current location: West Bawlmer
current mood: busy
current song: officemate's Pandora
I was on the bus last night, half-assedly researching on my phone, when I ended up on an article (from the heyday of Fifty Shades) about some academic study on atypical fantasies. I've been on the internet since 1993, so I have a passing familiarity with those, and I was curious. As with any article about a scientific study, it was high on drama and low on actual information, but hey, I do not have high standards when my brain is boiling in my skull.
One of the findings was that women distinctly separated things they fantasized about from things they wanted to happen in reality, and gave the example of sexual submission. I kind of laughed in my head, and thought about women in my old office avidly discussing 50SOG, and moved on to the rest of the article and its oh-so-shocking conclusions (women are more faithful than men, even in fantasy; men want to have anal sex with women;
the sky is blue voyeurism is a thing).
So basically I shook my head and moved on in my linkspiral.
But somehow, that percolated overnight, and I woke up this morning thinking that it explained so much. Sure, I think we can all understand why women might separate fantasy submission from reality – I have been looking since I was fifteen, and I still don't know any men IRL I'm both sexually attracted to and able to trust with that kind of power exchange – but just think for a minute about the converse conclusion, the one that was not stated outright, because of course the masculine perspective is default and we need only point out how women are weird:
Men do not separate things they fantasize about from things they want to happen in reality.
If there's no separation there, if fantasy is the same as want, as pursuit… possibly even as need, or at least the perception of need? Well, okay, there's a neat explanation of rape culture right there, but did we really need another?
What it brought into perspective for me was the struggle we have with fanworks. Not the copyright thing, I mean, but… am I dating myself by referencing the LJ drama of Strikethrough 2007? (That's like a century ago in internet years, I know.) I'm not active in fandom the way I used to be, so newer stuff is more on my periphery, but I know it still goes on, the kick/ban/block/delete of users and works – and, more frequently, criticism and shunning that can effect the same result – because of prurient content. I don't think there's been anything on that level, more recently (safe spaces in fandom having changed quite a bit) but even for historical perspective, so to speak, it's interesting.
Because what that finding tells me is that these men who ran the company that owned this platform… they were coming from a perspective where fantasy directly translates to reality. Where if you are writing or drawing Snape with underage Harry, or whatever other thing someone finds objectionable, that's what you want to actually happen – what you intend to replicate in some way with real people. Where your depiction of your mental happy-place (or intrigue-place, or whatever) is actually a declaration of intent.
Chew on that for a minute. (And then wonder how much that perspective influences the stigma about RPF.) I don't know about you, but I find that horribly fucking frightening, because… how do you even begin to change an attitude – about sexuality, about gender, about consent, hell, about fanworks or entertainment in general or even politics – when the disconnect is so fundamental? Where do you start, when you have to begin by convincing people that there's a difference between inside your head and outside?