Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Slash and the obsession that women have with it
Okay...so I know people outside of my fandom friends and acquaintances read this blog. I have at least one friend who is male, straight and a bit of a fanboy, but not quite in the same way that I am a fangirl. So for those of you who could care less about fandom and fanfiction of the slash variety, this is likely not the post for you. Those of you who are interested....read on.
For those of you not in the know.
Slash fanfiction: fiction written by fans of a book/tv show/move/video game/anime that put two male characters in a romantic and/or sexual relationship. (The characters may or may not have been in a relationship in the published work). Examples of this would be Harry/Draco (Harry Potter), Dean/Castiel (Supernatural), Cloud/Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII), Holmes/Watson (Sherlock Holmes), House/Wilson (House), Jack/Ianto (Torchwood, also one of the few Canon slash couples) and and many many more.
The opposite of this is Femslash, which uses female characters. Then of course there is Het, which is exactly what it sounds like.
These stories can be romantic, cute, silly, sad or erotic in nature.
This type of fiction became very popular during the age of the original Star Trek series. Fanzines (Fanmade magazines) were published and the slash pairing of Kirk/Spock was ridiculously popular. This was before my time, but I've researched the topic quite a bit. I wouldn't go so far as to say this was the first slash pairing, but it was certainly one of the first that had a fandom willing to spread the stories from one person to another in a network that would later become the force behind fanfiction archives like fanfiction.net, MediaMiner, and many other smaller archives devoted to single shows, movies, and videogames.
I write fanfiction, it's one of the many forms of self expression that I find useful in my life. Sometime writing an original character is too taxing, creating a cast of characters from scratch is HARD and when you just want to play around and write something silly, sexy or sad it can be liberating to write a story with characters that are already established.
I don't share my fanfiction with my previously mentioned male, straight friend who is also a writer. I'd be a little embarrassed to honestly, not that it's bad writing, I think it's rather good...but I don't think he would want to read it. Luckily I do have internet fans and friends who love my work and let me know.
The other night I was talking to my BFF, Zena, and we started talking about why we read and wrote so much slash and eventually we came to an agreement on why.
We, women that is, are fascinated by gay males and gay sex.
Because it's the ONLY kind of sex we will never be able to have.
I'm attracted to both sexes (previous posts will allow you to realize why I only date/have sex with women) and theoretically a woman can sleep with a man or woman no matter what her sexual preference. That's not to say that a lesbian will choose to have sex with a man or a straight-laced heterosexual woman will decide to experiment, but in theory she knows that she could experience that form of sex if she wanted to.
Gay male sex we will NEVER experience and that is why women in fandom are so attracted to reading and writing slash fiction.
It's a challenge as well. How does one write about sex between two men when you have no first hand experience? With great difficulty, is the answer to that question. I know that from experience.
On a good day I can pound out 3,000 words of fic in a couple of hours. One week I spend countless hours writing and re-writing the same 4,000 word fic over and over because the sex scene (the only one I had ever written...and the only one I have written to date) was so difficult to describe.
I think our idea of why we hold this fascination holds water, though it may not be airtight. For one thing, I've known VERY few gay male fanfiction writers who write slash (actually I've known very few gay male fanfiction writers at all...) and the one thing that most heterosexual males share a fascination for....lesbian sex. Though this is often not in fiction form, but that is understandable since men are more aroused by the visual and woman to the intellectual and written word.
(Note to previously mentioned friend: I'm only generalizing! In general you know this is true.)
Also, from my own experience (and that of Zena) I do not read Femslash as a general rule. I read it if a friend recommends a good fic. Similarly, neither I, nor Zena, read Het fic...and personally I am much less likely to read a fic that is recommended to me if it only contains Het. Why would I want to read about something I could do myself?
Anyway, this may not come as a shock or a brilliant piece of information to those of you reading this. I just felt the need to share my revelation, because I've been self-reflecting a lot and trying to figure out what makes me tic and this is just one of those things that has troubled me in the past.