reenka: (Default)
[personal profile] reenka
I've actually been following the FanLib thing with a mix of interest and a sort of disgusted horror, but until now nothing's really struck me strongly enough to wade in. At least, I don't want to think about fandom's doom, y'know? I really don't like the whole idea of doom; it puts me off my supper, so I try to steer clear of any discussion that sort of skirts by the concept.

Anyway, it's funny... while I agree with the nobler sentiment (if not the phrasing) of posts like this, and they also make me feel a bit guilty in the way my old philosophy professor made me feel guilty about using 'feminist' to describe myself rather than 'humanist'-- besides that, posts like that make me want to play the gender bias card. Which. :/ I never like wanting to. :/ It's funny how disregarding/fighting against gender bias winds up appearing like gender bias, doesn't it? Or perhaps acting feminist in itself is inevitably a form of 'gender bias', but in the end we do it 'cause we have to, because society's bias leans off-center in the first place, so it needs a somewhat exaggerated counterbalance.

I wonder if you can be a feminist with confused/fuzzy/progressive ideas about gender, since umm, 'feminist' assumes you know what you're referring to in regards to 'women' (as in, 'women's rights'). As in, how much do you define femininity by defining the issues covered by feminism, for instance? And how can you be feminist at all if you're equally appalled with traditional boys=blue/girls=pink philosophy & with the following segregation and societal pigeonholing but also with 'gender-blindness' where everything to do with socially/biologically driven gender roles is malleable and therefore the subject becomes irrelevant or 'unprogressive'. But anyway, that's a tangent.

    I've seen a lot of media coverage at large about the slowly shifting cultural conceptions of gender, and yet at the same time all I see is more of the same stuff dressed up differently, which just makes me into more of angry feminist than I like being. I see people (notice I didn't say 'men', haha) with the right ideas, but at the same time the lack of real empathy is something that worsens and widens the gap. We may be looking at the same big picture, but we're not really in the same space, if that makes sense.

I think the reason 'fanfic fandom' is a mainly 'female space' is because fanfic is heavily dominated by shipper or romance fic. Now, I say this as someone who used to write hardcore slash fanfic with her open-minded, gender-progressive ex-boyfriend as her main sounding board and guaranteed audience, so I know all about writing for 'people' and not 'other women'-- but at the same time, that experience enables me to tell you that yes, there's a difference in writing for women compared to men or 'people', and while I 'just write', the point is that who we are determines both how and what we write and read about.

Gender may not be the sum total of identity, but it is a part of identity all the same, and you can't really pretend it's not there because the fact is, okay, the fact is that my ever-long-suffering ex didn't get the same things out of my fics as my girl friends in fandom. He even liked the more symbolic idea behind H/D, and he understood my writing on a very deep level as writing, but the emotional connect was missing, in large part because I was often writing very emotionally-based shippy stories. The best he could do was focus on their 'other virtues' and go on creative tangents. ^^;

On the one hand, I can say with some confidence that men tend not to be interested in relationships (fictional or not) in the same way or with the same angle as most women tend to. On the other hand, obviously, many males are, in fact, interested in romance/relationship stuff and many women are more interested in action/adventure or say, detective stories. However, even the guys into relationship stories will tend to say stuff like this, regarding writing girls not as 'girls' but as 'people'. Another commonality between males interested in relationship stories tends to be that either they're into pure sexual fantasies where the girls act out traditional/social or sexual roles of some sort or they're often into women who're 'one of the guys', who're total equals and partners and kick ass and take names with the best of them. What I don't often see in your average male fan/writer is a lot of subtlety and nuance within this range of portrayals and possibilities. What I don't see are ideas that take women's realities into account rather than spewing ideals at one end or the other-- realities that are borne of experience that a woman tends to have navigating these social and inner expectations, reconciling these roles and desires and identities within herself.

And the truth is, maybe I'm being too hardass here, because most women fan-writers are also just as trapped in these memes and idealizations, and I wouldn't call most female writing nuanced or truly aware either. A lot of times men or women will just go with the lowest common denominator and write for their kink or whatever; plus, don't even get me started on how unrealistic most girls' ideas of boys tend to be in slash, right? So where's our leg to stand on, right? Isn't this 'lack of realism' what many gay men and some other people get up in arms about? Do we now get a taste of our own medicine or what? *eyeroll* We all project onto one another 95% of the time if not more, and maybe projecting blissful sameness is better than projecting the same old same old typical gender roles (or worse, projecting female gender roles onto the males being slashed).

And I know. I don't know. What I do know is that there's a gulf there, and I can see it, and pretending it's not there isn't helping anything. We're not that different just because of gender itself, but communication isn't easy at the best of times; just because we're not that different doesn't mean we can assume we understand each other(!) or can automatically know where the other is coming from. Cultural and socialization issues can't be swept aside as soon as one realizes, hey! hey! We live in the same country and speak the same language, so aren't we already part of the same group? Well, you know, yes. And no. Yes and no, right?

I'm still not saying I write 'for women', and I'm not saying we (females in fandom) have some special 'privileged' pov men are automatically excluded from. I'm just saying it's not exclusionary to point out social differences in the first place! I'm saying I write as a woman who's aware of her audience insofar as I'm participating in mutual fanon and insofar as I'm not writing in a vacuum. In many ways, that whole artistic ideal of writing in a vacuum has no place in fandom in the first place, 'cause basically writing fic is an act of participation in something, even if no one ever reads your fic(!). I may not be writing to women, but with shippy fic I'm writing to a) fans of the ship; b) fans of the characters; c) the sort of person who'd get my jokes. That's a pretty specific set of people, actually. That is not some vague 'everyfan'-- that is a group of living, breathing people I probably already know, and guess what? Guess what?? They're mostly girls!! *gasp!!* And that's a huuuuuuuuge difference from writing into the non-gendered ether.

I'm saying it's not segregating merely to be aware of boundaries. Conversely, it's not unifying to ignore the boundaries between us and to say 'this is how I wish it were & therefore boom! that's how it is'; rather, it's subtly alienating. We can share quite a lot-- even most things-- but we cannot share at all if the awareness of a willing exchange isn't there & there's only the entitled assumption of common space and the idea that of course everyone's a reflection of you. That... that is gender-bias, right there. That is why the post I linked to is actually an example of subtle, unconscious & even unintentional gender-bias! Not as frustrating as the girl=pink people, but still. It is what it is, and it may even be more insidious.

We cannot try to understand and bridge our differences if we don't acknowledge our differences; likewise, we cannot share space if our separate spaces aren't acknowledged and respected first. That is what the people who dislike that first step of respect as alienating or separatist don't get-- that without this initial understanding of the degrees of separation, there can be no true union.

Date: 2007-05-28 10:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The arsehole you linked can basically be summed up like this:

The Point

His head.

Date: 2007-05-28 10:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*cracks up*
I'm not sure exactly what you're getting at, but it's still funny somehow :D If nothing else because I feel maybe I'm not so crazy for thinking he was being somewhat offensive (I'm always unsure if I 'should' be bothered by stuff that's obviously not meant offensively... if you know what I mean.)

Date: 2007-05-28 10:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ahh, it makes a lot more sense with the scrolling text, which I didn't see in gmail!!
*feels marginally less stupid, thnx*

Date: 2007-05-28 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, for a more detailed explanation, basically, if he thinks the arguments on the "FanLib is stupid and sexist" side are talking about how anything contains an inherently feminine perspective, the guys a douchebag. If he thinks he can get around the argument by purposely being gender-blind, then he's a douchebag.

Basically, the guy's a douchebag.

Date: 2007-05-28 02:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
From the post you linked to: Because I've never meet a single woman in the fandom. I meet FAN talking about characters

I rolled my eyes so hard I think I strained something. "It's not about women, it's about people!" I wish I was surprised they are spinning the objection to a male-dominated board into the mean feminists trying to ban men from fandom. Without the idea that "it's about people" you couldn't really support the mentality that calling out sexism makes one sexist.

One quibble with your post:

I think the reason 'fanfic fandom' is a mainly 'female space' is because fanfic is heavily dominated by shipper or romance fic.

I think it's mainly a female space because most fanfic writers are women.

And, hi. :)

Date: 2007-05-28 03:02 pm (UTC)
ext_6866: (Black and white)
From: [identity profile]
From the post you linked to: Because I've never meet a single woman in the fandom. I meet FAN talking about characters

That reminds me of Stephen Colbert's oft-repeated claim: I don't see race. People tell me I'm white and I believe them (because policemen call me 'sir') but I have evolved beyond race.

Iow, "not seeing race" is a privilege of being white, of course. I know somebody somewhere made a similar comparison here to say that it's not about fanfic being only for women anymore than white people can't listen to rap, but it does say something when all the people making money off a product are white and most of the people creating the product are black.

Date: 2007-05-28 08:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, I really don't know how you can not see the women when they constantly talk about what it means to be women in fandom writing slash, etc. I mean, on some level it has to be wilful, because honestly, in no way do we hide it-- if anything, many in the slash section especially seem quite fixated on the self-analysis aspect of things. Eh, we'll just assume he doesn't read meta or many fandom journals for that matter. ^^;;

And I came up with the romance fic thing as a way to explain the statistic, if statistic it is. I figure there'd be enough fanboys writing gen to make it more even if gen predominated. But of course this is just a guess :>


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