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I don’t think queer fetishization means what you think it means. March 3, 2013

Posted by Erin Ptah in Meta.
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Came across this tumblr post on what counts as queer fetishization with respect to m/m shipping, and was annoyed enough to write a post about it.

(It doesn’t get directly addressed, but it’s worth emphasizing any time a discussion like this comes around that the majority of slashers identify as queer.)

Point by point:

…some key aspects of queer fetishization include:

1. straight or straight-passing privilege

(a) No. All straight people have straight privilege. That doesn’t mean all straight people are fetishizing queer people.

(b) No. There is no way to talk about “straight-passing privilege” that doesn’t come across as playing queerer-than-thou over bisexual people, gay people who don’t shatter established gender norms, and trans* people in relationships with the “less queer-appearing” sex/gender combinations. Stop it.

2. shipping exclusively white cis men

This may involve fetishization of whiteness, cisness, and/or maleness, but none of it is related to fetishization of queerness.

It’s also fair to note that there aren’t a lot of trans* characters out there in media in the first place. And as for the gender part, some writers — hard as it is to believe — are exclusively sexually attracted to dudes in their fiction. That’s no more shameful than being straight is.

3. usually misogyny (writing out women, killing off women, bashing women for “getting in the way of” a slash ship, etc.), racism (ignoring people of color), and transphobia (ignoring trans*folk)

That kind of misogyny isn’t related to queer fetishization either. It’s just misogyny. The two can be tied together when we’re talking about f/f relationships, but not so much with m/m ones.

Ignoring characters of color in your fannish experience is frequently eyebrow-raising, and can very well be racism. But it’s not queer fetishization.

Same with trans* characters, only less eyebrow-raising; see previous comments about rarity.

4. consistently ignoring canonically queer characters in favor of slashing canonically straight characters

Jack/Ianto.

Kurt/Blaine.

I mean, this phenomenon would be worth analyzing if it were actually happening, but I don’t buy that it is. Main characters in big fandoms who are queer men get slashed with just as much enthusiastic juggernaut fervor as main characters in big fandoms who are straight(-identified) men.

5. comments indicating slashing all men you meet, to the point of disregarding individuals’ sexual identities

Oh no, the sexuality of a straight-identified man was not sufficiently respected! This is a serious and threatening issue which queer people should find personally insulting!

…no, hang on, what I meant to say was that the tender feelings of straight men are the last thing queer people should be worrying about. Let alone trying to elevate to the level of fetishizing queer people.

6. treating shipping as activism

Yeah, this is really annoying.

…I’m not sure it’s an issue of fetishization so much as the general issue of Ascribing Too Much Importance To The Stupid Stuff You Do On The Internet. But it is a thing that happens, is annoying, and is related to queerness, which makes it the most relevant thing on this list so far.

7. ignoring, talking down, or harassing queer people for voicing their discomfort with fetishistic behavior

Also a real issue, and a Bad Thing To Do.

But while it falls squarely under the umbrella of Things Not To Do To Queer People, it really isn’t part of the fetish-y subcategory thereof.

What weirds me out is that nowhere on this list are any of the behaviors I would classify as queer-fetishizing. And there are plenty! Insisting that same-sex relationships are inherently more “pure” or “equal” than het ones, for instance. Writing out past het relationships in a way that is not only misogynistic (“ugh, that woman never deserved him”) but actively creepy about queerness (“his devotion to this other man won’t be true and worthy unless he was always 100% same-sex attracted”). Forcing all gay characters in your fanworks into sexual stereotypes — say, the “fey, slender, beautiful, fragile, submissive gay guy” mold — regardless of their canon characterization. Harassing queer people IRL for details of their sex lives in a way that you would recognize as inappropriate with straight people. Opposing gay rights in real life — that is, reducing queerness itself to a “okay in fiction, not appropriate for real people” fetish a la non-con.

But instead of bringing up any of that, this person fills the list with problems from other *isms, people being annoying on the Internet, and the hurt feelings of straight men.

tl;dr sometimes fanfic writers have issues re: queer people but this person is talking through their hat.

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