Quick hit: SurveyFail, protest art, and RPS

Spend a day or two away from LJ/DW, get hopelessly behind on what’s happening in fandom’s latest Fail.

I first learnt of this new phase of the brouhaha via ivorygates’ post:

I am aware that many people don’t consider either NSFW manips such as this or RPS appropriate means with which to address the situation, due to perceived elements of “endorsement of rape as appropriate punishment”, elements of the stigmatization of sexual desire and expression as “dirty” or “perverted” or “wrong”, and elements of the marginalization and objectification of individuals for purposes of anger and hatred.

With respect for the vastly divergent spectrum of fandom opinion, I submit that whether or not these forms of fannish expression are the most situationally-useful means of changing the situation, such expressions are both firmly within the tradition of protest art, and (in the fashion of all good satires) take their specific elements from the material which they satirize.

This is all about this photoshop manip (NSFW, potentially triggery) posted by alchemia, which features the words:

Dr. Ogi hesitated before answering the survey question about which slashy fan-fic story he would most like to live out.

That one where Sai was the show host and he turned into a tentacle monster.

… and then illustrated them. Graphically. With one of the SurveyFail researcher’s face pasted on.

There’s discussion about it all over the place (and more via Linkspam on DW). Interesting and crunchy issues of consent, humiliation, protest, and humour.

8 thoughts on “Quick hit: SurveyFail, protest art, and RPS

  1. Terri

    I’m not sure I’d say it’s interesting and crunchy exactly. I’m pretty horrified by the fact that fandom’s using what seems like similar techniques to those used to drive people like Kathy Sierra off the web. And meanwhile there are a pile of people standing around debating free speech… it all sounds way too familiar for me, thanks.

    1. Skud Post author

      I see your point, but I think there are some very big differences. I suspect this is going to sound like “they asked for it” and I’m struggling with how to express it, but seriously, they asked a bunch of creators of erotic fanworks — some of whom, as they knew, create said fanworks about celebrities and other “real” people — ridiculous and inappropriate questions about their sexual identities and turn-ons, and did it in a really insulting way. The fans turning that around and saying “How do you like it, huh?” is different, to my mind, from doing similar things to someone just because she exists. I think there’s also a difference in the degree of realistic threat of (sexual) violence against the researchers: the incidence of men being raped (especially outside of prisons etc) is far lower than women, and AFAIK men don’t generally fear sexual violence from women, whereas the reverse is very different.

      I’m not saying I support the art 100%, or even anything close to that. But I do think there are things to consider, and a lot of them cross over with things that fans discuss a lot already. Such as: is it ever OK to depict/describe real people in sexual situations without their consent? If it’s only OK sometimes, then where is the dividing line? Does the creator’s intent matter? That, to me, is where it gets interesting.

      1. Terri

        The parallels between this kind of abuse and the kind of abuse women see online are… pretty clear and disturbing, including all the defenses of said abuse.

        And I really don’t buy that the researchers, being men, are going to be less threatened than women in a similar situation. They’ve made it clear that they think the community is filled with scary sexual deviants, and many men (and women) do fear what they view to be extreme sexual deviance.

  2. Asad

    The fans turning that around and saying “How do you like it, huh?” is different, to my mind,

    Yes, but did the punishment really fit the crime? Oh, there’s no doubt that what O&G were doing was annoying/misguided/insulting/etc. But what I saw repeatedly was that some of the acafen and fellow travelers in particular were stirring the pot for the opportunity to strike Grand Theoretical Postures of dubious necessary relation to the matter at hand. Dip me in formaldehyde and call me a masculinist promoter of hegemonic scientism, but ironically there just isn’t enough data there to conclude anything about monologic communication styles…

    1. Skud Post author

      You are showing your ignorance of the context. Pine’s post does not exist in a vacuum. And I have to point out that if you can’t listen to what women are saying without getting defensive, then this might not be the place for you.

      1. Asad

        I read most of the linkspam roundups from cover to cover and provided pine’s post as an example, but eruthros’ responses or any number of other posts would have done as an example, so I don’t think I’m missing a lot of necessary context. I don’t think it’s defensiveness or excessive intellectualizing-for-sport of people’s lives to suggest that there was/is a lot of unacknowledged Fail in the response to SurveyFail, and not only the badfic. I realize that both being a dude *and* an apparent minority of one (or very very few) on this doesn’t do wonders for my credibility here, but it’s quite possible for bad memes to take on a life of their own on the interwebz, regardless of the group it’s among or their particular status of social privilege.

        Nevertheless I *get* that you are telegraphing to me that this is the wrong place to disagree with a meme that is now among the undead, considering that even Terri’s response got a “but that’s different”, and so I’ll stop. I’ve just started a new blog and if I feel up to it I might summarize my objections. I’ll link back to it at that point if you don’t mind.

    2. Yatima

      Asad, please go and read (or reread) The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck.

      Note especially this passage:

      There are the occasions that men—intellectual men, clever men, engaged men—insist on playing devil’s advocate, desirous of a debate on some aspect of feminist theory or reproductive rights or some other subject generally filed under the heading: Women’s Issues. These intellectual, clever, engaged men want to endlessly probe my argument for weaknesses, want to wrestle over details, want to argue just for fun—and they wonder, these intellectual, clever, engaged men, why my voice keeps raising and why my face is flushed and why, after an hour of fighting my corner, hot tears burn the corners of my eyes. Why do you have to take this stuff so personally? ask the intellectual, clever, and engaged men, who have never considered that the content of the abstract exercise that’s so much fun for them is the stuff of my life.

Comments are closed.