|And then there were four. And the drama really started.|
I was starting to feel a lot better about being part of the American Girl Fandom. It didn't have to be all fundamentalism and controlled speech and "what about the children" in every corner any more. And the best part for me was how AG > 18 was just thriving. I had only thought we'd have a few people there, but we were so active and inviting. Quite a few people would join to feel a lot less pressure around them. It was a place where you could breathe deeply and not feel like you were walking on razor-blades to just talk about yourself and your dolls without getting fussed at for having such "unwholesome" things as naked doll ass, race talk, queerness, and hair streaks.1 We were passing around older AG pattern scans, snarking on things, making non-wholesome jokes, talking about things that mattered to us, poking at Emily being the English Friend of Molly, and becoming a community. It was a thriving community I'd help start. That was a very good feeling.
I'd made a lot of friends, especially on AG > 18. PNG (Persona Non Grata) was probably my closest friend of them all.2 We talked for hours. Not just online, but on the phone--to the point I ate up too many minutes on my phone plan and had to scale it back to avoid high fees. Around late July to early August, she said she'd like to send me early birthday and holiday presents. I accepted with glee--people sending me things! Wow! She went on the AG site to send me still-newish #26 in the Ready for Fun Meet set (because I was worried about the new one upcoming not being something I liked; I was right) and found Marsiol for cheap on eBay with her near complete meet set. And that's how Amber "Otters" Flynn and Marisol Luna joined up, doubling my gang in the course of a day. Only a few days later she also located and purchased Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who arrived very soon afterwards--within a week.
|She...needed her hair did. So badly.|
|They sat on a statue man's butt. We took pictures.|
And then Halloween came, and I pushed harder against AG Fans than I ever had before and blew things up.
Prologue: Not Such a Sweet Baby Face
Part One: Finding AG Fans, or How Periods are Bad For Children
Part Two: There's Fundies in My Fandom
Part Three: The Wicked Witch of Customizing and the Birth of AG > 18
I've tried to explain--and I hope I've been successful in these posts--about how fundamentally4 flawed the American Girl fandom was for me before I created AG > 18 and EofA and SailAway created AG Playthings. The main issue was that the conversation was being controlled by Christian fundamentalism and dominated by Christian and white and other privileges. Which made pagan queer black me very uncomfortable for all the having to bite my tongue everywhere for the sake of being part of a community.
One way to truly explain how uncomfortable several members made me is to stick to one member that stuck and still sticks in my head heavily as a horribly offensive person, even all these years later.
She went by the screenname Tra and also CoG, short for Child of God. Tra was a young, white woman--it was determined that she couldn't have been older than late teens at most--who had a decent amount of American Girls in her collection, around a dozen or more. That's not why I resented her. I don't resent people for the number--however few or many--they have as long as they show some variety in said dolls instead of a bunch of light skinned Classic Molds. No, what I resented was her disgusting bigotry, racism, anti-Semitic speech, and gross fundamentalism.
She had Kaya and Lindsey--Lindsey was the only Jewish Character out at the time. She then spoke at length about how they had eagerly converted to Christianity; how Kaya was especially happy not to believe in "satanic superstition" anymore and that Lindsey was glad that she had embraced that Jesus was the Messiah and that it was a shame that the Jewish people had "murdered him" in their blind ignorance. She had a #26 whose entire shtick was that she lived in some nebulous Babylonian-styled past era--represented by the wearing of Josefina clothes, yeah, I dunno--and was the daughter of one of the many concubine-wives of a king who insisted that the population worship him as their god and accept his "adultery." But you see, #26 and her mother had received the truth about Jesus and were hidden Christians and so scared that if the King-God found out, he'd have them executed for treason against him as their god, it's hard out here for a Jesus follower. With the exception of Kaya and Perscution Complex, almost every doll she had was white, and a majority were blond, blue eyed, and Aryan--and she used that word truthfully and without remorse.
She ran another board called "The Uncensored Christian American Girl Board"--AG Fans wasn't Christian enough because some people there were known to be atheist and the unofficial (but not heavily enforced) rule was to minimize your talking about any religion, which was as good as enforcing atheism in her eyes. Her board claimed that it meant not having to censor your religion in order to not offend the atheists and sinners. Which mean that it was basically Christian supremacy. She claimed to encourage debate, if by debate you meant she railed against anything not her specific type of Fundie Christian--the sins of homosexuality and abortion and how prayer wasn't in school anymore and would ban you for being queer if it came up. Abortion and homosexuality was wrong but they could just happen because God(TM) would eventually punish anyone who did either, and homosexuality was around at all because of the pagan religions--which were, of course, from the devil and wrong and sinful.
She said, when a discussion of race came up on AG Playthings, that "Aryan is a race" and "there's nothing wrong with the Aryan race" and said that the widespread offering of blond dolls was a sign that American Girl was blessing white Christians by offering them so much. She said, in all honesty, that American Girl had enough representation of "non-whites" in history with Kaya, Addy, and Josefina and what the line really needed was every iteration of blonde and blue eyed girl they could make for true diversity. She believed that her involvement in American Girl Fans was her way of bringing the Word to sinners so that they would repent of their sin and follow Jesus as Lord.
|Have a shot of Marisol in her Folklorico Dress to get some of that taste out of your mouth.|
But on AG Fans? She nigh went unchallenged, and so did all the other Christian-over-others stuff. Uncomfortable and angry, the black queer pagan woman was. So, so uncomfortable.
But back to me and Otters and what we did. Before Otters even arrived properly, I was 100% sure she was going to be pagan. I even went on eBay and ordered a small set of pentacles to make her one like the one I wore. Nothing complex, just the charm and the chain. And once she had it, I decided that I wanted to do a series about openly teaching about her faith and mine. I made her a set of celebration robes--simple black ones to start, that could be used for any ceremony. That September, before Mabon, I launched Otters Teaches Paganism on AG > 18 and AG Playthings.
|The series landed!|
The months went on. I went to another AG Fans meetup that October--but it was just me and another woman, so it was less a get together and more a two-person meeting at the now-closed Doll Museum. I spent a lot of time on AG > 18 and on AG Playthings participating in both communities. I was hardcore challenging casual bigotry and racism especially--and the bullshit statements that kept coming up. Like Addy was just unpopular because she wasn't as "cool" as the white girls, or she was too poor to have nice things. Or the idea that it wasn't bigoted to point out that white dolls were just "better" and "wanted" more, that it was perfectly fair that Samantha and Molly and Kit were getting nearly all the focus over the others.
There were threads dedicated to every holiday when it came up, and people would post pictures of their dolls celebrating the holiday. Threads generally were posted a week before the holiday's date and were never closed, deleted, or taken down--just a new one every year, so people could enjoy images. Easter, New Year's, Independence Day, Giftmas/Christmas--there was a thread for every holiday, and pics for it as well.
Halloween--Samhain8--was approaching. While Halloween was a candy and costume holiday to a lot of people, for me? It's a deeply religious day, the start of the Pagan New Year, the longest day of the year when the veil between this world and the Next is at its thinnest. The day to honor those who have gone before you. And a standing rule on AG Fans about religion was that it could be freely brought up during a holiday without too much shit. This one meant a lot to me because I had just lost my maternal grandmother that April, and I needed to share this one.
So I posted a link to the album on the AG Fans thread, complete with an image of Otters in her robes.
|Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again.|
And I I had a little spot of hope. Maybe I'd gotten through to someone. Maybe, after almost a year of knowing me and Addy and my still-small gang, they would accept this side of me. Maybe they could see that people like me were able to talk about themselves without being oppressed and could commune with them. I mean, it was working on AG Playthings, right?9 I was openly pagan and queer and black there and the fandom hadn't suddenly imploded into nothing. Maybe they would open their minds.
The next day or so, a mod post went up warning everyone that they should save any images and album links they had from the Halloween thread, because it was going to be closed and deleted in three days. What? Really? This was new to a lot of people there. They hadn't ever, ever closed a holiday picture thread before--there were threads from last year still up. There were threads from longer than that still up. The only thing that had been different in this year's Halloween thread is that I'd posted an album and a picture about being pagan, openly. So the thread went down and was deleted, and anyone who had the ability to see could see that it was likely because of the pagan participating.
I'm sure that some people would consider posting what I did how I did "trolling" or stirring the pot or being an ass to a group that only wanted to keep things like they wanted. But the fact is and was and will always be that I have the right to talk about who I am. I shouldn't have had to fear posting about my honest, true faith in public in an American Girl community I had been part of for almost a year because most people were Christian and didn't like I wasn't. It's not paranoia when the people in charge are actually fucking you over.
I had posted about my faith, and AG Fans had lashed back. But they weren't done.
If anything, they were just getting fucking started.
Part Five: The AG Fans Revamp: No Pagans Allowed
1 They weren't out yet by AG, so the fact that Bean's Sara had a blue streak in her hair was considered highly subversive.
2 Which is why when what happened happened, it hurt me so badly.
3 Shit I never have to do again, if I'm lucky. That work schedule broke Decembers for me for five years.
4 Hah. [/Mrs. Krabapple]
5 She may have changed. If so, good for her. But I don't know her anymore and I don't care unless she shows up.
6 My altar is now a lot more complex and in need of sorting.
7 It's something I really, really need to pick back up.
9 Well, it had been working. Give me time.