By Priscilla Rose
To Preface: I identify as a “Reylo” but I am not an intense shipper, nor do I fit all the “typical” Reylo criteria (for example: I enjoyed The Last Jedi, but it is definitely towards the middle/bottom of my list of Star Wars films) and I feel as though I can give an impartial take on this situation.
My intentions are to find a middle ground and to hopefully promote bridging the gap. Please remember, though, that I, too, am just a human discussing very human things. Take this with a grain of salt.
For the sake of this article, when I am referring to antis, I mean anti-Reylo (both people who attack and people who don’t but strongly dislike Reylo). Reylos will be referred to as such, and neutral parties will be referred to as “non-Reylos.”
For the last 5 years, there has been major discourse within the Star Wars fandom in regards to the popular ship “Reylo” (Rey x Kylo or Rey x Ben Solo). Ever since the release of The Rise of Skywalker, this discourse has increased greatly. I think it has to do with the fact that:
1. Star Wars has never been so unclear on a ship prior. Yes, Ben and Rey kissed… but there is no official documentation listing them as romantic partners, and they didn’t run off into the sunset together or have babies. Some media can be interpreted that they were in love, and in my opinion, it seems so, but unlike Anidala and HanLeia… this ship is unfortunately not definitively certain. So much being left to interpretation has left the fandom up in arms about what is “right” and “wrong.”
2. Ben Solo died. I don’t feel the need to clarify why this caused controversy; if you have been a part of the fandom (whether you agree or disagree), it is a controversial subject.
3. Ben and Rey were enemies. Although enemies to lovers is a common trope within fiction, it was not previously common within Star Wars. I think this trope as a concept is controversial, so of course, the creation of an ETL ship within the Star Wars Galaxy was going to strike some heavy opinions in either direction.
As someone with a decent-sized following on Star Wars internet (mostly Twitter, but also Facebook), I decided to poll my friends and followers to give me their submissions of their opinions on the Reylos vs. antis internet “war.” Here are their stories:
One user said she felt antis go “WELL out of their way to find us and our content and throw around their harassment. I’ve had my artwork QT’d by antis many times with stuff like “ew get this sh*t away from me.”
She expressed that she has a “don’t like it, ignore it” mindset and that she wished fans who didn’t like Reylo would simply leave her alone.
On the other hand, a person who identifies as a “Kylux” (Kylo x Hux) shipper stated, “From my own experience, from the POV of a queer shipper, Reylos as a fandom was impulsive white cisheteronormativity being pushed to the forefront.”
They felt as though Reylos often belittled queer ships (like Kylux) and interracial ships (like FinnRey) as a way to send the message that Reylo was “canon” and everything else was not. They also felt like the word “anti” was used too loosely. To them, an anti is someone who attacks others, not just someone who posts on their own page about disliking Reylo as a ship.
One guy stated he just wishes it was as simple as “respect one another.”
On a personal note, I have been attacked for being a Reylo. I actually had someone tell me they hoped I died over it (which is such an absurd thing when you really think about it). I have also seen some of my friends and mutuals be told they are homophobic, racist, and abuse apologists just for shipping reylo. Many of these people are queer, WOC, and victims of abuse.
On the opposite side, I have also seen Reylos emulate this same behavior towards innocent users. My friend jokingly commented on MY post, calling Kylo a “psychopath,” and a Reylo got upset with him over it. I have also seen Reylos call anyone who doesn’t ship Reylo “misogynists.” I have even blocked Reylos over racist commentary in the past.
I have been told my non-Reylo friends are “antis” and I have been told by antis/non-Reylos that I am “one of the good ones.”
There are most definitely problems on both sides of the spectrum.
A popular Reylo stated: “The way to bridge the gap between Reylos and antis is for antis to stop spending their energy on made-up things they hate and bullying the people who enjoy them and instead spend time on the things that bring them joy. I understand a lot of them ship FinnRey or Kylux, or whatever else. And that’s great! You can have fun with those ships; we don’t need to bother each other. There doesn’t need to be shipping wars. You like your thing over there, we’ll like our thing over here. Tbh, some of us multiship and would be happy to play in your corner sometimes, it’s just that by default, we’re bullied out of every space that is not explicitly our own, so we tend to stay separate for our safety. And to clarify, there is a difference between “antis” and “non-Reylos”. Antis are mean about it; non-reylos are cool with letting people love what they love.”
He expressed he felt Reylos have been gate-kept out of the Star Wars fandom, and that they feel as though they have to be defensive because of the un-welcome-ness they had been given since the beginning.
A popular podcaster also stated: “They say that LFL hates women because they don’t have much Ben Solo merch, or there isn’t enough Reylo in canon. It feels like they forget that there are other women in the fandom. Even fellow Reylos who love more things from Star Wars.” She identifies as a non-Reylo and expressed that Reylos have treated her poorly based on her feelings of Rey / TROS / Reylo, just because she disagrees with them.
So what is my goal in sharing these messages? It’s honestly hope. I want anyone reading this to hear someone else’s perspective other than your own and to grow from it. I want you to feel hopeful about the future of the Star Wars fandom. And Reylo or not, I want you to have a community you feel welcome in. So what is the plan?
Here’s my how to guide on making Star Wars Twitter a fun place for everyone:
If you attack people: AKA if you search for accounts that disagree with you and say hateful, racist, homophobic, or just overall drama-stirring problematic statements when you could just ignore or be kind… you suck. Regardless of if you identify as an anti or a Reylo, you choosing hatred over kindness makes you unwelcome here in my book. You probably aren’t reading this, and if you are you will most likely just leave me hateful comments but just know that you can choose joy!
If you are a Reylo:
1.I want you to know that you deserve to feel welcome within the Star Wars community. You deserve love and you deserve to enjoy your ship as you please.
2. If someone posts on their own account about disliking your ship, just ignore it! Please. It is their account and they should be able to post as they please. If you don’t want to see those kinds of posts, mute or block them.
3. If someone comments something (non-vulgar) anti-Reylo on your post about Reylo, try to hit them with kindness! They were either joking or intentionally trying to upset you. If you don’t have the capacity to spread kindness, PRESS THAT BLOCK BUTTON BABY! It is there for a reason. Especially for nasty vulgar commentary! You don’t need that in your life.
4. If someone is posting about Kylux, FinnRey, or any other ship that disagrees with yours… please do not make them feel like some fans have made you. Show them love or look away.
If you are anti-Reylo:
- I want you to know that you deserve to feel welcome within the Star Wars community. You deserve love and you deserve to ship or not-to-ship as you please.
- If someone posts on their own account about liking a ship that you don’t, just ignore it! Please. It is their account and they should be able to post as they please. If you don’t want to see those kind of posts, mute or block them.
- If someone comments something (non-vulgar) pro-Reylo on your post about disliking Reylo, try to have a civil and polite discussion with them! If you don’t have the capacity to spread kindness, JUST BLOCK OR IGNORE THEM! The block and mute buttons are there for a reason.
- If someone is posting about Reylo (or any ship that you disagree with), please do not make rude or negative commentary towards them. They should feel safe within the Star Wars community, they are just as big of fans as you are!
If you are a non-Reylo:
- I love you, I love you, I love you, and I love you!
- Thank you for the fact that even though you do not ship the same ships as me, you have chosen the path of kindness and understanding. I hope you will continue to behave as such.
To summarize: don’t be a jerk! I understand that Twitter is a public forum and that we technically have the freedom to be as kind or mean as we want but… why not choose kindness? If you see a post that disagrees with you ignore it, block them, or even say “hey I disagree but… respect” or “I know I’m not a Reylo/Kylux/FinnRey/etc. but… this art is beautiful!!”
We are all humans. We are all tired of COVID, we are all tired of politics, and we are all tired of 2020. Wouldn’t it be nice for Star Wars to be our escape without having to argue over fictional space wizards and whether or not it matters if they are in love?
Choose. Kindness. Always.