I’ve seen and dealt with a great deal of fandom drama. When you’re an active participant in the community, it is just hard to avoid. I sat out Race Fail 2009 because what could I say? The extent to which I commented involved analytics relating to it. It just did not feel like my place to speak out because I did not want to offend and I felt I could learn more by reading.
But now we have privilege wank. Actually, it is more like Privilege!Fail. What is the privilege in this case? Well, according to aukestrel, being sexually assaulted and a rape victim makes one privileged. And this then became worse when some people like zvi-likes-tv appeared to imply that being a member of that class was voluntary.
Before I get into it too much more, some back story. There were two cases of stories being posted with out warnings for rape. In both cases, people asked the authors of those stories to post warnings because those stories were triggers for victims of sexual assault. Both of those authors complied but one grumbled about how she had to give in to a reader like that. Another person took exception to that and posted a criticism of the author’s actions. And it all went down from there with what started out as Warnings Kerfluffling before it got to the point where… well… Let’s have some of these quotes speak for themselves:
1. One could argue, however, in this discussion of victim “privilege,” that the hurt might in fact be the result of dismantling of that privilege. I’m not saying I am arguing that. But in our current culture – in which apparently this victim, and her emotional well-being, is placed above and beyond courtesy, respect, and even common sense – and to abuse other women in fandom because they do not elevate the victim or place her rights above their own – it could be argued that cyatnite is, in fact, dismantling a privilege.
2. I don’t think they want to think of those who disagree with them as “women.” They want to dehumanise and abuse them; they want to take away their “humanity” so that they can feel justified in saying things to them that they would never say to another woman in real life. (At least I hope not.) They want to abuse people for holding the “wrong” opinion, even though they can’t really articulate what the “right” opinion is, just that it’s compassionate, displays empathy and consideration, and is a recognition that we belong to something larger than ourselves. I have seldom been so dismayed at the actions of fans as I have been in this post, and I’ve been in fandom for 10 years. I do not know cyatnite (had never run across her before tonight) but I am honestly appalled and even disgusted at the personal attacks she was subjected to for simply having a differing opinion on this subject. One hopes that, should impertinence display a differing opinion with her followers in the next few weeks or months, a similar “compassionate” and “correct” response is not the outcome.
1. Perhaps it’s best to note that the lack of a specific warning of the sort you and others advocate might be a good enough reason to just not read that story. How much of a hardship would that be? It would also show sensitivity to the writer who worked hard to write a story filled with surprises, and to readers who enjoy being surprised. Works both ways, you know.
5. I’m wondering if what we’re seeing here is a form of free-floating rage. It’s not uncommon for survivors of trauma to manifest this. They’ve never been able to confront their abuser and direct their anger toward him or her. They may also experience self-hatred; it may not be appropriate, but many victims of rape, especially, have been socially conditioned to accept some level of responsibility for the horrible thing that happened to them, and women carrying that awful baggage around with them might well hate themselves for it on some level. All this externalization of blame seems to me a warping of the otherwise healthy process of letting go of any sense that they brought the abuse on themselves. There’s some pretty serious pathology going on here on a community-wide scale. I wish I understood more about it, or that I had access to the therapist I can no longer afford, to get a better handle on it.
I’m just disgusted. I’m speaking only for myself and not for Fan History or any other admins… but I’m beyond disgusted. I’m repulsed at the total lack of sympathy and inability to take 10 seconds to prevent a segment that is too large in our community from being inadvertently harmed by the texts that our community published. We should not lose sight of that when see members of our community supporting anti-warning for rape, underage and BDSM positions while attacking victims of sexual assault for being fragile snowflakes who shouldn’t be online. We need to focus on the fact that many members of our community are victims of sexual assault; they’ve been violated. In many cases, they have doubted themselves. They aren’t trying to exploit fandom for attention. Rather, they are trying their damnedest to go on each day surviving something of such horror that I cannot even imagine it. It takes ten seconds of our time, if we’re writers of fan fiction, to warn for rape, non-con, BDSM and underage. (That’s all that is being asked for. No warnings about cutting Blair’s hair. No warnings for the color orange. No pairing warnings.) By spending those extra ten seconds, we are being good members of the community.
And that’s what we should strive for. If, by using this one small, quickly-made addition to our fics, we can keep from triggering someone who has been violated, why shouldn’t we do it? It just feels like the ethical thing to do. I’d want the same from others and I’d do the same for others because fandom is a community. In many places where we publish fan fiction, it is a wonderful community full of supportive women whom we can count on inside fandom and out. This one small thing requires no work and helps prevent harm to large numbers of people in our community. I fully support warnings for rape, non-con, underage and BDSM. I hope you do too.
And if you don’t and you’re on my FList on LiveJournal on I follow you on Twitter, let me know so I can unfriend/unfollow you.