Originally published on my Tumblr September 17, 2013. Seriously, it’s been five years of me talking about misogynoir in fandom and with shipping and things have gotten way worse instead of better. (Also, lightly edited for clarity.)
Dear Budding Sleepy Hollow Fandom,
Don’t do the thing.
Don’t do the thing where you go in deep to act like shipping a woman of color in a hetero relationship (with a white dude) is somehow helping the patriarchy.
Don’t do the thing where you constantly bring up how “it’s a preference” when the only people you don’t ship with the lead are the women of color holding court and kicking ass right with him.
Don’t be like the Skyfall fandom that put maybe 5 minutes of interaction between Q and Bond over everything with Moneypenny. (Ignoring how their relationship actually works and their attraction to each other…)
Don’t be like those people that say that Spock/Kirk is more progressive than Spock/Uhura will ever be. (Because it’s not like when the original series was on air, when we had so little in the way of canon interracial anything on screen to serve as representation).
Don’t act as though wanting to be excited about a dark-skinned black woman as a lead and also wanting to ship her with her co-star is playing into the patriarchy.
No one on earth is telling you to ship Abbie/Ichabod. No one. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. You can ship Ichabod with whoever you want, but the fact that instead of looking at Ichabod and Abbie and reading their dynamic and going “okay, good, i get why people think they should kiss on the mouth” because their dynamic is one that everyone loves when it’s two white dudes, you’re complaining because it’s somehow “too early” to ship them.
When Sterek started from episode one.
When Grimm got its ships settled in the first episode.
Where every single slash ship is formed from that first few moments in an episode or movie where the dudes are near each other even if they don’t like each other.
Too early… Nah. That’s not what this is.
Watch, despite people crying about how “it’s too early to ship Ichabod and Abbie and besides, he has a ~wife~” watch what happens when we get another moderately attractive white dude on the show. Fandom will be like “what wife” so fast it’ll make your head spin.
There’s nothing wrong with having a preference… except when your preference is obviously the product of something just as harmful as the patriarchy.
If shows like Bones and Castle aren’t ruined by the resolution of sexual tension between the main leads, why is it that whenever a woman of color is a main lead in a show, everyone is like “oh no i hope they don’t become more than friends with the white dude lead because the relationship would detract from the show/be all about romance and not action”?
Meanwhile, if there are two white dudes in the same world in the same universe, everyone falls all over themselves to say why their ship would be THE most progressive in the world and how the action wouldn’t change at all.
A woman of color could have all the chemistry in the world with her (white) male lead and people will do mental gymnastics to avoid shipping them (see Skyfall fans leaping to defend Bond/Q while making excuses not to see Moneypenny a romantic interest despite the fact that she is a Bond Girl and by definition a romantic interest).
Look at how Spock/Uhura is like ~supporting the patriarchy~ despite providing visibility for Black women and a reminder that we are badass and smart and beautiful. Look at how in the same franchise, people will erase Uhura so Spock/Kirk can be a thing in fandom and act like they’re doing women of color (like me!!) a favor.
Women of color (especially BLACK WOMEN) don’t get to be anyone’s love interest especially if they’re dark skinned.
The fact that people want to pretend that hetero relationships between women of color and white dude leads are like one blow by the patriarchy to smack us down and that pushing non-canon slash ships is way helpful is just… gross.
ship what you want, but don’t act like you’re doing me a favor as a black woman by treating what is pretty much the best thing to happen to the urban fantasy genre of television as something that’s harmful to me.
It’s rare to have a woman of color as a series lead.
It’s rarer still to have that woman of color be a black woman.
Considering the predominance of white dude slash in fandom (of which I am a huge supporter/writer so don’t even start with me), it’s so weird but awesome that the biggest ship for this fandom is with someone that looks like she could be in my neighborhood. She looks like someone I could’ve gone to high school with or church with.
Considering how there are pretty much no women of color left on most of the main supernatural and urban fantasy shows on TV (and how those that did exist were hated even without getting a chance to develop), the fact that Abbie Mills is bad ass and adorable and Nicole Beharie has excellent chemistry with Tom Mison gets it like ten stars off the bat.
This almost never happens. Even with Elementary (which is super successful and also has a Chinese female lead in Lucy Liu!!), I have trouble finding Sherlock/Joan fics despite their chemistry. Abbie/Ichabod isn’t like the most awesome ship in the world (or is it…) but it’s pretty great to see a black lady that most of fandom doesn’t immediately crap on.
You really don’t need to ship it, but don’t try concern trolling to make it seem like you’re ~doing what’s best~ for anyone. No one’s being fooled by that.