Meme-Ing For A Reason #9 – Spare Some Oppression, Please?

A screenshot from the Disney Robin Hood film with the disguised titular character representing “people in fandom with ‘problematic’ ships” and the text at the bottom, implied to be speech from him, saying “May I please have a spare crumb of oppression?”

It is incredibly strange seeing people say things like “TERFs and queerphobes hate [a specific subset of shippers] the most” and frame themselves as oppressed minority any/everywhere because of what they enjoy writing, reading, and thinking about in fandom.

Not in the context of “consuming and creating queer content that shows nuanced, positive, and/or erotic relationships and dynamics triggers bigots” but just… because they are into consuming and defending supposedly problematic content that happens to be be queer and/or consumed by queer fans at all. (Like comparing the people against them or merely critical of the thing on their own time and at any level to TERFS, Nazis or the people behind the Comics Code, even when, in many cases… they’re actually talking about other queer people who aren’t even talking to/about them when talking about their issues with something in fandom.)

Imagine trying to act like TERFs and queerphobes care about whether someone ships Kylux or is still into Killing Stalking in 2021 or if they write RPF of online celebrities at a time like this. Imagine setting yourself up as a TERF target, not because you are queer or because you are a transmisogyny affected person, but because of the things you like to consume or create in fandom…

I would be embarrassed to take up space like that and to reorient the conversation about TERFs in fandom to focus on… “problematic” ships and the people that enjoy them in fiction/fandom.

(There are TERFS in fandom, by the way, and they do radicalize people just as much as the sly white supremacists who launder their racist rhetoric under the guise of “anti racism is secretly/actually pro censorship and anti fandom”. That I’m not denying at all but also TERFs and queerphobes aren’t actually interested in oppressing you because of what you ship, they’re invested in oppressing you because of what you are.)

Take this reply on a comment thread about how to curate your space effectively and avoid authors on AO3 that you personally find to be racist in The Old Guard. Getting fussed at for consuming or writing racist fiction – whether on accident or purposefully like the kinds of fics referenced by the second person here– does not make you a marginalized person. Even if you are otherwise a person of color or queer.

“People don’t like my fic because it’s bad” does not make you an oppressed class.

Comparing your plight as a person who can’t write well enough to write non-racist fics about people of color to the plight of those oppressed, enslaved, and murdered by colonizers, Nazis, and fascists is a bad look. You look weak. You look racist and goofy for comparing yourself to someone suffering from or killed by fascists because… you may have written a racist fic once and people don’t like that.

Genuinely: grow up.

You are not oppressed on any level, but especially not that one.

And this is not “fandom bullying” or that person being dehumanized. Some people thought that they wrote a racist fic and went “I do not want to see this person’s fic anymore even if they are A POC TOO” and rather than do anything to understand where other people are coming from in order to be less harmful, this person went… full tilt toward “you are just like the Nazis and this is like the Holocaust… because you don’t want to see me or my fic anymore”.

You can’t tell people to “curate your space” but then accuse them of harming you when they do.

There are a lot of people who genuinely think they’re subject to systemic oppression because they are in fandom and shipping queer ships (or… Rey/Kylo, for some reason). It reminds me of conversations about toxic masculinity and fandom entitlement that we’ve been having in this post-Revenge of the Nerds world.

Take Harris O’Malley’s “Sorry, nerds—you aren’t as oppressed as you think” where he writes that:

A straight, cisgender male nerd may be taunted, teased and bullied in school, but he’s still afforded advantages that a gay, female, or transgender nerd is not. Nerd or geek isn’t a privilege trump card, no matter how much some nerds may feel it is.

And part of the reason for that is that we still buy into the myth of the nerd as underdog.

Like I keep pointing out, however, these conversations about fannish entitlement and nerds pretending they’re oppressed because they’re nerds… only tend to address white men in these fandoms. (Not just O’Malley’s thought-provoking piece, but pieces like Kayleigh Donaldson’s Op-Ed “Star Wars Has A White Male Fandom Problem” and all the pieces The Mary Sue hosts that dismiss the roles that white women and queer white people can and do play in fandom toxicity.) 

These outlets rarely address the role that other people (often marginalized or vulnerable because of their queerness or gender despite being largely white) have played in making other parts of fandom… not so great for one another by choosing to throw in with toxic trolls and bossy BNFs.

Nerds get some shit. That’s true. Even within nerd spaces, there’s always something that gets you yelled at.

When it comes to “problematic” ships – and I use “problematic” in quotes here and in most places because it really has a 50/50 chance of being a difference of opinion or subjective belief of what is/n’t problematic – there’s a huge chance of getting yelled at or yelled about.

Sometimes it goes beyond yelling to straight up harassment and that is never acceptable. I’d never say that, especially as someone who’s been harassed for both what I’ve shipped and what people decided I didn’t ship.

The thing is that I also reject the idea that people are experiencing systemic oppression specifically because of shipping/defending “problematic” ships. Because they’re not. You can stop shipping things like Kaeluc or Snowbarry or Wincest or Rumbelle whenever you want. It’s not an aspect of your actual identity. It’s part of your special interest that may allow you to express yourself and your identity. It’s something that brings you joy, but it’s not who you are as a person.

Your “problematic” pairing of choice or being into/defending such pairings and potentially iffy content isn’t in and of itself a marginalized identity even if you use all of that to walk your way through your trauma, your queerness, or your gender identity.

Stop pretending that it is.


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