let’s talk about racism in the danmei fandom
alright so originally i wrote this for twitter, but i felt like tumblr could benefit from it too. today we're finally getting the long awaited "deconstruction of racism in the danmei fandom" post. and lemme preface this by saying- i'm chinese-american. i'm nblm. i do, in fact, have the cultural and historical background to know what i am talking about. so let's get into it.
this is gonna be a long post, because we have a lot to talk about. first, racism doesn't have to be as blatant as calling me a chink, or saying all asians look the same, or not wanting to consume asian media, or making ching chong jokes.racism can be as subtle towards asians as it can towards any other race. if you think i shouldn't have to say that, join the club, bc same.
second, racism towards asians, especially in the west, has a long history of being overlooked and accepted. now, let's talk about how racism dictates some of the takes you see in the fandom. firstly, what originally inspired this thread- the mxtx rumors and the jokes being made about her and censorship. now, obvs some ppl are gonna say that they were just jokes made in poor taste. and, sure. but they were jokes made in poor taste, steeped in racism. the jokes being made about mxtx going to jail happen bc ppl do not view her as a real person. not rlly. she’s an author, sure, the author of one of their favorite novels, but she’s not, like. a person with thoughts and feelings and a life. and that sort of casual lack of humanhood and agency given to danmei authors is rooted in the severely racist dehumanization of asians that’s prevalent in the west. this is something that can be seen other places, too- a good example being when parasite was notably nominated for every oscar category *except* the acting ones.
it's this lack of personhood, this lack of agency, that allows ppl to have takes like "censorship isn't actually bad, and here's why". yes, this is a real take that i saw. this take argues that the cql is better than mdzs, bc it is "softer and less graphic". in general, a lot of ppl have the take that mxtx's works in particular are too graphic, with problematic sexual elements. now, i've talked before about how that's a homophobic take bc gay relationships should also be allowed to be messy. but it's also deeply entrenched in racism. it's why white gays can have the take "this is Problematique and here's why" and claim it's not homophobic.
racism against asians has long since created a trend of sexualizing them- thinking asian men are sexy while also removing their sexual agency. asian men can be sexy, but they can't actually *have sex*. not explicitly. there's a historical, real world element to this. "not fats no femmes no asians" could definitely be seen on ppls grindr profiles, back in the day. asians can be sexy, sure. look at kpop boys. but they can't be sexual. they’re infantilized. they have to remain pure and wholesome, or they're dragged as problematic and homophobic and fetishizing, a word that's thrown around so often it's practically lost meaning. fetishizing is my ex-bf telling me i'm sexy bc* i'm asian, it’s bl/yaoi fans approaching a gay couple on the bus and gushing over how "cute and yaoi they are." fetishizing is *not* showing your 2 male main charas having explicit sex. if it is, then every white fan in danmei is fetishizing asians.
but i digress- back to the point about racism. the fact that ppl can argue about censorship shows that they, as a whole, aren't considering the ramifications of censorship on the literal country it exists in, and it's citizens. i, obvs, do not live in china. but i've got relatives who do, and who did. i've got relatives who fled china. not everything is about you and the media you want to consume. and then, of course, there's the casual racism. the everyday racism. the racism that lies in things like saying all the names are too similar and it's hard to keep track of them. the racism in saying things like "i'm just here to have fun,,,like sure, i'd persevere through dostoevsky, but this is danmei", as if danmei is somehow inferior, as if danmei isn't meant to be critically engaged with, as if danmei doesn’t tackle and critically explore some of the deepest and darkest issues.
asian media is often presented that way, from kung fu movies to danmei. there is a type of racism, of eurocentrism, that exists in the belief that western media has deeper, more engaging morals. asian media is more "fun". asian media is almost entirely based on morals and deep thought, it's just not based in western ones. for example, two of my favorite authors are haruki murakami and kazuo ishiguro. both are japanese authors, who's works i've heard westerners describe as weird and without a point, when in fact they are simply telling stories with innately eastern asian morals and teachings. it's the same type of racism that causes ppl to make jokes about asian food, to not view it as a craft the same way they do french food. it's asian- it must be "less than", be inferior, be inherently not worth as much.
casual racism about asians is normalized, which isn't a word i use often. it’s normalized to the point where ppl don’t even realize they have that sort of implicit bias, and we know ppl don’t rlly come on the internet to think critically. but unintentional racism is still racism. it still has an impact, still does damage. ppl need to think intentionally and critically in how they consume and interact with media not made for them, but they don’t, instead choosing to come in with their preexisting biases, and bc of that, it's easy for fandom members to dismiss the cultural concerns of chinese ppl within the fandom. it's easy, for example, to say "calling them martial brothers is incest apologism", ignoring the inherent cultural roots of martial brothers.
now, we're gonna get in to the current "drama". i do not ship chengxian. i think that even bears repeating. i Do Not ship chengxian. i have written them, in a modern au, as adopted brothers. but there is a real historical and culture relevance to the idea of martial brothers, of community, that westerners willfully refuse to hear, claiming instead that "you're disregarding adopted families!" no. that's not what's happening at all. what's happening is ppl are refusing to look at their own, western bias, and placing western values on an eastern idea. community raising of children, community family bonds without being adopted families, is important in east asian culture. there is a long history of community being whats important, and ppl don't get that you can be a "communal/community family" without being considered familial. jyl choosing to view wwx as her brother, bc he is a martial brother, and chengxian being in love, are things that can technically coexist. whether or not you choose to perceive them as such, refusing to acknowledge the real history of martial brothers, and scremaing "incest apologism" whenever someone tries to explain it, is inherently racist. it's you assuming you know my culture better than me. it's you assuming your western ideas are the only ones that exist. which is, at its core, the basis for most racism in the danmei fandom.
most racism in the danmei fandom comes from this idea that casual racism against asians isn't *really* racism, and therefore asians don't *really* get to have a say, and it shouldn't matter anyway bc we're lucky you're even engaging with danmei, with asian content, since it's shallow and inferior anyway. the racism comes from a place of moral superiority, of ownership, of this assumption that westerners are entitled to not just consume danmei but also bring their western lens and apply it to something that was never written for them in the first place.
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My reading list
I do have EPUB/PDF/WORD of all this novels, so let me know if you want to read them in this format! (constantly adding new novels)
HERE YOU CAN FIND ALL MY DRIVE FOLDERS AND FILES!!!
Judged by stars ⭐ (5 stars max)~
TGCF : ⭐⭐⭐
It does not have a single smut scene which is disappointing, especially considering the predecessor novel is MDZS. If you can ignore this detail, the plot is incredible and leaves you wondering, action scenes and all conflicts are really compelling. Do not expect tons of fluff, it's quite angsty tbh. [It has a happy ending!]
Very abundant in smut and fluff, it is quite comforting in that regard. Wei Wuxian is a character that I just adore, well developed and dynamic. I personally felt Lan Wangji quite flat in comparison, which did not allow me to fully fall in love with Wangxian. Well balanced between angst and comfort. [It has a happy ending!]
BRO! How do I even begin with this gem... It has everything. It is not a suitable reading for everyone due to the amount of TW it contains, dark material, situations that make your hair stand on end. The plot is completely incredible, both protagonists are so well developed that it makes you want to cry, the entire universe which encompasses this novel is abundant and rich, and the number of twists and turns makes your head explode! The amount of angst is as big as the smut, yes. I cried my eyes out with this text. [It has a happy ending!]
Based on the same universe as ERHA, it's really exciting as you read along and 2HA aspects/ components start to appear. It is basically all angst, suffering and pain for the characters, fluff moments are almost non-existent, and there are maximum 3 scenes of smut (which, compared to ERHA is... nothing). In terms of action / world building / plot, it is exquisite, there is no mistake in that regard, and the construction of the characters is delicious. Don't expect the same kind of stuff as The Husky and His White Cat Shizun (disappointing when comparing both novels)... [It has a happy ending!]
The Two Tailed Fox Demon and His Taoist Priest Gong :⭐
Super short novel of pure smut, kinda bizarre tbh, there's no plot. It's extremely simple, a text created for light (and scandalous) reading. Surprisingly, I found that the smut is not that great... the scenes feel really rushed, without a good description of the context, or development of the situation (ironic because it is a sexy novel...?)
Introduction to Sex Education :⭐⭐⭐
A really hot/smut-dedicated novel. It has many TW that must be taken into account before reading, because the type of material is not for just any reader. It can hurt the sensibilities of many consumers.
I didn't connect with this novel, at all. All the actions scenes feel extremely rushed, the plot is poorly developed in a lot of aspects, and the main CP... it makes me think SQQ is only with LBH out of pity, not because actual attraction. There are no transitions between one action and the other, and it makes a lot of things confusing. I love Luo, but disappointing [it has a happy ending!]
Till Death do us Part:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This novel is exquisite. For anyone who enjoys reading about politics, historical contexts, love, and lots of sex, this is a perfect read. There were many, many times I wanted to kill the Gong because of his toxicity... but when he realizes his mistakes and "leaves" his questionable behavior behind... IT MAKES YOU CRY SO MUCH???? The couple ends up living until they are both elderly in their 80s and die together of natural causes 😭😭😭😭😭
Living to Suffer: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I'm only giving it one star less because it's shorter than the sequel (Till Death do us Part ⬆️), and I needed so much more of them in this oneeee. Anyways, fully complies with the standards of the previous novel, and introduces us to the CP who, depending on what order you read both texts, take place in a different context (historically speaking). It contains a beautiful amount of smut BUT IT'S EXTREMELY ANGSTY AND FULL OF PAIN, FOR REAL. [BAD ENDING!!!]
The Bird and the Golden Cage:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
SUCH A BEAUTIFUL SHORT NOVEL!!!!! It has everything and a beautiful, sweet happy ending~ I loved every second of it, smut scenes are great, and the plot is very good too. The CP is so adorable 😭❤️
You've Got a Mail: A Cautionary Tail ⭐⭐⭐
This novel is the definition of smut with plot!!! It's full of truly horny scenes and scenarios but at the same time there's a whole plot going with it. It makes it both fun and spicy to read, and I couldn't help but to fall in love with the shou. I did hate the gong through basically the entirety of the novel, and I only liked him at the end, but yeah, overall, really good!!
Novels Available [PDF/EPUB/WORD]:
Introduction to Sex Education
The Cultivator's Peerless Sexcapade
Tyrant Pampering Wife Dairy
The Two Tailed Fox Demon and His Taoist Priest Gong
Marked by a Tyrant After Transmigrating
You've got a Mail: A Cautionary Tail
Living to Suffer + Till Death do Us Part
The Bird and the Golden Cage
Let me know if there's a novel you would like to get in any of this formats, and I'll do my best to help you out!
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