I am totally gonna make a post about the prolific use of self-hatred in fandom and fanwork output, but for now I’mma just link to toujoursher’s commentary as well because it is as always awesome. And I don’t want to hijack the AO3 tag informational post for my own fandom meta, heh.
And yeah I also agree that even though massive rambling tags on AO3 is not my cup of tea (okay I GET it, you hate everything you write, jeez do I even want to read this any more now that I know the writer is informing me ahead of time that it’s absolutely terrible?) I do think that if fanwork-creators adhered to AO3 rules - ie using their warning system, their tagging system etc etc - in addition to their tag-rambles, I’d be okay with it. I would just avoid the tags like woah, unless I wanted the writer to talk me out of reading their fic.
Which y’know. Sometimes they succeed. So congratulations on their self-fulfilling prophecy, I suppose.
#ThisFicSucks and similar tags reminds me of the “I wrote this fic at 3 in the morning while on pixie sticks and Mountain Dew” Author’s Notes I used to see on The Pit of Voles (aka FFN) over a decade ago. If people didn’t do it in tags, they’d do it in Author’s Notes or at the top of the fic - or they wouldn’t do it at all because they wouldn’t feel like the community is telling them they can/should be deprecating because how dare they think this fic is good or worth reading?
Sometimes, are people who put these sorts of tags on their fics doing so because they’ve been taught not to toot their own horn, or say they’ve done something awesome or at least readable?
From a completely different context (re women and leadership):
As a woman I’m very familiar with self-deprecation. Nearly all women use it. And we like it, because … it makes us seem approachable.
And the awesome sarahreesbrennan talks about similar issues here on The Toast:
Nor, in a society set up to make sure women have poor opinions of themselves, is anyone taking on the system by characterising professional women as bragging and boasting. Those who use a rhetoric that insists “these women talking in any way positively about themselves or their work are too self-satisfied” are upholding the current system, where women are socialised not to have any confidence, and that is reinforced at every turn by people telling them that the tiny pieces of confidence they’ve managed to scrape together are far too much.
(And, btw, Sarah’s piece from last spring should be read by anyone who’s recently been reading about Gamergate, but that’s a different post.)
In other words, I don’t like when people tag their work with self-deprecation, or put it in Author’s Notes, or especially in Summaries (because the person who reads/views it has a Close Tab or Back button). But I don’t like it because I worry that there’s a chance that they’ve put that tag or note there because they feel like the community says shouldn’t feel proud that they’ve created something. It can’t be good, you shouldn’t boast or brag, and sharing this without deprecation is bragging.
It isn’t. It’s just sharing, it’s talking positively about something that you’ve done and want to share with your community. That’s awesome and not the ideal moment for self-deprecation.
(And yes, I acknowledge that in criticizing self-deprecation, I am ironically engaging in criticism and saying something negative about the people who use such tags. And I don’t know how to get around that - except to say this isn’t meant to be criticism of those who do it, although it might be criticism of a culture and/or community that makes them feel that it’s necessary.)
The thing is though that while what you are offering is criticism, it’s constructive criticism.
Which any writer should be happy to receive, because that’s what helps us improve.
ALSO, it’s true, and important. So there’s that.
As a woman, this is very familiar.
"Don’t be too proud, don’t toot your own horn, it will make you unlikeable!"
This is what we’re being taught everyday as little girls. And I see it so often, especially with creations, writings or art. “Sorry it’s not good, sorry you don’t like it….” we are such good girls! Always apologizing.
Stop it. What we make may never be perfect but we are trying and we are creating and even if it isn’t the greatest thing ever - it is good!
Good. Don’t be sorry for good.
self-hatred in fandom self-deprication stand by your work being a woman
OMG yes other eloquent and well-researched people added their own opinions to my initial post, to which in all of it I say a resounding - YES.
If/when I eventually make my post, I want to incorporate the way that women are generally not encouraged to pursue certain creative endeavours, and above that are taught to be extremely self-deprecating. I don’t mean ‘modest’, although that’s usually the euphemistic term used to make self-loathing look pious, righteous, and healthy. I mean literal, vocal, loud self-deprecating so everyone understands that this talented woman is not vain or, god forbid, self-serving. Women must only ever serve others, after all. Women must only ever give and never, ever take.
Women of colour (especially black women) get this two-fold, from men and from white women. Which is a whole other extremely important aspect in and of itself, and so I just wanted to point that out.
But yeah this level of self-deprecating is reflected in fandom. Our creative types feel they must apologize for being creative, they have to downplay their talent and skill and hard work. ’Oops my pencil slipped’ = a gorgeous illustration. That’s it, that’s the pride you’ve been socialized to take in your artwork? Because praise should only ever be from external sources, but never pride from within?
Conversely, since others have brought up self-critique, I’ve found that people automatically jump to assure you that you are AWESOME and you are GREAT and you are PERFECT, which I also find as interesting as the self-deprecating search for praise.
Just as we’re primed to hate ourselves, we’re also primed to pour ‘grrlpower’ meaningless phrases onto others who feel bad about their skills. To the point that sometimes we don’t even take into context what the other person is critiquing.
For instance, I could say: ’so here I drew this, I’m kinda bad at perspective so I fudged it a bit, ahah oh well, it was fun, I love drawing these characters!’
I know I suck at perspective. I’m not in a corner crying my eyes out about it. I say it, because I know I have room to improve and I can improve if I keep drawing. Instead of saying that, I say ‘I’m kinda bad at perspective’ and often I would get: ‘Lori you are SO GOOD at drawing, you are GREAT, don’t sell yourself short, your art is FABULOUS and you should feel fabulous, FEEL GOOD DAMMIT, I AM UNCOMFORTABLE KNOWING YOU CRITIQUED YOURSELF AND I’VE PERCEIVED THAT AS SELF-HATE AND I AM FRUSTRATED AND WORRIED THAT I CAN’T IMMEDIATELY REASSURE YOU, SUCH IS MY ROLE AS A WOMAN TO GIVE COMFORT AND CONSOLATION.’
…yeah it’s like this circular, loopy kinda thing. A loopcycle of self-deprecation and doling out lavish generic praise brought about by an overall discomfort with one’s personal talent while also with perceiving that others have this same discomfort with their own talent and trying to assuage their insecure feelings while still loathing your own skill.
Yeah. Society fucking sucks, they way it fucks with our self-esteem.