It's something I've been thinking about lately: that even though I get tired of the wank, and the arguing, and the accusations of bigotry/scrambling for the 'more progressive than thou' brownie points--I'm actually grateful these discussions go on in fandom.
I started thinking about this when someone at fail_fandomanon
made the edifying comment: "It's men who start wars: women are more sensible than that." And rather than +1 and LOL and giggle and sigh and say "Oh, those men!": women actually disagreed! The giant pile of anonymous gender police who jumped on the thread to respond was probably (definitely) overkill for such a naive and ridiculous comment, but by the time the fourth person mentioned "gender essentialism" I was suitably impressed. Because outside of my own academic experiences and this journal, I'm never privy to a conversation where someone can mention the term "gender essentialism" and assume that people following along will know what they're talking about.
In my own life, I have very intelligent and liberal friends, but still I find myself sucked into conversations based on the premise "But I like
it when my husband opens the car door for me." (And for the record: you are allowed
to like it, and he is allowed
to do it. Feminism is not about who opens doors and who crosses their legs and who does the weekly shopping. It's not about the door: it's about gender roles, and learned helplessness, and this fallacy that women can't take care of themselves when men are around. What matters is not whether he wants to open the door for you or not, but whether he buys into those stereotypes or not, and to what degree. The point is, basically: that door-opening is not a reliable marker of quality in males. In short: forget about the door! It's not about the goddamned door!
Fandom can be an impossible and frustrating echo chamber of wank and disagreement, but at least these discussions are going on! Sure, unreasonable shouty people get an unfair advantage in the debate, but amidst the endless sturm und drang
at least these ideas are out there.
I'm glad that slash writers are called out for ignoring women and fetishizing gay men, and that het writers are called out for ignoring LGBTQ people and perpetuating misogynist stereotypes. I'm glad that while people are complaining about the awkwardness of gender neutral pronouns, gender neutral pronouns and when to use them is being discussed. And asexuals. And POC. And global tragedies. And appropriating cultures. And fetishes. And any measure of stereotypes and hot button issues I'd have to go out of my way to seek out in my offline life.
Do I agree with all of the arguing that goes on? Do I think that it doesn't occasionally do more harm than good? No. But I truly, honestly appreciate that it's out there. I just wish I knew a better way to drag it out into my offline life.