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Synonyms: subtexters
See also: slash, shipper
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A slasher is a fan of slash. Some fans of slash who also read or write in other genres prefer not to identify as slashers, seeing the term as meaning fans who are only interested in slash pairings.[1] Other fans define the term more broadly and identify as slashers despite also being interested in het and gen[2].

In Xena fandom the preferred term is subtexters[3]. It refers to the Xena/Gabrielle subtext on the show.

Slasher as Sexual Identity

Some fans see slasher not just as a description of the type of fic they read and write, but as a part of their sexuality as well. This has caused some controversy with queer fans, some of whom feel that it's a form of appropriation. However, especially in the 90s, when online fandom began to take off, people often talked about how they discovered slash and that it was like coming home because they had always liked this thing (that they didn't have a name for) but thought they were weird because they didn't know anyone else who shared these feelings.

"Others of us, however, are *slashers.* It is an identity issue, and that's why who has the right to use the name is an issue in some people's minds (mine included). We'll read slash for shows we don't give a shit about. We'll slash a show with no subtext visible without the use of laboratory equipment. We're in it for the *slash.*

When I'm talking about motives, I'm talking about those people's motives. The lifers. Why do we call ourselves slashers? Why does it matter to us the way it does? Lots of slashers (again, me included) talk about the first time they encountered slash with a sort of breathless awe -- *other* people do this! Other people *get* this! Some people are appalled and fascinated, some dive in with utter abandon, some people circle it for a while, settling in. The stories that self-identified slashers tell about discovering slash bear an eerie resemblance to the stories that queer people tell about key moments with their sexual identities.[4]

First Known Use of the Term

The word "slash" gets turned into a verb for the first time in this 1984 ad for a proposed zine: "Warriors/Lovers -- Are you tired of zines just dedicated to K/S, S/H or H/J? Is your imagingtion [sic] whispering: "What about the other slash pairs in history, films, fantasy, horror, & TV?" Well, Slashers, rejoice! Presenting: 'Warriors/Lovers' by The Theban Band/Saffo Press!... Keep in mind -- this will not be your ordinary "/" zine!" [5]

Slasher Demographics

Various studies by fans and academics over the years have tried to determine who is interested in slash. Early academic work on slash maintained that white, heterosexual women made up the majority of slashers, and this perception has persisted to the present day among some fans, academics, and mainstream journalistic accounts of slash.

Individual fans have varying recollections of the presence of queer slashers. For example, in a 1997 usenet post, Judith Gran noted that "from my experience in K/S fandom, which goes back to 1978, I think K/S fan fic (in zines) has always had a certain number of gay and bi women writers, although most of the women writing K/S in zines are heterosexual. K/S written by gay men is extremely rare, but it does exist."[6][7]

More recently, queer fans have pushed back against the conventional wisdom that slashers are straight women. In 2010, Melannen wrote a very popular post analyzing demographic statistics collected from several existing surveys and concluded that "THE MAJORITY OF SLASHERS IDENTIFY AS QUEER."[8] In 2013, centrumlumina did a survey of AO3 users and came to the same conclusion. [9]

Tumblr user impostoradult noted in a 2015 meta essay that it is impossible to determine the true percentage of queer vs. straight slash fans in part due to the question of who counts as a "fan".[10] impostoradult also argued that the enthusiasm for proving that the majority of slashers are queer may be motivated by a desire to prove "that slash is 'about' something other than women’s sexual gratification for its own sake."[10] (See also Why Slash.)

Note that the femslash community, often treated as a separate phenomenon from m/m slash, likely has a larger majority of queer fans; femslashers are usually queer women reading and writing about queer women.

External Resources


  1. Victoria P., like a broken record, posted on LiveJournal on 19 June 2005, accessed 11 October 2008.
  2. Beth H., Self-Identification as a Slasher in Fandom, posted on LiveJournal on 18 June 2005, accessed 11 October 2008.
  3. Xena - The Subtext FAQ for, Version 1.08, updated 1998. (Accessed 26 December 2008)
  4. Bettyp. comment posted 20 Jul 2002 (accessed 14 Aug 2010)
  5. from Not Tonight, Spock #5, 1984 and Datazine #32
  6. Judith Gran. alt.startrek.creative post in the thread Why gay stories? (not a complaint). 21 May 1997. (Accessed via Google Groups 16 July 2013)
  7. As always, keep in mind that the times were very different when the early surveys were done and some of the women claiming to be straight might have been closet Lesbians, bisexual or transgender; some may not have been aware of their own true orientation at the time; also, that some responding as women in the surveys may have been men who for whatever reason were using a female pseudonym and identity, similar to female science fiction authors who had their work published under initials or male names.
  8. Melannen. Science, y'all. (archived version) Dreamwidth post, 16 January 2010. (Accessed 9 November 2012)
  9. "among the 10,005 respondents to the AO3 census survey, the proportion of M/M fans who consider themselves both heterosexual and female is between 25% and 36% (depending on how precisely the terms are defined)." centrumlumina. Heterosexual Female Slash Fans, Archived version, posted to Tumblr 4 October 2013. See also AO3 Census: Masterpost, Archived version, posted 5 October 2013. And Demographics of M/M Fandom, Archived version, posted 12 August 2014.
  10. 10.0 10.1 impostoradult. reblog of Where exactly do people get this idea that fandom is dominated by straight women from?, posted 30 September 2015. archived.
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