|megpie71 (megpie71) wrote,|
@ 2020-07-18 14:43:00
A general retort to some arguments circulating in fandom at present
Content note: deals with fandom discourse; "You" throughout this screed is very much used in the general plural, rather than the individual specific. This came about as a response to a long thread on Twitter; I'm moving it here because I think Dreamwidth (and blogging in general) is a bit more suited to long-form thought and discussion than Twitter will ever be.
The first thing I have to say is this: a lot of the arguments I'm seeing against people writing "Bad Things" on the internet seem to rely implicitly on the accepted existence of a hypothetical child of an impressionable age, who has parents (and other supervising adults, such as babysitters and teachers) who have all abrogated their responsibility and duty of care toward this child utterly and totally - a child who has absolutely no adults in their ambit who are safe to ask questions about issues such as sexual matters, adult behaviours, moral behaviours, ethical behaviours, the expectations of the child's culture on adults and children, and so on. (A child who is also, apparently, utterly unable to pick up hints about what is good and bad from their wider culture, and completely unable to learn from experience). A child who is utterly reliant on the actions of complete strangers on the internet for ALL of their parenting. Which, if this is happening, is a terrible thing, and definitely worth being concerned about.
However, what I'm not seeing is any proof there's even one child in this situation, much less that this scenario is a widespread issue worthy of being concerned about. "What if X?" is a lovely thought experiment, and it's a great premise for a story, or a comic book series, but if you're wanting to make real-world changes, you need to start by proving your "what if" scenario is a real-world problem in the first place. Unfortunately, this means doing things like finding out if your hypothetical "children at risk" actually exist in the real world to begin with, rather than assuming that because you can think of a thing, it must necessarily exist. Which is the big step a lot of people involved in this argument appear to have neglected.
The next argument is "you don't know who's reading your work, and how they're going to take it". And you know what? You're right. I don't know who reads my stuff (not all of them - I get an idea of who my readers are from things like comments and kudos on AO3, but otherwise, my readers are pretty much anonymous to me), or how they interpret it. The thing is, you haven't proved in any way it is necessarily my responsibility to know this. (You've asserted this. Assertion is not proof).
In the absence of definitive proof my creating a thing means I am responsible in perpetuity for the ways other people interpret and are affected by my work (which I note again, has not been provided), I will continue to assert my responsibility for the effects of my work stops when I choose whether or not to make it public. I take the step of tagging and warning, I write summaries and authors notes to make my intentions clear to other people where I feel these need to be clarified. But after that, my readers are on their own. I am not a greater expert on the contents of their heads than they are. If they choose to read something I have written (and that I have warned for and tagged with appropriate tags and so on) which causes them to feel upset, unhappy, traumatised or similar... well, I am not responsible for their choice. I extend to all my readers the right to be a damn fool should they choose to be - this is one of the genuinely inalienable rights of humanity.
It should be noted: in general, Western society does not believe creating a thing means you are perpetually responsible for the ways it is used or interpreted by others, or that you necessarily should be. I do find it fascinating the test case where this theory is being applied is apparently fanfiction, rather than, for example, auto-mobile manufacture, arms and ammunition manufacture, the brewing of spirituous liquors, or cigarette manufacture. I mean, this couldn't possibly have anything to do with the majority of fanfic writers being female, and a significant minority of them also being in groups such as persons of colour, persons who aren't heterosexual, persons who aren't cisgender, persons who are indigenous, persons who are members of cultural and religious minorities and so on, rather than wealthy corporations run by rich white heterosexual cismen with a lot of money to throw at the lawyers.
I'm being handed an unsupported assertion of a responsibility which isn't widely accepted to exist, justified by an appeal to a hypothetical case which also isn't proven to exist.
Strong case being built there.
Can you see why I (a person who is autistic, and who therefore prefers to deal in data and facts, because those are relatively indisputable) might be just a bit sceptical about it?
Now, before someone brings up the argument of "but what about the children out there who are on the internet unsupervised", here's a brief look into what would have been my philosophy of parenting, had I had the spectacularly poor taste to become a mother. Firstly, I believe in letting children and young adults learn things (within the ranges of age-appropriateness) - and sometimes, you have to learn things the hard way. You learn to avoid touching the hot stove by getting burned, you learn to deal with pain by getting hurt, you learn how to self-soothe by having to manage your own pain, and you learn to deal with psychological pain by undergoing it. This is not to say I'm in favour of deliberately inflicting pain - but rather, I don't believe in bubble-wrapping the universe, cushioning all the corners and hiding the sharp edges. Which is to say: in letting a young adult make mistakes (such as reading the Wrong Thing on the internet) and learn from it ("back button!"; "filter out anything with X tag"; "don't go back to that site in a hurry") I figure I'd be doing that young adult the best turn I could as a parent. You're welcome. Also, if you're on the internet without supervision, and you need supervision, well, that's for you to ask for - but the internet was, and always has been, primarily an adult space, not a child-safe, or even child-friendly one.
Notes and definitions:
* Child - generically, a legal term for a person under the age of legal majority in most cultures. More accurately, this can be broken down to: birth to three months - baby; three to twelve months - infant; twelve months to 2 years - toddler; 2 years to 5 years - pre-schooler; 5 years to 8 years - young child; 8 - 12 years - child; 12 - 15 years - teenager; 15 - 18 years - young adult.
 Both of which argue there are far more serious problems to be worrying about with this hypothetical child than just "what if they see a Bad story on the internet?", but let's not get sidetracked here.
 I have chronic endogenous depression, a chronic anxiety disorder, and both of these mean firstly, I'm rather self-centred and self-focussed; and secondly, I manage to neglect my own self-care on a regular basis (feeding, sleeping, avoiding anxiety triggers etc). I can barely care for myself consistently - how can I say I'd be capable of being responsible for another human being?
 Oddly enough, that's one argument which is always missing from these sorts of online moral disputes - the one which goes "I cannot trust myself to behave in a moral or responsible manner, so I need X regulated away from me, and I need other people to help me stay away from it". Nope, always being argued on behalf of someone else... and I find myself wondering whether this someone else ever actually asked for the "assistance" in the first place? This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/145677.h