Why I won’t read Jessica Jones/Kilgrave fan fiction (but I’m okay if you do)

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You can find anything on the internet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to read it.

I get pulled pretty easily into a fandom. I binge-watched Jessica Jones on Netflix a few days after it was released and immediately started telling everyone I knew that they needed to watch it. It’s an amazing portrayal of the harassment and violence many women have to endure as well, not to mention it being a kick-ass Marvel superhero show. Usually I’ll start looking up fanfic if I fall for something that hard, but this time I was hesitant. Besides (well-deserved) odes to Luke Cage’s body and love of dogs, I knew I was bound to find Jessica/Kilgrave fanfic. And I really don’t want to see that.

I find the idea of shipping a character with her abuser extremely uncomfortable, especially in the case of a show that explicitly calls him out as an abuser and a rapist. As Krutika from Buzzfeed Geeky said, “literally the only person who ships Jess/Kilgrave is Kilgrave. If you ship Jess/Kilgrave, then you must be Kilgrave.” Considering there’s already 35 Jessica/Kilgrave fics on the Archive of Our Own (AO3) and several Tumblrs dedicated to the pairing, there are definitely folks out there shipping them. But I worry that the mentality of those shippers is similar to the twisted mentality of Kilgrave: “He really loves her, so it’s all okay! It’s not rape!” I worry that Jessica/Kilgrave fic will just be rape apologism. We can’t ignore that media contributes to rape culture, and in similar fashion, fanfic can, too.

The type of abuse Jessica endures from Kilgrave is all too common and relatable; I don’t particularly want to see more of it in my fanfic.

I also tend to seek out fanfic as a way to explore relationships and ideas I don’t get to see much in mainstream media, like gay relationships between main characters, major character deaths and wild alternate universes with mermen. The type of abuse Jessica endures from Kilgrave is all too common and relatable; I don’t particularly want to see more of it in my fanfic.

But there are many reasons why people read and write fanfic. For some, fanfic is a way to explore power fantasies, or work through abuse and trauma.

“I’ve been in an abusive relationship for three years, I know what it’s like and I could really relate to Jessica,” says one anonymous commenter on a Jessica x Kilgrave Tumblr. “The thing is: this ship lets me live out dark fantasies that I wouldn’t wanna follow through IRL.” Fanfic is a safe space and many fandom archives like AO3 make it easy to find fic with noncon (non-consensual sex), dubcon (sex with dubious consent), or any kink you can think of—all without judgement. There’s no place for kink shaming in fanfic.

Librarians talk about the five laws of library science, proposed by S.R. Ranganathan back in the 1930s. One of those laws is particularly relevant here: every reader his or her book. The idea is that we need to have books in the library for every person’s particular need, without shame or judgement. The same is true when it comes to fanfic. I don’t want to read Jessica Jones/Kilgrave fanfic, but maybe you do. And that’s okay.

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