Drowning in Waving

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Title: Drowning in Waving
Creator: executrix
Date(s): July 14, 2008
Medium: online
External Links: Drowning in Waving; archive links
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Drowning in Waving is a 2008 essay by executrix.

In true "wave" fashion, this essay is not about the Wave Theory of Slash, the 1993 essay this, and resulting discussion, was based on, but on other related topics.

Some Topics Discussed in the Essay and Comments

Excerpts from the Essay

Various fans have identified three or four waves within a fandom, or within fandom as a whole. There's no single accepted definition of the waves--because, here in CatHerdonia, there is never a single accepted definition of *anything.* But also, I think that it's not so much Wave Theory as Wave Methodology, so we can analyze waves in the content of media properties, in reception of media properties, writing fanfic, reading fanfic, attitudes to canon, and lots more.

I hate repeating myself, but OTOH there isn't much communication going on if I assume that everybody reading this has nothing better to do than memorize every word I've ever posted. So, rilly rilly long story short: I'm a slasher because I think it's *fantastic* that there's a whole genre of media fandom about what it's like not-being-straight in various settings and situations. And, while I know that there's a lot of professionally published fiction about gay people, from prestigious litfic to hard-core porn, with stop-offs for mystery, science fiction, and romance, I just think that fiction has a lot of catching up to do in terms of representing not-straight lives.

I keep saying "not-straight," because I think that there has to be *some* contact with canon for something to be fanfic rather than just plain fiction. Now, one context in which wave theory applies is just what kind of representations TPTB a) were allowed to make or b) had the imagination to make. So until recently, and in a lot of markets, there aren't going to be characters identified as same-sex-oriented, or overt depictions of same-sex relationships. Although, consciously or unconsciously, the subtext can be too thick to shovel. As for point b), it's also very relevant to thinking about hetfics. I never bought the argument that slash is All About Equality, because a faster-than-light spaceship could be staffed by a faster-than-sexism crew, if the writers' imagination wasn't bounded in a nutshell.

I know I'm very much an outlier in fandom because I simply can't make myself believe in One and Only Soulmates--even for the duration of a story. And I completely refuse to believe that it's *better* for a man to be completely uninterested in other men until he meets his Perfect Other Half than for him to realize, or to know all along, that he's attracted to men.

I mean, it's just not that easy to keep a relationship going even between two people who are 100% happily and unconflictedly heterosexual, and who are considered suitable mates by society, which is kind of a bitch in RL but provides plenty of interesting conflict to write fiction about. So I don't see why Jack and Daniel, or Xander and Spike, or Ronon and Radek can't find plenty of things to worry about even if they're perfectly happy to have a male lover.

I wouldn't necessarily argue that later waves reflect a broader social acceptance of homosexuality--I mean, why would people care about a bunch of total strangers getting married if they did? In the good old days of religious war, people worried about something really vital like whether total strangers put candles on the Communion table. The writer's and reader's attitude toward same-sex emotional and sexual involvement can be anything from fascinated horror to "Yeah, whatev'". I just figure that what distinguishes straight people from not-straight people is that straight people, although they can and do have very profound and loving relationships with members of their own sex, don't want to have sex with them. Even if they forgot to take their Alien Claritin this morning.

One of the big questions in fannish analysis is Have Him or Be Him? and another is Fanfic: More of the Same or What They Won't Give You On TV. Maybe bisexual characters just make the writer's life too easy (Torchwood: The Slasher's Get Out of Jail Free Card!), but it's certainly a plausible way for a writer to cope with a character's canon spouse or lover in a story with a same-sex attachment.