Let’s Talk About Tone Policing and (A Lack of) Reading Comprehension In Conversations About Racism In Fandom

In the sidebar for my website, I have the following block of text and a link to a resource on Adult Literacy:

Struggling with selective reading comprehension issues and think I’ve said something I clearly haven’t? Use this resource to brush up on your lackluster reading comprehension skills and consider leaving me out of your journey!

It is a snarky note, for sure, but this response to that block of text (from a Dreamwidth user who was responding to someone else who’d shared What Fandom Racism Looks Like: White Silence/Violence is really fucking out of pocket and nonsensical:

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What Fandom Racism Looks Like: White Silence/Violence

I’d known that I wouldn’t be able to depend on others to defend me regularly from a series of traumatic offline events – some of which did involve racism/antiblackness in my local friend group – back when I was a teenager. 

So, in 2011, when I first experienced social shunning and harassment because I was a Black fan criticizing fandom – at the time, not even about racism, but about a BNF’s hypocritical hater stance on NSFW fanfiction – I kind of expected more of the same. I was not disappointed.

Fast forward to 2021 and now, I’m mad as hell about the fact that people will choose to be silent in the face of racism in fandom and watch as Black/brown fans are hurt and harassed for speaking up.

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[Thread Collection] Revisionist Fandom History 2021

Still locked on main because being random racists’ hyperfocus remains distressing as hell, but if you’re already who already follows that Twitter account here’s the link to the thread. I also suggest reading these pieces on revisionist fandom history and the insistence that we as a unit be grateful to our beige fandom foremothers for… something.

Revisionist fandom history is so annoying because:

– it’s always people in their 20s and/or who’ve been in fandom for like nowhere near as long as EYE have lecturing people about how shitty the youth these days are (like being awful in fandom is new or exclusive to The Youth)

– it’s always very white fandom history UNLESS it’s someone tagging in like Japanese creators and/or appropriating the term fujoshi for their own ends (my feeling on the term is simply that if you’re not Japanese, you probably can’t ACTUALLY reclaim it. The end.)

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Meme-ing For A Reason #3 – Fandom’s Amy Coopers

It’s the “they’re the same picture” meme with the panel on the left saying “Amy Cooper lying and saying that Christian Cooper threatened//tried to assault her in her two 911 calls” and the right panel saying “white women in fandom saying that Black people in fandom talking about racism in fandom are abusive/toxic/bullies who have actually harmed them by having these convos” over yellow text that reads “corporate needs you to find the differences between this picture and this picture” with the bottom panel saying: “they’re the same picture”.

I already made the Amy Cooper comparison back in June in Why Write About Fandom Racism At A Time Like This? where I talked about what the racism in the supposedly progressive queer/women run fandom spaces looks like:

It looks a lot like… Amy Cooper calling the cops on Christian Cooper and pretending that her life was in danger when all he wanted her to do was leash her damn dog, actually.

(And before you accuse me of “trivializing real racism” or whatever the actual fake woke set is calling it these days, understand that what Amy did and what the nice white women of fandom do are the same kind of behavior and they all weaponize their white womanhood for the same end: a permanent silencing of Black voices that they don’t like or agree with. I get to make comparisons like that considering that I’m subject to Amy Coopers in and out of fandom.)

I was right then and I am right now: there are white women and queer people in fandom who utilize their marginalization (womanhood or queerness, sometimes a blend of both with a splash of mental health issues and claims of trauma inspiring totes valid lashing out thrown in) in fandom.

They use their ability to inspire ATTACK-PROTECT urges in folks in the same way that Amy Cooper tried to utilize her white womanhood to get the cops to come in guns ablaze to protect her from… Christian Cooper’s nerdy ass asking her to put her dog on a leash.

The goal in fandom, as with Amy Cooper and various other cop-calling, hysteria weaponizing Karens, is to control who gets to speak, who is listened to, who is taken as an inherent threatening presence trying to control or harm others… and who should be.

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Link Lineup – December

Winding down 2020 with a HEFTY list of links to stuff that I found interesting between November’s second collection and now! Enjoy!

Edward Said on Orientalism

I first read Edward Said’s Orientalism in a class I took for my history degree on British cultural artefacts and colonialism. Edward Said’s views on the ways that culture was used as a tool of imperialism have helped me understand the ways in which literature – and later, fandom – is used to shape a dominant cultural narrative (that does shift depending on where the culture is coming from). I’m fascinated by Said’s work and I think it continues to have stellar applications across a wide range of fields because he’s still right!

The Boundless Optimism of BTS

Even as the number-one pop group in the world, even with their hard work day in and day out, even with tens of millions of adoring fans redefining the concept of “adoring fans” by literally healing the planet in their name, these guys still suffer from impostor syndrome. RM explains, “I’ve heard that there’s this mask complex. Seventy percent of so-called successful people have this, mentally. It’s basically this: There’s this mask on my face. And these people are afraid that someone is going to take off this mask. We have those fears as well. But I said 70 percent, so I think it’s very natural. Sometimes it’s a condition to be successful. Humans are imperfect, and we have these flaws and defects. And one way to deal with all this pressure and weight is to admit the shadows.”

I really freaking love BTS. You may have missed that… somehow. In case you have, this fascinating and well put together Esquire feature serves as a stunning first look at the group – but also works if it’s your fortieth. I chose this segment of the feature because RM’s words about the “mask complex” and while they have the fear that someone will unmask them… They’re going to keep going and admit to their shadows/flaws. Unless you’ve spent the past 2-ish years living under a very large rock (or you don’t follow me on social media, which is… plausible) while I love BTS a unit, I have extra adoration for RM because of how he carries himself and the way he expresses his hopes and fears. This was, overall, an incredible feature that gave us tons of brilliant moments that will either spark your interest in BTS or rekindle the embers of your interest!

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Fleeting Frustrations #12 – Fandom Coverage Fails

I’m no stranger to having deeply critical views on a fandom in a moment when said fandom is publicly Going Through It on Main.

After all, I made a point of poking hard at Rey/Kylo fandom’s embarrassing public death throes and how it poured tons of hatred in John Boyega as a result of not getting catered to with a happy ending for their Pasty Prince Charming.

However, there’s a difference between me roasting a racist fandom that continues to dismiss and harass Black people they think are “opposite” to its goals on my small website… and someone randomly using their platform on a massive site like The Mary Sue to launch a dismissive and condescending attack at a fandom trying to make sense of a Bad Ending.

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Short, Sharp, and Simple: I’m Tired of White Fragility in Fandom

Please understand how funny it is to see someone (who I don’t know and who certainly does not know me considering how much they’re lying about me in that tweet alone) publicly admit that the reason they don’t like my work is because they have decided my goal is to make them feel bad to be white.

That’s what happened at the start of August when a twitter user I have had blocked for months started going off on a tear because I made fun of her “I write smut so edgy that Prince would’ve loved it” tweet: she actually went mask off-hood on and said that she didn’t like my articles because  “it became implicit that whiteness was a born sin in most of her tweets and articles“.

Like that’s what scared her away from my work… the idea that I, a Black person growing up in a world that makes it clear that we do not matter no matter what we do and writing at a time in history where Black people are being maimed and killed by features of whyte supremacy at really high rates, might not love whiteness right about now.

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What Fandom Racism Looks Like: The Cult(ure) of Nice

In the OTW Election Q&A segment on “AO3 Content Policy and Warnings”, there’s a merged question that asks the candidates:

How will you protect fanworks and meta which are upsetting or offensive across your platforms? What about if those fanworks or meta express views which are illegal/censored in some countries, but perfectly legal in others? Say a fan’s works don’t challenge problematic values endemic to older canons, or espouse problematic values directly. Providing they politely abide by AO3’s TOS, do you believe this fan deserves equal protection under Ao3’s TOS (a posting platform, confidential treatment of their RL identity, ability to report harassment)?

Mind you, this question clearly is more focused on protecting fans creating content that could be considered problematic or harmful than it is on considering that fanworks aren’t more important than fans – and we’ll talk about how this sort of questioning elides conversations of race and racism to make it out to be about kinkshaming and anti-queer rhetoric another time, probably tomorrow.

But what stands out is the last part:

Providing they politely abide by AO3’s TOS, do you believe this fan deserves equal protection under Ao3’s TOS (a posting platform, confidential treatment of their RL identity, ability to report harassment)?

While I’m sure, if pressed, the people responsible for that Frankenstein’s monster of a question will deny that racism and racist fanworks are the kind of content they’re talking about (because they always say “we weren’t talking/thinking about racism in fandom” and uh… duh) –

Let’s work this word problem out with some fandom racism:

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[Stitch Answers Feedback] Do You Know What True Antiblackness is?

I get a lot of weird ass messages and mentions, but this message, sent on the first day of Black History Month 2020, definitely ranks at the top of the weird ones.

In case you’ve missed it, January was a month full of Star Wars fandom criticism:

All of these were written/created in response to a fairly large amount of Rey/Kylo shippers showing up and showing their racist little asses over John Boyega’s initial “lay the pipe” comment (a single sex joke) and then over him dunking on their ship.

But it’s not actually about my feelings about the ship. Actually, the one thing I tried not to do was talk about my feelings about the ship because that’s not what any of this is about.

It’s bigger than ships. It’s about how this fandom has been antiblack on main for years and is finally throwing off the hood to show its real face.

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What Fandom Racism Looks Like: Weaponized White Womanhood

Note 3/31/21: Are you here because you googled “Jenny Nicholson racist”? Did a Twitter user link this to you to explain why ~people~ don’t like Jenny in the replies to a tweet calling out a breadtube user? Let me clarify a thing for you:

THIS POST IS NOT ABOUT JENNY AND IT IS NOT ABOUT WHAT SHE MAY OR MAY NOT SHIP. She’s mentioned in one segment in the article and over like 4-7 tweets (out of over 100) in the supplemental PDF/thread. It is literally not about her or about my beef with what other people ship in the Star Wars fandom but about white women and BIPOC who ship Rey/Kylo who tried to say John Boyega was a danger to Daisy Ridley over an IG comment about REY. Please learn to read and think critically and then GO AWAY. Thanks!

Content notes: As with a majority of my pieces, this one focuses closely on antiblackness including the antiblackness inherent in weaponizing white womanhood to excuse dogpiling and slandering John Boyega as a misogynist, as a potential sexual predator, as a bunch of other gross and untrue things. I talk briefly about some examples of Rey/Kylo fics from the fandom’s past including non-graphic (I believe) mentions of sexual assault and include links to a recap of one and an image of the other.

White women have most (if not all) of the actual observable power in transformative fandom spaces.

White women are the image of the typical “fan” in Western transformative fandom spaces.

They are frequently the most popular Big Named Fans (BNFs) in online spaces, the people who dominate discussions about and displays of Being A Fan. If you’re in transformative fandom and you see a particular set of headcanons or a white dude slash suddenly get supremely popular out of nowhere, chances are that a group of white lady BNFs are behind it.

White women in fandom often get to “graduate” from fandom, dominating what we and outsiders think about transformative with staff writer, researcher, and professor jobs that they can tie directly into their experiences and time in fandom.

(Look at the overarching fan studies academic field for an example or fandom-focused journalism on sites like WIRED, The Daily Dot, The Nerdist, and CBR. Chances are that many of the names you know in these fields, if you know any names, belong to white women.)

With that much power already, it can’t be a surprise that many white women in fandom will do pretty much anything in order to keep the status quo level.

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[Stitch Talks Ish] Episode 2: Stitch Talks About The Rey/Kylo Fandom and Weaponized White Womanhood

Episode Notes:


Hi, everyone, welcome to the second episode of Stitch Talks Ish.

It’s been about two and some change months since my first episode where I talked about like five minutes of The Tablo Podcast. And, and right now I’m back to complain again — not about Tablo this time.

If you follow me on Twitter, which you could if you wanted to, (and weren’t blocked,) I’ve been talking about the Star Wars fandom’s antiblackness from pretty much at the beginning of 2020. We’re only 12 days in. So I’m going to cover, as best as I can for podcasts, everything that’s happened, and about some really frustrating, and even worrying things that I’ve noticed about what’s been going on with the Reylo fandom, which is the ship name for Rey and Kylo Ren, and just overarching, transformative fandom.

So to start, I guess we have to begin from the beginning.

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Rey/Kylo Shippers: A New Look At An Old Face of Fannish Entitlement

The day after the premiere of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (December 16, 2019), I watched a roughly seventy-second-long video of a young woman absolutely losing it over the idea that Kylo Ren – I’m sorry, Ben Solo – probably died a virgin.

I mean, she went on a whole tear about how this was actually about fighting for abuse survivors in the fandom to see someone like them make it to the end of the franchise (hello, Finn exists, binches) but like… at the end of the day, her real big beef with The Rise of Skywalker days before it actually got a wide release was that… Ben Solo didn’t get to plow Rey’s oh so fertile fields before becoming one with the Force.

That sentiment – that Ben Solo somehow deserves to get his dick wet in Rey and that The Rise of Skywalker somehow robbed him of the right to fuck when it’s obvious that he’s the ultimate Space Incel – is featured heavily across too much of that fandom’s response to the end of the film.

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Quick Coverage: John Boyega Ends 2019 With a Bang (And a Hearty ‘Fuck You’ To Rey/Kylo Shippers)

Note: I have an ongoing thread about this entire situation and the fans’ responses that fully covers the majority of what this fandom’s been up to with John.

In case you missed my lengthy post about how Rey/Kylo shippers really don’t like John Boyega, I’m here to remind you of that fact by covering the sheer unsubtle nonsense that’s been going on in this fandom for the past twenty-four hours.

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What Fandom Racism Looks Like: The Problem With Preferences

problem with preference

Back when Captain America: Winter Soldier first came out in 2014, I noticed something… strange about many members of the MCU fandom and how they would talk about Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson. Many of them honestly saw no shame in how they treated Sam Wilson as if he was the first Black character they’d ever engaged with.

Not only did some people (sorry scifigrl47, but I’m incapable of letting go of this) go above and beyond to posit that it’d make “more” sense for Sam to be a member of Hydra than Tony Stark at a time when Marvel wasn’t trying to make Hydra an equal opportunity employer for all marginalized people –

But you had folks who literally made and shared posts that outright said things along the vein of “[Sam Wilson] is the first time I’ve ever been attracted to a Black man before.”

No one should feel that comfortable with expressing their racist preference thatthey were outright comfortable with confessing that a Black actor in 2014 is the first time they realized that Black people could be attractive.

(Especially not Anthony Mackie who is honestly only “alright” in the looks department.)

The thing is that the word “preference” allows folks in fandom to feel as though they’re just expressing their totally neutral preference for white male characters above everyone else when they’re practically playing into literal centuries of sexual racism and the complicated politics of desire and race.

Preference isn’t neutral.

Neither is whiteness.

In 2019, it’s time we sat down and accepted that fandom’s overwhelming preference for white male characters in and out of slash ships/fandom isn’t neutral.Read More »