Censoring Fiction by @feministvibes

Cross-posted from: Is My Gender Showing?
Originally published: 18.03.15

I was reading all the controversy surrounding the new Batgirl cover (which I personally liked) and after reading what everyone thought about it, it left me thinking about the arguments surrounding the censoring of abuse in fiction, which is something which seems to crop up again and again. Everyone has a different coping mechanism, a different strategy for moving forwards with life after any form of abuse, and that’s okay, everyone’s different, which means that everyone copes differently. Some people remove themselves from anything which might remind them of what they suffered because it triggers those emotions and memories. That’s considered an accepted way to cope.

Some people turn in the opposite direction- often turning to fiction, they see their heroes tormented, abused, violated but they see them take strength from what happened to them. They see those fictional characters they feel connected to go through similar situations that they might have been through, they feel understood, they no longer feel alone. These heroes don’t let their experiences turn them into something they aren’t, the  more hopeless their situation seems, the harder they fight.

It’s not uncommon to see heroine’s portrayed in a vulnerable state in advertisements, and it’s not uncommon for people to complain about it.

So is it wrong to focus not on the victory, but on the moments of abuse?

To some, focusing on the moment of abuse is done for shock factor, for sales and to get people to notice a product. To others, sugar coating these moments and sweeping them under the rug is trivializing their experiences.

To only show the moment of victory, but to not show how they got there, what they had to fight through to truly be the hero they are in the end seems to me to say that we shouldn’t talk about our own experiences, that we should focus on how well we have done to get to where we are, but to not speak about what happened along the way, to be ashamed of it.

Many people who take strength from seeing the darker sides of their heroes stories are treated like abusers themselves, people shame them for their coping mechanism,accuse them of being part of the problem, part of the culture of abuse in our society. That’s unfair and it’s untrue.

Doesn’t censoring fiction reek of 1984? Regardless of the issues surrounding the individual pieces, it very quickly becomes a slippery slope.

Who says what is censored and what isn’t?

Does it only matter if you’re in the majority? If you shout the loudest? Is your coping mechanism less important because it isn’t the most common?