Shelf Love

Because I Love Her, Had to Killer (Antagonist April #2, Manacled with Fangirl Jeanne)

Short Description

Antagonist April: discussing killers in romance. Fangirl Jeanne is back to continue our discussion of Manacled, a dark romance fan fiction story. What is the appeal of enemies to lovers? How do readers wrestle with justification for killing in romantic stories, and how does Manacled explore a romantic relationship, not just a romantic fantasy for an individual? How does creating within communal systems, as opposed to capitalist ones, enable different kinds of stories?

This is part 2 of 2 discussing Manacled. Check out episode 116 for part 1.

Content Warnings: the text we discuss is a dark romance fanfiction and we discuss how the text handles rape, war, violence, and genocide.


fanfiction, antagonist april, book discussion

Show Notes

Antagonist April: discussing killers in romance. Fangirl Jeanne is back to continue our discussion of Manacled, a dark romance fan fiction story. What is the appeal of enemies to lovers? How do readers wrestle with justification for killing in romantic stories, and how does Manacled explore a romantic relationship, not just a romantic fantasy for an individual? How does creating within communal systems, as opposed to capitalist ones, enable different kinds of stories?

This is part 2 of 2 discussing Manacled. Check out episode 116 for part 1.

Content Warnings: the text we discuss is a dark romance fanfiction and we discuss how the text handles rape, war, violence, and genocide.

Shelf Love:

Join the Conversation on Discord:

Discussed: Manacled by SenLinYu (Dramione AU Fanfiction)

Manacled - Chapter 1 - senlinyu - Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling [Archive of Our Own]

Guest: Fangirl Jeanne

Website | Twitter

Jeanne’s tweet thread on the power fantasy of being the singular focus of a powerful man present in Romantic literature and fan fiction:


Fangirl Jeanne: [00:00:00] Why can't we have more heroines who are loud and rude and wrong and fall and make mistakes, and then learn from those mistakes and still are just as equally deserving of love.

We too often look at romantic relationships within fictional context as a fantasy that services one person, or services a particular desire, rather than stories about romantic relationships, which I feel that is the structure of what the story is really about is navigating a relationship with somebody, with all of these complicated aspects.

Andrea Martucci: Hello, and welcome to Shelf Love a podcast and community that explores romantic love stories in fiction across media, time, and cultures. Welcome once again to Antagonist April. I'm your host, Andrea Martucci. And on this episode, I am joined once again by media critic, author and fan girl, Jeanne. This is a continuation of our conversation that began in episode 116. So I'd recommend starting there if you haven't listened to it yet.

In part two of our conversation, we'll be discussing the appeal of enemies to lovers, how readers wrestle with justification for killing in romantic stories, how Manacled explores a romantic relationship, not just a romantic fantasy for an individual, and also how creating within communal systems, as opposed to capitalist ones enables different kinds of stories.

As a reminder the story that we are discussing is a dark romance fanfiction and content warnings include discussions of how the text handles rape, war, violence, and genocide. It's a dark one, folks, if it's not for you, feel free to skip it. But also if you're still around, hope you enjoy it.

Fangirl Jeanne: Circling back to the enemies and lovers dynamic, linking it up with a gender dynamics of Hermione being a healer. One of the other things I think that we don't talk enough about, about what is appealing about the enemies to lovers trope, specifically for women and in, male, female relationships is the freedom to not be nice. And that these dynamics allow a woman to like openly be mean, to say what she thinks without worrying about the consequences of what that other person thinks of her or what it's going to do to them and that there is a freedom that that dynamic gives women to be a more authentic version of themselves.

Maybe not a nice version, maybe not a heroic version, but a more authentic. And I think that, that creates an in to intimacy. That is definitely appeal of these dynamics that we don't necessarily recognize is what's happening.

My proto version of this idea was I used to call it the fighting and fucking dynamic, which a trope that I love where it is very much makes the [00:03:00] adversarial aspect of courting that we see in a lot of media, especially like romantic comedy movies. Absolutely, the man and the woman are set up as adversaries. They are fighting a war, they're manipulating each other, they're scoring and winning and losing and all that language of the courting rituals are as violent as actual fighting.

And this is probably a factor of how often we end up romanticizing adversarial relationships in non-romantic media. How often the relationships, even if they're adversarial between two men is prioritized in media. Because men, everything man is better, that we naturally go, oh these guys are sharing some intense intimate exchange. I just want him to kiss at this point.

We know that same structure, if one of them is a woman, they do kiss eventually. So I think that is a dynamic of this, that while we should critically look at these types of stories and go, what are we reinforcing? What are we excusing. But we also acknowledge that there is a sense of freedom of being with someone who doesn't need you to be nice and doesn't need you to perform to gendered expectations, to still see you as a person and as a threat, which is also a big factor is that a man who sees a woman as a threat is treating her like an equal and in recognizing her abilities and power, which is definitely dynamic that's happening within this relationship with Hermione and Draco.

Andrea Martucci: Right, you are not threatened by those who are subordinate to you. So it's equal. And I think that what you were talking about, essentially the freedom to not be nice. If one is walking on eggshells around someone and they are suppressing parts of themselves, that is a barrier to intimacy. This is what you're saying.

And so I wonder if this is why in a lot of texts, the ingenue character that we get, the female character who is so desirable is so good. Right. She's just so nice. She can show her entire self. And also everything is good. Everything is desirable.

Which is why, in some texts that is then taken to the extreme where she is like the single desirable woman on earth. And like every guy around her, wants her for his own because she's just so unambiguously good and desirable. And when you think about that character, yes, it's tapping into that fantasy that you're talking about of wanting to be the one that is desired and protected. And the one who slays the powerful man who has never given his power over to another woman, he's been completely closed off to this kind of intimate relationship before until her.

Thinking about that. First of all, it's incredibly freeing that you have this character who is all parts of herself, not just the parts that are unambiguously good.

She is a full person and appreciated for the full person that she is. And acknowledging that like true intimacy can't happen until you are able to be that full self. If we [00:06:00] live in a society that constricts women as much as possible to not show their full self, because they will be punished for showing their true self, that's incredibly empowering.

If you also think about the point of view, once again, everybody is the hero of their own story, right? In Harry Potter, the Gryffindors. They're the bravest. They're the best. They're obviously the most desirable house to be in. It's like Gryffindor. They're the best Raven claw. Well, they're smart. Okay, they're number two. And then Hufflepuff. At least they're nice. And then Slytherin, baddies bad, like too much ambition, like just unambiguously bad.

This story is told from the point of view of Gryffindors. So of course that is the worldview. Of course, the world view is that every Slytherin, everything they do can be viewed through the lens of, oh yeah, no, we know they're not good, guys. Don't worry. Anything they do can be construed to have bad intent.

Because then that continues to validate that we are the good guys. Like every choice we make is the right choice. If you think about like those ingenue, those Mary Sue stories, where if, as the reader you are meant to embody the protagonist and a lot of times these are in romantic stories or romance novels specifically the main protagonist is the heroine And the majority of readers probably are also women.

There's something so interesting about the idea of this story centers this person. So of course, every decision that they make, we understand the context of what they're doing and why they're doing it.

And we, the reader are empowered to believe that they're justified in doing all that they're doing, because we don't have to view their actions their beliefs or their interpretation of situations from anybody else's perspective. We are them. We are embodying them. So yeah, they're right to do what they're doing and have the choices that they're made. And of course they should be loved and find somebody who appreciates them for all that they are, because that person also sees that everything they're doing is justified and likes them, despite the fact that sometimes they're not quote unquote nice.

I had all of these thoughts while reading the story, because there are people in this story, there are other, quote unquote, good guys, Order of the Phoenix, who view Hermione these actions as like, oh, you're always like making equations. I feel like you're reducing people to numbers.

And they view everything she is doing as like a lure to the dark side. But like we, because we're in this story, understand the fullness of who she is. And her and Draco are like alone in understanding the full context of what is happening with their stories and the pain through which to view everything they're doing.

Fangirl Jeanne: What I'm surmising from a lot of that, I will say that the contrast of other Gryffindors and Order members constantly belittling her realism because that's what she's doing. She's tallying the actual numbers and she's thinking realistically about the things they need to do to win.

And they're accusing her of being insensitive or inhumane because she's being pragmatic. I think that is a critique of the source material. And specifically, let me talk about [00:09:00] the popularity of the Virgin hero and then I'll get to Gryffindor and how it links.

So the popularity of the Virgin hero for me, in my perspective part of the romantic fantasy is not only that you'll be the center focus of someone's love, who will love you for you, and you don't actually have to do any character growth to be loved is also the fantasy of being the perfect woman under patriarchy.

I get to live in this version of myself that hasn't existed for a long time or never really existed, but in this world, this good woman, that, that is also part of the appeal.

There's a lot more we could talk about like the female gaze and how it treats other women's bodies and objectifies women as tools to be able to channel our desires and make us feel okay about like it's okay if the Virgin has sex, like dirty sex for the first time, because she falls in love with and she ends up marrying the guy that she has dirty sex with. So I don't feel weird or complicated, in fact I feel better about it because like she resisted him and told him no. So like she still gets to be a goody-goody and then I'm getting to experience this vicariously, but it's okay.

A woman who is inexperienced and is somewhat disempowered within that dynamic is not intimidating to a female.

We don't have to measure up to her cause she's less experienced than us. We know she doesn't understand that he's flirting with her, but we know oh, sweet.

That allows for her to not be threatening to us, like for us to not feel like we can't measure up to her and this absolutely is a huge dynamic and a lot of the virgin hero clumsy oh, she messes up or she's not good at what she does or the typical, like she falls on her face in front of the guy for the first time. Oh sweetie, that's so terrible.

That is part of the gendered idea of oh, she's so pure. She's a cinnamon roll. She doesn't know anything. That is infantilizing. But that also is a thing that we do and we can feel affection for somebody who has less power than us. We have more issue with someone who may actually have more of their shit together than we do.

Andrea Martucci: This was always Hermione's defining characteristic was how annoying it was that she was a know it all who was hyper competent.

Wow. How terrible.

Fangirl Jeanne: Her only flaw and struggle was her hair. Okay. Who fucking cares. Harry has shitty hair. Like why is that her one like flaw? Yes. And absolutely like that Hermione gets as much attention and admiration and love as she does also get criticism for actually knowing the answers and wanting to know the answers and wanting to be good and essentially carrying a lot of the weights and doing a lot of the labor and getting very little if any [00:12:00] recognition for it, both in this fic and in canon.

So how, this links back to the unambiguously good Gryffindor and that perspective is that I see Gryffindor's goodness, as it's constructed in canon is absolutely a product of misogyny. It is that idea that we are unambiguously good. And therefore, this is how easy it is for you, girls. You just have to be good. Don't be those ambitious Slytherins. No. Those are dirty people. You have to be good. And self-sacrificing and brave and emotionally, and physically and magically coddle two teenage boys who don't ever recognize all the contributions you make and don't ever complain about it and marry one of them,

Andrea Martucci: Even though he has made fun of you constantly throughout this text and thought you were a joyless hag. Okay.

Fangirl Jeanne: But it is not right for you to like be a rich and powerful boy who did the same thing to you. Because you're self hating because he was, brought up as a bigot, but okay, like honestly, both not really great options, but again, I think the root of that is that reinforcement of the you have to be good to deserve the happy ending.

You have to be a good person. You have to perform goodness. and especially the construction of how Gryffindors are framed as martyrs is 100% a process of how women are taught what goodness means for us under patriarchy, which is to give everything.

And ask for nothing in

Andrea Martucci: return.

Ask for nothing in return, including being allowed to come to a relationship or the world as your authentic self, that is not always sunshine and rainbows

Fangirl Jeanne: Yup.

Andrea Martucci: This world would prefer that Hermione just stay in the background, doing all the things to help everybody and not ever force anybody to confront the fact that a the joylessness they're annoyed by is directly correlated to her saving the day, all the time.

And B they don't want to listen to her experience at all of having done all the things that she's done. Like in this story, she advocates to the Order of a Phoenix, She's like, oh my God, we keep losing every battle. All of these people are dead or injured because they know that they're going to bring lethal force and you're going to try to stun them.

So it is incredibly easy to pick you off. We, the Order of the Phoenix we don't need to become evil, dark wizards and use dark magic and kill people. But maybe we should try to maim people take them out of commission.

Maybe we should like, use more aggressive measures here because this isn't working. And her willingness as you said, realism to, to be realistic and pragmatic is like, oh my God, Hermione like you just don't believe in goodness. And you don't believe that good can win.

Fangirl Jeanne: And that's that same product of the Gryffindor ideal of they go low, you go high. It is absolutely again, that idea [00:15:00] that patriarchy drills into women's head about like that you have to be good and win as good. Otherwise you're not really winning and you're not worthy of winning and specifically the hilarity to me of the way that argument and how people counter it and judge Hermione is that if you took it out of the context of the Wizarding world and put it into our world, they're literally sending children into a battlefield against people with submachine guns and all these kids have, or tasers

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. I mean it, and like maybe not even tasers,

Fangirl Jeanne: yeah. Could we possibly just give a couple of these people I don't know like a gun, just maybe a six shooter, like. Something to protect themselves because otherwise they're going to get killed and that's treated like that the idea that you would take a life to save your own life is evil.

And that is an extreme form of pacifism, martyrism that leads them to lose the war that is being toted by canon.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, because yes, it does not make sense in canon how they win this, it's all just like, and then we happened to stumble upon this and they're like, it's all hand-waving, it's all very neatly tied up again. It's like middle grade or whatever fiction. It's all like Dumbledore, like putting the pieces in action so that they can figure out the skills or have the tools that they need, which is alluded to at one point in this story where I think Severus Snape is like, yeah, I kind of wonder how much Dumbledore knew about what was going to happen.

And wouldn't it have been great if he actually just fricking told anybody what the hell was going on. So that then when he died too early, without sharing it with anybody, we would have better idea of what to do here. So it also speaks to the hubris, I'm going to pull the puppet strings and teach everybody a lesson.

And it's just communicate for God's sake. We don't have to play this out and have children fight this war.

Fangirl Jeanne: But again, that's prioritizing their morality over survival like and that's a great criticism of Dumbledore's tactics. His whole moving of pieces in the story is him like literally using human beings like objects. As in the canon, Snape says, you're leading Harry into the slaughter, like a pig.

And that is exactly what he's doing, but he made the steps to, in order to keep Harry this symbol of purity and of goodness, as well as still accomplishing murdering another person. So like again, this is a critique of like, when you prioritize your moral goodness and appearance of a moral goodness over the survival of the most marginalized people in your community, are you really a hero?

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

One last thought on survival is I think that in canon, and like our understanding of a murderer, a killer, it's very interesting to me how [00:18:00] people on the one hand kind of understand that context matters. Like I've been putting all these questions out on social media.

And it's very interesting where you say, Hey, how do you feel serial killers having happy endings and people are like no way in hell. But then when you present somebody with more nuanced story, like a story that they've read where somebody has killed multiple people perhaps in a way that people construe as justified, they're like, oh they didn't want to do that. Or they had to do that. Or they had to do that just five or protect somebody. Or self-defense.

There are reasons that people obviously find perfectly fine. So the problem isn't necessarily that people seem to have a problem with people who have killed other people falling in love. In my opinion, it seems like as long as people find it to be persuasive, why the reasons to kill the other people were good enough that it's totally fine.

And it seems to me that also like a key defining feature of if we forgive somebody for killing, another person has to do with how they felt about killing the person. Did they glory in it? Did they have fun? Do they feel good about killing that other person? Or did they feel guilty and remorseful and are they tortured by it?

As long as they feel guilty and didn't enjoy it, it's okay.

Fangirl Jeanne: Let me complicate it even more for you. What all of those reasonings are actually saying is that it's okay if I can relate to the person doing the killing,

And I will make it real life for us about what the disparity in sentencing between white assailants and assailants of color regardless of -you can have them side-by-side, but the same charges, and you will have they a Black man or a Black woman getting sentenced way harsher than a white man or a white woman doing the exact same, or maybe even more extreme, violent behavior.

And I think that this idea, like that question you asked it's something we need to interrogate, especially in how media comes back and reflect that back to us again of that it's okay if the guy that I like kills a bunch of people, because he had a justification for it because, oh look, he has a really sad backstory, or I'm now more okay with liking and being attracted to this guy that killed a bunch of people, because I found out about his backstory and it was really sad about it, but why can't I afford that kind of compassion for somebody else who has just as hard a backstory and got sent to jail for possession of marijuana, like that compassion has restrictions and it really is about centering it on honestly, white supremacy, because those are the characters that are allowed to be that, which is you see that directly or related into the popularity of these bad boys, sub genres of the [00:21:00] motorcycle club, The outlaw (Andrea: mob) mob. Oh my God. Like I knew, I was waiting when I saw mafia start to take off, I was like, it's going to be all Russians because they're all white.

Andrea Martucci: Yup.

Fangirl Jeanne: right?

Andrea Martucci: Or Italian.

Fangirl Jeanne: or Italian or Irish.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Fangirl Jeanne: But I'm like, Ooh, there's weird. There's no Asian mafia romance there's no Black - I mean like, Oh no, that's right. Because Black criminals would be urban romance. And none of these white readers are going to pick up a book with a quote unquote thug as the hero in it. Unless he's, conventionally attractive and it's essentially, categorized under interracial romance.

Cause it still has to be a white lady with the guy, right? This is the thing, this is like the ugly aspect of that. If we're going to look at why we like these types of stories, we need to look at who gets to be a killer and who gets to be a soldier

Andrea Martucci: well, and, justified? I had to kill this person because they were going to kill my child. Oh my goodness. Of course, justified. I had to kill this guy because he was threatening the woman I loved, justified. Fragile femininity, must be protected, particularly white women, et cetera.

What about people who kill so that they themselves can survive? Okay, sure. Like we can imagine that sometimes, but then it starts being highly dependent upon who that person is and how much society at large seems to view the value of their life.

So can we view people who are put in situations that are really shitty situations even if it is like something that they have stumbled into through bad choices or through no choice of their own.

In every single one of these situations, do we accept that these people are making a hard choice, but it's for survival, either themselves or someone they love, or, in this story we're talking about both saving specific individuals because they care for them. But then also the wider world, like care for the wider world and accepting that these are tough choices and it's not always black and white.

It's not always, the good choice is obvious. And the good choice is X. Guess what? It's ambiguous. Especially what you were talking about. Who do we give the grace to, to accept that their reasons are good enough.

Fangirl Jeanne: Right. I mean, That's it, you know, I think we're seeing that real time in the world of who's getting granted amnesty to enter other countries because a war is going on in their home country. Opposed to several other countries that have the exact same thing happening except, the only difference is the people who are refugees are brown.

And so why is that different? And what are the structures within our cultures that are mirrored in ourselves that help us make those decisions and how can we help ourselves and other people by deconstructing those? Because I think it's fine to have those fantasies.

The hero fantasy itself is the fantasy of getting to be the good guy. And knowing that the person that you're fighting is the bad guy. So it's okay to enjoy punching him and winning over him and getting the girl. That [00:24:00] whole fantasy is a fantasy of being good. And having an unambiguous conflict that you get to win. That's a video game. We all enjoy those fantasies, but I think it's really important for us to not uncritically enjoy those fantasies and to take these polls and to think about why we think it's okay for one person to kill somebody and another person not to.

And who gets to be seen as a victim? And I brought up the final girl, but like the damsel in distress is almost always white. The final girl, almost always white.

What damage does it do to us to structure ideas about who's good and who's worthy based on unrealistic expectations? And how does that inform how we judge ourselves and our own freedom and ability to be our authentic selves?

Bring it back to the enemies to lovers, I think that's an aspect that we should be willing to explore in the why can't we be rude and wrong and short-tempered, and impatient with men and still expect for them to treat us with respect and equity within a romantic relationship?

Why do we have to be appealing to them? Why do we have to perform to be good and worthy? And why can't we have more heroines who are loud and rude and wrong and fall and make mistakes, and then learn from those mistakes and still are just as equally deserving of love.

The problem with making that, which I think is addressed within this story is that we too often look at romantic relationships within fictional context as a fantasy that services one person, or services, a particular desire, rather than stories about romantic relationships, which I feel that is the structure of what the story is really about is navigating a relationship with somebody, with all of these complicated aspects, including violations of consent and rape.

And and I do love that this story on page, Hermione says, you raped me. Like he says, it's rape. They say, it's rape. They acknowledge it is rape. There is no question about it and it's not romanticized. It's not glossed over. It's not a fade to black. We have to deal with the implications as much as Hermione does, of what that does to her both before she remembers what they were and then after and how they have to negotiate sexual violence within their relationship and how that alters or choose to overcome it.

Again. 300,000 words. They put in the work to get us to that happy ending. Cause I remember reading up until the end. I'm like, how are we going to be okay. I just everybody to be ok. And [00:27:00] seeing how it does the work to get everybody to where they need to be. And I think a big part of earning that is having it all laid out in plain language.

And in Hermione's beautifully, analytical mind of all of the pieces and explicitly saying no, we get to have this and fighting as much against what the war has done to them as to what they've done to each other, to get the happiness that they both want and deserve.

And I say deserve because they deserve to be happy from my perspective of going through this journey, like Jesus Christ, they just need a fucking break. And so it's not saying that all people that do the same things that they did deserve happiness. No. In this context, these two characters have literally slogged through hell

Andrea Martucci: And also they don't hurt or help anybody to be happy or unhappy. Like them being tortured helps nobody. Them being harms nobody. It has no impact on anybody else. So these are two people and they have one life to live. They might as well after going through all of that take any happiness they can.

And I wanted to talk about consent and giving up of control, the having control taken away from one. And there's this idea in the second part where we're back in the war, where Hermione is really explicitly saying, she doesn't necessarily disagree with Moody and Shacklebolt's decision to offer her the choice to martyr herself with Draco, but she goes.

"It was just hard sometimes because deep down she wanted Moody to still seem conflicted, to show remorse over what he was steering her towards. She wanted someone to care, to object for her so that she wouldn't feel like such a whore as she did it. It wasn't really rational. Strategically she knew Moody was right. Even if he didn't order her to do whatever Draco wanted, she was still intending to. That was the bargain. But sometimes she still wished someone would try to say no for her."

And in the second part, she has that desire and Draco starts to be the one person who is looking out for her. And not only her, but like looking out for her primarily and saying, Hey, you don't get this bargain guys if Hermione is hurt, so you better freaking protect her. I'm going to use my power to protect her. And then she does the same where she's like Draco, you don't get to martyr yourself either, and you have to stay alive through this. That is important to me.

But then if you think back to the first section, she's lost her memory. She's completely enslaved in this situation. Draco in his own way is prioritizing her here. And she has all of the burden of her choices taken away from her. And it's terrible.

Fangirl Jeanne: Yep.

Andrea Martucci: And find that a really interesting idea that this text plays with.

Things that are explored in like 50 shades of Grey oh, women just have such burdens and it's fun to play around with this idea in a BDSM relationship, somebody who is going to [00:30:00] take care of everything for you have you in the forefront and give you this pleasure and kind of work exclusively for your needs, coddling you with every desire, both physical, emotional, mental, et cetera.

What a beautiful fantasy. I think that this text really presents the reader with yeah, that sounds nice. But what does that really mean? What does that really look like in practice? And like, I'm not being critical of legit BDSM relationships here. I'm more, I think being critical of this idea as it's presented in romance of the power dynamics of being taken care of, I'm going to do what's best for you.

Fangirl Jeanne: Yeah. I was just going to say, a lot of the I would say vanilla, fantasies of BDSM are a complete misunderstanding of the dynamics in place where, giving up control is not losing autonomy. If anything, it is a further step down the line from a lot of work that was done, but for both parties involved to support and care for each other to create a well of trust that one can both give themselves over to the other person. But the other person is also experiencing a very precious gift of having that trust given to them and that that exchange of I'm going to give you pleasure. You're giving me pleasure by me giving you pleasure, that you feel safe enough with me that we can do this.

I feel safe enough to do you know that a power exchange under patriarchy is a one way form of submission. And that's often what the misunderstanding of BDSM is it's the seduction, especially that white supremacy tries to lure women in with, which is the, you don't have to worry about it. You are a precious treasured icon of femininity that will be taken care of and protected, like all the violence we do. It's just to keep you safe. It's a lie. And that's why like we get this confusion is because it seems like it's similar to just, being submissive to men when it's not at all, it's a much more complicated relationship where the person actually giving the power is actually in power. You can't give away something you don't have.

Like you said, this fic does a great example of showing the difference between trusting someone enough to let go and let them share a burden with you having everything taken from you and being wholly dependent upon another person, which I think again is like a, such a fascinating like I said before, that's an exploration of a romantic relationship, not a romantic fantasy for an individual.

And I think it, as far as consent and how the story deals with it, I really love you talked about it before. I think actually occlumency is the ability to block and [00:33:00] categorize your memories and its legillimency I think

Andrea Martucci: Yes, legillimency is the act of mining somebody's brain

Fangirl Jeanne: the big goal, Yeah.

Going into someone's memories and their mind. And I think that is such a wonderful additional exploration of autonomy and violation in that when someone is doing it wrong or without the participation of the person being mined for information, it hurts just like it's a rape. And so it hurts.

I've had discussions like this and other fandoms about how normalized the disregard of mental autonomy happens in other fandoms like this one of the, you just dive into someone's memory or I'll just erase her memory. And like how that is a violation, as much as sexual violence.

And I don't want to diminish sexual violence by calling it mind rape, but it is still violating someone's autonomy without their consent. And so it's a problem.

And I love how this story uses that as another tool to be able to discuss. And healing too is also used in this way.

I love how upset Draco gets with her when she heals him without his permission, and even says specifically, don't heal me without permission. And then when they have another conversation about when she tells him she did a healing in the past that he didn't know about and where she is worried that this is going to violate trust between them.

And he goes, I understand that you did this for this reason and it was wrong. It's not going to change that I love you. Again, that's like a wonderful exploration of how our relationship negotiates these things and how these two, despite all the fucked up shit that went into them, getting together, they have a really healthy relationship talking about, when they violate each other's boundaries and being explicit about it, accepting responsibility for it, and yet still being able to love each other and move together through that and that amazing. And I wish we had more media that did this kind of work.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, this is just such a work of art.

Fangirl Jeanne: I hope that they know how skillful they are at this and I think they feel appreciated with it as popular it is,

Andrea Martucci: yeah.

Fangirl Jeanne: a big kind of beautiful, unique bit about this is that it's just free and it was done and put out there without commercial constraints, that's an aspect of fanfic an art form that is absolutely actively a threat right now, which is a whole other conversation but it is a thing that I don't think we take into consideration that offer that it can be produced without the pressure of market and without as much pressure to deliver to an audience.

It still has an audience. But that artist doesn't necessarily have to [00:36:00] appeal to what that audience wants, if anything, the networks, especially like with AO3 the networks of fandom and fandom community allows for a very direct line to the kind of media you want. And also as a creator to the audience that you're aiming your art at.

Andrea Martucci: And like created alongside people. Cause I assume this kind of came out serialized a chapter at a time and people are commenting and that's starting to shape or influence at least in some way, what is created after the fact, which is so interesting. What you're talking about, that direct connection to the audience. There's so much separation in traditionally published work, or even self pub where you release a whole work where there's just that separation. And there are very few avenues to get that like direct feedback. And in many cases, I think it's discouraged at least if it's negative feedback or not overwhelmingly positive feedback in traditional publishing circles, any sort of neutral or negative or not overwhelmingly positive feedback that is directed at a creator is viewed as a violation of their boundary, which is just so different in fan fiction where, I mean, obviously you shouldn't be like abusive towards creators and stuff, but like people are allowed to voice I did not love when that happened or I have feelings and the creator can choose what they want to do with that.

Fangirl Jeanne: Yeah, it's more immediate feedback process especially in fandoms and there is a kind of a cooperative community creative process that can happen in a lot of fan is not every fanfic and it's not everything random, but I will say 50 Shades of Grey is it a perfect example of this. Because she was quite literally writing to requests that were comments on the chapters of the fanfic as it was happening. So it isn't that surprising that it had such appeal because she literally was getting immediate feedback from the very direct audience that she was selling to.

So she was writing to the market quite directly. And I think there's a lot of these fanfics that are getting published, after, like that again was very specifically targeted to a very particular audience that really liked it gave their feedback. She was able to write to it and put it right out and create something that had appeal to a market that didn't know what it wanted, and was able to shape it.

And so is it really that surprising? No, not really. We don't have a model for that kind of writing or that kind of creating. And like you said, if anything, we dislike that institutionally, which I think is rooted again, I'm going to say it all. It's rooted in white supremacy and patriarchy because men don't want us to talk back to them about what they do in their art. And so that whole structure of what we traditional channels of media distribution are all about the one way. And you take what we give you and be happy because that's what we're going to give you as opposed to these much more cooperative [00:39:00] community routes of creating art, like fandom, where we are, bouncing ideas off of each other.

And for the most part, although they do in some fandoms try to replicate social hierarchies that exists outside in the real world everybody's an equal. People are writing and reading each other's stuff and they're feeding off of each other. So if this was a book, it would do fantastic. Cause it's amazing and it's well-written, and it's compelling as fuck. But in the current atmosphere, in which we create media, it would not get created in that atmosphere. So is the tragedy that it's not published and getting a bunch of money or is it really just pointing to the fact that the systems we have right now, aren't actually conducive to good serviceable and fulfilling art.

Andrea Martucci: Let me tie this together. Is it almost like we have better outcomes in our relationships when we're allowed to bring our full, true self to them? And there's that two way democratized equality. space and that we can't have true intimacy or truly fulfilling art, relationships, et cetera, until we're able to bring all of ourselves to how we consume art or create art instead of just the parts that are socially sanctioned.

Fangirl Jeanne: touchdown.

Andrea Martucci: I did it.

Fangirl Jeanne: You did it like take a bow but no, absolutely. Absolutely. I think that was a great way to tie all the pieces together.

If anybody listening to this has never read fanfic was always curious, but unsure, if this is the kind of content that you're interested in and can manage like this is a good way of seeing that this is a possibility. A friend of mine that I linked to this fic told me about how she was reading it while sitting on the couch with her husband.

And he was like, what are you reading? And she said, oh, I'm like really into this book, it's a Harry Potter fanfic. And he's like, what? And she explained that this was a 300,000 word alternate universe fanfic about characters of the Harry Potter universe And he's like, that's a thing? Oh yes, that's a thing. I think that this is a good way to see what art, and especially like how a dialogue can occur between people, especially in spaces that are dominated by women that don't have the capitalistic constraints that we do in publishing, what kind of things come out of that and that maybe this offers us opportunities to look at what we could do with the shaping landscape of publishing and romance, specifically the power that is there, where we have a much more, not as close as fandom, but a really close relationship between the consumers and the creators that we could see something or create avenues to express ourselves differently and explore things in this way that are a little bit, out of the norm or a little bit like [00:42:00] harder to get through, but worth it in the end.

Like I would love to see more of the, quote, unquote, dark romance genre, explore these themes and ideas in this way, rather than giving me 10 books of kidnapping and, selling people at auctions and stuff where it all just gets resolved because he loves her so much and he wants to marry her instead of just keeping her as a sex slave.

Like how about we do the work? And see what that relationship, how that would work.

Andrea Martucci: We can deal with messy stories if they're messy in a way that doesn't just enforce the same problematic shit that we're supposedly trying to engage with. That for me there's like a sanitized quality to a lot of the stories that I see coming out of trad pub, they're sanitized and they're like trying to hit all the beats in the way that they feel like they're supposed to hit the beats, but they've stripped out anything complicated and interesting.

I think that part of this is that complicating these things take skill and it has to be executed well, otherwise it becomes a dumpster fire.

Fangirl Jeanne: And you have to recognize that the type of romantic relationships you're reproducing in your story are actually unhealthy and imbalanced, which I think is the root of these. So that's why I try it's difficult, but I try not to judge people who both make this and also consume it because they want an easy version because I know that's coming from a place of pain and wanting to address that pain or need.

Having been in abusive relationships, sometimes you want to just hold onto the fact that that person does love you, and that maybe we can make this work because they love me. And instead of like really looking at the full situation and going maybe someone can love you, but being capable of actively loving you. But the third two different versions of loving: one of them is feeling it and one of it is showing it.

Andrea Martucci: And just because I love this person doesn't mean that this is a good relationship for me and I can love this person and also let them go.

Fangirl Jeanne: And the other side of that is that I don't have to be a perfect virgin to get love and to deserve love. That my love doesn't have to be perfect either to be worthy of being seen as a love story.

Andrea Martucci: right.

Fangirl Jeanne: But that's a lot of having, lifting for a large group of people in this genre to do.

Andrea Martucci: I just want to escape. I just want my fantasy. I struggle with this a lot. I certainly understand just wanting your escape. I think it's interesting related to our conversation earlier, which types of abusive relationship dynamics are okay in escape to certain people and which parts are not. And personally, I feel like there's a lot of acceptance about things where I'm just like, that is not okay to me. And then the parts where I'm like well, I don't know. I I'd be fine with them being messy in this way are completely neglected.

But I think your compassionate- I understand, like people may [00:45:00] not see, this is a problem. I totally understand that. I've tried to be more compassionate about that, but also it does feel like it's really hard to escape sort of the commercial, the impact of the capitalist structure on these things.

Fangirl Jeanne: Right. That absolutely I am compassionate in the sense that, it does nothing for anyone to pick up one book and go this book about two twins who are having sex with each other and seduce, their stepfather is solely responsible for the normalization of incest and child abuse no, it's garbage. Like it's okay to call that garbage. That's fine. And it's okay to point out it's against the TOS of Amazon. And it's okay to say that it might be a little fucked up for a cis woman to write about gay men in this context, in which one of them is sexually exploiting teenagers. But that one thing having that big upset and making that one thing the issue doesn't solve anything. It doesn't fix anything.

And even just going, oh mafia romance. That is a problem. We can point out, interesting that it's only white guys that get to be criminals that are sexy and worthy of love. Interesting. That's not saying that everybody who writes Russian mafia romance is racist and is responsible for, the school to prison pipeline.

And, what it is pointing to asking why does your fantasy look like that? And maybe if we really want to give everybody an opportunity to have escape and fantasy, have you ever thought about how your fantasy is someone else's nightmare and how capitalism is much more interested in selling, whether it's a nightmare or a fantasy so what does that say?

And is that something that you want to be engaged in or is there a way that you can engage in it in a way that is subverting it and turning it into this, into a conversation about how an actual romantic relationship could service both the people involved and help them heal and survive through some of the worst shit that anybody could go through.

And that's essentially what I mean when I say these two deserve happiness is that they've put in the work with each other and their relationship to get to a place where they can feel both serviced and loved by each other. They did the work, they deserve to have a happy life together.

They did more work than most of the heroes in the actual original content that this is based on did to get their happy ending. And that's what I'm saying. You can be upset about it because I'm upset about it because the same people who profit off of marketing what is thinly veiled rape fantasies as romance, are the same people who are giving money to white nationalists and neo-Nazis to publish biographies.

And that's the problem, like the industry as this whole apolitical perspective is a fantasy because the whole [00:48:00] system and our society services, the people who are in power. And media that services keeping them in power. The way to disrupt that is for us to, maybe re-examine what our relationships are for each other and to capitalism, but also just say, Hey, I like this thing. Why do I like it? And is there a way that liking this could serve me better emotionally and serve my relationships, which I think is what more realistic and effective BDSM romance does. It says, Ooh, I have this thing that on the outside kind of looks weird, looks questionable and may not be good. I don't know. But here's how I turn it into something that services me and my partner or partners into a form of empowerment and trust and deeper intimacy with another person.

Andrea Martucci: I love it.

Jeanne, thank you so much for being here today. I could probably continue talking about this fic with you for at least the 98 hours of the hundred that it took me to read it. Thank you for being here today. And where can people find more of your brilliance on the interwebs?

Fangirl Jeanne: Thank you. Thank you for offering me the opportunity to be here. I love the podcast. I always love your perspective on everything. You can find me at @fangirlJeanne and that's J E a N N E. Pretty much on all social media or And I'm usually out there Tik TOK, Twitter, primarily just I'm usually lurking on Tik Tok, but I'm talking a lot on Twitter

Andrea Martucci: And if you want to hear Jeanne and I talk more about this, Jeanne just offered to do a Patreon only episode. What kinds of topics might we get into over there?

What kind of hi-jinks?

Fangirl Jeanne: dude. Okay. We will talk about my Snape feelings, we will talk about, oh my God, we will talk about that connection of emotional intimacy with orgasms and like how sex scenes are used in this, rape scenes are used to demonstrate psychological situations for a character, as well as sex talk, being used to show how characters develop emotional and romantic intimacy, which it's not about slot a and B, but like complex and oh my God.

And ho use elves and then just the horrific, like traumatizing shit that happens to other people that get killed, and my weird kink about disembowelment, we'll get to that one.

Andrea Martucci: Okay. All right. I've written all of this down.

Andrea Martucci: Thank you so much for spending time with me today. If you enjoyed today's episode, please subscribe, rate, or review on your favorite podcast app or tell a friend. Check out ShelfLovePodcast.Com for transcripts and other resources.

If you want to join the conversation about the topics that we discuss on Shelf Love, I'd encourage you to check out Shelf Love's Patreon at Thank you to Shelf Love's $20 a month supporters: Gail, Copper Dog Books, Frederick Smith, [00:51:00] and John Jacobson.

See your name listed as a Patreon supporter on the Shelf Love website if you join at any level. That's That's all for today. Thanks so much. Bye.