Invalid Username (tailoredshirt) wrote,
Invalid Username
tailoredshirt

Too tired to come up with a decent subject line

I've seen a lot of comments and entries lately that allude to a divide in H50 fandom regarding sexism and character bashing. I think a lot of it is due to misconceptions and miscommunication, and I don't want anyone on my flist to have misconceptions about how I feel about these topics. For example, I keep seeing "I was accused of sexism last season because I hated Lori" all over fandom, and maybe it's paranoia getting to me, but every time I see it I think that person is talking about me, even if I don't know them. >.< I'M A PARANOID PERSON OK. So, this post is not to stir shit up, it's to clarify some things I think need to be clarified.

I'm putting it all under a cut so that no one has to read it if they don't want to. (For the record, this post is not about Lori, because no, I don't want to talk about that anymore either.)

[Trigger warning for mentions of sexual assault, violence, sexism, and trans/homophobia]

Here are my thoughts on the matter:

♦ Disliking a female character does not make you sexist.

♦ Reading over and over and over exactly how much you hate any character/pairing - whether it's Lori, Catherine, Danny, Steve/Catherine, Steve/Danny/Catherine, Max/Kamekona, or whatever - is not fun for me, even if I completely agree with your reasons for disliking the character or pairing in the first place. [ETA: I want to clarify that I am talking about empty bashing, like "God, I hate looking at her" or "she is so useless, can they kill her off already?" I'm not talking about constructive, thoughtful criticism.]

♦ Fandom's overall tendency to bash female characters waaaay more often than male characters has sexist overtones. Some people hate female characters because they get in the way of a slash ship. Some people are frustrated by the lack of strong female characters in media. Some people have more stringent definitions of what makes a good female character than what makes a good male character. Some of these things are based in sexism and some of them are not, but sexism is definitely a contributing factor to the overall trend.

♦ A lot of people use sexist and often very disturbing language when they talk about female characters they don't like.

*

If someone talks all the time about how much they hate Character X, I'm likely to be frustrated or annoyed. I freely admit that I don't understand what satisfaction people get out of character or pairing bashing, or out of writing fics with the same. But we all do fandom differently and I try to remember that even when it frustrates me. It might just mean that we'd both be happier not reading each other's entries, and there is nothing wrong with that.

When people focus their energies on picking apart female characters instead of telling the show's creators that they want strong, well written women on their screens, I get frustrated because I believe it's perpetuating the cycle and not helping anything. Additionally, if you want to talk about Hollywood's impossible beauty standards then I think you should talk about Hollywood's impossible beauty standards. Calling Catherine a Barbie doll is not addressing Hollywood's impossible beauty standards, especially if you're not going to call out Alex or Grace or anyone else for the same.

But by far, the part that upsets me most about the bashing of female characters is the language people use.

I have seen people describe female characters as sluts, whores, bitches, and worse. I have seen people rip apart female characters because of the way they look, the clothing they wear, and the amount of sex they have. I have seen people say that a female character of color needs to be "put in her place." I have seen people say the they want a female character to be murdered, beaten, sexually assaulted, cheated on, or otherwise humiliated.

We live in a world where violence against women is a really horrifying reality. There are people in fandom who have experienced violence and abuse themselves. I think the compassionate thing to do is to be aware of that and try not to hurt people. Fandom should be a safe space for everyone to enjoy themselves, and it's difficult to do that when the people in your fandom are casually advocating one of the most horrifying experiences of your life.

I have also seen female characters referred to as "it" or "thing." This upsets me on such a deep level that I can't even articulate it. There are people in real life who are called "it" and "thing" on a regular basis because of who they are. It is dehumanizing and incredibly sad. Don't do it. I don't care if this person is fictional or not. Don't do it.

*

Side note on sexism (and all -isms and -phobias):

Just because something happens all the time doesn't mean it's not sexist.

Sexism is not just a dude telling a woman to make him a sandwich and then giving his buddy the bro fist. Sexism exists all over the place.

Women can be sexist. Feminists can be sexist. People who are extremely nice and wonderful and funny and amazing can be sexist. People can be sexist even when they don't realize they're being sexist, or when they weren't trying to be sexist, or when they were just joking, or when they're doing the same thing that everyone around them is doing. The fact that something is "just something that [people/men/women/teenagers/cops/sailors/Victorian-era blacksmiths] do" doesn't mean that it's not sexist. Just because something is "in character" or "harmless" doesn't mean it's not sexist. Just because a lot of people aren't bothered by it doesn't mean it's not sexist.

It's the same with homo/bi/transphobia, or any kind of prejudice. People who support same-sex marriage can be homophobic. People who think Mitt Romney is a homophobic douchenozzle can say homophobic things. People who write slash can write things that are homophobic. "But my best friend is gay" is not a magical security blanket that protects anyone from being called out for homophobia, nor does it protect other people from being hurt by the things they say.

*

tl;dr - I don't think you're a sexist asshole if you hate a female character; it just makes me unhappy to read about it all the time, and I don't like to be unhappy. Please, when you're commenting on my journal, do not bash characters or pairings, or call people sluts or "things," or use violent language when you talk about women.
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