I’m not going to voice my opinion here. I’m not going to preach to the choir, either. I’m just writing this article to offer advice to those who are entering the Gundam Wing fandom.
My advice: Don’t get sucked into the online debates about Trowa’s (or anyone else’s) rape-status.
It’s a popularity contest between two powerful factions of the yaoi fandom of Gundam Wing that has little to do with the show itself. People have dedicated years to spreading their own propoganda, sharing sob stories and essays of “evidence” to further their cause. Only in the Gundam Wing fandom have I seen the ridiculous notion of having two “societies” to protect the fans from the opposing faction. Banners are plastered on people’s pages in an effort to suck more people in to the cause. After three years of being in the fandom, I still hear (and, I admit, often participate in) the debates and conversations every single time I gather with my online GW friends.
But here are things to remember:
1. Your own personal experience does not count. If it supports someone, they’ll love you and encourage you to write essays and even ask you to lie to make it more dramatic. If your experience does not support them, they will try to discredit you before hundreds of readers, ban or moderate you on mailing lists, and personally attack you and say that your experiences were not real. This has happened to many acquaintances of mine on both sides of the debate.
2. Gender matters. If you are a female who has been a victim of rape or sexual harrasment, your opinion/situation is not valid. Because Trowa is not a woman, there is no way to relate the two incidents.
3. If you have a definite opinion on the “was he?/wasn’t he?” debate, keep it to yourself to avoid getting black-listed in either community.
4. Do not put banners on your site that link to pages associated with either faction. If you do, be sure to link to both sides of the debate. This will probably limit the number of flames you receive from rabid fans who think they know what you’re thinking.
5. Avoid debates. Real life, online—it doesn’t matter. If someone disagrees with you, they usually won’t shut up until you concede. It’s easier to stay out of it.
6. And lastly, don’t put weight into the seme/uke arguments. Just because someone thinks Quatre should be seme (top) does not mean that they think Trowa was a rape-victim. The reverse is true, as well. Don’t make assumptions based on what the head honchos of each faction prefer.
Many people have been herded into the fandom (on either side of the debate), not realizing that they were being completely used by the people taking them under their wings. Fans are being nurtured into soldiers or pawns of these poor adults who have nothing better to do with their time than screw over an entire fandom. This is probably the main reason you’ll find forums and mailing list posts asking “where did so-and-so go?” and the overwhelming response is that they’ve left the fandom.
I know my personal semi-retirement from non-specific mailing lists is partly due to the whole rape-issue, and the persecution I received from those who disagreed with me. The debate of whether or not a character in a TV show was raped and its psychological implications became more important to the fandom than the character itself. Trowa became identified by his circumstances rather than his personality.
Because I disagreed with the administrators of my (then favorite) mailing list, I was placed on moderation. My opinions could not be sent to the list unless they approved of what I was going to say. One time in particular, I tried sending my opinion three times before the admin decided to allow it to go through, followed by a nasty flame onlist, ridiculing my entire being. My fanfiction, at one point, had to be posted by an online friend who had not voiced her opinion on the whole matter. But then people who were friendly with me online became victims of the same kind of moderation, and in some cases, approached offline with accusations and challenges as well. Is this the kind of behavior you want from your admins? My advice: be careful. Know what you’re getting into before you voice an opinion—an interpretation, mind you—to the wrong listeners.
For this reason you will never see any arguments from me saying that Trowa was a victim of homosexual rape, or, contrarily, any banners declaring that my website is a “rape-free” zone. Rape is a valid plot and character motivator. It’s also a scenario that authors like to use sexually (some people are turned on by it). However, the use I’ve seen of its presence in this particular fandom is as disgusting to me as the act itself.