Another Addict Raves About K/S

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Title: Another Addict Raves About K/S
Creator: Joanna Russ
Date(s): May 1985
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Topic: Kirk/Spock
External Links:
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Another Addict Raves About K/S is an article by Joanna Russ. It was first published in Nome #8. She later published a modified version of this essay as "Pornography by Women for Women, With Love" in her essay collection "Magic Mommas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans and Perverts: Feminist Essays."

first page from Nome #8

The essay is about the appeal of K/S and concludes that K/S is a metaphor for heterosexual sex between equals, with Spock as the symbolic female.

An excerpt: "K/S provides the female reader with a love affair in which both parties are fully worthy human beings who feel, think, and do sex in ways intelligible to women -- this leaves room for reading K/S as "Lesbian" as well as "heterosexual." .... The one thing K/S is *not* about is male homosexuality."

One fan writes that despite the huge amount of fiction and art in "Nome" #8, she bought the zine mainly for Russ' article. [1]

Reactions and Reviews

1985

Aug 14 1985, 7:09 pm
Newsgroups: net.startrek
From: s...@uoregon.UUCP
Date: Wed, 14-Aug-85 19:09:00 EDT
Subject: Re: Requested information on K/S
Feminists who are interested in erotica written by women for women should find themselves very able to "stomach" K/S. They should check out the rave review of K/S written by SF feminist author Joanna Russ in a fanzine namec NOME, "Another Addict Raves about K/S." Natrually there is a spectrum of material-from mild to X-rated, from well-written to total trash. This material is widely circulated, but not "Published" in the ordinary, or profit-making sense, and is in fact underground material of great interest to the participants - the writers, readers and editors. Unfortunately, attention paid to K/S for its feminist importance, may be damaging to fandom as a whole, if Paramount gets too interested in it. Starsky/Hutch and Star Wars fandoms were severely restricted by paranoid producers. Joanna has refused to supply the names of K/S editors and writers to the editors of Penthouse FORUM -- but FORUM is interested. As for the writers involved, writing fan material is wonderful fun, and may just provide the impetus for writers to break into publication, as a number of fan writers have. While it is true that REAL SF writers look ascance at Trek as formula fiction, the first item of importance to most aspiring writers is GETTING PUBLISHED. Trek is a "hungry" market. [2]
Feminists who are interested in erotica written by women for women should find themselves very able to "stomach" K/S. They should check out the rave review of K/S written by SF feminist author Joanna Russ in a fanzine named NOME, "Another Addict Raves about K/S." Natrually there is a spectrum of material-from mild to X-rated, from well-written to total trash. This material is widely circulated, but not "Published" in the ordinary, or profit-making sense, and is in fact underground material of great interest to the participants-the writers, readers and editors. Unfortunately, attention paid to K/S for its feminist importance, may be damaging to fandom as a whole, if Paramount gets too interested in it. Starsky/Hutch and Star Wars fandoms were severely restricted by paranoid producers. Joanna has refused to supply the names of K/S editors and writers to the editors of Penthouse FORUM--but FORUM is interested. As for the writers involved, writing fan material is wonderful fun, and may just provide the impetus for writers to break into publication, as a number of fan writers have. While it is true that REAL SF writers look ascance at Trek as formula fiction, the first item of importance to most aspiring writers is GETTING PUBLISHED. Trek is a "hungry" market. [3]
Joanna Russ, pro writer, analyses Trek,
 (from the outside, reminding us firmly of her professional qualifications and also that 
none of us writes as well as Virginia Woolf. I note from her choice of pronoun, she 
doesn't include herself.) Her thesis is that K/S is a new type of feminist fiction written 
by women for women in fulfillment of our specific needs. Sorry, but as a writer, however 
amateur, I identified with little of it. I do not wish to have my potential readership
 limited by a theory. I write for anyone who'll read and, as I've said before, lament 
the absence of male readers and writers. Incidentally, Ms Russ tells us emphatically
 the absence of male readers and writers in U.S since Kirk and Spock are not gay, they just go to bed together, and they are always shown as so masculine - oh Ms Russ! [4]
Now look. Much I will take from the woman who gave me the first-ever lesbian Star Trek story, but when you criticize Joanna Russ that's 'Going Too Far. She is my hero, not only as the woman who convinced me (in a depressing period just after I'd read Mary Renault's Those Friendly Young Ladies" - for any Renault fans who haven't read it, don't - it'll give you the most unpleasant insights into that woman's mentality — which ("TFYL") had convinced me that it is impossible for lesbians to write readable stories about lesbians (I'd never read - or heard of - "Rubyfruit Jungle"). Can you wonder that I, an aspiring young lesbian writer, was feeling like the pits?) that a lesbian could write a marvellously crafted, shiningly excellent, science—fiction story about lesbians? The story was, of course, "When It Changed", a tale of Whileaway, the world without men, and I read it in 'Klndred Spirits,' of which, more later. In a sense, therefore, Ms Russ is responsible for my continuing support of "touched" - without which, I say smugly, it would have foundered in the second issue - or more than likely, would never have been launched at all. She's also directly responsible for "Changing" - whether or not she'd like the idea, I don't know.

All right, all right, I admit it - Joanna Russ is not a goddess. (Divine hero, yes, definitely,) She must, therefore, being only human - not even Vulcan - have her faults. But anyone who wrote The Female Man, and who is (to my knowledge) the first sf writer to, come out publicly, in print, as a lesbian...personally, I'm prepared to forgive her anything up to retirement. And I'd like to see the article - I don't suppose it was written specifically for a K/S zine, was it? If it was written for a non-fen feminist audience, that would explain a little crassness in the writing.

Incidentally, on one point I definitely agree with her. While feminism is not directly evident in many K/S stories, K/S and it's sister genres, Avon/Blake, Avon/Vila, Starsky/Hutch, Bodie/Doyle, etc, etc - are a unique phenomenon. While many resemble gay male porn - some at it's worst, some at its best - they are not written for a gay male audience. They are, essentially the first example we have of women's pornography. (Call it erotica if it makes you feel better.) It has long been known that straight men can be excited at the thought of two women making love. With K/S it is acknowledged that women - I include both straight and gay (though I don't pretend to understand the latter, even though it includes myself) - can be excited by two men making love. The difference is, that though to the man it does not seem to matter who the two women are, to the woman it matters very much indeed. The men must not be faceless puppets, they must be recognisable, known - they must be people, not dummies. (It is this, and the fact that any advance in women's knowledge of themselves must be a forward step, that makes me agree with Russ, K/S, A/V, A/B, S/H, B/D - it is a form of feminist literature. Which, like all feminist literature, men are welcome to read, that they may be liberated too.

(Phew. Apologies in advance for anything that anyone may take this a personal slur. I didn't realise I felt so strongly about it till I started writing it down!) [5]
"Another Addict Raves About K/S" by Joanna Russ is an essay by the science fiction writer/professor of literature & her various academically extremely well qualified friends on the meaning of K/S & its significance for its predominately female readers. I have to say at this point that I get a little...excitable when people start analysing me whether it be David Gerrold or Bjo Trimble (against) or Joanna Russ (for); some of it may be true for some, a lot of it probably isn't true for others. (IDIC rules OK even in the battalions of K/S readers & writers.) Suffice to say that I agree with various portions of the essay & disagree vehemently with others. One point that really got under my skin was the assertion 'that these men who love each other aren't gay...somehow they're still very 'masculine'. Surely Ms. Russ doesn't mean to imply that to be homosexual is not to be masculine. And in the 23rd century, which is, after all what we are writing about - or some of us try to, without recourse to our 20th century female sensibilities - there will be no such labels & stereotypes. Partners will be partners & it simply won't matter. Another interesting remark is: 'I have never known in my life...a woman whose body was not, in some sense, a problem to her...women can't imagine persons with their kind of bodies saving the universe once a week.' Thinking back to the two stories reviewed above, I don't know about that; what with Kirk getting an erection when he's trying to persuade Spock his intentions are purely platonic & both of them getting extremely embarrassing erections while watching pornographic holograms, I would say men have their own problems! Anyway, Joanna Russ's essay is sure to prove an excellent launching pad for heated debate. [6]

1986

"Another Addict Raves About K/S" is both interesting and informative. She presents a very thoughtful discussion of one person's discovery of K/S. Although you may not agree with everything she writes - she is very candid with her comments and her own personal views whIch can only make all of us think about our own feelings concerning the many aspects of K/S. [7]
More on Joanna Russ—read the analysis of K/S' appeal in NOME #8 and it sure had some valid points...especially about the 'relationship between equals'. I do, however, think it overlooks some ASPECTS OF THE APPEAL OF K/S...or at least how it appeals to me personally. Don't know about y'all but I find K/S as well as B/D, S/H, H/J, gay male fiction and even some gay 'porn' — both written and visual (completely unlike hetero porn) — can be an incredible sexual turn on for me. If hetero women are 'sexually frustrated' as Joanna points out, I think one of the biggest appeals of gay sex (both male and female) is 'the grass is greener' aspect...not only from the relationship of equals standpoint, but also the suspicion/envy of how much more gratifying sex would be with a same sex partner... without all the incredibly difficult communication and compromise problems of differing sexual needs and expectations we experience. How often do we find words like 'he knew exactly how and where to touch' in '/' fiction? I for one find that aspect incredibly appealing. [8]
Joanna Russ's essay, "Another Addict Raves About K/S," presents a stimulating discussion of one person's discovery of K/S. Not everyone will agree with every thing she has to say, & she's very frank about her own political & aesthetic biases--but this is a probing analysis that can only impel others to reflect on their own understanding of & feelings about innumerable aspects of K/S. [9]

1987

It bothered me that [Russ] felt you couldn't write a story about a woman without involving the gender issue, but you could about a man. It also bothered me that she couldn't imagine a woman going out and having adventures 7 days a week...I found my self a little suspicious that being unable/unwilling to identify with a female character should be called feminist. (Though I was interested in the article "Spock Among Women" and thought it was quite possible that the form of K/S and the women's "breaking silence" about their interest in their own type of sexuality was feminist.) [10]
What [Russ] is maintaining is that K/S isn't feminist. This is of a piece with Russ's essay on woman heroes in Susan Kornillon's anthology THE IMAGE OF WOMEN IN LITERATURE. Russ said there that no one writes about woman heroes because no one can believe that a woman can be a hero. Her essays on K/S are a continuation of that arguement. She is saying that K/S is a result of the patriarchal conditioning that even feminists do have. I agree that it is difficult to overcome patriarchal attitudes and I certainly don't claim to have done so completely, but I disagree with her when she says that this explains K/S. It doesn't explain why I write K/S. I don't believe that only men can be heroes. I've written about Mara on Penthesilia in the NTM universe. I've written a K/S story in which Uhura and a group of woman officers rescue Kirk and Spock. I've written a K/S story that hasn't appeared yet in which Amanda leads a revolution on Vulcan. I am making feminist statements about sex roles through K/S. I'm annoyed that Russ's explanation has been held up as the official one by so many people. t don't think she ever meant it to be the gospel about K/S, but only a beginning of feminist thinking about it. In response to me about gayness in K/S, what K/S is about is a matter of argument. I have read some very gay-identified K/S, though it mostly has appeared in England. K/S can be anything the editors and writers want to make of it. It is not inherently disguised heterosexuality. I certainly don't write K/S that way. Besides, Russ didn't say that Spock was really a woman. She said that he had many traits conventionally ascribed to women, but that in K/S Kirk and Spock have traits conventionally ascribed to both genders making them androgynous. I endorse the word androgyny, by the way. It is the only word we have that mean possessing traits conventionally ascribed to both genders, and therefore it is a word that feminists sorely need. So I'm reclaiming it for feminists -- just as feminists have reclaimed bitch, hag and witch. [11]

1993

Speaking of K/S and its meaning, a fellow K/Ser sent a wondarful articulate article to me by a Joanna Russ called "Another Addict Raves About K/S." Not only did I enjoy it despite my extreme reservations about too much analysis and over explaining, but whan I gave it to my totalty-non-understanding-about-K/S husband and he read it, a big lightbulb want on over his head and he said and I nearly quote "Now I see and l wish I could have someone like a Spock or a Kirk in my life." Is that incredible? So if anyone wants a copy of this, I decided it's got to be shared -- just send me one dollar to cover the postage and I'll send it to you. [12]

1996

Joanna Russ said that Spock was a 'feminine' character? She got that idea from some friends she'd introduced to K/S, and only partially accepted it, saying that one of the most notable aspects of the genre was BOTH characters determined androgynous (or words to that effect). And, by the way, it's possible that Kirk could view Spock (unconsciously) as feminine because Spock is a subordinate and Kirk (let's face it) is a fine old fashioned sexist pig. It's equally possible that Spock could view Kirk (more consciously, surely) as feminine because he is weaker than Spock, more emotional, more impulsive and less logical than Spock and because he's the child of a planet that is Spock's literal mother-world. [13]

1998

I was intrigued [by the] comments about men in K/S [fandom]. This certainly does raise the uncomfortable question of how the idealized, open society celebrated in much of K/S writing relates to the "women-only spaces" you described. The topic is also interesting because, quite by coincidence, I recently came across an essay I had saved from a zine published some years ago. Entitled "Another Addict Raves About K/S" by Joanna Russ, it is a very interesting and even scholarly analysis of how and why the author thinks K/S works.... the entire piece is written from a strongly feminist point of view. It would be impossible to do justice to Ms. Russ's views with only a brief summary of the complex ideas expressed in her essay. However, I think it's safe to say that her central premise is that real equality between men and women does not exist in today's world, that "the K/S writer and reader know that love can exist only between equals, and that "K/S creates the equality it needs by making its lovers of the same sex. She also says: "K/S is the only fiction I've ever seen that is by women and for women without the interposition of commercial norms or political ideology," And: "It is - quite simply - the only fiction I have ever found that is written in Female." ... There is, for example, a lengthy discussion of what it means to be a woman in a man's world and how that reality encodes into the art of women's writing about Kirk and Spock. And how about the following in relation to your "women-only spaces": "In real life there are few places where we [women] can safely let go without being harmed in some way." [And] "K/S is the only literature I know that celebrates female sexuality, and its relation to love and vulnerability. Women have written about love' for a long time, but women's vision of erotic excitement exists nowhere else but in K/S. [14]

References

  1. Joan Verba writes in Boldly Writing
  2. a post to net.startrek from August 1985
  3. posted to net.startrek on Aug 14 1985, 7:09 pm as a reply to a fan asking for information on K/S
  4. comment by Eva Stuart in "touched" #6, part of a longer review, see that page (October 1985)
  5. by Jane Carnall in "touched" #6 (October 1985)
  6. from Not Tonight Spock! #11 (November 1985)
  7. from Datazine #41 (1986)
  8. from Not Tonight Spock! #12 (January 1986)
  9. from Not Tonight Spock! #12 (January 1986)
  10. from Sociotrek #3 (1987)
  11. from Sociotrek #5 (1987)
  12. from The LOC Connection #57 (September 1993)
  13. from Rallying Call #17 (April 1996)
  14. from The K/S Press #22 (June 1998)