So I’ve been seeing a lot of things on my dash lately that have been making me really uncomfortable, and I realized that a lot of the people doing these things were people I like, people I respect, people who I think are genuinely good people who probably don’t realize that they’re doing or why it’s problematic. If you read through this and wonder if it’s about you, it probably is: please don’t be offended. Just take a step back and think instead.
Gay characters on television (in this case, almost exclusively male gay characters) get a lot of attention from Tumblr. This in itself isn’t inherently a bad thing. Gay characters often have plotlines and background that are just as - or even moreso - interesting than those of their straight counterparts. We like seeing something different on our favourite show, we like to feel like the things we’re watching are diverse and inclusive. All of these are good intentions. Unfortunately, what seems to be happening is that this gets taken to a whole other level. For some reason the gay characters have become automatically more interesting than any hetero characters, gay ships are more engrossing than hetero ships (A LOT of which has to do with the internalized sexism that goes on in pretty much every television fandom, but that’s another thing for another day), even if these characters or ships are fleeting or badly written or incredibly problematic, until it gets to this point where you’re shipping any two boys you can get your hands on regardless of actual compatibility, actual well-roundedness, or foundation, or anything other than “Two boys together!”. It turns into this obsession. I’ve seen it happen, I see it on my dash every day.
This takes me to a whole other thing. Shipping people irl is really a huge issue. I don’t mean real person fiction, I’m a part of that fandom myself. Something most rpfers pride themselves on is their ability to compartmentalize real!Celebrity from fic!Celebrity. What I’m talking about is when you’re out to lunch and you see two boys driving in a car together and you ship them. Or you’re at the campus center and two boys are sitting next to each other and you’re secretly hoping that they’ll start holding hands. What you’re doing is fetishizing. It’s as similarly creepy as “breaking the fourth wall” when it comes to rpf except probably more damaging. When one single person tweets something weird or creepy at a celebrity, chances are it will be overlooked and life will move on, but when you get to the point where you’ll ship strangers you see in real life just because they’re of the same gender and attractive, you’re losing your ability to compartmentalize, and as a result you’re allowing your entire perception of gayness to be skewed into something that was made for you to watch.
If you’re still not convinced, think of it this way: if a straight boy was constantly seeing “lesbians” everywhere, or talking about how those girls would look so good together, or making up headcanon about you and one of your platonic girlfriends, you would think he was creepy as fuck, sexist, and probably a pervert. Because he isn’t seeing you or other girls as people with real agency, he’s seeing you as an object to project onto. He’s invalidating your personhood and your sexuality and making your actual queer friends feel like their sexuality isn’t a real identity. That is what you’re doing to these boys; straight or gay, real or fictional, you are projecting onto them and invalidating them.
This bothers me with television because I often see people fawn over these characters who are brilliantly written and wonderfully flawed, but are only being appreciated as a Gay Guy or One Half of My Otp. On the other side of the coin, I see characters who only existed for a couple of episodes, who had no real backstory or meat to them being treated the same way- a way which isn’t really deserved or well founded.
If the only things you can tell me about your Otp are “But they’re so right for each other! They just work! They love each other so much!” then I’m probably not going to take your ship very seriously. I think shipping is excellent. I’m a terrible multi-shipper, I’ve got at least three Otps for just about whatever fandom I’m into. But there has to be some kind of thought there. You can’t just ship people together because they’re the same gender. It’s a discredit to yourself and your characters and your show.
Gayness does not exist for you. Your worship of it as cuter or more real or more meaningful than other relationships is damaging and problematic. Gayness in television and other media is not important because you get to ship it. It is not important because it’s a fuck you to your homophobic parents. It is not important because it makes you favourite show more “diverse”. Gayness in media is important because it is representation for people who have not gotten that in the past, and who are still not getting a lot of it unless they’re male, white, and attractive (or in the case of queer female characters, white, young, attractive, and willing to get naked).
What you’re doing does not make you supportive or an ally, it’s problematic and it’s something we really, really need to try and keep in check. I’m so tired of the gay worshiping fetishism on my dash, you guys. Let’s try to fix it.
Some of this comes off a little bit like those arguments written by people who are Against Shipping and how Shipping Is Inherently Bad and Fetishistic™—so take it with a grain of salt, you know? While it’s more than understandable to be appalled at people fetishizing queer relationships, I don’t think it’s really fair to see people fawning over their OTP on Tumblr and read that as a two-dimensional, ship-based appreciation for a character or characters. (For what it’s worth I think that bit about shipping invalidating actual sexualities applies a lot more to RPF than shipping in general, possibly a result of the lack of representation of non-straight characters in media?)
But anyway, OP’s point is brilliant. I’ve always had a hard time swallowing the “There are too many males in comparison to females in this story, so in order for everyone to be paired, there has to be slash” explanation for shipping. For me, shipping is about chemistry and dynamic and personality. And while I’m not sure that shipping two same-gender characters because “the sex would be hot” is inherently wrong, you have to be aware that that’s basically a pornographic fantasy and often not the way real life relationships happen. I’m not saying there aren’t furious one-night stands between closeted homosexuals in real life, but I’m talking about knowing the difference between porn and reality. Gay relationships are not “”“”better”“”” than straight ones just because they’re gay—and and the risk of steering the conversation away from fandom, that’s something that really bothers me about a lot of LGBT propaganda, by which I mean marriage equality which is, as everyone knows, the #1 Most Important Queer Issue: “Gay couples deserve to get married because there’s so much social stigma and everyone shits on this couple but they’ve been together for fifteen years meanwhile straight couples get divorced and make shitty abusive families all the time and gay parents are so much better than straight parents, studies show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
I follow you and you’re right on all accounts but
If the only things you can tell me about your Otp are “But they’re so right for each other! They just work! They love each other so much!” then I’m probably not going to take your ship very seriously.
fuck man I can’t help it I see two characters I just wanna see them fuckin…fuckin KISS and stuff, I need to see them interact nonstop all the time
it doesn’t even have a gender limit, like, the student council presidents in Daily Lives of Highschool Boys obviously hate each other and had a FUCKING BRAWL and all I could think of is “damn girl you gotta hit that” (and I don’t mean by punching him, which she totally fucking did)
sometimes if you cut a person they will bleed shipping and sometimes these people have a hard time swallowing female sexuality (this applied to me for far more distressing and disturbing reasons until I learned to cut loose of my sexual bonds and accept everyone kissing) and sometimes they balance these by wanting to see dudes kiss and shit because when they talk the shipper gets the squees and sometimes that’s all that’s important in life
But no gosh really I’ve seen said shippers do a lot of stupid fetishizing shit and I’m glad this post exists! because yeah it’s gross and baaaaaad. Sometimes I want to eject myself from Sherlock fandom because of Johnlock(?) fans and one of my major life goals is to see Sherlock and John just fuckin kiss each other
ok I’m too drunk off my own relationship addiction to reply to this post wow
EVERYONE SHOULD READ THESE
I actually kind of have to agree.
Really, I’m getting sick of the whole every-fanservice-fanfic-has-to-be-yaoi; it’s completely overdone nowadays. Not every OTP has to be homosexual, anime fandom. You can do beautiful heterosexual fanfics as well (or they can turn out terrible as well).
And all of my followers (should) know that I’m one of the biggest LGBTQ supporters I know. I even had a Facebook event in support at some point in May for awareness. This isn’t homophobia. This is just more of a matter of dealing with fangirls and trying to enjoy things alongside them.
Everything Riningear said. Really, there is nothing wrong with liking yaoi or anything, but sometimes it just feels like it’s being done simply for the sake of having homosexual characters, not because these are two characters that have a legitimate romance going on.