Cyndy Aleo

Four Little Bees Writing & Editing

author, freelance writing, editing, and a little bit of web development, helping clients with content development, book editing, and blog set-up and customization

So apparently, it's still not clear why these fan fiction panels are BAD IDEA JEANS

Last night, I saw this fantastic programming item for WonderCon:

Oh, look! Let's have comedians reading fan fiction? 

Let's ask Caitlin Moran, shall we? The TOP GOOGLE SEARCH FOR HER NAME (try typing "Caitlin Moran" plus a space and you'll see what I mean) has to do with her shaming a fan out of the Sherlock fandom by forcing the cast to read "Johnlock" fan fiction (That's when you write Watson and Sherlock in a relationship.)

Moran is a pretty successful woman, right? So why is an incident that happened over a year ago still such a thing? Why are we riled over a panel alleged to be all in good fun?

Apparently, this needs to be explained in short, simple words yet again.

Let's change the situations. Let's use fanart, shall we?

Oh wait. We don't. We never do this for fan art, because, while there are a lot of fan artists who are women, the fan art game is still mostly owned by men. So we get fawning things like this Cracked piece on fan art being better than the original. And sponsored forums from companies like Blizzard. And contests to go to premieres!

Fandom has a sexist divide, and it's clearest in the way fanfic authors are treated. We are predominantly women. The stereotype is that we focus on sex, and while that's certainly a part of it (hey, why aren't we looking at those RIDICULOUS boobs on women in the fan art???), in no way is that the entirety of fan fiction.

Yet that's what these "comedians" choose to focus on. 

It's low-hanging fruit. Snark on the teen girls or middle aged women writing bad sex; never mind that for a lot of teen girls, this may be the ONLY way they hear about sex. Let's forget that it's a great training ground for writers, many of whom go on to publish REAL LIVE BOOKS. That are not fandom-related at all.

We focus on women writing sex, but the males who write fan fiction get nice, licensed payments. Women? We're just the free marketing force used by creators. Watch the Teen Wolf marketing team mobilize when there's a slash ship tourney (that's a same-gender pairing, usually not canon, that's dreamt up by fans, but sometimes hinted at by creators to encourage the fandom).

Last night, I got to explain to a friend -- who's a fantastic feminist deeply involved in fan culture, but not fan works -- why this is problematic. Simple: IT FOCUSES MOCKERY ON FEMALE FANS.

For creators, this is a move I frankly don't get. You are MOCKING THE PEOPLE WHO PAY YOU. It's no surprise that after his initial stream of "who cares? why are you bothering me? just don't go to the panel?" brushoff, Chris Gore deleted his tweets. Could it be due to the fact that he has a Kickstarter he'd like you to fund? (No, I'm not linking it. Go back and read to this point again.)

We've seen what happens when we get our girl cooties on gaming, and we're getting our girl cooties all over their cons, and we need to be kept in our place. Mocking our fandom participation is one way to make sure we stay here.

Ha, ha! See how uncomfortable the things you write make the cast? And other people?  You can't even fan right.

What they forget is how much we control where money goes. That we were forecasted (back in 2009) to be controlling $28 trillion in annual spending by now. That we got our girl cooties all over your Avengers and it's selling better. That's a lot of fan dollars available, folks. Maybe it's time to stop making fun of those of us who might spend them.