A Thought Exercise On Antiblack Microaggressions In Fandom, I Suppose

I just want to talk about how people purposefully misrepresent my work/tweets and assign meanings to it that are actually entirely absent. Because I need to walk through the weirdness to see if I can make it make sense to any of us and just so I can express my feelings in my own space.

If I write a piece, like this one on queer coding villains and the Kylo/Hux fandom from 2018 (brought up because it’s one of the most recent times this misreading/misrepresentation has happened to me), I would think that the meaning is clear.

That piece uses the fandoms for Kylo and Hux (as a pair, but also as individuals) as a way to talk about how queer coded villains were created often hinging on stereotypes and who gets to be coded (or understood as such) within fandom. It provides examples of two social media posts about this POV on a queer (coded) Hux that I felt exemplified what the fandom at the time (in 2018) was saying, talked about historical queer-coding, explains what representation actually is in these cases, and quotes queer critical theorist Alexander Doty’s POV on queer-coding and what it’s bound up in it.

And what does wider fandom get from the post?

What they’ve gotten every single time they’ve interacted with or seen not the actual post but the combination of a quote from the article and the “Dark Side Trio” in the header with the title “Queer Coded Villains Aren’t That Awesome” this past Tuesday?

They complain that I am an “anti” of that ship or that I, noted Thrawn fancier and villain stan on main, hate villains.

They get that I hate Kylo/Hux as a ship. They get that I still hate it. (Even though, I have never really expressed an opinion on the pairings I talk about beyond expressing dislike of how the fandom for that ship and those characters woobifies those men, turning them into villains and actively pretending they’re not fash as fuck and hyping them in a way they straight up don’t do for anyone that’s not a white man in canon.)

None of what those fans believe of me or my work is true, of course, but as we covered in February… none of it has to be.

(An aside: Someone who was blocked at the time block-evaded to screenshot this tweet – literally moments before I went to unblock them to rectify a chainblock snag on this account – to use it as “proof” that I am just a horrible hater and the ships are why people are getting blocked and not their atrocious ass behavior or the harassers they follow… something that always leads to me getting harassed further by people who refuse to ever read what I’ve actually written.

You can go through my replies on that account to see the person I replied to and their media tab should show them misrepresenting me/my POV on the ship based on… a quote from a 3 year old article that says nothing about how I feel about the ship.

That threw me back to the shaky mental health state of February because many Kylux fans actually threw in with Rey/Kylo stans trying to get me fired from Teen Vogue in February over their belief that me supposedly hating their ship/villains validated their harassment and what was being done to me.)

In the end,  I don’t know that anyone who says any of that nonsense about this post in particular (or any of the other articles that people insist on reading wrongly and misrepresenting from me)… are actually reading what’s being written.

To this day I cannot tell if they’ve actually sat with what I’m writing and found it incorrect, or if they’ve just skimmed the piece or are bouncing off it from the beginning where I mock the person who used MLK in their fandom argument or the “Hux is queer (coded) because [stereotypes and poor media literacy]” post. because they were mutuals with the person who wrote it.

Not reading my pieces is fine. I am genuinely a huge fan of “Don’t Like? Don’t Read” in its purest form: as a way for people to stay away from things they know will hurt their feelings or trigger mental or emotional distress.

I think we’ve covered that I do my best to stay away from things I know will trigger me or make me feel negative emotions. I stay excluding tags on AO3 when I go looking for content – especially in the Omegaverse content for the fandoms I’m in – and it’s the feature I’m most grateful for across years of using the site. I would love if everyone only read what they liked and only engaged with what they liked.

However, the folks who always tout the three laws of fandom (Don’t Like; Don’t Read, Your Kink Is Not My Kink, and Ship and Let Ship) never seem capable of adhering to any of their own rules when it comes to other people doing their own thing in their own spaces. They’re never able to either stick to their rules of fannish engagement or engage critically and carefully with the thing that’s setting them off.

If my work was actually incorrect, that’d be one thing. (It’s not incorrect, mind you, because that piece in particular was workshopped alongside my MA thesis about queer coding and representation with the Joker.)

What I’m seeing here and have been seeing across seven years of this isn’t people struggling with complicated academic concepts or pushing back against factually incorrect pieces.

At every level, it’s people who suddenly stop being able to comprehend what they read (and I have a resource for folks who suck at reading) when a Black person is writing it.

It’s people who somehow get their feelings hurt when being told that I think a given fandom is racist – or skimming a work that lays out how – and proceed to try and hurt me or my reputation somehow.

It’s not criticism of my text, but assumptions about me that have clearly led to emotional distress and professional harm from people in multiple fandoms who swear they are against harassment but are harassing me due to a vendetta fueled, quite obviously, by antiblackness.

And like I said on my main – still locked because I am apparently not owed respect or privacy or boundaries in fandom – the fans who do this won’t stop. They won’t learn to read or learn to leave me alone.

Why should they?

They won’t see consequences or get called in/out by their co-fans. They won’t go “oh perhaps the way I reacted was because of misogynoir and I should try to figure out what stitch is actually saying”.

That user and the people who believe what they read from someone who’s never interacted with me and won’t read what I’ve written in good faith… they’ll never apologize to me and correct the narrative they knitted for me out of scraps and lies and the thread of their hurt feelings.

I always see more consequences for talking about racism in fandom and for talking about the years of harassment that I get for writing about what fandom is actually like for a lot of Black people specifically than any racist in any fandom (slur slinging, “reverse racism is a thing”, “our pure (white) porn is under attack” racists, not people who can’t write BIPOC well).

The people who start shit never get hit… they always collect clout on some level for harming me. So again, why would they ever try to course correct and un-do the narrative they’ve bound me up in without a lick of truth in it?

That won’t benefit them in any way…

It’s wild isn’t it –

I can write a fairly nuanced post about queer coding in 2018 and in 2021 have that used to say I am a hater harming people who like the ship whose fandom is referenced in the piece…

And then on top of that: pointing out that this is what fandom is like for me and what people in multiple fandoms do to me on the regular, will lead to me getting another label for folks to adhere to me without ever once questioning what they’re being told and validate future harassment in the cycle.

But for once, it’d be great if people actually used the squishy organ between their ears and thought critically about why people are making it so easy to hate me and lie about what I’m doing and writing. Like for once, think about why people in a white-dominated/oriented space like fandom (regardless of whether the straight up stranger lying about me this round is Also A Queer Person of Color) would aggressively and constantly rewrite me as a hater. It’d be great if people clocked what people across multiple fandoms are doing… and called-in their co-fans and explicitly stated they don’t stand for this shit happening to me.

I know I probably shouldn’t have devoted time to picking at this.

It won’t help because as we said in February, the people who need to leave me alone, don’t see me as a person so they won’t care about my very personal feelings or the hurt they’re doing to me beyond dinging my reputation and credibility. I won’t ever get a public and private apology for misrepresentation.

I also am in deadline hell for other projects.

But I want to talk about this so it’s not in my head anymore and so I can show, in the future, that this is still happening and that I’m still being framed as an aggressive hater for literally no reason –

A scheduled tweet hyping up an old article about queer coding or a frustrating fandom is not a past or present attack on a ship and the fact that it is always framed as such (that article, my scheduled tweets, whatever I write about any ship unless it’s 100% celebratory) is something I just want people to think about and poke at/shoot down when they see it or think about making the claim.

About Zeenah

Zeenah 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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2 Responses to A Thought Exercise On Antiblack Microaggressions In Fandom, I Suppose

  1. militantlyromantic says:

    1. *hugs* there’s literally nothing useful I can say to this, because other than just actually being an ally in spaces where it matters, words are useless. That said, it makes me sad. 2. I think something went wrong with the coding of this piece right here: To this day I cannot tell if they’ve actually sat with what I’m writing and found it incorrect, or if they’ve just skimmed the piece or are bouncing off it from the beginning where I mock the person who used MLK in their fandom argument or the “Hux is queer (coded) because [stereotypes and poor media literacy]” post. because they were mutuals with the person who

    Html fail, mebbe??

    Like

    • Zeenah says:

      I really appreciate just like… support. It’s very disheartening because of how people just… the only emotion anyone seems willing to assign to me is anger. Not valid frustration, not sadness. Not my happy moments in my actual fandoms. Just anger and being a hater. And considering that I’m Quite Chill (and also how many of these people are strangers outright lying on me based on their misinterpretation of me or other strangers lying on me)… It’s just upsetting. But thank you for your empathy and for your understanding!

      And for 2, it was a dropped sentence. I sometimes finish a sentence in my mind and then… just don't type the ending. But it's fixed! Thank you so much for noticing!

      Like

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