(1/5) Hi, I have some questions about real person shipping, and I hope you can help me out. I used to be an antishipper (not involved in discourse, just quietly thinking that some ships are bad/harmful) but reading the arguments of you and others has helped me changed my mind since then - people can do with fictional character whatever they want cause you can’t hurt fictional characters. But I still don't get how shipping real people and writing fics about them is okay.
Some context- I’m ace, somewhat sex repulsed and a csa survivor. The thought that anyone (who is not a partner who knows and respects my boundaries) could think about me in a sexual context makes me incredibly uncomfortable, to the point where I never wear any revealing clothes, even if I’d like to because they’re pretty or it’s just really hot outside, so I don’t „encourage“ people to think of me as hot or sexy. Knowing that if I was a celebrity, there might be people who write porn involving me makes me physically sick to think about. Now, I’m not a celebrity, but I can’t help but think that there is no way of knowing if a certain celebrity feels the same way - they might be sex repulsed, ace or a survivor, and even if they’re not -isn’t writing smut about them still some form of involving someone in a sexual context without their consent? (Even if they might never know about it.) It just feels incredibly invasive. (Tbh, I’m also uncomfortable with people fantasising about others without their consent - when I had a crush on my friend, I never allowed myself to fantasise about more than holding hands and hugging, both things we’d already sometimes do platonically. But I realise this is getting close to thought policing, something I really don’t want to do, so I just try not to think about that.) (5/5) I really don’t want to be judgemental, but I can’t help feeling that with shipping real people you can also hurt real people. Maybe you can help me understand why it’s not as bad as it seems to me?
Apologies for answering so late, have had a hell of a lot on my plate recently.
First, I get where you’re coming from, I really do. I also have a very complex relationship with sex and sexuality and everything that surrounds it, also due to abuse during childhood (I have stretches of time when I can be accurately described as ‘oversexed’ and am naturally kinky, but there are also times when I can’t bear to be touched or looked at with any kind of desire. As you can imagine, it’s caused quite a few problems in my relationships, over the years).
One place where we differ, however (and I worry about being able to reach consensus, specifically because mine is an almost completely opposite view of the world) is the fact that I take a very firm stance on my various personal issues being specifically that – personal. This means that it’s not obligatory for the rest of the world to shape itself around me and my particular needs, save for what is already accepted as common social courtesy – making sure that the environment and the available tools are structured in such a way that I can simply not deal with whatever I can’t handle. This is, fundamentally, more so than the ‘fictional people aren’t real’ thing, what stands at the crux of my displeasure with the whole anti thing (well, this and the fact that the whole thing is incredibly authoritarian in nature, but I’ve talked about that before). I can understand that others see this differently and sympathize with their position, but that always firmly stops at ‘and this is why one mustn’t do X or Z’ arguments.
As far as real-people-fiction and shipping is concerned, I’ve always been of the opinion that it’s not something problematic if common-sense and common courtesy are respected. Meaning:
- keeping it firmly away from the people it depicts (something that youngsters in fandom these days have a clear problem actually doing)
- understanding that one is working with a ‘public persona’, rather than an exact image of the individual in question
- tagging it for who wants to avoid RPF
- limiting its distribution (the best example for this last point is AO3′s ability to make certain fics show only to logged-in users, something that most of the other RPF writers I know have turned on by default)
- being able to treat it as a fictional exercise and separating it from reality (meaning no bloody temper tantrums that Band Member So-and-So is dating a woman, instead of Band Member Such-and-Such!)
I go a bit farther and write fics focused mostly on people who are no longer with us, usually by a difference or a few decades, specifically to ensure that the person in question never accidentally runs into the thing, even with all precautions.
What really baffles me, in all this recent shouting against RPF on here, is that we’re not talking about some recent social aberration or whatever else along those lines. The common people writing fictive narratives about the beautiful, the notorious, the rich and powerful, is as old as the written word. Hell, as old as spoken language, I’d argue – the history of my people is littered with orally transmitted tales about the exploits, sexual or military, of various warlords, most being traced back to the time when the warlords themselves were still alive. We’ve got what could be argued as RPF, written about the rulers of the day, all the way from ancient Egypt and we’d likely have had sources from ancient Sumeria and Babylon as well, if not for the fact that most of the clay tablets that were preserved dealt with financial transactions. It looks frankly odd, to me, such a campaign against something that’s been with us for most of our history and that’s been used for everything from bawdy tales to subversive political manifestos.
It’s perfectly a-okay to be squicked out by RPF on principle and to not want to deal with it. That’s something I support fully. I also support criticism of how some RPF fans behave (the utter shitshow that is the One Direction fandom is a prime example here – I’m not even in that fandom and I still cringe at some of the shit I hear!) I come down hard myself when the rules I listed above aren’t obeyed. My problems inevitably start when the whole ‘stop writing this!’ thing gets put into motion, as always.