Back in February, shortly after the big wave of Rey/Kylo fans pretending they were underogoing gender based oppression over shipping their ship because John Boyega roasted them, I saw an account that identified as anti-anti (fan/shipper) or “proshipper” make a tweet that was basically like:
“Sometimes, I wish that as an anti-anti I could call out bigoted works in fan and professionally released media, but then people will think I’m actually an anti out to censor fandom”
Recentlyl, I was making memes and I remember that I’d just (as in this half of 2020) seen the same set of people – way too invested in shipping for their own good – once again complaining that they couldn’t call out or speak about racism in their specific fandom spaces. This time it wasn’t because they feared being called an anti and accused of censorship… but because they were.
And rather than pause for a moment to think about how the actual problem remains racists in fandom, I once again saw people moaning about how “antis” (and again, anti what? In what fandom? When?) are the reason why anti-antis/proshippers can’t talk about racism in fandom in their own communities.
I understand that folks aren’t self aware and that fandom does not create that urge in anyone – especially when racism is concerned – but if the people who are stopping you from talking about racism in fandom… are actually your own friends…
Why blame another, entirely unrelated group of people that your friends don’t like… for the things your friends are doing to you? For the fact that your friends will take you talking about racism in fandom as a threat to them?
At the end of the day, the only people stopping anyone else from talking about racism in a given space… are racists.
Whether it’s the people framing anti racism as anti-fandom, BIPOC obsessed with performing peak PickMe and telling you/others to “focus on ‘real racism'”, or even your own anxious mind struggling with internal anxiety and racism (regardless of who you are)… racism is literally the thing stopping you from speaking on racism.
Not some random person talking about racism on their own platform/account.
Which is why you should always speak on it and evenly at that. A lot of people will be like “antis” are racist and point at actual racist things people who may/may not identify as anti shippers have said and lump strangers in with each other… but then never actually confront the racism in their spaces.
Truly, a lot of people who are friends with racists in fandom insist on pretending there’s nothing going on there… but they also insist that other people have a duty to call out their friends, people on the other side of a given fandom from them, and random teenaged weebs that need to stop letting us know the shit they’re watching. (Don’t get me start on how folks who are super duper anti censorship in fandom really do like policing what other people can say about fandom… even in their own social circles.)
We should all be working towards making fandom – our own spaces and the wider fandom environments we inhabit – better, safer places for marginalized and vulnerable people. We should all be free to speak on things in fandom that harm us and our friends, you know… like racism.
The people who’ve made it hard for me to talk about racism in fandom aren’t “antis”. (So called “antis” aren’t even the people who make it hard for me to talk about my own “problematic” interests… Wild, right?)
Consistently, the people who have made talking about racism in fandom difficult are the ones who position “caring about racism in fandom and media” directly opposite their goals and rules of fandom.
They’re the people interested in actively harassing, shunning, and otherwise punishing people of color and the few allies who don’t overstep for daring to speak about something that matters about them.
They’re the people who will say fandom isn’t racist… even as they resort to racism in an attempt to defend fandom institutions from criticism and even the potential of change. They’re the people mocking the very idea that the racism and racist stereotypes we see in mainstream media… can and do trickle down into fandom.
They’re the people making it difficult for you even if you’re in their friend group or inner circle of supposedly likeminded shippers. Because their goal is to control what people can/’t talk about and to aim their followers at a handy enemy. If you can’t be controlled, then you become part of the problem.
Actual anti fans and anti shippers can be (and have been) a huge problem across a bunch of different fandoms.
Anyone who’s been in idol fandoms or the VLD and various anime fandoms knows that what starts out as in-group issues and minor beef swells rapidly to lead to direct mental, emotional and sometimes even physical harm to fans, creators, performers, etc.
However, someone talking about racism? People of color and allies talking about how bad racism has been for BIPOC in fandom? People offering solutions and making space to have these tough complications.
Those people are not automatically anti fans and they’re (we’re?) definitely not the problem when it comes to your ability to talk about racism in fandom.
The actual problem? The actual thing stopping you from talking about racism in your free, funky, and fucky fandom spaces?
Cult-y, hivemind-y, queen bee-oriented social groups stretching across fandoms that are full of people willing to ostracize members and harass them/others for talking about racism in fandom – something that we know harms people of color in fandom…. all in the name of protecting freedom in fandom.
But you can be anti-racism and anti harassment over ships.
Anyone telling you that you have to accept racism in fandom as a price to pay for “sticking it to antis” or that you need to defend or ignore racism in fandom/fan-made content in order to prove you’re somehow “anti censorship” is someone trying to get you to defend racism as part of fandom.
Talk about a red flag on fire.