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Over at Bustle: "Why Fan Fiction Shaming Is A Feminist Issue" by Emma Lord

Snip:

The two most "famous" fan fictions aside, the shame associated with fan fiction originated long before these works reached readers outside of their usual sphere. Unfortunately, fan fiction at large lends itself to mockery in a much safer and subtler way than other forms of female desire-driven works: the writers are, for the most part, anonymous and unpaid, with little training. They are often young women, subjecting the works to the same dismissive attitude society frequently takes over things that young women enjoy. And while there is a wide range of writers and types of fic on the internet, a majority of fic — the fic that most people are aware of — is written primarily by women, for women, holding it to the kind of scrutiny from people who do not consume it that makes it all too easy to mock. ...

If you don't think that fan fiction shaming in particular is a feminist issue, then consider what we're really doing when we shame fan fiction writers: we are shaming women — often young women, who are just starting to get a sense for what they want not just in a narrative, but in their adult lives — for expressing their desires. We are setting up women to apologize for their writing before it even leaves the keyboard. We are attacking them not only personally, but professionally; we are discouraging them owning a part of themselves, and from profiting from it, should they ever decide to write their own original work down the road.

More than that, though, we are discouraging them from engaging in the incredibly diverse and open learning environment that fan fiction provides. Fan fiction has historically been a safe place to experiment with and read about all kinds of romance — no matter the gender or the orientation, be it the cheesiest trope or the most specific kink. It is a place without judgment, and a place that introduces young writers to perspectives outside of their own — sometimes normalizing diverse relationships for writers who would otherwise not be exposed to them, ultimately making them more accepting and empathetic not just as writers, but as human beings.

With that in mind, it is all the more disheartening that the judgment of others so critically affects the writers and readers of fan fiction, which itself is such an open, nonjudgmental place. But once that misplaced shame is there, it never really goes away. Even now, fully aware of the root of my feelings, I see it in motion in myself and the people around me. I write my own fiction now, and whenever somebody asks about it, I frequently preface any plot descriptions with "it's silly," or "it's dumb". I hide my fiction writing with the same kind of crippling embarrassment that I shielded my fan fiction usernames. And I hear the same apologies from other female writers everywhere I go — be it with other fic writers on Tumblr, or fiction writers who write in genres targeted at women that I meet out in the real world, there is all too often a disclaimer to soften any exchange of their work. The very work that should empower us and embolden us, the same work we feel safe celebrating in anonymous corners of the internet, often makes us cower in the light of day.

Of course, ending the fan fiction shaming isn't going to solve everything; fan fiction shaming is just one of countless things lurking under the umbrella of things women are conditioned to feel shame for. But it is high time to recognizing fan fiction shaming for what it is at its core: the shaming of women's desires, and their daring to take control of them.

Comments

( 2 comments — Add your .02 )
browngirl
Feb. 12th, 2017 06:33 am (UTC)
WORD. And I have noticed that many of the women who engage in shaming of fanfic tend to be antifeminist in other ways too - there's a published author whom I first came across fulminating about fanfic who also ranted against trigger warnings ("just go for a walk!") and the availability of birth control.
caitri
Feb. 12th, 2017 05:50 pm (UTC)
YES. And I also think there's an element of anti-creativity to it too, the "why are you putting effort into this creative outlet that will never bring you money" aspect.
( 2 comments — Add your .02 )

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