My Little Porny: Fetishization Isn’t Magic

I want to say I’m not here to rain on your porn parade, but I in fact am. As part of what will hopefully be a series of posts on my entrance into the most recent generation of My Little Pony and its fandom, I want to examine what exactly happens when a queer lady decides to look up her favourite pony or new fandom on the social media she likes best for image and discussion sharing.

In short: porn happens. Lots of porn. Porn on a scale that beats out said queer lady’s favourite comic book anti-heroine’s general tag and the tag for a popular show known for being porn-y and for having a specialized subset of fans who enjoy incestuous porn of the show’s two male leads.

It is potentially mind-bending to see this kind of commentary on the blog of someone who is fairly clearly kinky but … not all porn and all fetishization are okay, not everyone is required to be comfortable with exposure to porn, and, also, even those with some degree of comfort or inoffense towards porn do not want necessarily want to see it en masse and done using characters on a show meant for little kids, specifically little girls, and exhibiting disturbing tendencies that make it especially unwelcoming towards women, especially lesbian, ace, and trans women.

Also, regarding the point above, the tendencies I’m going to note and discuss more below would still be disturbing and off putting regardless of location, but they are even worse because of their location. I did not put in any special query narrowing terms or ask Tumblr, a favourite of fans and fandoms for image and discussion sharing, to show all results for query. Each time I indulged curiosity or went to verify my impressions (because there is heavy pressure to just be imagining things and to not cause waves or express discomfort or displeasure) I simply typed in “my little pony” or a character name such as “rainbow dash” or “fluttershy” and looked at the default results displayed, which are the “most popular” results for your query and include all post types (image, text, video, etc).

With those very basic and simple settings I got so much porn. For a show intended for very small (female) children and of the young-looking female (and, very rarely, male) characters on that show. And without specifically seeking out or wanting to see porn. And before anyone says, just turn on your filter – The problem is not seeing porn (using porn in a general, categorical sense). It is that the most frequent and oftentimes the first thing I am seeing when I look up a show and characters I like and that are meant for kids and for girls is porn. And also fetishizing in a negative way porn. Turning on my filter is not going to change that problem and that reality and it also points out precisely how much of a problem there is with fandom that the thing that could potentially cause me to use a NSFW filter is a children’s show.

My absolute favourite superheroine is Catwoman and I encounter less porn doing the same type of search for her as I describe doing for MLP above. I also encounter much less disturbing and fetishizing in a negative way porn. I might sometimes roll my eyes (or would, if I could physically do that) at a sex act she’s engaging in and the dynamic that appears to be going on or at slightly odd understandings of anatomy (or at what appears to be milk squirting out like a powerful jet spray from her behind. Yes, really.), but I don’t get the disturbing vibe I get from checking tags for characters based on children’s toy ponies. I also get less porn in the “most popular” results for an adult superhero known for being sexy and kinky and who people enjoy making erotic art of and that adult workers enjoy dressing as than I do for adorably shy or sporty girl ponies on a show designed to teach little girls about the magic of friendship.

Something is also wrong in that equation when I can check the tag for Supernatural, a show whose fandom is known for its love of shipping and creating porn around those ships, and I likewise encounter less porn. A lot of hilarious picture and gif manips of the characters and bagels, but very little porn and no incest porn, despite the fandom being known for Wincest, the romantic and sexual pairing of the two brothers who star in the show. In contrast, among the many things I now can’t fully unsee from exploring MLP related tags on Tumblr is a humanized Twilight Sparkle, the brainy leader and star of the show, being f***ed (it really was the best word to describe it) by her brother Shining Armour in his normal pony form. Please note, I did not go looking into deep dark crevasses to find terrible porn to make the fandom look bad. I did the normal types of searches and level of scrolling I would do if I wanted to see how much other fans liked the latest issue of Mighty Avengers or if anyone’s shared some good older Catwoman panels or done some cute fan art of her.

As well, and since I have now said the phrase “fetishizing in bad ways” multiple times without explaining, it is the content and nature of this high volume of porn that adds to how troubling and off-putting it is. I specifically mentioned Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy earlier because they are both ponies that I got attached to and interested in and looked up and which it seems fandom, especially in the case of Rainbow Dash, have registered as queer in various ways. Not that everyone in fandom has registered Rainbow Dash as asexual or lesbian but I was at first pleasantly surprised by how many were aware of asexuality and pegged her, or sometimes another pony, as ace. Less pleasant was when I decided to look up the cool butch-looking rainbow pony who dislikes romance-y stuff on Tumblr because I like cute images and happy fanning over characters.

There are queer people in fandom. Let me be clear, there are queer people in fandom, whether or not they identify as a brony or feel particularly welcome or active in fandom. But queer pony fans do exist, including queer female pony fans.

My impression, however, is that a lot of the porn I was seeing is not for them and is not done out of a desire to be inclusive of diversity and diverse desires. Instead, it feels like a lot of it is meant for heterosexual cis men and their desires and fantasies and limitations and any inclusion is accidental and not for the benefit of those being included.

I don’t want to prioritize or rank but given how that ended up worded, it seems like I need to discuss what I’ll call penis porn first. By that I mean porn that typically shows two female ponies (usually two of the Mane Six) having sex and in graphic detail that includes showing at least one of the female ponies in possession of both penis-related and vulva-related anatomy and using that anatomy to penetrate the other female pony. This was off-putting from the get-go but got even worse once I worked it over in my head and figured out what might be going on here.

What is definitely ‘not’ going on in the girl ponies! Having sex! With penises! But still totally girls! Doing girl on girl! porn is inclusion of and respect towards the different genitalia women have. For a positive example of that, I would suggest a recent strip from the educational web comic Oh Joy Sex Toy about how to perform oral sex on people with penises that includes a woman getting some oral attention from her partner as one of the examples (NSFW link here).

Instead, as indicated above by how I described (one of) the type(s) of porn I see going on in the My Little Pony tags, it seems the people making and boosting the porn in popularity want to see women having sex with women, but really for their (the male creator’s and viewer’s) enjoyment not for the sake of women’s own pleasure and desire for other women, and also want to see the women being penetrated by a penis that is clearly a penis (not a … sex toy!), but/and also want the women to still be what they consider to be “real”/100% women. So the lady ponies here are not trans women who like women and enjoy their own and their partners’ pleasure and the porn is not for queer ladies who would like to see and enjoy that – they are women who like women because men would like to see that and who magically have penises (in addition to vulvas) because the men want to see that too, but absolutely do not want to see trans women or trans women having sex and being recognized and respected as women, especially when in possession of a penis.*

With this, I was also off-put (at best) by the amount of porn I saw doing the aforementioned fetishization of female-female sex and of female ponies who are, at best (which is a terrible phrase to have to say), not interested in sex. It does not fill me with positive feelings and make me feel welcome in the fandom to try looking up the cool queer rainbow pony that I can read as ace-spectrum and that many others in the fandom have registered as queer and be inundated with porn and porn that specifically fetishizes a woman being uninterested in and unavailable to the presumably male viewer, especially when that seems to be the point and that the enjoyment comes from the idea of “turning” her or from having her have sex anyways. That is depressing and disturbing as heck to see and pick up on as a queer lady and it did not get any better when I tried looking up the adorably shy, sweet, gentle introvert Fluttershy, who is another strong point/pony of identification for me.

As I said before, I am here/not here to rain on your porn parade, but it does your fandom no good and my (and other ladies and queer ladies and such sorts) feelings of comfort and safety no good when I get the distinct impression that not only am I unwelcome and unwanted in fandom, but also that I am potential fodder for creepy and dangerous fetishes and fetishists. If I feel like you genuinely don’t care whether someone actually wants sex (at all or in that instant) or a specific sex act or acts or that you’re over concerned with what genitals someone has (or that you can only accept fantasy people who mix gender and genitals), I won’t feel safe, and being afraid of what will happen if you try sitting at the lunch table is different and worse than not feeling welcome at the lunch table in the first place.

So, please, listen when people try talking to you about your fandom. And, also, don’t be jerks in the comments. Seriously. Don’t.

*While writing this out, I realized that their worst fear/greatest insult/slight/end of the world is probably a cis lesbian having sex with a trans woman who is also only interested in women and who has a penis. People are depressing and terrible some times.

One thought on “My Little Porny: Fetishization Isn’t Magic

  1. As an asexual woman, and a mother to a five year-old, I can honestly say that this is something I’ve struggled with.

    My daughter wants to see MLP art, and that’s great! She’s aware of fanart because I draw it, and she’s even a bit aware of shipping. Sometimes, we’ll watch an ep with Rarity and Applejack, and Morgan will randomly laugh and say “Maman wants them to kiss now!” and I’ll laugh too, because it’s true- I ship them, my girlfriend and boyfriend don’t (we’re a solid poly family with kids, it works), and Morgan finds all romance funny still, so she just laughs about it all.

    But I dread the day she learns to write, because she’ll be able to look things up online, and no matter how harmless her query, the first thing she’ll find will be porn, and often disturbing or hurtful porn. I mean, if she’s seven and googles “my little pony applejack” and gets AJ and Rainbow kissing, or more, she’ll have some questions. If she gets AJ with her limbs cut off being fucked by Big Mac, she’ll cry. And there’s no way to filter that out for her. There’s no way to keep her from looking up key terms, because these are the default results. That bothers me.

    Another thing that bothers me is, as you’ve mentioned, treatment of asexuals and demisexuals in this fandom. As you’ve said, it focuses a lot on converting them with sex, often a penis, and that’s a very, very scary thought for me. I’m asexual. I have a boyfriend and girlfriend who love me and don’t expect sex from me. We all get what we need in this relationship, they have sex with each other, I don’t feel pressured. It’s like heaven. But I’ve often been pressured by my dates to sleep with them, especially when I was 17-21. I felt like there was something wrong with me, and if I just forced myself, I’d get over this aversion to sex. A lot of the media supports that, and this fandom is especially bad for that, because… well, it’s run by cis men who don’t want to know about asexuality. It’s dangerous for young asexuals who don’t have the confidence or knowledge to say no.

    But my main complaint about this fandom is the attitude. We have fewer awesome tv shows for girls, simply because we have fewer shows for girls, and there’s always a majority of crap in the kids’ show industry. So when we do get an awesome, funny, cute, positive show for girls, it’s infuriating to see it get stolen by adult cis men. Not that they shouldn’t love it- it’s a great show, and I’m glad they can see that!!

    But they’ve kicked us out. Any porn that is specifically for women gets relegated to the fringes. Anything that is actually kidsafe or fluffy or canon-compliant gets ignored. And anyone who tries to discuss feminism or women’s issues in this fandom is quickly shut up, often with death threats and “you should get raped” sentiments. At least, that’s how it was a year or two ago.

    Now, I just stay out of the fandom. I don’t feel safe or welcome, not for myself, not for my daughter. And it hurts, because this should have been somewhere for the both of us to feel comfortable and welcome. This could have been a fandom for us to bond over. Now it’s been stolen from us, and expressing this opinion will get me hate-mailed, so I just… don’t. I lurk around the fringes, I listen to lots of the pony-music people make, because there are some creative people in this fandom, and I read liscenced comics and the like. But I stay away from their tags on all my favourite sites.

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