Another section of the slash puzzle

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Title: Another section of the slash puzzle
Creator: princessofgeeks
Date(s): July 8, 2008
Medium: online
Fandom: has a Stargate Atlantis and Stargate SG1 focus, with some Sentinel
Topic:
External Links: Another section of the slash puzzle;archive link
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Another section of the slash puzzle is a 2008 essay by princessofgeeks.

Some Topics Discussed in the Essay and Comments

Excerpts from the Essay

Some people who've been around pointed out that they see pretty significant stylistic differences from the slash of 20 or 30 years ago compared to today, and they talked about how that came about. In the comments are links to to great original-post discussions of "waves" of slash fanfic, and it was good to review those, and also good to learn that probably "Smallville" was the first fandom that moved wholesale to LiveJournal, and so it's probable that the writers who were in "Smallville" at the time influenced the overall fan culture that has grown up here. Set the tone for it. And it made me wonder, with others, what a historical family tree of writers would look like; tracing fans' migrations among fandoms. There's a doctoral dissertation in there for somebody, and if you're interested in our history as 'fanfic people', definitely bookmark that post, because a bunch of people with firsthand knowledge weighed in and the historical discussion was utterly fascinating.

But I got most tuned-in to the discussion of changes in fanfic writing, and seperis was flailing around and trying to describe what she meant. She was having a hard time describing it -- how the slash of 2008 is different from the slash of yore.

I do believe there is a slash aesthetic, and there are things we could do to describe how slash differs from other kinds of writing, and how it also differs from non-fanfic gay lit.

But I've been flailing around lately, talking about my personal kinks for Jack/Daniel, and that post of seperis reviewing the "waves" of fanfic made a lightbulb go on for me. It brought together a bunch of elements and parts of the lightbulb and made the electricity flow, and BOING. Light.

"First wave" slash apparently was characterized by the idea of presenting the slash pairing as straight guys who had a bond that we saw in the show/movie/book. Then the slash people wanted to push through the boundary of canon and explore the emotional, intimate, and often sexual dimensions of such an obvious bond, but without going into a lot of background that would define and/or present the two male characters as gay.

This is a big "duh" to many of you, but I am backing into all this, and it was revelation to me.

Because it explains the trope of WNGWJLEO. That "first wave" kind of slash, which you almost never see any more because societal views of homosexuality have changed in the last 40 years, can easily tip over into WNG, and also, it lends itself very well to some very interesting plots about how one guy can fall in love with the other and experience that love as the first time he ever fell for someone of the same sex, and what that does to his identity. I think I'm going to change my definitions now. I'm going to use a more limited definition of WNG, because it really is part of this broader thing that is "first wave" slash. So that helped me.

Some of these WNG plots in slash stories do have echoes of the homophobia that was pretty much inescapable in USA society until very very recently. The writers of that kind of slash probably weren't interested in grappling with society's ideas of homosexuality. They just wanted their gorgeous men to have these emotional experiences in their stories. Sometimes they overtly state in the story that they're interested in the symbolism of the sex -- not the sex itself. This always makes me scratch my head, but I understand it better now.

I also, with my new definitions all handy, realized that even though the Jack and Daniel characters in SG-1 do have a back story of heterosexual relationships, and a preconception within canon of straightness (as it's extremely rare for Hollywood to ever write a character who just "happens to be gay" or "happens to be bi" -- the gayness is almost always presented as a PROBLEM or a PLOT ELEMENT), I rarely see, nowadays, those kinds of "straight but with a special relationship" stories about them any more. I think the ten years of this canon spanned that time of change in the slash aesthetic and the slash style.

We have switched over nowadays to an assumption that any character might be gay or bi, and that despite women in their pasts, we can assume a back story of repression or passing or bisexuality and make that part of the character. We have totally moved away from that stereotype that assumes that unless a male character is stereotypically swish or feminized, he CAN'T be GAY. There's no "typical gay" look or manner assumed now.

I love this. Because I think it's a saner view of sexuality and it's normalized queer orientations, and I LIKE that. That's IMPORTANT to me, that society accept queer as within the bounds of normal. I hope that revolution comes in my lifetime, and I want to help it come out there in RL Land.

But I do still love, I realize, slash stories that confront the women in the canonical pasts of Jack and Daniel, and don't take for granted that they are attracted to each other and that they might be gay, anybody might be gay. I love these stories, which are "second wave" stories that give me the entire setup of why we assume they love each other and why they might be attracted and how THEY FEEL ABOUT THAT. I love the setup. I love the explorations of laying the groundwork for the back story of why Jack might have concealed his bi tendencies, or why he might be surprised that he fell for Daniel. I love all the potential of that. I love the same thing for Daniel -- was he always gay and SHA'RE was the big surprise? Did he marry her to have a good reason to stay on Abydos? (Horrors -- a coldhearted Daniel? Hard to imagine. But it would be a fascinating way to explore his character.) Or was he always bi? Was he straight and Jack surprised him?

But most fic, as seperis' commenters point out, is "third wave", now -- assuming the slashy pairing of choice are attracted and that they are probably gay or bi or whatever, and let's go with the porn or the other sort of plot.

But I'm still a second-wave writer in a third-wave world.

Excerpt from the Comments

slb44: For me, going back to the original slash, Kirk/Spock it was about forcing the establishment to look what they'd crafted in the face. I mean, come on, those two in particular, but not limited to just them, were sparking off each other like crazy from day one. The tone of the acting on the show made that next step a very tiny one. Plus for me, Kirk always seemed like he was bi, always. And Spock, well who knew about Vulcans? So it wasn't a very far step from canon and it wasn't WNG in anyway shape or form. I think because of that and because it started out in a scifi show it made it easier to transition from there into other fandoms.
princessofgeeks:

I've only read a handful of Kirk/Spock stories and none of them seemed to have any of the rather homophobic or squicked-by-teh-gay sort of WNG that I ran across in The Sentinel and in some Daniel/Jack.

So of course I didn't mean to imply that all first-wave slash had that WNG undercurrent; I don't think it did. But from what you say, in Kirk/Spock the vibe between them was huge and it wasn't a huge extrapolation to take that straight into slash, do not pass GO. (pardon the pun).

Thanks for the thinky!
executrix: Also, ST:TOS not only takes place in the future, it takes place in a GOOD future where the Federation is pretty much the good guys, so it wouldn't be implausible for homophobia to have vanished by them, just as the presence of Sulu and Uhura is supposed to show the demise of racism. (Of course the show was made by people who had absorbed at least some of the attitudes of RL in their own time--but hey, we used to think carrot cake and quiche were health food.)
cross-stitchery:

i haven't read many [Kirk/Spock stories], but i came across one in a zine that was really into the WNG mindset. to the degree that, while they were making out, they had to stop every half page or so to assure each other that WNGWJLEO. seriously. and it wasn't a short story. i ended up bailing. (the illos were very nice, tho)

another fandom where WNG is prevalent is The Professionals. again, a fandom dating back to the late '70s. i read an otherwise excellent novel length AU zine where one of the characters is working undercover and has sex with the other believing him to be gay (because his boss told him so). then, at the very end of the story we find out the other character is not only not gay, but working for the same boss. who presumably knows very well that neither character is gay, so WTF? and the only explanation i can think of is that the author simply wasn't comfortable with the idea of even one of them actually being gay.

i got my start in fanfic reading/writing Due South slash, and at that time - mid 90's, around the time The Sentinel started airing, there was a huge anti-slash feeling in the fandom. and among the slashers, the WNG was still quite noticeable. i wrote a story where Fraser was all for embracing his gayness and Vecchio was strictly in the WNG camp because i was quite troubled by the attitude, even tho there's a certain romanticism about a guy loving another guy *so much* that it forces him to reassess his sexuality. that's the good side of WNG, but a lot of it was homophobic.

and then there's the corollary, that it's okay for the guys to love each other as long as it ends badly/is unrequited.

but on the good side, there were plenty of slashers who were quite political about it, myself included, and who felt they were doing something to fight back against the homophobia in the larger fandom.

towards the point i was getting out of DS fandom (around '98 - 99) the trend was changing away from WNG to mostly stories where at least one of the characters was either gay or bi.

by the time i got into Sentinel fandom, the same thing had happened there. even tho the Sentinel-Guide bonding theme is perfect material for WNG stories.

i know that one Gen TS archive had to draw up some very specific guidelines about what was acceptable in "bonding" scenes because the stories were definitely tipping over into Teh Gay Sex (TM) - no actual penetration, but full nudity, licking, fondling, nipple biting and crotch sniffing. LOL! but THEY WEREN'T GAY! IT WAS JUST BONDING!1!1!!1!!

smarm is very big in TS fandom too. i tend to think of smarm as slash without the courage of its convictions, but some smarm writers also write slash, so i don't really know where that comes from.
executrix:

The wave analysis is very much complicated by the fact that although there are some people who have happily been in the same fandom for 20 years, there's a lot of new people coming in at various times. Some of them are kids, some of them are just new to that fandom or fandom as a whole.

Also, quite frankly, as fans we bring a lot of our own baggage, and there's a lot of conscious or unconscious use of fic to work out our own issues and anxieties, and it's tough NOT to be anxious about sex because it's a scary subject.

It seems to me that since we don't mind altering canon facts like "dead" and "not a penguin" it should also be OK to add in "interested in own sex as well as the other one as demonstrated in canon." And, given the incentives for people to try to be heterosexual, or to act heterosexual, I always find it believable that a man who is attracted to men would still make a more or less sincere effort to date women or make a marriage work. I can certainly believe "Daniel loved Sha're and misses her, and would have been glad to stay with her, but now he's moved on and he loves Jack."

Personally, I think that the huge amount of AMTDI and its variants in other fandoms is adopted precisely so writers can avoid thinking of their BSOs as interested in men, and that first time stories are so popular because the story ends before the characters have to think about the consequences of being swept away by volcanic passion.

And if only RL was so casual about sexual orientation.
lokei:

I think first time stories are popular for the same reason that romantic comedies are popular in mainstream movies. Everybody likes the romance involved: the what-if, the uncertainty, the dodging of or falling into pitfalls, the potential for comedy and/or heartbreak. Established relationships are an entirely different set of emotional cues for both the characters involved and the audience. I'm not convinced that avoiding fallout is any more the primary motivator, even unconsciously, in slash fiction than it is in het fiction. Even Shakespeare usually ended his comedies at the wedding.

Thinking about issues analyzing writing waves and the constant influx of new writers, I think even new people coming into a fandom are going to be influenced by the prevailing attitudes of that fandom.
princessofgeeks:

hee. yes, i agree that the "wave" theory of slash is not foolproof; nothing about literature is like math. But I found it very interesting, and it helped me understand why I adored TS, because so much of the fic you can find in that fandom is second wave fic, not third wave fic. SGA is a third wave fandom, and I see from afar the interest in crackfic and AUs and penguinfic and I think, that's great, but I'm really in slash for second wave fic, or "could have been an episode" plots with some romance mixed in. so there's that. and there was a there there for seperis to see -- what she was struggling to describe is real, methinks.

I love AMTDI not because I have Issues about my BSO being attracted to a guy. I lovelovelove identifying with male characters; it's one of the reasons my OTP in this fandom is Jack/Daniel and not Jack/Sam or Daniel/Vala. I wondered, now that I'm in a fandom with strong female protagonists, if I would imprint on them. My previous fandoms were very short on strong female characters. But despite the very center-stage presence of women I can ID with, I'm still a slasher And it's because of some of MY issues about loving the exoticness of slash and the opportunity to do that "be him AND fuck him" thing.

I also love AMTDI or "bad guys made them do it" or "undercover oopsies" because I have a kind of a soft kink for noncon that I can indulge that way, and also I love the idea that it would take something drastic like Death by Ancient Download or AMTDI to get Jack in bed with Daniel. With my guys, the bar is that high, I think. So that works for me for different reasons than you suggest. Others' mileage, as always, may vary.

lokei: I like the idea that the evolution of slash fiction and changing attitudes in the wider world go hand in hand. Of course, I live in Massachusetts, so my worldview is decidedly, um, blue. A bluestocking in a blue state, that's me. I think it would be fascinating to see if there's any correlation to the published market--do the slash 'waves' precede, equal, or follow changes in the world of publishing as regards gay/lesbian fiction or romance? Is the trend toward downloadable romance books, for instance, benefiting from those of us who started in slash fan fiction? What's the age range of readers of published vs. fan works, and has that shifted?
princessofgeeks: re: slash's hidden impact on book marketing: No idea. But I'd love to know the answers to all that, too. Slash has been underground until literally the last five years. So I have no idea! I think it would have to be totally hidden from mainstream publishing's marketing efforts, though. Truly. They had a hard enough time understanding that, yes, women really really did love Brokeback Mountain, the Lord of the Rings movies, and Science Fiction in general. They still can't figure that out. LOL. Even though the numbers are RIGHT THERE.
cross-stitchery:

The first professionally published slash i came across was Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series, and for a while there were quite a few Fantasy/SF novels being published which featured same sex relationships (mostly, but not all m/m)

alas, that phase is well and truly past, and it's now next to impossible to find any slashy pro novels released for the general readership. obviously gay themed novels are still being written for the "gay market" but that's a different thing entirely.
cryptoxin:

What a fascinating post -- I like how you weave the different strands together.

I'm kind of struck by how, for a certain kind of slash, closeted homosexuality functions as the ultimate form of repression, whereas other kinds of slash (later waves?) de-emphasize internal struggles over sexual orientation in favor of, say, military rules & culture or "angsty backstory results in emotional lockdown and iceberg sized trust issues." The latter issues wouldn't necessarily be exclusive to slash, so I wonder if they also appear in het with equal frequency -- and whether het (and gen) even traffics in the romance of male repression to a similar degree, and/or focuses on female repression? I haven't read widely enough to speculate.

For that matter, is there an aspect of that repression narrative that appeals to slash's predominantly female writers & readers specifically as a point of identification, a way of narrativizing other kinds of repression? I can kind of see the repressed homosexuality trope function as a metaphor for being fannish in a mundane world -- having to pass and fit in, being unable to express your feelings & passion, desires & fantasies that are different than everyone around you.
princessofgeeks:

re: het fanfic issues: It's my impression, and I have not read all that much het, so I'm really on thin ice here, but I have read some, that het fanfic is much more similar to traditional romance novels. that post I link to by giandjukiss in the OP draws those comparisons nicely. I have read some het that is not; it's more about the characters and their specific issues and various plot explorations, esp. if the characters are female soldiers or aliens or cops or something. But again: het fanfic is not my thing and I'm sure to misrepresent it. Gen fanfic is usually up-close character study, missing scenes from episodes, or plotty teamy goodness, like official tie-in novels but often MUCH BETTER. Hee.

Oh, I do think that female readers and writers of slash are all over the repression/oppression symbolism. I think women know all about oppression down in their bones, because the revolution is still in progress for us, and so, of course, do oppressed minorities, and that is an actual and real point of identification in terms of civil rights out here in RL, and I think that shared knowledge is under the surface of the slash, in the meta, not ON the surface or somehow coming out in the community. I think I personally get off on, say, Daniel bottoming or thinking about power issues in his relationship with Special Ops Commando Col. Bad Ass guy, because I get all of the kinky power dynamics with none of the M/F violence/fear/crap from real life. This is totally something I've figured out about myself and I went into that in that post of mine that I linked to above, about my J/D kink buttons.

On the other hand, I suppose nowadays slash fandom could kind of wallow in the "slash is closeted, kind of like gay people", but i honestly don't see that trumpeted anywhere as some kind of "slashers arm in arm with gays in RL" gay ghetto pass -- I would never think that because I love slash that gives me any kind of magic insight into the situation of real gays in RL. There was actually a big flamewar over this the last time we were pondering the "slash fandom: queer female space?" topic. I'm certainly not trying to reignite that! *cowers*
cross-stitchery:

On the other hand, I suppose nowadays slash fandom could kind of wallow in the "slash is closeted, kind of like gay people"

but i don't think that slash *is* closeted. god knows there are essays all over the internet about the perplexing question of why women slash. and the entertainment industry certainly knows all about it.

but even if specific slashers *are* closeted, that's a whole different thing. my choice not to be "out" as a slasher to family and friends is as much a reflection of how they would react to me being fannish ("but it's just a TV show!") as how they would react to me writing porn of any description, not just slash. i'm simply chosing not to have that conversation with them, not repressing an essential part of my nature.
princessofgeeks: that's what I think, too. If slash used to be closeted societally, it's not now. Individual slashers are, because we started out here on the net and in fandom with pseudonyms, and the lack of understanding/acceptance of fandom culture is probably as big a part of us wanting to keep our hobbies among us as it is the slash thing. *ponders*
mmmchelle:

I've written my share of third wave stories, but I love stories that grapple with sexuality and its implications, and I absolutely adore stories in which one or both of the partners is the other's first same sex partner.

I'd love to see more of that kind of story in femslash circles. I want a good, meaty Sam Carter comes out to herself story in the worst way.

What appeals to me most about the "hey, I wasn't gay before you came along" stories, is the recognition that sexuality is fluid. That it changes as we change. It isn't hard for me to imagine that Jack's sexuality would shift and change after meeting Daniel. His entire life shifts and changes after he meets Daniel (or really after Charlie dies, but Daniel is a primary part of Jack's post-Charlie life).

It isn't just Daniel that changes Jack.

The same with John and Rodney. Their entire lives have been turned inside out. It isn't hard to imagine that the consequences of that change might include a shift in their sexuality.

For me, any acknowledgment that sexuality is more than being stuck in Box A or Box B sometime in adolescence and remaining there for the rest of your life is a good thing.
mmmchelle:

We must read very different stories, because in SGA, at least, Rodney discovering he's attracted to men via his attraction to John and then happily exploring his newfound sexuality is a fairly common plot. I have read stories in which Rodney sleeps with men other than John. I've also read stories in which Rodney reads and watches gay porn, admires other men, and flirts with them, even if he sleeps solely with John.

So to me, the overall message I get is still "straight except for this one guy, who will be my life partner forever, the end", rather than "I fell for this man and it made me rethink my sexuality".

Even in stories in which the newly-queer character doesn't actively explore their sexuality with anyone but his or her new partner, that isn't the message I get. What I get is that sexuality is fluid, it changes and grows as we change and grow, and that when it comes to attraction the person is more important than the genitalia.

As a bisexual who has been sexually active for more than a quarter of a century, those stories resonate far more with my own experience, and that of many of the people in my life (including my lesbian friend who was perfectly straight until she met the woman with whom she settled quite happily into a monogamous civil union). In my experience sexuality does change, the person is more important than the body parts, and same sex sex, like het sex, can be an amazing and lovely thing.

When I read a previously straight person having sex with someone of the same gender of the first time and feeling a mixture of awe, excitement, and nervousness, that's a story that speaks to me, one I find contains some emotional truth. And emotional truth matters far more to me as a reader - and a writer - than political correctness.
kyuuketsukirui:

I don't really see it as a matter of political correctness. I'm just saying why I prefer stories where people are already queer*, and it's not that I want them shoved into a box as a teenager.

*Or who have at least had some sort of questioning of their sexuality during their lifetime, rather than 40 years of 100% straightness and then happily ever after gay. That just...doesn't appeal at all.
princessofgeeks:

Right! I remember when I first discovered that flavor of WNG that did include homophobic elements -- that went beyond "straight, but gay only for you", even, to "they are physically intimate and soulmates but the gay is yucky" and I was really puzzled by it, because I was approaching slash from the 21st century, and it never occurred to me that someone could actually write slash and be uncomfortable with gay sex. But I see from the history of slash that that is possible. I think it's an artifact of earlier days, though.

the one true love thing that you see in some of these same stories does, as you say, take away the bigger picture of what does it mean to have a gay identity now -- and I love stories that get into that, but if they kind of end with the focus on the happily ever after, monogamy here we come, then it does preclude any other kinds of stories being told.
friendshipper:

I hope you don't mind me poking into the conversation, because I was just discussing WNG via email with a friend the other day and we were trying to figure out the boundaries of it, and what people normally mean when they talk about the trope. Both of us are pretty new to slash meta, so it's the blind leading the blind, so to speak.

I guess that what I've generally assumed in these discussions is that when people talk about WNGWJLEO, they mean stories in which the characters weren't "out" prior to the story -- that is, stories in which the characters are discovering (or at least acting upon) sexual attraction to a person of the same sex for the first time. Either they identify as straight/confused/not openly gay at the start of the story, or sexuality is simply not mentioned in the story at all -- that would be WNGWJLEO as I understand it.

But like I said, I'm fairly new to slash meta (as well as slash in general), and I don't want to be making assumptions about what sort of stories people are talking about when it may be totally wrong! I've run into a couple of these things already -- in fact, I think it was a discussion at your journal awhile back where I was introduced to the wider fandom definition of "smarm", which is pretty different from stories that I'd seen referenced as smarm in the fandoms I'd been in. And I'm getting the idea from the above comments that different people thing of different sorts of stories as being WNGWJLEO. Do you think there's a generally accepted fannish definition, as in "what does your average slash fan think when they hear this term"?
princessofgeeks:

I myself have concluded that I was defining it too broadly. What I mean was First Wave stories, when I talked about WNG. But I do think WNG does include that limiting idea of the NOT GAY -- that the guys do not end the story thinking of themselves as gay when they're in love and having sex (for your definition of 'having sex'.) And in today's society, given how we're defining sexual orientation now, I think the pure WNG stories are now an artifact of an earlier era of slash. The term is still around, but the actual examples of it are getting rarer. I don't think people would write a true WNG story nowadays, because the reasons that prompted it (societal homophobia) have eased so much, especially in the slash community.

Now, I think you can make a case that there are stories about how "It's not the plumbing, it's the soulmate thing" can still work without being homophobic -- this idea that you can fall in love and want to be with someone and the plumbing is kind of irrelevant. Especially if you have a reincarnation idea in the background of the story -- these soulmates would love each other no matter what body they wore, anywhere. A lot of slash does that, and genderswap stories can do that. But of course there are a lot of competing ideas about "what is orientation" in the air today, and a lot of competing purposes for slash, and so a lot of variation.

[...]

I can so see (altho I'm not in the fandom; only on its edges, because of being in SG-1) why in SGA there are few first wave stories, and basically NO WNG stories -- because it's a third wave fandom!

The "soulmates regardless of plumbing" stories don't have to be WNG stories, but I can see that they are less typical in SGA and in newer fandoms...I think they are very typical of The Sentinel, but they can appear anywhere. I saw more than a few in Lotrips.

I, too, prefer second wave stories. Hands down. I just have finally found a way of categorizing slash that makes perfect sense to me. Not completely free of loose ends or exceptions, but it makes sense.

And I'm glad if the meta links are useful to you -- I love helping relatively newbies to the discussion find their way around, because fandom has no Main Gate, you know? People show up from anywhere and it's like the floating cocktail party on a cruise ship. We've discussed all this before but new people are coming in all the time and don't know that, plus time goes on and fandom does go through real changes.

Of course one doesn't have to be interested in this to enjoy slash or enjoy fandom, but I love history wherever I go. *cheers*
dirty diana:

I had never heard that wave theory before, that's interesting! I am actually one of the posters being obliquely referred to in those posts, I had written whole thing about how I would *like* to read John/Rodney, but none of it was written for me, in a language that I could understand. But I didn't have the terminology to use. And everybody thought I was crapping on their pairing and told me to shut up, but back then it wasn't actually that I thought John/Rodney was stupid, it was that SGA is a third wave fandom, even past that sometimes, and that wasn't what I wanted to read. I needed the babystep fics.

Now, of course, I just say that John/Rodney is stupid and leave it at that. :) And I actually have the same problem in that fandom with pairings I *do* 'ship. It's like everyone sat down and agreed on a glossary at a meeting that I wasn't invited to.
coppertone:

Hi, here from metafandom. :] I've been fascinated by both wave theory and the WNG phenomenon ever since I heard of them, and this is bringing up thoughts on how the two relate.

I know when I first heard of WNG(WJLEO), without context, my first reaction was HEY COOL CONCEPT. I've always read mostly third-wave fic in third-wave fandoms, and I assumed that it referenced the frequent habit of bypassing orientation/identity issues (in favour of porn).

Then about a minute later I learned the context, and the baggage, and went D:

But this is making me think again about that initial association of WNG with the third-wave type of story, and I'm wondering if you couldn't characterise this third wave slash aesthetic as a compromise? Distillation? of the first and second ones, at least in this area. Because if, as you've put it, first wave/WNG is taking an on-screen relationship further, but trying to avoid the whole gay thing and issues it would spawn (because ew, gay), and second-wave takes the gay thing and all its potential as the point (because woo! gay!), then the third-wave act of taking it for granted seems to be going right back to bypassing the issue -- but from a completely different direction, for completely different reasons. (Because ew, homophobia. Also WOO PORN.) And of course that's the nature of the waves, to build on and react to what came before (as the third wave wouldn't take it for granted if the second hadn't already convinced them), but I find the progression here really interesting.
princessofgeeks:

yes, exactly. and i like what you say, because it's a reminder to try to NOT make second-wave slash stories written by women "ooo gay" in the sense that we make the gay thing a kind of exotic, strange thing. Is the word I want "fetishizing" it? Too much distance? Not enough realism? I think slash rarely does that, because, as cesperanza said (she's the first person I heard it from) what we get in slash is not objectification but identification/merging/totally passionate taking on of the material.

And it explains why third wave styles are most likely to arise in fandoms like SGA where people who're writing it have been around a long time and written in several fandoms. It's the most "inside baseball" kind of slash, I think, and it's accessible to newbies, but only to newbies who read a lot of fanfic and are less focused on the canon as their source. Like what dirty_diana said earlier. (I don't know how many fandoms she was in, so I might be all wet there.)

Now you've got me wondering what wave of story is most common for slashers who never change fandoms or who change very slowly. I wonder if people who prefer third wave style are more likely to change fandoms.

I just love second wave stories; the stories about identity and how the characters explore their attraction (actual love stories) interest me the most.... more than crackfic or penguins or some of the fun stuff a fandom like SGA gets into.

What kind of fic evolved in HP? What kind of tropes?

And if I get tired of second wave stories, I tend not to go into third wave stories but I tend to go back to action plots and back to canon.

I love porn as much as the next person, but I always want more identity stuff and emotional back story with it, and I adore first times. I've never lost my taste for them.
klangley56:

You said: "'First wave' slash apparently was characterized by the idea of presenting the slash pairing as straight guys who had a bond that we saw in the show/movie/book."

Maybe I'm making more of this word choice than was intended, but it really wasn't a matter of "presenting" them as straight guys. They were given to us as straight guys, period. Bear in mind when these shows were produced and aired. It simply was not done (or possible) that you would do anything to suggest that your macho male stars were anything other than straight. The idea would not have entered anyone's mind.

Except for some of the fans, that is. :-)

Part of what the slash-minded fans of the era had to deal with in even *talking* about the K/S concept, much less trying to write stories about it, was that mindset. Part of it was the prevailing anti-gay culture (when ST aired we didn't yet have the modern Gay Liberation Movement in this country, which came out of the Stonewall Riots in the summer of 1969. By the time we got "Starsky and Hutch" and "The Professionals," you could at least feature an occasional gay character or concept in a storyline--in a sympathetic role). And another part of what they had to deal with was that these characters gave evidence (in some cases, much evidence) of opposite-sex sexual attraction, and none of same-sex sexual attraction. Therefore, most of the initial slash writers felt they had to make a point of "connecting the dots" to show how they got from what was given on the show to what they were giving in the story. (And you still find this being done today, it's just that the amount of fan fiction that presupposes the characters are gay or bi seems to be the prevailing fannish mindset.)

As a science fiction show, "Star Trek" gave them a foot in the door to the slash premise that they might not have had otherwise. Set in the future, set against multiple worlds and cultures (which, logically--no pun intended--must have included cultures different from the homophobic one we could see outside our doors). And, it gave us pon farr. Spock, who, at certain times in his biological cycle, *had* to mate . . . or die. The number of stories that used that premise as their entry to a K/S relationship were legion.

Once that first hole had been kicked in the door, and as societal attitudes toward gays slowly and gradually changed, the approach to writing slash, and the assumptions fans made, changed as well. (In fact, it's gone to quite the other--illogical, to me--extreme of completely ignoring or discounting committed het relationships that exist in canon that would argue against someone's favorite slash pairing.)

As for WNGWJLEO--certainly some folks who've done it do have a problem with the idea of considering Their Guys to be gay (as evidenced by examples given in this discussion). But that's not true of all WNGWJLEO stories. I've always said there's a trope straight out of romance novels at play there. Now, I expect most slash writers disavow romance novels and may never have read any but there are a lot of romance novel cliches to be found in fan fiction (slash and het). There seems to be a desire for the OTP to be really, *really* "special," so--along with the "two halves that make a whole" (ironically, exactly how Gene Roddenberry described Kirk and Spock) and the whole "soulmate" aspect you see in a lot of slash fiction--you also have them presenting each other (or sometimes it's just one presenting to the other) his "virginity" to male-male sex. That which he would never have dreamed of giving to any other man, only this one, etc. Classic romance novel stuff. :-)

Paula Smith--one of fandom's best writers, editors, and zine publishers, had an interesting take on WNGWJLEO in an essay, "Dream On," published in "Wanna Buy a Fanzine" #4.

[kslangley56 includes a long quote in her comment. See Dream On for the quote there.]
wemblee: I feel you on the second-wave thing. I like both second- and third-wave stories, but third-wave stories only work for me if I'm super-invested in the pairing, so if I'm reading fanfic in a fandom somewhat casually (which I do a lot, since it's been less and less that I feel that Big Fannish Love/Zing for something, more's the pity) and the fanfic is mainly third wave, I can find that frustrating; not so much the crack (yay crack!) but a shared assumption that X loves and has always loved the shape of Y's mouth that I don't necessarily share; I wanna go on the journey with the character as they discover that love. *g*

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