When I Became a Mom I Put Away Childish Things

Today’s guest post is by aca-fan Kristina Busse. She is the co-editor of the journal Transformative Works and Cultures and blogs at ephemeral traces.

My name is Kristina. I am a mother and a fan.

On my blog I have a variety of designators I use to try to articulate my identity–academic, teacher, wife, expatriate–and yet none of these may get as close to the center of my being these days as the two with which I started this essay. And maybe none of the others are as contested and in as much constant turmoil as these two. Oddly enough, I took on both these identities nearly simultaneously–I fell in love with my son Gabriel and with Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) at about the same time over long nights of extended nursing. It wasn’t that I hadn’t behaved fannishly in the past–the fannish gene reveals itself in different ways at different times and my fannish engagements had mostly been both more private and less creatively oriented. But my entry into fandom proper, and media fandom to be exact, coincided with my entry into motherhood.

And I found that both were strange new worlds indeed. Not worlds that can always smoothly coexist, although for me personally each of those realms have allowed me to balance and manage the other. Life with newborns and even toddlers (especially the highly difficult variety that my firstborn turned out to be) can be immensely isolating. Living in a city as I did where I knew no one, the Internet was often my one connection to the larger world. Moreover, the asynchronic conversations of email and blogs as well as the global, multi time-zoned aspect of online fandom allowed me to talk to people when I was able to find the time–be that at three in the morning or three in the afternoon, whenever the kids were asleep or otherwise occupied. This is not an unusual experience and, in fact, many a mommy blog has been created and found an audience for these very reasons.

Online fandom, however, is slightly different. I didn’t follow my fellow solitary and isolated moms as they turned to one another, via blogs or newsgroups or bulletin board, as groups revolving around the ages of their kids, parenting philosophies, or particular challenges. Those moms are sometimes chided for spending time on the computer rather than tending to their kids but they still focus on their children, thinking and talking and writing about them. I however had the gumption to be selfish and occupy my time with things that were for my own pleasure and leisure only–even if my fannish pursuits did give me balance and refuel me to better deal with motherhood.

Janice Radway, in her groundbreaking book Reading the Romance (1987), describes the anxieties and guilt many women romance readers experience for taking time away for their own enjoyment–and the small triumph and moments of resistance that pleasure can bring. Of course reading has long been a contentious issue–whether literacy and access was used to keep minorities in control (be they based on class, race, or gender) or its dangers were sexualized (there’s a long discourse that connects reading, especially among young women to masturbation as Thomas Laqueur suggests in his Solitary Sex [2003]), reading has always been dangerous.

I found that my fascination with fan fiction, and with a culture of other women reading and writing stories about fictional characters, brought together a number of issues that were in direct opposition to my role as a mom: reading to and for myself, connecting to other people on subjects unrelated to motherhood, and at times discussing non child-appropriate topics all raised the stakes in the competition of my hobby competing with my sole socially sanctioned role as wife and mother.

Of course I am in a better position than many fannish mothers. In fact, I have the ultimate get out of jail free card: I am also an academic. More specifically, I study fan works and fan communities, and much can be justified if there’s a publication at the end of the road. But I don’t want to use that excuse. Or rather, I don’t think my specific situation helps to solve the general problem underlying this fannish mom conundrum. Even if I can justify my time spent online as scholarship–why should I? Said differently, what is it about being a fan and being a mom that makes us fear negative judgments and reprisals?

Fans often are focused on their interests to the point of obsession–not unlike how children engage with things they love actually. In fact, many fannish activities, such as live action roleplaying and costume play but also fan fiction and storytelling, are perfectly acceptable when done by children. Fannish parasocial affection is an expected behavior in teens (especially girls) and there are entire teen markets catering to and profiting from these tendencies. Yet while teenage fannish engagements are commercially important, those very teenagers are simultaneously derided both by society and often the very industries who profit from their fannishness. And even as a convergence culture encourages and invited media property holders to create and engage fans, such behavior remains generally perceived as ridiculous, embarrassing, and often hidden–unless it revolves around more masculine exploits such as sports teams, of course. Fantasy football and wearing team colors are acceptable behaviors where fanfic and wearing Hogwarts uniforms are not.

Not only are traditionally female fan objects and fan engagements devalued, the very gender identity of the fan thus becomes problematic: reading done in private by women is a selfish and time-wasting activity, and fannish investment is a selfish and time-wasting squandering of emotion. Mothers, however, are meant to focus their activities and emotions on one target only: their family. Capitalist culture has long been undergirded by domestic ideology: the man’s primary domain is the capitalist world, where selfishness and aggressivity are rewarded, while the woman’s primary domain is home, where she creates social awareness by selflessly volunteering and providing moral guidance for the next generation. I’m taking this directly from my domestic/bourgeois ideology lecture for the British nineteenth century, but frankly, living in a white middle class suburban area with two kids in private school, the ideological structure of my community doesn’t really look all that different.

The life changes inherent in becoming a mother are different from becoming a father in many ways, but in most US two-parent families the most dramatic change seems to be that mothers are hitherto expected to forego any and all selfishness, i.e., a mother is not to be her own first priority. During pregnancy, that’s quite literally true as we can never forget that we have another being with us and within us at all times. But it goes much farther than that: in many cases we are the default parent, the one who jumps up first, the one who stays up and the one who is encouraged and expected to never need nor want anything other than her children and her children’s happiness and well-being. Econonics complicates and reinforces that gendered division of responsibility as many middle class women in particular will choose to stop working, to reduce their employment to part-time work, or at least become the default parent in cases of emergency, which can negatively affect career opportunities.

So what is it then that makes a fannish mom such a threat, such an offense? Fannish practices are a focus away from the children, from a mother’s duty to put her home, husband, and family first rather than to indulge herself, both literally and metaphorically. More particularly, it is a mode of engagement with the world that is itself often considered childish and that is generally feminized to the extreme. But that’s not the end of the fannish mom’s depravity: media fandom in particular often engages women’s sexuality with its erotic writings, explicit imagery, and frank discussion of nonstandard desires. As such, it not only juxtaposes the selfless mom identity against the selfish fan identity, but also juxtaposes the sexless madonna against the perverse whore.

The fannish mom exemplifies everything that a good mother in our culture isn’t supposed to be; yet when I talk to fannish moms, they are better, more emotionally balanced parents for having a hobby they love and a community that supports them. But not one fannish mother I know has not felt the guilt, the shame, the anxiety over their fannish identity. Some completely hide their activities from their families; others hide the intensity of the time they spend on fannish things or their emotional investment. Many more tell their spouse while keeping the subject hidden from other moms or neighbors. Because we all fear the judgment that we know to be false and yet have encountered again and again.

Yesterday I watched the documentary We Are Wizards on Harry Potter wizarding rock on Hulu, and the first comment I saw was “I would just call that ‘lazy parenting.’ I’m surprised that CPS wasn’t called after this documentary aired.” The comment targeted a family with two small boys whose mom shared her own wizard rock compositions and encouraged the boys to make and share their own music. Part of the judgmental comments more than likely were connected to the seemingly anti-authoritarian parenting methods exhibited, but the sense of dismay at the parents’ fannishness clearly pervades this comment (and many others). Not incidentally, the comment begins with “I’ve never seen so many geek bands, bad parents, and morons in one documentary in my entire life,” and ends with “Get a Life.”

This, of course, is probably the most common insult directed at fans and beautifully immortalized in William Shatner’s Saturday Night Life sketch. Sadly, however, this very attitude is pervasive not only outside but inside of fandom, most often directed at other fans who are either more or, more often than not, differently invested than their critics. Within fandom the geek hierarchy is alive and well: who doesn’t like to think of those folks weirder than ourselves–and if noone’s left, we still have the furries! That many fans themselves seem to think of their hobby as the opposite of life is certainly noteworthy, but the insult is often modified into terms of age, becoming “Don’t you have better things to do as a grown up. My parents would never sit and discuss a TV show online.” Likewise, there’s an expectation among many younger fans that they themselves will eventually “grow up” and leave fandom. Adulthood is in this context seen as fandom’s antithesis, and parenthood is often the ultimate marker of adult status.

Given the general cultural concerns surrounding adult fans (and their metonymic representation, the parent), the above commentary on the fan documentary is not unusual. Just like women are often the most aggressive critics of other mothers’ choices, fans often judgmentally police one another, especially when social networking platforms allow so much insight into personal lives. In fact, I experienced an anonymous verbal attack not long after I started interacting online. At the core of the incident was the fact that the person I was online was not the person I was at home, patient, loving, attentive to my family, and responsible. Yet my online persona and interests outside the scope of my family were then extrapolated back into my supposed mothering abilities. In other words, my online community that I’d seen as a place where I could vent and take an albeit ever so brief respite from parenting two active toddler boys in that moment turned out to be as judgmental as my offline environment, expecting me to be mom rather than fan.

I have no pithy conclusions, and I have no advice. The prejudices against fandom are something all fans suffer and that we all try to battle in various ways. My work as a fan scholar is in many ways directly indebted to these battles and I hope they can help as a tool for improving society’s tolerance and understanding of fandom in the future. My membership in the Organization for Transformative Works, a nonprofit advocacy group for fans and the transformative works they create, serves the same goal. Addressing the ways in which moms and dads are still treated and viewed differently is, for me, one of the central goals for feminism. With all the accomplishments women have made in recent years, the buck still often stops when it comes to reproduction and family life. In fact, I believe that part of that problem is that while women have become emancipated, we’ve often not educated and changed the men we live alongside.

So maybe I do have a conclusion: I raise my two boys as fans and feminists. My oldest one is finally old enough to appreciate Buffy and we started watching it together this summer. And it has proved to be an excellent show to not only address his own middle school anxieties but also a wonderful postmodern text to develop media literacy and critical thinking skills. We discuss what he sees and how it’s presented, and the feminism is right there. I may not be able to change my guilt or my anxieties but I hope that their potential partners down the line, should I ever have grandkids, won’t feel guilty for enjoying in things other than their children.

25 thoughts on “When I Became a Mom I Put Away Childish Things

  1. Yatima

    I propose a Bechdel-derived test for mothers to maintain their independent lives. Can we have conversations with other mothers, about something other than our children or our partners?

    Thanks so much for this!

    1. Kristina Busse

      Oh I love that :)

      One of the biggest compliments I ever received was from a fellow academic and good friend who at one point commented in surprise that I was one of her few mom friends who continued to talk about anything and everything BUT kids. She didn’t have any yet, and I didn’t think she’d be much interested. Plus, I wanted to talk Heidegger and Deleuze and Derrida, not diapers and spit up. And all of these conversations occurred while we took walks with, played with, swam with my very attachment-parented child…

    2. Terri

      I love the idea of a kids/partners Bechdel test.

      Although I imagine the test would get harder to defeat as the kids get older and will grow into some of your own interests? I just love the part about you now being able to watch Buffy with your son, Kristina!

  2. Karen Hellekson

    Great post! I know a number of books have been published about parenting and professing (my friend Rachel Hile Bassett edited one such book), and it’s interesting to see the same sorts of issues described here in another context.

    As someone with no kids, I have pretty much no idea how people juggle it all. Isn’t the only realistic adult-child ratio 7:1?? I think it must be. I’m amazed that parents can be engaged in other activities, much less ones that seem so all-consuming.

  3. Rachel Barenblat

    As a fan now pregnant with my first child, I find much food for thought in this essay. Thanks for posting it.

    My husband and I fervently hope to raise our son as a feminist — and, for that matter, a geek and a fan, too. :-)

    I think often about how I’m going to balance my own needs (social, emotional, creative) with the needs of our son. There’s an extent to which I assume I’m going to have to allow my needs to be subsumed for a while, and also an extent to which that idea challenges and scares me.

    But knowing that my online community is there for me — for conversation, distraction, laughter, support — makes the notion of the coming winter of parenting a newborn a lot less scary than it would otherwise be! I’m so grateful for that.

    1. Kristina Busse

      And that’s where fandom is exactly what we make of it. I think were I to have my kids now my experiences within my fannish community would probably be less escapist and more supportive. But then we know as much as we tend to use the singular, we are many :) With many different approaches and views and ideologies and ages and life experiences…

  4. jadelennox

    the culture that you describe, with mothers having to give up all their desires, when you call it US-specific — is that different in Germany? (I ask only because that’s the other country I assume you have a reasonably good knowledge of as far as current parenting practices go.)

    I have to get over my knee-jerk reaction to anybody mentioning Janice Radway. Yes, she is wrong about almost everything she says about romance novels, but that doesn’t mean that she’s wrong about what she says about female cultural norms. :D

    1. Kristina Busse

      I called it US-specific simply because I don’t have experience in other countries and cultures (and I thought I was sweepingly generalizing enough already :). Not having experienced motherhood in Germany, I can’t even say much about that, but I think that they may be just a tiny step ahead of us in terms of the men…not much, but I think a generally less conservative ideology and a more systemic attempt to mediate parents and the work force may have affected this. As for fannish moms, I really wouldn’t know.

      Re Radway. I ignore much that she says about romances in particular, but I love the way she describes the time women steal for themselves but also the justifications they come up with to redefine their readings as educational etc. That’s the parts that really resonated with me.

      1. spz

        I’m not a mother, so I’ll just data-point the expectation of a non-parent of parents in Germany:
        There’s a month or so before birth when the expecting mother is too pregnant to actually be doing much, and there’s a ~ 3 month period after birth when both new parents aren’t expected to leave a state of sleep deprived zombiehood much.

        But after ~ 6 months at the latest, everybody but Bishop Mixta expects you to have interests other than baby, and to actively seek out opportunities to get into grown-up company. If women are apologetic, it’s more likely about not managing to secure day-care so they can get back to their jobs at least a day a week.

  5. Emily Regan Wills

    My fannishness is on display almost all the times I’m actively being a parent: my son’s name is Xander.

    I wonder how many non-teen fans come to fannish community because of major life transitions. Because I certainly discovered fandom while simultaneiously finishing my dissertation proposal, studying for my comprehensive exams, and beginning the process of trying to conceive. I just need something that was not, you know, the entire body of comparative politics literature to cope with, and the X-Files was an excellent alternative. (And, being an academic, the first thing I did was get a conference paper out of it.) At moments like this, our lives are totally directed to what others are telling us to do–as parents or as graduate students (or, I imagine, at parallel moments in other careers). Fandom is a way of taking back our brains–it’s a form of resistance! (Sorry, can’t help it.)

    The other odd thing, for me–a young working queer parent who is the first of her friends to have kids–is that fandom is how I have friends who are parents. It’s hard for me to become friends with the other moms in my neighborhood, or to form a RL mom network. But my fannish friends have kids–some of them kids nearly my age, which is proof the internet is awesome–and are there to be talked with about I CANNOT WASH ANOTHER LOAD OF DIAPERS OR I WILL LOSE MY MIND or HE THREW UP ON MY INTERVIEW SUIT WTF I DON’T HAVE TIME TO GO TO THE DRY CLEANERS. In fact, my mom community is *largely* a fannish mom community! And we’re great moms! With awesome kids! So there!

    I look forward to introducing my son to fannishness, too. Though he breaks my heart: he prefers Wonder Pets to Backyardigans. What if he doesn’t like Star Trek in ten years? I’ll cry!

    1. Kristina Busse

      I had to laugh out loud when I saw the conference paper reference. Because that’s the first thing I did :) Otoh, I feel really conflicted about that approach, because it introduces two problematic aspects: (1) it challenges the fannish gift economy and the not-for-profit ethos that media fandom has long embraced and (2) it comes a little too close for my taste to the Radway women who “justified” their hobbies by explaining how much they learned…

      Of course there’s some wonderful work on the fannish nature of academia and high brow fandoms but there’s also Matt Hills’ important reproach to not fall into the trap of seeing similarities that we are imposing ourselves.

      *throws up hands* I wish I had answers :)

  6. Dana

    Thank you for posting this. Balancing one’s own needs against the family’s needs is still so, so much harder for women than for men. It’s so good to compare notes and to realize there are others in the same boat!

  7. Skud

    You didn’t say it explicitly, but I’m going to: if people are talking about calling CPS on a mom because she does Harry Potter themed activities with her kids, then what on earth would they think about the pile of (hypothetical, I don’t know the woman in question) explicit Harry/Snape fic on her hard drive?

    It leads me to wonder why I don’t hear more about fans using Tor or the like.

    1. Kristina Busse

      I think that’s where I revised this about 15 times :) How to address the issue of explicit material and parenthood while using my RL name. Or, said differently, every time I see fandom discussing the more contentious (even within fandom) extremes, I can’t help but have this major reality check moment where I imagine myself trying to explain the sides of the debate to my neighbors.

      I’m so torn trying to negotiate between advocating a more out and open policy (yeah OTW!) and a more stealth and anonymous/pseudonymous approach.

      1. Skud

        I’ve always taken a very out/open approach, but then, I’m in a position of significant privilege. I’m relatively young, single, living in California, and working in a very liberal industry. I’ve had people ask me about my slash in job interviews and (AFAICT) it had a positive effect on their impression of me. But I’ve also considered going to work in remote communities in Australia doing community type work, and I know that many of those communities used to be missions, and, well, I wonder whether that’s something I can realistically do, given what google shows under my name? I completely sympathise with people who make different choices about privacy and anonymity, even if I wish we were in a world where it weren’t necessary.

    2. Mackenzie

      Does that still exist? I thought Jo only gave her blessing on fanfic on the following conditions:
      1) non-commercial
      2) nothing pornographic

      1. Skud

        @Mackenzie Um, yes, it certainly exists. Here, for instance (NSFW links on that page). Many/most fanfic authors take the view that what they are doing is legal (see, for instance, the OTW’s take on fanfic as transformative works and therefore fair use, and the more “transformative” the more legally protected) and you don’t need any permission or blessing from the author to exert your fair use rights.

  8. Brenda

    A tamer version of the same thing happens to women who choose not be become mothers — everything the woman now does she is now doing instead of being a mother, and those things are therefore selfish things (and being selfish is one of the worst crimes a woman can commit without breaking the law) — so says the school of thought. Those that hold this opinion have no qualms epxressing their disgust at those horrible selfish women.

    Most often this comes from fellow women. Usually mothers themselves who are clearly not selfish, that’s why they don’t do things like gaming, opensource contributing, hackfests, and going out with friends for a beer.

    I saw this unfold at a Girl Geek Dinner – a significant group of such opinion holders joined together to attack the speaker who had just delivered an excellent talk on represenation of genders in gaming. The attackers asked her where she found time, ending the question with “don’t you have a life” – further questions included how much time she spent with her kids (she doesn’t have any!), followed by what she did instead to make up for gaming – you can apparently only indulge in selfish activities like computer and gaming if you spend many many more hours doing something selfless like babysitting your neice.

    1. Fer de Lance

      Oh, yes — this!

      As a childfree woman and a member of several online childfree communities, I see this everywhere. My own brother has called me “selfish” for not wanting children (although, since he was about 15 at the time, I dismiss this as immaturity — now that he’s 24, his opinion might have changed). My mother is horrendously disappointed and doesn’t bother to hide it. I’ve had a fellow student in a Women’s Psychology class exclaim that “all women want babies, it’s an instinct!” after I admitted to not wanting children. (I managed to argue her into reconsidering! So mark down one small victory for the childfree.)

      I’ve recently been hanging out in the Star Trek: Reboot kinkmeme, and I’ve stopped because — high on the list of reasons, anyway — of the sheer weight of mpreg and kidfic prompts. It’s like being beaten over the head with the message: Children are a necessary component of happiness; disinterest in children cannot be found in good characters. If a character is turned into a child, the other(s) must be amazing caregivers and not resent having “babysitter” appended to their job description. If a character becomes pregant, he/she must welcome the impending burden despite its origin — which is frequently a one night stand, or rape/other dubious-consent circumstances (sex pollen, mysterious alien tech, etc.). Or, if they are so foolish as to get rid of it, by any means (including adoption!), they must be guilt-wracked and traumatised by their own callousness.

      Apparently, the Enterprise, despite being chock-full of young, ambitious, driven Starfleet officers who are just beginning their careers, does not have a single crew member who is happy enough in their achievement and invested enough in their future that they wouldn’t sacrifice it for the sake of reproduction. (Since I’m pretty sure the Enterprise doesn’t have a daycare center on board, and I hope small children would not be allowed at duty stations, there’s no way a crew member could have a child and still maintain the same working hours as before, unless perhaps a “parenting cooperative” were formed.)

      1. Bene

        If I can get really nerdy for a sec: canonically there’s a big deal made out of the fact that the Enterprise-D has children and families aboard, and that’s nearly a century after Reboot. Picard is not pleased with the idea, if I recall correctly. (Of course, in terms of Starfleet regs and customs about parenting, this doesn’t explain why Winona Kirk was 9 months pregnant on board the Kelvin, except as Plot Device.) And I agree about where a lot of fic goes, in terms of back to mainstream problematic tropes.

        Not to derail from the topic at hand, which is an excellent post, Kristina. I’ve seen this sentiment outside geekdom; on Ravelry I’ve got a lot of friends who are mothers, and who’ve said they struggle with the perception both IRL and online that they shouldn’t be focusing on interests outside their children. Sometimes I wonder if it’s self-policing, if the people telling them these things are also wanting to continue with free-time interests and mirroring their discontent.

        Personally, as a person without children, I think it’s probably good for one’s sanity overall and for one’s kids, to have other outlets, but that’s observation, not experience.

      2. Kristina Busse

        Fer de Lance, I’ve been fighting with myself about whether to comment or not, but since we kinda know one another, I’ll just go ahead. I find it interesting how quickly my post on moms in fandom has turned to ‘But what about the childfree folks?’ And what this signifies to me is not so much a derailment of what I took to be the concern of this post as it is a perfect example of how we as women not only internalize domestic ideologies to the point of not being able to think outside of it but also are encouraged if not forced to fight one another for the minimal resources the system has left over for us. Said differently, the mommy wars are not so much an indication of how bitchy females are as they are a result of patriarchy at work, making us feel inadequate and unhappy wherever we are and whatever we do. And the fight between moms and non-moms follows similar patterns.

        That being said, I want to just gently point to one part of your comment: invested enough in their future that they wouldn’t sacrifice it for the sake of reproduction and point out what you’re saying here. If my piece was meant to talk about anything it is that I dislike a system that not only creates beliefs that there are only two options (reproduction or life beyond kids [it’s kinda a Death or Cake scenario when put like that *g*]) but also sets itself up so that effectively it fulfills that very dichotomy. You go on to say unless perhaps a “parenting cooperative” were formed. Let’s think about that: we have a world that has managed warp drive, beaming technology and food replicators yet would still tell people that having kids is synonymous with not having a career (and an investment in their future…)?

        One last point (yes, I’ll shut up after that, but you know how verbose I am :): I don’t like kids in fanfic all that much either. I read fic mostly to not think for a little bit about what to cook for dinner, when what school activity’s due, and whether I need to wash school uniforms or we’re good for another day. The mundanity of my quotidian life is exactly what i do not want to read about. But I certainly defend the rights of other fans to do so (either because they lack it or because they’re working through and/or want to see mirrored their own realities). I have this entire theory about extended childhoods and refutation of what is traditionally considered adulthood that includes lack of kids in most of our beloved characters but also lack of day to day responsibilities (Rodney doesn’t fix supper but neither does Mulder or Dean!). [And on a complete tangent, I wonder whether in the XF episode Monday the groundhog effect is mirroring/mirrored in the fact that we’re dealing with the mundane central event of depositing a check (that’s what Scully was doing, right?)]. Throw in some Edelman and thought on reproduction and futurity and … I’m shutting up now :)

  9. erda

    I think at some point as women we have to give up on our desire for consensus and approval and just take what we need. Other people will always be willing to ask more of us than we can safely give, and we have to learn to say no. It’s like putting your oxygen mask on first in an emergency – you can’t care for your children’s needs until your own needs are reasonably satisfied. Nor is it a failure of character to have needs. We’re only human.

    1. Kristina Busse

      Erda, what a wonderful analogy! I really do think that it’s normal and healthy to balance one’s life, and the very fact that in my mind I’m still making apologies and justifications indeed tells me just how internalized these idea(l)s are.

  10. Tessombra

    I was military for 20 years before having my first–wanted the career for ME first so I could be a stay at home but geez–what you’re expected to give up (or what we convince ourselves to give up) is unrealistic. I can’t be a well rounded human being and give up what I enjoy, and who I am, not just for my sanity’s sake, but for my KIDS. I don’t want my daughter (or son) to believe women exist JUST to take care of a family. I don’t want my son to believe that that’s all a woman is. So when it comes to my ‘fandom’, I’m more than happy to indulge IN it and without guilt, and I urge and share in THEIRS. Perhaps that came with 20 years of learning who I am and that you can’t GIVE of yourself unless you receive something FOR that self. You can’t suck from a dry well.

    As to being harassed by others (mothers), I’m not. Apparently, I’m either fortunate enough that we understand each other, or I don’t experience the guilt necessary for it to be worth while to others (or, there aren’t a LOT of mothers in my fandom). The other moms I deal with understand its an escape. And perhaps we’re ‘feminist’ enough to understand that its in our best interests to support one another. We’ve enough in our group, writers, artists, women who aren’t married, don’t want to be, aren’t considered ‘hot’ enough for guys to date, are lesbians, have college degrees, are women of color–each one of us in my group make our own money and don’t live in our parents’ ‘basement’ (or our spouses’) to be considered ‘enlightened’ fans. Maybe that’s why we don’t feel the need to rip each other apart; understanding the reasons WHY we are IN our particular fandom, so we can just get to the business of enjoying our fandom and socializing.

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