I keep wanting to write something up about this, but getting stumped on how to even begin. Largely, because I already know exactly what bad faith arguments are going to be made off the bat, and I feel reluctant to clog down my writing trying to dispel every weird take about things I didn’t say. So, it is what it is. If you have questions please ask politely and use a bit of critical thought beyond trying to find anything to grab hold on to contradict.
The Izzy fandom gets harassed. A lot. Nobody here understands why either. When referencing harassment, I’m most likely referring to either direct abusive messages such as anon hate through Tumblr, or talking about the OFMD through a holistic view that includes harassment through Twitter of common dogpiling, stalking, spreading of false rumors, the occasional doxxing, and other things. I’m including Twitter in this conversation because the world doesn’t revolve around individuals on Tumblr, and for some of us, it’s beneficial to talk about the greater context of fandom without assuming that we are blaming random Tumblr users for Twitter drama. That said, a lot of people use both platforms and the two of them are closely linked, especially since a lot of meta from Tumblr gets poorly replicated on Twitter.
So we’re on the same page, the way I’m defining harassment is: The continuous or severe targeting of an individual or group through harmful behavior that includes physical threats, name-calling, impersonation, spreading malicious rumors, and encouraging others to harass a target. This is not an all-inclusive list, but I want to create a baseline for what I’m talking about. This does not means things such as stating you dislike a character, responding to another’s post to disagree, or speaking positively about a character. This also means that instances of conflict are not inherently harassment either, although this is murkier as we move through the gray area of “continuous or severe.”
I’ll also be using the terms “Izzy likers” and “Izzy crit” since those seem to be each respective sides more preferred terms and things like “Izzy stans” or “Izzy antis” can hold negative connotations. I’ll also be referring to the anon hate received as from a singular person, unless noted otherwise, and as “L anon.”
So, I guess let’s dive into it?
I’ve seen the question posed a few times “Well, what do you want us to do about it?” when Izzy likers have brought up the topic of harassment or alluded to the fact that Izzy crits as a group contribute to this. It’s true that our individual ability to stop harassment completely is an impossible task, however, there are actions that can be taken as a collective to reduce the amount of harm being done. I don’t believe it’s true that harassment is an aspect of fandom one must accept to be within it. I also don’t think it’s right to equate messages telling Black people to get lynched as the norm in fandom everyone has to deal with. I understand that anon hate is common throughout fandoms, but the vitriol and noticeable escalation of L anon is an anomaly that deserves to be taken seriously.
Actions I’m proposing (and will elaborate on) are for Izzy crits to STOP:
Minimizing harassment and distancing identity
This includes things such as suggesting that the harassment might not exist, that it isn’t that bad, it’s just a troll, turn off anon, everybody deals with this, and the idea that people are using discussions on harassment as an excuse. Minimizing harassment normalizes the behavior and continues a narrative that Izzy likers should expect to get harassed online. Downplaying the effects or severity dismisses the victims of it, and refusing to recognize that this is a form of passive endorsement.
I feel some type of way about this personally because I don’t appreciate my experiences of racist harassment being treated as something I should just get over or normal in fandom. Like sorry to keep bringing it up I guess lol but like?
This isn’t okay and it goes beyond “normal” fandom harassment and I feel like I’m going crazy having to argue that this isn’t just something shitty that happens to everyone, but an awful, violent, and frightening message(s) to receive. It genuinely concerns me to see white people in fandom brush it off and make a choice to instead focus on the implications of shipping Izzy with his boss. It points towards a trend of dehumanization online where we no longer see people as people, but characters in our screen who have lesser value than our favorite blorbos. I cannot believe I have to say this.
Purposely separating L anon from identity is another way of passively justifying abuse. Whenever people brush off L anon, it’s often in the context of anon hate happens to everyone and ignores the fact that more marginalized identities are getting the brunt of this which includes rape threats, suicide baiting, and overt antiblackness. It can often be followed with reminders that Izzy crits of color also receive racism. The thing is, saying that Izzy likers are receiving racist harassment, doesn’t mean that other groups of fans do not. The harassment Izzy likers gets still matters, even if you don’t view it as unique. It’s concerning to hear white allies especially utilize this rhetoric as if they have a limited capacity of caring for poc.
Engaging with L anon
A lot of people do straight up delete L anon asks. On the Izzy likers side at least, there’s been an uptick in people posting the hate they receive or collecting screencaps before blocking out of a necessity of proving that the hate exists. I think a lot of us would prefer to not have to do that!
It would help if Izzy crits made an effort to stop engaging with the anon unless it was to condemn his actions. Certain forms of engagement can be viewed as encouragement whether intentional or not, and it feels noticeable that in the last few weeks L anon has gotten increasingly violent.
You don’t have to tell L anon that “I’m not even an Izzy stan so you have the wrong blog anyways” because this normalizes the idea that he should be focusing his attention on Izzy likers. You don’t have to argue and justify to L anon that you actually dislike Izzy or prove that you’re critical of him for the same reason.
You certainly don’t need to tell L anon “I don’t care if you harass Izzy stans” and it’s insane to pretend like this is anything but a dick move.
Telling L anon “you act just like an Izzy stan!” or that they’re “Izzy coded” reinforces to him that Izzy likers are abusers and racists, therefore affirming in his mind that they’re acceptable targets.
Seriously, if your response is anything other than “sending these messages is fucked up and nobody in fandom deserves this for liking a character” then just block and delete the ask. Any amount of attention can be twisted into positive affirmation and adding on “harassment is bad” doesn’t negate the impact of confirming to anon that you view Izzy likers as racist abusers.
Encouraging the association of liking Izzy as being an indicator that someone is racist, abusive, homophobic, etc
It sucks stop doing it. We can draw a difference between Izzy the character and Izzy likers. In the end, your interpretation of a character is yours and nobody can stop you from having it. Putting thought into how you frame meta, however, could help lessen this association.
Be careful with your language and ensure that you are referring to the character when discussing the show. “Izzy stans refuse to see that he’s X” is an unnecessary statement when it can just be that “Izzy is X which you can see from scene Y.” When there is a specific trend of harassment being justified via claiming a group of people is bigoted, it’s worth the effort of minimizing feeding into that assumption.
Saying shit like “Izzy likers who are poc are desperate for white approval” is like for one really shitty lmao? But also feels bad in a climate where people are being called Candace Owens race traitors who should be killed.
There’s a great article that touches on this and the way that even when someone isn’t directly harassing a person, their separate posts in combination with others, reifies the idea that the victim in an appropriate target.
The author further elaborate in her research about third order or indirect harassment.
The examples she uses here are a bit more extreme, but this is the same framework she’s utilizing in her article discussing harassment on the left and in queer communities.
When you answer L anon and say shit like:
or respond to concerns about racist targeting like this:
I am in fact going to feel some type of way about a week later seeing L anon increasingly escalate his behavior until I get six messages in my inbox calling me a race traitor bigoted cunt. It doesn’t matter if you say “it’s bad to be racist” when you’re already confirming the idea that Izzy likers are the main exporters of racism in fandom which is explicitly L anon’s justification for sending hate.
Tagging character hate
I still can’t believe that this is an argument when it’s a basic courtesy within fandom and has been for years. Tagging character hate doesn’t constitute as harassment. However, it does exacerbate an already hostile climate between fans and allows for more conflict that could be easily avoided.
If a meta post is in the character tag then people are going to respond to it. It being tagged communicates that this is something people can respond, especially when you encourage people who agree with you to comment.
If you want less Izzy likers to respond to your Izzy meta then just stop tagging it as #Izzy Hands. It will greatly decrease the amount of interaction! Putting posts into the tag ends up baiting people into responding, continuing to draw out a conflict that nobody wants to be in.
If you don’t like Izzy and you think he’s too popular a character or his fandom is where you end up seeing the most toxicity come from please consider not going through his tag. If you instead look through tags of characters you like, you will be rewarded with content of that character. The character tag will not function adequately as a place to locate critical content for them, so just cut out the middle man, and stop using it because it’s just pissing both sides off and “I have a right to be here!” is the dumbest hill to die on.
Using alternative tags for organization literally just makes things easier for everyone. Tagging things with #Izzy crit or something like #Dizzy Izzy allows you to have a space to locate similar posts without having to expose yourself to a group of people you don’t like. It also provides an easy tag for people to block and avoid seeing on their dashboard. This is better than people just having mute the tag to filter out when going through his character tag, because it doesn’t require an entire community to cater towards your need to post things in a tag on principle. People who are new to the fandom and just happen to like the character also don’t have to be confused by seeing chara hate in the tag and going to argue with it.
It is good to center your fandom experience on things you like instead of being set on asserting your right to be within a space you don’t like! I promise!