I'm just experimenting - f/f fanfiction through the eyes of a fence-sitter

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Title: I'm just experimenting - f/f fanfiction through the eyes of a fence-sitter
Creator: thelana
Date(s): July 12th, 2009
Medium: online
Topic: Fanfiction, Femslash, slash
External Links: I'm just experimenting - f/f fanfiction through the eyes of a fence-sitter, ; archive link
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I'm just experimenting - f/f fanfiction through the eyes of a fence-sitter is an essay by thelana.


Laterly, probably due to getting or at least brushing elbows with some fandoms with canon f/f and the wonderful efforts on behalf of International Day of Femslash, I've been mulling about [femslash] and the dynamics behind it. And it really made me realize what m/m slashers take for granted.

Think of people who are primarily interested in femslash the way some people are primarily interested in slash. How many fandoms can you think of where you can agree that there is an awesome likable hot active fleshed out female character? Good. Now how many can you think of where there are two likable important female characters? And where at least one of them is not decidedly attached romantically to a male character? Ideally both? (oh and ideally they should also at least occasionally interact with each other) Because if you have a fandom like that, my bet is that femslash has already arrived at your doorstep.

If you think about it, there actually has been a surge of female characters who get their own tv shows (The Closer, Medium, Fringe, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Ghost Whisperer). But even if they are, a lot of the time even though there might be a central important female character she usually isn't given a second important female character to play and interact with. And even if there are several female characters they are usually already uniquely attached (Bones and Angela, Lana/Chloe/Lois on Smallville, Cameron/Cuddy/13 on House, everybody on Desperate Housewives).

It seems that those solo unattached strong female characters are the ones most inspiring to femslash (Faith on Buffy, Olivia on SVU, Xena on Xena) but again, usually when a character like that exists on a show, she usually isn't given any other female characters to play with. (which to me explains the relative popularity of even minor/lesser known shows such as Women's Murder Club or Bionic Woman getting some fandom play)

Thinking of this really made me realize just how frikking many male characters exist. And how many of them are unattached. And how much more ready shows are willing to explicitly write friendships or enemyships between two men or even between men and women, compared to how willing they are to write it between two women.

If you have a female heroine, what are the chances that her sidekick will also be allowed to be female and/or that her main villain also be allowed to be female?

Naturally there are shows which are femslashed which don't fall into these categories (Gossip Girl, The Office and others). But it seems interesting that it seems almost easier these days to find canon lesbian/bi characters (Angela from Bones, 13 from House, Callie, Erica, Arizona from Grey's Anatomy, Olivia and Natalia on Guiding Light, plus international shows like Los Hombres De Paco and Skins, not to mentions various mangas and animes) than to find traditional femslash candidate shows.
Anyway, having given some thought to the logistics of that, I want to pay attention to another group. Let's say you are not a primary femslashers, so you might not be drawn naturally towards femslash fandoms. Maybe you gravitate towards the big and easy fandoms, or you are shallow and you do like looking at the boys and like your slash or het. So you end up in a fandom that doesn't fullfill the criteria from above (for example there are women, but they are all attached to a love interest). It's your home, it's cute, it's flashy, you like it there.

Well, the news is, femslash happens in these fandoms too. Maybe on the fringes. Often written by people who also write slash or het. The writers are more likely going to be straight. Motivations might include:

- I'm deeply in love with my favorite female character I want to slash her with everyone, all the men, all the women
- I'm a multishipper and I like to try out everything, the more rare and untried, the more interesting it is to try it out*
- I see chemistry or an interesting relationship dynamic
- I'm an m/m OTP slasher, but I really do love the female characters too and love to show I'm free for all
- I'm usually a hetshipper and right now I'm annoyed at the male characters and what they are doing to my female characters. "Let's ditch those guys and run off together" fic.
- Even without boyfriends, sometimes, especially on ensemble shows the testosterone can be so overwhelming and cloying that you want your cute little femslashy haven for a bit

And yes, you might even develop a special fondness for these pairings rather than it just being your expandable and unimportant thing on the side.

Anyway, for a long time this was the f/f I was mostly exposed to. Mostly read and written by people coming from the same lack of femslashy background as myself. It has always fascinated me that this exists pretty much invisibly from "regular" femslash and in reverse these kind of femslashers also weren't much aware of the primary femslash fandom. Different friendlists, stories posted to different archives, often even different fandoms, like very different approaches and even backgrounds.

I still have a hard time not being fond of those stories. They are close to my heart. They were my first exposure to femslash. They make sense to me. Even though I often wonder whether they might be completely unreadable for somebody seeking primary femslash.

Anyway, some fandoms I've been in that way.
Smallville - Chloe/Lana
Prison Break - Including Gretchen/Sarah, Gretchen/Sofia, Sarah/Jane, Sarah/Veronica (for example Clair_de_lune or the relevant categories on prisonbreakfic.com or answers to various challenges or fic exchanges; I still remember my very first was this Sara/Veronica by alazysod; it's not rare here to find authors who have never written more than one femslash piece, for example volatile)
Popslash - Britney/Christina
Stargate Atlantis - Teyla/anyone

* That's so me. I tend to hang out in rather non-femslashy fandoms where femslash is a rarity, so when it shows up I usually always click on it and try to encourage it because to me it is just something you see so rarely.