and to tag dirk strider in something i have to tag it as

8

He woke tho

since dirkcourse is going on god knows I gotta open my mouth

I’m not trying to vague here cause god knows I hate vagueing but I want to weigh in on the current dirkcourse so here’s this. it’s addressed at all the of the dirk tag and current discourse going around. 

(for reference in this post I am defining soft dirk as a dirk who has the narrative/artistic focus more on his softer or gentler traits, his love for his friends or his desperate crush on jake english, instead of his manipulative tendencies or his facade of assholishness or his need to try and be stoic 24/7. it dwells more on his intense feelings for other people and self-sacrificing over perceived elitism or snide condescension, both of which are traits that I feel dirk only plays up as part of his “coolguy” persona. the appearance part is mostly unrelated aside from some stuff about hypermasculinity we’ll get into in a second)

anyway if it’s longtime fandom cred we’re going for, here’s my experience, as someone who’s read homestuck since 2010:

it was impossible to escape abuser dirk. 

people posted shit in the dirk and dirkjake tags on the daily reminding you that if you didn’t “acknowledge” how abusive their relationship was, you were an apologist. trying to counter this argument got you angry posts from various people in the group perpetuating that. you got called an apologist. accused of shouting over survivors. in the rare cases that survivors spoke up and asked to please stop getting called apologist for shipping something fucking fictional between teenagers, they were told to stop shouting over minors. they were told they needed to stop defining their lives by their abuse. they were asked why they hadn’t grown up and gotten over it. they had campaigns and crusades and mocking group circlejerks going after them for expressing a view of dirk that didn’t align with popular fanon.

I wouldn’t say this is the popular reading of dirk anymore. but the only reason I’d say that’s true is because the people driving this, the people making sure everyone knew abuser dirk was “canon,” aren’t into homestuck much anymore, aside from one or two of them. but you have to understand, this shit was inescapable. big names in the fandom lexicon, like shelby, treated dirk’s abusiveness as an obvious fact. you couldn’t write dirk meta without either dancing franticallly around the subject or just disclaiming it at the beginning with “I know dirk is an abuser,” even if you didn’t agree with it. if you didn’t do these things, you were guaranteed asks and condescending vague posts or callouts about you disagreeing. 

and for that matter, the idea that it’s completely gone away isn’t even true. landofsomethingsomething didn’t even get into homestuck until last year and didn’t start writing fic until post act 7 and still got an ask demanding why she shipped dirkjake, couldn’t she see how unhealthy and bad it was? didn’t she care about the opinions of survivors? 

all of this is without touching on how big masculine semi-wolverine dirk was the more popular version in fanart (especially in het, but also in slash) and how usually he looked like a miniature bro, often older than the other characters. this is without talking about how people deliberately read in the worst to everything he said, pointing to his “let’s go raiding” line with jake and shouting about how manipulative that was or him breaking up with jake as proof he was trying to force jake to hook back up with him. this is without touching on how the phrase “strider manpain” became a blanket mocking phrase to make fun of anybody who cared about dirk or dave’s feelings – complete with mocking anybody who thought dave’s selfie shit was a semi-mental breakdown (which it was) or that dirk sitting on the edge of the roof was him contemplating suicide (which it sort of was, but to be technical, it was more suicide-plus-murder). 

artists left homestuck fandom because the discourse wore them out. several artists I personally FOLLOW deleted most of their dirkjake content because they didn’t want to deal with the discourse anymore and they were tired of being called apologist. one artist made a misstep with some of their art and got so bombarded by asks calling them an abuse apologist and rape supporter that they pretty much quit tumblr for weeks. several dirkjakes I know have expressed that during the 2011-2014 (or so, it depends) era they were outright afraid to participate in the fandom. even most of the popular dirkjake content producers (who I’m sure are on the list of “soft dirks”) bought into the dialogue that dirk was abusive. that’s without getting into how dudebros kicked it up, how dudebros talked about that andrew hussie only wrote dirkjake to mock slashers and “prove” to them that slash between two random dudes could never work. that’s without talking about how dudebros figured dirk, such a violent person, could only have black feelings for jake. that’s without talking about how dirk/uu people routinely either gave dirkjakes the runaround for “denying abuse” or talked about how dirk, as a gay dude, was OBVIOUSLY too hardcore and too kinky for a gentle cinnamon roll like jake. (and the “cinnamon roll jake” discourse is something I could write about 5 more posts about.)

it was inescapable.

look, I know fandom is gigantic and what you see depends on the following you curate, but keep in mind that applies both ways. just because you never saw it doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. I’m sure there were corners of fandom where this dialogue wasn’t mainstream and softboy dirk was. but in a lot of the fandom, abusive hypermasculine wolverine sideburns dirk was the only thing we saw. asshole dirk was all we could find because if you didn’t do asshole dirk, you were Problematic.

Dirk tells his friends he cares

Dirk calls himself “a heart player who was just a stone cold motherfucker” but Dirk is wrong. Not only is that not true about how he really feels, it isn’t even true about how he acts.

Dirk shows himself to be open when it comes to expressing his love and care for his friends.  The dude is not cagey about his emotional attachment to them.

He’s more than willing to tell them how much he cares about them and wants to do things with them:

As well as give them praise, especially if they’re putting themselves down:

He’s also willing to be honest with his criticisms:

Sometimes he gives praise and criticism at the same time:

Dirk loves his friends, and he isn’t cold or distant about it. He tells them to their face by trying to encourage and support them with honest feedback, whether praise or criticism—after all, what value does praise have without honest critique?—and expressions of his affection and enthusiasm for them. This doesn’t always pan out but he really does try. 

From what we can tell, there are very few things he’s actually cagey about with his friends. These seem to mostly be things that would would reveal that he was hurt or upset by something: emotions related to his own feelings rather than emotions related to himself.

He doesn’t let on to Roxy exactly why her comments about his sexuality/her flirting make him uncomfortable, he also hides how fucked up he is and how much he hates himself from them, and he avoids total honesty about how he feels about flirt-LARPING and the AR and his Bro frequently. None of those are that strange to hold back on. He also avoided directly confessing to Jake, which is presumably related to Jake’s “And years ago i used to joke around with him that we would probably be totally into each other if he was a girl” comment. Admitting a crush to a friend is particularly difficult when stigma around sexuality comes into play. 

All of these are emotions where he’d have to risk exposing aspects of himself he isn’t ready to. Other than those and being from the future, he’s open, honest, and direct in his affections, praise, and criticisms. He is not cagey when it comes to what he feels about people.

After all, it’s DIRK who is the clingy, overbearing boyfriend.

Sure, he has the facial expressiveness of a teaspoon. But you can probably give a kid who grew up totally alone a break on that. Dirk makes up for it in sincere comments about how much he cares for his friends, all the time, to their faces and in conversations with other people. Dirk loves his friends and he tries to let them to know it.

So much for a stone cold motherfucker.