alchemia: (Default)
[personal profile] alchemia
I see that while Bug and I were away from fandom, there was a lot of meta on slash/gays/cultural-appropriation. It's interesting to me because in the past when the topic came up, I argued that slash more often than not, appropriates queer experience. Now, I've changed my mind pretty much completely. That's not to say that I think appropriation never occurs in slash. If the author journals about how slash is hot because homosexuality is a sin, or if their response to "gays wouldn't say/do xyz" is essentially "I have more gay friends than you, and they say I'm right, so Nnnnnyyaaaa!", then I think it is right to call them on it. Most of the time though, I think slash is like Schrodinger's cat... it has both everything and nothing to do with the queer experience; like an individual's gender and sexual identity, it is impossible to know until the author explicitly tells us, and even then, it might change.

A common proof of appropriation that I have seen is that slash fic is often unrealistic ("gay sex doesn't work that way!", "real gays wouldn't say/do that!", etc.). This is an unfair judgment. Not only because it ignores the motives behind the writing style, but because it assumes the hetero default, and may be forcing the wrong gender and sexual identity onto the author. Queer experience can vary greatly, and even when it doesn't, authors can have equally valid reasons to want to explore, or avoid, a particular experience. For example, hospitals and St Mungos are not uncommonly visited in Snarry fics, but whether it is Snape or Harry who is the patient, the other rarely has any trouble visiting or making health care decisions. This could reveal a straight fan's lack of awareness or lack of concern about the discrimination queers face in hospitals. But it just as easily could be something a queer person would write....

For the past couple of years, Bugland and I have been in and out of hospitals. Because of my transsexuality, we have navigated the same hospital settings being perceived as a queer couple, and at others times as a straight couple. Despite anti-discrimination laws and being in a "blue state", we are still treated very differently depending on how we are seen. A close friend we met through fandom, and who is also queer, seemed surprised by our experiences. He has yet to be in the situation of being in a committed relationship, perceived as gay, and needing emergency care. If he wrote slash fic that involved a hospital visit, his lack of experience would likely be reflected in his writing, but that lack of experience in no way invalidates his queer identity. Likewise, Bugland and I may write Snape and Harry being treated no differently than a couple perceived as heterosexual, because we need an escape from the reality we frequently deal with.

When it comes to slash, I have come to prefer the assumption that the creator is making a valid expression of their own sexual identity, rather than appropriating gay culture, unless they explicitly reveal otherwise. A queer fan might slash because queer characters are sadly lacking in mainstream media and they want to see more characters like themselves; a straight female fan might slash because she wants to celebrate her own sexuality in a way that the mainstream media's "male gaze" denies her. While their reasons may seem different, I believe that both groups are essentially doing the same thing: responding to how their marginalisation is revealed in mainstream media, and accusations of appropriation based on generalisations about slash and its writers misses this point.



And now, to brave the vast snow drifts to buy poor bug more broth and jello and then hopefully to write a bit.

Date: 2010-02-10 04:35 am (UTC)
torachan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] torachan
it has both everything and nothing to do with the queer experience

That's such a great way to put it.

Date: 2010-02-10 07:34 am (UTC)
dancing_serpent: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dancing_serpent
Thank you. This is probably the post that resonates with me the most.

Date: 2010-02-10 03:26 pm (UTC)
psyfic: (Default)
From: [personal profile] psyfic
Beautifully said. Note: I enjoy reading your posts re: gender/sexuality.

Here from metafandom @ Delicious

Date: 2010-02-16 04:06 am (UTC)
dunmurderin: A clownfish, orange and white, with a banner saying he is NOT a Combaticon!  So no one mistakes him for one, y'know? (Default)
From: [personal profile] dunmurderin
He has yet to be in the situation of being in a committed relationship, perceived as gay, and needing emergency care. If he wrote slash fic that involved a hospital visit, his lack of experience would likely be reflected in his writing, but that lack of experience in no way invalidates his queer identity.

I enjoyed the whole post but this in particular stood out for me and made me go "Yes! Exactly!"

Date: 2010-02-18 06:45 am (UTC)
lefaym: Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Starry Night" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lefaym
Wow. I love what you're saying here, because it doesn't let anybody off the hook regarding objectification and appropriation, but it also recognises that so many different experiences go into writing any piece of fiction (including, of course, slash fiction).

Date: 2010-02-18 07:15 am (UTC)
sprat: an illustration of a girl posed in front of a cartoon alien  (Default)
From: [personal profile] sprat
This is such a great post. I have nothing to add to what you're saying here -- just wanted to post my MTE and thank you for your articulateness and reasonableness.

Date: 2010-02-18 08:17 am (UTC)
msilverstar: (they say)
From: [personal profile] msilverstar
When it comes to slash, I have come to prefer the assumption that the creator is making a valid expression of their own sexual identity, rather than appropriating gay culture, unless they explicitly reveal otherwise.

I hope so, because I really have no clue why I write slash.

Date: 2010-02-19 06:18 am (UTC)
pine: picture of big pine tree in California vineyard (Default)
From: [personal profile] pine
As always, well said! I'm glad metafandom picked this up. They need more perspectives. ;-)

When it comes to slash, I have come to prefer the assumption that the creator is making a valid expression of their own sexual identity, rather than appropriating gay culture, unless they explicitly reveal otherwise. A queer fan might slash because queer characters are sadly lacking in mainstream media and they want to see more characters like themselves; a straight female fan might slash because she wants to celebrate her own sexuality in a way that the mainstream media's "male gaze" denies her.

YES. THIS. I know I can always go read m/m sex on Nifty - heck, I still beta sometimes for friends who write on Nifty. But I prefer reading the m/m fics in slash fandom. Why? Are they different? Yes. They're written mainly by, and for, women and are thus already not taking things for granted.

I like the way entering the slash fandom world already requires you be open to questioning sexuality, looking for new ways to read it and write it, and accepting all kinds of sexuality rather than jamming it into two or three little rigid boxes, which is what mainstream het and gay cultures both do.

For me, slash is not appropriating mainstream gay culture, precisely because it's not trying to replicate it. It's not even trying to write for it. Slash creates a new culture, and when either mainstream het or gay tries to "claim" it as some kind of version of "their" reality ("It's just more housewives writing romance!" "It's straight wimmin tryin to write our gay male sex!"), this simply underscores how narrow and hegemonic those mainstream sexualities are!

It's weird to have a standpoint from which mainstream gay men's culture looks as hegemonic and narrowly normative as straight culture! But also good.

Date: 2010-02-19 11:50 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] pekover
here via metafandom, and wishing that you weren't on vacation when the original conversation took place. Well, you know, I'm glad you were on vacation, hope you had a lovely time...but...I think this is a really reasonable, valuable perspective that I didn't see expressed the first time around.

Here via metafandom

Date: 2010-02-19 01:26 pm (UTC)
lanjelin: Fai from Tsubasa reservoir cronicle (Default)
From: [personal profile] lanjelin
Yes, well said.

I'd just like to add that it also often seems that slash is only deemed "realistic" it it describes the situation in the U.S. of today (probably bnecause the majority of fandom seems to be from there), and that doesn't really work if the canon story is set somewhere else. Especially if it's in a fantasy world.

From metafandom.

Date: 2010-02-19 05:40 pm (UTC)
anya_elizabeth: Kittyspoon. (Default)
From: [personal profile] anya_elizabeth
Oh, fabulous post. The hospital example is really interesting, if troubling... I wouldn't have thought about it, but now I will.

Date: 2010-02-27 06:49 pm (UTC)
viklikesfic: avatar me w/ trans flag, spiky hair, gender unclear, fun punky glasses & sarcastic expression to go w/purple ironic halo (Default)
From: [personal profile] viklikesfic
This is really interesting in general, but I have a couple of specific thoughts.

1) I never thought of writing slash as much of a political act, one way or another, but I do think in ways it is a response to what I see in "regular," mainstream life, whether that's forcing gender roles on people, homophobia, etc.

2) I do wonder where I fit in here, because I am a queer person writing primarily about queer people, but I'm also a lesbian writing about (mostly) gay men. So in some ways the experiences are similar (discrimination, for example, is not the same for both but I'm aware of it more than some straight people might be) and in other ways they're completely different (uh, I may have to google a lot for anatomy questions).

even later to the party...

Date: 2010-03-04 06:32 pm (UTC)
dharma_slut: They call me Mister CottonTail (Default)
From: [personal profile] dharma_slut
found your post very late, and I just wanted to say thank you for your perspective.

Date: 2010-02-10 04:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blackletter.livejournal.com
I confess, with few exceptions I mostly tried to avoid the recent burst of meta, largely because slash fandom is also my queer safe space, so it was uncomfortable in the extreme to see this slash vs queer dynamic going on. Kinda like being a kid and watching your parents fight, not knowing whose side to be on and wondering if it's all your fault.

I believe that both groups are essentially doing the same thing: responding to how their marginalisation is revealed in mainstream media

I like this comment, as it seems to get at the heart of fanfic in general--that it provides what mainstream media (for whatever reason) does not, whether that be queerness or steamy het sex or exploration of secondary characters or just the further adventures of the main cast.

Slash, even slash that doesn't have sex in it, is about going places with gender and sexual identity that the mainstream doesn't. (And I put in "gender" because we live in a culture where sexual identity is intrinsically all about gender.) So slash is not just about gayness, it's about the construction of gender. And anyone who has been gendered by society can have a very valid interest in exploring that.

(As you say, it's not that slash can't be appropriative, because it certainly sometimes is, but it's not always or inherently appropriative.)

Date: 2010-02-13 12:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alchemia.livejournal.com
Yeah, this is my queer space too- I never really got into any queer related online groups and am pretty queer-isolated off life.

Your description of fighting parents- I totally relate.

Date: 2010-02-11 11:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] super-elmo.livejournal.com
I think this is really interesting. I totally agree that people of all different backgrounds will have different, legitimate motives for writing a certain way, and those motives probably won't be immediately apparent, and it's silly to conclude from that that they're doing it for the wrong reasons.

I'm a bit surprised at how far you extend this, though. Are you saying that if a woman writer says she likes m/m slash because she gets off on it and she loves to fetishize the queer experience, then that's totally fine? I agree with the idea that a lot of the offensive things people do are responses to the ways that they themselves have been marginalized, but I never thought to put it in this context before.

Or maybe I am completely misinterpreting what you said about this. Anyway, you've definitely given me something to think about.

Date: 2010-02-13 12:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alchemia.livejournal.com
Are you saying that if a woman writer says she likes m/m slash because she gets off on it and she loves to fetishize the queer experience, then that's totally fine?

yes and no =) although its hard to answer this clearly with the connotations of 'fetishise'...
I do think some slashers appropriate queer experience, I just don't think its what most slashers are doing.

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