My two cents on Free! (aka the swimming anime)
I normally try to stay out of fandom drama, but the reactions to this show keep coming up on my dash. Since it falls into my interests and the spirit of this blog, here’s my opinion- people’s negative reactions are just more of the same homophobic and misogynistic bs. This show hasn’t even come out yet and people are already upset because girls and women are having fun.
If it doesn’t have a plot and that disinterests you then, by all means, don’t watch it. But “slice of life” is a legitimate genre and a common one for moe anime anyway, so lack of a strong plot does not make it invalid.
Catering to women also doesn’t make it invalid. Guess what, everything created is done so with the intention of attracting a particular audience. Male-gaze is just so commonly catered to that most people have trouble recognizing it for what it is. Even a show like K, which was seen as fujoshi-bait, had a perpetually naked catgirl running around. Just because a show is not created with the intention of gaining male viewers does not make it less than other shows. This is just the perpetuation of the idea that things women are supposed to do/like are less important than what men are supposed to do/like.
The potential for m/m does not make it invalid. There are plenty of slash and BL fans who are perfectly capable of appreciating characters, art, and plot all while shipping m/m pairs. Sure, there are immature fans, but there are those in any fandom. Casting all slash and BL fans as “crazy yaoi fangirls” is just another attempt to delegitimize their interests.
And heads up, ANY sort of shipping involves you PROJECTING YOUR FANTASIES on a FICTIONAL CHARACTER/RELATIONSHIP. People always talk about “fetishizing of gays” and while yes, critically viewing why you like something and knowing where to draw boundaries is important, there are plenty of LGBTQ community members who enjoy slash because they can relate to it. People don’t sit around questioning people who ship hetero-ships because heterosexuality is seen as the norm and people tend to not question things they have been acclimated to their whole lives. Slash pairings are just as legitimate as hetero-pairings. And no, don’t be all “Oh, but the canon…” because unless it is the actual, straight from the plot details anything you say is fanon and just as legitimate as any other fanon.
In conclusion, fandoms should be fun. It’s a place to explore your interests and meet people with similar ones. If someone likes something you don’t like, it doesn’t make it wrong or stupid. Move on and focus on your own interests, but don’t piss on people having fun simply because it doesn’t cater to your narrow view.