Teen Wolf, Sterek, Scott McCall, & Racism
Generalizations suck, we know this, but I think we as Sterek fans need to take a breath. And then a few more.
We are getting defensive. That’s natural. I’ve done it too. I went round after round with someone about how Sterek/Teen Wolf fandom was *different*. It wasn’t LIKE other slash fandoms. It didn’t have the same yucky issues. Mostly because I was so hung up on my happy, positive Teen Wolf experience, I didn’t want to acknowledge that I might be complicit in a problematic thing.
But here’s the thing: pretending like Teen Wolf or Teen Wolf fandom lives in a vacuum in which it is exempt from race issues (or other -isms) isn’t doing Teen Wolf and Sterek or its fandom any favors. It is alienating people who experience racism in their daily lives, it is making fandom an unsafe place for them. It is taking away from their joy.
Here are some things to think about: Sterek fans are, by far, the most active part of this fandom. We produce the most fanfic, fanart, meta, graphics, etc. You name it, there are Sterek fans churning it out. We are not underrepresented. We get a lot of positive reinforcement and love.
I know it feels like the people talking about this fandom’s racism (or other -isms) is taking away from our enjoyment, but I’m here to say that that is a horribly privileged POV. Voices of people who have noticed uncool patterns in Teen Wolf fandom shouldn’t be silenced because they make you feel uncomfortable or defensive.
We do not exist in a world where race doesn’t factor in. Even if your reasons for not liking Scott have absolutely, 100% *nothing* to do with his race (and hey, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on this one and say that’s probably the case), his race still matters.
“But!” I hear you say. “I find him boring and he makes stupid choices and I just want to read about Derek and Stiles and it’s not like I hate Scott. I just don’t care! Why do I have to care??”
And to answer, let me repeat myself: Scott’s race still matters.
It’s always going to matter. Scott is Latino. Scott is the lead character on a fairly popular teen show. Positive race representation on that kind of show (or really, any kind of show) is extraordinarily important. And dismissing his race is undermining that importance. His race doesn’t stop counting just because you have other reasons for not liking him. He’s always going to be Latino. That doesn’t stop. And “not seeing race” *is* racist. Period.
Same principle applies to Danny, especially as not only a PoC, but a *queer* PoC. He is an actual facts unicorn on TV in terms of how rare queer PoC representation is right now.
Race matters. Positive representation matters.
And the people who are SO MAD at the Sterek fans right now? I’d guess they’re mad because as a whole, Sterek fans are refusing to acknowledge this and/or call out the people who are contributing to the problem. We haven’t been collecting our people (and I’m including myself in this), and that’s got to stop.
You are allowed to not like Scott. You are allowed to OTP/ship Stiles/Derek. There is nothing inherently bad about either of those things.
However, here are some things we as a fandom, collectively, need to agree on:
Calling Scott the r-word/slow/a potato/a derp-face/derpy is not okay. All of those things are ableist. Yes, they are. No, I’m not arguing w/ you about it. I’ve used those words in the past too. I know it sucks to be called out for using them and it’s embarrassing. Take a breath, read about why they’re hurtful, and stop using them. That’s it.
Talking about how terrible Scott is, how you wish he’d die, how useless he is, etc, etc, etc, isn’t cool. Yes, I said you’re allowed to not like Scott, but remember how I said our fandom doesn’t exist in a vacuum? Here’s where that comes in to play. SCOTT. IS. A. CHARACTER. OF. COLOR. When we throw that much hate on him, it’s simply not the same as hating on a white character. It’s just not. It’s never going to be, and trying to ignore/erase that he is of color won’t ever make it the same. It only makes it worse.
You can’t make Scott white, no matter how you’ve read him in the past, no matter what you thought when you started watching. You also can’t make racism not exist. He’s not white. Racism exists. THOSE TWO FACTS ARE NEVER GOING TO CHANGE. (Well the first one will never change, the second might, but probably not in our lifetimes because we’ve got a long way to go.) Which means we have to give more thought to the way we talk about Scott.
I am not saying you’re a bad person if you’ve done any of these things. I am saying if you’ve done these things, take a breath, think it over, and stop doing them. That’s it. That’s how you fix this. And also by not telling people, fans of color in particular, that they are WRONG WRONG WRONG when they speak up about these issues. They’re not wrong. Even if you’ve never done any of the things they’re talking about personally, even if you’ve never even SEEN THEM, that doesn’t mean you have a right to derail or silence them.
You want to be a good ally and a responsible fan of a privileged pairing? Then listen. Keep listening. Listen until you think you get it, and then listen some more to everything they’re saying. You don’t have to stop loving the thing you love in order to correct the problem. You don’t need to feel guilty for loving Sterek (I don’t). You just have to think about the ways in which you love it that might be damaging to other people.
And also? They don’t have to tell you that you’re not the people they’re talking about. You know how you make them stop generalizing? By not being the thing they’re talking about, by collecting the people who ARE doing that thing. Build your own fandom experience. You don’t like that Sterek fans are being called racist and ableist? Then go do your best to make sure Sterek fans aren’t being racist and ableist. Don’t silence the people calling out the problem.
Collecting our people. NOT CUTTING THIS.
No seriously, guys, this is super important. Please read it & digest & signal boost.
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