Fans Don’t Let Fans Up-Kilt (a/k/a Respectful Fandoms)

Why even bother?  When you get called a “hater” if you question anything, or “judgmental” for trying point out problems within a group, why even include yourself in a fandom?  My husband is not a fanboy but, when he took me to be his wife, he took on my obsessions, too.  He has dutifully watched more episodes of Doctor Who (and Outlander, and Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead, and…) than I can count.  So, when he asked, I felt like I owed him an answer.

Well, it’s not always like this, I told him.

And that is true.  In fact, most of the people are really nice and just want to share something they have in common.  But, really, it is more than that.  When you find another fan, it’s like recognizing a part of yourself in someone else.  Whatever other differences you have (race, gender, economic, religious, whatever), you still have THIS in common.  And because you respect* that person, you listen with an open heart.

Of all the words that I have heard to describe The Best Things About Fandoms, “respect” is the word that has come up the most.  Respect was what made people stay.  Lack of it had them running for the hills.  Such a small word to hold so much power.

Respect doesn’t mean I have to agree with you.  Respect doesn’t mean that I have to approve of your trashing someone’s weight or boobs or wardrobe.  Respect doesn’t mean that I should fake-applaud if you roll on the floor to look up someone’s kilt**.  Yeah, not going to fake applaud that.  Up-kilting is creepy.  Period.

Respect does mean that I will listen to you.  We can talk (without name calling), and hopefully find some common ground.  We can agree to disagree.  Nothing wrong with that.  Different opinions are good.  If we all agreed, the conversation would be pretty short (not to mention boring).

And I have LOVED the conversation…and I have learned a lot.  The comments have led me to some really respectful fans.  I found Positively Outlander over on Facebook, where fans can bond over the books: low drama and high respect.  If you’ve given up on Facebook groups, check them out***.  They might make you change your mind.

I was also invited to hang out over at Terry Dresbach’s forum, and the fans over there were incredibly welcoming.  They immediately made me comfortable, and within a few minutes I felt perfectly at home.  Like, seriously at home–there was talk about body hair, and books, about somehow or other we got on the topic of Amanda Palmer (oh, right! niplashes!), and there might have been some fangirl squeeing, and…it was wonderful.

At its best, fandom IS wonderful.  People come together to discuss things, to change things, to raise money for charities, and to support each other.  People find things in common and build on that, and that is why we bother.

Being a fan is bigger than just finding someone else who thinks that Graham McTavish rocks the felted bonnet, or that Sam Heughan’s should be the voice of the next iPhone (seriously, so much better than Siri), it is about finding new people.  People who make you think and who expose you to new things.  Your people.


*See that word there? Hang on to it. It changes everything.

**I heard about this incident in the comments on the Objectification post.  This is the kind of crap that gives fandoms a bad name.  If a man did that to a female actress, he would have been (rightfully) arrested.  Don’t be THAT fan.

***I am sure there are plenty more respectful Facebook groups, and you are more than welcome to list them in the comments!


14 thoughts on “Fans Don’t Let Fans Up-Kilt (a/k/a Respectful Fandoms)

  1. I read this and “The Problem with Fandoms” – just discovering your blog. I have to say I completely agree with you. Did you point out some negative stuff going on – YES! Were you respectful about it? I think so. Something tells me the people commenting it was ‘preachy’ and ‘judgmental’ found your comments hitting a little too close to home.

    I too have noticed many ‘creepy’ things in fandoms. Early on in the series fandom for Outlander someone was using an avatar of a woman looking up a kilt. I tweeted to them that, while it might seem cute it was indeed disrespectful and they might want to change that. She (I think it was a she – been a long time) responded that she disagreed, it was just good fun. My response to that was “Fair enough – but keep in mind others may not view it that way”

    Just my own personal rule for fandom stuff is….would you really WANT Sam or whoever to hear or see what you are saying or doing? I have another actor I’m just stuck on (French Canadian named Roy Dupuis – STELLAR actor and has just incredible sex appeal while being one of the kindest people I’ve ever met). Now, what my BFF and I discuss about him and his life and movies etc. in our very PRIVATE chats is not something I would EVER post on a public forum! Ever. It’s not the place for it. It’s not my business to discuss his personal life or habits or anything else in public. I mean, I’ve met the man but I don’t KNOW him. What he thinks or feels or desires. Roy has an official fan club with a forum on Yuku. I always think (not like he has the time or likely the desire to) he might actually get on there sometimes under an assumed handle to see what we have to say. So, before I post anything my guideline is “Would I want Roy to see this?”

    For Sam and many of the Outlander cast / crew – they are extremely active on Social media. As much as things get retweeted in this fandom, there is a good chance one of them will see it at some point. I cringe at some of the posts and I’ve not gotten into a lot of stuff simply because I don’t want to be associated with some of it. My choice. If other people think that’s ok – that is their choice. I don’t have to participate in it.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to be so long. My point is, I and I’m sure many others agree with your comments. The responses I read from you seemed respectful and on target. There will always be some who don’t agree and want to argue.

    Overall, I have found the ‘Outlander’ fandom to be awesome. We are a force to be reckoned with when we decide to do something and tend to be creative, outgoing, and respectful. I am on an extremely limited income so can’t do as much as I’d like (buy shirts, donate money, go to some of the gatherings) but I think it’s all wonderful. Lifelong friends have been made which is absolutely cool!


  2. This is so true, having found people who enjoy and respect the same things and people I do, has opened up new worlds and treasured friendships.


    • And I love it when you find one common interest and then get to introduce one another to new things to obsess over! My introduction to fandoms started with Harry Potter (thanks Angela!). Then I introduced that friend to Doctor Who, Outlander, and Game of Thrones. (I told her she owes me, but she swears that we are now even.)


  3. My mama taught me: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. She also tried, with some success, to be ladylike, i.e., have good manners and be kind. I try to take these things into account when posting online, showing respect for others, but an occasional raunchy remark might slip out. (That up-kilt incident was completely out of line and made me hang my head in shame for the Outlander fandom.)


  4. I would also like to add my thanks to you for your post The Problem with Fandoms, and for this one. I can appreciate a nice male form just as much as the next person, but I don’t like it when men objectify women, so why would I think it was OK for women to objectify men? It’s unfortunate because it can be enjoyable to discuss the show online, but the fact is that I haven’t really felt at home at most sites I visit, and I find I’ve been pulling away from the fandom in general. I understand that there’s probably people that think it’s all harmless fun, but it’s just not how I roll.

    And that leads to your point about how we treat each other when discussing differing opinions. I wholeheartedly agree that respect is called for; not only for each other but for the actors as well. I suppose I should try again to find a place I feel comfortable, because you’re right; it’s wonderful when you make a connection with someone bonding over something you love. So thanks for the suggestions and your insight. 🙂


  5. Terri, You know I wish I could send you a dozen roses as a thank you for writing this blog. I am embarrassed for all womankind when I read some of the disrespectful kilt and mean Cait comments. Bottom line: Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to their faces. That would weed out most of the ridiculousness, the rest there’s probably no hope for. Thanks again for your eloquence. 🙂 🙂 🙂


  6. thanks for both of these blog posts. Not only do I agree with you, you could say I’m relieved I’m not the only one. I’m new to twitter, only joined last year to feed my Outlander/Sam obsession (we won’t get into how teenager I get over embarrassed dork). After making a few friends/followers, I was pretty shocked at some of the things I saw/read. I know I’m pretty conservative, but wowzers people, this is for the whole wide world to see, ye ken??!

    So…I unfollowed some, avoid some, try to keep my feed free of borderline-porn and stay out of anything that’s disrespectful — all while wondering “do they realize what that sounds/looks like?!!” But with a little whisper in the back of my mind: “don’t be judgmental, they can do what they want, you’re not the moral police”.

    That whisper comes from living in a society that confuses tolerance and approval with respect — and doesn’t understand you can respectfully disapprove of something. And you can choose to voice your disapproval in a respectful manner. Respect is not the same as approval, and you can have one without the other.

    But also thank you for writing about how GREAT a fandom can be. I had NO idea it would be like this. I was (still am) thrilled to have so many far away friends sharing a common interest, it’s totally awesome! (there’s that teenager LOL)


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