Every once in a while I find myself writing things that I feel are self-explanatory. Of course, shipper does not equal bad fan. Of course shippers have as much of a right to enjoy what they enjoy as people who don’t like any ships, people who enjoy just the history/action/bromance or any other aspect of a TV show. This shouldn’t even need to be stated.
And yet, it does. So here I am.
People watch TV for many, many reasons, and they relate to certain characters and not others for many, many reasons as well, reasons that have to do with their personal circumstances, upbringing, experiences and the people in their immediate circles, as well as just plain old taste.
You just like some things more than others, simple as that. No explanation needed. We are all different. We like different things.
Besides, how boring would it be if we agreed on everything?
However, increasingly, in fandom, it seems like if the thing you dare to like is the romance, then you need not just to explain yourself, no, you need to justify yourself, and you need to do it with a list of examples, flow charts and, of course, without those dreaded emotions.
Especially if you’re a woman. Men can like whatever they like, for the reasons they like, even if those reasons make absolutely no sense. Having a penis is just THAT liberating.
*insert eye roll*
Women, however? We need a list of reasons why we like the thing we like, oh, and we also need to prove we like it in a way that’s acceptable to the fandom gatekeepers (usually men, no matter what fandom you’re part of), or we’ll be labeled ‘bad fans.’
I’m here to call bullshit on that kind of thinking.
First of all, as I’ve discussed before, there is no such thing as a bad fan. There’s no such thing as a good fan, either. There are just fans. We can like a thing any way we so choose and absolutely no one should have a say in how we like something or why.
So, if I like the romance more than any other aspect of the show, guess what? That’s okay! Just as it’s okay to not like any romance, to abhor every character but one, to love all the canon characters and dynamics, to only love non-canon ships and think the show has made the worst and most unimaginative choices, etcetera.
That’s the thing about being a fan, there are no rules. You can like whatever you like, any way you like it.
Or at least, you should be able to.
And here we go back to the problem of fandom gatekeeping, and the labels of good and bad fans. But it’s importantly, especially for women; to recognize that those labels, usually employed by people still pushing an agenda of internalized misogyny, don’t define you.
They don’t define how you experience entertainment.
In fact, no one does but you.
So, if you watch a show only because two characters make your heart aflutter and their love reminds you of what love should be about, if you legitimately care more about their fictional relationship than anything else the show has ever given you, then I say more power to you.
You know what you like, and that’s honestly, half the battle.
Don’t let others tell you not just what you should like, but how you should like it. The only people who’ll try to do this are people who disagree with you, and people who understand the world of fandom (and often, life itself) as a zero sum game.
It’s their way or the highway.
But fandom has never been the exclusionary bubble these people want it to be. It never will be. Fandom is a place for everyone. It’s a place for the young and the old, a place that welcomes all races and sexual orientations, a place where absolutely everyone can find something to relate to.
It’s even a place where we can create those things, if we’re having a hard time finding them.
So, take your joy, take your fandom, and make it your own. Reclaim what you love from the hands of the trolls and would be know-it-alls who are desperate to tell you how to experience shit.
Love what you love. Write fic. Draw. Write metas. Go on gif spirals. Or do none of these things, but tune in, every week, just for how those two idiots look at each other. As long as that’s what you want, it’s perfectly okay.
Your fandom, your love, your choice.
Simple as that.
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