pyrephox: (Default)
([personal profile] pyrephox Mar. 6th, 2009 08:55 pm)
It's never fun to see people who you normally respect and even admire ending up like everyone else on the internet.

As a side note, I like Ani Difranco, and I especially like one lyric from a song that goes, "Privilege is a headache you don't know that you don't have". I think that I've rarely heard the concept summed up better. There are a lot of headaches I don't have. I'm white, I'm straight, I'm apathetic about religion, and I'm solidly middle class (and have been perceived as such even when I /wasn't/, because I don't have much of an accent, and my conversational patterns are heavily inspired by my readings), so I can be one of the powered majority in almost every context except the gendered.

I think there are conversations that Fandom (in general, and in specific fandoms) needs to have about our inclusiveness; fandom has tended to view itself as a comforting, accepting venue for the 'weird ones'. However, what that usually ends up /meaning/ is the 'white, straight, male weird ones'. You can vary 'male' and modern media fandom tend to skew female, but gaming fandom still tends to be pretty male-dominated, particularly in the live venues. I can't really answer for how welcomed or unwelcomed gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender fen feel within fandom; I can point out a few things that make me deeply uncomfortable (not least of which is the fetishization of gay men or gay male stereotypes for the sexual gratification of straight women and I could write a whole essay on the course of my drifting away from slash fandoms from my discovery of them in the early nineties all the way to today), though. And I've long been dissatisfied with the way I see a lot of cons: namely, a sea of white. There simply isn't a lot of diversity in, at least, the con-going fandom that I've seen (I live in the Southern United States. This may be different in other parts of the country).

I'm not sure how to improve the situation, but there's a lot of defensiveness about just the observation, and I think that's wrong. And, for that matter, I'm not sure it's even my place to say how to 'improve the situation', since I'm not one of the ones being discouraged from joining fandom, consciously or unconsciously. But I'm pretty sure that the right way has nothing to do with refusing to acknowledge the issue, nor with getting all defensive and pissy because you're made to feel like now you have to think about whether you're being offensive. Nor does it have to do with trotting out the old canards about being 'colorblind' (because, again, if you're white, you have the /privilege/ of being colorblind, because society assumes your color is the default), or diverting the conversation to how you feel as a white person being forced to think about these issues, or about that time someone you know was once treated unfairly because he was white and how that proves that racism is an equal problem for everyone. Not. Helping.

God, this was a bit of a ramble.

I suppose my only point is...I wish fandom were as open and accepting as we claim we are.
ext_7549: (Default)

From: [identity profile]

Word. I've only been to one con (Yaoi Con), and while that one was ninety-lots percent women, they were still predominantly white. (Or course, that particular con fetishises the gay, etc, but it's the only damn con I've been to, so deal! :P) I wish I knew more about gaming demographics; my hunch is that table-top gamers are predominantly white males (although in my personal experience, I know at least as many female gamers and male), whereas console games have a more balanced audience. But I have no data on this, so it's just a hunch.

Going on the defensive is just silly. Nobody's asking anybody to apologise for being a fan of something, nor is anyone demanding that fen must go forth to kidnap and brainwash people to join their fandom to meet a specific quota of gender, ethnicity, age, culture, geography, social group, etc.... :)

From: [identity profile]

I'm not sure there's been a really good demographic study of tabletop gamers for a while. I /think/, last time I saw anything on console gaming, it was somewhere around 70/30 male, but that wasn't taking into account portable systems, etc.

From: [identity profile]

When you get to what we think of as really geeky fandom, I see a much higher quotient of folks openly flaunting their various LBGTQWTFBBQ status. The attitude to it all is the same one I saw at UW: "[shrug] So, In Nomne or D&D today?" I know I've never been made to feel unwelcome. (... I am however a white male, which I gather covers a multitude of sins when determining if I'm to feel welcome or not.)

Even when I encounter homophobia, it feels like it's out at fringe, where I'm just as likely to get flack for being a heliocentrist or a Canadian or something. It's The Crazy that's present in any gathering of humans.

(I'm also not remotely sure how representative my experiences are.)

"The fetishization of gay men or gay male stereotypes for the sexual gratification of straight women" also doesn't bother me - girls want to swoon over me and another guy, have at 'er. (Scare quotes not for contempt but because I'm directly using most of your sentence and didn't want to do so unmarked. :P) Guys have been fetishizing lesbians forever. For that matter, everyone's been fetishizing het couples forever...
archangelbeth: An anthropomorphic feline face, with feathered wing ears, and glasses, in shades of gray. (Default)

From: [personal profile] archangelbeth

If slash or yaoi helps people call for "gay people should be able to get married, too!" -- even if it's because they hope in their secret (or not-so-secret) hearts that it'll get them some canon Wincest or something? I'd call that a win, overall. But I'm probably a bit "the ends justify some means" at times. >_>

From: [identity profile]

I am uncertain that indulging in a sexual fetish translates to more accepting behavior in real life. The Exotic Other is another way of dismissing and marginalizing a minority, not a way of drawing them in, particularly when that minority is portrayed in ways that have nothing to do with what real people are actually facing, and everything to do with the fantasies of the majority.

See also the Tragic Mulatto and the Magical Negro/Asian/Indian.
archangelbeth: An anthropomorphic feline face, with feathered wing ears, and glasses, in shades of gray. (Default)

From: [personal profile] archangelbeth

True. Though that does beg the question of whether most slash/yaoi fans are more accepting of real-life homosexual couples, or if they're more "what, for real? ewwww, no, they shouldn't get to marry like Real People." That's a question I can't answer; for myself, I probably became more accepting of homosexuality when a character I was playing in an RPG wound up, well... Omnisexual, basically. So I can see that what is, basically, a fantasy (good lords, is she a fantasy... *beth rolls her eyes*) could translate to "You know... It would be nice if the real world were more like the RPG world."

I just don't know what the answers would be if you managed to put together a poll to see if the overlap of "Yay Yaoi" and "Yay, gay marriage" is a big one or a little one.

I'd also love to see various research paper/thingies on whether The Exotic Other in fiction is a necessary/helpful phase in moving from X-ism to acceptance, or if it's a stumbling block of tokenism, making it harder to get to real acceptance. Or if it's useful at the beginning of the process and a stumbling block further along... Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise at that era was wonderful; if we never got to Captain Janeway and Tuvok (and hopefully better examples in stuff I'm not watching) because "just one is fine," that would be bad...

Er, don't mind me. I'm just wallowing around in meta.

From: [identity profile]

Fetishizing the Exotic Other is really not a necessary/helpful phase. It's really not. It's more a variant of racism than anything else. Edward Said's Orientalism has more information. Also, my dad is livin' the dreeeeeeam.

Another question would be cause: of course women (and men!) more open to gay relationships would be more accepting of slash and yaoi; it doesn't immediately hit their "WRONG!" buttons. Some women (and... well, you know, I've never seen this one propounded by a male before, but it could happen!) safely stuff it into the realm of fantasy and keep it there.
archangelbeth: An anthropomorphic feline face, with feathered wing ears, and glasses, in shades of gray. (Default)

From: [personal profile] archangelbeth

Point: correlation is not causation...

Guh, I'd need to also check if there's much about what gay men think of Yaoi...

From: [identity profile]

It's also worth noting that yaoi is a product of a pretty strongly gay-unfriendly culture. (Yes, there's some superficial acceptance, particularly of adolescent 'experimentation' and of gay people as comedy, but it ends when someone refuses to conform to adult expectations.)

Admittedly, that applies for just about anything in Japanese media: it's a strongly sexist culture that has far more strong/competent female protagonists than American media, too.

From: [identity profile]

When it comes to intolerance in fandom, it's usually less of the overt 'we don't want you here' than it is of the covert, 'we don't want to hear about your experiences because they might make us uncomfortable' kind. For that matter, the very response you quote, 'In Nomine or D&D today' can be a kind of that, particularly if the person in question was trying to engage as a member of a community, and not simply as a fellow hobbyist. Sort of like if you were meeting with your friends, and had been going through a rough patch, and when you said, "You know, I'm worried about finding another job," then they just looked at each other, shrugged, and went, "Alright, whose turn is it now?"

Please note, I'm not saying that it /was/ in that particular instance, nor that fandom activities should be entirely superseded by personal issues, but it is something to be wary of...whether certain viewpoints or experiences are brushed over more than others.

I think the difference, for me, between lesbian porn and a large portion of slash-fic/RP is that porn makes no pretensions to be anything but stroke material. However, when members of fandoms take 'real' characters, and think that making them homosexual also means making them into a collection of stereotypes and fetishes...well, that's another matter, because what they're saying (whether they realize it or not) is "The only thing I changed was this character's sexual orientation, so /this/ is what that sexual orientation means". Is there good slash/yaoi? Absolutely. I still read some, and I still have pairings that I like. But there are patterns among a large bulk of it that are increasingly disturbing to me. That said, I'm not all that keen on exploitative lesbian porn, either. Or exploitative porn in general (although, yes, I do like porn).

And you can't really compare fetishizing het couples, because again, it means something different when it's the default compared to a minority that has to face /real/ discrimination in the world.

From: [identity profile]

Your observations hold true about cons in New England as well; there are very few black faces in con-going fandom. (A fair number of Asian faces, though - I think the reason you get the 'sea of white' impression down here is that there's a lower percentage of Asians in the general population.) However, you should be aware that it's not just an artifact of fandom; a similar situation prevailed when I was at MIT. Although the university made a strong effort to attract black students, once they got to the Institute they tended to be socially isolated from the rest of campus. There was even a separate section of one of the dorms set aside as "Chocolate City".


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