Wednesday, December 26th, 2012 08:36 pm
Yes, really.

Because while I may not be into m/m much most of the time, and have my own Issues With Slash Fandom, I've seen a few posts pop up on tumblr recently (here's the most recent) which have been taking the very simplistic line that slash's popularity is purely a result of misogyny, and that writing m/m is equivalent to only writing about white people. These posts also act like het is this POOR OPPRESSED MINORITY which, no.

It's nearly 2013, fandom, have we still not moved beyond this? Can't we argue about something else now?

First off: het is not a tiny minority of fic in general. If it's a tiny minority in your fandom, that sucks, but there's plenty of others where it's the majority or at least around as popular as m/m.

Acting like het and f/f are equivalently unpopular is INCREDIBLY ANNOYING to me as a femslasher. No they are not(*). Acting like het is "ignored" for the same reasons as f/f is EVEN MORE ANNOYING to me as a queer femslasher.

Yes even if you are queer yourself. If you write het instead of m/m or f/f you are missing the chance to write about queer relationships just as much as m/m writers are missing the chance to write about women. This doesn't make writing het inherently bad (I write lots myself! Het is great!) but it does torpedo the idea that het is inherently less ~problematic~ than m/m.

(I also don't think writing f/f is inherently more ~enlightened~ than writing m/m, but that argument is at least internally consistent)

Also the way people conflate the supposed popularity of slash vs het with the way everyone writes white characters skeeves me out. Fandom is definitely racist, but is there any evidence that het is on the whole any less racist than m/m? Because it feels like that's the subtext. In Homestuck the anti-m/m people criticised the juggernaut m/m pairing for being "white cock" when THEY WERE EXACTLY THE SAME "AMBIGUOUS"/WHITE ETHNICITY AS EVERYONE ELSE.

Secondly: People write m/m for lots of reasons. Is it sometimes internalised mysogyny? Definitely! In the same way that SOME of het's popularity to homophobia. There are other reasons for liking both.

Some women have an m/m kink. Others are queer women who find f/f sex too personal to write about, or want to write about same sex relationships and can't find any relationships between female characters that hit their buttons. There's LOTS of other reasons too, none of which I'm really qualified to write about since I'm not really into m/m, but if I can listen enough to take note of them so can you.

Criticise sexist m/m for being sexist. Criticise fandom for writing so much of it's gen about men. But don't act like your shipping preferences make you morally superior. Unless you're a femslasher, obviously(**).

(*)NOTE: As much as the AO3 has very nice features for collecting stats, it is NOT representative of "fandom" as a whole. It was to some extent originally created by and for writers of m/m porn who got booted from other archives, and there remains a definite bias towards slash and slash heavy fandoms.

I have no idea how to find equivalent stats for other multifandom archives, but for example going to fanfic.net and clicking on the most popular Marvel comics subfandom (Xmen) the first page of stories sorted by favourites is mostly het, with some gen/ambiguous, a few femslash stories, and I could only see ONE slash story. Obviously this is not a totally representative sample (even the Xmen movie tag has more of a slash/het balance), but it does go to show that slash is not universally dominant even within Marvel fandom.

That said: I'm not in Marvel fandom, but I think a lot of the resentment in the specific post I linked to comes from the MASSIVE amount of slash coming out of the Avengers fandom right now. And sure enough, even at fanfic.net, slash seems to be more popular than het in both the Avengers movie tag and Avengers comics tag (the latter of which is full of movie fic. BAD AVENGERS MOVIE FANS NO COOKIE)

Maybe my issue here is people saying "fandom" when they mean "the specific fandom I'm in". But if you don't want people from outside your fandom criticising your argument, you have to be more specific :P

EDIT: Out of curiosity I checked out all the most popular ff.net fandoms by category that I was sufficiently familiar with to identify character gender. All were either roughly evenly split between m/m and m/f or dominated by het (though it's not always easy to tell pairings from gen, so some of that may have been m&m or m&f friendship). Glee was the only one with much femslash.
(**)As someone who finds herself in the mood for creating m/f more often than for creating f/f, I'm really not in a position to judge. We like what we like!
Wednesday, December 26th, 2012 01:25 pm (UTC)
I posted f/f today? Merry Christmas, I guess!
Wednesday, December 26th, 2012 05:43 pm (UTC)
I've tried to look, at tumblr a few times but the only ones I can stand to look at are the visual/graphic ones (Hawkeye initiative, snicker snicker snicker)--the idea of trying to conduct conversations over there is a total turn off for me.

Seems like fandom does have to keep having a lot of the same conversations though, probably due to new people coming in, etc. or people who missed it the last time around. I just don't intend to try to deal engage with them, but I did love this post.

Especially this quote: yes, yes, yes! It's not enough to look at only one axis of identity, or to conflate two different ones as the same/similar.

If you write het instead of m/m or f/f you are missing the chance to write about queer relationships just as much as m/m writers are missing the chance to write about women. This doesn't make writing het inherently bad (I write lots myself! Het is great!) but it does torpedo the idea that het is inherently less ~problematic~ than m/m.

Plus, the idea that het is automatically less sexist/misogynistic is also pretty skeevy--not to mention that there are some m/m fics that are incredibly heteronormative in their assumptions (even if not actively misogynistic).

I agree too--there are areas to criticize, but as in much of the rest of life, if one's only criticism is aimed at the rest of fandom and never rises to self-criticism analysis, then I'm calling some skeevy fan policing going on.

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012 06:22 pm (UTC)
Word! :D

(also, being in Transformers fandom at the moment, I find all these rather odd - we have a cast of like, 90% male-pronouned and male-voice-actored characters, whose actual plumbing is, as far as canon is concerned, non-existant. And yet it's easily the fandom I've been in with the MOST vehement m/m haters, although thankfully they pretty much stick to their own little nooks of fandom on DA and the message boards.)
Wednesday, December 26th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
I have to disagree that any of the human kids were written with "ambiguous ethnicity". They were clearly coded as white, and betaverse Bro was explicitly white before Hussie retconned it in response to POC fans demonstrating that his ~aracial~ claim was bullshit.

I'm also a bit puzzled that you interpret the linked post as saying "m/m's popularity is purely a result of misogyny". It provided the pairing stats from AO3 -- and certainly didn't "act like het is this poor oppressed minority", considering that the extreme underrepresentation of f/f was one of the things it showed.
Wednesday, December 26th, 2012 11:52 pm (UTC)
In fact, I'd say AO3 is something of an outlier for multiple reasons--the little bit of work I've tried to do to get a sense of patterns in fic (for one project on the race and gender issues in PSYCH fandom in which many slash writers contorted themselves to avoid writing Guy and Shawn which c'mon! good grief!) showed great differences between fanfiction.net and AO3--I also got some stats from show specific communities. But I had to give up developing that until we get some better digital tools for searching (digital humanities! computational linguistics! etc.) because otherwise, it's just too random and ony one step above anecdotes.

People always say "fandom" when they mean "my fandom."

Always, I swear to the FSM.

It's understandable, but really really...frustrating.
Thursday, December 27th, 2012 11:44 pm (UTC)
There certainly seemed to be a lot more "female OC gets together with major male character" fic at ff.net :D

My primary fandom at the moment is primarily m/m on LJ/AO3, with a devoted subset of m/m/f. On FFN, it's almost all canon male character/ofc. (Fic about anyone other than the 2-3 main characters and gen is pretty rare in both places, although that is also somewhat affected by it being a multimedia fandom, with the most popular form having no women and cutting the cast down to the bare minimum.)

I find these conversations really confusing a lot of the time, since they seem to be predicated on the assumption that people ONLY write m/m OR f/f OR m/f OR gen...
Saturday, December 29th, 2012 06:20 am (UTC)
Weird, I always read half of them as Chinese-American. *shrug* I guess that's just how I grew up...
Saturday, December 29th, 2012 06:30 am (UTC)
And I personally headcanoned the Prospit kids as (south)east Asian, and Jade as trans. Does that mean the author intended or wrote any of that? Hell no. I'm really not sure what you mean by "just how you grew up", TBH.

//edit: Long and short of it is, this kind of wishy-washy ass-covering is certainly not representing me or mine, and the author's -- dishonest -- claim of "araciality" reeks of ignorance courtesy of white privilege. Just... no. No, no, no.
Edited 2012-12-29 06:32 am (UTC)
Saturday, December 29th, 2012 07:07 am (UTC)
Sorry, that was a reference sort of to Scott McCloud's "understanding comics", and the idea that when you have "blank slate" faces in comics, the audience projects what they expect to see onto them. So I do sort of buy that... not "aracial", but the "blank slate" idea that Hussie was trying to explain. Sure, they're light-skinned and colored #FFFFFF, and definitely we live in a white-privilege society, but I don't think the claim that they were intended to be coded without a specific race is far-fetched or dishonest. I think it's just naive.
Saturday, December 29th, 2012 06:04 pm (UTC)
......Bro was literally described as "white" before fans called Hussie out on it. At that point, without any acknowledgment or announcement of his original description, he blanked out the incriminating line in order to conform to his post-facto declaration of "araciality". That's fucking dishonest.

When white people take their own appearance and culture to be default and call it "aracial", that's fucking racist. I don't give a damn as to whether it's ~naive~ or not, he wrote from a place of privilege and ignorance, tried to get kudos for it, and disingenuously covered up the evidence to the contrary.
Saturday, December 29th, 2012 09:59 pm (UTC)
Okay. I'm sorry. I know that "intent isn't magic", but I am giving him the benefit of the doubt as to what I consider dishonest behavior, and you don't think he should get that. Fair enough, there are definitely creators I take the same line with. I'm sorry for defending him when I'm sure you've heard these arguments before, and I'm sorry for upsetting you.
Friday, December 28th, 2012 02:20 am (UTC)
Basically I agree with everything you say here. So, slight tangent:

The impression I get from housemate!Dave (you know which Dave I live with, right?) is that Homestuck is sweet, or at least, like, sufficiently wholesome for normal people, kinda thing. He plays Homestuck soundtrack stuff in the car sometimes, it's nice.

But Homestuck fandom SKEEVES ME THE HELL OUT, because for some reason, Homestuck keeps cropping up when I am searching by tag on AO3, except the Homestuck fics all have about a hundred tags on them, most of which are HORRIFYING. With the exception of one Dr Seuss-related thing that I can't remember how it came up in my search but it was the most horrible thing ever, pretty much every fic I see where I'm like, "You know, at this point, I judge you as a person for writing that," is Homestuck.

I wonder now and then if I'd really love Homestuck if only I hadn't been exposed first to, I hope, the worstest parts of its fandom.
Monday, December 31st, 2012 01:14 am (UTC)
This is a good post! I have SO MANY ISSUES with ye olde "m!slash: threat or menace sexist or misogynistic?" argument, and chief among them is the pleasure some people seem to take in issuing putdowns to Those Other Less Enlightened Women. I find most "my fannish preferences are more JUST than yours!" claims v. suspect; sometimes the criticism is legitimate, but sometimes it turns into cynical borrowing of social justice concepts for insta-win points.

The term "whitecock" seems to have lost all meaning. I've seen it used to describe a pairing in which both characters were clearly non-white (granted, this was the depths of Tumblr), so... yeah. A lot of the equivalencies that get drawn here are baffling (mslash = writing about white people, het = more diverse than M/M and in the same extreme minority position as F/F, criticising fannish white people's racism = assuming that [queer] female mslashers must have internalised misogyny, and so on).

I also wish more of the debaters would remember that "fandom" doesn't equal "Superwholockmerlmarvelvengersetc.". People often talk as if all fandoms are just miniature versions of juggernaut ones, but the stats/dynamics/trends don't apply across the board. Of course canons that focus on men's heroism, men's villainy, men's backstories, men's character arcs, men's emotional/psychological states, and men's relationships with each other will spawn more m!slash! This is doubly true if the women who do feature are given less complex/more archetypal characterisation, sidelined in favour of dudes, or treated in sexist ways by the narrative. What are your options if you want to write film-only Avengers femslash or female-centric fic? Well... er... there are three whole women, I suppose, and two of them worked together briefly in one of the previous installments - but they don't so much as wander into each other's vicinity in this one... oh. On the flipside, you've got a team of men plus one woman who have every type of interaction going (tense rivalry/friendly bonding/brainwashed into unwilling enmity? It's all here!), the male agent they have a long-standing history with, and their complicated/angsty male antagonist (the films present Loki as unambiguously male, at least). And Avengers is better in terms of representation than some major canons; it may be sparse, but there's very little active sexism. I'm not saying it's all the creators' fault, but this trend of blaming mostly female and relatively powerless fans for problems that existed in the original material bothers me. There are fandoms and archives with different femslash/het/mslash ratios; they just tend not to be the ones that come up when Capital-F Fandom is discussed. This isn't the sole or main reason for M/M's dominance - that'd be as simplistic an "explanation" as the "it's all misogyny!" one - but it's a huge variable I almost never see considered.

...it appears I have A Lot Of Feelings on this, sorry. Some of them are tangential and in any case this is getting looong, so I shall split them off into their own post.
Thursday, January 3rd, 2013 07:05 am (UTC)
As someone who reads a lot of slash, there are two things that attract me that I don't commonly see in femslash (it might be in het, but as a primarily 'same sex' attracted gender queer individual, I find het too squicky), and they happen to be a little on the contradictory side. Both have to do with the age of the protagonists.

The first is the average age of the main pairing. While I can enjoy a teenaged angst/romance/other, I don't identify well with them. And the fandoms that have major characters my age tend to focus on the menz. The main exception to this is Rizzoli and Isles, but the fic is so hit and miss.

My contradictory one is that I like age disparity, and I'm mostly only finding things that aren't really sucky in Harry Potter fandom. This statement will probably have people rolling around laughing, as there is a lot of very disturbing under-age Harry Potter/Severus Snape fic set during Harry's school years. What there also is is a lot of older, post-war, desperately unhappy Harry Potter fic, which absolutely fits the bill.again, there is a single f/f pairing that also works, which is in The Devil Wears Prada (which again, very hit and miss).