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Monday, January 26th, 2009 04:26 pm
First off, the title is deliberately misleading, this is definitely about why I like femslash. But hey, I think that's a problem with most of these sorts of essays :)

Every time I've seen femslash and yuri brought up in discussions/meta, it's generally quite quickly dismissed as not that interesting (or is theoretically interesting but the author knows nothing about it and isn't going to research), and the assumption is that the only people who read it are (a)Lesbian or bisexual women or (b) Straight men. (I've never heard anyone bring up bisexual male femslashers but they would presumably be explained the same way)

Since I am neither of those things (which is to say, I'm a straight woman, not a gay man. The thoughts of a gay male femslasher would be interesting too :)) and there has recently been angst over the lack of femslash meta I thought I'd think about why I like it, and what being a straight-girl girlslasher means. VERY much about my personal experiences since I don't know enough to generalise!

I should say first: I am VERY new to femslash fandom, so this may all be bunk. I've liked the idea since I first encountered the idea of fanfic but had real trouble finding any I liked. Some time last year I was pushed in the direction of comms like [livejournal.com profile] ffslashrecs and got more into it, and late last year started writing my first fanfic, which turned out to be femslash (still working on it, 9th chapter is on it's way :)) Also I do read slash, gen, and het as well, but have a special soft spot for femslash.

And of course not all people fit into any of the gay/straight/lesbian/bi boxes, and I haven't seen any related femslash meta on that score beyond questions about genderswap fic.

Why I like femslash
A frequently repeated truism of fanfic is that everyone is here for the porn.

But, well...I don't like porn. The sex part of my brain and fiction part of my brain are not really on speaking terms and prefer to live separate lives. Unless they're important to the plot I just skip sex scenes and they're certainly not why I read fic.

Sometimes when people say "porn" they mean "stuff that hits your id without bothering with your conscious brain". But even by that definition that's not the only thing I want from fanfic, I seek out (and very occasionally find) stories which play around with canon, poke holes in it's inconsistencies and explore the characters, make my brain work, or at least keep it happy, rather than turning it off. This is why I enjoy a lot of gen. And anyway, some of my favourite varieties of "porn" are femslashy.

Now the romance part of my brain and the fiction part of my brain are on pretty good terms, and while I can enjoy romance about people of any gender/combination since I'm straight there is a certain satisfaction that can only be found in long plotty het stories. But there's a LOT of heterosexual love stories in the world, especially since my tastes are pretty mainstream (eg "Pride and Prejudice"). I do not need to read fanfic to find them. What I look for in fanfic is stuff I can't find in the real world(*).

And what I can't find in the real world are decent stories about female characters. I might find men attractive but I also find them relatively hard to identify with.

Reading "Why we (boy)slash" meta I resonate with the arguments about challenging heteronormativity and subverting canon etc. I like reading romances between equals, and it's hard to really achieve that in a straight relationship (real or fictional :/) But since I prefer stories about women, and in particular am usually more annoyed about the way canon treats it's women, while I can enjoy that aspect of m/m slash I prefer seeing it in femslash.

I think in general (maybe?) most people tend to identify with the protagonists of a story, while I also tend to imagine myself in a story and think about how I would fare (thus my dislike for fantasy which only cares about the aristocracy) If women in that setting are badly treated, I don't want to imagine myself as a man, I want to see the women kick arse and take back their power :)

Also I think femslash taps into the part of my brain that still sees intense friendships with other girls as the most significant form of relationship (Anne/Diana from "Anne of Green gables" was a major OTP when I was a kid though I didn't think of it that way). Even now, while I have plenty of male friends (including my husband) there is something unique about friendships with women.

Issues around being a straight-girl girlslasher

Every now and then I come across discussions about the ethics of women (m/m slashers) writing stories about gay male characters despite not being gay men. A common (but not universally agreed upon) response is that this is ok since everyone knows it's not about real gay men, and the power dynamic is balanced out by the gendered power men have over women in society at large.

Rather more problematic are straight men writing about lesbian relationships ie femslash. There's been some discussion about this and the issues surrounding it but not a lot I'm aware of. Not something I have much to say about myself. Aside: There's also been discussion of the relationship between genderswap fanfic and actual trans* people. This stuff can get complicated.

Something I've never seen discussed specifically, though, is the issues around straight women writing femslash. According to this poll 14% of respondents are straight women so it's not so rare as to not be worth considering.

Now there isn't the same history of straight women creating exploitative "lesbian" porn etc as there is with straight men, and I think there's less danger of objectifying the women into sex objects etc.

But in the same way that (based on meta I've read) many m/m slashers don't imagine their characters as actual gay men but as two male bodies to be attracted to, and/or stand-ins for themselves, I tend to see women in a fictional lesbian relationship as two female personalities I can imagine myself as(**), and this may give me a different perspective on what makes "good" femslash to lesbian and bisexual women. Having read a bunch of femslash I was struck by certain patterns I didn't really like (lots of finding love and then being torn apart by circumstances for example, I want to see the women overcome canon not be beaten down by it) and had to remind myself that I may dislike them because what I want from these stories is not what the rest of the community is interested in. (Of course there's lots of repeated motifs I don't like in other fanfic, so my straightness may be coincidental :))

There are a whole lot of issues around writing femslash that I haven't really hit yet in my own story but am aware of. I have a lot of lesbian and bisexual female friends and have some mild attraction to women myself, but still don't know what it's like not to be straight (both in terms of attraction and relationships, and all the issues around identity, homophobia etc), and am probably going to get some details wrong. Luckily some of these friends have offered to beta so that'll hopefully help :) Of course all writing requires a certain amount of "imagining yourself in someone else's shoes" but if there's one thing I've learned from all these Cultural Appropriation Debates of DOOM is that not all situations are equivalent and it behooves us who are unfairly privileged by an unbalanced society to consider the effect of our actions.

Anyway, I'm not horribly stymied by these worries but I think it's important I keep this stuff in mind.

So, any other straight girl femslashers want to compare notes on why they like the genre? Anyone else with opinions? I'm just rambling out loud really, so welcome people explaining why I'm All Wrong :)

EDIT: Opinions of random strangers very much welcome! Especially if it's to agree with me, but even if it's not :) I've made a lot of changes based on people's comments, I eventually removed all the "edit" marks because it got confusing.

A note about m/m slash (which I do NOT want dominating the conversation except maybe as it relates to femslash :P): When I have made generalisations about m/m slash these have been things I've heard repeatedly said by m/m slashers in meta. I make no claim to them actually being true in general (what would I know?), but they seemed as good a place to start thinking about femslash as any. A subtext to this post which I guess I should make explicit is that I think any generalisation about "What X genre is" or "Why people write X genre" is going to be wrong for a lot of people, people do similar things for wildly different reasons. The title of this post is a dig at all the "Why We Slash" posts which always end up with lots of slashers saying "That may be true for you but it's not why I slash" etc. Noticing patterns of behaviours and motivations is good and interesting, saying "Everyone does X for Y reason" is bad.

(*)...ok, I admit it, when I'm feeling REALLY down I read Elizabeth/Darcy AUS which put new obstacles on their path which they overcome and then they find true love. But mostly :)
(**)I also see them as actual lesbian or bisexual women and if anything can be thrown out of the story if the issues around this aren't addressed, but not in a "that's me!" way.
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Monday, January 26th, 2009 07:58 am (UTC)
I recently saw the OVA adaption of my favourite yuri manga and they fucking ruined it.

;___;
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 11:43 pm (UTC)
Which one? I do get the feeling there's a lot more yuri manga than anime out there, unfortunately I find it hard to get into manga.

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Monday, January 26th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
hey sophie, can you email me at sonictail@gmail.com, need your addy to ask you something.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 11:43 pm (UTC)
But what are your thoughts on yuri?

Just kidding :)
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 06:14 am (UTC)
I will come back to this tomorrow and write a real response when I am not so tired. But for now, Yay meta and thinky thoughts!

Also, I didn't know that rec community existed and I am very interested in that book you linked to.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 11:48 pm (UTC)
It's funny how many awesome things can utterly pass one by isn't it? I went on a major "looking into femslash resources" kick a couple times over the past year or so, and have still discovered new things thanks to this recent round of meta. So yay meta indeed :)
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 06:47 am (UTC)
For a long time I considered myself a straight woman, and I remember what I said the last time a post like this came along. Besides the strong female relationships, which really are important to me, as you described, I find a great deal of distaste in the way that boyslash and het porn seem to be focused on the male perspective, on the glorification of the cock, and that's just not something that interests me in porn (I do have a boyfriend, but that doesn't mean I want to read about his perspective on things). I like to be able to imagine myself as one of the partners in a story, as well.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 11:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, good point: not just female characters but a female perspective, and celebration of the female (rather than a female perspective on how awesome the men are :/)

Also your icon is remarkably apt for this post :)

Re: via girlwank

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Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 07:30 am (UTC)
I hope you don't mind a comment from a random stranger, but your description of what draws you to femslash sounds really similar to my experience.

But, well...I don't like porn. The sex part of my brain and fiction part of my brain are not really on speaking terms and prefer to live separate lives. Unless they're important to the plot I just skip sex scenes and they're certainly not why I read fic.

Yes! That's very much true for me as well. If there's going to be sex in fanfic, I prefer that it advance the plot/develop the characters somehow, or, in the alternative, I want the sex to really be a metaphor for something else. Otherwise, I skip/skim it, because, well, it generally bores me.

However, femslash gives me something that no other fic genre does: a *guarantee* that the story is going to be female character-centric. And because I think I have the same kind of character identification style that you do -- as much as I like men in real life (I live with one whom I adore!), and can even enjoy male characters in fiction and mass media, I *never* identify with them. Or at least not in the fannish kind of way that would compel me to seek out or write fic. For me, it's always driven by an interest in a female OTC.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
However, femslash gives me something that no other fic genre does: a *guarantee* that the story is going to be female character-centric

Yes. It's a guaranteed pass of the Bechdel Test :)

Something the previous comment made me realise is that when I like het (or for that matter gen) it's usually still from a female POV and that POV character doesn't spend the whole time Pining About Men or whatever. But given the tendency for fiction (by women or otherwise) to be All About the Menz, femslash is a safer bet.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 11:51 am (UTC)
Interesting thoughts. Like [livejournal.com profile] twtd, I'll have to come back when I haven't just stumbled out of bed and am not bleary eyed.

Do you mind linking to my full post instead of the [livejournal.com profile] girlwank stub? There are a couple of links in it to more femslash meta.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 11:57 am (UTC)
Sure, done. I didn't want people to miss any extra interesting discussion at [livejournal.com profile] girlwank, but afaict all the interesting stuff is happening at your entry so it does make more sense to link to it.

Interesting thoughts. Like twtd, I'll have to come back when I haven't just stumbled out of bed and am not bleary eyed

Heh. I'm australian, so I know the feeling of being out of sync with meta :)

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Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 04:04 am (UTC)
I wandered over here via [livejournal.com profile] girlwank as well. I'm also a straight woman new to femslash. I'm so new, actually, that I'm still examining my reasons. I'm also new to the potential political minefields, so there's a part of me that worries if I talk about what I think my motivations are I'm going to get some responses along the lines of, "You're the kind of person we'd really prefer wasn't in our fandoms." Sure, I'm probably overreacting, but. So do other people sometimes.

I think that due to a variety of factors at this point in my life, femslash is a place of safety for me. Thinking about sex can be terrifying for me (many things are terrifying for me these days, yes I'm doing something about that), but not to the point where I am not still a sexual being. I think the difference between my sexual reality and the sexual fantasy aspects of femslash is enough for me to be relatively comfortable.

I'm also one of those people that think that the characters and their interactions in slash usually aren't and kind of aren't supposed to be truly representative of gay men or women. I'm aware that there are people out there in fandom who disagree with that point of view. I never feel confident enough about anything to deny the possibility that someone else knows better than I do. So the more meta the betta! (OK, that was pretty lame.)

Also, I think another aspect of the appeal of femslash is that I'm a generally fannish person, and many of my fandoms have some pretty nifty female characters that I'd like to see as the focus of fannish creation more often. Femslash certainly makes that happen. As you said in an earlier comment here, a guaranteed pass of the Bechdel test. ;)
Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 07:00 am (UTC)
hey, you know the Bechdel rules - you can certainly be in my femslash fandom! :D

which is to say, a huge point of this whole round of discussions is to get people who self-identify as femslashers to take a good hard look at the fandom and speak up about how it makes them feel and think and act - and that goes for newbies just as much as it goes for the bitter ol' hags who've been around since the days of Chaucer (I jest! kind of).

to the OP: I myself promise to be back for a more thorough read through and actual THOUGHTS once it's not ass-o'clock and I'm not vaguely drunk.

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Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 08:31 am (UTC)
And what I can't find in the real world are decent stories about female characters. I might find men attractive but I also find them relatively hard to identify with... I think in general (maybe?) most people tend to identify with the protagonists of a story, while I also tend to imagine myself in a story and think about how I would fare... If women in that setting are badly treated, I don't want to imagine myself as a man, I want to see the women kick arse and take back their power :)


It's odd reading this (and the same sentiment expressed in some of the comments) since I it's very rare for me to identify/place myself in the role of any female character in fiction. About 80% of the time I identify with a male character or characters.
Friday, January 30th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC)
That is interesting. I was discussing it with Cam, and he doesn't think he cares one way or another, it depends much more on personality/interests etc than gender.

Anyway, I guess it helps explain your penchant for slash :)
Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 10:50 pm (UTC)
As a straight woman who loves femslash, I am seconding your comments here. The dislike of porn, the relationship of equals, strong female friendship, etc. The issues of being straight while writing gay is another issue I agree with you upon. Oddly, this never bothered me when I was writing boyslash, but I started to consider it a lot more when I started writing femslash. Perhaps it's b/c it is more likely a lesbian or bisexual woman will read my femslash story than it is a gay man will read my boyslash.

Also, and it could just be me, but the characters in femslash often feel more... real than the characters in many slash stories. More like people than bodies or author avatars.
Friday, January 30th, 2009 02:05 am (UTC)
Perhaps it's b/c it is more likely a lesbian or bisexual woman will read my femslash story than it is a gay man will read my boyslash.

Yes, with the odd exception I think any gay man reading slash knows not to expect it to reflect their reality perfectly, but I worry about someone coming into my femslash expecting a level of truth-to-life I may not be able to deliver.
Saturday, January 31st, 2009 12:40 am (UTC)
here via metafandom.
I'm a bisexual female, mostly a reader/writer of m/m slash, but I always think of my fic reading and writing as *stories.* The question is not "is this what I would do in that situation?" or "is it a good guide to my RL actions?" but "what would the character do?" or "is this story interesting?"

Clearly, there are many kinds of emotional relationships between women--some of them loving, some of them sexual--and there's a lot to be written about those relationships.
Saturday, January 31st, 2009 03:45 am (UTC)
Oh yes, and I don't just read femslash(*), there's lots of really interesting stuff to be said about m/m, m/f etc relationships too.

Of course "interesting" is a very subjective quality. I think one of the things fanfic does is help people nut out exactly what it is we find most interesting in stories and let us seek it out/create it.

(*)currently it's all I've written, but I'm not sure 1.5 stories over a few months is enough to count as a set pattern :)
Saturday, January 31st, 2009 12:40 am (UTC)
Wow! Fascinating! Here from metafandom. Thank you for posting this.

Some thoughts: You say: Femslash is generally "quite quickly dismissed as not that interesting (or is theoretically interesting but the author knows nothing about it and isn't going to research), and the assumption is that the only people who read it are (a)Lesbian or bisexual women or (b) Straight men."

If this is true, it makes me very sad. I've only been in online fandom for five years, but there are great stories to be told in all our genres, and anyone who would dismiss an entire genre out of hand? DO NOT WANT. I'm primarily writing slash fanfic, but my gosh. Of course femslash is interesting and important.

I want to respond to this also: You opine that "m/m slashers don't imagine their characters as actual gay men but as two male bodies to be attracted to (and imagine themselves as)." I, as I said, am primarily a slash writer and reader, and I have to say that not all readers and writers of slash would say that your summary matches their experience. There's a lot of variation in the reasons people read slash and how they would describe their characters in terms of "are they gay" or what. In other words, mileage varies.

And also the idea of women writing about gay men, something they don't know firsthand: You observe that doing this "is ok since everyone knows it's not about real gay men, and the power dynamic is balanced out by the gendered power men have over women in society at large." Well, again, mileage varies among slashers. Like any time we write things we don't know firsthand, research is important. But also, the slash fic is so self-referential and so focused on its audience. There are slash conventions and slash expectations that differ markedly from commercially published gay romance, but it's my opinion that there's more overlap than you'd think.

Also you observe: "I like reading romances between equals, and it's hard to really achieve that in a straight relationship (real or fictional :/) But since I prefer stories about women, and in particular am usually more annoyed about the way canon treats its women, while I can enjoy that aspect of m/m slash I prefer seeing it in femslash." This makes perfect sense to me and I think you can extrapolate fairly well vis a vis the realism about lesbianism or bisexual women or polyamorous women in real life and how that would map onto your enjoyment of femslash fanfiction, and that same relationship would hold for women looking at m/m slash. Except of course nearly all our SF canons do a damn poor job with the women characters. This is changing but not nearly fast enough for me.

I look forward to thinking about this more in the future. Thanks again for posting.
Saturday, January 31st, 2009 07:12 am (UTC)
I've seen a lot more "I'd be interested to hear about how this relates to femslash but don't know enough to say myself" meta than active dismissal(*) which is a POV I can understand, I've said the same thing about genres I'm not into. Only way to fix it is for us femslashers to talk about it more, that way people will have resources to draw on to make more general arguments :)

In other words, mileage varies.

Yes, I generalised way too much. I was thinking about femslash, and wasn't very precise with my language when talking about m/m slash. I've edited the post a bit, hopefully it's better now.

You observe that doing this "is ok since everyone knows it's not about real gay men, and the power dynamic is balanced out by the gendered power men have over women in society at large."

No, I said that was the consensus as far as I could tell (I can see how it read that way though). My own opinion is more ambivalent, but being neither heavily into m/m slash nor a gay man I don't feel strongly about it either way, though I find the question interesting. Of course the fact that some people act like it's the consensus doesn't mean it is, and I know it's a topic of debate: again, I was generalising too much, since I just wanted to bring it up briefly.

Except of course nearly all our SF canons do a damn poor job with the women characters. This is changing but not nearly fast enough for me.

You and me both :/

(*)and it's more often passive dismissal where it simply isn't considered as an option

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Saturday, January 31st, 2009 01:22 am (UTC)
Here via [livejournal.com profile] metafandom

But in the same way that (generalising wildly) m/m slashers don't imagine their characters as actual gay men but as two male bodies to be attracted to (and imagine themselves as)

I'd be very interested to find out to what extent this is true in m/m fandoms. I realise that focusing on the boyslash isn't your intention here, but it's my primary territory and so I'm really interested in the differences between m/m and fem slash here. I only highlight it here as it made me think of the possible difference between m/m slashers' views of characters as 'bodies' and perhaps f/f slashers seeming to focus on more emotional and psychologically active characters. All generalisations duley accepted, of course :)


Saturday, January 31st, 2009 04:00 am (UTC)
I don't know how true it actually is, but I've heard it said a lot. Which doesn't necessarily mean much :) But I know not everyone thinks that way, which I should have said. *edits post*

EDIT: Also, that should be "And/or imagine themselves as", I expressed that very badly. Even when m/m slashers don't think of their characters as Real Gay Men I'd say they're still mostly interested in them as characters (and their interactions and emotional relationships with other men) rather than just bodies. I've heard some slashers say they just do it for the hot men and aren't that interested in the characters, but also a lot that say the opposite.

I've yet to encounter any femslashers who just claim to just care how pretty the women are, but there's a lot less femslash meta about so I may have just missed it :)

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Saturday, January 31st, 2009 02:18 am (UTC)
I tend to see women in a fictional lesbian relationship as two female personalities I can imagine myself as

My first fandom was femslash, or alternative as it as called in that fandom, Xena. While I rarely read in that fandom, and haven't written, well since 1998, that show is simply the love of my life.

But sadly, to this day, I haven't ever been able to find any femslash pairing that inspires me as much as Gabrielle and Xena do, it's just, not there. I love Willow/Tara, don't get me wrong, it's as cute as a button, and I've flirted with Faith/Buffy and Janeway/Seven, but it's not the same.

And the reason? Producers haven't created any television series since Xena about the great connection between two women, a connection of friendship, love and (yes epic love) and respect. It hasn't happened.

And to me, that a tragedy, what has happened? It just makes me angry every time I think on it, about how things have gotten worst since Xena, how maybe with the possible except of The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Witchblade, we are lacking lead female characters who are...human. Not the love interest, not the sweet girl, not the evil vixen, not the babe of the week who probably dies. But human.

And I'm sorry, but Buffy doesn't come close. She's problematic on so many levels. So, if it's struggle for TPTB to come up with female characters which I can identify with (and I suspect other women can to), then what are the odds of having two women in a show who actually interact and well, are human as well?

Pff, not a hope in hell it seems.

ETA: Sorry, I started off on a different tangent, but then got my rant on, and I guess that feeling has been boiling around in my skin for a while. Sorry if it's OT :( (feel free to delete if that's problematic).
Saturday, January 31st, 2009 05:12 am (UTC)
Heh. I've found a moderate number of female relationships (and characters) I can bond with myself, but as always people connect with different things. And I can certainly agree with a general complaint about the lack of decent f/f relationships in centre stage in mainstream media, the ones I like tend to either be more in the background (Angela/Brennan in Bones for example) or from books and anime etc.

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Saturday, January 31st, 2009 03:34 am (UTC)
Here via [livejournal.com profile] metafandom

I'm sitting here with what will hopeful turn into my first real femmeslash story open in the other window. I read femmeslash, though I probably read more boyslash, and I started off writing boyslash, moving into het and now onto femmeslash.

I'm most interested in this: Also I think femslash taps into the part of my brain that still sees intense friendships with other girls as the most significant form of relationship. Because I would have to agree excpet dropping the gender specificness. Every pair or set of people I want to write are people in intense friendships. Not just a friends, but these intense, all encompassing sort of relationships. It was already there, but your words so accurately described what was going on in my head as to be perfect.
Saturday, January 31st, 2009 05:19 am (UTC)
Glad to be of service :)

I'm actually happy with several genres of stories where the characters are not friends at all, though there's usually still an intense bond of one sort of another (eg Mohinder/Sylar) But I believe intense friendships between women more easily, and find them particularly engaging.
Saturday, January 31st, 2009 10:30 am (UTC)
Hey, another one in from [livejournal.com profile] metafandom

I like to think that I've written the femslash I have for the same reason I've written the guyslash I have--the characters work really well together. And I blame the patriarchy for having way more interesting men on teevee than interesting women.

But yeah, I don't usually find f/f action arousing, so I don't have the baser drive to just write girlsex that I do with boysex, or even het. When I look at the fandoms I'm writing in, I just don't see a lot of female pairings jump out at me. The real exception has been Babylon 5--Susan and Talia is a big pairing in that fandom, and one that I find really interesting, but it's problematic in that it's such a tangled canon that finding ways to actualize the pairing means that you need to either ignore or change three years of a really dense television show. Eeek! Not that people don't do it, and thank goodness. But, y'know, it's hard.

Of course, the only completely femslash pairing I've written was two minor Season-1 characters who never actually meet onscreen. But they would be HOT LIKE BURNING. Personality-wise. Which I think is my driving attraction to femslash.
Sunday, February 1st, 2009 08:03 am (UTC)
Thinking about it, a possibly crap hypothesis: I think one of the things which drives ones tastes in slash/femslash etc is the kind of interpersonal relationships we find engaging: if you like buddy-cop style relationships you probably are going to tend towards slash for example (or Bones :)) but might like Xena femslash. Just a thought, I don't know if it makes any sense.

Yeah, Susan/Talia is both really engaging and hard to imagine convincing happy endings for. (I've never tried any for that reason, so there is good stuff out there?)

My main femslash story is two characters who have definitely never met, so I understand the appeal :)

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Saturday, January 31st, 2009 11:50 am (UTC)
Hi!

What an interesting post. One thing though...

I understand why you want to see women as protagonists, and two women is obviously then better than one, but why the sex aspect? Would your desire for strong female protagonists not be fulfilled by female-dominated gen fic? This is not to criticise your likes in any way! I just wanted to understand why the extra step to the two women having sex together was necessary to you. And, if you don't mind a very intrusive question (just ignore this if you do) do you find the actual sex hot or does it serve more of a power or symbolic role for you? Perhaps the sex in itself is unimportant but the fact that it, by its existence, excludes men is important? Or is it that the sex angle is just fitting in with the standard fanfic 'requirement' for a highly sexualised narrative? I'm just guessing though, I would love to hear your actual thoughts.

'Why slash' is one of those perennial meta questions that comes up from time to time (my personal theory is that there are only five meta questions, they just spin in an eternal circle). It is nice to see a new angle on it.
Sunday, February 1st, 2009 08:38 am (UTC)
Well, I don't read it for the sex, I read it for the romance. I don't get much out of sex scenes in general, though I think m/m slash is the least sexy since it's not something I can imagine myself doing (I keep thinking "But I don't have one of those!" :)).

Why I like romance instead of just f/f friendship..well, I do like gen, but often adding romance makes a story and relationship more compelling. I'm not sure why, but I think I'm not alone in working that way if all the shoehorned in loveplots in otherwise non-romantic movies etc is anything to go by. The characters don't even have to be implied to be having sex, though in general I have trouble getting my head around the idea of a long term non-sexual romantic relationship (I'm sure a good enough writer could convince me though).

To give an example, this is one of my favourite femslash fics (fairly short, an amusing Rory/Paris Gilmore Girls story which contains nothing more than kissing)

Hmmph. My husband came in and asked me a maths question and I've TOTALLY lost my train of thought, so will stop there :)

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Saturday, January 31st, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)
"9th chapter is on it's way"


Yay! (If this appears strange, I'm hele or hl in the Archive.)

Just random squeeing because I've read so little femmeslash that I find I really cannot form an opinion on the genre tropes.

Your post has made me think about things I've been wondering on and off about genre and heteronormativity in writing (I'm self-centred: in my writing, particularly.), though. *goes to think some more*

Monday, February 2nd, 2009 07:00 am (UTC)
Hello! I've actually finished the chapter but my beta got Dengue fever (!!) which somewhat interfered with the process. She's better now :)

Anyway, glad to inspire thinkiness.

Sunday, February 1st, 2009 02:43 am (UTC)
Every now and then I come across discussions about the ethics of women (m/m slashers) writing stories about gay male characters despite not being gay men. A common (but not universally agreed upon) response is that this is ok since everyone knows it's not about real gay men, and the power dynamic is balanced out by the gendered power men have over women in society at large.

I didn't read all the comments, but since you don't appear to have contested this response, is it fair to say you agree with it?


Personally, I think justifying anything by saying it's 'balanced out by the gendered power men have over women' is pretty questionable. Basically, it seems like you're saying "it's okay for for group X to offend/marginalize group Y, because in society group X enjoys privilege that group Y doesn't".


Generally, society seems to moving towards equality, and gender/race privilege seems to be slowly being eroded. White privilege definitely still exists, but I don't think it's anywhere near as significant as it was 50 or even 30 years ago. At what point does one group's privilege become so insignificant that you can no longer justify another group's actions based on that privilege?


I say that privilege can't be measured, and so this point can't be identified. So I think that if it's unfair for women to write m/m slashfic (uh.. am I using the right terms here? I don't have anything to do with any of these fandoms, I just read your blog on Planet UCC) because it offends gay men, then it's unfair, and nothing about gay men (especially something like gender privilege, which after all they didn't ask for) can justify it. Honestly, this reasoning seems just as arbitrary as the reasoning which created race and gender privilege in the first place.


(I don't think it's unethical for women to write about gay men, even though they aren't gay men. As far as I'm concerned, you may write whatever you want. If it offends others, that's their problem - they can criticize your writing, tell you why it offends them, and they can even judge you based on your writing, but I don't think they can tell you it's wrong. If someone's writing offends you, ultimately you're free to not read it.)


Disclaimer: yes, I'm a straight white male

Sunday, February 1st, 2009 03:39 am (UTC)
Actually, as I said in another comment, I'm not sure I do agree with argument (my reasons are different from yours, but eh). I was just saying that even if it's true it can't be applied to straight women writing femslash.
Monday, February 2nd, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
Rather more problematic are straight men writing about lesbian relationships ie femslash, and there's been a bit of discussion about this and the issues surrounding it.

I laugh every time I re-read that post you link there, and think how wonderful we have a community where I need to be described by Julie as someone "who is out as male." OTOH, I'm not sure how deeply or meaningful those conversations were about the things you say they were, which in many ways is a crying shame.

Not be a straight girl, I have little else to say, except to note that it's been on my agenda to write more m/m for some time now. Although it occurs to me that the sort of m/m I most like to read--the thinky subversive-in-a-meta-way sort of stories--is very different than the m/m stories I want to tell, which are all about hot sexin'.
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009 05:06 am (UTC)
I think a lot of people would find the mere fact that the author was a straight male writing m/m pretty subversive-in-a-meta-way.

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Monday, January 26th, 2009 07:58 am (UTC)
I recently saw the OVA adaption of my favourite yuri manga and they fucking ruined it.

;___;
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 11:43 pm (UTC)
Which one? I do get the feeling there's a lot more yuri manga than anime out there, unfortunately I find it hard to get into manga.

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Monday, January 26th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
hey sophie, can you email me at sonictail@gmail.com, need your addy to ask you something.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 11:43 pm (UTC)
But what are your thoughts on yuri?

Just kidding :)
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 06:14 am (UTC)
I will come back to this tomorrow and write a real response when I am not so tired. But for now, Yay meta and thinky thoughts!

Also, I didn't know that rec community existed and I am very interested in that book you linked to.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 11:48 pm (UTC)
It's funny how many awesome things can utterly pass one by isn't it? I went on a major "looking into femslash resources" kick a couple times over the past year or so, and have still discovered new things thanks to this recent round of meta. So yay meta indeed :)
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 06:47 am (UTC)
For a long time I considered myself a straight woman, and I remember what I said the last time a post like this came along. Besides the strong female relationships, which really are important to me, as you described, I find a great deal of distaste in the way that boyslash and het porn seem to be focused on the male perspective, on the glorification of the cock, and that's just not something that interests me in porn (I do have a boyfriend, but that doesn't mean I want to read about his perspective on things). I like to be able to imagine myself as one of the partners in a story, as well.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 11:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, good point: not just female characters but a female perspective, and celebration of the female (rather than a female perspective on how awesome the men are :/)

Also your icon is remarkably apt for this post :)

Re: via girlwank

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Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 07:30 am (UTC)
I hope you don't mind a comment from a random stranger, but your description of what draws you to femslash sounds really similar to my experience.

But, well...I don't like porn. The sex part of my brain and fiction part of my brain are not really on speaking terms and prefer to live separate lives. Unless they're important to the plot I just skip sex scenes and they're certainly not why I read fic.

Yes! That's very much true for me as well. If there's going to be sex in fanfic, I prefer that it advance the plot/develop the characters somehow, or, in the alternative, I want the sex to really be a metaphor for something else. Otherwise, I skip/skim it, because, well, it generally bores me.

However, femslash gives me something that no other fic genre does: a *guarantee* that the story is going to be female character-centric. And because I think I have the same kind of character identification style that you do -- as much as I like men in real life (I live with one whom I adore!), and can even enjoy male characters in fiction and mass media, I *never* identify with them. Or at least not in the fannish kind of way that would compel me to seek out or write fic. For me, it's always driven by an interest in a female OTC.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
However, femslash gives me something that no other fic genre does: a *guarantee* that the story is going to be female character-centric

Yes. It's a guaranteed pass of the Bechdel Test :)

Something the previous comment made me realise is that when I like het (or for that matter gen) it's usually still from a female POV and that POV character doesn't spend the whole time Pining About Men or whatever. But given the tendency for fiction (by women or otherwise) to be All About the Menz, femslash is a safer bet.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 11:51 am (UTC)
Interesting thoughts. Like [livejournal.com profile] twtd, I'll have to come back when I haven't just stumbled out of bed and am not bleary eyed.

Do you mind linking to my full post instead of the [livejournal.com profile] girlwank stub? There are a couple of links in it to more femslash meta.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 11:57 am (UTC)
Sure, done. I didn't want people to miss any extra interesting discussion at [livejournal.com profile] girlwank, but afaict all the interesting stuff is happening at your entry so it does make more sense to link to it.

Interesting thoughts. Like twtd, I'll have to come back when I haven't just stumbled out of bed and am not bleary eyed

Heh. I'm australian, so I know the feeling of being out of sync with meta :)

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