I'm pretty sure most "anti-anti" discourse will ultimately just be used as a tool to deflect any and all criticism, or to accuse critics of being terrible people themselves. Especially with you all patting yourselves on the back about how morally superior you are.
deflect criticism of what? fanworks?
Hm. I can see how it might be easy to conclude that, depending on your previous fandom experiences, but I have to disagree on the whole.
To be perfectly honest, my gut reaction to this ask was ‘this sounds like projection’ because this ask is a list of things anti-shippers do. Anti-shippers regularly deflect any and all criticism of their behavior and harassing tactics by exercising logical debate fallacies, accuse critics of being terrible people by accusing them of supporting or participating in rape/pedophilia/incest/abuse irl, and pat each other on the back for how morally superior they are to those nasty [insert nasty name-of-the-week for bad shippers here]. And maybe you’re referring to ‘anti-antis’ who go after antis with the same intimidation and harassment tactics that anti-shippers use, purposely retaliating with similar behavior. (I don’t condone that shit, or people who send nasty anons to antis (suicide bait tw), or anything else that involves abusing another person.)
What is ‘anti-anti discourse’ in this instance? I’m going to guess you mean ‘telling people it’s okay to ship what they like, write what they like, and do fandom how they like, even if others find their ships and fanworks to be uncomfortable’. In other words, advocating for fandom to stop weighing content on its moral value or kid-friendliness.
If you come from the school of thought that fandom must be made across-the-board ‘safe’* by no longer allowing fans to create or share headcanons, theories, or fanworks that contain amoral, dark, or nsfw content, I can see why the ‘ship what you like/your kink is not my kink and that’s okay/just tag your shit and do whatever’ attitude towards fandom feels like it’s setting up for all criticism to be ignored. If your frame of reference for fandom is evaluating everything on how safe and moral it is, saying ‘actually, everything is permissible in fiction’ means there’s nothing you can possibly criticize.
But fandom didn’t wait for morality and social justice to become the centerpiece to criticize fanworks and fan spaces; we used the original canon and liberal values as our ammunition instead of purity points. We wrote long meta about why slashfic was bad, then about why slashfic was good, then about why mlm fic was so much more popular and common than wlw fic, then about how to write mlm fic in realistic/respectful ways. We’ve debated repeatedly on what’s appropriate to write about and what isn’t, and if we need to cross decency lines, how do we protect people who don’t want to see it? We’ve had massive ship wars over which ship was more canon (instead of which ship was more moral, and thus most deserves to be canon). Nor did we wait for current minors to complain about adults to figure out ways to make fandom spaces safer for people to navigate. We created tagging systems to help people avoid content that disgusted or harmed them. We then criticized each other’s tag usage and demanded more and more specific tags to help us weed out fics that would squick us (or find fics that hit the right kinks). We created 18+ only spaces on our geocities websites and mailing lists, and locked 18+ content on our Livejournals so that underage people who wanted to get access had to lie about their ages, knowing that what they were about to encounter was not intended for them. (figuring out how to make this work on web 2.0, designed to bring us all the content no matter what, has been very difficult.)
But mainly, we just assumed everybody was on the same page about real world morals: incest irl was bad, dating a minor irl if you were an adult was bad, abuse of any kind irl was bad. We might debate about how to respect the online spaces of others, but we didn’t doubt that everyone knew these things were shitty.**
You’ll notice some of these debate points aren’t that different from what antis and shippers ‘debate’ today. But when we debated these things without assuming that the morals of people with opposing views were fundamentally fucked up, it allowed a much more open, nuanced dialogue because people weren’t on their guard, waiting to be personally attacked. When we stopped treating ships and kinks as personal preferences but rather as personal value statements, we lost the ability to have nuanced conversations about the underlying reasons these ship types and kink types were so prevalent.
I can never reply without writing a novel, can I? But my point is this: ‘Anti-anti discourse’ doesn’t stop people from critiquing fanworks, or figuring out ways to make fandom safer for both teens and adults, or talking about the potential harm that dark content can cause. By asserting that deeply personal things like what kind of romantic dynamic pings you or what sexual kinks you have are personal, and you are free to indulge that (and others are free to avoid/ignore it), it actually makes fandom criticism less loaded, more nuanced, and more enriching, letting everyone think for themselves instead of being scared into silence.
PS - I’m so curious why you say anti-antis are ‘patting each other on the back for moral superiority’. Do you think I feel morally superior because I don’t direct personal attacks at anti-shippers? Is ‘patting each other on the back’ the act of reblogging from others because you agree with them? Or is it something else?
Cause I’ll tell you what: I don’t really care about the moral superiority of anybody. All I care about is people taking the time to be just and kind to one another. And I’m trying to do that myself (though who knows how much I succeed).
*’safe’ in scare quotes here because I so entirely disagree with the concept of a heavily censored space being ‘safe’ that I have to point out this is really, really not safe by using scare quotes.
**And maybe that assumption was a bit of a blind spot - a generation gap between fans who grew up without the internet and fans who grew up with it.