Femslash Fandom: Thoughts/Questions on Insularity

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Title: Femslash Fandom: Thoughts/Questions on Insularity
Creator: cleo
Date(s): January 25, 2009
Medium: online
Topic: Femslash
External Links: Femslash Fandom: Thoughts/Questions on Insularity, Archived version
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Femslash Fandom: Thoughts/Questions on Insularity is an meta post by cleo on the femslash community.

It has 56 commets.



havocthecat's recent post about looking for a femslash perspective in genderswap fic raises some interesting questions about the nature of femslash fandom in general.

I am probably going to be slammed by femslash fandom (of which, I count myself a member; though I also count myself a member of Acafen, and have found some find this a contradiction in terms. More on that below.) for going this route, but I firmly believe that there is everything to be gained by self inspection.

As the comments to the above mention post indicate, there is a rather conservative trend in femslash fandom as a whole. Why doesn't femslash like to get meta on itself? We've got girlwank, but why can't we seem to get it going? Why do we get the same old stories? Why aren't we willing to experiment? Why are those of that are willing to experiment in so many cases ignored or given a cold shoulder? Why do we settle for an insular community that perpetuates the same crap stories over and over when there are so many amazing femslash stories/authors out there? I fully appreciate that posting is a process that helps young/new writers grow, but there seems to be little of that, possibly due to squeeing reviews that say nothing at all, save calling for a perpetuation of bad!fic. Why do we settle? Why is it that we are more likely to find a mindblowing/well written/interesting femslash piece on a general fic comm/site/archive than on a specifically femslash comm? Why are we so resistant to Acafen and academic discussion (admittedly, femslash has not gotten a lot of limelight in academic study of fandom, but I plan to change that)?

Obviously, I don't have all of the answers to these questions. It pains me that because of the insularity of femslash fandom, it seems to be behind fandom in general in terms of innovation and exposure. Is this because that's how we want it or because that's what we've done to ourselves? It also pains me that when someone or several someones decide to think about femslash, to ask why, and to look for meaning, the overwhelming majority seems to be hostile to the idea(s).


[ralst]:Why doesn't femslash like to get meta on itself?

Perhaps the question should be, why do people who enjoy meta not like to get involved in femslash? I've never really seen any hostility to meta in femslash circles, but then I've never really seen much meta (as you pointed out). So maybe what's needed is for people who are interested in meta to post to areas concerned with femslash and engage ordinary femslash readers and writers in the discussion. If meta is only posted to meta communities, where femslash may have been historically ignored, it stands to reason that it's not going to get the kind of response you'd get from somewhere with lots of femslash people. Once femslash readers are more involved with meta then the tide could change and you'd find them joining meta circles.

[jaina47]: I would seriously love some concrit. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but I get bored when every (very scarce comment) is "Loved it! More please." It makes me feel like the person didn't read the story or really care about it. And maybe they didn't.

I have to admit, that I really like it when someone takes the time to go through a story that I've written, point out the plot holes, tell me when the characters aren't in character, or when I forgot something or that my grammar sucks. I am my own worst critic. Nothing you can say will top what I've thought about my own fic, but I don't have the perspective or distance necessary after a certain point to make it better.

I love my betas. The more in-depth and red-inked the page, the better. I love to learn how to do new things, and use language in new ways.

I agree though that I'd like to see fandom return to some of the different ways of writing things. We used to have fics that were beautiful for their language, but still wonderful stories. I want more of those.

[wychwood]: I get the impression that femslash may be slightly on the rise, these days... I mostly hang around in boyslash fandom, but I've noticed more boyslashers writing occasional girlslash than I remember from a few years ago.

To answer your question on "lack of diversity" - I would guess that a lot of it has to do with scale, to be honest. Boyslash fandom is almost always way bigger than girlslash (for all sorts of reasons I'm sure you've already seen and/or talked about), so... to take SGA as an example, 90% of the John/Rodney fic might be boring and repetitive, but that still leaves dozens if not hundreds of excitingly innovative stories. Elizabeth/Teyla, on the other hand, only starts with a few dozen stories, so assuming the same percentages you're looking at maybe one or two really innovative pieces.

Plus there's the fact that experimentation often seems to breed innovation - someone writes off-the-wall crackfic, or genderswap, or experimental-format fic, or whatever; someone else jumps on the bandwagon; next thing you know everyone is doing it. Part of the whole "fandom as a conversation" thing, and girlslash is a smaller conversation for these things to happen in. I think you would find the same sort of situation in a lot of smaller fandoms and/or pairings, girlslash or not; you need a critical mass of writers and commenters before things really start to happen, a lot of the time.