Okay. Let me start out by saying: this is an opinion in response to this article . I merely wish to put forth my perspective, to what was a perspective in the first place, as there were things said in this article that made me very uncomfortable. Okay, that said–let´s go.

flamingo-1593688_1920

Ah, the meme in question. It is rather hilarious. And it was created, as far as I´m aware, by those participating in this “migration” (a term I don´t entirely agree with, as it infers that fans just drop the last show and run–which I´ve rarely seen. They more seem to collect them and only leave them behind when severely burnt by the show). I think that´s great. It came out at a time in which the post was both funny, and sad, serving as a reminder of how fast queer women were dropping like flies on TV.

I´ve been in fandom for a long time, and during these years I´ve been both an in-it-from-the-starter and a migrator. Full disclosure: I love fandom, I love participating in my little circle of fellows who squee over the same things I do. For me, it all started at 15. Thanks to the internet and queer women raving about Willow and Tara, I discovered Buffy, my favourite show. Years later, I started watching The 100 because I heard it was based in a dystopian, apocalyptic future (I live for that)—then heard it was starting to look like it had some queer rep. Hoo boy, did I jump in with both feet. I was quickly put off by its treatment of POC and then the death of Lexa. I started watching Wynona Earp as I heard it had Buffyesque style humour. And, yes, I heard there was a lesbian couple. A show I can love and has rep? I was on board. I started watching Supergirl mid-season one. No hint of queers, excluding the delicious subtext between one Kara Danvers, aka Supergirl, and Cat Grant. Just feminism and awesomeness. Alex Danvers´ storyline this season has just been an entirely amazing bonus.

So, I´ve been both a bit of a hopper, and I´ve been a long term member of a fandom that´s ended up with swarms of people who showed up when the queer ladies kissed. I entirely see this can be annoying. Gone is the discourse about the plot and the complicated, familiar relationships, and the intimate little queer fan base that talks of subtext but also discusses so much more. Enter a flood of people who are focused entirely on one little ship when your show is SO MUCH MORE. But, I digress. And, as the piece highlights, people then miss important build up of characters and plot and can enter with expectations that don´t fit the show or characters if they missed the seasons before and only watch the queer ladies.

So in some ways, I see where the article is coming from there. It can be annoying. But for me? It doesn´t bother me. I have my fandom buddies and they´re who I follow and whose opinions flood my dash. I also don´t mind the newly added gif making wizards. They do top work. How people choose to start watching a show doesn´t matter.

I´m not going to tell a weary and trope-trodden minority group how to watch television. Especially after this year. It´s been rough. Well, it´s always been rough. The article implied these hoppers show up when the queer women kiss. However, from what I´ve seen, they show up when there´s something promising, something more than just subtext (an entirely different thing from queer baiting, but also, yes, they show up when they can feel safe that it´s more than queer baiting). This group wants a show they can see themselves in, with a couple they can get behind, that gives them hope. Someone who can reflect their own feelings and ideas back at them. This is important. Representation is important. And if they do show up when they kiss? Can you blame them?

How are you supposed to watch every show and hope some representation appears? Sometimes you just don´t hear about a show until it explodes within your circle, and often, in my circle at least, that catalyst is a kiss. Do I think these people should skip episodes and use ‘skip lists’ to get to the queer girls faster? No. The show is so much more than that. But am I going to tell them not to do it? No. People can consume media how they want to.

And, on that, people using these lists don’t skip to the kiss. They skip to the part that starts at the first meeting and watch with bated breath, from what I´ve seen. They aren´t jumping forward just to see them mash lips (though you know, if they want to, up to them). They´re there to watch the entire thing unfold.

And so we come to one of my biggest complaint with this article. Posing the question that by showing up when the ladies kiss, are queer women objectifying and sexualising queer women in the same why we´ve been fighting against in society?

Woah. Woah. I had to stop and take a breath. Equating queer women, girls, people etc who are desperate to see themselves and their relationships play out on screen with the way m/f couples get to enjoy, to sexualising and objectifying women is destructive, problematic and, frankly, harmful. Especially in a world that tends to make queer women feel predatory and isolated as it is. The fact that posts like ‘you are not predatory‘, ‘you are not predatory for being sapphic’, and ‘lesbian and male gaze‘ (language warning on the last one) have to exist demonstrates that queer women live in fear of feeling “wrong” simply for being who they are. There´s a constant fear of being seen as predatory and feeling othered simply for enjoying their sexuality.

Wanting to see that couple you relate to so badly kiss is NOT the same as cis het men sexualising queer women. Also, since when is a kiss a part of sexual nature, and only that? How is it not seen as queer women showing up when romance is confirmed? A kiss does not scream entire physicality and shaming queer women for wanting to see that play out on screen.

And, to finish the article by saying that by “choosing to ignore and dismiss subtext-based pairings until they become canon (if they become canon at all) this fandom migration is ultimately no better than the TV networks thinking that two women kissing will bring them ratings, or straight men who find two women together in a sexual nature titillating” is a wild assumption with zero basis. I´ve already dealt with why it´s wrong to claim queer women are sexualising queer women on screen. The point to make here is this: that comment shifts the blame from creators and TV networks for creating badly written, trope filled queer stories and puts it on the queer women desperate to consume it. It´s laying the blame for TV networks doing things for ratings, who ultimately use queer women, in the lap of those queer women. This is entirely unfair. How can we ever expect TV networks and creators to do better if we take that attitude and misplace the blame?

Let´s move on from that. As it makes me feel icky.

My next question is: why is subtext being lorded as the superior option? As the only way to enjoy and appreciate a story? That if you don´t spend a season or ten really embracing that and then (if you´re lucky) that subtext becomes a canon relationship, you don´t deserve to enjoy that relationship? Why are people being told how to ship? How to consume their media? Subtext is great. I love it. But not everyone does, and they don´t have to. Maybe they´re tired of having to squint to see themselves on the screen. Maybe they don´t enjoy reading between the lines? Maybe they just want to see two women fall in love or into bed and be able to say, “Finally! Look! I exist!” Maybe they want to do both.

And my final question is, since when does age make you an established fan? Why the emphasis on “older, established fans” as being the superior way to fan? I´m not sure if that´s what the piece intended, but it sure read like that. I know older women who migrate. I know younger fans who have been there from the start. Some points the piece made were interesting, and begs for a comprehensive look at how ‘older’ fans consume media as opposed to ‘younger’ fans, but it felt a little like having a finger shaken in my face for not always enjoying TV in the same way as was deemed appropriate.

While I think that discussion about older and younger members of fandom is something that would be interesting to see explored further and more deeply, to me, and people within my circle, the claims and arguments came across as unfair and unjustified. Even though I disagreed with a lot of the article, I enjoyed entering the debate and reading the discussion it bought forth. It should have remained up (it was taken down due to strong response from the blog it was originally posted at, with the blog claiming it wished to remain a safe space) allowing us all to continue talking about, as this type of interaction between consumers and creators is important.

So, what are your thoughts? I´d love to hear them.

My Response to the “Queer Lady Migration”
Tagged on:     

8 thoughts on “My Response to the “Queer Lady Migration”

  • November 29, 2016 at 8:19 pm
    Permalink

    Hi, G! Yes. You nailed all the points I thought about when I read the blog (and I read it in its original form on the Bella blog site, before it was taken down).

    Ultimately, why should it matter if fans migrate or bounce around to various shows? Well, let me rephrase that. It should matter if they’re doing it because of queer-baiting or any number of marginalizing storylines, whether its POC, queer people, queer POC, women, differently abled people…whoever is being marginalized in a way that is not intrinsic to a storyline but rather a baiting context. It should matter because that, then, becomes an issue with the show and the writers. If I notice, say, a mass exodus from a fandom that maybe I’m only peripherally involved with or aware of, I want to find out why and if it’s because of queer-baiting or something else egregious in terms of rep, then damn, I want to know that about the show and the writers because now, with the social media tools at our disposal, there are things fandoms can do to call it out. So I’ll do some investigation and engage with fans to find out what’s going on. There are many, many articulate, passionate, and damn smart people in fandoms and I’ve learned quite a lot.

    But back to the point of the original piece and your piece here — again, of COURSE fans migrate. Hell, I WANT to see queer lady rep in shows and if a subtext goes canon, I’m going to go watch the show, and not just for the moment it canonizes, but for what led to that point. I’m one of those “older” fans (whatever the hell that even means) who grew up and came of age in a time when queer rep in TV shows was so damn rare you’d have better luck trying to trap a unicorn, so when we saw it, OMG HOLD THE PHONE STOP THE PRESSES. And I LOVE that it’s so much more common than it was, but I also realize we have a long way to go because, as you said, 2016 was a horrible year in terms of the kill the gays trope, and queer ladies took the brunt of that.

    And thank you for bringing up the comparison the original blog made with regard to “gazes.” No, lesbian sexuality is not cis het male sexuality. No, women’s sexuality is not, either. And I’m so glad you brought up that damn baggage that every queer lady (and non-queer, to an extent) gets saddled with — the “predator.”

    I’ve been thinking about these issues since the conversations we had on Facebook and another I had on Twitter after Bella pulled this blog, and I’m glad that we’re engaging these issues, and pointing out why parts of the original blog may be harmful, whatever the intent was, and why it’s important to think about representation and continue to engage with each other about what that means and how to demand better.

    So thanks.

    Reply
    • November 29, 2016 at 10:34 pm
      Permalink

      I love that first paragraph. There are a lot of negatives for social media, but damn are there positives too. Highlighting issues and providing a platform to shine a light on them is one of them. The amazing people who keep fighting the fight for better representation (Layne Morgan comes to mind, and another person, Dickens–@deathtodickens–on Twitter are both vocal and stand their ground) are another. We can all keep learning, and I love that we have that opportunity to.
      I also don´t see an issue with “migration”–people can consume media however they see fit. I think the original writer had some stuff they wanted to say, but unfortunately it got lost in some of the comparisons they drew. Because yes, queer women do not have the male gaze, and wanting to see two women kiss is not the same as objectifying and sexualising them. That “predator” baggage is real, sad and dangerous, and it´s a pity to see a comparison being made by members of the community to the same. Nor is it approriate to shift the blame from TV networks into the laps of consumers. The responsibility needs to stay with it belongs. Through twitter, I have spoken with the writer and she aknowledged she should ahve worded this differently.
      I too, am really glad we´re engaging these topics. Agreed–it´s so important to keep talking about these things, and to allow an open dialogue. Not to shut each other down or to bully people into accepting you´re right, but to discuss and grow and move forward, as a community. There´s been a lot of that since the original article went up.
      So thank you :)

      Reply
  • November 29, 2016 at 8:38 pm
    Permalink

    Mmmm lots to think about… I think it was sad that the original post was taken down but understand that perhaps a publishers website wasn’t the best forum as the discussion will need moderating whatever your views… but I also think we need to be having these discussions as we develop as a “community”… I’m an “older” lesbian without Netflix or Sky (I know, I know) and haven’t seen many of the shows discussed but I do watch some of them. I think I start watching new shows regardless of whether they have lesbians in them and continue or not depending on whether they grab me… I loved the original CSI, PoI, and several cop shows but mainly because they have intelligent strong women… if someone mentions a lesbian theme in a show I’ll check it out but won’t stay if the writing and plot and characters don’t grab me or feel credible… so yes I migrate but more towards good writing and shows that don’t patronise me… I think we should be able to have open debate about shows whether we’re diehards or newbies… my pet hate is the gratuitous use of female characters to die hideous deaths, be terrorised or have their pain glamorised but that’s a whole different discussion. .. regardless thank you for writing your piece, it’s got me contemplating my viewing…

    Reply
    • November 29, 2016 at 10:25 pm
      Permalink

      It was definitely a pity it was taken down. Perhaps it would have been better if the website had gone in more prepared to moderate the discussion it sure had to know it would generate? And I wholeheartedly agree that was need to keep having these discussions. Whether we agree or disagree with each other, keeping dialogue within the community is so important. As well as respecting each other when we have these dialogues. We all come from different walks, it´s natural we´ll see things differently.
      Gratuitous death of women is definitely an entirely other discussion, but one needed too, Anne! This often ties in with the dead lesbian trope. Sigh. I think one thing that all of this shows, is we all want different and better representation. Thanks so much for commenting with your thoughtful reply :)

      Reply
  • November 30, 2016 at 1:01 am
    Permalink

    I read the original article through your link, and your reply after, and I have a non-fandom based response. Because I enjoy certain shows that somehow hook me, and that aren’t always even involved in subtext or canon homosexual relationships. Please excuse me if I don’t have all the jargon down because even those shows I absolutely love and fangirl over, I don’t get involved in fandom discussions. I don’t have enough time to spend indulging in my passions that way. I occasionally touch on the edges of fandom and fanfic, and it makes me feel like I’m missing something, but then I get wind of a controversy like this and feel relieved that I haven’t joined in. I have, however, felt that urge to migrate to a show after hearing about a lesbian relationship. So far, it hasn’t really happened. I heard about The 100 and Clexa in between seasons, and hadn’t gotten to start watching by the time Lexa was killed off and ruined my desire to watch. I watched the first season of Supergirl, back when there wasn’t even a hint of subtext, and stopped watching way before Alex came out. Hearing about her doesn’t entice me back, simply because there was no hint whatsoever in season one. I couldn’t get into Rizzoli and Isles simply because there was too much subtext that I never believed would ever become canon. I felt subconsciously at the time that the show was deliberately trying to become a Xena/Gabrielle type show, and I felt insulted by that. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that there are a lot of reasons for people to start or stop watching a show, and reducing it to simply saying that lesbians want to only see the physical parts of a lesbian relationship discounts a lot of factors that come into play. I didn’t even know The 100 existed until someone on Facebook mentioned the whole Clexa relationship. Yes, that sparked my initial interest, but I personally would have watched the series from the beginning to get to “the good stuff.” But there are way too many shows out there to watch them all in the hopes that a lesbian relationship may develop in one. So yeah, I might wait until one develops in order to take notice of a particular show.

    Reply
    • November 30, 2016 at 9:28 am
      Permalink

      Loved your response. Of course we all wait for recommendations. Mostly I loved that you said this: ” I suppose what I’m trying to say is that there are a lot of reasons for people to start or stop watching a show, and reducing it to simply saying that lesbians want to only see the physical parts of a lesbian relationship discounts a lot of factors that come into play.” Well said.

      Reply
  • December 5, 2016 at 3:12 pm
    Permalink

    I’m still reading but I got to this part: “And, on that, people using these lists don’t skip to the kiss. They skip to the part that starts at the first meeting and watch with bated breath, from what I´ve seen. They aren´t jumping forward just to see them mash lips (though you know, if they want to, up to them). They´re there to watch the entire thing unfold.”

    And it made me thing about how much we don’t have representation. If you are straight you can literally watch any movie or tv show and even find ones that are entirely dedicated to the relationship. Just yesterday I was reading a topic about “movies that are like fanfic”. So basically, straight people have all these options. Now if queer people want something, we have just a few options, and they’re usually mixed on the background of a bigger story. And if we want to consume the exact same thing (a relationship building, just a love story) we are expected to love all the thing and watch everything and we are discriminated for doing it.

    Reply
  • December 18, 2016 at 10:35 pm
    Permalink

    Hi G.

    I just wanted to say thank you for this piece. It’s so well articulated and sums up my own thoughts about the original piece much better than I could ever articulate.

    I will watch a show with subtext if I enjoy it, I watched 4 seasons of Rizzoli and Isles before I gave up on it, and I do love the fandom and fanfiction that comes out of shows like this. But as I’ve gotten older (and I’m definitely in the category of “older fans” from the original article) I’ve had a lot less patience with subtext. We as a community deserve so much better than that.

    Another note, sometimes I do feel my age when I participate in fandom, but also – I’ve learnt a lot from the kids on tumblr. They are smart and talented and I’m glad they don’t have to go through what I went through when I was younger, starved of the representation they so desperately need. Things aren’t great now by any stretch, but it’s a lot better than it was 10-15 years ago and I’m still hopeful it can get better so yes they should be demanding more than just subtext and there is nothing wrong with that.

    Anyway, I know this is an old piece. I just really wanted to make sure I commented on it so you know it’s appreciated.

    Ella

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On PinterestVisit Us On Twitter