Voltron fans have decided to put together a meet up for their favorite ship, SheithCon, but have faced harassment and threats for planning the event.
Shipping can be serious business. Letting your ship flag fly at a con can especially be risky due to just how serious some people can take it. We know that well here. It’s not exactly a surprise that we’ve found ourselves watching another incident where shippers are facing very real danger at a convention just because of what they ship. The shippers this time? Sheiths. The place? SheithCon 2020.
SheithCon is scheduled to happen July 3rd from 4 pm – 8 pm about a half-mile away from Anime Expo at Allies Worldwide. It’s less of a full-blown convention and more of an opportunity for fans – both local to southern California and those in town for the nearby anime convention – to hang out for a few hours and have some shipping fun. It’s basically an offsite fan meet up, which is common at most conventions of a reasonable size.
The idea of these fans meeting up to hang out has upset some people quite a lot. Their response has been to threaten them physically and plan to ‘bully’ them at the con. One user even stated they planned on concealing weapons in places security can’t find them, presumably to harm the meetup attendees.
There were additional tweets that have been reported to Twitter that have either been removed or possibly remain available on accounts that have since been set to private. However, screencaps of partial tweets from their reports can be found on the SheithCon account itself. One tweet states that the Sheith shippers are ‘BEGGING to get beat up.’
Threats of violence will not be tolerated towards our event, us, or our attendees. Those who do will reported and blocked.
If you come to our event threatening real violence we will report you to the authorities that will have real consequences towards YOU. pic.twitter.com/JfHMAkvoto
— FORM SHEITH! – Voltron Fan Meet Event (@sheithcon2020) January 10, 2020
Sadly, this isn’t the first time Sheith shippers have faced extreme bullying or threats for their shipping preferences. Just a couple days ago an artist was kicked out of a fanzine for simply shipping Sheith, and accused of very serious crimes in the notice of their removal. Now that shippers have decided to plan a real-life meet up, these threats have become physical and should not be taken lightly. While online bullying has some pretty severe mental health effects that I’m not at all minimizing, there’s now open discussion of physically harming shippers.
For full disclosure, I’ve seen a grand total of one episode of Voltron. It wasn’t long enough of an experience to really ship anything, and I decided the show wasn’t really up my alley. I mean that with no offense to all you lovely Voltron fans, of course. We all have different tastes in entertainment. But the point is, I have no real horse in this race here. I’m not a Sheith shipper, nor am I an anti-Sheith shipper. But, having observed the amount of hate this particular group of shippers has gotten over the years, I’ve become quite sympathetic to them and also quite baffled at how far their detractors reach to bully them.
So why do people hate this ship? At first, the reason for the backlash towards shippers seemed to be based on the assumption that Keith was underage. When it was revealed he was actually 18 at the start of the series and his early 20’s by the end, the goalposts moved to taking issue with the six-year age gap between them (which then became four years due to wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey science fiction stuff). When that didn’t have much of an impact on turning people against the ship, the issue became that they knew each other when Keith was in his mid-teens and at one point calls him a ‘brother.’
You can see how people would take these things, twist them, and subsequently use this to accuse shippers of some serious offenses. It’s been a strange situation to watch unfold from the sidelines and I’m constantly amazed at just how far the anti-shippers reach to defame them.
To be clear, it’s perfectly fine to be uncomfortable with any of these elements, or any element of any ship. There are ships and dynamics that I don’t like. We all have them. But the amount of hatred and accusations of very serious crimes that have been flung at this particular group of shippers has been astounding. And this opinion is from someone who was bullied so hard for a ship that we literally had to set a new website policy about it. I’ve been down this road up close and personal, and even I’m stunned at this level of vitriol.
It’s never okay to threaten or bully people, no matter how much you dislike their ship. I can’t believe we even have to say that. It should be obvious, but here we are. In the year 2020, we have to remind people that threats and bullying are wrong.
A less severe mode of bullying happening online regarding SheithCon is the consistent comparisons to DashCon. While this comparison is less serious than actual physical threats, it makes me wonder if those throwing these accusations have ever actually been to a smaller con or fan meet up. DestielCon went well, and it had an even larger footprint than SheithCon does. It was an actual convention, not just a fan meet up attached to a larger con. The same DashCon comparisons were also hurled at Fannibal Fest, which also went well.
Having a small niche con or meet up is not an unusual thing to do. It’s fairly common on the convention circuit. We go to at least a couple dozen cons each year ranging in size from SDCC to small niche conventions like Ice & Fire Con. It’s clear this comparison is just another chance to bully them, and it’s incredibly petty.
I applaud SheithCon for being open about the threats they’ve received because this type of behavior needs a spotlight on it. Since posting about it, fans have rallied around the meetup and offered them a ton of moral support. Fans are taking the hate and turning up the positivity to combat it. Because, to steal a phrase from Rose Tico, “we’re going to win this […] not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.” So celebrate what you love, shippers. Because that’s really what this is all about.
I wish the organizers of SheithCon well and hope all in attendance have a safe, fun, and happy experience. And I hope there are many other positive meetups for them in the future.
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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