Recently, two researchers named Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam sent a survey out on the waves of the interwebs, specifically the Livejournals. And lo, it did provoke a shitstorm.
Ogas and Gaddam produced their survey in order to – god knows, because their hypothesis is never actually stated – but in any case, it was geared towards the readers and writers of slash fanfiction… who, by the by, they seem to believe are only ever a) straight; b) female; and c) achingly stupid.
The thorniest, nastiest WTF is the phrasing of many of the questions as well as that of their answers to concerned fen.
First of all, many questions appear to be slanted towards the generation of a particular response. Not only are some of these questions phrased leadingly, but some are either triggery or outright offensive. If you have any triggers, I highly recommend you skip this next paragraph entirely…
One of the questions blatantly asks the viewer if she has had any fantasies about being raped. One asks what her SAT scores were. Another, how many times I’ve been drunk or doped up while reading fanfiction. (Eh, what?!) There were more than a few that I literally couldn’t have responded to because the doctors were so clueless that none of their suggested answers applied, such as the one clearly geared towards fantasy roleplay.
innocentsmith says it better than I could:
“I'm baffled by this one: 31. What specific fan fiction story would you most like to live out as one of its characters? (If possible, please provide the name of the story, fandom, and author.)
”Aside from the hell no, creepizoid issue of naming the author, etc., I can't help answering, uh, none? Because the vast majority of the fanfic I read is not geared towards me showing up as a sparkly self-insert or a secondary character (who'd probably up being a redshirt of some kind), and I have no particular desire to feature as one of the main characters because I enjoy them as being different from me?....
”But in general, do they think all fic is Mary Suetastic self-inserts, or completely devoid of plot and conflict, or what?”
Then there was this gem: do I feel I practiced a) more boy-activities; b) more girl-activities or c) about an equal amount when I was a child? Wait: perhaps I need a list of acceptable activities for girls before I can answer that question. Also: when is the first time I felt guilty about a sexual feeling? How does 'never'' work for you? Oh, wait, that's not an option - these two men assume that ALL women have felt guilty about sex at some time or another. Variously, the two doctors referred to the transgendered as ‘trannies’ and ‘she-males’. And that really is just the beginning. Christ on a cracker, people, was this a drinking game? Take a gulp whenever you casually squish another subculture?
After all of this, they have the gall to go on to claim that they are not doing ‘social research’, but neurological. Let us make this clear from the get-go: they claim to be able to make neuroscience-based predictions… based on an internet survey.
Okay, so there’s another big WTF of this general WTFery. Neural imaging was directly referenced. But unless there’s some very interesting, new, and frankly scary technology out there that, say, remotely scans my brain via internet, it’s impossible to find out what might be going on in my brain chemically if I check ‘yes’ to the question, ‘have you ever read slash fiction’? Perhaps they should look up 'the social sciences' – along with the word ‘transsexual’, which they misuse:
“Well, slash is kind of the female equivalent of the straight male interest in transsexuals.” Whoooaaa nelly. Let’s skip straight past the place where he meant transgendered and where the general statement of straight men being interested in the transgendered is ridiculously faulty on so many levels, and go to the heart of the illogic. You mean two men together isn’t hot to women like two women together is hot to men? Which, by the by, is seen as totally normal. Y’know, when it’s the menfolk doing the fantasizing.
Wait, that comparison would make too much sense. And sense has clearly left the building.
These men understood our closely-knit community so little that they could not possibly understand the shitstorm they had unleashed upon themselves. Within days, fen were calling Boston University to inquire about these two 'professionals' – who turned out to be, oh wait, not affiliated with the university. Boston has since taken their pages down post-haste. As well as being activists, more than a few of us are scientists … and so provided to fandom a primer on phrenology and neuroscience (with the overall premise that Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam are phrenologists), or a narration on psychology and the little we know of it, and a few created helpful synopses or attempted to surf the rising wave of said shitstorm.
And in the course of that the survey has disappeared while the two neuroscientists, with their degrees from a Crackerjack box “digest all this great feedback”. So, yeah.
Of course, the two men clearly have no concept of the use of copious screenshots. God, I love fandom.
I’ve noted before that, unlike Facebook or Myspace or Yahoo, Livejournal appears to be made up primarily of scientists and artists, authors and theorists. It’s hard to say where else I’ve come across a community of such bright, impassioned, creative people. And it is hard to see them injured, but it’s sort of Gondor-Calls-for-Aid to see them band together to fight back, especially against what looks like unconscious yet pervasive bigotry.
You go, my people. You go.
P.S. - Myself and several others have that creepy feeling that means that this may well be Just Another Social Experiment. However, if so, it is a distinctly elaborate one...