Fleeting Frustrations #8: Revisionist Fandom History Strikes Again

This morning, one of the fic writers I follow retweeted a condescending three-tweet thread about how folks in fandom that are critical of the AO3 and other fandom institutions (for things like the racism in fandom, the amount of explicit sexual content centering underage characters and performers, etc) were trying to “Make Fandom Great Again” and oppress queer (white) people who’d fought so hard to gain freedom in fandom.

However, that longing for fannish past comes primarily from white, cis, and het fans longing for the silence and bubbles they made in order to silence other marginalized and vulnerable voices in fandom.

Across my time in fandom, I’ve mainly seen white, cis, and het fans longing for the good ole days of fandom where they could create what they wanted and no one dared to be critical of fandom. (Except they did, folks just ran them out of fandom.)

As we saw with Franzeska’s condescending sixteen thousand word essayYour Vagina is a Bigot; My Vagina is a Saint“, the dominant people in transformative fandom – white women – are the actual only people willing to rewrite fandom history to claim it was a better time (for them!).

And they do so by erasing fans of color at every single step of the way unless we can be used to shore up their arguments!

If you’re gonna say that fans critical of all the shit fandom accepts, allows, and doesn’t bother to try rethinking are the ones trying to “Make Fandom Great Again“, – something that directly connects them to US fash in terms of rhetoric –

Maybe make sure that these fans in question aren’t primarily… queer fans of color?

Because the slip showing here is interesting.

Also, I love being in fandom and forging communities and building bonds, but let’s be very real here: transformative fandom has never actually been great for a lot of people who are in it.

Especially if they’re people of color.

Why?

Because white women literally hold all the power in transformative fandom spaces and won’t let go.

Previously, I tweeted that:

The nostalgia for the Good Ole Days of Fandom Past (which often comes up when young marginalized fans – like QPOC specifically – express disgust with an established thing fandom does or likes) is so frustrating because these are people longing for when they could be openly awful.

11:36am · 6 Mar 2019

Why would marginalized people – and actually, let’s hone in on queer POC – long for a time in fandom where we were even more marginalized? Why would we be the ones longing for a period of fannish history that involved us being shunned and mistreated even harder than we currently are?

How are you going to say that “antis/fandom policers/people with anything approaching critical thoughts on content created or consumed in fandom do this because they want power over the marginalized” but also that like… these people want to go back to a period of time where fandom criticism was even less welcome than it is now?

Make it make sense for me, loves.

Please.

Ten years after Racefail ’09, it’s clear that people longing for the “Good ole days of fandom” aren’t the “antis” or “fandom policers” folks like the Twitter user I’m talking about seem to think. How could they be? Why would they be?

It is a fact of fandom that the people actually longing for fandom’s past and viewing it as a better time are people who had all the power then and who fear that they’re losing power in fandom now.

It’s not the people you call antis or fandom policers, people who’ve never had power in fandom.

It’s…

White women.

(Also, can we talk about how, like a decade ago, folks in fandom constantly lost their shit over the idea of warning for content in their fanworks? Because I don’t know anyone who’s similarly critical of that’d long for that time or a time before that shit…)


Also, we need to talk about that thing that (mainly) queer white fans do where they reframe folks (who do tend to be QPOC) critical of the fucked up fucky stuff fandom likes as full on fascists. I’m talking about tweet threads and tumblr posts calling us authoritarians, linking us with MAGA/white supremacist rhetoric, and historical dictators.

It is super fucked up, y’all

If you’re equating possibly overzealous or too intense fans (who tend to be QPOC, again) who want to talk about how fandom is really fucking shity for a lot of reasons/to a lot of people with bigots and dictators who’ve killed people, you’re showing how little you can be trusted in these conversations.

You’re essentially showing how poorly you think of marginalized fans trying to voice their issues with fandom.

Essentially, if you try to claim that “antis” in 2019 (which is a term that is transformative fandom shorthand for SJW which is shorthand for “POC/queer person/marginalized person with opinions I don’t like”) want to Make Fandom Great Again, you’ve got some serious gaps going on:

First, you don’t seem to know what fandom has always been like. You don’t know the history behind why QPOC in particular wouldn’t be longing for a fannish past that was even more explicit about viewing our existence as unwanted and telling us about it.

How can we make fandom great again when it’s always sucked a bit (lot) for us?

Second, you don’t know that the actual people who sit around writing essays and twitter threads longing for fandom past when ~some people~ knew their place and didn’t talk about certain things… are white women who wish the uppity minorities would just shut the hell up & let them perv in peace.

Also, and this is the last thing I’m saying about this: wanting to make fandom better (which means self-aware in how we treat each other, about the content we create and consume, and how fiction and fandom impact others is not trying to “Make Fandom Great Again”

Why?

Because fandom has some big blotchy spots when it comes to how it handles marginalized and vulnerable people and a step to the past – like many white/cis/het fans do want – is a step backwards to silence and stress and shunning and even LESS self-awareness than is present now.

Being critical of fandom institutions or of the content fandom creates and consumes uncritically is not born out of a yearning for regression trying to wipe the AO3 off the map, a thirst for power from digital dictators, or a desire to “Make Fandom Great Again”.

It’s literally a desire for fandom to be better in as many ways as possible for the first time (in many situations), in a long time.

If you can’t understand that – if you think marginalized fans trying to make fandom better for everyone parallels MAGA rhetoric by like actual USian fash and is a desperate powergrab of the weak – you’re literally not at the level you need to be at to engage in these critical conversations and you should sit your ass down.

About Zeenah

Zina writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories and complaining about stuff. One day, she'll settle down and write that novel.
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1 Response to Fleeting Frustrations #8: Revisionist Fandom History Strikes Again

  1. nutheadgee says:

    Tell. Them. Fakes.

    Like

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