I haven't even started to look at the comments that came in overnight yet, so I'll be adding to this post as new things occur to me. ETA: OMG. So done. Thank you to all those who took part in the discussion. Please feel free to continue if you wish, but I need a nap.
On the issue of economic poverty
- The fanfiction community is a group of women skilled in areas such as writing, editing, co-operative planning and so on. Due to the mentoring system new members can gain these skills, which can lead directly to jobs.
- Online presses like Torquere, run by women for women, are publishing what is, in essence, original slash. The market is growing, and making a place for women to earn money by writing what they want to write.
- If franchise companies get involved in the commercialization of fanfiction, they will likely do what they have done in the past and edge out everything that doesn't fit into their cookie-cutter mold of what is acceptable fiction. This could have the flow-on effect of re-marginalizing the current female-friendly space of fanfiction, without actually giving many women a chance to earn money for what they want to write.
On the issue of the poverty of respect
- Oh my god, we are angry/shocked/feel kicked in the head.
- It would be good to be able to admit to writing in a female genre like Mills & Boon (ie. Harlequin Romance) without feeling embarrassed.
- We don't seem to know how to engage with the historical-silencing issue except to keep on doing our thing.
- Copyright. I expected this issue to be raised, as it always is when fanfiction is mentioned, and I was hoping for something new and interesting to come out of it relating directly to the feminist aspect of fanfiction as a community practice. So far, no. It's mostly the same deployment of copyright as a monolithic authority which should keep all non-commercial writing in check, with no real self-awareness that this is the same Bad Faith argument Russ addresses, or that the fanfiction community has been discussing this issue with some sophistication for a long time, or that copyright is just a social contract which can be changed if we decide it's no longer fulfilling its intended function as it stands.
It has been hard holding in check the desire to get stuck in to this topic, as it's a related issue, and it is important, but I've refrained as much as possible because it's a red-herring. By focusing on copyright violation, respondents can neatly side-step the main feminist point of the essay, pretend it's irrelevant, and so silence it.
The response elsewhere
I haven't had much time to read my f-list over the last two days, so there may well be other public responses I haven't seen. I'd appreciate it if you'd drop me a link if you know of a discussion. (Don't worry, I'm not going to barge in. I'm just interested in tracking the ripples of thought on the topic.)
These responses are linked without any editorialising. Read them and make up your own minds (presented in no particular order):
hark! is that the sound of a lasagna noodle being laid on a bed of ricotta cheese? by matociquala
An interesting essay re: fanfiction by pegkerr
"How Fanfiction Makes Us Poor" and Thought about writing, creativity, etc.... by elorie
Fanfic and Authorship by ellen_fremedon
Still Day 1485: What's the math on that? by inalasahl
Fanfic and feminist theory... by crossoverman
'Get a more reasonable dream' by communicator
Untitled by inlovewithnight
Long time, first time. by peterchayward
Rantidy rant rant rant... by agilebrit
Rar! Feminism and that silly little hobby we call fanfiction by foreverdirt
Fanfiction makes us poor? by janecarnall
Thinky-thoughts about writing... by starwatcher307
Response to "How Fanfiction Makes Us Poor" by sahiya
Meta: The Philosophy of Poverty by executrix
Oh, look, meta by antennapedia
fanfic rant by queenofhell
Fanfiction and all by lazette
Why fanfic makes us stupid... by crankynick
thorny thoughts by swan_tower
Is meta contagious? I guess fanfic writers are particularly prone to memetic infection. by china_shop
Untitled by celisnebula
I blame the media..... by ithiliana
Untitled by ann1962
Alles neu, macht der Mai by frogspace (in German, which, sadly, I can't read)
On women, writing, and compensation by therealjae
Random thoughts on Lj, fanfic causes poverty? by worldserpent
Ongoing conversation about fan communities, fanfic, and so forth by waxbanks
The Multi-Fandom Hall of Fame by ayiana
Hobbies by cricketk
Obscure vineyards by hedda62
Masculine-Feminine by marcelproust
I will someday stop talking about Gass by sarken
Paid Fanfic *laughs* by hoshikaze
Feminism and Writing by khazell1
Women's Work and Fanfiction by mawaridi
Am I a feminist? by foxe
amateurs ‘r us by kbusse
Foucault's Discipline & Punish and The Hive Mind of Fandom by saeva
That cupidbow whatever post about how women are getting poor by writing fanfic and so on and wtf. by luciusmalfoy
tl;dr from me? Surely you jest! /snerk by starkiller
Worth reading by betacandy
Just so's I don't forget by mousagetes
rl and a rant! I'm sure you're shocked. by impertinence
13th Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction & Fantasy Fans by naamenblog (this is not a discussion, but a listing of interesting feminist posts related to sf/f and fandom--I'd never come across this resouce before)
Why Fanfic Makes Us Writers by angriest
Fan Fiction and Feminism by louisedennis
In the Springtime of My Voodoo by nyoka
convergence and fears of intimacy by kbusse
This is our garden. We like it. by Yonmei
Should fanfiction be paid? by colorbird (this is a message board entry, with a long list of replies at the bottom)
Fanfic and feminism and other sticky topics by Ceejbot
Inspiration by anotherusedpage
Making fanfic an "honest" business by emory_lee
Feeling Ranty by lotesseflower
What are the similarities and differences between fanfic and other similar communities? by alias_sqbr
Fanlib: our wannabe corporate overlords by Yonmei
Article summing up FanLib. by icarusancalion
Grrr. by mireille719
Some (More) Thoughts on FanLib by quicksilvereyes
Gendered fandoms by etrangere
Yeah, I said it. by Joy, Captain of Gondor
The essay has been specifically tied into the debate about FanLib in the Discussion Round-up May 20, 2007 posted by stewardess at life_wo_fanlib, and in various other places, including some of the articles I've linked to in the list above.
Fan Hub Hub-bub by FunkyHelix (the discussion is in the comments, and is mostly related to FanLib)
Re:?'s about the site itself by darkrose (A comment in response to jdsampson, discussing gender and FanLib. It's at the bottom of the page. Note: this thread is on the FanLib site's discussion forum.)
Untitled by merrilily
Doin' It For Ourselves by leekottner
Fandom Go Boom (or Strikethroughgate or whatever we're calling it) post the third by sahiya
Does fanfiction keep us poor? by Laurel Bowman
Myth is a Metaphor by Willow E
I only read it for the subversion of capitalist-imperialist-patriarchy by out_fox
And recent posts which are clearly speaking to the topic, but don't reference "How Fanfiction Makes Us Poor" and might not have been directly inspired by it:
I want my MTV; or Money for Fanfic by telesilla
Once more, with SCIENCE! by rahirah
er...ranting by virginie_m
fandom, gender and knowledge by heyiya
MiT5 Review by kbusse
Squick and squee by Teresa
Welcome To My Treehouse! by robin_anne_reid
Life, The Universe and Academia by fides
is medusa still laughing? by kbusse
When Fan Boys and Fan Girls Meet... by Henry Jenkins.
The all-male board of directors at Fanlib, and why it is relevant. by paradox_dragon
Tangential but interesting stuff
klia offered these publishing stats, broken down by gender, for the SF/F/H field: Broad Universe Statistics.
yourlibrarian offers links to a discussion of gender-bias in music auditions: "Blind" Auditions Help Women, New Study Suggests which is a summary of research by Cecilia Rouse and Claudia Goldin; and Blind Auditions and Moral Myopia by William Osborne.
Fic Taxes: Death by a Thousand Tiny Clicks by Zendom
A final note
I thought the topic of feminism and fanfiction was important enough that I didn't add my usual disclaimer at the bottom of the essay. I didn't want to risk stifling debate. *snorfle* For those of you who don't know me, here it is: "If there are a lot of comments, please understand that while I read everything, I can't respond to everyone, so I've decided that it's fairest to answer first those who have offered the most thoughtful/detailed replies. I've discussed why here." Obviously, I'm not going to be able to respond to all the most thoughtful/detailed replies this time.
It's kind of ironic. I've had a secret dark desire to one day write the fic that ate fandom. I didn't ever think it would be the essay that ate fandom. :)