I've been thinking about the wildly different and sometimes contradictory things that I mean in different contexts by "I ship X/Y" (Or X/Y/Z/W...), and how this can cause miscommunication when people fail to be psychic and realise which meaning I'm using. I think this is a cause of a lot of fannish miscommunication, but would be curious to hear other people's thoughts.
So, when I say "I ship it", I usually mean one or more of the following:
- I hope they get together in canon
- I think they are, or will be, together in canon
- I have trouble imagining them with anyone else, and want to see their relationship explored
- I have trouble enjoying fanworks where they are not together
- I think their relationship would be happy and healthy
- I enjoy imagining them together
- I like their shippy dynamic
- I enjoy fanworks about their relationship
- I am able to enjoy fanworks about their relationship
But I don't always think all
of these things. For example, with a lot of canon relationships (or even ships with lots of UST) even if I don't think they're perfect for each other I have trouble imagining them with anyone else. Fanworks have to have them together or at least take their relationship seriously and then break it up, otherwise I lose my suspension of disbelief. Thus a believable "happy ending" is more likely to involve making a flawed relationship work than setting the characters up with other people who suit them better, though I may also "ship" these alternate pairings in that I enjoy those fanworks that manage not
to set off my suspension of disbelief. Unfortunately I also get jarred by happy endings that simply gloss over the flaws in a relationship, so am generally doomed to writing my own fic and feeling hard done by.
I also ship a lot of relationships because I enjoy the dynamic, not because I necessarily think they should or will actually get together. (see for example my deep love of hateshipping
Both of these mean that I look at essays explaining why a rival ship is "better" because the characters would be happier, or people saying "I can't believe anyone ships X/Y, they'd be so miserable" and go "Sure, maybe, but how is that relevant?". Then again I don't see the point in "X/Y is better than A/B" shipping arguments in general, you can argue about specific character interpretations being contrary to canon, and try and explain why certain dynamics appeal to you, but I think it's all largely a matter of taste.
EDIT: Since I'm not sure it's clear: I am an inveterate multishipper. Even for canon ships which I really enjoy and have huge trouble imagining not together, I can enjoy works which have them with other people, the creator just has to try harder to convince me. And for many of my favourite ships, there is no canon romance, and as long as the canon friendship is acknowledged I can happily ship all sorts of combinations, eg for Homestuck I am a fan of pretty much any combination of Dave, Rose, Terezi and Aradia into romances and/or friendships(*), and they all have vague but not overwhelming canon support.
So! What do you
mean by "I ship it"?
(*)This being Homestuck, there's the question of what kind
of romance I'm talking about, but let's not overcomplicate things here :D