Tag Archives: fandom

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.

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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.

GF interviews the OTW’s Francesca Coppa: question time!

Francesca Coppa is one of the founders of the Organization for Transformative Works. She’s also…

… director of film studies and associate professor of English at Muhlenberg College, where she teaches courses in dramatic literature, popular fiction, and mass media storytelling. Her writings on media fandom have been included in Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet and presented at MIT’s Media in Transition conference. Coppa has been attending conventions and buying zines since the early 1980s, when she and her friends wrote fanfiction by hand and circulated it by snail mail. She has been involved in online fandom since the mid-1990s as a writer, list administrator, vidder, archivist, and community moderator. (bio link)

If you haven’t read any of her work on the history of fan culture, take a look at Women, Star Trek, and the early development of fannish vidding or Celebrating Kandy Fong: Founder of Fannish Music Video. There’s also a great interview with her at Reason Online and another on gender and fan culture over at Henry Jenkins’ blog. There are more links to related reading at fanlore.

And now it’s time for Geek Feminism to interview her! I’d like to open this up to our readers and commenters. What would you like to ask Francesca about the OTW, fan culture, vidding, and so on? Post your suggestions in the comments, and in a few days we’ll send them through to her to answer.

Edit: I’m shutting down comments now (Wednesday 9th September) and passing your questions through to Francesca. The interview should appear soon!

Daughter of Link Roundup (August 31st, 2009)

Photo by lyrabellacqua on Flickr

Photo by lyrabellacqua on Flickr