“Good lord, it's like Mary Bennet from Pride & Prejudice came to life and joined fandom.”
— July 12, 2014
Florence A. Watson and Greer Watson are sisters who have been in fandom for decades. They are best known on meme for their involvement in “Gay Bashing Dragon Fic Wank” during Yuletide 2011, which you can read about on our “Yuletide” page. For ten years, until it went on hiatus in January 2015, they were also heavily involved with the Mary Renault Fics (MRF) community on LiveJournal, a/k/a “Mary's Handmaidens” (no, seriously). It should be noted, however, that “The Watsons weren't mods there, they were just part of the 'approved' inner circle that passed muster with the mods, and white-knighted for some of the comm's policies when they were criticized.”
One of the earliest discussions of the Watsons and their comm that can be found on Dememe started in a February 2013 thread titled “Love the canon, hate/fear the fandom.” One nonny: “Yep, the unwelcoming closed-off elitist book fandom par excellence.” Another summarized MRF thus: “They're anti graphic sex and violence because apparently it pollutes the sanctity of the original works and makes you into a certain type of person. The whole fandom is just really odd and unwelcoming especially if you don't like the right people.”
That nonny linked to this 2009 post on MRF by my_cnnr, which provides an overview of the mods’ exacting requirements for membership and standards for community participation. Notably, my_cnnr expressed the wish that Renault’s characters “not fall prey to manipulation by those with less commitment to Renault’s ideals than to their own gratification.”
In December 2013, there was a yuletide_coal thread about FAWatson leaving a passive-aggressively critical comment on someone else’s The Charioteer gift fic.
On Jan. 30, 2014, BNF Naraht posted on her Dreamwidth about MRF. She’d been a member for three and a half years, and she was getting fed up with “the moderation of the community, which I personally find micro-managing and controlling to the point of inducing claustrophobia.” Her post garnered 231 comments, many of them from the Watsons. The discussion therein was a marvel of passive-aggressive über-civility.
Nonnies dissected that thread at length, starting on LJ Post #289. The discussion continued into Post #290, the OP mentioning FAWatson joining the conversation with ”a condescending spiel that literally boils down to the most concentrated Cult of Nice plea I've ever seen.”
FFA discussion continued into LJ Post #291. OP noted that most of the new wank was in response to FA’s long comment.“And the ‘in group’ is having crisis discussions in their batcave.” (The “in-group” thing was mentioned by Greer and mocked by a nonny.) Meme also discussed the oddness of whump hate in a canon featuring military combat, slavery, and “the ultimate woobie” (Bagoas), as well as the movie Alexander being 10 years old and therefore unlikely to draw “the hypothetical hordes of movie-only Bagoas torture porn-writing fangirls.”
Toward the end of February, the RenaultX comm on Dreamwidth got off the ground. As illustrated in this post nearly a year later and later linked in the community profile, co-mods Naraht and Makioka welcome any fanwork related to Renault and her novels. “When in doubt… honestly, go ahead and post.”
In July 2014, Naraht posted in her DW about internalized homophobia in The Charioteer, as well as about Renault’s internalized misogyny. This prompted FAWatson to boast in comments:
I have had quite a lot of people remark on how I seem ‘sexless’ in my work (about half of the commenters say this) or ‘like a man’ (and the other half say this). By this they mean I do not act as they would expect a woman to act and that I clearly show NO interest in sexuality or gender difference in all those subtle and unconscious ways most females do in the workplace.
Meme discussion. One nonny noticed, “She even calls women ‘females’ like any other neckbeard!”
There was a brief review of the Watsons’ greatest hits in October 2014. The topic of Renault fandom next came up on Jan. 4, 2015, when a nonny announced, “MRF is dead,” and pointed to this post there announcing the comm’s closure. my_cnnr wrote, in part,
The end for us was precipitated early last year (TR tells me, with her usual grace, that pointing out the day, the time and the individuals involved would be petty and pointless, so enough said.) And though we've discussed (endlessly) a dozen different scenarios for going forward, the truth is that events then shook, irrevocably, the foundation of our trust.
Quoth nonny, “I love the way that post almost perfectly demonstrates how fucked up the comm was. The snidey digs at those people they aren't going to name, but who totally made them shut down the comm and the crap about broken trust and building a community, when actually they made their place inhospitable to lots of folks and were practically a ‘how-to’ guide for how not to run a welcoming and open comm.”
A little over a week later, nonnies were snarking Greer Watson, who’d set up maryrenaultfics2 on DW. Apparently she swiped the banner for her new com from MRF — much to the displeasure of MRF mods my_cnnr and trueriver.
Three days later, a nonny linked to the Fanlore page for “maryrenaultfics Banners.” At the time of the FFA thread, the top of of the Fanlore page said, “These banners are created by my_cnnr, one of the moderators of the community, who would prefer that copies of the images not appear here.” Someone, presumably my_cnnr, removed the art without explanation, but later they were restored, and Greer commented that my_cnnr had been OK with the banners being posted to Fanlore back in 2010. Meanwhile, on MRF2, Greer put up a post crediting my_cnnr with the banner creation — and totally ignoring my_cnnr complaining several times in comments about the banner being used there at all.
On Mar. 10, 2015, Naraht posted about Bad Bang. Greer felt the need to come into the thread and muse about how much FFA dislikes her, considering her and FA to be “assholes” (which the nonny bringing this discussion to meme concurred with). Another nonny pointed out, “Notice how no one [on Naraht’s thread] said, no Greer, you and your sister aren't assholes.”