*This post from neogenesis is the beginning of the thread in my last post on misogyny and racism in fandom and gives an example of the intersection of race and misogyny (misogynoir) in fandom.This is about the kind of toxicity present in all of fandom culture. (I have this person’s permission to publish this here:)
I’ve been thinking about how toxic fandom can be.
I could write a dissertation on the various ways fan culture breeds the worst of the worst, but this particular rant is about the race thing. Because Tumblr culture thinks it’s so progressive and above other places like Twitter and Reddit and, idk, Yahoo comment sections when it comes to race. But actually it’s not any better. It just covers the bigotry up with flowery words andfeminism!!! (yeah I’m still mad at how much this site can shit on female characters while praising white peen, all the while claiming they want better for women)
This has been on my mind for awhile, even more since I’ve totally fallen in love with The Flash and watched the fallout that happened the second that Candice Patton was cast to play Iris West.
And I started to really wonder why folks went off the rails. Why people latched on to Caitlin like a life line and insisted that she should be Barry’s love interest, even before the show aired. And once it did, posts in the Iris tag ran the gauntlet of excuses of why she wasn’t a well written character to how she should either be killed off or reduced to something other than a main.
The writers of the show have pretty much made her perfect. Happy, loved, a great friend. Pretty much always has a smile on her face. College student, working part-time to cover expenses at a coffee shop. Loves her some Barry. Loves her some Joe. Even loves her some Eddie once she realizes that her whole world wasn’t just her bff, school and her dad. Even still, she starts a freaking fanblog about that super fast dude that goes around saving people because she knows Barry and wants to help him find the truth/closure about his mom’s death. She literally hasn’t done anything to anyone to be dragged across the coals the way she has been. In fact, everyone else has been doing a disservice to her by being big fat liars about things that she should really know about. Which, somehow, people turned this into being her flaw.
(If you can’t tell, I’m a stan for Iris. I will defend her to the death. Carefree blk girl that has so many people in her corner. This is SO FUCKING RARE! I have NEVER seen this before on tv)
Then that wonder turned into an ‘oh yeah, fandom is racist as hell but they don’t want to admit it.’
Because I’ve seen various versions of CW’s Iris West in other shows, with almost the same personality and charisma and having everyone be in love with her cause she’s just so awesome… and fandom tripped over themselves to stan the hell out of them.
But all those characters where white.
And this is the problem. The second a characters can no longer jokingly be called snowbunny, too much of fandom can no longer relate to them.
That’s when those tired ass tropes come out:
- The bad actress thing
- The no chemistry thing
- The she’s better off without a love interest thing
- which feeds into The Independent, don’t need a man thing
- The she’s too aggressive thing
- The she’s too passive thing
- The they’re like brother and sister, so it’s incest thing
- The she’s an action girl, therefore why are you trying to bring in a usually white male love interest to ruin it (even though that male character will have more fans than the said female character)
- The but she’s also a damsel in distress, why can’t she just save herself and carry that load and just be a general mule that cries I Don’t Need a Hero Baby and if you help me in any way it’s just gonna invalidate my Strong Independence thing
- The she’s too perfect thing (a.k.a the Mary Sue Syndrome)
- The she’s not perfect enough (a.k.a. the I don’t understand that characters can be flawed and I can still love them when they identify as a woman… But hey, let me flood your dashboard with Loki and Sherlock and Bucky Barnes, and Sam and freaking Dean Winchester b/c tragic male characters are just the fucking best or something… idk, I seriously don’t care anymore)
- The why can’t we have more strong male/female FRIENDSHIPSaremagic!!!!!11!, they don’t have to become romantic thing
- The I just don’t like her thing, even though I can’t articulate why I actually don’t like her. And if pressed for it an explanation, I’ll just throw out the most superficial reasons why she’s just the worst thing ever to hide my internalized misogyny and racism while tagging that shit but please don’t call me out on it because then you’re just being a bully and I was only stating my opinion even though nobody fucking asked for it and gosh can’t I just live?First Amendment!!!! I’ve sent myself gotten anon death threats okay, this is why we can’t have nice things
- The she didn’t look like that in the original source material thing. Why is everything become so PC? Those black/brown people are really getting out of hand with their want for representation. Why can’t they relate to a character if they don’t actually look like them? It shouldn’t be that hard. Who care’s if they didn’t cast Katnis or Khan or The Exodus right? They’re just characters. And their race shouldn’t play into how much you identify with them. But holly shit, Idris played a Viking god??!? Annie isn’t a pale, freckled faced red head. That’s just taking things too damn far. Let me shove the importance of European beauty standards down your throat some more, because obviously there aren’t enough of us in all your media.
Yo, this shit I just typed… this shit that I’ve seen in literally any fandom that has characters that weren’t melanin challenged… IT’S GOTTEN OLD
And the clap back that’s been happening… those people like me who are done with everyone thinking white is the status quo… it is not about shipping or us being sjw.
It’s about us being so fucking tired of defending characters that look like us, that speak like us, that go through the same bullshit like us, but are either ignored or vilified by fandom for reason that aren’t canon just because said fandom doesn’t want to admit it’s problematic as hell.
It’s about me being too old and too done with fandom pissing on my head and claiming it’s just rain… It’s about the fact that there is no apparent safe place for fans of color because #fandom is for white women.
This should no longer be a thing. There have been more articulate and sober folks saying this since AOL free trial disks were all the rage (trust, I was there) BUT IT’S STILL HAPPENING
This is why folks like me snark, and curse, and reply to your ‘am I the only one that doesn’t/cant’s stand [insert whatever non-white person of the week’s name here] lol?’ posts with side-eye gifs and general disdain. This is why we don’t care for your criticisms that divorce race from the narrative. This is why we have to have racebending prompts and create new tags just so that we can stan for those characters that apparently the world hates. And why we don’t give a flying fuck about your ‘can’t we all just get along? Solidarity guys. Listen to the only MLK quote I know’ posts when you aren’t trying to police the people that are causing the actual problem, but trying to guilt us into thinking you’re the victim. This is why we create our own message boards and forums and no you aren’t invited. This is why we don’t care to educate you. This is why your passive attitude towards the bs we have to go through as fans of color is worst then the actual assholes that perpetuate it.
THIS IS WHY TUMBLR AIN’T SHIT
But, despite all of this, I like it here. Sure, the staff doesn’t have their priorities straight and apparently will protect the identities of KKK members before they’ll support black history month, but it’s free and the xkit guy works miracles.
But most importantly, I’ve met incredibly talented and smart individuals here. And I know it can be better.
So do better. That’s all I’m asking. Check yourself before you start applying higher standards to characters of color and judging them in ways you don’t to anyone else.
And FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS UNIVERSAL, LISTEN TO US WHEN WE TELL YOU YOUR LANGUAGE IS RACIST!!!!! I DON’T CARE WHAT YOUR INTENTION WAS. I DON’T CARE IF YOU AREN’T LIKE THOSE FIGURATIVE ‘OTHER PEOPLE.’ YOU FUCKED UP. PUT ON YOUR ADULT PANTS AND OWN UP TO IT. LEARN FROM IT. AND DO BETTER NEXT TIME. It’s really that easy.
*This rant has been brought to you in part by too much caps lock, the Charles Shaw Trader Joes chardonnay blend, that tequila and Waffle House I had for breakfast, and years of frustration defending characters like Iris West | Bonnie Bennett | Abby Mills | Jenny Mills | T-Dog | Mako Mori | Breaden | Guinevere | Glenn | Olivia Pop | Joan Watson | Roxy & Fred Weasley | Uhura | Martha Jones | Lana Lang | Michonne | Nick Fury| Dualla ‘Dee’ | Rosita | Tyler Lockwood | Sharon/#8/Boomer | Teyla | Regina Mills | Stacker Pentecost | Lacy Porter | Tara Thorton | Shirley Donavan | Marcel Gerard | Naevia | Melinda May | Michaela Pratt | Sam Wilson | Tiana | Cassie Robinson | Tory Foster | Rhodey | Casca | Heimdall | Hogun | Aveline de Grandpre | Scott McCall | Mika | Sasha | Ororo | Literally all the non-white characters they had white folks playing them in Game of Thrones | dot dot freaking dot I can go on forever with this list
I literally just saw a post where the OP said that Iris West and Abbie Mills are mediocre characters and the only reason why they’re so popular is because they’re black…
DO YOU SEE WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT? People love to deny the existence of fandom racism, but then shit like this pops up. The op was actually pissed that Iris West and Abbie Mills had fans. Because in their mind, the only reason why a black female character would have any fans is because of black privilege *severe eye roll*
Ugh, it must be so hard being a white fangirl these days.
I find it laughable that people insist on interpreting Finn’s desire to hold Rey’s hand as subconsciously misogynistic. And if I weren’t concerned about the real world implications of that, I’d roll my eyes and keep it moving.
However, I can’t react flippantly because it disturbs me that fans are purposely ignoring the obvious and reading Finn’s actions as ambivalently reinforcing gender roles simply because he tried to help Rey. It disturbs me, because although these characters are fictional, the way we react to them mirrors the way we react to people in real life.
I’ve read a number of articles about hypermasculinity over the years, especially in relation to black men. Men in general are hypermasculinised in society, but the concept is particularly applied to black men because of how black people are dehumanised. We as a society see black people’s physical strength, aggression and sexuality as even more heightened, not because these things are highly concentrated in black bodies, but because of stereotypes [stemming from hundreds of years of inequality].
These stereotypes don’t begin and end with the degradation of black men because black women are also masculinised. White women were (and still are) seen as the embodiment of femininity. Femininity was associated with delicateness, pureness, and vulnerability, thusly black women were defeminised in order to justify the harsh treatment and physical and sexual abuse they endured during slavery. [Note, this is part of the reason why the “strong black woman who don’t need a man” caricature–amongst other things–exists today.]
Essentially, hypermasculinity serves to elevate masculinity as superior, but also serves to distance men from having emotional responses gendered as feminine. Black women and men are primarily affected by this characteristic. And since that is the case, there are insidious and subconscious ideas that disallow black people from being viewed as needing care and emotional reassurance. We’re not allowed to be afraid and we’re certainly not allowed to be weak.
I see this underlying insidiousness in the way people talk about Finn’s cowardliness and supposed emasculation in the narrative. I see this in the way that people infantalise Finn (because a grown black man has no business being sensitive). I see this in the way that people can’t seem to accept that Finn grabbed Rey’s hand in part because he was scared.
Now, I don’t know if it’s the film’s fault for not delving enough into his backstory, but Finn’s clearly an empath; he’s a character who cares about people to the point where he’s reprimanded for it. He witnesses Poe’s torture and instead of finding another means of escape, he rescues Poe because his life is in danger too. When he lands on Jakku, he sees people attacking someone who’s outnumbered (outplanned) and he wants to help her, but then realises that she can handle herself. He runs from her when she pursues him, but then they’re attacked by The Order.
Despite Rey misinterpreting his actions, despite his fear of his captors, he doesn’t leave her behind because he knows what The Order is capable of. [There are documented stories about how horrific it is to be indoctrinated as a child soldier. Children are forced to kill in order to desensitise them. They have to kill their friends, and sometimes their family members if they won’t obey (or they have their loved ones lives threatened). It takes a lot of bravery and strength to run away from that environment, and people absolutely have to go into hiding to avoid recapture.]
Finn wanting to protect someone else from this fate is completely understandable. Finn wanting to run and hide is completely understandable. He doesn’t try to protect Rey because of some misplaced notion of chivalry toward women, he does it because that’s how he reacts to fear. He grabs Rey’s hand because they’re both running from something that makes them afraid. He grabs Rey’s hand because he assumes that if he’s terrified, she must be too. He recognises that in that moment, Rey’s just as vulnerable as he is; this is the same reason why he rescues Poe. He sees people in danger and genuinely wants to help them.
This acknowledgement of Finn and Rey’s mutual vulnerability is solidified by the fact that Rey softens when Finn asks if she’s okay. She later takes his hand because she realises (as the audience should) that Finn doesn’t have ulterior motives–that even though he just met her, he already cares about her because it’s in his nature. This is one rare instance where a narrative presents a scene as it’s meant to be interpreted and does it in such a deliberate way that it annoys me (on so many levels) that people don’t get it.
*Reposting these links because the topic needs repeating: