Het--the Other white meat (and me, a vegetarian)

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Title: Het--the Other white meat (and me, a vegetarian)
Creator: metamiri
Date(s): October 1, 2006
Medium: LiveJournal post
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External Links: Het--the Other white meat (and me, a vegetarian); archive link
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Het--the Other white meat (and me, a vegetarian) is a 2006 essay by metamiri.

Some Topics Discussed

From the Essay

It's not that I'm constitutionally averse to heterosexuality or even het romance on TV (my recent love for both Bones and Standoff say otherwise). But I looove slash, and I've just never before been involved in any fandom in which the fans so roundly embraced a "going steady" hetero-canon relationship for the guy that I'm actively slashing. Never before Numb3rs that is.

I've been in fandom long enough to get used to (and even expect) fans to take the "they're all gay, or at least bi" rhetorical stance in casual fannish conversation. Exceptions to this, like the once exceedingly hostile Due South fandom, demonstrate that when one subgroup argues that the other subgroup's favorite guy "seems straight," it's insulting to those who love and slash him, and it's certainly an unnecessary argument to make when one can simply write one's own pairing (a proactive rather than reactive argument).

Even as we know that, in RL terms, it's wildly--even statistically--unlikely, that all men on TV are queer, that position allows for a multiplicity of imagined pairings co-existing (however uneasily) in a single fandom (albeit in multiverses), all of them set against the inevitable heteronormative plotting TPTB are so fond of writing.

I've long suspected that the slasher de facto presumption of homosexuality (homonormative?) has meant that canon heterosexual couplings are, by default, reacted to with minimal enthusiasm, even when the het relationship is being written, in canon, for a character whom you, personally, don't slash.

Partly, that's an effect of the BotW phenomena, so that we're trained to see women as transitory. Maybe it's partly because many of us recognize that when strong female regular characters get involved in hetero-relationships in canon, it's often to the detriment of their characterisation (the marriage plot is still a terminal one in TV land, for the man, if not the woman.)

Perhaps it's simply a kind of fannish empathy at work. We fans don't generally publicly applaud if a guy like Ronon in SGA is given a regular (ie, not BotW) canon het romance even if we're dyed-in-the-wool John/Rodney fans, because we know that our guy (John or Rodney) might be next in line for a girlfriend (which we, as slashers, will have to work around and suffer through for as long as it lasts). And besides, we know that the Ronon/John fans are, very likely, annoyed with canon and wishing it would going away this week, so shouting out, "Go hetero-canon! Isn't Ronon and his new girlfriend just the cutest pairing evah!" seems tactless, at best, when our readers include Ronon/John slashers.

Likewise, disdainful comments about Rodney's appearance/character from those who don't slash him seem, if not intentionally cruel to the Rodney slashers, then at least insensitive--the fannish equivalent of insulting a friend's new boyfriend where she's sure to overhear when she's really quite clearly smitten with him.

Or maybe I'm wrong in these assumptions. Perhaps fandom has always been entirely insular about its pairing loyalties, with each subgroup caring only about what happens to its own OTP and damned the rest. Maybe it's idealistic of me to assume that fans might choose not to root for a canon hetero-relationship simply out of reciprocity for a fellow slasher.

LJ has done much to unify fandom to the point where we're now regularly chatting with people across pairings and fandoms--discussing character with other fans who don't share our OTP or way of seeing the world. Without arguing for an end to discussion or a stifling of honesty, is there an argument to be made for putting ourselves in another slasher's shoes before discussing character and engaging with canon?

Excerpts from Comments

liviapenn:

Maybe it's idealistic of me to assume that fans might choose not to root for a canon hetero-relationship simply out of reciprocity for a fellow slasher.

Your essay seems founded on the assumption that fans of het pairings aren't really part of fandom. Personally, I know lots of slashers who write slash *and* het *and* gen; I'm one of them. (And writing het can be just as much a "resistant" reaction to the text as writing slash, depending on the pairing.)

So I would ask, what about a slasher who may sincerely be a fan of a canon het relationship? Personally, in SGA, I ship nearly everyone; if you read one of my episode reviews you're just as likely to find John/Teyla squee as you are John/Rodney squee.

Now, I don't go around making remarks like "See! This episode clearly establishes that John and Rodney are OTP; John/Ronon is obviously ridiculous," but then I don't *suppress* my squee at John/Rodney moments out of concern for John/Ronon fans. Why then should I repress my squee about het moments out of concern for slash fans?

Can we, despite our differences, see ourselves as against canon heternormative writing to the extent that we're all resistant readers choosing to queer the text for our own (and our fellow fans') pleasure? Or are we still every fan for herself?

False dichotomy. It's not an "either/or" decision. I'm neither "against canon heternormative writing," nor am I the kind of "every fan for herself" fan who says things like "How can people write X/Y pairing? It's so stupid, X is clearly straight and in love with a girl, and Y is in love with this other guy!"

I say I'm not "against heteronormative writing" because I don't like thinking of myself as a fan that's working "against" the canon or the text. Against the primary *reading* of the text, sure, but that's not the text itself. I don't think most people come to slash from the angle of "How can I shake up heteronormative assumptions? I know, I'll write slash!" Most people write slash because they see hints, signs or subtext *in canon*-- they're not working against the text, they're working *with* it.

And in a lot of cases, that means that a happily married character like, say, Miles O'Brien of DS9 is not going to be slashed as much as he should be with Julian Bashir, because if you're working *with* the text you know that Miles is not likely to cheat on his wife. Yeah, there's ways to get around it, but it's a lot tougher than writing it if he *wasn't* married. I know this isn't how you meant it, but the idea of "against" the text makes me think of all those terrible stories where girl characters just get killed off for no reason, because the author can't think of any other way to get two guy characters together-- she can't work *with* the text she's got.
Miriam Heddy:

I say I'm not "against heteronormative writing" because I don't like thinking of myself as a fan that's working "against" the canon or the text. Against the primary *reading* of the text, sure, but that's not the text itself.

I should clarify, I think. I come from a position that there is no text outside of a reading, so when I say "against the canon or text," I'm referring to the heteronormative reading wherein TPTB will insist that they're writing straight characters and wherein the majority of the audience is expected to (and in fact has) read the text as containing only straight characters (unless they are demonstrably gay--with specific criteria for that which includes self-identification as gay and kissing, etc.).

So I would ask, what about a slasher who may sincerely be a fan of a canon het relationship? Personally, in SGA, I ship nearly everyone; if you read one of my episode reviews you're just as likely to find John/Teyla squee as you are John/Rodney squee.

Well, I guess I'd say that, as of right now, John/Teyla isn't canon, so what you're doing when you write them is to write, if not against, then at least beyond the text.

Shipping is (unless I'm mistaken in the definition) traditionally referring to as rooting for a relationship that's seen as (possibly) having seeds in the text, but which is not satisfied by or necessarily endorsed by the primary (authorized) reading of the text. So people shipping Mulder/Scully were shipping a relationship that may have contained elements of canonical flirtation (much as we slashers may argue that m/m relationships onscreen often do), but until Mulder and Scully kissed, fans of that ship were blowing the wind that kept the ship moving, rather than relying on the canon's own engines to choose the direction and momentum (and sorry for the tortured metaphor).

Now, I don't go around making remarks like "See! This episode clearly establishes that John and Rodney are OTP; John/Ronon is obviously ridiculous," but then I don't *suppress* my squee at John/Rodney moments out of concern for John/Ronon fans. Why then should I repress my squee about het moments out of concern for slash fans?

I would argue, I think, that the existence of heteronormativity as the primary, authorized reading means that squeeing about a canon hetero-relationship doesn't subvert the text in quite the same way, or have the same effect. And whether one comes to it with the intention of subversion or not, I would still argue that they're not working with the authorized reading at all, though they may be working with existing relationships between men, definitions of queer, the conventions of cinema that require two men to stand close together and make eye contact when speaking, etc. that create what we call subtext.

But I'm talking about more than squeeing in favor of a given pairing (be it het or homo), I think. Recently, despite LJ supposedly bringing us all together (or perhaps because of that), I've seen tensions developing in a variety of fandoms when squeezing about one pairing turns into a dismissal of others. You may not be doing it yourself, but it's definitely happening. The question I pose is whether we should (or do) see our own pleasures as foremost (and nevermind how others might feel) or whether we write from (and live as fans from) an assumption of communal pleasure as the primary goal.
tacky tramp:

so what you're doing when you write them is to write, if not against, then at least beyond the text

Isn't that what all fanfic does? Go beyond the text? Even if the pairing in a fic is canon, the author is still putting them in situations in which they do not appear in canon, putting thoughts in their heads and words in their mouths that do not happen in canon and, in fact, may strike most readers as amazing OOC. I've seen loads of fic in HP fandom, for example, that takes a canon pairing and warps it beyond recognition, making the characters do completely incomprehensible things. And I've read noncanon-pairing-fic that keeps the characters acting and speaking and thinking like themselves. "The text" is more than a blueprint of who's screwing whom.
strangerian:

Hmm, this says a lot of how I've thought about shows I like, and how I see fandom reacting, but not all of it.

I'm all for breaking the heteronormative assumptions on TV. If (for example) Ronon gets a girlfriend out of thin air, especially if she fulfills only the tired role of "girlfriend," I'd react pretty much as you suggest. I'd be annoyed at the intrusion on potential Ronon slash (and by extension on potential other slash). I'd also, and probably more, be annoyed that screen time was being used on a plot element that only supports hetero norms instead of showing something about Ronon as an individual. It's pretty much past praying for to expect such a development to show anything about the new female character as an individual. In SGA (and SG-1 -- does anyone remember Anise/Freya, of Wonderbra infamy?), I really don't expect it.

On the other hand, establishing strong female characters and their relationships with male characters may contribute to hetero norms in one sense, but this is very much a change in genre TV norms all the same. Aeryn/Crichton and Scully/Mulder (until it started eating its own tail, about 6th season) both broke established heteronorms, even though each relationship involved one man and one woman. Het relationships like these may make slash fanfic less obvious or easy, but intense and nuanced relationships are what I like in slash in the first place. Female characters who didn't remain full characters in m/f interaction are one of the biggest reasons it was necessary to invent slash in the first place.
wychwood:

I've long suspected that the slasher de facto presumption of homosexuality (homonormative?) has meant that canon heterosexual couplings are, by default, reacted to with minimal enthusiasm, even when the het relationship is being written, in canon, for a character whom you, personally, don't slash.

Interesting. I disagreed with this at first, but then I re-read and noticed that you were talking about canon het pairings. Because non-canon/subtexty het seems to coexist fine with slash - a lot of people, for instance, wrote (write) McKay/Sheppard stories with Teyla/Ford as a background pairing. Or Elizabeth/Zelenka. And there are a lot of bitextual slashers.

[snipped]

Perhaps it's simply a kind of fannish empathy at work... And besides, we know that the Ronon/John fans are, very likely, annoyed with canon and wishing it would going away this week, so shouting out, "Go hetero-canon! Isn't Ronon and his new girlfriend just the cutest pairing evah!" seems tactless, at best, when our readers include Ronon/John slashers.

Hmm. This, I'm not sure about either. Most people (even OTPers) seem to have multiple pairings that take their interest, and I expect that we all have friends who ship couples that conflict with our own preferred pairings. Some people are happy to see subtext for pairings they don't ship, on the "This scene will make soandso really happy!" model. Some people aren't interested in anything outside their own OTP. And if I say "I love Ronon and his new girlfriend", is that any more upsetting to John/Ronon shippers than me talking about how slashy the John/Rodney scenes were and how great I think they are for each other? Because they aren't going to agree with me, whichever way around it is. I mean, yes, you don't bad-mouth other pairings or characters or whatever, because it's rude and can hurt people. But I don't think I would perceive that being different for het vs slash, or canon vs non-canon.

Maybe it's idealistic of me to assume that fans might choose not to root for a canon hetero-relationship simply out of reciprocity for a fellow slasher.

But that's... I don't see this as being an issue of "idealism". Perhaps this is more of an old-school thing, slash being an entirely separate world, and we stick with the other slashers because they understand, even if they ship another pairing. I don't think fandom is so much like this now, at least for me. I mean, don't get me wrong; there's a big het area, and a big slash area, and mostly the two don't mix; we're not all shiny happy people holding hands. But most of the slashers I know dabble in het of various flavours, more and less canonical. Bitextual, like I said before. We're aware of other pairings and other characters, but we wouldn't necessarily privilege a slash pairing over a het pairing simply because of the queerness involved. At least, that's my impression.
metamiri:

Hmmm. Yes, what you noticed--I'm definitely making (or meant to make) a distinction between canon het and shipping, and for the reasons you note.

I think that there's no real problem when it's shipping and slashing happening at once in a single fandom. A ship and a slash pairing can exist in multi-fannish-verses on an almost equal footing. Both are rooted in fannish desire, in reading subtext (though the het ship always has more social sanction behind it.) There may be friction if one OTP group starts to diss another OTP pair, but we, on some level, do realize that we shouldn't do that, and that it's unnecessarily mean.

But a slash pairing coming up against a canon het relationship--especially one that's not a BotW, but instead a regular/regular pair? That's what I'm talking about. And in Numb3rs, it's the first time I've ever seen masses of slashers endorsing a canon het pairing when the man is slashed (albeit by a small group of fans) even as the other, major canon het pairing is constantly dissed and criticized on all sorts of points (despite their being at least a few shippers in support of it).

Anyway, I'm trying to think through the politics of that one, and why it bothers me in ways that feel different from--and less politic than--when fans pit one slash OTP against another. And why it seems to be a feminist issue.

Maybe you're right--maybe we wouldn't,as a rule, privilege slash over het simply on feminist principles (or any other). But as you note, when het is canon, it gets seriously fucked up in ways that, at least to my eyes, suggest at least part (but not all) of slash's appeal. And so I find it odd when slashers who don't actively ship (at least in that fandom) start embracing a het canon relationship as if, by the sheer hetty force of the romance, it's entirely unproblematic.

But maybe we're not united in queerness. I'd like to hope that we're united in something as fans. Maybe in a stance as critical readers? But again, my idealism there is dashed, as that's quite clearly not the case. So I dunno.
wychwood: ...frankly, I think a lot of the time we still privilege our squee over our feminist thoughts. I know I enjoy shows (include SGA) which do not stand up to close examination of gender, race, class and sexuality issues. And a lot of people do seem to like these "traditional" narratives (witness, in fact, the massive success of the sga_flashfic Harlequin Challenge, which I have to admit enjoying hugely - most of those stories were slash, but there was relatively little examination of gender roles anywhere in them). That's not an excuse, though. Just an acknowledgement that a lot of people don't really want thinking in their entertainment.
metamiri:

Some people do that, and it's a pleasure when it happens (hell, it's almost a special kink, really). Others... don't seem to be able to get over themselves and their desire to read something, find a weakness, and then bully for them as they feel superior for maybe a minute or so.

Anyway, yes, the Harlequin Challenge... it was interesting. Though while I think you're right in that very little seemed examined in the writing, as things to read, they did allow for a strange picture--one that we all couldn't help but read with a certain amount of "Holy Hell! What did we do?!?" And at that point, feminism's happening, y'know? In the sense that taking a genre and skewing it with a bit of drag does something weird that allows us to see gender and genre differently.

I won't claim, btw, that my squee is always tempered by some kind of political censor. But yeah, I do think that it's worth stopping at some point and saying, "What are we doing?!?" not to instill guilt or dampen the squee, but maybe because otherwise, we squee at our own risk, y'know?
darkrosetiger:

But the fact that so many women have embraced, uncritically and with much squee, an incredibly traditional and problematically unfeminist romance narrative after earlier (and for two years) rejecting Larry as a romantic figure is sort of shocking, because it suggests that, despite appearing to challenge traditional narrative, many fans are just waiting for TPTB to give them the very same story Harlequin does, or even Disney.

The thing is that you see that in slash as well as het. Your original post seemed to be suggesting that slash is inherently subverting the traditional paradigm. My argument is that while in some ways it is, the dynamic you're finding problematical is frequently present in slash, and that simply imposing that dynamic onto a relationship between two men doesn't necessarily make the dynamic any less regressive. Writing poor fragile Draco who's been abused by his father and is helpless, until brave hero Harry comes along to save him is the same helpless victim needs rescuing scenario that you're describing. Frequently, Draco is described in terms typically used to describe woman in romance novels; not only is he being re-drawn as a stereotypically Victorian victim/heroine, but the authors are playing into the stereotype that if two men are having sex, one of them has to be the bottom/submissive/uke.
tacky tramp:

Slash opens the door to alternatives to traditional het romance, but it doesn't do a damn thing to rewrite het romance. That would involve, to use characters from my fandom, strong, brash, take-charge Hermione rescuing poor, fragile Draco from his abusive homelife and loving him for his apparently feminine qualities.

If anyone has ever seen a fic like that, please link me to it, because I sure as hell haven't.
kyuuketsukirui:

So...your feelings are hurt if other people like things that you don't? Life must be pretty hard for you.

Seriously, come on. You cannot be suggesting that other people should not squee about what they want to simply because somewhere out there someone else might hate it and be so delicate that they can't stand the thought that not everyone has the same tastes as they do?

You're not talking bashing here. You're just talking about people liking different things. That's life. Grow up.
metamiri: Wow. Who the hell are you and what happened to your critical faculties between the time you read my post and the time you decided to hit "Reply to this"?
kyuuketsukirui:

I can read perfectly well.

"I've just never before been involved in any fandom in which the fans so roundly embraced a "going steady" hetero-canon relationship for the guy that I'm actively slashing."

People like your guy in an icky het pairing, and so you've decided to dress up your whining in the guise of a meta post.
metamiri:

I'd like to take a moment to point out that I didn't say "icky het pairing." Instead, I pointed out that there are a number of complex reasons slashers (and even shippers) are often resistant to applauding canonical het relationships (among them the BotW phenomenon, as well as the terminal marriage plot for women).

As for whether my post is a "guise of a meta," the fact that at least a few other people were capable of reading and responding in a reasonable and respectful tone to what I actually said suggests that yours is merely the guise of a thoughtful response.
darkrosetiger:

Can we, despite our differences, see ourselves as against canon heternormative writing to the extent that we're all resistant readers choosing to queer the text for our own (and our fellow fans') pleasure?

No.

I write mostly slash.

I do, on occasion, write het.

And I refuse to deliberately say that I'm "queering the text" because that's a) incredibly pretentious and b) not entirely accurate, since I'm a bisexual woman reading and writing about guys having sex so I can get off.

There is a subversive element to slash, in that it's primarily women writing about sexuality, intended for a primarily female audience, and that men and the male body are being objectified. But I don't think you can say that all fannish reading done by slashers is a queer reading, especially not when so much slash is simply putting male characters into traditional male/female gender roles. Weepy!Uke!Obi-wan with Strong!Silent!Seme!Qui-gon isn't a queer reading to me, when you could do a search-and-replace for a female character in Obi's place and have it fit better.
metamiri:

You don't think there's something just a bit queer about "a bisexual woman reading and writing about guys having sex so I can get off"?

It may be a matter of labels and comfort (or discomfort) with embracing the idea that what you do (and what other people do) is radical in effect even if we're not necessarily trying to be.

And you'll have to help me out, here, but what's pretentious about saying a reading/writing has queered a text? It's shorthand, certainly (though hell, I feel I was long on examples). But it's not inaccessible jargon either.

simply putting male characters into traditional male/female gender roles.

Well, I'd argue that there's nothing "simple" about that. Because it's a square peg in a round hole. Something gets warped in the process, with or without our going into it with the desire to warp or queer anything. At the very least, textual drag is a bit startling (certainly startling to non-slashers who find out about it) and provides us with an opportunity to see something differently which we might otherwise take for granted--such as the instances when masculinity seems threatened by tears.
darkrosetiger:

You don't think there's something just a bit queer about "a bisexual woman reading and writing about guys having sex so I can get off"?

Not especially, no more so than a het man getting off on two women together.

And you'll have to help me out, here, but what's pretentious about saying a reading/writing has queered a text? It's shorthand, certainly (though hell, I feel I was long on examples). But it's not inaccessible jargon either.

Honestly, it sounded like you were using it less as shorthand than as a way of sanctifying what you write. "Queering the text" makes it sound much more academic than saying, "writing porn". But that's my personal bias against slinging buzzwords around.

Something gets warped in the process, with or without our going into it with the desire to warp or queer anything.

Sure, but the question is one of intent: what's being warped and why is as important as the fact that "something" is getting warped. Forcing a traditional male/female sex-role relationship onto a non-traditional relationship between two men is, IMO, not subversive at all, because it's buying into the idea that all relationships must have a dominant and a submissive, and that the submissive is the one with the "stereotypically" female characteristics. The degree to which the fact that women are writing about male sexuality is inherently subversive is countered by the fact that women--usually young women--are imposing a 1950's-style model onto the relationship their writing, without even necessarily realizing it.
carmarthen: I haven't met many weepy!uke women, and don't really want to read about them, either. Weepy!uke characterization is an exaggeration of traditionally feminine traits.
darkrosetiger:

You're missing my point, which is that I don't think that feminizing a male character by giving him stereotypically female traits makes it subversive at all, because it's recreating traditional gender roles, starting with the assumption that the older, larger partner is the dominant one and the smaller, younger partner is the submissive who has to be protected and taken care of.

Honestly, though, this conversation was two months ago, which is forever in internet time, so I'm not sure that there's any value to continuing it. Why don't we just say that I disagree with your original premise, and leave it at that?
carmarthen:

Um, what the hell? I'm not the original poster, so I have no idea how you could "disagree with my original premise." I just found the post and thought the discussion was interesting, excuse me.

I don't think "feminizing" one partner in slash is subversive, either, but it bothers me that it's always referred to as "feminizing."
evadne fenn: I was thinking about your reading of Studio 60 during the last ten minutes of the show tonight. "Are you a pussy boy or pussy girl?" "Are people looking at us?" Really, Aaron? Is this where you want to go? He's so desperately trying to close off queer readings of Matt and Danny's relationship it's flipping painful to watch. That's why I can't "root" for Matt/Hari or Danny/Jordan (I think they're pointing us in that direction), even if I like them as couples; in the logic of the show, these pairings are possibe precisely because Matt/Danny is not (wow,good for me; I've arrived at a definition of heteronormativity...). Studio 60 is an extreme example since it's hog tied by AS's desire to de-authorize all extraneous readings. Whatever other generic limitations are, most television shows resist, or at least defer, that kind of closure because they always need to leave space for another episode. That's the space, obviously, that fans exploit. I think that gap--that silence--lends itself well to a queer reading, particularly since canon is unlikely ever to go "there," wherever "there" is I tend to find very broad definitions of "queer" very useful, as I think many of the other commentors do as well; I think that gets to the question of shipping non-canonical het. What makes a pairing canonical or non? Do they have to have sex, or kiss, or date, or flirt, or stare at each other longingly--? I'm interested in why some pairings are potentially available in canon and some aren't--like Wallace/Veronica--from what I can remember, VM has never gone there. I'm not necessarily saying they should, but how many other male/female friendships on television aren't sexualized to some degree? What makes this one different? Et cetera.
tacky tramp:

Sorkin's definitely trying to deauthorize readings, and yeah, it's painful and makes me mad, because he's being a rotten host to his guests, insulting them at the door and then putting food on the table and saying, "But you can't eat this." And I'm like the bad party guest, because you invite me here? I'll eat whatever the fuck I want and then see what you have in the kitchen, and fuck Jenny Craig.

HA! I LOVE this. Love love love. I really get annoyed when authors and directors respond to fan-pairings dismissively -- "Oh, that's not what's happening in the text." Bullshit. You don't control the text: I DO.
cathexys:

I'm still slightly uncomfortable with the way you've set up a distinction between canon and shipping, moving the latter into the subversive camp and making the former (who, incidentally consider themselves shippers as well in most of the fandoms i've been in) confomist or whatever.

I started out in Buffy/Angel, a canon pairing if there ever was one, and yet a good number of the people I read at some point started slashing Angel as well or at least were pretty accepting about Angel/Spike. Likewise, the "subversive" Buffy/Spike pairing, unconventional when it started, became freaking canon and thus moved into the heteronormative camp...or did it? Same thing could be said about HBP and the collapse of the Harry/Hermione vs Ron/Hermione ship wars. Is one side now more subversive than the other because they didn't get JKR's seal of approval? Are there readings of the first five books suddenly different? And let's not even get started on Willow and canonicity :-)

I think I'm just not comfortable with the straight/queer and canon/non-canon binaries I feel you're establishing or presupposing when both the shows themselves and out readings are often so much more fluid, when I see people more and more include females in threesomes or writing the one off het story even if they're slashers first and foremost, when TPTB offer certainty and ambuguity in turn for specific pairings and sexual orientation, when canon is not always and necessarily the aggressive and embarrassing enemy...
nostalgia lj:

I've never come across sustained, regular discussions about the writing of female characters in het ship fandoms. (And if they're out there, point 'em to me! I keep looking for some in all the House/Cameron I see, but so far, bubkus.)

Broadly true, yes. In part that's probably because boyslashers constantly have the issue of gender raised by people complaing about slash, and meta is a more accepted/expected mode of fannishness there.

For most het writers, they're not writing "women" so much as "this woman," and there's less of an atmosphere of encouraging some more generalised thoughts. Which may again just be that heteronormativity means not getting attacked and forced into defensive meta. (Which I'd argue is overall and in the long run pretty bad for the het ships, since they don't get as much discussion among their own fen.)
nell65:

I think, as well, that even among het fanciers like me there is a *lot* of unexamined confusion (I'm deliberately not calling it misogyny) about what exactly is admirable in a female character; toss in people who don't really like fictional women, though they may like RL ones just fine (or even a lot!), and it's an odd world - het fancying.

So, its more specific, I think, than het not being cool. It also reflects massive confusion and ambivalence about women, and fictional women in particular.

Personally, m/m fic for the most part reads as a kink - and I think it is subversive because it is a female kink explored and celebrated by female writers for female readers. This - is *awesome.* I am, in my fannish world, sometimes quite sad that the m/m kink really doesn't do much for me, because the slasher world seems - from the outside - to be this wonderful place of textual liberation and exploration of female desire for male bodies.

But I don't share the kink. I need female bodies as proxies in my porn to find it hot.

This means that I read m/m without - for the most part - getting turned on. From this perspective, I find many of the the broad claims for m/m slash as subversive and 'queering' the text to be somewhere between strained and downright offensive. What is queer or subversive about creating a fictional world where white men exist in a hermetically sealed space in which they don't even need women to get off or reproduce? Not often, but sometimes, especially in MPREG, and often even in shmoopy, fluffy m/m, I find the elimination of male desire for real women with tits and cunts - however dopey or clingy or fainting or whatever stupid thing the writers have done to the female partner - to be creepy as all hell.

For me, there is nothing revelatory or hot or subversive or 'queer' about a fictional universe that completely erases my existence as a woman.

I'll never be a slasher, obviously.

I have no desire to harsh on another fan's squee, but I'm not going to stop squeeing about what does hit my buttons just because it might hurt someone else's feelings.

And for the record? I like Megan and Larry (thought I deliberately avoided the most recent perils of pauline ep because I knew it would make me hate them all) because it isn't a standard model relationship - Megan (latest plot twist aside) is taller, stronger, and a million times more butch than Larry. Or Charlie for that matter. And she still looks damn good in a belly baring top. As did Aeryn Sun. Just sayin. This isn't a standard, paint by numbers (pun intended!) het relationship, nor is she a babe of the week. I'll be very interested to see if the writers manage to do something interesting with it. I also have suitably low expectations... (this is, after all, a show with a saintly, and conveniently, deceased mother figure whose ghost offers loving reassurance to everyone who needs it....) but I'm more than willing to see where the go from here.
carmarthen:

For me, there is nothing revelatory or hot or subversive or 'queer' about a fictional universe that completely erases my existence as a woman.

"Queer" doesn't imply anything about gender to me--it implies sexual orientation. I can't say I'm a big fan of real-life gay men who treat women like crap because since they don't want to fuck up, we're worthless--but it doesn't make those men not queer, any more than downplaying women makes slash not queer (which is not to say all slash is queer, and I have a problem with some of the slash dynamics you cite).
executrix:

In Robin Wood's (the British film critic, not the Sunnydale principal!) essay on Rope, he says that Hitchcock couldn't say that Brandon and Philip *weren't* sleeping together, because that would raise the possibility that they might. I don't see slash as "homonormative" so much as open to the possibility that any two people might have a sexual relationship and/or a passionate romance outlasting Eternity. And I don't think current parlance distinguishes between "slash" and "ship" so much as between slash ships and het ships. But I see the real divide as falling between OTP fans and those who read/write about multiple pairings. Me, I'm willing to accept anything for the length of the story, if the writer can convince me of it for at least that long.

I agree with cathexys--it's a lot more significant that there are so many shows that lack any credible female characters (or, if they stumble on one, they have to dumb them down or simp them up). No believable adult women = no interesting het ships. These days, though, it's Harry/Hermione that's the most subversive canonically, even though it's the least subversive in terms of muggle societal norms.

However, I don't think that all relationships are intended to be role models. To a great extent, Buffy valued Spike because he was one of the few creatures next to whom she felt well-adjusted. It's not that Spuffy is supposed to be a wonderful pattern for how romance should be--it's supposed to be an interesting relationship between two amazingly screwed up folks.
Elspethdixon:

I've long suspected that the slasher de facto presumption of homosexuality (homonormative?) has meant that canon heterosexual couplings are, by default, reacted to with minimal enthusiasm, even when the het relationship is being written, in canon, for a character whom you, personally, don't slash.

Personally, I tend to default assume bisexuality. It's statistically more likely, and it allows the slash pair in question to have the hots for each-other and flirt on-screen with the babe of the week.

I've always seen slash less as something that exists in opposition to canon and het pairings than as something that exists simultaneuously with them, like an overlapping venn diagram. The difference between slashers and non-slasher is that we're capable of seeing/conceiving of all parts of the diagram, and they can only see the het parts.

Can we, despite our differences, see ourselves as against canon heternormative writing to the extent that we're all resistant readers choosing to queer the text for our own (and our fellow fans') pleasure? Or are we still every fan for herself?

Speaking as someone who tends to OTP pretty strongly, I'm just as likely to ship the canon het and be irritated by fans who break it up (Spike/Xander fans denying me my right to warped Spuffy goodness, Gambit/Iceman fans completely ignoring Rogue) as I am to be annoyed when new canon or het writers fuck with my slash OTP or write canon het badly (ex: Remus/Tonks instead of Remus/Sirius, people pairing Smallville Lex with Chloe instead of Clark, season three of Angel turning Fred into the biggest Mary Sue ever).

Slashing Cable and Deadpool like crazy doesn't change the fact that the entire reason I got into X-Men comics at all was my vast OTP love for Gambit and Rogue, any more than my liking for Batman/Catwoman and Green Arrow/Black Cannary prevents me from thinking that Superman and Lex Luthor's rivalry is really fueled by simmering sexual tension, and that Booster Gold and Blue Beetle were married and having the hot gay sex off panel.

I've got no problem, as I said, with canon het relationships in general, and am just as likely to ship them as I am to slash people, if I like the characters and their dynamic. The only time I truly hate on any pairing is when it turns the characters into annoying, OOC versions of themselves or breaks up one of my OTPs; If Ronon got a girlfriend, I'd be just as irritated as the Ronon slashers, but in my case it would be because I want Ronon to have hot alien warrior sex with Teyla, not Suzy J. Randomchick.

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