I'm 14 going on 15 and I hate how so many people who take a character that was just my age, and make creepy art and fic about him. I'm about to turn his current age and have been propositioned since I was 11 and was always told that adults who try things like that are perverts. So why is it when a bunch of 20 somethings pushing a teen who is around my age into a sexual relationship with an adult and do explicit crap, it's not perverted and gross? What about the teens who are feeling sexualized?
First off, thanks for writing me and being polite in your message.
The first thing I want to address is this: you should never be made to feel sexualized. Unless it’s with someone you want to be sexual with, like a crush of yours. Even with someone you consider a crush, if you don’t want to feel that way and don’t want to do anything that can be considered sexual (be it even a kiss), you should never feel forced. This is not just now because you’re a teen, this is something that all of us go through and need to keep in mind even in our 20s, 30s and so on.
I’m so sorry that you feel that way in real life because some adults are absolutely disgusting. They are. Adults that prey on children are absolutely disgusting and horrifying and you should call them out, tell your parents or your teachers or the police. I’m not kidding here. I know it’s hard and you might feel like you’re going to be made fun of, or that they won’t believe you, or that they will side with the adult, or that will belittle you and tell you it’s not a big deal. If you tell someone you trust, they won’t do all those things. Go with your guts. Tell, even if someone only threw nasty words at you or catcalled you (and I really hope you never went through anything heavier than that). In those cases there won’t be much that you can do, but telling someone will help.
What I can tell from your message, is that you (subconsciously or not) equate sex with generally being nasty and perverted. This will probably be unnecessary, but I’ll say it anyway: sex is not inherently gross or disgusting or creepy. If you feel that it is, then it means you’re not ready to enter a sexual relationship, and that’s perfectly fine and normal. I won’t tell you that that’s only because of your age, because some people never (or very rarely) show any interest in sex (it’s called asexuality and it falls under the LGBT+ spectrum). Whether you do end up growing to want sex or not doesn’t matter here.
What matters is that now you clearly don’t want to see sex and anything to do with it in your fandom experience and that’s fine. Tumblr offers you ways to make your experience better and show you only the content you want to see. Block any nsfw tag. Don’t follow blogs whose description clearly states that they post nsfw (like mine). Tumblr is a big and scary place if you just take everything it throws at you (be it ship hate, nsfw stuff, etc). The thing with it is that it can’t cater to everyone’s tastes, so you have to be active about blocking the stuff that YOU don’t want to see. Other 14-going-on-15 year olds might be okay seeing nsfw fanart and posts and that will be their Tumblr experience, but you should definitely take measures to protect yourself from what you don’t want to see.
Now, the thing about Otayuri is that no matter how you twist it, it’s not illegal to ship it, even in a sexual way. You should definitely read this post about it, because the thing is, as much as we can project our feelings and real-world stuff into anime characters, they’re not real.
I assure you that if Yuri on Ice was a flesh and bone show things would be different. I don’t really watch any current TV shows with teens in them so I can’t speak for what other fandoms do with their ship, whether they’re sexualized or not. I can only speak for this silly and amazing anime that’s been consuming my life for the past seven months or so.
Anime and cartoon characters are a safe way to explore things about real life. Whether it be sex or depression or anxiety or simply falling in love, we can all identify with an anime character and see our flaws, our fears and our history in them.
The thing you have to remember is that we (I’m speaking for the slightly older part of the fandom since I’m in my twenties) have been Yuri’s age. We’ve very likely had crushes on boys or girls that were a bit younger, our age or slightly older (like Otabek is). So I think for most of us, shipping Otayuri is a way to remember what it feels like to be a teen and be in love/have a huge crush. We will never be that age again, and maybe there’s things we regret not doing, crushes we wish we had confessed. By shipping Otayuri in an active way (meaning: drawing fanart or writing fanfiction) we can explore things we experienced as teens (or wish we had) and pour a little bit of ourselves in Yuri’s (or Otabek’s) character.
Those things might involve anything from simple fluff or rough sex, because, accept it or not, some people at 15 or 16 were (are) having sex of all kinds. Sweet, loving, rough, vanilla, kinky, you-name-it sex. So not to explore that aspect in a healthy way (through fics or fanart) would be lying about what reality is, it would be denying that we ever thought about or had sex at that age.
Much like with blocking tumblr content, you can choose what kinds of fanfiction you read. Only read General and Teen and Up tagged things, read about fluff and about falling in love in a sweet innocent way. Read anything tagged “Ace!Yuri” (it means asexual, the thing I was telling you about before).
But please understand this: when we sexualize Yuri, we’re mostly sexualizing our (often past) selves. Not other teens, not other real-life people. Yuri doesn’t exist in real life, and many of us see bits and pieces of ourselves in him. When we write about him we really write about ourselves, be it because we want to see how we (maybe a little sassier and bitchier version of us) would have confessed a crush to our best friend, or would have handled the aftermath of having just shoved our gloved fingers in said best friend’s mouth in front of thousands of people. Fanfiction is a study about versions of ourselves that never existed, but might as well have.
Another thing I need to make clear: Otabek is not an adult. I assure you that the morning of your 18th birthday you won’t feel like an adult. You’ll feel like the you from yesterday and it will be anticlimactic af, you’ll be like “That’s it?” and yeah, it will be it. Just because the law in some country or state says that 18 is the age of consent (which is set to 16 or 14 years old in many other countries) it doesn’t mean that you’re automatically an adult at that age. You can be 18 and have had sex since you were 14. You can be 18 and completely uninterested in sex. You can be 18 and have a 15 year old mental age, or you can be 16 and be mentally more mature than some 20 year olds.
What canon has shown us, is that Yuri and Otabek are much closer to each other’s mental age than the 2 years + a few months difference they share. I encourage you to find posts about why there’s no power imbalance between Yuri and Otabek, because they compete in the same sport and they have had similar experiences in life.
In conclusion, if you feel irked about nsfw fanart and fanfics and discussions when it comes to this particular ship, please don’t read it/watch it. But what I can assure you is that none of us are trying to sexualize you or your peers. When we sexualize pixels on a screen we don’t see those pixels as a flesh and bone version of a human, we only see an idealized character whose age we are or have been and whose personality and experiences we want to safely explore.
Also really important: when we write/draw NSFW, we don’t write/draw it for teens to read. I repeat: WE DON’T CREATE NSFW CONTENT FOR TEENS. We’re not your parents or guardians, we write NSFW for whoever feels like they can handle seeing nsfw content. If you’re a teen that goes on the nsfw tag and then complains about it (I’m not saying that’s what you did here, I’m speaking generally), it’s only your fault for going in a tag that you weren’t comfortable to begin with.
- Speak up if you feel sexualized IRL in a way you don’t like;
- Learn how to use tumblr safely, block tags, understand that tumblr doesn’t do those things for you. Make your fandom experience exactly the one you want to see;
- Don’t trust adults who tell you this ship is somehow illegal: it’s not;
- Understand what’s behind fiction and fanfiction as a way we have to explore real life things (often too personal to write about as ourselves, so we project those things in characters we like);
- Understand that adulthood is not something that happens from one day to another;
- Learn to discern what content is meant to be consumed by a teen and what content isn’t;
- Be safe.