How the “True Fan” Phenomenon is Destroying Geek Culture
In recent years “True Fan” phenomenon has spread through many aspects of geek culture, from gaming to comics to science fiction – it’s tearing many fandoms and geek subcultures apart at the seams, and making people feel uncomfortable in what should reasonably be welcoming shared spaces.
The concept of a “True Fan” can come in many forms, and which form it takes often depends on what section of geek culture you’re a part of and what circles you associate with. Fans of source material – whether it’s a novel, a comic, or a manga – may feel superior to those who have only seen the movie, TV show, or anime adaptation. Fans of long-running shows or other types of long-running media may feel that they have a better claim to the story than those who joined in at a later date. Sometimes it’s simply fans feeling like someone is enjoying “their” media for the wrong reason, or that they’re the wrong demographic, because that person doesn’t align with their own concept of what a fan of that specific thing should feel or be.
The harassment of these “not true fans” comes in many forms, whether it’s online bullying, real life exclusion, or the increasingly popular method of “doxxing” individuals. Doxxing is the practice of taking an online disagreement off the internet and exposing someone’s personal information to the masses, or, in some cases, even harming them in real life. This is happening with an alarming frequency nowadays – and it needs to stop.
At the moment, GamerGate is currently the most visible online harassment campaign. If the current escalation continues, it might even end up as a flashpoint in gamer and geek culture. Not everyone might view this as a form of “true fanning,” but in a very basic way, it absolutely is. They’ve clearly targeted a specific demographic – in this case women, or more specifically feminists who are critical of the media they consume – and are harassing them because they don’t have the same outlook on video games as the “GamerGaters” do. This harassment has come in the form of tweets as well as doxxing.
Several outspoken targets, such as Anita Sarkeesian, have had their information posted online and have had to leave their homes for their own safety. When Felicia Day spoke up about how she was specifically afraid to post about the issue because she was worried it would happen to her, some of her personal information was posted online in a matter of minutes. The irony of what happened to Felicia Day – that the very thing she was afraid of happened almost instantly after her post went live – is not lost on critics of GamerGate.
For those who still claim that GamerGate is “about ethics in video game journalism,” this should have been a wake up call.
While GamerGate is certainly a very high profile case of harassment against women in geek culture, it’s certainly not the only incident. Just a few weeks ago I was doxxed in a similar way, and while I’m not anywhere near as well-known or influential as Anita Sarkeesian or Geek Goddess Felicia Day, it was a very frightening experience. Someone on Twitter was making derogatory remarks about how women in geek culture look, then began to target a close friend of mine by insulting her appearance. I stepped in and rather foolishly fanned the flames, in an attempt to take the heat off of my friend. It felt like a noble thing to do at the time, but in retrospect I was courting my own potential demise. Within minutes this person had my real name and phone number and began sending me threatening text messages. Some of the threats included taking down this very website and replacing it with rather unsavory material.
For the first time in my life I had to lock down my Twitter account and file a report with the police, who are typically ill-equipped to deal with online harassment and really don’t know what to do in these situations. Eventually I even had to file a report with the FBI Cyber Crime unit, who are thankfully much better at handling things like this. It was an extremely unpleasant experience, and when Felicia Day was doxxed less than 24 hours later, I almost wrote an article about it right then…but I was still too scared and shaken by what had happened to me. For the moment, the online bully had won.
But then another reporter for this website was doxxed, in several different ways, and I decided that this issue was far too important for my own fears to prevent us from shining a light on this issue.
A week and a half ago our Supernatural convention reporter and show analyzer Emily was very publicly ejected from a convention. This is not doxxing in the traditional sense, as at that time her personal information had remained private, but much like doxxing does, it took online arguments and forced them into a real life situation. She was removed from the convention due to a tweet that was taken out of context. The tweet included a Doctor Horrible quote and a sarcastic response to accusations that she was “destroying” the Supernatural fandom and show.
Within days, she was doxxed in the way that we’re all more familiar with – her name, IP address, location, information on her children, and the name of her employer were posted to an online community. The information has since been taken down due to violating the website’s terms of service, but while the information remained posted it was a stressful time for both of us.
So, why Emily? Why target her? Unfortunately we don’t have a confirmed answer, as we don’t know who sent in the tweet, but the popular theory is that it was someone with a grudge stemming from character or shipping preferences. This is another form of “true fanning” that’s destroying many fandoms, including Supernatural. Emily is outspoken for her love of Castiel, Misha Collins, and the ship Destiel. She’s also a very active member of fandom, having organized a gift project for the cast and crew, participated (ironically) in an online bullying blog, and written for this website. The combination of these things have led to her being accused of watching the show for the wrong reasons, of being a “menace,” and, in the case of the Supernatural convention in Chicago, of being a “threat.”
While we can’t confirm that this online harassment towards Emily directly led to her ejection from the convention, people who have actively harassed her in the past haven’t hidden their enjoyment of her ban. If they weren’t responsible, at the very least they used it as a tool to continue harassing and publicly defaming her. Her detractors clearly supported the act and took joy in watching it unfold.
The online harassment of fans who enjoy pieces of media for different reasons is widespread. The Teen Wolf fandom has similar stories – an actor from the show even tried to tell fans what the “right” reasons for watching Teen Wolf are. SwanQueen shippers from the Once Upon a Time fandom have also faced similar issues regarding their shipping preferences from people involved in the show.
Apparently shipping isn’t a good reason for fans to watch just about anything – across the board, people who enjoy relationships between characters that may go beyond what is canon take a lot of heat from their fellow fans. Even back in the 90’s during the heyday of the Xena fandom, fans of the character Joxer were bullied at conventions, called names, and made to feel unwelcome at Xena events. Some saw Joxer as a threat to the Xena/Gabrielle dynamic and chose to make fans of his feel unwelcome in their online and physical fan spaces.
“I was waiting in line with a friend and I heard someone say, ‘Ugh, they’re those Joxer b*tches.’ We had Gabrielle Joxer Romantics Society badges on to promote our fan group. We laughed when we heard it because it really was quite ridiculous.
Sadly, my smaller, younger friends were not so lucky. A couple of young teens I was friends with were sitting further back in the audience during a panel and were surrounded by aggressive fans that had identified them as Joxer fans. They were bullying them throughout the presentation, telling them that they didn’t belong there and that they should leave. […] These two poor kids were terrified and it seemed typical to me that they’d pick on the teenagers but not the group of adults with the GJ tags. Especially not the chick dressed as Xena with a sword.
Basically, these fans wanted to run ALL Joxer fans out of fandom. In the end, they kinda won. You go to Xena sites these days and there’s nary a mention of Joxer, and no mention of Gabrielle/Joxer as a popular ship at the time, even though we had a highly active fanbase at the time for a small syndicated show like Xena.” -Nancy
Nearly two years ago, another author here at the Geekiary hopped on the “Sh*t People Say” bandwagon and created a “Sh*t Geek Girls Say” video. She believed the video was a fun way to showcase who she was and the things she was passionate about, and more than anything it was meant to be something to share with her friends. Unfortunately, over a year and a half after she created and posted this video, it was posted on the subreddit r/cringe and led to days’ worth of harassment, as a plethora of “True Fans” (or in this case, “True Geeks”) left comment after comment on both the Reddit post and the video itself.
“The comments ranged from people giving ‘condolences’ to my significant other (for having to ‘put up’ with my ‘fake geek girl’ persona, I presume), to saying I was ‘good looking, but not good looking enough for this’, to using the usual ‘fake geek girl’ and ‘poser’ accusations. While I responded to a few of the comments, I ignored the ones that were just downright nasty, and thankfully things died down within a few days. One positive thing did come of it – the number of views on my video more than tripled in a very short time – but I still don’t think those hits were worth the amount of grief that those ‘Geek Police’ caused me.” -Tara
“True Fanning” and the subsequent harassment is destroying many subcultures and fandoms in the geek community. It’s being used as a silencing tactic, making people scared to participate in fandom activities if they don’t fit into some arbitrary set of rules that are decided on by people who feel that they control a specific fandom. It’s turning shared spaces into exclusionary spaces and narrowly defining what qualifies someone as a fan, when as geeks we should be particularly open, and welcome people who don’t fit into narrow boxes. Worse yet, it’s putting people’s livelihood and safety at risk simply because they have a different point of view.
Diversity should be welcomed in all aspects of life, not silenced with threats and harassment. Yet this is what’s happening across geek culture. Instead of civil discussion or acceptance of each other’s differences, people are attempting to eliminate fans who aren’t exactly like them – and it needs to stop.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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63 thoughts on “How the “True Fan” Phenomenon is Destroying Geek Culture”
No love for Clif here. Very hard to take him seriously and after I watched the UWPD deal with a serious threat to all 44,000 students last night and this morning without over reacting and randomnly throwing innocent students in jail for joking on social media, I’ve lost even more respect for him.
If anyone, ANYONE, would have cause to over react to a threat, it’s be the UW Police especially after we’d just had the shooting at Seattle Pacific but nope. So yeah, this is just… actually I don’t have words it’s such a mess.
As for the gloating? Gonna have to say that the twelve year olds found twitter because I don’t think anyone who has gone through puberty refers to themselves as a truefan, ya know?
Well sorry to say but thats how our real live is.
Our “mondern” society neglects diversity therefor to expect diversity is the least to say just ignorant.
Minorities ‘believe’ that their status as minorities give them the absolut right to dictate the majority their belief system. And who ever contraticts their belief is a heretic and must burn…and the so called liberal and tolerant by standers just close their eyes because jeez he / she is a miority…
Ergo you reap what you sow…
“You reap what you sow.”
So are you saying that anyone who doesn’t fit into the traditional definition of a “geek” or into some arbitrary set of rules as defined by random members of fandom deserves to be harassed online and offline, doxxed, and threatened? Why? I don’t understand your argument and this post doesn’t really give a clear explanation for why you think societies lack of acceptance for diversity means that those who bring in a different point of view deserve to be treated poorly. I would love to know why you feel that’s justifiable.
I’m sorry but what exactly is it that you’re trying to say here?
I have nothing to add, I just want to support you, as I’ve seen some of what you describe happening in real time. I guess it gets worse the longer a franchise goes on. Regarding Supernatural I have no hope that things will ever get better in the fandom. After 9+ years, the various factions are so entrenched that it almost feels controversial to genuinely like all three main characters, as I do. As a sign of just how bad things are, I felt I had to do a personal risk assessment before participating in the #IStandWithEmily tag. Because of several factors (I live outside the US, I don’t have kids, etc.) I felt safe enough to do it. But is this what fandom and geek culture is supposed to be like?
Fantastic article and one I agree with wholeheartedly. I wonder if there might be statistics on the age-group usually responsible for this sort of harassment? Tumblr in particular has become a playground for many “fans” to shame and harass others who do not share similar views/shipping preferences. My experience (without generalising as i’m talking only about my experience) has been that the usual bullying, harassing and general crude came from younger bloggers who vehemently support each other. Just visit any of Julie Plec’s shows. Dialogue about these issues are a must. I applaud your courage
I’m not sure if there are any demographics available, but I know is online SPN fandom a lot of the people who are known for bullying are women in their later 20’s to late 40’s. That’s a personal observation though and when you get out of that I have no idea. It’s a good question though.
I hope some Social Scientist/Research Psychologist is taking note and proposing a research topic as we speak. I would be very interested to understand the age and other relevant bio data on perpetrators
Online bullying seems to be a hot topic so you never know. It could happen.
“bullying are women in their later 20’s to late 40’s”
Which is really sad and as someone who is older, just amazes me. Because once you reach your 40s, how is it even remotely acceptable to bully people half your age? And over a tv show? Like this is all there is to your life? This is what you’ve made of yourself? Your main accomplishment is harassing people over fictional characters?
I agree entirely.
My current working theory is that the broken-base fandom (which Emily describes so clearly and dispassionately elsewhere) divides pretty cleanly into two groups: s1-4 fans (tend to ship Wincest/J2, approve of John Winchester, prefer using LJ, may be slightly older [30s-40s] and more likely to identify as neoconservative/libertarian with an interest in assertive foreign policy and domestic issues around economic/social class); and s4-8 fans (tend to ship Destiel/Cockles, disapprove of John Winchester, prefer using Tumblr and AO3, may be somewhat younger [teens-late twenties] and more likely to identify as left-liberal with an interest in social justice politics around issues of race, gender, and sexual preference/identity).
Sorting through data has occupied me all year long, much of it having to be put together by hand (thanks to LJ & ff.net having disastrously absent tagging systems); but this is the picture that’s slowly coming together. Both fan bases use Twitter and there are so many outliers (especially w/r/t politics and age) that these demographics may ultimately prove meaningless; and then there are those gracious folk who truly ship all the ships and don’t have a dog in the fight. I’ll be another couple of years at this, without any doubt. But that’s my (extremely qualified, by which I mean guarded/hedged) £2 for now—fwiw, ymmv, etc.
Holy crap that’s a really detailed breakdown of demographics. Well done.
If you think “older” LJ SPN fans are right leaning, you haven’t been paying attention the last 10 years. I agree about the demographics of social media choice.
I hear you, believe me—I’m 45 & so leftist I make Dennis Kucinich look like Thatcher. Like I said: lots of qualified language, many outliers, data points still being collected/assessed/brooded over.
Not only is it destroying geek culture but its destroying the shows and games chances as well. Tyler P alone caused a dramtic drop in tw ratings with all his antics..and i know certain fans have driven causual and curious fans away from some anime. Its kinda ironic.
I left anime fandom for 10 years because of the elitism. I only recently came back to it. I’m enjoying things on my own and don’t have too many anime fandom friends at the moment because I was just so turned off of the entire medium because of the fans. I’m not sure how much has changed in a decade.
Was oddly enough thinking p much this exact thing about anime fandom(s) recently. Oddly enough, one of my closest friends in middle school put me off anime because I didn’t watch “enough” or “the right” anime; she’d show me something she liked, and when I professed to not enjoying it as much as she did, the mocking started.
Really put me off, even though I loved some of the stories.
(We should start a comm for older, returning fans…. I know quite a few now.)
That’s be fun. 🙂 I’m enjoying getting back into it and feel bad I let the fan culture actually damage something I love like this.
I left Teen Wolf fandom for two main reasons: 1.) The Sterek Shippers (seriously, they ACTIVELY HATE EACH OTHER!) and their entitled attitudes 2.) The fact that Jackson left (I’m a Halemore shipper).
Sadly, women need to learn that this sort of behavior is total bs. How often do guys try this sort of thing on?? it’s crazy & it makes me sad that a culture that traditionally embraced the quieter & potentially socially awkward crowd, along with the ‘local heros’ is now overrun with queen bee wannabes. I call myself an entry level geek & enjoy what I enjoy. I avoid fandom groups like the plague as I’ve had bad experiences in the past.
got, stay in our place. Keep in the kitchen and shut up. Nice to know misogyny and sexism are alive and well. What’s the matter, we invading your precious places?
Hey buddy, all that’s missing with your comment is the demand for us to make you a sandwich.
ha ha, I shouldn’t comment while in systems analysis…. that’s “got it” not ‘got’. See, discussing relational-object oriented databases and sexism just isn’t happening.
What behavior is bs? And what do you mean “queen wannabes?” Are you referring to any woman who is vocal in geek culture? Why are they not allowed in geek spaces? Why the fear of change? And why specifically women? Why don’t you target vocal men as well? Or why don’t MEN need to learn anything? Without explaining your comments, this is reeking of misogyny, which is against the site rules, but I wanted to give you a chance to explain yourself more clearly before I jump to that assumption.
Yep. Qualifiers are important. You’re a nicer person than me.
Depends on who you ask. Some people believe I am the equivalent of Sassy Lucifer.
There’s an entire section in this article about GamerGate. You do know that the bullies/perpetrators in GamerGate are male, right? Why would you single out women as being in need of a lesson?
Probably for a few reasons, but most specifically because this isn’t about man-on-women aggression. This is about a TV fandom in particular, which (in this case) is the domain of women moreso than men (unlike with the gaming community/culture, where it’s more male-dominated).
I read the article and had every intention of applauding your work until I saw the screencaps from twitter. I am not friends with any of these people and I don’t ship anything in any of these shows but people within the SPN fandom will easily be able to identify who sent those tweets because you did not black out the headers sufficiently. The idea of this article is to rally fandom against bullying but the fact that I can easily identify at least one of those twitter posters cancels out your argument. If it was unintentional and you plan on fixing it then I apologize in advance but if not you have just exposed people to bullying, REGARDLESS if you or me were appalled at what they had to say. An eye for an eye is not an acceptable way to get a message across and I sincerely hope that this was just and error or an oversight. Thank you for posting my opinion.
We, the ones who stand with Emily, are better than them. I can’t speak for us all, but we think bullying them back would achieve nothing. And we all knew who would be the kind of person who could celebrate what happened to Emily: the ones who bullied her before.
This is exactly why I think their names should be removed because bullying back is the same as bullying. And not everyone who supports the fan who was removed from Chicon is part of a ‘we’, some of us don’t belong anywhere except as fans of SPN who are upset that the incident took place and are embarrassed and disappointed by it. This issue isn’t an ‘us’ and ‘them’ situation, if the fandom is split into factions it’s a shame, the real issue I raised simply had to do with the fact that I easily identified one of the tweeters and I think it goes against everything that is spoken about in this article. Thanks for your reply.
Again, I’m looking here and I can’t find identifying information in those tweets. Let me know if I’m missing something glaringly obvious and I’ll fix it, but I blacked out their screen names. I left the first letter open so you can see that it was a conversation back and forth. I left one letter open on the others as a standard. I don’t see how one letter can identify these people at all. If I left something majorly identifying up though and I’m just not seeing it please let me know.
I meant “we” as “supporters of Emily”, whether you support the same things she does or not, whether you’re a shipper or not, whether you are in the fandom or not, whether you watch Supernatural or not. “We” are people that are upset that the incident took place and are embarrassed and disappointed by it, like you said, Tori.
I had thought I blacked out everything. I made an attempt to hide their identities as you can see from all the blacking out I did. I even blacked out their icons if it had their faces in it. My goal was to genuinely protect their identities to prevent any sort of harassment. What did I miss that could reveal their identities?
I think Tori is talking about the fact that you left the first letter of their usernames, but you explained it was meant to show that this was a conversation. No one can know for sure the bullies’ identities with this.
Well I don’t think you can identify them based on that information. There are thousands if not millions of users whose names start with those letters.
I see that you mostly blocked out their names but to anyone aware of the particular situation and the fandom conflict like myself simply having the first letter and part of the avatar was enough for me to identify at least one of the users easily. Regardless of what was posted, they could have been discussing the weather for all I care, the point remains that people in the SPN fandom can identify those posters and I feel it is against what this article stands for. Thanks for listening.
If they can be easily identified because of their hateful behavior even when all but their first letter is blocked out, maybe they should tone down their hateful behavior so that they aren’t so easy to recognize. Anyone who doesn’t know who these people are ahead of time would have no way of identifying them. I made sure that every piece of identifying information was blacked out.
I guess we will have to agree to disagree on the topic. And yes I was able to pick out 1 person off the bat and then a second on closer inspection because of their vocal participation and their seemed glee at exorcisingemily’s situation. The fact, for me, still remains that regardless of the content, and I will reiterate that I do NOT support the content, it seems against what the anti-bullying message of this article is about. I identify them, for example, and then tell a friend who they are, and that friend finds their content disturbing (as I did) and begins to sent nasty messages to this person. Hateful behavior aside, this is possibly perpetuating what is ruining the online community in general and not only fandom, this goes on in knitting communities and baking forums. My shock at the nastiness in a forum discussing ‘the perfect chocolate cake’ left me speechless. But it’s against everything I believe in to tell you who posted vitriol in the cake forum. Same goes for some of the ridiculous content sent to Clif and the use of foul language. A bombardment of respectful, well-thought-out tweets with no insinuations and no foul language would have been the perfect campaign to make the parties involved feel shame and remorse. Reiterating that I know that neither The Geekiary nor exorcisingemily condoned or encouraged any of that, but some (and I stress only some) members of fandom got caught up in a ‘mob rules’ type situation where their shock and anger quickly turned to rage and their behavior inadvertently became the same as that of the original perpetrator.
Anyway, like I said above, we will probably not agree and I respect your side of this hoping that you will respect mine, but removing those screencaps and possible paraphrasing the content would still have made the article engaging and thought-provoking. With them, I still commend the content and effort of clearing the fandom of entitled fans and bullies but I wouldn’t endorse it. Thanks for listening and for posting my opinions on this topic. Only respectful dialogue and the sharing of ideas among different members of different fandoms and then fandom’s factions will ever solve the problem of bullying, doxxing, entitlement and fear in online fandoms and I wish The Geekiary all the best in promoting that.
We will have to agree to disagree. I protected their identities and the fact that you can recognize them despite my efforts to protect them isnt really my fault. They should dial back their hate a bit if it’s so easy to recognize them based off a single letter. If I hadn’t provided screen caps people would have accused me of lying and demanded proof. Having edited caps was the best middle ground I could think of and I stand by my decision. I’m sorry that that one portion of it makes you feel the rest of the article isn’t worth sharing, but that’s your choice. I stand by the content of this post in its entirety.
Just wanted to add one more thing; whether intentional or not and whether these people are bullies and have harassed others, using them or me for that matter, or anyone else as an example makes me feel alienated from the anti-bullying movement. I know that emotions are high right now but keeping a neutral perspective is what wins support for causes like this one. As a publication I hope to see that your articles won’t include untagged (as someone else mentioned) tweets or speculation because doing what they did – showing out of context tweets etc – shouldn’t be included in a well-thought out and well-written piece on fandom bullies.
This is not directly related to the article but relevant to the situation with Emily; I stopped tweeting Clif et al when some people (using the hashtag) implied improper interaction on his part, used foul language and were tweeting the actors using foul language (in one case calling Jared an a&&hole it was later deleted) and I stopped NOT because I wasn’t angry, I was, I was one of the first people to tweet asking for an explanation, but you can’t fight bullying with irrational and spasmodic anger and it hurts the entire argument. I know that as The Geekiary you did not support this – I saw your tweets regarding respect – but I’d like to see neutrality and respect in everything I read here. I am a Geek with my collectibles and dvd’s, I also watch SPN and like all the characters and actors and I don’t ship cannon characters so I don’t care if anyone else does, it doesn’t rile me up. What riles me up is the amount of anger, the rage I see daily at twiiter (I refuse to join Tumblr it’s scary sometimes) coming from various sides – not just one side – of the fandom factions and I look to sites like this to do their best to end it.
This ended up long-winded but I think respectful and clear and I wish you all the best, thanks for letting me post my opinions.
‘It’s ironic people that have a problem w/ us posting capped tweets w/ names blocked out had no prob w/ J2’s driver posting unedited tweets’
I saw this after my above responses and I am assuming that this was NOT directed to me since I was very clear that I did NOT support anyone’s truncated tweets being posted by Clif or any bullying, that tweet should be clarified please. I was pretty sure you were NOT against discussing all facets of the bullying issue and that this was NOT only about Emily. If I am wrong then you can politely, as I have been very polite and respectful till know, tell me to take my Geek elsewhere. Thanks for your time.
You aren’t the only person in this thread or across the Internet who is discussing this. After you made your comment I made a disclaimer on Twitter about our use of Tweets. That sparked more comments both here and elsewhere and a bizarre accusation that WE are cyberstalking and bullying when we were simply doing research for an article and made every attempt to protect people’s identities.
Thanks for your reply. Since I only follow your feed and exorcisingemily regarding this particular situation I would have no idea who else was discussing this aside from me and one other person (at the time) on this thread.
In regards to those screen caps from Twitter you posted – I really have to question your ethics where this is concerned. Not because you blocked out their names and avatars, that part I commend you for doing your part on. My issue is with these conversations not being tagged to you or your reporter directly. How would you know that these conversations are even taking place unless you were cyber stalking the individuals you got the screen caps from to begin with? Theoretically you shouldn’t know that these conversations are even taking place, yet here they are in your article.
If these individuals had tagged you or your reporter, by all means, put them on blast for the entire world to see. But since these tweets don’t seem to be addressed to anyone other than the people they’re conversing with, it seems more than a little bit creepy that they’re being posted as an example of bad fandom behavior.
Just my two cents on the issue. Other than that, this article was a great and informative read.
Things get pointed out to us all the time. In this specific case, people were theorizing as to who and why this happened to our reporter and these were some of the tweets pointed out to us as possible motivators. As I stated, nothing is confirmed, but they were posted as evidence to the popular theory that fans (the same fans that have pointed this out to us) have come up with. Some of these particular people have also harassed Emily in the past and tagged both her and my website and many of our friends, so it’s no surprise to me that people were watching their tweets when Emily was targeted. It’s all part of investigating. At this time we have no solid conclusion, but this is a popular theory and those tweets are the supporting factors of that theory.
Edit: I even asked for pointers as to why people thought this on my personal Twitter account, which is currently locked. I’m going to cap it for you though. Give me a few minutes.
Edit2: Ok, so a lot of the asking about specifics happened in DM, but this tweet is when I first started investigating this article and started a conversation with my followers. Part of reporting things is investigating and investigating hate over what Emily posts led me to those tweets.
“My issue is with these conversations not being tagged to you or your reporter directly. How would you know that these conversations are even taking place unless you were cyber stalking the individuals you got the screen caps from to begin with? Theoretically you shouldn’t know that these conversations are even taking place, yet here they are in your article.”
Finding tweets on a given subject is fairly simple, and doesn’t require cyberstalking people you think might post something inflammatory someday. 🙂
Those tweets were posted openly and publicly where anyone on Twitter could see them and bring them to the author’s attention (as she explained in her reply). Additionally, one mentioned the names “Emily” and “Clif” (which when searched turn up hundreds of other tweets on the same subject, as does searching “Emily” and “SPN”) https://twitter.com/search?f=realtime&q=emily%20clif&src=typd and two were deliberately hash tagged (#chicon https://twitter.com/search?f=realtime&q=%23chicon&src=tyah and #SPNfamily https://twitter.com/search?f=realtime&q=%23SPNfamily&src=typd etc) which were seen by everyone (thousands of fans) following those tags, regardless of who they may have been directing at or replying to.
You do realise Xena and Gabrielle were never actually a canon romantic pairing, right? It was all subtext. Canonically we were on equal footing with the Gabrielle/Joxer fans (except not really because Joxer lol), because the show never stated Xena and Gabrielle were together romantically, they were just “really good friends”, just as Gabrielle and Joxer were friends. It was post-show that Lucy Lawless acknowledged that X&G were a romantic pairing. Bar one line about the homophobia Swan Queen shippers face, you basically singled out an oppressed group of fans and called them bullies. Please don’t make Lesbophobia a common theme in your articles.
Wait, what? I’m a bisexual woman and ship Xena/Gabrielle. I don’t ship Gabrielle/Joxer, but if this is the type of stuff the person I interviewed faced I feelnlike I made the right choice to talk to her. She’s a queer woman, too, despite having a heterosexual pairing. I didn’t “single out” a ship. I was pointed to specific examples of fandom bullying in convention settings. You referring to me as a “lesbophobe” is extremely off the mark and highlights some of the stuff that Nancy and her friends faced at cons. In a way you just reiterated the entire point of the article.
Sorry that people that that you were a garden variety homophobic straight feminist. What were we supposed to thing? You didn’t write about homophobia/transphobia in the article at all even though you mentioned women’s issues and feminism. That’s a very basic and integral discussion point when you’re discussing slash ships. Not one line about it even though there was a lot of homophobia leveled at swan queen fans and xena/gabrielle fans.
You could have talked about issues of closeted lgbt teens being doxxed and threats to out them to their parents bullying them out of fandom, but the way the article is written it appeared to be written by a straight woman. (Sorry but you know how people assume that anti-feminists are men since they don’t have their own best interest at heart? I also assumed you and Nancy were straight since lgbt issues weren’t even mentioned.) It was a major oversight considering how many lgbt youth are bullied in all spheres of life including in fandom and geek culture.
Don’t try to turn this into an example of your one true fan thing when it’s someone calling you out for homophobia (internalized issues or not.) You could have still mentioned femslashers engaging in this but I’d like to see you address the homophobia and bigotry from straight fans/bigots/homobphobes first. It’s disproportionate and you know it. Don’t pretend like this is about shipping wars or fandom (I’m a different person from the above and only 23 so I don’t have a stake in the xena fandom). If you can go an entire article without mentioning homophobia/transphobia but mention feminism/women’s issues then of course we’re going to assume that you’re a homophobe/transphobe ignoring our issues or even almost claiming the reverse (by providing several paragraphs of mean lesbian and bi women at a xena convention) but no instances of homophobia? It is disproportionate and lacking any sense of critical analysis.
Please take this criticism to heart and talk about lgbt issues in the future especially if you’re mentioning slash ships (that seems pretty obvious) and women’s issues.
I spend a large chunk of the article talking about someone who ships a homosexual ship being banned from a convention for it, though, so how can you say I don’t talk about homosexual ships being targeted? I also mention two other homosecual ships as an example. So that’s three homosexual ships mentioned, versus one straight shipped mentioned. And I think to several articles that talk about the homophobia much more in depth than this article does because we’ve talked about it extensively on this website already.
There isn’t an excuse here. The original poster proved the point that these fans are bullied by turning around and throwing accusations at me similar to those that Nancy experienced. Then you conveniently ignore the paragraphs I spent talking about homosexual ships being possible grounds for banning from a con an illiciting poor reaction from the cast and lists to lengthy discussions on those topics to say… I ignored the homophobia issue. Did you miss massive chunks of the article? Because, again, I talked in depth about one queer pairing and casually mentioned two while spending only a portion talking about one single straight pairing.
Furthermore: “what we’re we supposed to think?” How about not making grand assumptions about people based on ship preferences? How about stopping the type of bullying behavior that this article is highlighting? People are being bullied about their ships, slash or otherwise, and by jumping to conclusions about people and hurling insults at them based on what they ship YOU are perpetuating the very bullying that is destroying geek culture. That is what this article is about.
I’m so baffled at how you’re framing this.
Well said, thank you.
Identifying as a bisexual or queer woman doesn’t mean you can’t be homophobic. In fact bi women are among the most lesbophobic groups I personally have interacted with.
The fact that you’ve put the word lesbophobe in scare quotes shows that you have no respect for how Lesbians talk about and frame their own oppression. Are you denying that Lesbians face specific oppression because they are same-sex attracted women who aren’t attracted to men in a world that revolves around men and their desires?
And no, Lesbians having a problem because you contributed to the lesbophobic stereotype of the angry, bigoted, intolerant Lesbian that the hetero world so much loves to promote about us to silence us, is NOT bullying.
Seriously, don’t use I’m bi/queer to claim you can’t be homophobic/lesbophobic.
But this article IS about bullying. It’s about making people feel unwelcome in a fandom because of things like shipping preferences, gender, sexuality, and a million other things. Nancy and many others faced name calling due to a shipping preference, which happened to be heterosexual in this case. Emily and others have faced bullying because of a male/male ship. That had also crossed over into a convention setting, hence the parallel. I also casually mentioned two other queer ships that have faced nasty comments from the cast and linked to articles that have outlined those issues in great detail.
I’m not expecting any of you to have read my extensive article history here. That’s madness. But if you go through my history you’ll see that talking about queer issues in geek media and culture is one of the primary things I talk about, so yes, I’m going to get angry at the accusation that I’m being homophobic in any way shape or form. This is my community too and while issues individuals in the LGBTQ+ Community face may be different based on our own personal position, we ARE part of the same community. Putting up dividers between us when we are working towards the same goals of acceptance is oddly parallel to the “True Fan” phenomenon that this article is ACTUALLY about. This article isn’t about sexuality or gender or shipping preference. It’s about bullying regardless of those things in a much broader sense. I’m not calling you a bully here, but the arguments you are presenting parallel bullying behavior in geek culture very closely. Instead of “True Fanning” it’s “True Queering.”
I’d never argue against the problems lesbians face. Or gay men. Or people in the transgender community. I’d never state that what you’re saying isn’t true based on your personal experiences. Even though your personal experiences are currently being framed In a way that comes off as biphobic and pushing bisexuals out of the queer community, I wouldn’t deny you those legitimate feelings. But that’s not what this article is about. This article is about fans being bullied. And by throwing around accusations of homophobia and ignoring large chunks of the article to fit your own personal narrative, you are missing the point of the article and furthering the evidence that fan bullying against the specific groups outlined here exists.
Hi there. I’m the woman quoted. I am queer. I’ve had relationships with women, and I don’t ship “het” Gabrielle and Xena, I ship them as bisexual women who are still together, but have side-stuff with men as they see fit. Poly, basically. Because that’s what gives me enjoyment when I write fic.
What didn’t make it to the quote that, as one of the leading members of the GJ ship at the time, I did a LOT of work supporting XG and making alliances with other XG friendly groups. I started a pan-ship anti-bullying group, because it was a problem all through the fandom. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have had so many people from so many different ships joining me and helping out. If I saw any of our members display homophobic crap, I sat them on their arses pretty damned quick. I did everything I could to take the teeth out of the threatening nature of a “het” ship in a fandom that was a refuge for queer fans.
You calling me a lesbophobe is my years in the Xena fandom all new, all fresh. I haven’t been called that in *years*. I was figuring myself out in those years, I knew I wasn’t straight. Xena was my safety, my refuge. I played with pairings in a way that made me feel like I was exploring my own options.
A lot of queer Xena fans went through a lot of crap. Sadly, some fans (I did not ever say all) passed it on to others. It was enough of a phenomenon that it was spoken about by concerned fans in the scene at the time. It is not me making crap up. I’m sorry you think that I am singling out an oppressed group. I KNOW the oppressions queer women face, because I am one. But making teenagers feel unsafe, bullying them from events, turfing out everyone from fandom that isn’t like you – WHICH HAPPENED, by the way, the GJ are all gone now – is never okay. Never.
“I KNOW the oppressions queer women face, because I am one.”
You don’t know the oppressions Lesbians specifically face though, because you are not one. You don’t know how it feels and the kind of damage it causes to promote the rhetoric of angry, man-hating, intolerant Lesbians who shouldn’t be taken seriously. People don’t say that stuff about queer or bi or pan women. The say “crazy, bigoted lesbians”. So no, you don’t know. Don’t be presumptuous. Not liking men contributes a huge amount to the hate and discrimination we face. You don’t know anything about that either. Or how it can affect your self-perception and your life.
Everyone in the LGBTQ world has a different experience with bigotry.
Your specific sexual orientation is not a direct indication of how much crap you’re going to have to put up with in your life.
A woman may identify as bisexual, but primarily date other women, thus appearing entirely gay to the causal viewer. Very few bullies ask for clarification of specific sexual identity before hurling insults, or fists.
For the record, I am a lesbian, and I find it hard to believe, that with the crap we on the GLBTQ spectrum already get, any of us would feel the need to marginalize each other.
In addition, given the amazing work the writers on this site do to expand and celebrate visibility for all minorities, I find it appalling that anyone would be so ignorant as to accuse them of bigotry or discrimination of any kind.
Yes, this article highlights an example of fans of a girl/girl ship bullying fans of a straight ship. Why? because it happened, and it sucks. This section of the article is not perpetuating a stereotype, it’s giving an example of a larger problem that has nothing to do with sexual orientation, and everything to do with bullying.
Minorities are every bit as capable of being bullies as majorities. That’s equality right there.
The really sad thing for me in this entire subject is that what we’re seeing talked about in this article is the minority (geeks) bullying, in effect, their own minority (other geeks), because they are the “wrong” kind of geeks.
And in the above comments, we have Lesbian Women discriminating against Bisexual Women, on the basis of their right to represent the LGBTQ group/speak to the plight of queer discrimination as a whole.
Seriously? Because being female and queer doesn’t make us enough of a minority? No, clearly we need to divide ourselves even further.
I will say again. Everyone’s experience as a member of the LGBTQ community is unique, and no one group is more entitled to represent the whole than any other. conversely, a slur against any of us, is a slur against all of us.
Do you really think most of the truly homophobic individuals out there give a crap if a woman identifies as Gay, bi, pan, or trans? Any girl who’s ever kissed a girl is a “Crazy bigoted lesbian” to them, and we’ve all born the brunt of stereotypes and discrimination.
Likewise, to those whose relationship with movies, television, anime and any other media never goes beyond the enjoyment of the moment, all geeks are “Crazy fans.”
Instead of dividing ourselves, queer and geek alike, we’d be much better off taking a deep breath and enjoying the diversity within our own groups.
Lesbophobia? Hardly. Numbers G/X shippers most certainly did engage in Fan Bullying back in the day. Not huge numbers of course, that would be an over generalization and silly, but the ones who did it, were vocal about it.
If you could go back and read alt.tv.xena you would see it was a battlefield quite often, firstly between anti Gabrielle fans and the pro Gabrielle fans, then by the G/X shippers and anyone who didn’t quite see the subtext and then anyone who openly shipped G/J.
Fandom, any fandom, eventually eats its own. When the fans of a show quarrel with each other for *any* reason, it only ends up hurting the show.
I found this link to this, read it and agreed with everything you stated. I watch some of the shows you mentioned, Supernatural and Teen Wolf for the most part. The fandom of Supernatural has been toxic for years. It has gotten worse as social media has taken off since fans have a direct line of communication to their fave actors or TPTB of said shows. Bullying is never acceptable but still happens.
Can anything be done to stop it? I’m not sure at this point. These fans feel entitled. They have others that agree with the way they think. The mob mentality is very strong with these people. Get on twitter and say the right thing and you will soon have dozens or hundreds of people re-tweeting your words and going after the person or thing you dislike. Very scary.
I think the Sterek shippers are no better then the various Supernatural fandoms but they have not been around as long.
Wow, even this discussion is massively compartmentalized. Imagine suggesting that Nacey knows nothing about lesbians because she is bisexual. This is precisely the kind of idiocy that caused me to give up on organized Xena fandom. I remain a G/J shipper, but set aside my fan fiction years ago in part due to computer mishaps but also because I could not increase my audience no matter how hard I tried. For every subtextite that liked the fact that I fleshed out Joxer and made him a viable character in my stories, there would be a dozen or more like “Lunacy”, the only well-known reviewer of Xena fan fiction, from whom I still have a hardcopy of an e-mail which said in part that she not only did not review G/J stories (or indeed any that gave either Xena or Gabrielle a lover other than each other) but would not point anyone toward such stories who asked about them. Creation Entertainment was very anti-Joxer the last time I bothered with them (when Renee O’Connor was in Seattle). The Xenastaff went out of their way in the sixth season to make humiliating jokes about Joxer fans (rather than merely poking fun). I’ll admit I did not help my cause by giving the Melissa Good episode “Legacy” a zero rating (on a 1-5 scale), but the episode was appalling, both Xena and Gabrielle were out of character, and (having read her work) I regard Ms. Good as overrated. And I stand by that. Anyone who wants to can call me homophobic, and I will laugh in that person’s face, because anyone can toss out insults, but I used my vote to support both laws expanding the rights of same-sex couples (including marriage) here in Washington state. (And that was the trouble then: anyone who did not worship the Great Goddess Subtext was regarded as homophobic. So naturally I became a rebel against the subtext. But for those who accepted subtext and respected those who did not, I have nothing but praise.) I’m still writing, though; I MST bad fan fiction under the series title “Play MST-y for Me”.
[” SwanQueen shippers from the Once Upon a Time fandom have also faced similar issues regarding their shipping preferences from people involved in the show.”]
I used to sympathize a great deal with the SwanQueen fans who were facing harassment from other fans and occasionally, a cast member from the show.
Now . . . I no longer have any sympathy toward them. THEY are the ones who have begun harassing other relationship fans – especially regarding the Regina Mills/Robin Hook & Emma Swan/Killian Jones. They are now harassing anyone who support those on-screen relationships. And I am as appalled by their actions as I was by the people who harassed them.
I have no doubt that some shippers have been vicious, but I’m not going to judge an entire swath of people based on some outrageous people. If I did that, I’d think all wincest shippers were bullies. They are not. There’s just a few prominent ones who are mean to people. Regardless, I’m sorry you’ve been targeted for your shipping preference. I know how that feels. It’s not fun.
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