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.
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.