Individual decisions, collective consequences.

/Individual decisions, collective consequences.
  • What you like is your own.
  • You are not under any obligations to like something that doesn’t work for you.
  • But if everything you like falls into a narrow category- especially one that focuses on more privileged voices- that’s something you should interrogate.
  • Not because you shouldn’t like it, but because it’s important to figure out why.
  • For example: if you’re happy to post random squee about awesome men and women of color, or about women, or about disabled characters, or trans characters, or etc., but you can’t think of any good stories about them is it because they don’t exist or because you don’t know where to look or because you’re not looking?
  • And if they don’t exist, why don’t they exist? What could you do to help encourage them? Do you give feedback on the stories that DO exist? Do you write your own?
  • Or do you pay lip service to their existence and how great it is that your fandom is diverse and then go ahead and only spend time talking about and thinking about and creating about white men?
  • No one likes things in a vacuum. What we enjoy and what we connect with is a choice. If it isn’t yet a conscious choice, that’s something you need to think hard about.
  • To repeat: if everything you like is about white men, you are making a choice to accept the dominant paradigm, and that is something you need to think about.

[…]

It feels like we’re stuck in the same holding pattern we’ve been in for years now. There’s always an excuse. Of course fandom doesn’t hate women or people of color, it’s just that there aren’t any good examples in media so we have to work with what we have. Or okay, they exist, but not in the media we like. Or we just like the white men’s stories better, okay?

Lately, the approach of choice seems to be making posts about how great these characters are, but they’re generic, and stand out in stark contrast- if you’re paying attention- to the posts about white men that analyze every aspect of every minor choice they make. And what posts DO exist about women and/or POC just happen to rarely lead to art and vids and stories about them. Or the stories and art and vids just happen to get less of a response. And every individual making these choices to value white men over everyone else sees them as just individual choices, for the hobby that’s supposed to be relaxing, and it’s not a big deal.

–allofthefeelings knows it is a big deal.

This is in response to a specific “guide to fanfic” article recently that was (surprise surprise) pretty much all-white, all-male. But it’s pretty applicable to a lot of things, not just fandom.

allofthefeelings’ point isn’t that people are being consciously sexist/racist/whatever in privileging works featuring white men over works featuring women and/or people of colour. Her point is the fact we live in the society we live in means that we’re culturally conditioned to privilege these works unless we actively work to examine whether we’re enjoying something because it’s “good”… or because it fits into the paradigm we’re told is good.

There’s a fundamental tension here between “I like it and it’s my choice so fuck off” and “multiple individual choices have collective consequences” that sometimes seems utterly intractable. And it’s hardly unique to fandom; every debate about, say, whether to own an SUV or whether to wear high heels or whether to listen to Robin Thicke or whatever is laced with the same poison.

I don’t have any answers, other than to agree with allthefeelings’ suggestion we just try and be more conscious of the issues.

2018-04-27T14:10:25+00:0011th May, 2015|Tags: culture, fandom|Comments Off on Individual decisions, collective consequences.