ESPECIALLY A FANDOM LIKE MERLIN OR SHERLOCK?
FIND A NEW HOBBY BECAUSE YOU CANNOT FANDOM CORRECTLY.
Look, here’s the thing.
I love slash. My main ships tend to be m/m ships. I get emotional about Merlin and Gwaine being in love, I’m pretty sure Percival and Elyan are boyfriends, Arthur and Eames are husbands, Shaun and Desmond are… they’re Shaun and Desmond.
Slash is great, because it allows me to imagine a world where people can be queer and it not be something to be ashamed of, afraid of, hidden, mocked, hated. It allows me to imagine a place where queer people can be in the media without being tokenized, without being victims, where it is just OKAY and real and normal.
But you know what? That doesn’t make what the vast majority of slash fandom does okay. What slash fandom tends to do is take male characters (typically white, often involved in het relationships in the source material) and, as you’ve put in scarequotes in your title, fetishize them.
That’s not the same as slashing them. Fetishizing is when you take these characters and use them for your erotic fantasies without respecting them as characters, as people. Because they are people; within the show, they have lives and desires and likes and dislikes, they have relationships with the people around them, they breathe, they think, they act, they don’t act. They are people.
Slash fandom often disregards personhood. The characters are no longer people; they become toys for the fan’s gratification. They are treated as sex objects, rather than real people.
And these sexual relationships slash fandom puts characters in tend to be largely based on gross stereotypes of gay men, the same stereotypes that are used to harm them offline, in the real world.
There’s something called the homosexual panic defense or gay panic defense that has been used in court to justify violence and murder of real life gay people, because the way someone acted led the perpetrator of the same sex to think they they could be propositioned, and it was so repulsive to them that they panicked, lost control.
I’m not saying that slash fandom is equatable to the gay panic defense; I’m saying that perpetuating stereotypes in even the smallest measurement (and slash fandom is not a small measurement) is harmful. Because there’s never just one instance of stereotyping. It’s every instance built on top of a previous one, stacking higher and higher until there are grave misconceptions about who a person is based on a single attribute that divest them of their personality, that mark them as strange and other and so unlike “normal” (which is, in much of media, assumed to be the straight white cis man) that they cease to become an actual person, and therefore cease to deserve the same rights and representation that the “normal” person is accustomed to.
And that’s huge. Having actual, real, solid representation is something that queer people, POC, women, people with disabilities, and all of the ways those intersect lack. All of these people, and there are many, do not get the same representation that the straight, white, cis man does. Where one is tokenized, villainized, fetishized, the other has a fully-fleshed out backstory, home environment, love interest, work situation, friendships, enemies, likes dislikes, the whole nine yards. The straight white cis man is a person. Everyone else is negligible.
And you know what? That’s not even getting into the way the white androcentrism the vast majority of media and fandom is based on, rooted in, completely marginalizes women and people of color. The white man almost always has more importance than any woman or person of color could ever hope for, and it’s still not enough. Fandom will routinely absolutely lambaste any woman of color who dares have any importance to the story, especially as a love interest to the straight white cis male lead. Just look at Guinevere and Martha Jones, who are both hated by fandom.
If you want to ship characters together, go right ahead. But don’t you dare tell me that the right way to participate in a fandom is to marginalize and deny personhood to these characters who represent real people for the sake of canonically straight white cis men who make homosexuality the butt of jokes. “No homo” is not real representation. Joking about how characters are acting like they’re gay and furiously denying it is not real representation.
That’s not my fandom.
If it’s yours, then I want no part of it.
Now this, this is what I was trying to get at when I made this post a long time ago. I’m sorry for not being articulate enough.
And I’d just like to add, if you feel the need to hating anyone for not making your couple “canon”, hate the writer! Don’t hate the woman/man who “gets in the middle of your ship” - specially not when said woman/man are in a relationship with one of your beloved characters; after all, remember: it takes two to tango.