I find this disturbing on a multitude of levels.
I will lay this out here first: I have not read the fic in question, any of the writer’s other fics, and I am not part of either of those fandoms; don’t care about Persona, and while I listen to WTNV, I don’t participate in the fandom in any kind of meaningful way. I am completely uninterested in the fics in question or debates about their relative merits. Got it?
(And good thing, since apparently I might have a rough time reading the fics in question now.)
So let me explain why this whole thing disturbs me.
- Writers, whether they are writing fanfiction or original fiction, write disturbing shit all the time. All the fucking time. Hell, my best friend writes horror. I once beta read one of her stories and sent it back with “WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS” as my only comment. This idea that whatever a writer puts down on paper is somehow must be a true reflection of their deep-seated beliefs and desires is wrong, and frankly, dangerous. My characters are not me, any more than the characters an actor plays are him or her. The stories we tell might have some meaning to us and a myriad of different meanings to other people. Do not assume that you know what a writer thinks or believes just from the fiction they have written.
- Go read this, in which a marginalized young adult makes the case for all that unsavory sex, drugs, and violence that has people these days clutching their pearls about YA fiction being too “dark.” Underage pornography is bad. But work with explicit sex (or violence) that involves underage characters is also not automatically pornography.
- This is yet another example of fanfiction being used as a way to try to embarrass or attack a fan. Or the fact that someone has written explicit material of some sort as a way to attack their other activities—including careers. This also perpetuates a stigma that is generally only used to punish women.
- Whenever this kind of shit happens, I take a long look at everything I’ve ever done as a fan and seriously contemplate burning it to the ground. It’s not hard to connect my real name with my fan works. And I’m pretty much the only person in the English-speaking internet that has my name. The only reason I don’t let the paranoia get to me is that I really doubt my company gives a flying fuck that I used to write, say Gundam Wing fanfics. And they googled me pretty thoroughly before they hired me; I think they knew what they were getting. But this is an incredibly privileged position I’m in as an employee, and few people enjoy my level of security. As long as this sort of thing keeps happening, there are a large swathe of people who are going to get scared right out of the fandom because they’re afraid some shithead is going to go after them for whatever reason and try to ruin their career. Which I guess is only a problem if you think people in professional career tracks like teachers and doctors should be allowed to be in fandom. (Which I do.)
- The original post comes from a blog that at the time of this writing literally has only three posts. This sort of thing happens all the time, since social media accounts are easy to create, largely anonymous unless someone wants to do a lot of digging that can be easily foiled, and generally disposable. And this is not necessarily a bad thing, since anonymity can be used to expose some real, very ugly problems. But I’ve seen this method used far more often to attack someone spuriously, and that makes it all the harder to draw attention to those aforementioned real, very ugly problems.
- Which brings me to my final point, which is far more expansive: I am really fucking tired of fandom cannibalism.
I don’t know if that’s the entirety of what’s going on here. Perhaps I’m characterizing it unfairly. But I’ve seen this happen enough, and to close enough friends that it’s setting off all the same damn warning bells. Because it generally goes like this:
- Fan A (who is invariably a woman) has something awesome happen to her. Could be a book deal. Could be getting to do something cool and special. Could be just some kind of online recognition being given to her by a creator/writer/actor.
- Fan B takes exception to this for mysterious reasons, which ultimately seem to boil down to jealousy.
- Fan B, rather than dealing with jealousy in a healthy way, starts a smear campaign that normally involves newly created social media accounts.
- Other people in the fandom (at first those who are friends with Fan B, but then expanding out into basically bystanders who may be well meaning or quietly gleeful to see Fan A get torn down or anywhere in between) start spreading whatever dirt Fan B came up with.
- Drama ensues and perpetuates. Fan A, often for the sake of her sanity, gets as far away from the fandom as possible.
I have seen this happen again. And again. And again. And I’m fucking sick of it. Because when you come down to it, I am so goddamn tired of watching women (because yes there can be men or genderqueer individuals involved but it’s most commonly people who identify as women) tear each other down. I am so goddamn sick of watching women turn on each other over what is often nothing more than scraps.
And I am so. Fucking. Sick. Of women buying the bullshit lie over and over again that the success, however small, of one woman somehow means there is less left for everyone else. My successes, no matter how big or small, do not in any way diminish your life.
So, I suppose this is the place where I could go into an uplifting message about how we’re all in this together and we owe it to each other to be supportive and each other’s best cheerleaders, and don’t be jealous! Well, no. I also am aware that we’re goddamn human beings. Jealousy is part of the human condition, an ugly part no one likes talking about. Well, I admit it. I’m jealous of the amazing things my friends do all the fucking time. But like all emotions, you can’t necessarily help that you feel that way, but you can damn well control what you do after.
You want to be annoyed and talk about how someone’s writing is total shit and they don’t deserve their book deal and you never liked that person anyway? Fine. But that does not give you the right to shit on them and everything they love and try to destroy their career.
Eat your goddamn disappointment fajitas and knock it the fuck off.
Oh, this is so true. Not just in fandom, either. Every hobby I took up, every freaking JOB I got, I’ve had to deal with jealousy and subsequent undermining from other women. You’d think you would get more support from your own sex, but noooo….
My successes, no matter how big or small, do not in any way diminish your life.
As anyone who has studied biology can tell you, the opposite is true. Just as life begets life, opening up new niches and ways for new types of life to thrive which then leads to even more niches and ways for even more new life, success begets success. One successful woman author makes it that much easier for the next and makes it that much more likely that the next author won’t have to James Tiptree, Jr. herself.
And, as an often overlooked codicil, that makes it much easier for the men as well. We get a richer environment in which to try our work, making it more likely that our unusual ideas find a wider audience. Don’t know about the cannibals, but I think that’s a good thing.
Your comment wins.