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i think one of the reasons fandom is so unwilling to criticise itself is because its internalised the simplified whitefem logic of how female gaze=progressive, fandom=female gaze, therefore fandom=progressive and uses it in a way as to never examine the social constructs that the gaze was built upon, like what factors attractiveness/desire arise from. 

you could say that fandom is the female gaze in its most tangible, autonomous form - it’s media for women by women, without bureaucracy and hurdles and censorship, something that never had the chance to develop because mainstream media for women is usually controlled by men. there are very few creative spaces that offer the anonymity and autonomy of internet fandom where we can all truly let our freak flags fly. 

but that doesn’t mean female gaze is absolved of the issues that permeates typical forces of oppression. the female gaze is aimed at different directions, and it ranges from sexual attraction to escapist fantasy, but the female gaze when it becomes an en-masse multi-community movement has the swaying power to focus on certain characters, ships and narratives. and when it does, it paints a very telling picture of who and what it values. 

female gaze regards desire/attraction first, and in white supremacist culture this means the hierarchy of white dudes, then white women, then men of colour, then women of colour. looking at overall patterns in who gets written about and who gets shunned, female gaze in fandom patterns seems to be pretty representative of the social hierarchy that ranks most-to-least valuable/humanised people. 

introduction to fandom studies tells us about the values of fandom as mostly-female created space, but it rarely goes beyond that. the female gaze can be racist. it can be imperialist, ableist, transphobic, misogynistic, despite it being a  concept that aims to subvert the male gaze because it did not develop in a vacuum; it developed in a society that’s oppressive and marginalising, therefore it bears the capacity of being equally oppressive and marginalising just like all other forms of media

fandom as a manifestation of the female gaze may be more progressive than male-controlled mainstream media, but doesn’t mean it’s automatically absolved of the social issues it was born in. 

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