thanks for ruining my post you disgusting waste of life


You posted an opinion on a social media platform that’s explicitly designed to enable reblogs and commentary from other users, including people who disagree. If you want to write in a broadcast medium where you have total control over replies and their visibility, get a WordPress blog – but even then, the whole point of the internet is that other people get to share their opinions, too.

I appreciate that you think this is a black and white issue, but it isn’t. You, personally, do not get veto power over what the rest of the world imagines when they masturbate or the kind of stories they write for fun, nor do you get to determine where the acceptable overlap between those categories lies, because individual stories impact individual readers differently. No narrative is universally positive or negative, which is why tags exist in fanfiction: to help individuals navigate their needs and preferences safely

That you, personally, cannot fathom a benign or logical reason why some people enjoy the sorts of fantasies or narratives that you find abhorrent does not mean no such reason exists; nor does it mean that every single person who enjoys those things is as morally pure as the driven snow. What it does mean is that there’s no way to tell at a glance, purely on the basis of the content, which type reader is which, such that you can’t functionally ban the latter kind without also banning the former – and if you’re okay with demonising innocents for the sake of punishing the guilty, then you don’t get to claim moral purity, either. 

Which is the crux of the argument, here; the reason why it’s not black and white, even though it looks like it should be. Who decides what fictional content stays or goes, and why? It’s easy to say “no underage, no incest, no paedophilia, no rape,” but if you want to follow through, you have to define those terms in practical, specific ways, and that isn’t easy at all – not for published novels, and not for fanfic. Here’s what I mean:

No underage – okay, so does that mean no romance or sexual content for characters younger than 18, or just younger than 16? Whose definition of ‘underage’ are we using? Are there exceptions for teen characters within three or so years of each other, as there are legally in real life, or not? What are the limits of ‘acceptable’ content for younger characters – can they hug and kiss and talk about sex, so long as they aren’t implied to be having it? What if they are implied to be having it, but there’s a tasteful fade to black? What about stories where a younger character is making realistic bad decisions about sex or is being taken advantage of – can we tell those stories, or are they banned, too? If we do tell them, what are the guidelines for how graphic the content can be?

No incest – okay, does that include characters who weren’t raised together and don’t know they’re siblings? Step-siblings? Half-siblings? Does it include a ban on historical figures who really engaged in incest? What about characters who have an incestuous relationship in the source material – can we write fic about them, provided we take an explicitly anti-incest stance? What degree of separation are we allowing – does it start at first cousins, or do we go beyond that? Are all these things okay so long as it’s explicitly written as abusive and bad in the narrative, or is there leeway? What about people who expressly want to engage in daddy kink, which uses incest-adjacent language without necessarily being incestuous? Is that banned, too? What about fics where the characters aren’t related in the source material, but have been written that way in the story, such that a romantic relationship is turned into a familial one? What about fics where the characters are related in the source material, but aren’t in the fic, such that a familial relationship becomes a romantic one? Is any of this allowed?

No paedophilia – okay, does that include stories about survivors of child abuse? What about stories where the source material includes child abuse; is fic not allowed to mention it? Can you portray it if it’s very clearly a Bad Thing, even though some readers might still get off to it anyway? Can you imply that it happened so long as it isn’t discussed in detail or depicted graphically? What if survivors of child abuse want to write graphically about their experiences as a way to process trauma – is that allowed, or not? If so, how do you go about policing content creators to make sure that writers have suffered the Right Kind Of Abuse to be allowed to write those stories? If not, how do you justify the decision to exclude victims from their own narratives? If some victims find it traumatising to read fics that contain paedophilia, but others find it cathartic and helpful to write them, do you acknowledge that all victims have different experiences and try to create a platform where everyone can navigate those differences safely, or do you think it’s better to just close that door altogether? 

No rape – okay, does that mean no stories about rape recovery? Can you show rape provided it isn’t graphic? Can it be mentioned at all, or only in passing? What if two characters consent to enacting a rape fantasy in the text – is that still morally wrong? Can rape occur provided that it’s obviously bad and wrong and clearcut throughout, or is the character being victimised allowed to feel conflicted or confused about their experience? What about instances where consent is potentially dubious, such as sex between characters who are drunk, or where one party is drunker than the other? What if a story’s source material is ambiguous about whether sex between two characters was consensual – is fanfic allowed to explore that?

These are only some of the questions you’d need to answer in order to implement your desired changes on a future, hypothetical website. I say again: it’s easy to sit there and say, “No porn involving these four things,” as though AO3 need only delete every work containing those tags in order to save itself from damnation, but functionally, practically, it doesn’t work like that. The wrong story at the wrong age or time can fuck anyone up, just as the right one at the right age or time can be revolutionary, and those might both be the same story to different people. Explicit stories on AO3 are expressly restricted to those over 18 – if younger people are reading those fics, then that’s a risk they’re taking upon themselves: in which case, it’s their responsibility to use the tags to safely curate their own experience.

I understand the worry that paedophiles will use fanfic to groom their victims, and I don’t deny that this has happened to some people. But at the same time, abusers use a lot of things to groom their victims – historical precedents, flattery, novels, movies, lies – and at the end of the day, the only commonality between those things is the abuser themselves, not the content; so unless you’re arguing that the content creates the abuser, removing the content neither removes the abuser nor curtails the abuse. By the same token, it’s also true that fanfic has helped a great many people to recognise or recover from their own abuse, by showing what it looks like or enabling them to write about their own experiences. I know multiple ficwriters who’ve written their own rapes or sexual assaults into fics, or their own mental health diagnoses, as a way to process those things safely, in a cathartic manner. You really want to take that away from them?

People are complex. Sex is complex. Fantasies are complex. Pretending otherwise is how you end up with books being banned or burned, to say nothing of a host of related social evils. 

And if pointing all that out ruined your post, then maybe it needed ruining.