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The Healthy Ways of Shipping

Hello everyone, CuriousCat-13 here to welcome you to what I like to call “The Shipping Corner.” If you’re part of any fandom, you most likely have come across something called a ship, and I’m not talking about the type of vessel that would be used to travel across bodies of water. If you’re not familiar with the term, I’ll give you a quick nutshell explanation. Shipping is basically where you like the idea of two characters being in some type of relationship, the vast majority of the time it’s the idea of them being in a romantic relationship, which leads to some kind of clever name of the ship or pairing.

Some ships can be taken as a small sip of water, however…there are times where a large group ends up chugging an Olympic swimming pool amount of that water, which can lead to another term: Shipping Wars, and this is where things can get very toxic within any fandom. That is where this article comes in play, for me to give a few words of wisdom on how to ship in a healthier manner; not just as a shipper, but someone who is part of a number of fandoms that have become toxic due to shipping. This isn’t me telling you how to ship and who you can and can’t ship, I’m just giving words of advice to help you with shipping and show a more positive side of shippers (for those that don’t ship).

One of the first steps of healthy shipping is asking yourself why you ship these two characters. What made you start shipping them and what kind of future do you picture them having? Is it the way they interact with each other, their chemistry? Or is it because everyone else ships them and because of that pressure you feel like it’s mandatory to skydive onto the shipping bandwagon to be a “true member” of the fandom.

Let me tell you this, just because a bunch of other people ship a certain pair, it doesn’t mean that you have to. Ship whomever you want to, but a the same time, find the reason why. I’ll use one of the most shipped ships out there as an example: Destiel, which is Castiel and Dean from the show (that is sadly on its last season) Supernatural. When I first shipped them, it was mainly because a huge part of the fandom shipped them. Now? I ship them because of how they interact with each other (chemistry), how they look at each other when the other isn’t looking at them, how they react when something bad happens to them (life is at stake or one of them isn’t acting the way they usually do), the sacrifices they made for each other; these are big examples of why I ship them and what I look for when I ship other characters. So try to observe and find various reasons to ship your ship, use what makes a relationship healthy to strengthen your reasoning.

The next big step when it comes to being a healthy shipper is being respectful of what everyone’s ships are. Everyone ships in a different way and has their own tastes, so just be respectful of their opinions; in other words, avoid starting or getting involved with Shipping Wars. Shipping Wars are one of the main causes of gigantic divisions between fans and can lead to extremely devastating outcomes (cyberbullying is a big one); this where numerous fans argue over which ship is better than another, particularly who a certain character is best paired up with.

For those that are in the RWBY community, you know full well about this mess that is going on within the community, especially when I mention these two ships: BlackSun/Eclipse and Bumbleby (pronounced bumblebee). For some reason, when it comes to the shippers in the (or even a non-shipper) RWBY fandom you have to either be a BlackSun shipper or a Bumbleby shipper, liking both seems to be an impossibility; don’t get me wrong there are people who ship either and are respectable with choosing an alternative, but this Shipping War is one of the big reasons why people drop the series. So to summarize this paragraph…just be a decent human being and respect what other people ship and/or don’t ship; you don’t have to agree with each other on who you ship, but just try to respect everyone’s opinion.

Before I wrap this article up with a neat, pink, little bow on top, I’m going to share my final “two cents.” Not everyone is a shipper, I know it may be hard for some to believe this (and I sincerely apologize for the tone you might be reading this part in), but there are members of fandoms that don’t take part in shipping. If you mention any ships that you enjoy to someone and it turns out they don’t do that, please acknowledge their opinion in a mature way and respect it.

I know that I’ve been trying to type this in a more calm, collected manner, but given the severity of this topic, I have to use a more serious tone. Respecting one’s opinion on shipping and the various ships is one of the most important things when it comes to creating a healthy, positive vibe in all fandoms. This also includes the creators of the series and the actors and actresses that play the characters, since maybe a small fraction take part in any shipping, so if you’re at a convention where you get to meet the people that bring your favorites to life….please don’t force your ship or what you think should be down their throats.

I’ve seen too many videos from Supernatural conventions where a number of actors (and actresses) get thoroughly annoyed when fans (that took their shipping of Destiel too far) pester them non-stop about it, thus creating a small rift between them and the fans, not to mention that it can affect how they interact with the friends that they work with in public (i.e. Jensen and Misha).

Another thing to remember is that every member of a fandom, including the shippers, are, in their own way, representing their community. Each and every one of you might be inviting new members to the community, so it’s important to let them take things at their own pace and make their own decisions. You can bring up some of the ships that you enjoy and/or even what is out there, but try to leave it at that in case they are part of the “Not a Shipper” group; remember the important thing to do is respect their choices on whether or not they ship and who they ship (even if you don’t agree with them). 

Now that we’ve gone through all the major points in quite an amount of detail and made it to the end, let’s do a quick recap on how to ship in a healthy way.

  1. Ask yourself: Why do I ship them? What is it about them that gives off a good couple vibe?
  2. Respect the ships of others. Everyone has their own preferences and that’s okay. Even if you don’t agree with their ship or care for that ship, respect their opinion.
  3. Not everyone ships, so don’t force your passion and ideas on them. This also goes for the people that create the series and the actors and actresses that bring the characters to life. 

If you follow these steps bit by bit, it not only can help you find a new, healthier way to enjoy shipping, but it will also help improve the interactions between members of the fandom(s); so practice these three steps and ship on!

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