On fantasizing about sexual encounters with Richard Armitage: or, policy statement re: future NC-17 posts

I’ve been struggling a bit recently regarding my focus on honest introspection and the direction of the blog. For a long time there’s been stuff on my mind I wanted to write about but didn’t feel comfortable with expressing for various reasons. Recently that stuff has taken up even more of my emotional attention, and not writing about it felt like lying. I don’t feel any of it is unethical or harmful to think or write down or even share, but like some of the things that I wrote earlier, parts of it will be potentially offensive as it crosses informal lines that are important to some fans. At the same time if the blog is to be of use to me personally, I have to continue to try to be honest about what’s going on in my thoughts. Learning to take my fantasy life seriously means not editing out the fantasies that are “unacceptable.”

One of these themes is the extent to which I fantasize about Richard Armitage vs. John Porter or Lucas North or whoever. I’ve been writing so-called “waking fantasies” for a year now, and these always involve characters he’s played. These are real fantasies I had and continue to have, and I will continue to write them down periodically, as they remain of great importance to me, but they don’t make up my whole Armitage-related fantasy life. I’ve been asked repeatedly about fantasies regarding Richard Armitage the person in comments and have always avoided the question or given the reply that “it’s complex.” I didn’t want to deal with this discussion. The answer is complex, and I don’t know that I want to theorize about it at the moment, but I’ve decided to stop lying via making the implication that I rarely or never fantasize about having a sexual encounter with Richard Armitage the person, or at least my fantasy of Richard Armitage the person. Very early on, I presented arguments that it was impossible for fans to know who Richard Armitage is based on the information they have access to. I also fully acknowledge that what I think about Armitage is a fantasy that is shakily grounded on a bunch of newspaper reports, a flood of pictures, hundreds of hours of watching his work, and various other miscellaneous information, so I am not writing about the real Armitage in these pieces. I know this. They are fantasies of self.

Even though I don’t think I’m fantasizing about Richard Armitage the actual person when I write these down — or at least it’s not that simple –, relating these fantasies to an audience crosses a lot of lines, especially because I refuse to say these pieces are fanfic. They are not fanfic and I am not going to pretend that I am (say) Danni Prendiville and Richard Armitage is John Porter just in order to publish them, because that negates the point of the introspection. These texts are probably realfic or close to it, though I don’t think I’m writing about the “real” Richard Armitage, and there are acknowledged difficulties with that genre. Some readers don’t like it or find it unethical. Readers often have a hard time understanding sex as metaphor and may make false assumptions about me based on this writing or decide that they dislike someone they thought they knew. Some people don’t like explicit erotic writing of any kind; some people don’t like the particular kinks that turn me on. One might object that this kind of writing involves an impermissible objectification or instrumentalization of Richard Armitage that amounts to a betrayal of what I say is my respect for him.

I take all of these objections seriously, but after some severe internal struggle, I’ve decided that I’m going to include these fantasies in my blog from time to time. They chart my emotional life, and writing them down is getting to be important for helping me to be creative in other spheres. In particular, lately I’ve struggled to write conventional posts when a fantasy was on my mind, and what I want more than anything to do is to keep on writing and experience the joy that comes with flow, which impinges positively on other portions of my life. And I do continue to believe that writing about my fantasies is an important way of exploring why it is that Richard Armitage in particular ended up being the focus of this fascination.

So. If you would like to discuss this particular question — whether it is okay for me (or anyone) to write about my fantasies about sex with Richard Armitage, or the ethical or aesthetic objections one might have to doing so — this post is the place for that. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this and the likelihood that I’m going to change my mind in the short term is low, but I am interested in reading your comments and perspectives on the general issue — HERE. This post is the place to argue with each other and with me about the ethics of fandom, the issues involved in writing about an actor you’ve never met as opposed to his characters, the moral boundaries of introspection, and so on. I welcome that (with the usual prohibition on ad hominem remarks to me or other commentators).

The fantasies themselves will be password protected with the password “NC17” listed in the subject line. All of those posts will involve sexual encounters of various kinds between Servetus and her fantasy Richard Armitage, and while some of them may be vanilla, they won’t all be romantic or loving or sweet. My sexual fantasies are pretty tame compared to some stuff I’ve read on DF, but I realize that both the fantasies and the fact that they are said to involve real persons may trouble some readers. If I include something likely to be particularly disturbing to readers of erotic writing, I will make a warning inside those protected posts at the beginning. But I encourage readers who enter that password to take responsibility for that decision. I am happy to hear your thoughts and reactions to those fantasies in those comment strands, no matter what they are, and if you are approved to comment on the blog so far you are warmly invited to continue — but I don’t want to read any discussion of their legitimacy or expressions of moral opprobrium inside those comment strains. You are welcome to tell me that the entire topic is disgusting —  in this comment strand. However. Any reader who attacks the practice of writing about fantasies in the strands about my fantasies, which are very personal, I warn everyone now, will be warned once and if it happens again, blocked from further comments on every part of the blog. I hope that distinction makes sense. What I am asking is this: If this particular kind of fantasy makes you uncomfortable, take responsibility for not letting yourself read it.

If you’re uncomfortable losing the Servetus that you have known up till now, please keep in mind that I am still that person, also, the woman who likes linguistic jokes and obscure poetry and charity appeals and close analytical reading and pictures of Richard Armitage’s thumbs. If you can’t live with the possibility that you’d discover something new about me that you don’t like, please, just don’t read those posts. I’m happy to continue being fan friends with you on the basis we’ve interacted on up until now. Most posts will continue in the vein of the blog up until now and I plan to continue the many (cough) unfinished series I have running.

OK. I hope I won’t lose too many of you. Here we go.

~ by Servetus on April 3, 2012.

100 Responses to “On fantasizing about sexual encounters with Richard Armitage: or, policy statement re: future NC-17 posts”

  1. I saw a quote this morning that seems relevant to this: ‘Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self.’ – Cyril Connolly.

    🙂

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    • thanks. the decision to do this sort of reflects that sentiment. Especially since this is supposed to be a soulsearching hobby — and I don’t get paid 🙂

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    • I love that quote, Skully!
      Servetus, now I am really curious and I agree with the quote, though I also think, a person always has many facettes and we like to overlook most to make the person more fitting into our expectations. I think that is a boring way, when life needs to fit our expectations, but it holds so much more to discover, so I am really looking forward to discover your ‘new’ sides, ;o)

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      • This blog is a way for me to try to make all the pieces fit for myself; if I edit stuff out because I fear that others find it objectionable, I undercut my own goal. So I guess we’ll see what happens.

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  2. Thank you for this. I applaud your courage to tell your truth and to stand by it whether it leads to controversy or not.

    I myself think the character of RA as I believe/fantasize him to be is just as appealing to me as JT or GoG. I cannot separate the two. I know that I cannot always separate the character from the actor. If I dislike the actor I won’t want to fantasize about the character. Yet, I also understand that there are issues with objectifying a person but this is my process and I own it and every person experiences fandom differently. I appreciate any honest/real human experience.

    OH, and I love, love fanfic or realfic.

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    • I realized, thinking about this last night after posting it, that this issue (the ethics of writing) is something I’ve been struggling with since I was a teenager. I’m starting to think Armitagemania also hit as a means of addressing that. A perfect storm.

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  3. So my opinion, and that’s all it is. You are entitled to write whatever and however you want. I am not a believer in censorship, so I would never tell you or even imply to you that you are not allowed to write something.

    However (yeah, this is the but) when a real person (as opposed to a fictional person) conveys graphic sexual images of themselves to me (can’t speak for anyone else), it’s hard for me to be more or less unfazed by that. To be plain, it becomes part of the filter through which I see that person, and I rarely want that filter of people because I feel it’s something I have no right to know about them. If I’m a therapist, that may be another matter, but as a friend? It’s not a role I am equipped to handle.

    Hope this makes sense, and again, you are free to write whatever you want. I love to read your blog, so you won’t lose me, but I may not read those posts. Hope you understand.

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    • I certainly respect your (and anyone else’s) decision not to read anything I write and do not think more or less of you because of that. The posts will go behind a password precisely because I know that this is stuff that some will not wish to read. I absolutely believe in the capacity of all adults to decide for themselves what they wish to know and not to know.

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  4. And I also heartily agree that you should write for yourself first and audience second. Do it!

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    • I think what I learned recently is that for me there is no writing “for” other people. I should eventually say more about this but not now.

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  5. Hi Serv,
    You go girl! This is your blog. And as you say, people can choose not to read posts with disclaimers containing things they don’t like.

    For example, I’m a girl who for whatever reason has a visceral reaction to violence against women. I’ve never experienced violence to my person myself–I am blessed.

    But I have had friends who have experienced violence. For one gal, it took her husband breaking her dog’s leg and then her admitting to we her friends group that he had also hit her before before she got help. I can’t tell you how many conversations I had with her about supporting her and helping her to realize that her choosing her (and her dogs’) safety was more important than staying married because her religion had a prohibition against divorce. And we finally convinced her to seek help, orders of protection, etc. She is now divorced, the dogs are healed and the ex-husband is locked up.

    So, I’ll skip any violent posts you might have. I know, I’m a wimp.

    So, brava to you on forging a new creative outlet for yourself. I applaud your honesty. I want to be you when I grow up.

    Cheers! Grati ;->

    So, if you have a disclaimer about violence, I will probably avoid reading those posts.

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    • I’m really strongly convinced that one’s preferences in reading are not to be judged. I would never say that someone who won’t read (e.g.) slash is more or less cool or moral because of that decision — it is simply a decision that you make for your reasons and I respect those.

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  6. I read a lot of fanfiction. A lot. But I generally avoid real person fiction for several reasons. The primary among them being that I can’t easily put myself in the role of the female character if that character is a real person, (or an original character/Mary Sue – I avoid those too). When I read Guy/Marion fic, I’m Marion. When I read P&P fic, I’m Lizzy. Although I may be able to read RA fic and see him as a fictional character of a sort, if I know the female in the story is also a “real” person, I won’t be easily able to insert myself into the story. And that’s the whole reason I read fanfiction to begin with, to escape, to put myself into the life of one of the characters. That’s why I read fiction in general, to escape into another character’s life and/or world.

    Another reason I avoid real person fanfiction is jealousy. If I’m fantasizing about being with a real person/celebrity, then I can’t be comfortable imagining him with someone else. It would feel like he was cheating on me; and I’d get jealous, possibly angry with the writer. It’s not logical or particularly sane to have those feelings, but they happen and I want to avoid them. haha

    And the last reason I avoid real person fanfiction is because in my fantasy of that person, I have filled in the blanks of what I know of him with my own preferences, a reflection of my own wants, desired traits, my own self. If the writer has decided he has different traits than I’ve imagined him to have, then I get frustrated or disappointed.

    Having said all this, I’m a writer and I understand that when you need to write something, you need to write it, not bottle it up inside you. So feel free to write what’s in your heart when you need to for theraputic reasons. As long as you warn readers, you’ve done all you need to do. 🙂

    Question for you: did you post what the password to get to the NC-17 bits was and I missed it? Just in case I should change my mind. 🙂

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    • I reiterate that I absolutely respect the right of people not to read what I am going to post, and in fact urge them not to if they don’t want to. I would argue, though, that I’m not a real person in any meaningful sense for the reader of anything I write; except for maybe three people who read this blog I am just as much a fictional character as anyone who appears on screen and then gets written down. Readers choose to make me real, and I occasionally assert that I am real, but there’s really no proof of that. I do, however, enjoy a lot of OC and / or Mary Sue fics (they are not quite the same IMO).

      The pw is in the post title.

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      • Serv, I love that observation. It makes a lot of sense, in the blogosphere you are not your actual self but a fictional person you have created. I know that you have met some readers, but for all I (and most of your readers) know, you could be a 16 year old boy.

        Not likely, I know, but not impossible. In my mind, however, you are a brilliant writer and all around nice gal.

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        • that’s very kind, and I hope I am not too different from Servetus, but I do think we must face the fact that Servetus is also a Mary Sue 🙂

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  7. I agree with Skully’s quote, you should be true to yourself and write what you think will help you explore your inner self. After all, that is the purpose of this blog. I know we had a discussion in chat about the ban on real person fic. I banned it because it invariably led to graphic sex and I felt uncomfortable with that type of fiction. IMHO, a lot of RP fic is written with personal gratification and titillation in mind, just for the purpose of writing about it. I don’t think this is what you intend; it’s not meant as fanfic, but as a therapeutic exploration of your fantasies.

    I confess to fantasies myself; I’m sure a lot of fans have them. I suspect much of the objection will be because you actually have the temerity to publicly state it. I admire you for doing this, and look forward to what you write.

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    • I think that my fantasies take on sexual form in part because I experience sex as gratifying. Some of them would be too uncomfortable to contemplate otherwise.

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  8. For starters, see my comment on the post of 30th March. As I said, I didn’t know the “why” of my response to real person fiction, just that it was one of discomfort. Reading other comments here, I can now see echoes of my feelings in some of them: Frenz’s filter, gracie’s difficulty in separating the actor from the character, and Mrs EB Darcy’s desire to put herself in the female character’s role, her jealousy and her own fantasy of the subject person. Thankyou girls for your honesty, it has helped me understand my own responses on this issue.

    Servetus, I admire your honesty and courage in proceeding with this writing. In light of your approach, I said I would be happy to accept what you write, but I’m letting you know here that I will back off if and when I feel I need to, no judgement intended. In that case, I’ll just stick to your usual posts! 🙂

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    • I think there are also ethical questions involved. I wanted to communicate that I recognized there are problems but I have decided to go ahead anyway. I am happy about each and every reader, so no judgments at all about what you read or don’t read.

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      • I have come to recognize that the ethics of the issue certainly are a part of how I feel. Reading the comments here has helped me gain a better understanding in that respect, to better define my “discomfort.” I think what I’m finding difficult is how to recognize where the line is drawn for me. Fantasizing about RA the man, journalling privately about those fantasies, writing publicly about them (blog or realfic); the line is between the second and third activities, but it can shift to beyond the last depending on what I read. As someone who has always been a fence sitter, seeing both sides of a story, unless one side is morally/ethically abhorrent to me, I can see the validity in each aspect of the discussion here. I drive my husband crazy in our discussions or arguments, because he sees things very much in black and white, whilst I see the shades of grey.
        The way in which I respond to your fantasy blogs will no doubt help to make the position of that line clearer. 🙂

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        • I don’t think it’s hugely clearcut. I think the first fantasy was fairly tame. I’m still learning to trust myself writing about this. So it’s possibly you could deal with the current level of fantasy but be bothered later. The problem is complex.

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  9. To echo what others have said, you should write for yourself and no-one else. Personally, I have no issues whatsoever with reading what you plan to write. For as long as I can remember I have fantasised about men I find attractive no matter who they were…famous or not. To me it’s perfectly natural. To write about it is something I’ve always longed to do; however, I have always been fearful of the backlash (if I was to post online) were it to be about RA which, let’s face it, it undoubtedly would be. I admire you and your writing immensely and that most definitely will not change.

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    • I am afraid too and not just of what friends might say 🙂 we’ll see what happens.

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  10. I think it is a your choice and right to write what you want on your blog but as others have said it is up to the individual to make that choice to read and comment. You have given people the option by using a password.

    I have not got into fanfic, I have only really discovered blogs since November! My interest in RA has been with me a long time and that has been very personal. I applaud you for writing what will make some feel uncomfortable, I will read and see and if I don’t like it I will say but I love your posts and the way you write (in fact I am quite jealous of the way you are able to express yourself). If it helps you move on with your writing then that is a good thing xx

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  11. Who are you writing these for?

    I can understand the need to immerse yourself and write fantasies, and clearly it’s important to you to do so. I do wonder about the compulsion to share, though. If writing an RA fantasy is where you heart and energy are engaged, then why not carry on writing that and miss a day or two or blogging, granted that the RA fantasies are hard to stop writing, give you pleasure, and make you feel creative in other areas of your life? Plenty of excellent bloggers feel they don’t need to post daily; that causes no one any harm and sometimes may encourage a blogger to winnow off the chaff and post only her best work. That’s win-win.

    What I wonder about, though, is the feeling that you’re less than honest if you do not post those fantasies. An honest answer to the question “Do you ever fantasize about RA himself?” is “Sure” or “Yeah, probably like a lot of fans.” If a particular poster wants more, then she’s likely to be receptive. There’s no requirement in this or any fandom for fans to share all their fantasies, even if one’s a blogger (as is the case among more than one commentor here who has reservations about wanting to read further RA fantasies).

    One big reason to hesitate to write such personal fiction is the Mary Sue problem. Mary Sue characters make many readers cringe with embarrassment for the author or snicker at her, and there’s no better way to create a Mary Sue than for a writer to make her main character herself. Fantasies and wish-fulfillment in such fiction can simply reveal more than the writer intends, and fantasies that are very special to a writer may seem humdrum and boring or sick and twisted to a reader–and in any case, Mary Sue characters usually just don’t come across to a reader in the way a writer intends them to. They backfire. They lessen readers’ admiration.

    What’s also problematic about reading such fantasies for me is an act of appropriation of a real person who, yes, is unlikely to come across this blog . . . but who may have a friend, a family member, or acquaintance who does learn of such fan fiction (and there’s no reason to believe that’s impossible). I think that for some people, learning that such a document exists could be excruciatingly uncomfortable, even if the document is carefully avoided.

    As Hugh Grant has said repeatedly, the fact that he’s an actor doesn’t mean that he has to forgo having privacy; it doesn’t “come with the territory” that he should be photographed, followed, and harassed when he’s not on screen. And I’m going to make the case that publishing
    fantasies about an actor is less in-your-face, but could feel similarly invasive–more so if the actor learns of it: Grant gets followed and photographed, but no one is publicly imagining him engaged in sexual behavior, appropriating a real person for her own pleasure and telling others about it. At best, that kind of appropriation leaves me very uncomfortable and at least a little angry, since it’s happened to me.

    RA is an actor–that’s the role he wants to be seen in, even if he acts out sex on screen. It’s John Standring who comes too quickly, not RA. Finding that someone sees you not you the role you want to be seen in but as a sexual fantasy object is uncomfortable.

    I’m a teacher, and had a student who wrote me in ways that made it evident to me years after he’d graduated that he had sexual fantasies about me. (Yes, he wasn’t a particularly well socialized young man.) I had had no idea that the person he saw lecturing or met with to discuss his work was anything other than a teacher, in his mind. Perhaps others would have reacted differently; I’d been stalked years before and had found that man’s use of me in his fantasies frightening and invasive. I was angry with my former student, showed his email to my husband to check whether I misunderstood it, but he said no; I put him on spam (and he then wrote me and mentioned having paid for information about me, which obviously is irrelevant to writing fanfic, so I’ll leave that story unfinished). I can say, though, that knowing I was the unwilling object of other people’s graphic sexual fantasies that were spelled out to me was deeply distressing and frightened me– though neither man lived locally.

    I won’t be reading RA fantasies, since they’d make me feel uncomfortably intrusive, and since I don’t relish Mary Sue fanfic–and it’s hard to imagine it not having that tendency. Since writing them is pleasurable and enhances your creativity, it’s wonderful, but I still question whether sharing them with others is a worthy thing, when some fans will indeed see them as intrusive and since Mary Sue fictions almost always please the writer but rarely please readers. And there’s something to be said for keeping something of yourself for yourself.

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    • I agree that it’s uncomfortable to be seen differently than one wishes to be seen — a problem that is an outcome of the human condition and its allied perceptual problems, and not limited in its effects to actors or teachers / professors. All of us are seen differently than we wish to be seen, one assumes, and dealing with that problem is part of becoming an adult. No one can rescue us from it. Most academics my age have learned via their teaching evaluations that their students see them as sexual (or inappropriately non-sexual) objects. And we all suffer from various kinds of objectification, all of the time. You seem to think that what I’m about to write is akin to stalking, a conclusion with which I disagree, as should have been clear years and years ago, when I wrote about this topic here: https://meandrichard.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/stalking-armitage-and-weekly-obsession-update/ , so I won’t retread that ground. I’m not sure why the fact that some fans might be troubled by what I write should stop me from publishing it, as long as my conscience is clear from my own perspective.

      I am writing to integrate; at least that’s what I now believe. It is an activity with no stakes if no one witnesses it. I did consider quite strongly continuing to blog but making the blog comment free; the people I consulted about this suggested that doing so would kill the community aspect of the blog, which is important for some readers, and which has been more beneficial to me than I ever would have imagined when I started this. In terms of keeping something of myself for myself: if you believed everything important about me made it onto this blog, you would be deceived. Since, just as Richard Armitage has absolutely no control over how he is perceived by his audiences, I have no control over how what I write is perceived by readers, I’ll let readers decide what they think and whether they wish to comment. Though I appreciate the periodic opportunity to think about this issue, and I also appreciate your persistent support for your own position, I don’t think that (beyond the stricture of “do no harm”), the ongoing “you’re doing it wrong” critique that you regularly raise about my blogging decisions really has any purchase for me.

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  12. @AAA: I’m sure that our dear Professor Servetus wouldn’t do him(RA) any harm. 😉

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  13. Normally I am very protective about RA and would hesitate to read anything objectifying him. But for a strange reason, that protectiveness does not get activated by your writing, Servetus. In my opinion it is, because I think it reveals more about you and your attitude than about RA and that is totally o.k. for me to read. Blogging in my view is a kind of diary, an exploration to oneself. In my case it is an exploration of an aspect I cannot live or show in RL and is a way to find answers, which for some strange reason blogging allows to solve or at least to come closer to a solution. I did not find a similar effective method, compared to blogging.
    So I see your posts in quite a similar way as my own approach to blogging and am fascinated with the talent and expressiveness you show in your posts, Servetus. I am looking forward to all your posts, though I might be a bit too shy to comment on all of them ;o)

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    • I’ve also been surprised how beneficial blogging is. It’s different than journaling.

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  14. I believe you are entitled to feel and write what you want, free of censorship. As you have said, these are largely fantasies of self, because we as humans do so much internalizing and projecting, even when confronted with a flesh-&-blood presence, even when we are aware and paying attention. I am not okay with stalking and other real-life intrusions and invasions of privacy, but fantasies are just that — fantasies. Because I admire your intellect and your writing, I respectfully request that you send me the password to share what you write.

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    • Thanks, Leigh. I agree that writing is not stalking. The password will always be in the title of the post.

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  15. Go for it, Serv. If someone doesn’t like it, they don’t have to read it.

    And just for the record, AAA, I like Mary Sue fanfic

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    • I like a lot of Mary Sue fanfic, too — I think because it tells me something about the author. One must also say, however, that because we don’t know the authors of these fictions, we can’t really assess that these characters are self-insertions. I think there’s a tendency to identify an OC that we don’t like for whatever reason and then say, “oh, that’s a Mary Sue.” One thing I’ve learned from khandy’s fanfic is that her OCs are very different from each other — if you didn’t know all her fic you might be inclined to think that some of them were Mary Sues, but that seems unlikely.

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    • I think Mary Sue fic is wish fulfilment and what is wrong with that? It may not be enjoyable for those that don’t share that particular fantasy and it may not be great literature but I never understood why it is vilified.

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  16. Sometimes I think the community puts itself in a bit of a straight jacket. Who is the “authority” to say topics like this one are off limits. Bravo Servetus for publishing your realfic fantasies. Personally I find the distinction between fanfic & realfic a bit blurry so I’m not bothered if you write fiction about your own fantasies with Richard. As you said, it’s your idea of the “real” Richard and your thoughts about the “real” Richard are as valid as anyone else’s.

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    • I’m with you in all points, Beachbaby!

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    • Well said Beachbaby. And bravo Servetus you makes us think outside the box!

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    • I don’t think any topic is off-limits, but I think each person has to decide what fits their relationship with Servetus. For me and for me alone (no assessment of anyone else here), Servetus is my friend (read that: I know her offline), and as such, I do not want to be privy to her sexual encounters (real or otherwise). I don’t believe that’s healthy for our friendship. It would be little better than me observing a real sexual encounter of hers. Candidly, if I didn’t know her, I might be tempted to read her fantasies as a consumer of something provocative. But since I do know her, any reading of them I do (and that’s indeed an if) would be with a more clinical approach, i.e., taking on the role of a counselor or therapist — at least in my mind. So to be clear, if I were to do that, it would require shifting out of my capacity as a friend and becoming something else. I don’t want to do that, and I don’t think she needs me to do that. So I’ll probably refrain.

      Given this, I appreciate her flagging these posts so I don’t inadvertently read them.

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      • One of the fundamental things one learns as a published author is that once a text is published, one has no control over how others perceive it. So some people will read these texts as something they were not originally meant to be. I can’t control that so I have to accept it — or not publish them. I guess I made a decision on this now.

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    • I actually think two things are going on.

      On the one hand, you have fans who genuinely don’t like some things other fans do. I could put myself in that category, there is one particular fan activity that I found distasteful the first time I encountered it and when I see it now, although I understand better, I still grit my teeth. However, the activity is not harmful to anyone and so I hardly find myself in a position to prescribe about it, I just don’t like it. In anything I write, I want to maintain respect for people who find something they just don’t like, and who walk away from it without moralizing, or for those who note that they don’t like whatever it is, ask the people involved to reconsider, say why, and then leave quietly if their initiative is not taken up. Not liking certain things is everyone’s right and we should respect it, because it’s actually very considerate, mature behavior, behavior that should be emulated.

      On the other hand, I have been weirded out by virtual encounters with people who wanted to decide for me what was ok for me to do or write, and eventually I started thinking that these attempts were not so much about me or what I was doing, but rather about the person who wished to legislate, and / or about Richard Armitage. I can’t say much about the people involved because I don’t know them except virtually — I’m not privy to their histories or the things that influence them to act the way they do. However, there is clearly a segment of fan that believes that we can some how affect Armitage’s behavior by our behavior toward him. The interpretation here would be “if you just don’t write objectionable things about him, he will be more attentive to us.” If that ever was possible, the ship has sailed. He’s now doing either what he wants, or what he’s advised to do by publicity people. I support him in any choice he wishes to make that’s not unethical, and I simply don’t believe that anything I write has much effect on him, if he is even aware of it beyond the very general haze that reaches him from the world that I inhabit.

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      • I think you make a great point, Serv. Maybe we (bloggers, fanfic writers, fans in general) are overstating our importance. While I suppose it is possible that somewhere there’s a PR peon following the blogs and forums, I doubt whether the opinions or ideas expressed are an actual influence in anyone’s lives except our own.

        While RA is a nice guy and sends us periodic messages, to believe that a small group of fans (and let’s face it, we are a small, albeit enthusiastic, group) have any impact on his day-to-day life is unrealistic. He’s busy, he works hard, and while I’m sure he appreciates having us as fans, he’s probably not breathlessly waiting for updates on Fanstravaganza posts.

        So much as I love your blog, Serv, I agree that nothing written here would have much effect on him.

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        • It would be fairly unbearable to be writing this if it appeared to me to be anything more than magical thinking that Richard Armitage reads it.

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  17. I’ll see where reading your “protected” posts lead me on to… such as being jealous, like mentioned above? When fantasising myself I had always problems with explicitly distinguishing the “real” RA from his role personas as all this is a big mishmash in my head. Wondering for quite a while how you apparently had the ability to keep them seperated…. furthermore written words fail me easily and e.g. talking to you in the flesh would be prob so much more effortless 😉 Like CDoart phrases it above I’m still also deeply fascinated with your talent and expressiveness and particularly with your quickness and plenitude of thoughts. Huh!! Go forward! I’ll be primarily busy reading your posts rather than commenting…

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    • Thanks 🙂

      To some extent I think the division between him and his roles is an artificial one. Not totally — I think there are important distinctions between Richard Armitage and (say) John Porter, for instance — but the very practice of method acting incorporates the actor’s own perceptions of things into the roles. But I would have to reach a much more sophisticated analytical level than I have ever managed here in order to say anything meaningful about that question.

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  18. I knew this was coming based on your April 1 fantasy post. So I’ve already thought about how I would respond. I’ve never read any fanfic and probably never will mainly because I don’t like messing with the intent of the original author, even if that author writes scripts for a Saturday night program for children. But that’s just me and isn’t meant to be a negative reflection on anyone who writes or reads fanfic. I’m also not into erotic. As I’ve said in another post, I believe most RA fantasy revolves around the characters he plays. I personally believe it’s an invasion to do otherwise — especially in a public arena . However I’m not a judgmental type of person (or at least I don’t think I am) so I really have no opinion about your new endeavor other than it’s not something I would do. To each his own — as long as it doesn’t cause harm. I probably won’t be reading your fantasies. However I understand your desire to write about them, because you’re one of those people (artists) who has a desire to constantly create. I recently saw the movie “Anonymous” which was about the possibility of someone other than Shakespeare actually writing all of Shakespeare’s work. That someone was Edward de Vere who was portrayed as a man who desired to write no matter the consequences. There was one scene where he was in a room surrounded by stacks and stacks of his writing to symbolize his obsession. He was a driven man…he reminds me of you.

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    • Yeah, I didn’t want to overstate it, but I really had struggled in the last six weeks or so about whether to continue blogging, simply because I felt so strongly that I was either being dishonest or I was blogging primarily things that I knew my readers would enjoy but not always things I was dying to say. I won’t say I never want to think about readers’ desires, but in the end the writing is about figuring out how to write because I can’t seem to avoid that, things are pressing at the moment. That damage will ensue in the wake of that seems unavoidable, and that hurts me, but I don’t think I can avoid it. It’s helpful to me to read your perception of me because I have a hard time thinking of myself as an artist of any kind — though I am driven.

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      • Wow, do you really not perceive of yourself as an artist? Particularly when your need to write and EXPRESS is the only thing that has kept you from going insane? If I was your artist voice – I might be a bit enraged to have been held captive for so long at the hands of that universal warden to so many: the hidden threat of JUDGMENT. But I agree with Sloan – that depiction of Edward de Vere does capture a bit of the energy of you. 🙂

        Hey, so not to appear to change topics, but would now be an awkward time to ask if you have considered creating anthologies of your blog posts? You’ve appeared to title your posts with ‘collections’ in mind, it seems. 😉

        From all the comments here, I can tell this is a sensitive topic for many out there, but I can’t help but think it’s ‘just’ a new theme in your entire canon of ‘collected works’. As such, you’ve done a wonderful job of introducing it – and also password protecting it in a way that is hilariously obvious, yet ironically not so! 😉

        I imagine this is a similar dilemma faced by many artists. The conflict between continuing to produce what are known ‘crowd-pleaser’ favorites vs. venturing out into new, untested ground that is nonetheless pleasing to YOU.

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        • anthologies? I’m not sure what you mean — they’re linked together so they can be paged through, but I’m not publishing this material anywhere else. I’ve been encouraged a few times to write a book about this blog, and I think I’ve got enough material, but that’s not really the direction I’m moving in 🙂

          I think I have to keep growing or stop writing, that’s the issue. And I can’t afford to stop writing.

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  19. After reading AAA’s comment something has occured to me that they touched upon. I would urge caution in what RP fic you might post on this blog, even if it is locked. Just remember that although Richard isn’t likely to ever see this blog, someone who works for his agent or PR reps is most likely skimming through every blog post and article that has his name in the tag. Make sure that you don’t print anything that they might consider slanderous/libelous. It’s best, if you do post a fictional story/fantasy that you don’t use his name anywhere in it or the tags. Your loyal followers will know who you are talking about 😉

    I’m not trying to stress you out, just urging caution. Don’t freak out about what you’ve posted so far as your usual analytical posts are harmless. Just be careful when it comes to posting fantasies. No names, no pack drill. 😉

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    • Thanks for the warning, but I’m not hugely worried as, as far as I know, none of the authors of realfic about him that is already publicly available (not behind passwords) has ever been contacted. wikipedia lists only one known instance of an attempt by the owner of an entity to enforce such claims. If, in fact, someone were to attempt to pursue a legal claim, however, the fact that I didn’t put “Richard Armitage” on any realfic post would not be a protection, because, as you say, everyone knows who I am writing about already. I’m not going to go through this entire blog and remove his name. The rule of thumb is apparently that management is not supposed to get involved with fans — and as far as I can tell (with one possible exception) that is pretty much what’s happened in this fandom.

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  20. Bravo! I’ve been waiting for this 🙂 I believe the distinction between real fic & fanfic is blurry too. I have no personally issues talking intimate stuff with RL friends. And I do know there is a real difference between writing out fantasies and acting them out.

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    • It was a long time coming, wasn’t it, although I was hinting at it years ago.

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      • It was!! I feel guilty now for not being around for the smart part – I always enjoy the jump back links in your posts!

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        • I think I was sort of caught in this contradiction. I needed to write about the fantasies and I thought I could do that unnoticed. I was incredibly naive about the amount of attention thtat had already been paid to him, and I had no idea that people would find me so easily and quickly. I so rapidly had a readership (also b/c of F1) that I didn’t have time to think about the way that having it would affect the writing.

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  21. I don’t wish to censor anyone, and have said that if writing RA / Servetus fantasies is pleasurable, creative, and helps a person understand herself in some way, they’re all to the good. I’m not suggesting that Dr. S put herself in a straightjacket, and I recognize that adults who enjoy her fantasies about encounters she has with an RA figure will of course want access to them.

    But let’s be realistic about real life fantasies: if we are all within six degrees of separation from one another, how can we possibly assume that RA will never learn of them, and if so would be neutral to them? Try to imagine someone who knows Servetus–or you–from afar and began writing fantasies of sexual encounters with her or with you and posting them on the internet. She’s a public figure in real life, a professor who is paid to encounter people by standing in front of a lecture hall or classroom and having her physical attributes very much on show, and students are able to examine her body and personality all the more closely if they attend office hours. Does that public persona make it fair game for an admiring student who hasn’t even actually spoken to her to write vivid, graphic fantasies about her involving bondage or humiliation or public sex or bestiality or any of the other things that a person may find exciting and stimulating? Would you find being a sexually active character in a blog that’s well known comfortable? Does watching someone perform as an actor or teacher make them free game if admirers want to make fantasies about having sex? Well, yes, in a culture that values free speech, I suppose it does. But are such blogs or fictions likely to be welcome to the object of the fantasy, who has no control over what happens to her in the fantasy that’s published? I think that’s very unlikely. I wouldn’t; would you?

    The idea that fan blogs are a world to themselves, entirely separate from an actor’s life, is a fiction. It used to be that as well as monitoring what the papers said about an actor, agents counted up admiring fan mail letters to get a sense of how popular he was and and sampled them to get a sense of what his admirers had to say about him and what roles they particularly enjoyed him in or if a story in a scandal sheet had an impact on his popularity. That still happens–but an agent with a lot of resources also has people to monitor message boards and blogs for the same kind of data. Not every word gets read, of course; but yes, an agent may have workers who keep pretty careful track of things. And there’s been one incident in which some fans objected very strenuously to a fanfic about Guy of Gisborne capturing Marian and behaving in a graphically sadistic way to her. Yes, RA learned about it. Fans seem to have swamped him with mail about it, enough so that he mentions it in one of his messages to fans, suggesting gently that such writings shouldn’t be available to young people. Passwords, requests that readers give their birth dates and warnings that a piece of fiction shouldn’t be read if you’re under a certain age are unlikely to keep a young reader out if he or she is interested. In this case, the writer honored RA’s suggestion and the piece of fan fiction disappeared.

    This discussion reminds me of an incident in another actor’s life. There have been rumors about Richard Gere being gay for ages, just as there are rumors that RA is. Someone thought it was funny or spiteful or sexually exciting–who knows?–to say that Mr. Gere’s sexual practices included putting gerbils up his anus. It’s absurd on the face of it, but the rumor took off and made him a laughingstock, to some degree. I don’t think it did his career any good, frankly, and it may have harmed it. Of course we all believe that no RA fan would make that kind of rumor public or write a fanfic involving hamsters, and we want to believe that our admiration for him would prevent that . . . but if you are in the public eye you can’t control what people say about you, and sometimes it can get embarrassing, as Gere found. And there’s not a lot you can do about it.

    A profoundly silly case in point that’s true, absurd as it is: in a large Children’s Literature class I assigned that sexless 19th century story of four sisters, “Little Women”, as a fiction that was once wildly popular among girls but has become much less appealing to them in recent years. It’s an interesting historical document, in short.

    A few days after that lecture another faculty member asked me out of the blue what I’d said in that lecture. I was surprised; I didn’t know him well and didn’t imagine he’d have any particular awareness that I’d assigned the book and talked about it, and the lecture was not out of the ordinary in any way. “Someone said that his column in the university paper had been inspired by what you said,” he told me. I was mystified, and other people rather awkwardly asked me the same thing. I finally got my hands on that day’s paper, and . . . well.

    The writer was a very active member of the campus gay community, and in the article in the school paper he had written a step-by-step explanation for newbies, describing how to have male-on-male anal intercourse for the first time and enjoy it. Arm yourself in advance with condoms and Astroglide, I think it began, and it moved on from there. (Such a how-to guide wouldn’t be printed in some university papers, but I teach in a large urban California university more receptive to such articles, but even so, that graphic a column was a surprise.) And sure enough, at the bottom he’d written that he wanted to thank me because my lecture on Little Women had inspired his column.

    WTF???? First off, I’m female, and my own interests are in male-female fantasies. But more to the point, how he got from the mild 1800 tale of four young girls growing up to be Little Women to anal intercourse is a mystery to me. And frankly, it was pretty embarrassing as well as ludicrously funny; I honestly don’t think that a Children’s Literature course is an arena in which anal intercourse enters the picture. I read and re-read the article, trying to think of any point of contact with my article, but . . . nope. (I did, however, learn a lot about male-on-male anal intercourse, so I guess it was educational.)

    It was ridiculous, and I got a lot of odd questions and odd looks. For a week I went around muttering “No of course I didn’t talk about anal intercourse in a lecture about Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy” in an embarrassed way. Some fairly stunned students in the class kindly spread the news that no, really, they’d been in class and they were mystified (and in some cases, kind of disgusted).

    It’s just occurred to me that I might have felt even more uncomfortable if I was male, or happened to be male and gay.

    I still wonder what possessed that young man. I don’t think he should have been censored, and didn’t write any angry letters to the paper’s editors . . . but do I wish I hadn’t been associated with his article? Well, it makes for a good story, but it also made for days of mild embarrassment. Not in the Richard Gere / gerbil scale of embarrassment, though.

    As I say, it’s a ridiculous story, and a funny one, really. But my point is this: sometimes you stand up in public and do your job and you have absolutely no control over what those who watch you are going to write, or rumors they’re going to start . . . and the results can be hugely embarrassing, if people insist that you put small animals up your butt, for instance, or mildly embarrassing, if someone seems to suggest that you think children’s lit should inspire anal intercourse.

    Can fan rl fantasies about a real person do harm? I think that Richard Gere would say that yes, they can, whether or not that fiction was intentionally hurtful. It had an impact on his career and, I’d guess, perhaps on his sense of self-esteem, as well. Is it comfortable to be associated with someone’s sexual thoughts, even as an unintentional “inspiration”? No, ‘fraid not. Am I glad that the two men who barely knew me–a stalker who was a friend of a friend, and a former student–didn’t write about their graphic fantasies about me in a blog that got lots of hits? Yes.

    These are obviously only my thoughts and experiences, but I suspect that one reason some fans are uncomfortable with rl fan fiction is because they’re aware that writing it may encourage some fans to write graphic, violent fantasies, or fantasies that the rl person would be profoundly uncomfortable with. I’m not saying that Dr. S has done or will do that; I’m just saying that some fans may be concerned about opening the door to widespread rl fanfic for those reasons. I can tell you that it’s uncomfortable being a real person and being a character in the fantasy of someone who knows almost nothing about you and yet gives a character your name and appearance, uses you and plays with you. You try to dismiss it quickly, but it’s frankly distressing and kind of disgusting to have that happen, and when I appeared in that kind of fantasy against my will I’m glad I didn’t have to second-guess “Did any of these people see what X wrote?” when I was in contact with other people. Second-guessing “Did this person see that bizarre anal intercourse article?” when I encountered people in a big department was more than enough unearned discomfort for me.

    And RA may not be as detached from hearing about bloggers’ thoughts and fanfic as we like to imagine. I don’t wish to censor Dr. S, and I don’t think she’s going to insert any small wriggly animals in any part of the body of the RA who lives in her fic. But real fic is about real people, and what happens to them is entirely out of their control and could grieve them. We can’t really assume that it will never do that. RA’s a real person capable of discomfort and feeling used, and he’s not necessarily as distant as we might imagine.

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    • This post was not an argument that all fans should gleefully embrace the writing of sexually explicit realfic, nor did it attempt to cast aspersions at those who don’t. The post says, and I have stressed, that I want people who are uncomfortable with this genre of post to stay away from reading anything that will make them unhappy. It only explains why *I* am writing this material and that I will make it available, and that I don’t want to be criticized for having written it in the comment strands on fantasies (while I am willing to discuss the issue and be criticized for it here). I don’t believe that we can apply a general rule for everyone in every situation for most cases of problems we encounter in life — or that if that’s possible, the cases to which it applies must necessarily be limited. Moreover, I simply don’t believe, as you seem to fear, that if I write about my sexual fantasies about Richard Armitage, that it will open the door to the entire fandom following suit. People have their own consciences, preferences, views on ethics, etc., etc., and they will do and think as they please no matter what I say or don’t say.

      1) Given that everything I write here about Armitage is based on the flimsiest of evidence, there’s an argument available that realfic is not that different from what I’m already doing. Indeed, someone else has already advanced that argument as a means of trying to stop me from articulating my thoughts. Honestly, is there that much epistemological difference between observing something and hypothesizing about an explanation from it, and describing something one feels in reaction to observing something? I don’t buy that there’s a true separation.

      2) I reiterate: Richard Armitage is not in the audience for this blog. I couldn’t stop him from reading it although I really doubt that he does. But it is not directed at him, I don’t print it off and send him pieces of it with a signature upon delivery requested to make sure he got it, and I don’t force him to take notice of me in any way at all. I write in a corner of a blogosphere about him that appears to get larger every day, for an audience of his admirers, mostly women, that I suspect numbers around perhaps 700 readers at the very most, if that, and they are not all here every day. I am one fan and while I am more verbose than most, I am one voice in a crowd.

      3) communication always involves misunderstandings. You learn that the second you walk into a lecture hall or, at the very latest, the second you grade blue books and read hundreds of different versions of “what you said” about any topic. The fact that you have been distressed by how you have been misunderstood by your students, or that some people might “misunderstand” (by which I presume you mean: interpret in ways you disapprove of) what I say cannot be used as a reason that I should never say anything. Should you have not spoken about Little Women because someone drew conclusions about anal intercourse from what you said? Of course not. Someone told me a few months ago that she was persuaded by an extensive argument I made for a particular scholarly position to believe exactly the opposite of what I argued. No author can possibly control how anyone else understands what she writes, even in the very short term. Though there are culturally conditioned “better” and “worse” interpretations of them, texts never have only one meaning. But that is not a reason that any author, or I in particular, should not write.

      4) while I credit the possibility that certain kinds of rumors about his sexuality could be harmful to Armitage’s career, I didn’t start them, and, as far as I remember, I have never raised that issue on this blog, and I am unsure why you raise it as an example of why my publishing my fantasies would be harmful to him. If you’re concerned that such a discussion would be harmful, why do you raise it? You’re willing to place a demand on me to be silent about something that you yourself are not silent about based on an unsubstantiated fear about something that might happen. This issue thus seems to reflect a concern of yours that bears little to no relationship to anything I have actually said. If you’re using it as an example of a potential misinterpretation of what I have said, I am not the misinterpreter, nor do I understand how what I said about my fantasies could have caused you to formulate that particular misinterpretation. It’s a classic example of the principle articulated above.

      5) rest assured I have no plans to discuss gerbils. However, it’s hard for me to see how wildly ridiculous rumors would harm Armitage’s career in the way that more credible ones might. Are studio executives really concerned that women will stay away in droves from Richard Gere’s films because they’re plagued by concern that he has sex with rodents? It seems implausible to me. More important are things like gross sales, ticket numbers, etc.

      6) am I closer to Richard Armitage than I think or than I wish I were? Potentially, and I bet I have better data about the answer to that question than you do. Is there anything I can do about that separation or lack of other than stop writing? No.

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      • Well, just to respond to one point that interests me, I note that when I type “richard gere” into the google search box at the top right of my screen, what actually appears, automatically, is “richard gere gerbil.” Apparently Gere doesn’t read his press (and neither would I, if I’d been accused of gerbil abuse). The gerbil rumor was started in the 1980s, and here we are decades later, yet “gerbil” is STILL the first word associated with him. Not “richard gere movies” or “richard gere pretty woman” or “richard gere buddhist,” but the rumor generated by someone’s fantasy–a malicious fantasy, I’d argue–about Gere supposedly sticking a rodent up the spout.

        Do I think Dr. S is going to write such a malicious fantasy and post it? I’d be astonished if she did. Should people be free to come up with whatever fantasies about real people that they find stimulating and amusing? I suppose so, but honestly, I wonder how Richard Gere feels about the issue? Once a fantasy becomes public property and spreads–is read, is passed around, is sent to friends–it may take on a life of its own and is no longer in the writer’s control. I that the star who is objectified rather than the writer who came up with the fantasy being the authority on that. She’s unlikely to suffer for posting it; but the star might, even if that was the last thing the writer intended. Not everyone is gifted enough to know exactly what effect words that become public will have. How can anyone here possibly guarantee that real life fanfic will NOT have real world consequences for a star. That’s simply a cautionary instance of reality and a hope that those who write and post rl fanfiction on sites with lots of hits
        will proceed with caution and, when it comes to fanfit regarding real people, will err on the side of kindness towards real-life characters they fantasize about.

        shape public opinoi about our fantasies or

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        • I personally think part of the reason several LOTR stars are surrounded by gay rumours that somehow stick to them and get repeated is due to fans’ wishful thinking. LOTR inspired a lot of slash fiction, I think partly because of the lack of female protagonists, partly because of the strong “male bonding” element. Some fans extended that idea to the actors and the line between real person fic that was recognizable as fiction and spreading rumours about the actors got blurred. Now some stuff is out there that can never be taken back.

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          • I don’t have the impression that LOTR actors’ careers are suffering because of rumors about their sexuality. I don’t follow it that closely, though.

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            • Maybe not. But rumours are persistent and some people talk about it as if they were certain. Something that started as fiction has become a fact and the people in question liars because they don’t confess it.

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              • OK, but in order to convince me not to write about something or participate in a discourse, you’d have to prove that harm was being caused. There are rumors about a lot of things. I’m not arguing that no rumors ever cause damage or that certain kinds of rumors cannot be projected to cause damage, and in fact you’ll notice that there’s an issue I don’t raise on this blog, just that in the case you cite I don’t see how the existence of rumors demonstrates harm.

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                • It wasn’t meant as a comment on the things you wrote or intend to write. Just an observation.

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        • I can only state that no writer can possibly be made morally responsible for every conclusion that any reader might draw from what s/he writes. If that were the case no one would ever write anything.

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  22. About celebrities there will always be radical opinions, but I think the key is to be tolerant and be clear about what is real.
    Everyone has the right to have fantasies and at the same time, we have the right to refuse read it if not want to. I don’t think that by writing what you feel you’re hurting anyone, I would do the same if I had the talent to write (and better English :P).
    So you will have a faithful reader, I love the honesty above all 😉

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  23. This discussion has been really thought provoking; I find myself being gently swayed by each opinion, though at my core I feel “your blog, your rules.” I am curious about what making these fantasies available publicly gives you, beyond sharing your creativity–is it seeking validation? Is it seeing how others react in the comments? I don’t say that in judgment, I’m looking forward to reading these, actually; but as an extremely private person myself I wonder what drives that need to share. Perhaps creativity in itself demands to be acknowledged?

    For the record, while I’ve recently enjoyed getting acquainted with fanfic involving all the various RA characters, my personal fantasies are always about my version of the man himself and never his roles. Don’t know what that says about me, but I have fun. 😉

    Bring it!

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    • it may take a little bit, as I’m still nervous about this, but essentially as I figure out my next creative step I need to find some people with whom to consider what these fantasies mean about the issue of creativity specifically. I’m having a hard time understanding them, and the fact that they are sexual fantasies is troubling and confusing. I don’t demand, of course, that everyone understand them the way that I do — “misreadings” are certainly allowed. But I need to work through the meanings of the fantasies and I don’t feel entirely able to do this on my own.

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  24. I hope I am not out of topic here but I really would like to process the idea of objectification of a real person with you.

    Isn’t RA at some level also a character? I do not mean that in any derogatory way whatsoever, so please do not misinterpret me. But as far as I know, we do not know him personally. We only know him as much as his public persona allows us to know him and then we as individuals attribute certan traits or inferences of what that all means to us. And that would be different for each person. So how to differentiate between the person whom we do not know and yet inspires and/or moves us so very different than the role he plays that also inspires and moves us as well?

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    • Yes, absolutely. Or, perhaps more precisely — what he puts out there for us to perceive about him creates the potential for us to constitute him as a character. When Richard Armitage appears as Richard Armitage in public, he is playing the role of Richard Armitage.

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  25. Forgive me for posting again.

    Well, I am a real person. I have also been a dragged in unwillingly as the female lead in explicit sexual fantasies that one man discussed lovingly and repeatedly (on a message machine, before the days of caller ID) and one man wrote in emails and a letter. (After the first one I put him on “spam”, and apparently puzzled as to why I didn’t respond to the emails, he paid an internet site to get background information on me–my home address and some other details. So then he wrote me at home telling me that somehow his emails just weren’t getting through, since I hadn’t responded, so he had to write).

    Granted the stalking I’d been subjected to earlier in my life, this threw me into a series of panic attacks that left me having problems leaving the house or even being in the front rooms of the house when the curtains were open. I’m not normally an alarmist, but his first email and his letter felt so intrusive and my earlier experience had been so difficult and went on for so many years that my panic wasn’t necessarily all that hard for friends to understand. I am sorry to say this about someone who was once a student, but he was rather clueless, frankly, and seemed to imagine that I would enjoy hearing his sexual thoughts about me, and I’d be happy to know that he saw me as a sexually attractive being. I didn’t, and I wrote back ripping his head off and telling him that I’d spammed his email and would send any mail he wrote me to the police on the grounds of stalking. That was effective.

    My contact with both of them was minimal and was not sexually charged, as far as I could ever tell; I was stunned to see how they grabbed me and made me, er, engage in sexual behavior designed to please them.

    They didn’t know me personally, not really. They knew as much about me as you could pick up in 10 weeks of classes or by attending a couple parties I’d been at. Though they didn’t know much about the “real” me, paradoxically, that freed them to dream up very extreme, imaginative fantasies about me.

    If RL fanfic can be guaranteed to do no harm, great. If it can do harm to young readers; anger any readers and leave them wanting to object on moral grounds, grounds of taste, or whatever; if it has the potential to cause the RL character being fantasized about discomfort or panic attacks or humiliation or other negative reactions–well, I’m not the moral judge of what is right and what’s wrong in this world, but I’d urge caution. I only know that being co-opted for others’ fantasies caused me fear, anger, and misery.

    We can’t know if RA learns about RL fictions fans write, and if he does, we don’t know what his response is. Urging caution isn’t meant to censor; it’s meant to encourage thought about real-world consequences. My own rough guide is that if someone wants to construct fantasies in which his own genitalia is described and fiddled with, well, more power to him. But if someone wants to construct fantasies in which my genitalia is supposedlydescribed and supposedly fiddled with, speaking euphemistically . . . no. No, no, no, no, no, no, NO. And somehow they never DO want to write about their own genitals–it’s always the other person’s that are the focus. That crosses a line, for me–and honestly, I think it would cross some kind of line even if I never learned about it, if the fantasy was shared with others. Of course, others’ opinions and comfort zones might be different.

    As Dr. S says, “I needed to write about the fantasies and I thought I could do that unnoticed. I was incredibly naive about the amount of attention thtat had already been paid to him, and I had no idea that people would find me so easily and quickly. I so rapidly had a readership (also b/c of F1) that I didn’t have time to think about the way that having it would affect the writing.” That’s just it; it’s difficult to anticipate the repercussions of what we write when we write RL fiction and include other people.

    But I need to go finish my lecture on “Oedipal Motifs and Anal Intercourse in ‘Charlotte’s Web’ and ‘Swallows and Amazons'”, so for now, all the best to all from Dr. AAA.

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    • I’m sorry that you were treated in this way.

      I don’t think, however, that how you were treated has anything to do with what I write about Richard Armitage. While I have occasionally donated money to his JustGiving page, I don’t call him, I don’t send him copies of what I write, I don’t take up contact with him, I have never written to him, I haven’t asked for an autograph. I have no plans to do any of these things, ever, and this has been a consistent theme of my writing from the very beginning of this blog. You may choose to interpret what I’ve said differently, of course, but such an interpretation would be based on the factors that influence your reading, not on things I have actually done.

      I also don’t accept that we shouldn’t write or publish things because they might make people feel angry. I’m hugely suspicious of the “harm to young readers” issue conceptually, as on the whole I don’t tend to think people are harmed by reading, but I also think it’s practically meaningless as the odds that anyone under the age of consent reads this blog are exceedingly low. If they were, however — and I was certainly reading “things I probably shouldn’t have been reading” as a kid — that is something that only they and their parents can deal with. Honestly, you seem to want to make me responsible for every single choice anyone might potentially make as a consequence of any potential misunderstanding they might take away from my writing — and that’s an unfair burden to place on authors. Since you’re an academic, it seems implausible that you actually would apply any of these arguments in the abstract, so I wonder why you are applying them to me.

      And honestly, if Richard Armitage were to read this blog or any other fanfic of any kind about him, what would he learn? That people of both genders have constructed extremely diverse sexual fantasies about him. That is not going to be news to him at this point, if it ever was; if he reads his fan mail, which he appears to do, and has been reported in the media, it’s been clear to him (and to his mother, when she was helping him respond to it) for almost a decade.

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  26. I probably will only stir the pot with this comment and that isn’t my intention, but I wanted to comment on something a previous commenter said. The comment was something to the effect of ‘nothing we bloggers/fans say/write affects Richard’s career or day to day life’ (sorry that’s a paraphrase, it’s late and I’m having trouble finding it). This is untrue. We’ve seen that what fans say/write/do does have an effect on Richard. We see it in nearly every interview where he’s been asked about his ‘Army’. He’s been teased about his fans and what they’ve done or written on the internet, sometimes quite mercilessly. And bless him he’s tried to pass it off as no big thing. Even last year he was reciting the old line about North & South being a favorite book and that’s why his fans love him so much. But we know better, and so does he. I can understand why he would avoid reading anything about himself, most actors do, but it doesn’t mean that what is said or written by fans doesn’t get back to him.

    As a fellow writer I would never suggest to anyone that they not write what they feel like writing. I would just remind every writer that their words may have consequences. I always tell my best friend’s kids, ‘Don’t write or say something in a public forum like the internet that you wouldn’t want your mom to read. And don’t write/say something that would keep you from getting elected for President if you were found out.’ 🙂 Basically, just be aware of possible consequences of what you write. And I’m saying this not to Serv but to all of Richard’s fans. What we write about him could affect him, it probably won’t, it’s highly unlikely, but it could. Just keep that in mind.

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    • You know, I guess I always just assumed in those interviews that he was referring to the three major fan websites that keep up with his career and also to fans who have DIRECTLY reached out to him via letters / gifts sent to his agent. I’m sure he understands there is a technically savvy broader community that includes bloggers, tweeters, tumblrs, etc – but to my knowledge he has chosen to stay away from all of these forms of instant gratification communication portals. I think he’s flattered, but in no way invested in delving more deeply into what his fans are up to other than ensuring that he continues to produce more work for them to consume.

      I mean, I could be wrong – but I’m probably in a minority who enjoys each blogger for what she produces and I feel MUCH more voyeuristic towards the life of each blogger than anything that may be said of the object of her inspiration. 😉

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      • He’s said that he’s not reading about himself in the Internet anymore — he said that sometime in the spring of 2010, I believe — and I think that that has generally been borne out.

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    • I definetely agree with that. What WE write about him, visible for everyone on the net forever, helps to create his public image, whether he and his PR like it or not. People look him up, google different aspects, and what has been written about him, sticks, somewhere into someone’s mind. Our activities, especially on sites that are not “members only” like many message boards, are part of how he is perceived. We are not talking just among ourselves, we are talking to the world.

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      • This is a very interesting point. I know I often forget when I comment that I am not just talking within a small group. It’s easy to fall into that trap, given that a blog such as this or angie’s feels intimate, because the same core group of people contributes. We are, as you say Jane, talking to the world, and I think you are right in that what we say helps to create his public image.

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        • Once I entered RA’s name as a search on the web and one of my comments from this blog popped up as a result. I’m not that savvy about the internet and had no idea that could happen. That’s when the reality hit me that what we put on the internet is there for the world to see and we can never take it back. I knew that all along, but when I saw my comment is when I realized the implications.

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          • My experience has been that when I’ve searched for specific things about Richard, (or anyone really), I get sent to someone’s blog and not to his imdb or some official news site. If you type ‘girlfriend’ with his name, the top couple of search results are fan blogs where we’ve discussed the subject.

            We’re seeing more and more instances of news sites getting their information about celebrities from bloggers. I know that recently Huffington Post got in trouble for running a gossipy story about a celeb that came from a blog site, (not sure which one, I’m guessing Perez’s). In fact, I think most of the major news organizations have been caught in the last couple of years grabbing a story off the net before confirming the details. Reporters spend a lot of time Googling these days, and when they start Googling about Richard in the fall before The Hobbit opens, they are sure to find things all of us have written and take notes on anything they think will make their interviews stand out and be unique, or juicy, or attract more attention.

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            • Yes. And they also will find all the thing that fans have discussed and collected about his private life and the people he has been seen with. If they ever want to write about that, it will spare them a lot of work. IMDb of course is a major source of gossip about celebs, posts don’t come up via google but I guess they don’t have to, IMDb is the first place to look anyway. But a lot of gossip these days generates from blogs and message boards, not necessarily from tabloids. I guess it is even less reliable but it is there and makes an impact nonetheless.

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      • I don’t think that anything that’s ever been discussed on this blog — I know that’s a big statement, but I stand behind it — is something that would contribute negatively to his public image. If *anything*, it’s flattering to him that I, and the now almost five dozen other bloggers about Armitage, are so focused on writing about him. More importantly, however, I don’t think the fact that it potentially could contribute negatively to his public image is a reason not to write about him. It is not possible for me, nor is it desirable for him, for me to abstract Richard Armitage somehow from all the rules that make up the human condition.

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      • Honestly. It is simply too much responsibility to place on me or any other fan that we should constantly think about how anything we might say could possibly be perceived by anyone else under all possible circumstances. If that’s the rule, we might as well all go home.

        Seriously: let’s have our own consciences, let’s read or don’t read what follows our preferences and our ethics. And let’s strongly consider not creating bogeymen to torture ourselves and our friends with.

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    • This idea that what we do affects him on a day to day basis at this late date is a kind of magical thinking that I really wish people would let go of, mostly because it becomes the source of tedious fan on fan policing that makes this less than fun. Let’s just admit that some of us have that fantasy but that’s what it is. We’re obsessed with him so we assume everyone is, but that’s just not correct.

      That Richard Armitage has fans certainly affects him, and he still gets asked about it, and I am sure he thinks about it, and I would agree that what he says indicates that the experience of having fans is not an entirely comfortable one for him at all times, which is hardly surprising. I am also convinced that PR people and maybe friends or family read what bloggers and others say about him and pass parts of it on to him. I am sure he gets teased about his fans by castmates. But does Richard Armitage read this blog every night and say, “Oh my G-d, that woman, I am so disgusted by her?” or “Oh, I just want to find Servetus and marry her?” Does he make relationship choices on the basis of what we say? Is he reading our fanfic in order to pick up sexual techniques? Nope. He has a life and a very demanding task at the moment and it’s just not realistic to think that he comes home from fighting an animated dragon every day and sits down to read and brood over all of what everyone has said about him that particular day. I’m specialized in reading about him and I don’t have time to do that, and my job is probably less demanding than his.

      Even if we assumed that he or the people around him were hugely preoccupied with reading about him in the Internet and using what they read to tease him, the statistics from the analytics just don’t bear it out. Maybe everyone in New Zealand has a proxy server in place to hide their surfing, but since wordpress.com has made country based analytics available, I’m averaging a total of eight hits *per week* from New Zealand. That’s a statistic that points to one or perhaps two regular readers at the very most — and it’s more likely that those people come as a result of random searches. I can’t exclude that people are randomizing their surfing, or that there are other problems with the statistics I have, or that all those hits come from the production office of The Hobbit, but there is zero evidence that anyone in New Zealand, let alone Richard Armitage and/or the cast of TH, is obsessively reading this blog looking for things to hassle him about.

      I actually don’t accept either of the rules you posit as generally applicable for all internet discourse, but that’s just me.

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  27. Dr. S, did I suggest YOU were a stalker? Did I suggest you write to RA incessantly and you somehow make his life hell? Did I indicate that RA daily put his head in his hands and thought “Oh, god, what’s that doctor said about me today? She’s persecuting me!” No, I didn’t.

    I would also prefer not to be insulted because I’m an academic. I am one, but it’s pretty irrelevant here or in my life as an RA fan, frankly. Let’s try not to comment on aspects of each other’s posts that seem like shoddy reasoning or examples of logical fallacies, and so on. That kind of sniping isn’t necessary and demeans us.

    Your blog is one part of a very large internet swarm of RA-related sites. But I don’t would see it as comparable to my stalking. I think most people would think that writing about him here in a public blog that gets lots of hits is entirely unlike my very private experience of receiving unpleasant mail or phone messages. If they’d somehow gone public, it would have been because I revealed them. The men who explained their fantasies about me to me didn’t post them online on a blog that’s seen by a lot of people who are attracted to me or interested in me (and thank goodness for that). They had an effect on me and my family and ultimately on their authors. That’s all.

    Is RA affected by what we fans write? Less and less, I suspect, but yes, he has been. (What I’m going to mention may be ancient RA history that you might not have been around to experience, so I’m not going to fault you for making the understandable assumption that he has had no feelings about things fans have said.)

    After he got mail from fans outraged by a sadistic Guy/Marian fic, he spoke out, as I’ve mentioned. When he was quoted extensively in the Daily Mail by a reporter who is given to journalistic entrapment, a firestorm ignited online because he’d talked about losing his virginity and some of what he said reflected poorly on him, some fans felt. It was too much information, certainly, and rather mortifying for the unnamed girl (and the article suggested that it would be possible for classmates to identify who she was). No doubt these were meant to be off-the-record comments to a journalist he thought was a nice person, as he later told fans.

    Did this affect him? Well, longtime fans might say it did. If you go to Annette’s site the message he released to a couple of fan boards the next day may still be there, and the poor man seemed utterly mortified and regretful. And fan reactions to that article did, I suspect, affect him in that he’s much, much more cautious with journalists than he was early on and no longer reads his own press. Too much heartache, perhaps. Those are two of the times when he’s clearly been affected by items that appeared about him, but there are others. I suspect things on the internet don’t elicit anything like that kind of reaction from him now.

    So yes, longtime fans might say that he HAS been affected by fans. I hope he’s better insulated from us now.

    I don’t think your blog is anywhere near as public as the Daily Mail, which is perhaps the most popular newspaper in the UK and attracts people who want gossip about all sort of celebrities, not just RA. I don’t think your fantasies would cause the kind of implosion he suffered, even if he happens to learn of them, because unlike the Mail article they aren’t going to reflect anything about his actual behavior, thoughts, and feelings. He still communicates with at least one fan board that has prohibitions again RL fanfic, sending Christmas messages, for instance. (He seems to think the board or boards are worth keeping in touch with.)

    I tend to agree with what Jane, Sloan, Mezz and Mrs. E. B. Darcy have said above, so I won’t repeat their arguments. Let me say very overtly, though, that no, I don’t think your fantasies about Richard Armitage are going to sink his ship in some way. We don’t even know that he’s aware of your blog’s existence. So I don’t want to overstate the effects it might have on him. I don’t want to say it’s a “drop in the ocean” in what it contributes to the RA internet world–I think it’s more prominent than that; but it’s part of the ocean, and it would be difficult to prove that it has absolutely no effect on what others think of him, how other RA bloggers and fans respond to your blog, on how he’s perceived, or–as a result of all those things–on him. We write things that appear on the internet and they’re available to almost anyone. We don’t know what effects what we say will have, and we can’t necessarily control those effects.

    I don’t think I’ve ever claimed that your individual blog has given him a moment’s grief; on the other hand, there’s no way to prove that it or its repercussions have absolutely never had any effect on him whatsoever. That just isn’t possible for me to prove or you to disprove, no matter what our opinions might be on the topic.

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    • As (a) I’m not an idiot, and I do in fact read everything on the web that’s publicly accessible, and reference Mr. Armitage’s messages in several posts on this blog, I am in fact aware of the history of his messages to fans and even if I weren’t, (b) how could I avoid knowing this story since you have now related it here several times to demonstrate several different points, all of which amount to your contention, sometimes veiled, sometimes open, that I am up to no good? Actually, your version of the story is not the only one I’ve heard. I find this discursive strategy where you “teach” me things I already know really tiring to read and to have to respond to. I don’t usually cut off discussion but in this case in the interest of preserving my sanity I’m going to.

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  28. I think we’ve covered all the ground there is to cover on this topic, and the fact of repetitive arguments is starting to create in me precisely the kind of fatigue I was hoping to avoid.

    I hope that my attempt to give people a clue of what was going to happen has been helpful to all concerned.

    Comments on this thread are now closed.

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  29. […] has been much debate over on Servetus‘ and Frenz’s blogs about discussing sexual fantasies and Richard Armitage.  Discussion […]

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  30. […] percent of the problem I created had to do with the fact that I cut off discussion on this post, which caused it to go elsewhere and take on unnecessary dimensions. I bear the responsibility for […]

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  31. […] / warnings here. Fantasy includes: heterosexual sex; I put words in fantasy Richard Armitage’s […]

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  32. […] / warnings here. Fantasy includes: heterosexual sex; I put words in fantasy Richard Armitage’s […]

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  33. […] the metaphorical meaning of sex fantasy for me. Earlier, I'd just have pushed this out there, but now that I'm aware of how incredibly uncomfortable this sort of thing makes some people feel, I'm a bit tense. So be aware. If you don't want to read my musings on what role sex fantasy might […]

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  34. […] “On fantasizing about sexual encounters with Richard Armitage,” April 3, 2012. As much storm and hurt feelings as this caused, I’m glad I finally made this decision. I […]

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  35. […] landmark event of this phase was my decision to start publishing my RPF sexual fantasies about Armitage as my own statements on this … (and then the fallout from that decision over the course of the year). In retrospect, it seems […]

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  36. […] I write Armitage-related RPF or slash or mention that I enjoy them or publish my sexual fantasies? That was a big one we fought out right here in the spring of 2012. Last spring there was a sustained episode of wikipedia entry sabotage, a battle inter alia and […]

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