Log in

No account? Create an account

Where I Was | Where I Went

What is it like to be straight in fandom?

Folks, I have a question.

See, we all hang out every day (or nearly every day) in fandom, and if you're like me, you hang out in slash fandom. Yet a majority of slash fandom would label themselves as straight. What is it like to be writing or reading slash in fandom, any fandom, when you're straight? Was there a first time when you encountered slash and thought it weird, or did you not blink at all? Do you feel slash and gay are synonymous terms, or are they two separate things? Does it, especially when you're a writer, make you nervous to know that gay people might be reading and judging your work?

In the interest of full disclosure: I'm on record as saying that slash is a culture that plays in another culture's sandbox, and should be respectful of that. I'm also someone who came to slash through the internet, who slowly eeked up in rating and thought the porn icky at first. (No, really. I was... fifteen, I think.) I want to welcome discussion with this, but I also have an ulterior motive: if you're not straight, or don't think this discussion interesting, or whatever, there's a sister discussion up on eumelia's journal. (Yes, we planned this. What of it? :P) Last request: please link to this post or to eumelia's if this sounds interesting to you, even if you're not commenting; we'd love to have a big, LJ-wide discussion where we involve more fandoms than just our own!


( 98 Post-Its — Scribble a Post-It )
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
Jan. 16th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
I thought it was weird when I first encountered it - in Roswell fandom, when I was about 15. But looking back it's mainly because the characterisation in slash fics in that fandom (at least at that point, I couldn't say about now) was almost always significantly worse than in the non-slash fics. It didn't read as believable to me - oddly enough the first good slash I read was still in Roswell fandom, although they weren't the main pairing of the fic they became my favourites (and one was an OC!).

It was something I held off on writing myself for a long time, even after getting into fandoms where my main pairings were slash ones. I didn't feel I knew enough to qualify writing it - I still don't to some extent. While the world of slash isn't exactly synonymous with gay culture, there's a lot of overlap and I don't want to get things wrong. There are stories I've read (or started reading in some cases) that offend me, even being outside the community, and I hate the idea of doing that to someone else. I hope I never have (and that if something I wrote was horribly wrong, someone would point it out to me).
Jan. 16th, 2012 07:53 pm (UTC)
I think it's interesting what you say about characterisation, because I have definitely encountered similar things, where the fanon for a particular corner of fandom just didn't suit my own take on the characters. I'm glad you found the good stuff eventually! (Ooh, OCs, good OCs are rare!)

I recognise what you say about being qualified to write it; I always feel a bit like a fraud because I say "we" should be respectful, but I end up writing it anyway, and what do I know? Yet slash, as you rightly point out, isn't synonymous with gay culture, it's also its own culture, very much a woman's culture, and that part is important, too.

I've read my fair share of offensive stories; I wish I could say they were rare, but I tend to encounter them about once a week, sadly. It makes me aware that it's easy to get it wrong, and yeah, I would hope a kind flisty would hit me over the head if I did it, too.
Jan. 16th, 2012 07:52 pm (UTC)
I first discovered slash back when Buffy was big on TV and i found Angel/Spike slash ...

I am as straight as they come but i am and have also been extremely openminded where relationships are concerned and when i first discovered slash i can only admit that it more than made me happy, i didn't blink at all at the concept and i am as happy to read femslash as well as slash (and het for that matter).

I do get nervous when writing slash that someone one day will pounce on it and say it's utter rubbish and how could i know if I'm straight. But i do read a lot and do try my best and ... lets just say that i'm not at all innocent!

Way back when i dipped my toes in the Angel/Spike slash but i never had to nerve to publish anything on-line, it was Torchwood that gave me the push and sent my plot bunnies into a spin.

Interestingly enough my daughter did Psychology at college and they were told that straight women are turned on sexually by more (straight/gay/lesbian) than any other sexuality and i can't say i would disagree with her ... and for someone who loves to see/read a good kiss, i don't care who the hell is kissing who!

I've often thought about starting a discussion like this myself, especially after i once read a comment thread where two people - female i think - were wondering how someone straight would want to read slash!

I hope that answered the posed question?
Jan. 16th, 2012 07:58 pm (UTC)
Yes, that answers it :).

I'm really curious about the different ways people react to slash, and yes, I too have seen those discussions where people have gone, "I don't get it!" and while, of course, whatever floats your boat is personal, it's not such an unusual thing as people first discovering it seem to think.

I'm curious, when you say you read a lot, do you read a lot of gay erotica, or gay novels, or watch films? Is there anything specific you would say is a must-read for slash authors to "get it right"?
Left Unsaid - missthingsplace - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - missthingsplace - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - missthingsplace - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - missthingsplace - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - missthingsplace - Jan. 16th, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - etmuse - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - missthingsplace - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - etmuse - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Left Unsaid - missthingsplace - Jan. 17th, 2012 01:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 16th, 2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
I think for the most part, we who read slash and those who write it, ARE respectful of the entire community - I think most are aware that things could be misconstrued unless they are very cautious of how they portray their characters so I'm not worried about the respect aspect of this genre.

I came to the slash genre by fandom and the internet - but when I read my first slash fic I was surprised because I never saw these two characters in that way before but after I read it, it really made a lot of sense -- I would go back and watch the shows on Dvd and then I would put on my newly acquired slash-goggles and see it a tad differently but it didn't diminish my enjoyment of the original shows.

Because I now have such good slash goggles I can watch H50 and see two men who are working partners - and then read slash fiction and find THAT makes sense as well so I get the best of both worlds.....the way the writer of the Tv show intends for us to view it and the way the slash-fiction community sees it and they both compliment each other nicely.

I love both genres - I can read Gen stories as long as they are well written, I can read Het stories as long as they are well written but I find that Slash stories have more "colour" and texture and 98% of them are very well written indeed because they can combine Gen, Het and Slash all in one story along with a good case story to bring it all together....

(sorry had to delete and re-edit for clarity)
Jan. 16th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC)
For the most part, I agree that writers of slash try to be respectful of the community, but I do see fail occasionally and okay, I'm a very critical reader, but stereotypes in fic are very common. I've also heard from more than one gay person that they do find slash offensive... I don't know, I'm not saying that's due to something disrespectful slash fandom does, but it's food for thought.

I had the same experience you did, about "re-seeing" the characters in a different light and realising that reading fit, also. Funnily enough, I can mostly take off my slash goggles, except for Hawaii Five-0, where I honestly cannot see what non-slash reading people get from it. Which, I know, might make me odd :).

I think all genres can be well written, and any story that combines genres is the richer for it. I can't say slash authors are better, I just read them more often because it's my preferred genre.
Left Unsaid - jazzybabe56 - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - jazzybabe56 - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - jazzybabe56 - Jan. 16th, 2012 09:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 09:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 16th, 2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
I read original m/m before finding Torchwood and then I had a lovely couple of years gorging in that, I'm straight, don't want anything to do with women bits that aren't my own, now even in fiction, my boyfriend reads pretty much the same books as I do, he's bi, I'll see if I can poke him into commenting next time he's around (if I remember)
I read m/m from the beginning (which was only a couple of years before TW) since I have that no womens part thingy ;) so I'm a late bloomer in both reading fanfic and erotica (currently I only read m/m, but from time to time I read non romance/erotica too) I prefer longish stories with plot as well rather that the shorter ones

Um, anything else you wanna know?
Jan. 16th, 2012 08:18 pm (UTC)
All commenters are welcome!

How did you discover m/m, if I may ask? I know you're currently only reading original fic, but did you find m/m through fandom or through original work?

And another question, since I know you read a lot of m/m... do you sometimes feel authors are writing something that doesn't quite sound like gay men? (This phrasing is problematic, I'm aware, I just can't come up with a better one right now.)
Left Unsaid - idamus - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - idamus - Jan. 16th, 2012 08:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 09:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - idamus - Jan. 16th, 2012 09:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 09:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - missthingsplace - Jan. 16th, 2012 09:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 10:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 16th, 2012 08:52 pm (UTC)
I thought Id throw in my two cents because I mainly write GEN, but do enjoy reading slash, although I am very, very picky about it. I am straight, but I was a promoter for a gay club for over five years. Most of my friends were gay or lesbian and I hung out with many of them. Even after moving to NY, most of my friends at work are gay. Yet when I read a slash fic that tries to invoke gay culture, it smacks of being fake or trying too hard. I come away going Y&Z don’t talk or act like that. That their behavior is not always centered around 'being gay'.

While I do enjoy PWP, I also get distracted by slash stories where the emphasis is on how many porn scenes can we squeeze into a story. I like plotty fics where the characters' relationship are part of the back story. Same goes for het. When I do find those types of stories that don’t scream out 'hey this is slash' those are most enjoyable because it feels real.

I admit that I like reading Gen because I enjoy seeing characters who care about one another that have nothing do with with relationships. At the same time, I enjoy reading slash and seeing how a relationship can grown and be built into a believable love story. I also have a thing for established relationships where we deal with the fallout of emotionally intense situations because I'm a sucker for h/c.

I have no idea if anything I said made sense :-P

Edited at 2012-01-16 08:55 pm (UTC)
Jan. 16th, 2012 09:03 pm (UTC)
I think I know what you mean about stories that scream out that they're slash :). And yes, the porn scenes where we are shown how they gradually work up to penetrative sex, because that is the holy grail {/sarcasm}. Not my fave either.

I'm a romance fan myself, but I can see where you're coming from. Well written characters are more interesting than people with the same name acting like lovesick teenagers. *cough*

Can I ask if you would say that slash can be offensive?
Left Unsaid - kristen999 - Jan. 16th, 2012 09:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 09:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - kristen999 - Jan. 16th, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 09:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - jimandblair - Jan. 17th, 2012 10:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - kristen999 - Jan. 17th, 2012 11:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 16th, 2012 09:11 pm (UTC)
I'm straight, about as straight as they come (never even had a crush on another female as a teen... I could delve into the psychology of it and the issues I have with other women, but this isn't the place...).

I first discovered slash back in the LOTR fandom, and I remember being slightly... surprised is I suppose the word, largely I think because of the depiction of relationships between characters held to be straight in canon, not because of the gay sex aspect (I have a somewhat colourful set of past experiences and acquaintances; enough said). At the time I was reading het; at some point soon after, although I can't say for certain exactly when, my reading became almost exclusively slash, and I now write slash.

What draws me to slash rather than het isn't only the fact that I'm pretty much exclusively attracted to men. Mostly, I think, it's the exploration of the balance of power between two people who are equals, both intellectually *and* physically. I write (and like to read) a lot of kink, and I'm not comfortable with (for instance) a het scenario where the woman is submissive (issues, I have them, let me count...). But give me the same scenario in a slash fiction and I'm more than fine with it.

The other thing to say is that, for me, slash isn't about being gay or gay culture. To qualify that: when I write slash, I'm not writing about a gay relationship. I'm not actually writing about two gay guys, or two straight guys, for that matter. I'm writing about two individuals, two characters, and how they interact with one another. They just happen to be two men, because that's the way I roll. We'll never see Steve and Danny having sex with one another in canon, it's all make-believe, and in my make-believe world anything can happen. It's pure escapism for me.

Of course, in reality I'm actually writing porn for me, a straight woman. It's all a fantasy. Just like my fantasy world where there's no need for any distinction of gay culture or straight culture, because no-one gives a toss about the gender of who you're sleeping with.
Jan. 16th, 2012 09:21 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean, about the surprise :).

I'm intrigued by what you say about physical power balance -- because it assumes that all men can physically take each other on, and no woman could take a man on. I'm sure you didn't mean it black and white, but I wondering if that was what you had in mind?

I'll agree that slash is not the same as gay culture, but would you say that they also have no influence over each other? And would the same be true for canon slash material? Or would there be no gay culture if no one gave a toss about gender?
Left Unsaid - azziria - Jan. 16th, 2012 09:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 10:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - azziria - Jan. 16th, 2012 10:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 10:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - eumelia - Jan. 16th, 2012 10:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - azziria - Jan. 16th, 2012 10:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - eumelia - Jan. 16th, 2012 10:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - somehowunbroken - Jan. 17th, 2012 08:59 am (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - eumelia - Jan. 17th, 2012 09:07 am (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - somehowunbroken - Jan. 17th, 2012 09:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - cheshire_sith - Jan. 21st, 2012 11:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - eumelia - Jan. 16th, 2012 10:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 16th, 2012 11:25 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, you go back a ways! That is old school, how awesome!

It's great that you were able to find it back then, and that you stuck around so long!
(Deleted comment)
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 16th, 2012 11:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 16th, 2012 11:24 pm (UTC)
Don't worry, not offended.

It makes complete sense, yes. In a way, you are feeding off their culture, and there is a tendency in fandom sometimes to fetishise, and that is problematic. That doesn't mean you do, but it's part of the larger concept.

I tend to call it porn :). I had no idea you were new to slash! I agree with you about the power dynamics, they're one of the reasons I enjoy it, too. When written well, there's less ability to fall into stereotype or for stereotype to play a role. (I'm suddenly thinking, as an aside, that in cases of non-canon slash this is also caused because the pairing doesn't have UST written for them in the traditional sense. But I digress.)

I think it's important to keep in mind we play in someone else's sandbox, but I've also said in the past that slash is a profoundly feminist act. Which is basically what you said :).

This is also what good betas are there for; without eumelia and many others I wouldn't write the way I did.
(Deleted comment)
Left Unsaid - eumelia - Jan. 17th, 2012 12:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 17th, 2012 12:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 17th, 2012 05:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - eumelia - Jan. 17th, 2012 05:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 16th, 2012 11:27 pm (UTC)
I'm straight, and I remember when I discovered slash fic (which was shortly after I discovered fanfic itself), I felt a sense of rightness and relief. And I think this is because I had an enormous amount of anxiety about heterosexual relationships, which were the only relationships I could imagine myself in. So it was a relief to imaginatively experience relationships in which the horrors of heterosexuality (as I saw them) weren't present. It was only years later that I had any appreciation for the irony of me treating a fictional gay relationship as an "escape" from an unpleasant reality. This, to me, is the biggest danger for straight slash writers - the attitude that gay life is some kind of carefree fantasy world upon which to project (or avoid) their own anxieties about gender and sex. Because we all have this little carefully-tended core of narcissism that we want to screen off from the counter-assertions of reality, and that's where fanfic tends to live.
Jan. 16th, 2012 11:34 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean about the "horrors" of heterosexual relationships (particularly as presented in fiction.)

And I wholly agree with what you say about straight slash writers, we do tend to recreate those horrors rather than re-envision, and that's not what slash should be and is.
Left Unsaid - rexluscus - Jan. 17th, 2012 12:22 am (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 17th, 2012 12:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 16th, 2012 11:42 pm (UTC)
[for clarity's sake, I ought to point out that I'd call myself "in fandom" but not especially "a slash fan" - my default setting's probably gen even if I will invest in a ship if it gets thrown in my face enough.]

Also, I came at slash for the first time from a fandom that was about 50:50 slash:het with one overlapping character in both those major pairings, so I was introduced to slash fandom as "The Enemy of Sanity", basically, because obvs the het pairing were meant for each other (which, in the mirror!verse of the slash fandom of that show was exactly what they said about the het shippers, because people are people and if it's not deemed right/worthy, it's shite that must be mocked/exterminated). So I came at it cautiously, through amazing genfic action adventure and character study in long plotty fic. And sex still isn't my default view of a pairing for most canons that aren't primarily about sex

I'd define slash as writing from the outside looking in, as a trend*, so different. And it makes me nervous to think that any person is reading and judging my work, when I wrote, so it's difficult to separate any anxiety about specific subsections of that out - most of my "oh dear god" moments as a reader are via horrific character assassination to meet a plot/fantasy/author's point requirement. Which is something that doesn't on any level look like a realistic depiction of life anywhere except the author's head, and if I'm failing to pass on that sort of criteria, then the judgement of anyone worries me. It does worry me more, when I think about it, that there might be insidiously offensive ideas running through fic (any fic, including mine) that might make for uncomfortable/offensive reading, because that's not bad writing. And at the same time it worries me that people who write in those kind of areas might worry about pushing the boundaries of comfortable/offence deliberately for a purpose, even if I'm never going to be one of those writers.

So, basically, I don't know. I think it's complicated. From my POV when I write I tend to write stupid/silly/lighthearted bits and pieces that rarely focus on anything bigger than a few moments, which tends to get me out of thinking about the wider implications beyond two or three character's interactions with each other.

*Obviously not in all specific cases, especially as I'm unsure where you're putting f/f in all this, but as a significant majority/general trend.
Jan. 16th, 2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
I'm in a fandom now that tends to have a similar attitude in terms of the other side, but a massively different proportion (I'd say 90/10.) It is indeed what humans do.

As a trend... that's an interesting thought (and yes, I seem to have accidentally kicked f/f to the wayside, that wasn't very good of me.) Fandom is very much popularity driven, was that what you were getting at? Because fandoms tend to spread that way, and pairings could and do follow the same way.

I agree that being unrealistic (or being judged by any standard) is different from being potentially offensive, even if both can be anxiety-inducing. This: And at the same time it worries me that people who write in those kind of areas might worry about pushing the boundaries of comfortable/offence deliberately for a purpose, even if I'm never going to be one of those writers. What did you mean by that?
Left Unsaid - caladria - Jan. 17th, 2012 12:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 17th, 2012 12:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - caladria - Jan. 17th, 2012 02:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 17th, 2012 10:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - caladria - Jan. 18th, 2012 12:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 17th, 2012 12:46 am (UTC)
I read an Alan Dean Foster Star Trek novelisation as a kid (twelve-thirteen, maybe), where ADF had a footnote about Kirk being asked if he had had a relationship with Spock. To which Kirk’s reply was (paraphrasing) once every seven years wouldn’t be enough for him. I remember thinking Kirk and Spock in a relationship that makes so much sense. I didn’t spend any time dwelling on the aspect physical sex side of the equation nor an agape relationship. As an analogy, I would not dwell on my parents’ relationship it only is

Fast-forward several years and an introduction to k/s fanzines and my first thought was “Kirk/Spock relationship – ADF story – yeah, of course, they’re in a loving relationship.” I didn’t blink, to use your terminology.

First time I came across slash other than K/S, it was Benton Fraser and Ray Vecchio, and I did not see that at all. I can’t see Sam and Dean Winchester, either. Dean and Castiel – hell, yes.

That’s the relationship aspect.

I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of slash from pwp- relationship focussed long novels over the years. But generally I don’t think that they’re realistic, to reduce it to the basic level – sex isn’t that clean. I think some slash can reflect aspects of gay culture, and can inform. But slash is often idealised fiction – happy endings with heroes riding out into the sunset. And I like that.
Jan. 17th, 2012 12:26 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I love that story as a way to find slash, how awesome! And yeah, I can't always see all pairings, either, which is characterisation, often, and not slash related.

Slash is definitely idealised fiction, that's an interesting way to phrase it, agreed. A little like het romances, it tends to be clean and neat as opposed to messy and humans, and yes, it borrows from gay culture in sometimes informative, but also sometimes offensive ways. Still, I'm with you; love me a good happy ending!
Jan. 17th, 2012 04:09 am (UTC)
I'm sure I will have much more to say as I read the comments and discussion ahead of me, but I've been chewing on your question for a while now, and I'll attempt an answer: I didn't particularly find slash weird, when I found fandom. When I first found porn online (mid-90s, so still early in the internet timeline, I think?), I found myself drawn to m/m photographs, although I read all kinds of erotica. So I feel like slash was a natural extension of my inclination: One guy is hot, two guys together are hot, I like reading about sex of all kinds.

I don't feel like slash and gay are synonymous, but I think that might be partly because of the different cultures you mentioned. I've never really thought about your other question, about my work being judged by gay people specifically -- I try to write the characters in relationships as themselves, although I can see where that kind of attitude can lead to a dismissal or overlooking of the way a character would be shaped by changing such a fundamental aspect of himself or herself. Because, while a person may not hold 'being gay' as a central part of their self-identity, it would still shape his or her life considerably, and in ways that I (as a straight woman) need to do more to consider.

I appreciate your holding this discussion! And I rather adore your brain, Vera. :D
Jan. 17th, 2012 12:32 pm (UTC)
One guy is hot, two guys together are hot, I like reading about sex of all kinds.

Hehe, yeah, that's a nice approach ;).

They are different cultures, but they do feed into each other, and that's where the problem lies. I agree and try to write the characters similarly, but when I write non-canon slash, then I do have to create a backstory or facet to a character that is a choice by me, the author, picked from gay culture/experiences in order to make a gay Steve (for instance) fit in our society. So I do borrow without that coming from canon or character extrapolation. And that's where I tend to feel I'm taking risks, as an author, or as you said, need to do more to consider. Hmmm. Interesting thoughts.

It's a joint project :). No, really, we conceived it together because we can sometimes find stuff in fandom that makes us go, O_o at what authors wrote. But hey, glad you like!

My brain quite likes you, too, btw :)
Left Unsaid - perspi - Jan. 17th, 2012 07:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 17th, 2012 07:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 17th, 2012 07:48 pm (UTC)
I'm on record as saying that slash is a culture that plays in another culture's sandbox, and should be respectful of that.

Disagree and fuck 'em, if they can't take a joke. To me slash is simply women exploring their own sexuality in an entirely new way - communally, irregardless of sexual orientation or what it means to men (and that is where the political dynamite is). I've been reading slash since the early 80's and writing it since the mid 90's - I came to it as an adult (so you do the math) I came to it as something I had been seeking but not finding until there were enough women able to be in communication (via cheap long distance and inexpensive copy processes) who were willing to take the risk of writing and sharing, and who found and attracted more of same to the endeavor. And for the record, I am the straight daughter of a bisexual mother.

Jan. 17th, 2012 09:43 pm (UTC)
Disagree and fuck 'em, if they can't take a joke.

I'm not sure if you're using this just as a turn of phrase, but it's not a "joke", that is, slash is not by definition a satire or something like that. That aside, I agree with you that it's women exploring their sexuality, and that the feminist element of slash and its importance should not be overlooked. But slash does influence the mainstream, its perception of gay culture and the creation of m/m material, and some responsibility should be taken, in my opinion, by slash authors and consumers in this regard. I will absolutely fight for my right to write it, but I also think it should be done respectfully since it has an influence. Of course, those intersecting places have no clear rules and boundaries nor can there ever be, so it may be a difficult thing to say, but I do think it's not a standalone culture that should take no responsibility for consequences.
Jan. 17th, 2012 09:41 pm (UTC)
I first heard about slash through the article that Constance Penly wrote in the early 90s (which I read in 2000), and I thought it was one of the most ridiculous things I'd ever read. Not because I thought that the idea of straight women writing m/m porn was ridiculous (and that is how it was presented in that article), but because I felt that it was over-theorised. Did we need to suggest that women did this because we are unable to relate to our own bodies; isn't it enough to say that these women are horny and want porn? I know now that my reaction to that was far too simplistic, but I also think that a lot of early commentary on slash fandom (which was focused on "why do straight women do this"?) missed a lot of nuance, and missed the fact that "Why do $PEOPLE do this?" rarely has one right answer. (Just to be clear, I no longer thing Penly's article is ridiculous, but it is limited by the fact that when she was writing, slash was perceived as something that only white middle class straight women did.)

I started reading and writing slash around the time that J. K. Rowling outed Dumbledore, which is quite significant, I think, in terms of the way that I perceive the genre. I fell in love with the ships of Albus/Gellert and Remus/Sirius at about the same time, and so the lines between canon/not-canon were blurry, and I loved that. And of course, a couple of months later, I moved onto Torchwood, where we did have canon m/m, and there was a similar blurry line between my shipping of Jack/Ianto and Jack/Doctor.

I also hadn't been in slash fandom for terribly long before I realised that it didn't have to be all about the sausage. I realised that even though I'm straight -- I'm not interested in having sex with women, even though I'd quite like to be -- I can still very much enjoy stories about any types of pairings (and OT3s too). Basically, I love romance, and I'm just as likely to get warm-fuzzy romantic feelings from an f/f or het pairing as I am from m/m. I can also be quite turned on by f/f stories (and I've written f/f porn), but I must admit, I am more likely to turn to stuff involving men if I'm after porn.

I noticed on the other discussion a lot of people talking about straight fans ignoring queer context, and treating their slash pairing as though it exists in a vacuum -- while others pointed out that for many people, the fantasy of a world in which that context (esp. where informed by homopobia) doesn't exist can be a good thing. For me, whether or not I acknowledge this depends on the canon I'm writing in. When I was writing in Torchwood, I don't think I wrote a single fic that addressed issues like homophobia or sexual identity simply because in S1 and S2, those weren't issues in canon (which is not to say I think it's bad to write TW fic that does address that, just that that's what I based my choices on).

In contrast, the moment I started writing ACD-Sherlock Holmes slash, I HAD to acknowledge a broader context of homophobia. These are contemporaries of Oscar Wilde living in Victorian London. It's not like I thought, "Toto, we're not in Torchwood anymore, we need to talk about homophobia now." It was just that it felt natural to acknowledge that context.

Jan. 17th, 2012 09:42 pm (UTC)
And now, of course, I'm about to jump into writing Sherlock slash, which is different again, in that we have a canon where the supporting characters are falling all over themselves to show how okay they are with same-sex couples. At the same time though, it's certainly not the non-issue that it was in Torchwood. And there's also the issue of erasing asexuality that one has to contend with there.

Um, this is getting long. Obviously, I've dabbled in other fandoms that I haven't mentioned here, but I suppose one other thing that needs talking about is the whole fanservice to slash fans phenomena, and how that highlights some of the really problematic things that CAN happen with slash (even though it doesn't necessarily happen in every fic). I think Merlin is a prime example here, in that it does very deliberately pander to slash fans -- but in a way that suggests "slash is something to be done with a nod and a wink -- it's not something that can ever really have any significance though." Similar criticisms could be made of Sherlock too, though I tend to think that something more complex is going on with Sherlock.

Okay, I'll stop now. :)
Re: 2/2 - verasteine - Jan. 17th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 2/2 - lefaym - Jan. 17th, 2012 10:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 2/2 - verasteine - Jan. 17th, 2012 10:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 18th, 2012 04:42 pm (UTC)
My first encounter with slash was in a RPS fandom. I was 20 at the time and had never heard of fanfiction before. I admit I was quite surprised to discover just how much I liked the thought of two men together, but how is it any different than straight men fantasizing about pseudo-lesbians?

As for slash vs gay, I think they're two different things: slash is mostly written by women and read by women, even when it's M/M. And while I'm perfectly aware that a woman (straight, gay, bi or whatever) will never be able to know what it's like to be a man, that's never been a problem: there are a lot of male authors who write through a woman's point of view and vice versa.

My problem is when I find references to the LGBT world that seems unrealistic: like suddenly every other character is gay or no one seems to have prejudices of any kind. Maybe it's because I grew up in a very homophobic country, but that sounds very odd and even if it's just fanfiction, I still like some realism. I usually avoid writing situations that involve references to the LGBT world because I don't really know it and I'm sure I wouldn't describe it in a realistic way.
Jan. 18th, 2012 08:04 pm (UTC)
I guess it isn't per se different from straight men fantasizing about pseudo-lesbians (good term!), although slash is usually more textual and pseudo-lesbians tend to be visual.

And while I'm perfectly aware that a woman (straight, gay, bi or whatever) will never be able to know what it's like to be a man, that's never been a problem: there are a lot of male authors who write through a woman's point of view and vice versa.

This, yes, absolutely. I'm not saying, nor will I ever say, that being unfamiliar with a viewpoint means you shouldn't write it.

I agree with your last paragraph, that's often what pings me as wrong or unrealistic, and especially in fandoms set in current day scenarios I can find it jarring. I do not, however, avoid it as a writer, though I like to think I approach it with more care.

Edited at 2012-01-18 08:14 pm (UTC)
Left Unsaid - gothikmaus - Jan. 18th, 2012 08:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - verasteine - Jan. 18th, 2012 08:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Left Unsaid - gothikmaus - Jan. 18th, 2012 08:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
( 98 Post-Its — Scribble a Post-It )