from the fanon status quo. Breaking the mold, instead of being a sign of creativity, increasingly feels like a sign that you’re Doing It Wrong and may in fact be a bad person. I have seen people say that they want to write about post-CA:TWS Bucky but don’t, because they don’t want to slog through dealing with the “obligatory” recovery issues. Or that they’d feel guilty, like they were committing some sort of erasure, if they wrote pre-war fic without Queer Brooklyn and The Docks a bunch of romanticized-poverty porn.

For the love of God, fandom. You are allowed to come up with whatever fictional means you feel like to undo the Winter Soldier’s fictional (and almost totally unspecified) brainwashing. He’s an amnesiac cyborg assassin hopped up on a knockoff version of the super-serum that lets Steve Rogers get flung off a freeway overpass hard enough to overturn a bus and get up with barely a scratch. He starts getting memories back whenever they leave him out of cryo long enough. If you want the serum to heal his brain damage and leave him twitchy, angry, and guilt-ridden, but more-or-less compos mentis, so that he can go face down his demons without spending months on Steve’s couch eating soup and relearning how to be a human? YOU CAN. YOU ARE ALLOWED. THAT IS A STORY YOU ARE ALLOWED TO TELL. The “it was the super-healing” handwaving already puts you about fifteen realism steps ahead of the comics, where Steve used a magic monkey’s paw ex machina to bring back Bucky’s memories with the power of his love. And then a bunch of stuff happened and Bucky wrestled a bear in a Siberian gulag, okay, and this is the level of Srs Bsns we’re starting from.

You can do whatever the fuck you want. If you want to dwell lovingly on all the interpersonal issues and mental scarring that resulted from that time aliens made them do it because they got fake married in space, go for it. But do not pull out the DSM and start checking off PTSD symptoms out of a sense of duty if what you actually want to write is banter, UST, sarcasm about absurd situations, reckless displays of loyalty, and porn where they realize the depth and true nature of their feeeeeelings about each other. Both of those things are okay things to want.

tl;dr Internal story logic > realism. Write whatever ridiculous tropey or out-there shit you want, and use exactly as much judiciously-applied realism as you need to sell the story. [1]

Direct Responses

[angualupin]: also if we get a dozen different versions of fandom’s take on Bucky wrestling a bear in a Siberian gulag, it would be utterly delightful

I mean really, you should just randomly stick that into whatever fic you’re writing. it doesn’t even have to be a Cap2 fic. it doesn’t even have to be a Marvel fic. A++ writing. [2]

[the-pie-initiative]: See, the thing about this critique is that I thought these stories where Bucky has PTSD were written by… people with actual PTSD. Or with eating disorders. Or who have some other actual trauma or disability they can apply to Bucky’s story.

I myself both love and hate the “wounded warrior” trope because I come from a rural area where a lot of my old high school friends actually have PTSD from fighting in Iraq. I hate it, because seeing Bucky in therapy is almost too real… and I love it, because there is at the same time too much silence and fear surrounding this topic, and I can tell that people are using fic to work through these issues in a way that is without precedent in most of the popular fiction I read.

The anger doesn’t come from a place where people see writing about anything but a hyper-realistic recovery story to be bad. The anger comes from the fact that fictional stories almost never got it right in the first place. For the love of God, please write more stories about Bucky wrestling bears… but also give us this space where we can work out the issues we still have after years and years of silence and misrepresentation. [3]

[shinelikethunder]: Broski, literally nobody is attacking the right of people who want to write recovery stories to do so. “Write what you want” means “write what you want,” because the stories you’re itching to tell will probably end up more compelling and meaningful than the ones where you’re just going through the motions. And I have no doubt that a lot of the driving force behind the wave of recovery fic comes from people with that itch. But it’s such a dominant fanon trope that a lot of the people along for the ride are there because “that’s just what you do” or because they’re under social pressure to include it in their post-CA:TWS fic whether trauma/recovery narratives are what grab them or not. Where does that pressure come from? Uh, mostly from stuff like the immediate assumption that reminding people they’re allowed to skip over it is an attack on recovery fic and a dismissal of the experiences of people with PTSD.

If you wanna write it, write it. If you don’t, you’re better off skipping merrily over it and digging right into what you want to write than dutifully cooking up a halfassed Wikipedia version just to cover your bases. The problem isn’t that people want to write nitty-gritty explorations of PTSD, it’s that a lot of people whose fic ideas don’t involve focusing on PTSD (or Picturesque Poverty in Queer Brooklyn, or endless kink and relationship negotiation, or whatever) feel morally obligated to shoehorn it into the story anyway. [4]
[callmejude]: #this is the realest shit i will ever reblog on this shitty fucking website #god this is too fucking real #ESPECIALLY the bit going on about how now the boring normalized AUs are en vogue because people are fucking terrified to push the envelope in their OWN FUCKING COMMUNITIES #so we end up removing characters from their settings and backstories and anything that would make remotely interesting stories are writings and set them up in the tumblr approved i-am-a-20-something-college-graduate-in-an-entry-level-job-let-me-project-onto-this #the worst was that post going on about “don’t remove bucky’s arm because if you do you hate disabled people” and it’s like no but really fuck you FUCK YOU are you fucking serious #no fuck you #you don’t get to decide what you like and don’t like and then legitimize your dislike by claiming it ~~~~~~~~~problematic #characters have problems #that’s #like #the fucking source of conflict #and writing about those problems however the fuck you want is not in and of itself a 16:37, 16 March 2016 (UTC)~problematic act #for the love of god pull your fucking head out of your ass and go outside #we’re a bunch of nerds sitting on our computers projecting real-world politics onto a space raccoon #get a fucking grip and learn to be creative #fuck [5]

[leasspell-dael]: #fan fiction [[meta]] #I feel like it’s not unreasonable to feel anxious #about how we portray really serious issues #and to want to do those things justice #or whatever else we’ve got in our heads #but I think this is a super important message too #and maybe a tldr version of it is #just because a narrative is predominant in a fandom #doesn’t mean it’s the RIGHT way to do things #just that it’s a popular one #there are so many stories to tell #and so many different ways to tell them #try not to let yourself be paralyzed #although I know exactly how easy it is #for that to happen :D

[(via thewinterotter)]

[these are the tags]

SUBJECT: FANDOM SUBJECT: WRITING SJ ISSUES ARE IMPORTANT BUT SO IS WRITING THE STORY YOU WANT TO WRITE IT IS OKAY TO HAVE CHARACTERS DO PROBLEMATIC THINGS

JUST MAKE SURE YOU TAG IT IF IT'S TRIGGERY [6]

[comehereyousexything]: I remember resenting the anti-Mary-Sue movement, because interesting characters are usually of the special snowflake variety.

And long before I discovered fanfic, I read fiction as a form of escapism. In fact, I’m pretty sure fiction as a form of escapism is a whole literary topic/genre/whatever. So yeah, I like it when a certain number of things are handwaved.

What I don’t like are grown ass (fictional) people start acting like thirteen year olds on tumblr, which is what it sounds like when you start trying to make your 30 year olds avoid being offensive in any way shape or form.

I think it may be why I lean towards kinkmeme style fics, and some really dirty ones, because when you’re writing about subjects that are so taboo, you don’t get entire chapters where the two guys are angsting because they’re not sure if their drunken makeout session counted as full consent or not. [7]
[thelulusoldier]: As the proud owner of the original pencils for the bucky-fights-a-bear semi-splash page, I agree with this wholeheartedly. [8]

[everyworldneedslove]: Yes, dear lord, all of this.

Look. One of the best things ever about writing is that you can write literally anything you can imagine.

No exaggerations. LITERALLY. ANYTHING.

I’m not even going to throw in wild examples here because there are no limits. If you can imagine it? You can write it.

The advice and rules? The what-not-to-do finger-wagging that you see? That’s not advice you have to take if you’re writing for the love of it, if you’re writing because you haven’t been able to find the kinds of stories you want to read. The rules only apply if you have certain specific goals in mind: If you want to be published, if you want to gather a large following, if you want to write certain characteristics realistically, if you want to make particular readers happy. If you don’t care about any of those goals, then write whatever the hell you want.

People are going to keep spouting advice. The thing to do with any advice, always, is to think about it first. What is the intent of this rule? Would following it get me closer to my own goals? Am I willing to accept the consequences of not following it? Make your own decisions about whether to follow advice, and write what you want. [9]

[arsenicjade]: See, okay, I find all this interesting–I mean, I agree, one hundred and ten percent that fanfiction should be fanfiction, and that internal story logic trumps realism and all that–because I actually DO feel like those of us who WANT to write that recovery trope but who ARE NOT going to get out the DSM and go get our masters in clinical psych for our piece of fanfiction often do kind of get thrown to the wolves. Like, right after I posted one of my Bucky recovery fics, which I wrote because holy shit, I love recovery fics, I came across this tumblr post about how, if you had Bucky going to therapy, you were doing it wrong, and why. I can’t even tell you how terrified I am one day that I’ll write a rape recovery fic, since I legit love that story focus as well, and someone will rage at me about healing-cock. And the thing is, it’s not that I think cock heals a damn thing, okay? But I really do believe that if healing cock is your bag? You should get to write it without being shamed about it. Idk. I mean, do I think there are limits and things that shouldn’t be written? Yeah, I guess I do, because there’s been like, Holocaust glorification fic where I instinctively flinched with my entire SOUL. And yes, in the privacy of my heart, I judged that writer. But at the same time, I can’t be a hard core First Amendment believer, and believe that you know, Nazis should be able to march on Skokie, and not think that writer A shouldn’t get to write her Holocaust-kink porn just because it legit makes me want to be sick.

I guess, in the end, I’m just saying, I get that there are important social issues, and we should be kind to each other, so kind. But I think kindness also involves not shaming other people’s kinks. I.e., I like torturing people in my fic. I do NOT like torturing people irl. Consequently, I’m not going to assume that someone who writes something like healing cock actually thinks it works like that irl. I mean, maybe they do, and that’s a DIFFERENT discussion. But if it’s just their kink? They should be allowed to wallow in it as much as they want. [10]

[shinelikethunder]: Nod nod nod. And the thing is, yes, a lot of the prescriptivist “what not to do” writing advice does come from tropes that ended up annoying a lot of people because they were so overdone and so cringe-worthy in their most hackneyed, badly-written forms. I’m the first to admit that I have a mile-long list of fic pet peeves. But the thing about those tropes is, most of them became overdone because there was something deeply appealing about them in the first place. If you start stressing yourself out about whether your fic contains the faintest whiff of healing cock, you’re already long past the point where trope familiarity has stopped helping you avoid the abyss and started making you shoot yourself in the foot.

And “healing cock,” like manpain,” is one of those names that were coined to describe a very specific lazy-storytelling move that cashes in on the emotional impact of a particular narrative (reclaiming your sexuality after rape, grief over the suffering of someone you love) with blatant disrespect for the character whose suffering is being exploited. Fandom has an awful tendency to generalize both terms to include all writing about those subjects, which is poisonous bullshit because the whole reason those tropes suck is that they cheapen something powerful and important. Diluting them has a chilling effect on the very thing they were supposed to defend. “Healing cock” now means “any sex that ends up playing a positive role in rape recovery, and doesn’t meet some arbitrary standard of difficult, painful, fucked-up, and bleak.” So you know what? Give me all the healing cock. That is a story I want to read. I don’t give half a shit if it’s an “improbably” fluffy power fantasy. That’s why I want to read it. Wanting, and eventually having, certain kinds of sex was crucial to my own recovery from the get-go–you fucking bet I want to suck down the fictional version like delicious crack-laced candy. [11]

[paraxdisepink]: Seriously, guys. Write what you want. Write what you’re interested in. Write the recovery stuff if you are interested in trauma and psychological issues. Write the porn if you’re into porn. Write some wacky plot. Write black comedy. Write stuff that’s ‘problematic’. Your freedom of expression doesn’t stop because someone gets offended. You have the right to write what you want. Tag it accordingly, and if people give you a hard time about it, stand up for yourself and your right to freedom of expression. Fandom doesn’t own you or your talent or your time. Don’t let me fandom trends and opinions dictate what you write, and don’t let people bully, shame, guilt trip, and control you using their version of “social justice” as an excuse, because if there’s one thing extremists and wackos on either side hate, it’s other people’s freedom to do what they don’t like.

One of the reasons I barely read any fic in the Steve/Bucky fandom anymore is because a lot of it feels the same. Dialogue is the same between a lot of fics, especially kink fics. Phrases are the same. Interpretations of characters are the same. It’s like people are so afraid to stray from the “acceptable” fanon that they do what other fics do because they figure that’s safe, and the bullying and shaming has to be a good part of the reason, especially with the younger writers or new writers who might not be comfortable telling someone to fuck off if they don’t like it, and instead alter what they write to fit in and be accepted.

And again, your work belongs to you, not the fandom. You don’t owe anyone to make your work palatable to them. The only things you owe fandom are the appropriate tags and warnings.

But for myself, I don’t want to read the same interpretation of the canon and the chars over and over. I’m tired of the “can we all agree that…?” posts. I feel like when you write fic you should first write what you want to write and also put yourself out there and contribute your own interpretation of the chars and the canon so we’re getting a bit of a different perspective on our faves each time. I really do feel that the creativity has been sapped out of fandom. It didn’t feel that way 5-10 years ago. [12]

[askboo]: Yes yes yes.

And also, you can’t always assume that fics that skip over the recovery and skim over the PTSD come from authors who don’t think that Bucky’s recovery and PTSD are important. Just because they skip to a time when Bucky is recovered doesn’t mean they don’t understand Bucky needed to recover.

I don’t go into depth about Bucky’s PTSD or the physical effects of the torture on his brain and body because I don’t have the knowledge or the education to give it the fleshing out it deserves. Writing an in depth exploration of a complicated mental illness and complicated physical damage I only know the basics about feels disrespectful and wouldn’t be doing it justice. That’s a personal choice that I make for myself. I don’t write it because I literally do not know how.

And some authors just don’t find that part of Bucky’s life interesting to write about. I like writing stories where Bucky and Steve are happy - sue me.

So there’s a major difference between not knowing something about a character and choosing not to write about it for various reasons.

Write what you want, y'all. [13]

[motherfuckingnazgul]: To add, probably unnecessarily because this is already good and may cover the following, but I want to throw in my two cents:

I feel like “yes, you’re allowed” also applies to fucked up shit. I mean, come on. I get that writing about rape or horrific violence or murder or absurd torture porn or incest or pedophilia or any number of other awful things is a little, shall we say, messed up, but really, this is fandom. As far as I’m concerned, as long as you put that shit under a cut, trigger warning the shit out of it, and generally make sure that it’s going to stay out of the hands of someone who will be harmed by it, you can go ahead and write or draw and then post whatever the fuck you want. Tumblr, for all its social justice, is also a blogging site, and that means that within a reasonable limit of decency and consideration, you’re allowed to post whatever the fuck you want. It’s your blog, and if people don’t like it, they can get the fuck out.

People should be allowed to make whatever kind of space they want for themselves in fandom. To me, that’s what fandom is about. There is a niche for everyone, and if people disagree with the one you’ve carved out for yourself and they don’t want to hang out there, then they can damn well go and carve out their own somewhere else, and hang out with people who like that one better. [14]
[slashmarks]: and also, like, if you do want to write about serious issues you have to write stuff wrong in order to improve and get it right. and fanfic is a pretty forgiving way to practice because you can edit it after it’s published and get instant feedback. [15]
[fierceawakening.tumblr]: And the other thing is, there isn’t some gatekeeping thing where you have to be SJ-right to get to tell the story. [16]

[dendritic-trees]: So, I’m still kind of turning this over in my head, but it really seems to me like this is the collision of about three different good things that are having a really truly obnoxious effect.

I’ve been interacting with fanfic and online fandom sporadically for about 10 years and my impression is that it has gotten much more social justice educated, and much more vocal than it was when I started (which may be an artifact of how my interaction with it has changed). Now, mostly that’s a good thing. I think its great we’re thinking about the effects our work has, and I think its great we’re trying to treat oppressed members of our communities better and in the reverse direction I think its great that fanfic writers as a group are demanding (and beginning to receive) more respect from the wider literary world, and to be taken more seriously and not treated like a joke.

Unfortunately what has been lost as this has been happening, is the degree to which fandom used to be a sort of protected space. One of the unintended positive effect for me at least, of the fact that fanfic writing was so marginalized, was that it was a place where it was okay to mess around, because after all, its just fanfic right? But as an equally unintended effect of taking fanfic more seriously, its acquired a level of demand for responsibility, so there seems to me that there’s a lot more pressure to write well, and to do research and to justify things when writing a fic than there used to be. And that’s intersecting with the fact that the fanfic writing community is getting more social justice oriented, so along with the responsibility to write more like paid authors there’s also pressure to handle more diversity, which can be a real double edged sword, because writers get pressured to both write diversely but also to present their diversity well, and without error with no real space to say either ‘I can’t write that, so I’m choosing not to’ or 'I’m trying my best to write outside my experience, please cut me some slack’. This is definitely an area where I think the fact that fan writers aren’t paid is really really relevant, because you know, any time they spend on fanfiction is their free time, and if they’re having to stop and research, then you’re asking them to take time out of their leisure activity which they share with you, to do research, which is not the same as pressuring paid authors/directors/writers/etc, to do more research for the things they are paid to represent. Fanfic has been and should stay a hedonistic space. Write things that make you feel good, read things that make you feel good. Avoid things that make you feel bad.

The other thing I think is that the way we discuss and create genre in fandom spaces is really deeply not conducive to discussions about social responsibility. Within publishing genres there’s a sort of established convention about which genres get to be silly and which don’t. If you write a serious fiction drama about sexual abuse, you can expect to be called out if you’re disrespectful or treat the subject poorly, because its an important delicate subject and you have to approach it with the understanding that mishandling it could do real harm. Very few people seriously expect good sensitive treatment of consent from a harlequin bodice-ripper, which is straight up fantasy and has far less attachment to real world issues. I’ve seen discussions of how to make sure people understand the difference and how that difference is signposted, but overall the two are separated and you don’t get in trouble unless you start treating your serious issues with bodice-ripper levels of attention in the serious business fiction section. In fanfic we sort by fandom and then by topic so if you look for noncom stories in your fandom of choice you get a mixed bag of everything from stories that are serious fictional discussions where you should expect detail, research and sensitivity to fantasy-based porn which was written for titillation.

Hopping over into an immediately adjacent genre that I actually read when you search for hurt/comfort fic you get everything from serious treatments of recovery to the equivalent of PWP, fics that have characters getting hurt in graphic ways especially so they can be comforted in equivalently graphic, exaggerated ways for the pleasure of the readers. And that’s where you get fic’s falling in that same hole between social responsibility and fantasy. Yes, absolutely H/C has the capacity to fetishize illness and disability and to spread medical misinformation and those are bad things, and we, as a fandom should watch out for that. But for those of us who are just there for the fantasy, you shouldn’t be expecting people’s fantasies (sexual or otherwise) to be sources of medical and social justice education. So if we’re talking about Winter Soldier recovery!fic then you know, if you want to read or write a serious story about recovery from trauma and abuse then do that, and do the research required and more power to you. But if you want to write schoompy goop about Bucky curling up on Steve’s couch and being fed soup then you can do that without having to go out of your way to address agency and fetishization. Those are both okay things that can coexist peacefully.

The issue isn’t that fanfic needs to take things more seriously, or that it needs to take things less seriously its that it needs to find a new way of signposting where the serious discussion ends and fantasy begins. [17]

[leafquake23]: This really nails down what I haven’t been able to articulate about the change in the majority of fan fiction over the last two decades. It’s like it’s swung over too far to the point where it’s scaring off people from writing for fear that they will commit the smallest error and be called a bad person.

I know I stopped writing back in 2008 because I started getting sporked for not having very detailed intense descriptions of the characters applying a condom before having sex, including married characters! It was a fantasy fandom with all sorts of ridiculous things that you needed to suspend things like science and reality for, there was magic and flying and mythical creatures like selkies and yet people were focusing on the characters not using a condom. [18]
[scribblemoose]: This is so important. This is what makes fanfic awesome. Your writing is your tool for self-expression, for free thought, for exploration and experimentation, for rolling around in your own imagination. For creativity. No-one gets to tell you how to do it or not to do it. You can write something you know will make the rest of fandom love you, or something that makes sense to you and you alone. It doesn’t matter. Whatever the fuck you want to write. Just write it. [19]

[fieldbears]: I’ve been giving it a lot of thought and I’m really drawn to the idea of starting up some kind of Mary Sue/OC Challenge. There’s been such a knee-jerk negative outcry against OCs for as long as I’ve been in fandom and I think we miss out on a lot of cool possibilities because of it.

I almost never published Kelly’s stories bc I assumed readers would loathe her on principle. Never mind that she had obvious flaws and was nobody’s romantic interest… Fandom hates OCs, right? Maybe we’re ready again. [20]

[metpony]: There’s a simple fact, very simple, but it’s something that novice writers need to learn. Because if you don’t know about it, then no one will become interested in your characters and want to read more about them.

What makes a character awesome is not what makes them interesting.

So show me how your character deals with the routine, show me how they deal with people they’re forced to interact with, show me their motivations, show me their normal approach to problems, show me their struggles.

Show me your character failing.

And then,

Show me how they deal with having failed.

Show me how they recover.

Show me how they try again.

And if you have shown me all of that.

I will WANT you to show me what makes your character awesome, because I will want to see them triumph because I care about them. [21]

[shinelikethunder]: [This is text in the form of tags in the main part]: #fandom #fanfic #meta #agree with this so much #we all have things we like or don’t like to see in fic#the back button is there if you need it #(not talking about triggers just in case it needs saying – very much support tagging/warning)#(but when it comes to unabashed cliches or squicky kinks or idfic or fanon]] you disagree with) #(or authors who clearly bypassed in-depth research so as to skip ahead to the fun part)#(just let them do what they want jfc)

[followed by the actual tags]:

#yes thank you

#all of this

#exCEPT i have to say I disagree with the thing about the domestic/modern au crit

#despite making some excellent and important points

#this post then falls right into the very trap it's talking about

#by implying those stories aren't as good?

#like sure i don't want every fic to be the same either

#but everyone has their reasons for writing what they write

#i never used to write fluffy domestic AUs EVER

#but in the past year i've been severely depressed so it's been a good form of escapism

#i didn't start doing it because i was too afraid to write something cool

#but because i wanted to get something written

#something that made me feel good about myself

#and something i could finish without agonising for hours over a more ambitious idea

#of which i have many but all require more planning and writing energy than i have right now

#tldr: shut the fuck up

#tldr: write whatever you want

#tldr: let everyone else whatever they want

#fandom

#i still can't believe this needs saying at all

#but it really really does [22]

[tehkittykat]: Once more for the kids in the back!

Remember that the only way someone should even begin to get a say in what you write is if they are paying you. At a 3-5 cent a word rate in the industry, most of the whiners in fandom cannot afford you. Do what you like! [23]

[staniamstan]: Fandom is a meme, and it has its fads, mostly borne of emulation. Before the advent of SJ, there was a time where there was a “realistic sex” diktat, and there were posts going around with instructions like “use condoms, water-based lube and nothing else, cleaning up after sex with a damp towel is The Most Important” and other stuff about “realistic” sex practices that should be used in fanfiction as well. (And – it’s fine, you know, if people who don’t know anything about sex want information and want to give a realistic vibe to their fics, but if you want to bypass that entirely, Fuck That Shit, who cares)

So anyway around that time I wrote this threesome fic in the Sherlock fandom and I remember someone reblogging it and commenting “it’s a great fic and the sex is pretty realistic, except they don’t clean up with damp towels at the end” and I was like “what the fuck is wrong with you what is this damp towel business and how on earth is it a bad thing that I haven’t added it in my fic” and then I remembered all the fics that I had read at that time which had dutifully incorporated The Damp Towel™ and I realised that it was merely the fashion of the times. And after that Omegaverse became all the rage so no one gave a shit about damp towels anymore

Like, I guess it’s always a cycle, you get a certain type of fic everywhere, then someone tries something a bit different (like realistic sex at a moment where unrealistic sex abounds) and then all the cool kids want to do it as well, and then it becomes The Law, and then people get fed up and go 180° at the other end of the spectrum

Right now I’m kind of bored because recently a majority of the fics that I read are very prim and proper, with disclaimers that are kilometers-long if the fics ever venture into something even remotely shady morally speaking, and I have a marked preference for fics that explore stuff that’s not Healthy or Sane or even Consensual, because to me fandom and fanfics are this big laboratory that really should allow you to delve into the unconventional and the morally grey (oh, the Golden Age of the Sherlock fandom… the amazing fics I read back then…) (not necessarily all the time, though. I mean exploration and pushing the boundaries of what is ethically acceptable or not are definitely cool, and then sometimes you want all the fluff and the safe, sane and consensual. I’m just saying, a little bit of everything is good)

So I hope that the dam will crack soon, as it always does, and I’m interested to see what weirdo monster will come out of it [24]

[imaginedmelody]: YES! Write it well, whatever it is. Don’t get so hung up on a ultra-realism and ultra-non-problematic storytelling. That shit is BORING. Tell us a story, write it well. Treat the characters like human beings. We have suspension of disbelief for a reason. ........

....And media (even media I love) is always full of problematic shit. Would I love for there to be more representation? Absolutely. Sense8 does a great job of this while still being inclusive of all kinds of people, but not everything can pull that off. You know what show I love? House. And House is probably one of the most problematic characters ever. I can look past it, because he’s interesting, and the show tells good stories.

Stop trying to be perfect. Perfect is dull. Start being engaging. [25]
[agentsnark]: I’m going to sound really old, but when I was first in fabric it was rampant noncom, zero disclaimers. Lemons and limes were the standard. [26]
[demokaisincapableoftagging]: Write what you wanna write, read what you wanna read. If you don’t like something, just stop reading it [27]
[things-that-are-great]: YES THIS. And also because– well, you write what YOU write. If you have really strong feelings about/experience with trauma, and you have something to say about it that it matters to you to say, then that’s a great thing to write about! But if it’s obligatory, then you’re going to come out with some cliché at best, and it’ll be flat and by-the-numbers, like a tacked-in romance in an action movie that no-one has any reason to care about. That’s not really more respectful– that’s just words getting in the way of the story that really sings to you. Leave writing about trauma-recovery to people who have a lot to say about trauma-recovery, and write the thing that only YOU will think of. Because that’s the story that’s gonna be awesome. [28]

[hansbekhart]: I know I’m like, #1 cheerleader for realism in fic, but I’m in agreement with this: Internal story logic > realism.

If it makes sense in the context of your story, and it’s consistent throughout, the reader will handwave right along with you. [29]
[meeedeee]: My post for the image and the link to "Also: Women/Writing 1: How Fanfiction Makes Us Poor, by cupidsbow (2007)" [30]
[x-cetra]: Reblogging because of much good commentary, but also because of the link to the “How Fanfiction Makes Us Poor” essay. I think it’s one of the more seminal posts in fanfic-meta, worth reading, even if most of us who read it nod and keep right on doing what we’re doing (except that I stopped feeling guilty about putting ads in the sidebar of my Wordpress fandom blogs). [31]

[meangreenlimabean]: I was gonna put this in the tags but it got too long

As a beta reader, I’ve had people send me their fics with an APOLOGY like “sorry this is OC centered hope that’s okay” or “sorry this is so dark and painful” and it makes me SO ANGRY, not at the author, but for them feeling like there’s only certain ways fic should be done.

#writer problems#writer help#I have a lot more to say about this#but I'm gonna stay off my soapbox today#there's a lot of tropes I don't like#but I'll read anything if it's done with heart#and you can tell when the author really cares#okay I'm done [32]

[cesperanza]: Natasha, man! Remember Natasha! “The last set of wings is at Fort Meade, behind three guarded gates and a 12-inch steel wall.” Natasha: *shrugs*

Tags: meta, you are allowed, really, that's the whole point. [33]
[handypolymath]: Embrace the shrug! Some of the best and most fun stuff I’ve written has come from essentially being dared to pull it off! [34]

[assetandmission]: It’s weird that I was just thinking about this at breakfast, and then it pops up on my dash!

Because it absolutely breaks my heart when I come across an enjoyable fanfic, full of intricacies and well thought out plotlines, but fandom doesn’t read it because it doesn’t fit the Tumblr SJ guidelines – or worse, they love the fic but don’t Reblog or Bookmark, incase someone sees that they read something that goes against popular thinking. It’s becomes a weird, guilty secret for liking a fic that isn’t just a mundane AU. Like a fic that involves darker plots that don’t exactly follow DSM standards. Or one that goes against fandom’s ‘idea’ of how Bucky should recover. I’ve seen authors feel guilty for glossing over Bucky’s backstory, or themes of internalized homophobia between Steve/Bucky, because it somehow makes their fic less realistic. (And don’t even get me started on the absolute hell some authors receive because they didn’t explicitly work into the narrative how an Ace person would fit into their soulmate world, or something).

Lately there’s been this weird undertone in fandom that says ‘If you can’t write a well-rounded realistic world, with perfect social justice viewpoints… then don’t write at all’. It’s gotten to the point where authors are afraid to have their characters make bad decisions, because it may enter murky moral territory. The characters can’t even wade through an emotional mess, because the author may not hit every bullet point of ‘What Is Healthy In This Situation’ according to fandom. And then they’ll receive hate. Because apparently there’s a very specific, correct way to write about superheroes, their vague abilities, their ridiculous lives, and their recovery of anything bad that happened to them (that’s usually vague, too!).

It’s frustrating as hell, and leads to these long disclaimers that spoil the plot and read like the worst textbook imaginable, because the author feels like they have to bend over backwards to explain themselves. Things like ’Bucky admits to Steve about being sexually abused by HYDRA in the third line of the second chapter, and then Stucky reacts like this and it may not be healthy’, or for sex scenes, ‘Bucky and Steve have sex without a condom and there’s an element of power dynamics where Steve bites Bucky’s neck’. Which is followed by a long justification about why the author wrote that scene the way they did, and how the author DOES know right from wrong but chose to delve from that, JUST SO fandom doesn’t send hate. It’s awful to see authors feeling guilty about writing something that’s interesting (but maybe not ethically/morally sound), or for glossing over something bad to move on with their plot, and it’s lead to people being afraid to writeanything. Because they don’t think they’re allowed if they don’t follow Fandom Standards.

tl;dr: Write fluffy fics! Write dark fics! Write whatever you want and don’t feel guilty about it! If you delve from the Fandom Textbook of how things are done, tag for a darker theme but don’t write long disclaimers about why you did what you did. It’s okayyyy. You don’t have to hit every bullet point; you can break the Guidelines altogether. [35]
[meredithgene]: I guess my big question is why do these specific trends run through the community. What value does it bring in the context of social change at the time? Did 90s fic need to do this in the context of coming out of the 80s and the AIDS crisis? Does fic aim to de-stigmatize and educate about the concerns of the time? @toastystats and @fansplaining is there any way to track these themes over time, mapped on to when the fic was written, not uploaded. [36]

[plaidadder.tumblr]: I have always just written what I want to write and put it out there. Most of the time I don’t even know what the ‘rules’ or the dominant trends are.

As a result, I have a pretty small readership. I think part of the reason people chase the trends is that they want the readers; and they’re right, because in fandom especially people will get hooked on a certain type of story and then they want to read that and nothing but that until they get sick of it. But, the upside is that the comparatively people who find their way to my stuff are usually looking for something else and they are often REALLY glad to find it. I get comments about how nice it is to see the relationship done in a way that’s not consistent with the dominant tropes, and I’m like, well, I don’t know what the dominant tropes are but I’m glad you enjoyed your temporary break for them.

It is my thing that I want my fanfiction to feel as much like the canon text as it can. So the realism I use is modeled on the realism used by the actual show, except that the actual mystery plot is usually more coherent (because I’m writing _Sherlock_ fanfiction and the plotting on the canon show is often insane, because it’s really not what the creators care about).

“Realism” can mean a lot of different things. Sometimes we use “realistic” to mean “something that could actually happen in the real world.” Sometimes we use it to mean “the characters are deep and psychologically convincing.” Sometimes we use it to mean “logical and coherent” (especially when we talk about plotting). If your plot is ‘realistic’ (logical and coherent), then a lot of people won’t care if your story includes shit that couldn’t possibly happen; if the characters are “realistic” (in that they seem like real people to the readers) people will forgive you for having a loopy plot, and so on. It just depends on what the individual reader cares about. [37]

[bettydays]: (First, I wold like to bring this entire post to the attention of @bert-and-ernie-are-gay.)

As someone who is both relatively new to fandom and receives semi-frequent wank on what I write, I feel this so hard. I started off writing fic because I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted. At it paid off, being the weird one. A lot of people liked what I had to say. But I also found out that a lot of people didn’t. I got called out for acronyms I had to look up (OOC, OTT, etc) and learned very slowly what Was Not Okay.

That is to say, nothing. I have gotten shit on no-conflict fluff fests (”Tag your OOC!!”), Christmas-themed H/C (”Tag your bottom character! It’s triggering!!”), and flat-out crackfic (”HOW DARE YOU PORTRAY STEVE ROGERS AS A BLUSHING VIRGIN!”) Literally. All of these things happened.

And each time, I am utterly astounded by the level of reader entitlement. Like, folks, friends, gentlepeople, I am devoting nearly all my free time to providing you enjoyable, emotionally validating and sexually gratifying entertainment. Why are you nitpicking my interpretations? Why does it bother you so?

Fandom Police care so much for their favs that whenever you give characters literally any conflict to overcome, someone gets mad. And when that happens often enough, a character becomes woobiefied. And when a character is woobiefied in enough fics, it’s taken from fanon interpretation to canon interpretation, and boy howdy when anyone brings it around to actual fucking canon (STEVE ROGERS FIGHTS LITERALLY ANYONE. HE’D HIT YOUR GODDAMN GRANDMA IF SHE WAS SAYING SHIT ABOUT BUCKY BARNES OK.) you get nothing but shade and dropped traffic.

I know fandom is supposed to be a mostly safe, healing space, where we can take all the stupid Mediocre White Man bullshit in commercial media and turn it into stories that matter to us, but I also think it needs to be a creative space so we don’t feel like we’ve been put in a neighboring narrative cage. [38]

[orderonlycomesfrompain]: First, I apologize for my profane language, but this is something I get absolutely livid over. & I know this is written in regards to fan fiction (& I am sorry for highjacking the post) but as a roleplayer, I need this on my blog.

I cannot express the amount of shit we get (as it’s obvious fan fiction writers get as well, I’m not trying to say one or the other is worse please don’t be mad at me I am a delicate flower) when we decide “fuck it! I wanna write fluff in a perfect world where nothing bad ever happens & half [or even all] of canon is thrown out the goddamn window bc I feel like shit & it makes me happy!” You make a simple error, you delve into the “darker” kinks/sexual acts, you claim “whatever” as your personal headcanon, etc etc, & suddenly you’ve got a dozen murderous anons telling you why you are the scum of the earth. I have seen amazing writers hang up their hats bc of that hate. I have lost partners who were, imo, the best RPer of their character delete or abandon their blogs bc of that bullshit. I have seen people do & say absolutely awful things to others, & what the actual fuck is it for?

“You wrote it wrong.”

No.

Write what you want. Write what makes you happy! If you’re a roleplayer & you are blessed enough to find someone else who throws their hands up & says “fuck it! Fuck the rules & the backstory & x, y, & z issues! We are gonna have this bc it makes us happy!” then you grab that person & you hold on tight, bc it is hard as hell to find them in a world where we are shamed for the things we write.

So go ahead with your bad selves: Write the smuttiest, kinkiest, happiest thing the world has ever seen, & hold your head high! But I ask one thing of you: please remember that while you’re writing what makes you happy, that is all other people are doing, too. There’s no reason to work yourself into a fit over it if you don’t agree with them. Just hit the “X” tab in the upper right corner, & go about your day.

#LONG POST #[THE THING ABOUT] #['IF YOU CAN'T WRITE IT EXACTLY HOW EVERY SINGLE PERSON THINKS IT SHOULD BE'] #['THEN DON'T WRITE AT ALL'] #[AHAHAHAHA.] #[AHA.] #[HA.] #[/DEADPAN STARE] #[THAT'S PT OF WHY I'M SCARED TO WRITE ANYMORE] #[I'M GONNA GET SHIT BC RUMLOW. PERIOD.] #[I'M GONNA HAVE TO JUSTIFY EVERY MINOR DETAIL & MAKE IT ABSOLUTE PERFECT] #[GUESS WHAT] #[I CAN'T FUCKING DO THAT BC I LIVE W CHRONIC PAIN & ILLNESS & BRAIN FOG] #[I AM OBLIVIOUS & FORGETFUL & SLOW & I WILL WRITE AN ENTIRE PARAGRAPH WHERE I COULD HAVE ONE SENTENCE] #[BC I AM THAT FUCKING...WHATEVER] #[SEE?! IDEK WTF IS WRONG WITH ME SO] #[JUST ACCEPT THIS BLOG AS IS] #[OR UNFOLLOW. PLEASE.] #[I DON'T NEED MORE SHIT IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW I REALLY DO NOT] #[MY FRIEND JUST CAME OUT OF A COMA & MY MOM IS GETTING SURGERY THIS WEEK SO JUST] #[WRITE WHAT YOU WANT. HOW YOU WANT. & RESPECT THAT OTHERS WILL BE DOING THE SAME] #[SO YOU DON'T GET A SOAPBOX TO STAND ON & TELL ME WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY WRITING] #[TRUST ME #I KNOW. A LOT IS WRONG WITH IT. /A LOT/.] #[BUT I FUCKING OWN THAT SHIT SO BOOM] #; PSA #MOBILE #[/DEEP BREATH] #[WOW I NEED CHOCOLATE] [39]

[selkie.net]: tl;dr Internal story logic > realism

and also: YOU ARE ALLOWED

I swear to god, both of these particular tenets have given me back my joy in fanfic writing.

If you love something “””problematic””” and are afraid to love it unabashedly because you might get hate, I’m here to tell you, any hate you might get will probably pale in comparison to the feeling of freedom and joy. Especially when you find other people who love the thing. [40]

[intentandinvention]: I am imagining this whole generation of fic readers freaking out at their sexual partners because of a lack of post-coital damp towel provision, like there are actually rules about what people do before/during/after sex other than “don’t do stuff you don’t both want”.

#damp towels #wtf #ain't nobody got time for that #fic #long post [41]

[snowleopardferret]: Reblogging to add my own tangentially related rant.

This whole fandom SJ thing has really gotten out of hand, and it is a sad fucking day when I of all people am saying that. I have pretty much any piece of “Activism Credentials” you could ask for, from actually spending a good amount of my life working with and volunteering for my local groups, donating money to well-researched charities, voting, all the way down to tumblr’s glorified “Oppression Bingo” card having a good amount of ticks on it for me. I’ve got the Trauma History ™ that allows me to like certain ~problematic~ tropes in my fic, I tag the shit out of everything I post so that people can make use of blacklists and I do my goddamn best not to step on a single toe. But goddamn is it exhausting.

It’s getting to this point where you’re not even allowed to LIKE a character who has even had a sideways brush with the problematic. If you so much as reblog a picture of a member of any “Standardly Evil Nazi-esque Trope Villan Group”, suddenly you’re a nazi sympathizing white supremasist sexist piece of shit holocaust denier. Hit the like button on a cute piece of shippy art where the characters involved have an age gap? Even of both characters involved are well over the age of consent and legally adults? Suddenly you’re an abuse apologist pedophile. Woobiefy and safety-pad a character? Erasure. Present them as their canonically fucked up self? Well you might as well have murdered those children yourself! There’s a growing list of characters who have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG in ANY of their canon and you cannot fucking touch them because someone somewhere in the right circles is reminded of their abuser tangentially through the character.

This isn’t just impacting fic writers, (And the fact that we’re encouraging our content creators to STOP MAKING CONTENT is a sign of a sick, broken fandom culture,) it’s actively discouraging people from participating in fandom at all. Artists are telling people who /ship certain things/ that they’re not allowed to reblog and share their work. Your ships, your faves, if any of them aren’t perfect enough, you can literally get excluded from fandom groups. I have literally seen “No (shipname) allowed” signs on communities. It’s fucked up. It’s fucked up enough that I rather suspect I’m going to get some sort of backlash for admitting that I don’t like the creepy disgusting gatekeepy nonsense in fandom. “Fiction Influences Reality” I can hear them chant as they approach with torches and pitchforks to lock my ass in fandom jail for liking The Wrong Things.

Fuck but do I hate this. [42]

[luninosity]: I think I’ve reblogged this before, but since then, it’s sort of happened to me, that whole last section, so, I don’t know, it kind of resonated.

Like, I never got the outright *hate* version, I like to think the people in our little corner of fandom are kinder than that, but I HAVE gotten some very…let’s say comments that came across as quite aggressive in tone (”don’t you think he got over it too fast?” or “why is he bisexual? *gasp* do you think that’s better than being gay?”) (to the second: no, you moron, it’s both arguably canon and a plot point in this particular story! but the thing is, I didn’t say that; no, I wrote out a thoughtful and in retrospect incredibly nervous reply explaining why I had written him that way), whether the person meant it that way or not–and more so lately. Like, I’ve noticed a trend, and I’ve been in fandom long enough that I can say it wasn’t that way five or even three years ago. I’m not going to name specific comments, the examples there are paraphrases (though accurate ones–I’ve gotten both of those), but I’ve noticed myself doing the disclaimer thing more and more as a kind of preemptive defensive reaction, and I don’t actually like that feeling, and the above articulates why, in a way I hadn’t really pinpointed: because I shouldn’t have to feel guilty. or like I have to justify what I write. or like I should beanxious about my fic, when I’m doing it for fun. [43]

[fiftysevenacademics]: [tags only (no direct link)]

#this is why i don't read much fanfic#i live in reality#i want to enjoy characters who lead much more exotic lives than i do#and man that towel thing? was that for real?#wtf man that is so ridiculous like who even does that irl#i am not sure i've ever done that even one time#fanfic#fandom stuff [44]

[lizerd7]: The ‘entitled reader’™ is just about the icing on the cake. Turning SJ weapons onto writers who put their own time into writing glorious, poignant, raunchy, crazy, crack stories and share them with us for free is the height of arrogance.

There is a whole paradigm in SJ that it becomes it’s own parody, as limiting as the patriarchy it claims to fight. Not everything needs to be a crusade. And the backlash against SJ arrogance is as damaging as the attitudes that inspire it.

It’s actually an interesting concept, maybe one of you would want to write an OC SJW to explore in the context of someone reading fanfic, and then actually being confronted by the characters of said fic telling them to “back off - this is MY story, I’m the character, and I will drive the writer in any direction that I please, who on earth told you the WRITER was in charge? [45]
[thepointlessalbatross]: I know this is about fanfic and fandom trends specifically, but I want to say it applies to all writing. I’ve seen a bunch of young writers wanting to tell stories but worrying that they will be ‘problematic’ if they don’t explicitly condemn every not good thing they write or their stories are derivative or whatever and they need to know this too. Write what you want, write what you can, I’m right now looking at a sign on a bus for the film Dirty Grandpa so you really can’t be worse than some of the other shit out there. [46]

Directly-Related Posts

image by MeeeDee


[wintersoldierfell]: i feel like one of the lessons of “your fave is problematic” that tumblr sometimes makes us forget is that your fave is your fave. like tumblr encourages us to call that shit out all the time, which is fine, but it also tells us what’s okay to like and what’s not okay to like and tbh i just want us to acknowledge that our faves are where we live. i’m not saying we should stop caring about justice but i am saying maybe we can keep a soft place inside ourselves for the things our hearts need. recognizing that your fave is problematic doesn’t have to mean you have to stop loving the things you love. we need that love. we need to be able to dream our weird little dreams.

this message brought to you by seeing a Trudeau/Obama fic prompt tbh [47]

[pearwaldorf]: As you may know, one of the things that I keep turning over in my head as An Old on Tumblr is this obsession with moral purity and the way it manifests in the rhetoric and (little d) discourse on this site. The weirdly religiously charged vocabulary for things that aren’t actually deviant (”sinning”). The incredibly black/white thinking and dichotomy between good/bad, pure/unpure, and how one slip from the path of righteousness makes you untouchable and impure forever.

This obsession with correctness, this need to like and ship only the “appropriate” “unproblematic” things. It’s weird to me, because if you framed it in an explicitly religious context I’m sure there are a great many people who would find it troubling or repugnant. I don’t believe that liking imperfect things/people is in any way contrary to working towards truth, justice, and a better world. It’s acknowledging that we all have the capacity to do better, and be a little forgiving of other people’s fuckups. You don’t yell at a baby when it falls down because it doesn’t know how to walk. You let it get itself back up, and give it a hand if it needs it. [48]

[halfhardtorock]: I just made a post that kind of touches on this, but maybe we can all remember that openly loving these “problematic faves” in a social space like fandom has social repercussions, and that’s why people might feel like they can’t just love what they love.

Like, yeah ok, love what you love on your own time, but sometimes your “problematic fave” is someone else’s “motherfucking RACIST” and you gotta acknowledge that, that when you stan this fave in a social space, it has social consequences/repercussions.

Like it fucking harms me as a survivor of rape when people stan for rapists, when they make those “This is the only time I’m going to talk about this” posts for their rapist-faves and it’s all lukewarm, half-platitudes and rape apology. Those “Well, we can’t be SURE he did it, soooo—” posts. That shit is harmful to me. You didn’t just think that in your own head, or decide to still like that actor/hockey player/wtf ever. You said that in a social space, where I am. You decided to keep putting up pictures of a rapist on your dash, because ~your fave is problematic. You shared that where a bunch of us are. Where we all see it and engage with it. Where we have to know, pretty directly, exactly how you feel about rape apology.

Like, yeah. If you were solely, on your own, in your own time, fanning some problematic fave, of course you can like what you like. Of course, no one can tell you what to think, that’s bullshit. But we can attempt to safeguard this social space and try to make it more inclusive, less unsafe, less painful, less dangerous. You are obviously free to do wtf ever. But fandom is a social network and when you do it here with all these people, you gotta acknowledge that you’re not singularly, personally stanning for someone, you’re socially doing it and engaging us in it with you.

Also, I’m obviously talking about harsher shit than what you brought up, but your argument, I’ve seen it before said for some problematic faves and I’m tiiiired of the way fandom has been trying to equate social responsibility and social safeguarding with “You’re telling us what to think and how to feel!!!!1!” No, all we’re saying is “what you do in social spaces has consequences.” [49]
[pearwaldorf]: Oh for sure. And obviously that shit’s unacceptable, especially when people use “free expression!” as a way of ignoring other people’s trauma. I keep forgetting that sometimes I need to add the caveat of “Don’t be a fucking asshole to other people when you do things, jesus fucking christ” when I speak in generalities. [50]

[wintersoldierfell]: I totally hear you, and I don’t disagree. I think we’re talking about two different situations. Situation One is where someone is like “whatever it’s fine for me to stan for a rapist.” I am not advocating that! What I’m talking about is Situation Two: where no matter what kind of fic I write or what kind of things I find joy in, SOMEONE has to come hassle me about it. I got a comment on a fic the other day that boiled down to “the way you headcanon this character is different from my headcanon so it’s problematic,” and I’m really tired of that. Just let people live. Let people love things. If I think Rey likes snow and hates pumpkins, no one needs to come into my house and yell at me about it.

I think the problem comes in when people think they’re in Situation Two and in fact they’re in Situation One. I have no solution for that. But this post wasn’t designed to solve all the problems of tumblr. All I’m saying is, hey, every once in a while Nicki Minaj fucks up, but I still love her and I listen to her music. I’m saying that I like to read fanfic about A.Ham even though a lot of fucked up shit was going on in the 18th century and the real Alexander Hamilton was kind of terrible in a lot of ways. I’m saying he who is unproblematic should cast the first stone, y’know?

(Also, idk, maybe I shouldn’t have made the first post rebloggable? I’m not trying to make some big powerful statement… just to say that maybe it’s important for people to feel like their joy is worthwhile. Not at all trying to throw down about not being conscientious.) [51]

[meeedeee]: To me, none of this is mutually exclusive. Yes, it is problematic the way many women talk to other women and try to shame them into believing they are bad for liking, reading, writing, or vidding certain topics. And yes, it is problematic when we forget that our liking, reading, writing, or vidding certain topics can have an impact on those around us. I feel that most of this could be addressed by not ascribing evil intent or actions to others and by us trying to do as little harm as possible. And most importantly understanding (1) that none of us will ever pass any real or imagined morality litmus test and (2) that change begins and ends with ourselves.

tl;dr: "As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the ‘atomic age’ – as in being able to remake ourselves.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi [52]
[meredithgene]: "How is it possible to be both more inclusive AND less dangerous?"[53]
[halfhardtorock]: “Not ascribing evil intent or actions to others” is not my cup of tea when discussing harm and one’s impact in a community. People often do things that harm people without any maliciousness. Most often, this is the case. But just because they “didn’t mean any harm by it,” doesn’t mean they aren’t still responsible for the harm they cause. Intention means little to the people harmed by you. In ignorance, you might accidentally say something racist that demeans others and dehumanizes them. Just because you didn’t “intend” to be racist doesn’t mean you weren’t. You are still responsible for the harm caused by ignorance, whatever the intent. [54]

[meeedeee]: Both bad actions and bad intent are equally damaging. The consequences of actions (whether those actions are done with - or without - bad intent) are outside our control. How we react to those who act is within our control. We control whether to ascribe evil intent, we control the focus of our state of mind and we control what we choose to put back out into the world. By not assuming evil intent as a default position, our own actions may be more likely to be actions made with the intention of extinguishing suffering. And possibly they may even be the type of actions that will help us reach that goal.

#meta, #thinky thoughts, #how we react defines us., #deep faith in the future, #avoiding internal violence of spirit [55]

[halfhardtorock]: I just fundamentally disagree with this whole statement.

#idgaf about your intent#if you harmed someone you harmed them#it is not your victim's responsibility to accept#your intent#if you hit me with your car by mistake or on purpose#doesn't really matter to me#if either way im in critical condition at the ER#also telling your victims#that how they feel is up to them#you can't control their feelings#is like weirdly victim blamey [56]
[miriamheddy]: "But think about that as a response to, microaggressions in fandom (or elsewhere). Having the emotional energy to “control the focus of our state of mind” is, arguably, a product of privilege."[57]
[meeedeee]: "Very true. MLK and Gandhi were speaking from a position of privilege (comparatively speaking) when they developed their form of social activism. Both of them also drew from the Buddhist teachings who was also born into privilege. Being able to find faith in the future, avoiding violence of spirit and taking actions with the intention of extinguishing suffering are difficult to implement when you are the subject of violence and hate. I suspect when teaching they would always add something along the lines “no one path is the best for everyone.”

Gandhi pointed out three possible responses to oppression and injustice. One he described as the coward’s way: to accept the wrong or run away from it. The second option was to stand and fight by force of arms. Gandhi said this was better than acceptance or running away.

But the third way, he said, was best of all and required the most courage: to stand and fight solely by nonviolent means."

[and in a later post]:

"Some of the paths suggested by people like Ghandi, MLK etc are not an option for many people for many different reasons and I certainly do not know what experiences have led people to this point in their lives. But this brings me back to my original position: The only person I can change is myself. (usually poorly, slowly, and with less success than I had hoped for). So….if I am able, I will send a nice email to someone, leave a positive comment, compliment someone, be kind to someone. If I see someone struggling, I will stop and ask if I can help. As it was said: intent does not matter, only actions.

TL; DR: be excellent to one another."[58]
[from a comment in the Dreamwidth crosspost by meeedeee]: "I love the slogan, "Be kinder than necessary. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."[59]
[from a comment in the Livejournal crosspost by meeedeee]: "That was fascinating. I wish I was better able to follow who is talking to who on tumblr - when I actually do find conversations there at all."[60]

[halfhardtorock]: The only reason you should EVER ask a victim to consider the intent behind their victimizer’s actions is if it will , in some way, impart healing to them. ......

....

.....Throwing out-of-context Ghandi and MLK jr quotes at me does not make that any less fucked up. Especially when MLK jr. centered much of his work on the importance of justice. Intent DOES NOT MATTER when it comes to how responsible you are for harming someone else, unless they are a court of law. I am really discomforted, seeing this argument still circulating in fandom. Because back in the day, these were the kinds of arguments that often derailed much-needed criticism of gross, abusive fan behaviors and attitudes. I remember the girl who wrote that Haitian earthquake fic in Supernatural fandom and her: “I didn’t know any better! I didn’t MEAN to be racist!” I remember all the people supporting her bullshit, arguing that intent matters!/whiny voices! Like the harm wasn’t caused anyway, despite intent. Like racism is something that only hurts you if it’s intentional or self-aware.

Like gtfo of my face with stuff like this, I don’t want this victim blaming shit any where near me. [61]
[hailmaryfullofgrace to halfhardtorock]: I just wanted to say thank you for being outspoken about the fandom stuff you've been talking about recently. I feel like I've been seeing a lot of backlash, especially directed from older fans to younger fans, about this new moral Puritanism that's destroying the fannish spirit of freedom and I can't tell you how much it means to me to see that you can be an adult in fandom and still. be outspoken and care about fandom being safe. that it's not just a naïve and childish thing to want fandom to be a space that doesn’t promote abuse as a romantic fascination, that doesn’t blithely accept racism. to be a space where you don’t have to be tough and resistant to not absorb that stuff, honestly. so yeah thanks for discoursing. [halfhardtorock]: Yeah, I think you just verbalized the tensions at work in those arguments really well, so thank you! [62]

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