People keep asking “How can anyone have a problem with AO3 doing fundraising!”
And I’m just like…. Have people not noticed all the virulent anti-AO3 hate on tumblr propagated by the anti shipping community? Antis have a problem with AO3 raising money because they hate the fact that AO3 won’t allow them to censor content they don’t like and doesn’t tolerate bullying. That’s who is putting out these posts like, “how can this nasty site raise so much money?” Read between the lines.
And for all the people who are just like, “If they don’t want AO3 to to raise money why don’t they just not donate?”
Because antis are incapable of saying “this isn’t for me so I won’t support it but I don’t care if other people support it. They have to actively discourage other people from supporting the thing. At the same time, they also won’t stop using AO3 because 1) they’re a bunch of fucking hypocrites who want readership and that’s where the readers are and 2) they’re too lazy to put together their own archive using AO3′s open source code because that would require doing coding and buying servers and doing all the moderating they want, which is hard, and they just want to engage in empty virtue signalling, which is easy
Anyway, my point is, people need to be aware that these people are out there and they hate AO3 and they want it to go away even though they’re actively using the platform. They’ve even said they want AO3 to fail so something “better” (re, something they control) can take its place. Some of them are blatant about it, calling AO3 a cesspit of pedophilia, and some of them are subtle about it, saying more innocuous things like ‘Does AO3 really need 130K a year?” “Shouldn’t you give your money to individual needy people doing gofundmes for stuff that’s more more important?”
But all of these people have the same end goal, which is the destruction of the archive, and the way they’re going about it right now is to try to discourage people from donating.
So instead of asking, “Why do people object to AO3 raising money?” start telling people “Hey there are people out there who hate AO3 and want to destroy it and we have to protect the archive from them.” And donate, if you can, and signal boost, if you can’t.
So, wow, this post really took off and got more notes than I thought it would. But, since there’s been so much stuff in the comments (and my inbox) on the same few themes I thought I’d do an update with a couple of amendments.
First: AO3 made its fundraising goal! Which is amazing. Thanks to everybody who donated and signal boosted and I’m so happy to see that some people were inspired to donate because of this post!
2nd: AO3 does not host child pornography.
Child porn is illegal. Creating or distributing it is a felony in the US, where AO3 is located. It also violates AO3′s TOS. Since some people do not seem to know what child pornography is, I thought I’d post a definition for you:
(8) “child pornography” means any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where–
(A) the production of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;
(B) such visual depiction is a digital image, computer image, or computer-generated image that is, or is indistinguishable from, that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
© such visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
source (emphasis mine)
The key words here are “Visual depiction,” “use of a minor,” and “identifiable minor.” In other words, real images of real children engaged in real or simulated sex. Stop calling written works of fiction which depict imaginary characters engaging in sexual acts “child pornography.” Stop accusing the creators of said fanworks of felonies with no evidence. Stop throwing around scary sounding words like “literal child porn” to make your point; it’s offensive to the survivors of actual child porn and diminishes their abuse. It doesn’t make people take you seriously. It just shows that you have no grasp of the definitions of the words “literal” or “child porn.”
Yes, AO3 does host works depicting underage sex, and rape, and incest, and all manner of works you may be uncomfortable with. Yes, I support the OTW, not despite, but because of, the fact that they host these kind of works.
Why? Because AO3 is a space whose members are majority queer, majority female, and those individuals are more likely to be the victims of rape, sexual assault, and childhood sexual abuse than its perpetrators. Lots of those squicky fanworks are produced by survivors who are writing about these themes with depth and intelligence. Many of these survivors use fic to process trauma, and many of them use AO3 to connect with other survivors. If you ban these kinds of fanworks, you are shaming and silencing a group of people who have already been shamed and silenced.
“But I wasn’t talking about those fanworks!” You say. Thoughtful works which critically examine the topics of rape and abuse are fine. I just want AO3 to get rid of all the gross fetishistic fic created by pedophiles so they can get off.”
The problem is, you cannot ban one without banning the other. Either you allow works that depict underage sex or you don’t. Either you allow works that depict rape or you don’t. Saying that you should ban works that are “graphic” or “explicit” requires people to make subjective judgments about which people will disagree. And in the end, what you’re really asking is for mods to judge and decide which works have redeeming value and which ones don’t. And you can’t. One persons trigger is another’s catharsis.
Neither can you say that something is inherently bad because its purpose is arousal. Arousal is a complicated thing. Some survivors were aroused during their rape or assault. Does that mean they wanted it? Of course it doesn’t. So why would we assume that readers who are aroused when reading a fanwork want what’s going on in the fanwork to happen to them or someone else in real life? Also, how do you know if the author was aroused when they wrote the fic, or if the reader is aroused by reading it? You don’t. So don’t use this as a metric.
People say that fanworks depicting minors having sex with adults are used to groom children. Abusers have been using toys and candy and promises to groom children for centuries. The blame should always be placed on the abuser, not the tool they use to groom.
People say that works depicting rape or childhood sexual abuse are triggering for survivors. Anything can be a trigger for a survivor. All kinds of innocuous things can become associated with traumatic memories. There are lots of things that are common triggers, and AO3 has Archive Warnings for some of the biggest: Death, Underage, Rape/Noncon, and Graphic Violence. There are others, too, like drug use, miscarriage, abortion, etc. Writers who use the archive are generally pretty good at using these warnings, and AO3 recently rolled out a new filtering system which makes it even easier to exclude certain warnings and tags from searches. Every person is responsible for curating their own archive experience, and reading fanfic, like everything else in life, comes with risks of being triggered. AO3 actually does a much better job than mainstream media, which generally has only vague ratings, at helping people navigate those risks.
Finally, there are people who just seem to be ignorant of how much servers and bandwidth cost, who insist that the AO3 fundraiser is a “scam” and that AO3 staff are “pocketing” money. To these people, all I have to say is that AO3 posts their budget online. It’s totally transparent. You can see exactly where the money goes (answer, 115K went to their server overhaul).
Anyway, thanks again to everyone who donated and signal boosted, we did it!
ao3 has lawyers to make sure that everything they are doing is legal. yes, that includes even the most disgusting fic. you can absolutely hate certain content in fic, you can have a boundary where you never wanna interact with it, but it’s not illegal. and I wish the antis that keep telling kids on tumblr that it is would apply this to other forms of fiction for 5 minutes.
like, if writing about certain themes in fic was illegal, then owning/reading/distributing books with those themes would also be illegal. how many english teachers would go to jail for distributing cp because they made their class read “flowers in the attic” or “the bluest eye”? (both books commonly read in high school which depict incest and child abuse). how many books on the banned book list would actually be illegal? why wouldn’t the government crack down on book stores who sell these books, libraries who house these books, and the people who check out and buy these books?
and this is just counting child abuse. this isn’t even counting the fact that many antis also think that depicting teenagers having any sexuality is also cp. how many young adult books would become illegal? how many movies and tv shows would become illegal?
if books that were on the banned book list for showing child abuse or teenagers having sex were actually illegal they would be banned everywhere, not just in deeply conservative christian areas. and they certainly wouldn’t have a “banned book” event or give out a list of frequently banned books to teenagers to encourage them to read the books and form their own opinions on them.
what antis don’t seem to grasp is that to anyone who was alive and conscious during the last few moral panics (violent video games cause school shootings, harry potter and pokemon promote witchcraft and satanism, rap/metal/rock music is corrupting the youth, there’s an epidemic of daycares run by satanists abusing children, gay people want to “recruit” children through pedophilia which by the way I still see all the time in real life and tumblr is only fueling it) there’s literally no difference between their “think of the children!” arguments and the ones used by conservative christian fundamentalists and concerned soccer moms who think certain books should be banned from school. and that includes the “well any sane and rational person would agree with me! anyone who doesn’t is an abuser or is trying to cover for their abuser friends!”
this has come up so many times over the last century that if fiction and reality had a 1:1 ratio or a “monkey see, monkey do” effect it would be well known, well studied, and would have laws based around that. but the reality is that while there is a relationship it’s complicated. studies can contradict each other. so the laws right now are there to protect the free speech of creators and actual children being harmed, not fictional ones and not hypothetical ones.
(and because I have been accused of being a pedophile for telling an anti that a relationship between a 17 year old and a child under the age of 10 was pedophilia and not “an unhealthy age gap”, and also for saying “I prefer shippers to people who suicide bait over ships”, and have had people say I ship minors and adults when I don’t, and have antis in general call me “fucking evil”. I will say for the record that 1.) I am not a pedophile and I don’t know anyone who is, 2.) that includes shipping 3.) I actually blacklist the majority of this content and am repulsed by a lot of it, sometimes because it’s triggering, most of the time because I think it’s disgusting. I have no dogs in this fight and nothing personal to gain by telling antis to fuck off. I just think antis cause way more harm then good and I am tired of seeing misinformation and “I took a psych 101 class once” posts floating around tumblr).
tldr: all moral panics are the same. long live ao3 and the work that they do to protect fandom.
And speaking as a kinky person, I am quite capable of getting aroused by content that I’m pretty sure was not intended to arouse anyone (eg clips of Superman defeated by Kryptonite). If “it might arouse someone” is a criterion for banning a work, then everything needs to be banned, because chances are, someone out there likes that.