Alright so, I spend a lot of time on Tumblr. I find it a hilarious, accepting, comfortable place…most of the time. The only problems I have witnessed have been ship hate (and the occasional sexist opinion, but that’s a different post). For those who have actual lives and don’t know what ship means in this context – ship; the characters that you think should be together, regardless of canon: OTP; someone’s ultimate ship in that fandom. Cool, so now that we’re clear, there is something I need to say.
DO NOT SHIT ON OTHER PEOPLE’S SHIPS.
Honestly, it’s so frustrating to me to see this terrible attempted invalidation of people’s ships. Let’s take the Harry Potter Fandom, and the Jilly/Snilly war (Snilly – Lilly/Snape; Jilly – Lilly/James). Jilly Shippers often really hate on Snilly shippers, and vice versa. It takes a nasty turn, and then the string of comments can become terribly offensive. Was James Potter a twit when he was a teenager? Yes. Was Snape an abusive terrorist in his later years? Yes. Can you acknowledge these things and still think that Lily Evans belonged with one of them? YES.
If you can understand the flaws in all your characters, and you recognize that maybe you don’t even like or certainly not condone them and their actions, then you can ship them with whoever you think is right. Snape made terrible choices, no one will deny that. But does this automatically mean that anyone who thinks that Lily Evans should have ended up with him condones his actions? Does this mean those who feel sorry for him and defend his actions are racist and bigots themselves? Of course not.
The biggest problem here is the nature of the discussion happening. People get so incensed over others’ opinions that we immediately go on the defensive. “James Potter was a bully!” Snape supporters scream. “Snape was a terrorist and abused children!” James fans shout. But here’s a novel idea; what if, instead of just immediately yelling and offending, we actually discussed our differences? What if we asked, “Why do you think this? I have a different opinion and I want to understand your reasons.”
I know. Shocking.
If we did this, maybe Tumblr would be less toxic. We would be fulfilling the right of every person to express their opinion. Tumblr is supposed to be a place of support and community, not one of factions and hate. But if it works in the Harry Potter fandom, what if it spreads? What if it starts being the norm on Tumblr, then Instagram? Then that salt factory that is Facebook? And then, once you have all the people willing to discuss differences over race, religion, gender, sexuality, and socio-economic status, you see true communication. You see a network of people, instead of a war of speculation. What if we could make our country a place where everyone had a voice that was heard?
So, as John Lennon said, “Maybe I’m a dreamer.” And maybe I am the only one, but that means there is still one person who will fight for this.