there’s been a lot of debate in this fandom about whether or not mature rated fics are appropriate or not, and i’ve been mostly quiet on it but i finally have reached a breaking point on the matter and felt i needed to get this out.
there’s a lot of grey lines as far as fic writing and circumstance in a fandom like gmw. for me personally, i don’t mind fics where they curse. i don’t really mind make-out scenes when they’re written at an older point. a certain amount of physical intimacy is fine, especially when it’s written tastefully and thoughtfully. that makes sense to me. i don’t mind it. i understand it.
what i have severe issue with is the sudden rise of explicitly sexual content being written in this fandom. i know it’s always been around and i know it’s in every fandom, but in a fandom like this it makes my skin crawl and i’ve finally reached a point where i can’t just sit around and tolerate it.
i want to be very clear about what i mean by explicitly sexual content. i don’t mean implied sexual situations. i don’t mean depictions of the characters making out. for me to be waving a pitchfork about that would be hypocritical – there were some lowkey make-out scenes in gotor, and as long as scenes like that are handled thoughtfully and with care (which i think and hope i accomplished in my case), i’m perfectly fine with that. i’m not talking about that. that’s not the issue here.
i’m referring to fics in which the entire premise is about sex, also known as “pwp” = porn without plot. that’s my issue here. that’s what i’m discussing here. that’s the distinction that i want to be very clear about. i’m referring to the explicitly graphic fics that have been cropping up, that’s essentially porn with gmw characters names slapped onto it.
there’s absolutely no reason for there to be smut in the gmw fandom. there are tons of fandoms, tons of shows, where the characters are at an age appropriate place, the actors who portray the characters are not minors, where smut has a place and the consumption of it makes sense. i don’t have an issue with smut, i understand it’s place in fandom. but not this one.
“but we aged the characters up!!” doesn’t matter. i understand aging them up in some contexts to confront some other more adult issues (look at gotor), but doing it explicitly so you can put these minors in explicit sexual situations isn’t right. because the actors are still young (most are still minors), and regardless of whether they’re aged up, that’s the faces that people will be visualizing when they read this content.
rowan herself has already had to face gross sexualization, and has been vocal about her discomfort with it. people were counting down the days until peyton was 18 and “legal,” mostly by older members of the fandom. these are the role models of a younger audience and not our toys to sexualize and grovel over. and when we, the older members of the fandom, perpetuate that thinking and share that mindset with our younger followers, we’re only adding to the problem. there are plenty of adult actors for you to put in these fantasies. take it somewhere else.
the argument i’ve seen made CONSTANTLY is “if you don’t like it, don’t read it.” and i’m sorry, but no. that’s not okay. that’s not how this works. because this is a fandom of predominantly minors, and we all know what it’s like to be new in a fandom. for a lot of younger followers, this may very well be their first fandom. you’re looking for a sense of community. you don’t know how to filter through fics. you read what’s going around and you take what you can get.
i can remember being in the pjo fandom when i was young, and looking for fic and being uncomfortable with how sexual some fics were. it took me a while to realize that i didn’t have to read them, because i was young and trying to read what the majority was reading. yes, everyone is responsible for what they choose to read, but the younger members of fandom are still learning. they’re still figuring out what they’re comfortable with. and a fandom like gmw, meant for younger audiences, should be a safe place to figure that out.
particularly as an older member of this fandom, we have a responsibility to make our blogs a safe space for the younger members of this fandom. the fact that i’ve received more than one ask, often on anonymous, expressing discomfort about the way their favorite characters are being sexualized in this fandom is disheartening and what really motivates me to speak up. because this isn’t about my personal experience – i’ve been on the internet for years now and have scrolled past enough pwp to last a lifetime. this is about my young followers who are genuinely uncomfortable with how relationships of their beloved characters – particularly ones who have been shown to have a relationship that is about MORE than physical intimacy – are being shown in a fandom where they’re supposed to feel safe.
as a writer, i’m all for people writing what they want to write and sharing the stories they want to see. but this is where i draw the line. this is not a matter of “don’t like, don’t read.” this is matter of respecting the young audience that this show was intended for. because this show was made for them, this fandom was made for them, and we don’t get to come in with our older life experience and suddenly make the rules about what’s appropriate and what isn’t.