Originally written in April 2015 for the blog Womanist Glasses, I felt that a repost was timely and necessary as I prepare to talk about fandom and blackness in a couple of posts I’m set to post.
I still believe that everything in this post is a sad part of what it means to be in fandom when you’re a WOC, especially if you’re a Black woman and outspoken on top of that. My fandom experience hasn’t been easy and in some ways, it’s been very upsetting to know that a safe space for some isn’t necessarily a safe space for me.
As an outspoken Black woman in fandom who has had truly terrible experiences in what is supposed to be a safe space for me, I’ve noticed a few things about fandom and how it treats WOC as a whole. I’m coming from the DC, Marvel, and Teen Wolf fandoms so while I try to keep things vague, I’m not always good at that.
- Everything you do as a WOC is scrutinized, but as a Black woman, you get it twice as hard. If you write about fellow Black women or stan for them, someone is always coming for you. If you talk about issues that bug you in fandom, you get written off as being angry/living up to stereotypes.
- The reality is that fandom is not a safe and welcoming space for you if you challenge it. Having racebent headcanons briefly discussed is all well and good until you actively question why certain characters were/weren’t written as POC in their canon.
- Everything you say will be dismissed as wank.
- Or as you having a “politically correct agenda”
- You will get more hate for speaking out about issues in fandom than any white person will in your same fandom. (It amps up if you are a Black woman, something I know firsthand to the point where it’s hard as hell to convince myself that I should speak up at all.)
- Solidarity literally will not exist for you unless you get it from your fellow WOC who are dealing with the same shit as you or from a handful of allies in fandom spaces who recognize their privlidge and how maintaining their position in fandom isn’t more important than setting people straight. For the most part, fandom will crowd around to jeer at the SJW getting what’s what than they will actively work to combat a system that goes against them
- People’s position in fandoms will be more important to them than being correct. Popularity > people’s feelings.
- Because of the way people approach and view social justice in fandom, you will often get tossed into the role of the “bad” person or the “social justice warrior” simply because you’re at the end of your rope and not inclined to stay calm. (Note, btw how this happens more to WOC and how Black women in particular are held up as “nasty SJWs” when someone needs an example.)
- You will be told/people will talk about how you “deserve” what you get once you get hate and hateful replies and negative link backs because talking about issues that affect you as a WOC in fandom is “starting trouble” to them.
- Intersectionality? Don’t expect people to know the meaning of the word unless they’re trying to tell you that it doesn’t exist or that it doesn’t apply to fandom.
- The only ism that matters in fandom is sexism. You’ll learn the hard way that even then you’re not allowed to think about the ways different groups of people face different sorts of sexism within/outside of fandom spaces and canon media (see all the people who are refusing to see Beverly Katz’s treatment on Hannibal as something that could possibly be indicative of racialized sexism)
- A lack of care for everyone that isn’t a white dude in fandom.I’m talking both about the characters and how when people find dudes in fandom they tend to fawn over them at the expense of treating other people badly for it.
- People will thrive on your perceived weakness. If you are a so-called SJW and you go through anything at all, expect people to show up out of the blue to link to your posts on anonymous memes, send you hate if you have anon on (or create accounts to do it while it’s off), and hate-follow you as if to let you know that you’re not safe and you will never be safe as long as you continue to express opinions that the majority doesn’t like.
- False equivalences re oppression. Fandom spaces are more openly antagonistic to kink shamers than they are racists. That right there is something that we need to talk about and also stop doing.
- BroTP/platonic relationships between POC/white dudes where two white dudes would be shipped to the stars and back not being taken as a sign of racism. If you ship Bucky/Steve or Tony/Steve because of their long-lasting friendship but don’t ship Rhodey/Tony or Sam/Steve despite their relationship being older than most of the people shipping them… and then you refuse to think about the whys… Maybe you should.
- Good luck getting significant relationships between women of color on their own or with a white partner/friend because those are rare and almost always shut down by fandom as desexualizing Bromances as if to sink in the fact that WOC aren’t attractive partners to people in fandom.
- The fact that WOC in fandom are at this point used to being marginalized on all sides and that evidence of their marginalization is everywhere, but then when they speak out, they’re ignored or mistreated in fandom spaces and held up as examples of what not to do in fandom because talking about serious stuf in fandom equals ~wank~ which is bad but actually embracing and perpetuating things like racism and racialized misogyny is… not a big deal to fandom.
- Fandom finds everything subversive and empowering as long as it’s not relating to women of color (where they then suddenly find ways to determine that said WOC are not feminist characters or are too problematic to ignore the way they would/do white characters)
Are you a WOC in fandom that’s dealt with fandom being less than welcoming (especially after speaking up and out against racism or misogynoir)? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments!