Everyone has a right to an opinion, right? And everyone should have the right to give voice to that opinion. The internet has become an astounding tool towards achieving that end. Yes, there are still issues over freedom of expression, especially in countries such as China where government and ISPs work in tandem to 'censor' the internet. China is perhaps the most well known extreme of this, but it is a fact that no one truly has complete freedom of expression via the internet for one reason or another.
The point remains, however, that the internet is a great tool to 'publish' and find others with similar interests. I would in no way deny anyone the right to this tool, to share their opinions, but lately I have been finding myself thinking that some people just... shouldn't. Yes, I'm aware that I'm contradicting myself here, and that I'm being more than a little bitchy, but bear with me for a while.
Fandom is one area in which there are vast numbers of participants each of whom has their own 'niche'. Some of these niches are more vociferous than others (they are not necessarily larger than other niches - take the BtVS season five Spike fans. They were the 'loudest' on the forums and had sites which were promoted non-stop and yet when the producers gave them what they wanted, it became clear that the fans of the other characters were just as numerous and as a result bad feeling grew up amongst the fans because it was felt that one sector was being pandered to at the expense of all others). And people who participate in a 'niche' in one fandom will tend to gravitate towards a similar niche in another fandom.
And here's where I start to draw somewhat nearer to my point. Slash, Het, Gen. It seems to me that the niches most likely to cause flame wars are those revolving around 'ships'. From my experience as a primarily gen Xander writer I've been witness to huge mud-slinging matches where some people on the het 'side of the fence' will vehemently deny any possible basis for slashing that character; and I've also seen some people on the slash side of that fence argue just as vehemently that the character is clearly portrayed as being attracted to other men on the show and therefore slash is the only justifiable way to present him in fandom. I read all types of Xander fic, well... all types of Xander fic that is well written, and as well as gen I have written both Xander het and Xander slash and will probably do so again in the future. However I still get squicked by some pairings. Season 1-3 Xander/Giles for example, or season 5 Xander/Dawn, or any version of Buffy/Dawn and my instant reaction to seeing these fics is to shake my head and skip on past them. I am sure there are good fics out there in those categories, and I am just as sure I am missing out. The reason I mention it is actually just to highlight the fact that although I don't oppose slash or het or gen, there are some things that I cannot bring myself to read.
Now my point is actually in sight now. I have multiple fandoms, I'm probably better known (if I'm known at all) for working with the Buffyverse fandom but lately I've been writing and making graphics for both Doctor Who and for the fandom with which I am having issues - Supernatural.
Not surprisingly given the nature of the show, a lot of the Supernatural fandom have arrived via the Buffyverse fandom and there are recognizable niches forming again, with the 'usual suspects' (not a derogatory term, I swear) veering towards the types of niche they were/are a part of. However, the show only has two regular characters and only one or two recurring characters a season (thus far, although season two does seem to be introducing more in the way of recurring cast) and those regular characters are brothers.
Those whose normal reading of the shows in which they participate is a slash reading have been faced with a choice: slash one or other of the brothers with a character who only appears in the show once; or slash the brothers. The latter seems to have become the norm, resulting in the fandom term 'Wincest' (which also includes slashing the brothers and their father). My point (yay! I finally got to my point!) is that the basis for the majority of 'Wincest' seems to be primarily a reaction to the lack of options given for a slash subtext. Slashers want to see a slash subtext in the show and they therefore slash the two main characters regardless of familial relationship.
I should point out here that I am using slash in the original fandom meaning: a same sex relationship between two characters who are portrayed in canon as being heterosexual (or asexual) but whom fans of the show have chosen to read a homoerotic subtext (Xander/Spike is slash, Willow/Tara is canon).
Would those who write or make graphics around Wincest normally participate in incest fandom? I honestly do not know. The cultural norm is to frown on incest, to view it as inherently wrong. And yet when Kirk/Spock first appeared in 'zines, the cultural norm was to frown on homosexuality, to view it as inherently wrong. Times have changed (thankfully) and 'slashing' is no longer the subversive act it once was.
So are the Wincesters reclaiming the subversive nature of fandom? Or are they merely slash fans who are taking the only option available to them?
The thing is, I don't like Wincest, it is a squick for me, and yet I am fascinated by it. The graphics, the fics, the determination amongst the fans that it is the only way to 'read' the show - that the subtext is rapidly becoming text - I watch it all with growing interest, but I still find myself wondering why they do it, and why it is the most vociferous niche in this fandom.