|Synonyms:||Femmeslash, Alt, Altfic, Yuri, Saffic, f/f slash, girlslash|
|See also:||Slash, Yaoi|
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Femslash is derived from 'female slash', and refers to a genre of fan fiction featuring female characters involved in a romantic or sexual relationship. In English, it is the most common media fandom term for homosexual relationships between female characters.
The history of femslash most likely dates to early Star Trek fandom.
Fandom's interaction with the properties they love is still relegated to fanzines. As most fandom activity is still centered around "genre" properties this leaves femslashers and queer women with few opportunities. Femslash is virtually non-existent in mainstream fandom, but young fic writers are already experimenting by watching shows like The Facts of Life and Cagney & Lacey.
The rise of the internet, and particularly Usenet sees an explosion of creative output in mainstream fandoms. However a lack of female characters in genre shows still leaves femslash fans with few opportunities.
Xena: Warrior Princess premieres in 1995. It's the first popular genre show that features two female leads that regularly interact with one another. An active femslash community quickly develops around the show. Particularly after the lead characters share a (confusing) kiss in Season 2.
In the Season 2 episode "The Xena Scrolls" alternate universe versions of the principle characters appear. This leads to a whole subgenre of Xena fanfiction known as uber. It's one of the first incidents of a fandom embracing the AU and is especially notable as many of these AUs/uber fics are later converted into original works that are then published as lesbian romance novels.
The vampire cop series Forever Knight (1992-6) had two strong female co-stars, Natalie Lambert and Janette DuCharme. Although they only occasionally meet in canon (and, indeed, are both canonically romantically involved with the male protagonist), the term "Nanette" was coined by Patrick Kortner Aiex explicitly to refer to an f/f relationship between the two. The Nanettes faction was formalized in 1996.
The Nanettes had a discussion group on One List, Le Cercle des Nanettes, and later a Yahoo Group. There was also a website, Le Chateau des Nanettes, which archived members' fan fiction. Some of this was gen, but much was implicitly or explicitly f/f.
Buffy and Faith vs Willow and Tara
Brittana becomes the first slash couple ever willed into canon by the activism of fans. It would go on to create the Brittana Effect where slash fans presume they can simply demand creators put their preferred couple together because it is in the name of "diversity."
In 2011 Arizona Robbins and Callie Torres get married in the Season 7 episode "White Wedding." It's the first serious lesbian wedding on mainstream television that occurs between two regular cast members of a show.
The Femslash Herd
The femslash community is small enough that it tends to move in a herd, migrating from fandom to fandom as it seeks the promise of sweet sweet canon lady kisses.
Due to the insularity of the femslash fandom there are many femslash specific terms rarely found outside the fandom.
- Alt or Altfic, short for 'alternative fiction', originated in the Xenaverse where it is the preferred term for Xena/Gabrielle fiction. When some XWP bards started writing Janeway/Seven, Willow/Tara and other f/f fiction, the term followed these authors to Star Trek: Voyager and BtVS fandom where it coexisted with other terminology such as femslash and femmeslash. In 2000 one of the oldest multifandom f/f sites, The Pink Rabbit Consortium, moved its archive to altfic.com. For a variety of reasons alt didn't catch on and femslash became the dominant term for f/f fiction.
- Brittana Effect
- A fandom's presumption that claims of diversity will make a showrunner will their favorite slash pairing into existence.
- F/F Slash
- F/F Slash is used by some fans to indicate the continuity between f/f and m/m slash and probably is the oldest of the media fannish terms for this type of fiction.
- Femmeslash is an alternate spelling that some people prefer for its visual appeal. Others dislike it because it brings up Butch/Femme connotations; they perceive the term as reinforcing those stereotypes.
- Girlslash is used by some fans, as in the name of the Harry Potter community hp_girlslash. Usually it is accompanied by the m/m equivalent boyslash in an attempt to denormalize the assumption that all slash is m/m. Sometimes fans will request 'womanslash' as a specific contrast to 'girlslash', especially in fandoms in which the majority of the female characters are teenagers or young girls, as in the Harry Potter fandom.
- Ladyslash was used for a while in the late 90s. The dominant term for female/female fanfic in TV based fandoms was f/f slash in media fandom and alt or altfic in the Xenaverse. ScullySlash was the term used in X-Files fandom and the stories were usually either Scully/OFC or Scully/f crossovers that paired Scully with female characters from other shows, like for example Scully/Miss Parker in Hth's Pretender crossover Thank You For Not Smoking. There were other character specific terms (the rare Highlander f/f story was usually AmandaSlash) but these depended on the fandom. The term femslash probably existed but was first mentioned on the Ladyslash mailing list half a year after it was created on April 4, 1999, and the first mention of femmeslash was more than a year after creation. Whether intentional or not, "ladyslash" wasn't so much a new term as it was an umbrella for all those FemaleCharacterNameSlash f/f stories in all those different fandoms. Despite a Lady Slash WebRing that was created in 1999, a Lady Slash Site, and a LadySlash zine, the word "ladyslash" didn't impact the f/f slash terminology. The mailing list simply offered femslash fans a place where they could connect, share their f/f fanfiction, and discuss the f/f subtext of their favorite shows.
- Sapphic Fiction
- Some fans use words or phrases associated with the mainstream lesbian community. For instance, the Harry Potter fansite Sapphic_HP, like the term "saffic," references the association of the Greek poet Sappho with contemporary lesbian relationships and culture.
- Saffic, a portmanteauish pun on sapphic fiction, is used by a few fans. According to the userinfo of the LiveJournal community Saffic, saffic includes:
Femmeslash (or yuri and shoujo-ai) and erotica[...], as [well as] gen stories that focus on other strong female bonds such as friendship, sister, rival and mother-daughter relationships.
- Queer women content related to anime and manga. A term originating in the anime/manga community. There is shockingly little crossover between western femslash fandom and yuri fandom.
Some fans object to the way the term "femslash" seems to suggest that m/m slash is the norm and slash involving women is the exception.
"Yes I am perfectly aware that it is common to separate femslash from “common” slash. But you know what? I absolutely loathe this.
I haven’t until recently been able to articulate why it got my hackles up so much but it quite frankly always has and recently it dawned on me why. It’s because making this kind of separation make it seem that slash is normal while femslash is some weird subset of slash, like Mpreg or A/B/O that only a minority is interested in. By making the distinction in this way it posits that a sexual and/or romantic relationship between two (or more) women is abnormal and something not everyone is interested in while two guys screwing is perfectly normal and something that all “real women” have an interest in.
Furthermore I find the statements that het is the only female centered type of fic to be repulsive. It in one swoop it erases all women who has no interest in putting men at the centre of their lives, be it because they’re lesbians; bi or pan with a preference for women (or just people who aren’t men), aromantic, or something entirely fifth.And so I’m back to the root of my original rant, that fandom considers slash about women some weird (and slightly squicky) subcategory of slash, that only a small subset of fans with weird preferences can be interested in. Is that really what fandom wants to tell women of all ages?"
Other fans feel that since femslash is still common usage, we may need to continue to use the phrase while also challenging the usage:
In some cases, I have attempted to differentiate between m/m slash and f/f slash via the terms ‘dudeslash’ and ‘femslash’ because sometimes the distinction is valuable, in part because fannish spaces that are dominated by one type of slash can exhibit different mores than those dominated by other type(s) - and sometimes they don’t, naturally, but where they do, it’s sometimes valuable to distinguish using the term ‘femslash.’ Or the term ‘dudeslash,’ which I don’t really expect to catch on, but what I’m saying is, I’m not wholly unaware of the issue and I do try to make efforts to mitigate it. HOWEVER. It’s also useful to acknowledge that the common vernacular is not theideal vernacular, both in this case and in others. When people - especially a certain subset of academics/acafen, some of whom are not actually very hip to the lingo, as it were - talk about ‘slash,’ they do usually refer to m/m pairings, and f/f ones are curiosities and afterthoughts at best, or belong to a ‘weird (and slightly squicky) subcategory of slash,’ as you put it. Which is bullshit, and I agree that it’s bullshit and I absolutely do think that it should be challenged."
A few alternatives to "femmeslash" are in usage:
- The term "slash" is used equally for m/m and f/f fic, with "f/f" or "m/m" appended where more specificity is needed.
- "Slash" is rarely or never used generically; instead, fans refer to "boyslash" and "girlslash" or "femslash" and "maleslash" or some other combination of alternate terms.
Fans may argue for the general application of these usages, but they remain in the minority. In common fannish discourse (for instance, on the Fanlore wiki), "slash" is used to refer primarily to the male/male version.
- See Uber
A shockingly large percentage of femslash authors go on to be published. Often their first published works are fanfic works that have been edited to become original fiction.
How common is it?
Statistically speaking, femslash is generally uncommon. destinationtoast did an analysis of AO3 relationship tags, and found that 3.53% of fics were tagged as F/F; however fics with multiple relationship tags were seperated into different categories. centrumlumina also did an analysis of AO3 relationship tags, and concluded that 5.0% of all fics were tagged as F/F, including those with multiple relationship tags. The analysis also showed that of the most common pairings in fandom, only 4 were F/F, , and that in the most popular fics tagged with each of those F/F pairings, 43% of the time the F/F pairing met the definition of a side pairing. 
Some fandoms have more femslash than others, and destinationtoast also did an analysis of AO3 to examine which these were. The analysis includes both which fandoms have the highest proportions of femslash, and which had the most F/F works altogether. Genderswap was also factored in to account for inconsistencies in tagging.
Some fans have wondered why f/f slash is less common than m/m slash for twenty years or more; others think it is no great mystery and focusing on the question enforces a hierarchy where f/f is seen as less. Theories about the perceived lack of femslash include:
- There aren't a lot of shows with two interesting female characters, demonstrated by results on the Bechdel Test, and they were even rarer in the '80s and '90s.
- Where there are two female characters, they don't often have a relationship, especially a buddy or enemy dynamic which is regarded as shippable.
- Straight women aren't as turned on by the mechanics of f/f, so there is a smaller audience.
- F/f is more common than m/m slashers think, but as there is not much overlap between the m/m and f/f communities, the only parts of f/f fandom that m/m fandom sees are those where the female pairings are minor compared to the main m/m pairing. M/m slashers rarely participate in fandoms that are primarily f/f.
- Femslash is usually written by and for queer female authors, which means there are different identity politics involved; f/f slashers are more likely to already have a like-minded community outside the fannish context (and therefore less likely to seek out m/m-dominated slash fandom?)
- Writing femslash can force female writers to deal with gendered issues that hit close to home, whereas slash can be a form of escape from them. 
- Less pre-existing audience, fewer examples, and fewer resources mean writers have less community and are more likely to be discouraged by more critical feedback or less feedback overall. 
- Misogyny in Fandom
Notable Femslash Personalities
- Melissa Good is a very well known Xena/Gabrielle writer who was eventually hired by the show as a writer. She went on to write three episodes of the show, two produced and one, a romantic queer musical, that is unproduced.
- Ralst has maintained the largest exclusively femslash archive for more than ten years. The site, Passion & Perfection is particularly notable as it includes many femslash works not found on more mainstream archives like Ao3.
- Passion and Perfection - multifandom archive
- The Pink Rabbit Consortium - multifandom archive
- The Paradoxical F/F Archive - multifandom archive
- Passion Perfect: associated with the Passion and Perfection archive.
- Femslash100 (LiveJournal or Dreamwidth): drabble community.
Ficathons and Exchanges
- Femslash Minis
- The Little Bang A femslash Big Bang
- Femslash Ficathon: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005
- Where's all the good femslash? Does anybody know?archive link, December 1, 2003
- How to write femslash part 1: Lesbian Sex 101, Archived version (2007)
- not a tame lion: a boy's adventure in narnia by ravurian (March 2007)
- Because it seems like you guys hate on slash a lot..., Archived version (2015)
- Femslash, Patriarchy, and the Evils of Glossing (2004-2006)
Some relevant Fanlore pages:
- And_Then... - 1970s
- Kismet_(Star_Trek:_TOS_story) - 1977
- Politically_Incorrect_(zine) - 1987
- Obsczine - 1970s
- Beyond_the_Farthest_Star - 1982
- The_Unique_Touch - 1980s
- "touched"_(multifandom_zine) - 1980s
- Asbestos_Envelope - 1980s
- Cross_Currents_(Star_Trek:_TOS_story_by_Marion_Zimmer_Bradley) - 1980
- Moon_Phases - 1980s
- On_the_Double - 1989 comment on f/f
- Hatstand_Express_Interview_with_Fanny_Adams - 1988
- (Re)Making Space for Women - 2002 review of Blake's 7 femslash
- In August 2008, there were about 223,000 hits for femslash and about 100,000 hits for femmeslash in Google.
- officialcommanderlexa, Tumblr, February 2015 (Accessed March 24, 2015).
- Hth. Thank You For Not Smoking, originally published 25 June 1998.
- The original ScullySlash list was founded June 25, 1998 and the title read: ScullySlash • dedicated to FemSlash in The X-Files.
- saffic - community profile, accessed 2008-09-30. Written by KannaOphelia.
- , Archived version
- SEVEN FOXES, saathi1013: ormondhsacker: In regards to the..., Archived version
- a closer look at fanfic relationships, numbers found in the second image.
- Stage 7: Panfandom Overview.
- Stage Four: Summary, see also the original data here, and how the pairings were selected here.
- Stage 9: Side Pairings. A side pairing was defined "as those which a) are not the sole relationship tag present... and b) do not have any of the characters in the relationship mentioned by name in the summary."
- Which fandoms have the most femslash on AO3?.
- A chart illustrating all of the possible explanations people have suggested for the lack of femslash in my AO3 ship stats survey.