ur post about fic & racism in the supergirl fandom really got me thinking (especially about my own biases so thank you) but also like, how there’s this incredibly pervasive but subtle new form of racism I haven’t seen b4 in other fandoms? Like on one hand u have this loud condemnation of how racist monel is & how he was a slave owner blabh blah but no corresponding attention given to the existing Black characters. 1/4
I get wlw not wanting to write m/f fic but a lot of the fandom doesn’t reblog (or make) any of the gifsets, they don’t meta for him they don’t call for more screen time for Mehcad. Same for M’gann. SO many posts talking about how awful monel is compare him to Lena and strangely don’t mention the Black female character who also came from an oppressive society to become a hero? And there are like, idk, 4 people? Who write or post wlw fic with M’gann in it? 2/4
Same with Maggie. A huge segment of fandom decided Floriana is white (even tho hollywood clearly won’t cast her in roles for white women) so they use that as an excuse to exclusively stan the very light skinned white wlw. And the way it carries over to the characters, like, okay Flo is white? but Maggie is absolutely treated like a woc in how parts of fandom aggressively ignore her & find ways to demonize her character while overtly supporting lighter skinned characters ¾
And that same part of the fandom doesn’t ever seem to create content for Lucy or Vasquez either. IDK this isn’t something u can probably explore with stats but ur post really got me thinking and it just feels really gross now bc I see all these posts condemning racism but there’s still this extreme perpetuation of privileging white characters at the same time? & I haven’t seen this particular trend in fandom b4 4/4
Oh, anon, this made my day. I have a bunch of notes waiting in a doc to address the whole Mon-El thing with regard to the racist undertones and the rhetoric used by the show to frame his storyline, and I will do my best to write it before the season comes back again, because I genuinely think they tried to aim high and just … missed completely. (But I make no promises because my thesis defense is on Tuesday.)
To your first point re: fandom attitudes – I was surprised in the early half of S2 when so many people came out of the woodwork making posts in the main tag like “wait, why did they get rid of Kara/James??” because, oh right, nobody acted like they cared for almost twelve straight months. If y’all were so okay with this ship, where were you to acknowledge its social significance when it was canon? Where are you now? Why hasn’t there been an outpouring of tweets week after week at the execs and the writers for sidelining an interracial couple in favor of what we’re getting, especially since the storyline literally handwaved away human trafficking and slavery as minor plot points?
Not only that, when there’s unrealized potential for a non-canon ship there is typically an outpouring of fic in response, and while there’s been a statistically significant amount of new Karolsen fic in S2 because it’s pretty easy to top zero percent, the writing there is not keeping pace with any of the other dude-involved pairings.
And you’re right, anon: it is not possible to prove anything with stats. HOWEVER, thanks to the addition of these new characters for S2, I *am* at the point now where it’s possible to see correlation between character race and fan engagement with different pairing choices. And the bias is there, whether it’s in the het pairings, the femslash, or even the m/m pairings. The whole reason I started tracking fic outputs in the first place was that any attempt to have this conversation last year devolved into yelling and finger-pointing because “you have no proof!” that racial bias is a thing. Except, yanno, all the POC who live with it daily saying that it’s a thing. Well, congratulations y’all: your choices leave digital footprints behind that are pretty easy to follow and chart for everyone to see.
This isn’t actually a new problem, by the way – racism and preferencing of white pairing happens a lot, in almost every fandom. The only difference maybe is that I’ve experimented with quantifying it, which is not something that people usually do when they study fandoms or fan behavior.
It pains me to no end that M’gann has been so overlooked, because her story has just as many dark character beats to it as Lena’s, if not more, plus the added bonus of her sharing a sense of “otherness” with Kara in a way that few other people can. And there is no way the disinterest in that pairing isn’t about race, because there are a whole bunch of ships from S1 between white women who’d never even met each other in canon that have more romantic fics than M’gann/anyone.
And the nonsense about Floriana, which I’ll remind everyone again was started by a white girl, had a demonstrable chilling effect on interest in Sanvers as a pairing. Like. I can actually show that on paper. And you’re absolutely right with what you said above, which bears repeating: Maggie is absolutely treated like a woc in how parts of fandom aggressively ignore her & find ways to demonize her character.
There’s also a treatment of Floriana herself that reminds me uncomfortably of how people went out of their way to demonize Naya Rivera’s personal life whenever she reminded the world she was black instead of just “very tan.” And a lot of the rhetoric people are using to talk about Floriana’s racial heritage is almost verbatim the same as what you’ll find on white supremacist discussion boards about Italian people. I’d love to think this is an accident, but I’ve made some people pretty angry for pointing this out in the past, so I suspect it’s at least partially deliberate.
Lucy was another case that drove me insane, for two reasons:
- The vast majority of femslash fans flat-out ignored her as a romantic choice even though there were a whole lot of good reasons to ship her with either Kara or Alex, and a whole lot less negative reasons not to. (And it’s not like Supercat was already dominating the scene before Lucy’s character was introduced. That ship only became popular after the movie Carol came out during the winter hiatus of S1.)
- People had the same fight last year about whether or not Lucy counted as a WOC and ultimately insisted that the answer was no. But then people kept on ignoring her anyway like somehow dubiously legal boss/employee relationships, potential treason, and incest were more logical bases for attraction.
Also, to the people who have been like “oh yay we could’ve had Dichen as Maggie, a real WOC” like somehow this would have made the fandom love her more – you’re full of shit. If you mean that, why has there been so little fic about Dichen as Roulette? Like, last year there were a whole bunch of shipfics featuring Livewire. There was Kara/Siobhan. And yet … no dark scenarios of Supergirl/Roulette? No Alex ones? There were even a bucketload of those for each Danvers sister + Max Lord, and this fandom isn’t even that into dudes. You’re telling me no one is interested in this kind of hero/villain dynamic with the Asian chick and somehow that’s not also about race?