It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender politics of slash

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Title: It’s not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender politics of slash'
Creator: professorfangirl
Date(s): August 12, 2013
Medium: online, tumblr
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External Links: Professorfangirl's Bordello of Learning, It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender..., Archived version
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It’s not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender politics of slash is a meta essay about slash fans written by professorfangirl and posted to tumblr on August 12, 2013.

Excerpts

Anyone who looks at the stats on fanfiction can see that male-male slash makes up a striking majority. Discussion of these stats gets very, um, heated; I myself had blocked a number of meta tags, because this conversation runs roughshod right up my alley. So I want to try to make one point as clearly and directly as I can: I don’t think fans prefer M/M slash because they’ve internalized misogyny. We write and read slash to turn ourselves on, and a majority of slash fandom is turned on by men.

Note that I am only talking about sexwriting here; there is far, far more to fandom, but this is where my intellectual and personal investment is. To be totally clear: I agree that the overall lack of minority representation in fandom reflects and may further the same problem in the wider culture by shutting down minority voices. The lack of POC characters reflects racism. There’s sexism and homophobia behind many fans’ insults to female characters, and expressions of distaste about female sexuality. But I disagree with the explanations too often given about why there’s so much M/M slash. Problem is, these debates lump together race, gender representation in general, and gender representation in slash as if they are all explained by culturally-imposed prejudices, and I think that’s a mistake. A person’s desire is not culturally imposed the way prejudice is. Its expression may be, but I think erotic object choice is inborn.

My problem is that people have used unconvincing stats about authorship to categorically dismiss the idea that women’s sexual desire for men drives the predominance of M/M fics. This implies that a majority of slash is about men for some other reason than desire, for a cultural and political reason: because (at least some of) the women who write and read it have internalized misogyny and are thus complicit in patriarchy. We write sex about men because we don’t like women. Some bloggers are careful to say that no one person is automatically guilty of this, but saying that the fandom is collectively culpable indicts the desires and pleasures of everyone who enjoys M/M slash."

Reactions

"This is important, and much more eloquently stated version of the point I’ve been wrestling with in my own head; I am in the process of attempting some F/F slash as a gift for a friend, and it’s difficult! And I don’t want it to be difficult! I’m a woman, who has had sex (and enjoys having sex) with other women!

But for some reason, it’s been difficult, and this has led me to The Guilty Place.

So. Anyway. All of this, thank you."[1]
"Thank you for verbalizing this. I’ve been thinking about this (a lot) lately, because I’m honestly surprised at how much I enjoy reading slash fiction. However, I’ve been thinking that this is (somewhat, and this topic is grounds for a WHOLE ‘nother conversation) similar to what my husband has always tried to explain about why men enjoy woman on woman porn - it’s what they like to see, and it’s lots of what does turn them on, without anything that doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, male on female erotica does turn me on, but there’s just something about male/male and the abundance of, well… Anyway, my point is that I’m agreeing with you that we gravitate towards that which actually works for us sexually, and it pisses me off that there are those that would take away even that outlet, as though our sexuality is only important if it fights a battle, proves a point, or involves male pleasure. I don’t consider myself a writer at the moment, but I don’t see how you could write something true, and genuine, and believable without being able to experience it or at least imagine experiencing it. To me, that’s like getting mad at someone for not being able to write about a culture that they don’t belong to - in fact, you’d usually be vilified for doing that, because you are writing about something that you cannot truly understand if you come from an outside perspective with no true identity in that culture (i.e. writing about exotic places from a colonial viewpoint, however unintentional)."[2]
"I was thinking of this the other day, and as I don’t have the language to explain myself as well as I’d like, I’ll co-opt yours. I write from my own desires is a perfect way to explain it. I write sex in the way I find sexy. I find men incredibly sexy. Cocks, man, what do.

It does seem a little odd, on the face of it, for me personally to write about two men in a relationship. But I have a thing I’m wondering about, and this could be supremely off base and I’m willing to talk further about it:

If, as, say, a white, het, ciswoman I were to write an original female character (because I would also then be writing from my own desire) who then becomes the love interest of a main male character (we’re talking fandom writing, here - which seems to be the main thrust of this argument), I’m accused of Mary Sue-ing the text, making my character a stand in for myself. Writing from Canon female characters can help some of this (the lack of ladies to choose from in my particular fandom makes this a little bit harder), but not always, as I’ve seen the same arguments that someone has Mary Sue’d the female character. The Mary Sue argument doesn’t happen with slashwriting. I can write two men acting on their desires in a way that insulates me, personally, and I can explore characters without that little ugly MS lurking on my shoulder. I only wonder about this because I’ve seen the same thing with men writing slash - the Stu argument. I wonder then, if by writing outside of ourselves we’re unconsciously giving ourselves a protective distance from our characters?

Which then, of course, sort of wraps itself back around to another part of your argument, about participating in our own subjugation and feeling too moralized at to be comfortable writing about our own sexuality and I honestly think we may not ever be able to sort it to anyone’s satisfaction..."[3]
"professorfangirl:
Can I retool my turn-ons in keeping with my politics?
For me, that answer is an emphatic “hell no.” I desire what I desire. Requiring me to find xyz erotic is just the mirror image of forbidding me to find that same thing erotic. Either one turns my desire into something to be judged and controlled, and I’m not producing or consuming slash in order to be judged or controlled. I get more than enough of that elsewhere."[4]
" Every time I read one of your critical, thought-provoking metas, you motivate me to take the plunge and apply to English PhD programs like I wanted to do for the past year! I definitely want to think more about slash vis-a-vis feminism in fandom now."[5]
Thank you for this–this is clearly an impassioned and thoughtful argument, and I too have wondered whether some of the angst over the AO3 stats [6]hasn’t come close to policing desire. I love love love slash but in the past few days my perspective has changed a bit over how progressive it is, *on aggregate*, so I hope you will bear with me while I ask a few questions:

(1) There is a long (stereotyped) history of (straight) women reading romance novels, and straight men watching porn, that has someone of their own (ostensibly non-desired gender) on screen. The usual argument, I think, is that you are identifying with that same-gendered person; whether it’s mirror-neurons or just some theory of spectatorship, if done well, you can almost *feel* what’s happening on screen or on the page happening to you. So maybe F/F wouldn’t work for some straight women, but het certainly should…? Why isn’t het higher on the list than it is?

(2) I worry not so much about misogyny, but old, old ideas that infect our media culture which then (–>spotlight effect) infect fandom. Ideas like (cis white het [or het passing] upper middle class) men are the standard-bearers, the ones who carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, the complicated ones, the fascinating ones, the ones we tell stories about to represent the Universal Human Condition. I don’t know some of the biggest fandoms (Supernatural, Teen Wolf), but I know Sherlock, and damn, Sherlock is guilty of embodying that perspective in every single one of its episodes. (As is ACD canon, but I give him more slack, since it was over 100 years ago.) I know for myself (and this is just me, and I realize that): thinking about John Watson/Sarah Sawyer I’m like “meh”; but Dana Scully/Fox Mulder? I dedicated my life to that pairing for about a decade, because Scully was such a well-drawn character who did Important Things. So I worry not about out and out misogyny, but about a subtle message embedded in many popular shows, which might perhaps be getting picked up (unconsciously?) by some or even many fans (not all, not by a long shot), that men are more complicated and interesting and worth telling stories about, that sparks will fly when two men collide because they’re both men, whereas a man with a woman (or especially women with each other) has just got to be more boring, less cataclysmic, less world-shattering. “We’re all a bit silly, aren’t we?”<–that attitude.

Sorry this got so long. I hope I was able to articulate what I’ve been thinking without being triggering or dismissive."[7]
"I disagree. (Typing this on my phone, oh fun.)

Most of the stories I prefer, including fanfiction, are less sexual than average; I have a libido the size of a spoon. Therefore, I feel comfortable analyzing my own reading practices without getting them tied up with my sexual desires.

But I have noticed a tendency within myself to automatically gravitate towards the fics about guys, even in fandoms with excellent female characters, such as A; TLA. When I do read stories about the women, I like them just as much, but going for the male-focused stories first feels like a habit. The same is true of characters of color, and to me, this inclination suggests subconscious misogyny and racism.

And maybe it is just habit. Stories are just advanced empathy, really; I step into someone else’s life, and it’s what helps me realize that the NotMe’s are human. (Maybe other people do it automatically, though?) Given that SO many stories are about white guys, I’ve had more practice stepping into their stories, and now it shows as habit. Which sucks, by the way, because that makes it so easy to overlook fantastic stories.

People shouldn’t be shamed for their reading/writing preferences. But with patterns and statistics like this, examining our own choices and why we make them seems prudent. (That’s the wrong word, I’m sure of it. Ugh. Words, how do they work?)"[8]
"I think both of these things can be true, and they can both be true in the same person. I have no idea which is more true, or true for more people, but I don’t doubt that people write what they’re turned on by, and I also don’t doubt that internalized misogyny is real (I know you’re not denying that either, so bear with me). This brings to mind an interview by an m/m fiction writer I came across years ago – it’s stuck in my mind ever since because it seemed like such a perfect expression of that internalized misogyny. She said:

Through college and the years that followed I may not have been writing, but I was definitely reading. A lot! I’ve been a voracious reader my whole life. Starting around junior high, I primarily read fantasy. But a few years ago, I started to notice something odd: no matter what book I was reading, I found myself hating the female lead. Now, I’m sure it’s not actually the case that every single female character in fantasy is poorly-written. I can readily admit that the issue is my own. Regardless of the reason, the fact is, they drove me nuts. So I started specifically buying books that had male protagonists. Of course, then those fabulous male leads were always falling in love with the some silly girl, and I never understood why, so if I managed to find a book that didn’t even mention a woman in the blurb, I was thrilled.” (interview is here: http://otterdance.livejournal.com/459059.html)

Reading that, and some of the comments (the casual “I hate female characters too”), just makes me sad. I don’t think it’s so easy to separate gender representation in general and gender representation in sexwriting; people like sexwriting about characters they like, and if they don’t like female characters, well.

I’m not making any blanket statements about what the most common motivations are. Maybe this is a distinct minority. I have no idea, and I’m perfectly willing to accept that most people just find m/m hot. I just don’t think the separation between sex and the rest of it is so clean. People read sexwriting for the emotional content as well, and that is strongly influenced by social conditioning."[9]
"Perhaps one way to rebalance at least in part, is to write female characters (in my source material, ACD canon, usually as clients whether original or OC, but Mrs Hudson is a great option) with agency, complexity and inner lives who are not necessarily (or not long term) sexually involved with either of the main pair? That’s how I try to increase representation - also, I enjoy writing those characters.

In terms of my personal desire, (boring monogamous straight cis woman of a certain age) men do it for me [athough in past fandoms I wrote mostly het due to main pairing interests]. Repressed men discovering passion do it for me in spades (British, too!). Friendship becoming love is another kick.

In terms of society, exploring how women who did not, or did not want to, conform to narrow stereotypes and expectations negotiated the spaces of late Victorian England is fascinating to me, just as how men who desired men did so. I see the two groups as somewhat analogous."[10]
"I’ve been thinking about this in many configurations....I read almost exclusively m/m slash, occasionally m/m/m, sometimes with a bdsm slant (Bal-Chatri is among my forever favourites). I’ve even attempted to write some. When boyfriend asked me “why is it always gay couples?” I shrugged and said: “too few interesting women, I guess.” But that’s not the entire truth. Yes, there are too few interesting female characters - I’m trying to tell him this and by now, he’s starting to see what I mean.

It’s also because of what I termed ‘porn math’: two hot men is better then one hot man. Perfectly legitimate reason to want something.

It’s also because my favourite slashers write m/m slash. Perfectly legitimate reason to read something.

But here’s the problematic part. It’s also because I lack languague to adequately describe my erotic desires, as I feel them as a woman feeling desire. I find it easier to imagine wanting a woman then to be a woman wanting. When I realised this, I realised I have a problem. So my new year’s resolution was reading and/or writing proper hot het or fem slash. Results: practically nil. There’s a femslash plot bunny hiding in my google docs that I should start working on. I just read a fantastic piece of Irene Adler/Harry Watson slash ..... But those are drops in the ocean. Important drops but droplets all the same.

So yes, on my part it has to do with the results of a culture that denies women feel desire. I feel weird reading about female desire. So fuck yes, there is a problem.

Still, I’m very happy to have found porn that works for me."[11]
"Thank you for this - it’s something I’ve been thinking about myself a lot recently, and as ever with your metas, this has clarified my own thoughts.

My first introduction to fanfiction was Doctor Who, and I read a lot of Doctor/Rose het. I identify as largely but not exclusively straight, Rose being one of the exceptions, so that worked for me. Doctor/Captain Jack fic was the first slash I read - again, both characters being objects of desire.

I think you’re absolutely right about writing coming from a place of desire. I’ve been feeling faintly guilty about not writing het/femmeslash, precisely because of feeling it’s somehow misogynistic not to. I’ve only written in the Sherlock fandom, and the female characters are not as attractive to me as Sherlock/John/Lestrade. And I think that’s part of a broader problem, where there’s a dearth of tv programmes or films with strong, interesting female protagonists. Genderswap is one way round that - I very much enjoyed HTMCIS, because the characters are attractive to me, in male or female form. But it seems a shame that when fanfiction authors correct a lack of female visibility in mainstream media, they are then being castigated for it.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I am now feeling less guilty about writing dirty S/J/L sex, so I suppose that’s all to the good!"[12]
"Oh yes yes yes; slash writers are some of the best feminists I know. It’s about breaking down barriers, not putting them up."[13]
"Here’s my comment, which doesn’t relate specifically to the comments I’m immediately reblogging from but argh tumblr, what can you do.

I write BDSM m/m fic and BDSM m/f in original writing....The sex in it is less intense, and takes up less space, than my fic sex.

The m/f BDSM was difficult to write, because I felt I was putting my morality up for judgement. I think everyone knows the stereotypes of abusive male doms/damaged female subs/spineless male subs/unfeminine female doms etc. And if you practice BDSM yourself you’ve probably at some point attracted the charge that you must therefore think rape and domestic abuse are just fine. That sort of thing hits you in a vulnerable place.

Writing m/m, it’s a huge plus that I don’t have to contend with all that. It’s there a bit – I wondered about how people would take a bipolar masochist, for one thing – but Sherlock and John are established, competent, powerful characters.

If one of them was female though, all the stereotypes would come charging in. My characterisations would be taken as internalised misogyny. I’d be punishing the strong female soldier by making her a closet psycho, or punishing the female genius by making her a deranged saddo.

I say this verdict ‘would’ be passed – by whom? I don’t know. But it feels like a real thing. And when it comes to deciding what to write, expectation is key.

This is of course fucked up. I’m primarily writing Sherlock/John because I love Sherlock and John is his obvious match, but I’m also aware that it feels psychologically easier than writing m/f did. (Also it gets me readers in a way that writing novels publishers don’t want clearly doesn’t). I could write Sherlock/Irene – she’s even canonically a dom – but I don’t because there’s no warmth there. I want to show how BDSM can fit right into the warmest, most nurturing romantic relationship. And sexy women don’t get to be nurturers on TV; they usually have to be a threat.

Then there’s f/f… I don’t write f/f … I’ve never had any intention of writing it… [pause]

It’s now five hours later… I wrote the above on my lunchbreak. Immediately after which a most compellingly filthy and psychologically twisty Sherlock f/f BDSM scenario appeared in my head and set up camp for the afternoon. I wonder if it will make it to screen? I wonder if a kind of Bechdel test variant applies and those of us who are neither gay men nor lesbians get the urge to write the men together and not the women because we don’t get to see how they interact onscreen? Does starting to do some of the legwork of that interaction in my mind lead to me wanting to flesh it out in words?"[14]
"At the risk of derailing PFG’s original discussion, I find I can’t resist reblogging lbmisscharlie’s points. Her description of the experience of reading and writing embodied women–“the intimate, the shaky, angry, violently frustrated feeling that so often accompanies the incredible relief at realizing that other people feel this way too. That other people experience the world — the misogynistic, patriarchal, racist, homophobic world — in the same or similar ways to you, and have all sorts of embodied experiences within it, glorious and painful and loving and happy and dull’–that’s a big part of why I crave writing about women, too, and particularly sex writing about women, whose sexualities have so long been denied and/or co-opted by the patriarchy.

I also just find stories about women super super hot. And I DO use fic as a masturbatory aid, among many other things, but my personal pattern goes something like:

  • Scenario 1: I am in my analytical-brain, not particularly looking to get off. Now I prefer to read and write well-crafted prose about compelling characters, many of whom, for me, are women.
  • Scenario 2: I have had a good day, maybe even fooled around with a real-life lady recently. I got turned on, and she didn’t act like I was weird or gross! That makes me feel good about myself and about her! Now I am alone and looking to get off. I prefer to read gritty, realistic sex writing involving embodied women.
  • Scenario 3: I have had kind of a rough day, though nothing for the record books. Now I’m looking to have a satisfying reading experience, and also get off. I prefer to read well-crafted, character-driven, non-heteronormative sex writing involving either men or women. Its levels of representation and realism, at this point, come secondary to whether it convinces me of the world it’s creating and the relationships within that world, and whether the sex is written in a fresh or compelling way.
  • Scenario 4: I spent the day having interactions that required me to directly confront my personal baggage around sexuality, much of which involves being told, by men, that my preferred modes of sexual expression are weird or wrong. I feel triggered, unattractive, and uncomfortable in my own body. I prefer to read the most fantastical, divorced-from-reality m/m smut I can possibly lay my hands on.
That’s what I men when I say m/m is sometimes easier for me to read, for reasons relating to misogyny and patriarchy. When I am at my best, I get off on, and even crave, realistic sex writing involving women, both for purely libidinal reasons and because I crave seeing my own preferences and experience represented. But. I am not always at my best."[15]
"I read and write sex when I am involved with the characters’ involvement with one another. I just don’t care about Irene enough to bother reading Irene/? fic. Maybe if I watched Rizzoli and Isles or Cagney and Lacey and became involved with them I would find myself writing femslash. I still think it has to do, very much, for me, how well developed the characters are in canon. I find it easier to believe two richly portrayed and deeply imagined characters would be attracted to one another."[16]
"I find a lot of the discussion that surrounds whether or not women write women to be — to be very far away from me, in a lot of ways, because the fundamental reason why I am not going to connect to a female character in fiction is that she’s not written as a human being. Weirdly, this is also why I tend not to connect to male characters, when I don’t connect with them, but the experience of being a woman isn’t what is broadly taken as the base standard human experience, so that disconnect does tend to happen more frequently with female characters. When someone writes the “base standard human experience" — or at least, what I was erroneously but formally trained to read as the base standard human experience — they are generally writing, in fact, a male experience. It’s also a primarily dominant-culture (i.e., mostly white and cis and straight and middle- or upper-class and Anglophone, for most fictional media produced in the last few centuries) experience, which is why intersectionality, but that — that isn’t really exactly what I want to talk about. The thing that is so hard for me to articulate in this is that I frequently experience a level of cognitive dissonance pertaining to my own experience of the world that has to do, on a really fundamental level, with what I have learned, from fiction, it is to be human. Media sets out X and Y and Z as the base human experience, but that experience is not my experience. And how I relate to that disjoint changes with the weather and the phase of the moon and where I am neurochemistry-wise and how much time I’ve spent crying in therapy recently, but it also changes with how and how frequently I have been directly told in my real life, in the recent past, that my experience of the world is not the human experience. And as lbmisscharlie says, knowing that in fact other human beings are having the human experience that I in fact am having is frequently immeasurably important to me, because it helps me to remember that I am a human being too."[17]
"....my goal, when I am writing about humans having my human experience, is in part to communicate my human experience to other human beings, and to carve out a space for it on the, you know, broader shelf of broader human experiences. Where I can put it and say: this is, in fact, a human experience.

And this often happens, for me, with male characters (who are on screen or the page not having my human experience) as a way of humanizing them in my own terms, and of taking—the bits of them that I can relate to, and hanging things onto them that reframe the things that I cannot.

It’s a big part of why it’s important to me, when I do write male characters, especially when writing male characters who canonically desire women, to write them desiring women! Not just to write them desiring women, but to write them desiring women as human beings, and interacting with women as human beings, and being challenged when they don’t interact with women as human beings, because I find the sort of casual, offhand misogyny that is so ubiquitous in media intensely alienating and erasing: not just because the show is misogynist (or homophobic or, or or or) but because a character, who I want to relate to, who I am intended to relate to, who is supposed to be, on some level, expressing the human experience, has done something that removes me from that picture. And generally, on screen, this is not challenged or often in fact even acknowledged in any way."[18]
[When I write het fic] "I frequently, incredibly frequently, am greeted, in response to this, by misogynist aggressions, micro- and otherwise, from other fans. From other female-identified fans, in fact. And this is why I am so suspicious of the initial claim in this thread that, in fact, misogyny isn’t a big part of why people (broadly, in the abstract) write M/M slash: because, in fact, when I write about a man who canonically desires women, who canonically romances women, desiring or romancing a woman, even when I have category-tagged the story appropriately, even in a context where the overall tenor and thrust of the story is M/M, this is what I hear:
  1. I don’t understand why this dude wanted to get with this lady but I am glad it was this dude/this other dude in the end!
  2. The explicitness of the dude/lady sex was sort of unnecessary but otherwise I enjoyed it.
  3. I don’t usually like dude/lady, but you sold me on it here!
  4. I think you may not be aware of it but explicit fiction about desiring ladies is actually really objectifying and wrong?
  5. OMG YOU GOT LADYPARTS IN MY DUDE/DUDE PORN YOU CUNT!
In general I wrote about that dude wanting to get with that lady because something about the desiring of a lady or the getting with that lady expressed my human experience of wanting to get with or actually getting with ladies (either in the specific or the abstract, depending on circumstance). I wrote that dude/lady sex as explicit because the desire for explicit indicators of female arousal and female sexual pleasure, including in the context of dude/lady sex, is part of my human experience. #4 is blatant concern trolling and barely worth my time: there’s nothing the fuck wrong with desire, full stop; there’s things that are wrong with certain expressions of desire, sure, but expressing desire, in the context of PORNOGRAPHIC FICTION, is not one of them; and again, the lady desire and desire for ladies I am expressing is, in fact, my own female desire, an attempt to reclaim something that has been taken away from me again and again and again in media and that is important to me and that I want to own."[19]
"....I, frequently, experience misogyny in fandom; and I frequently experience it at the hands of other female fans; and I frequently experience it for writing about women in ways that I, personally, find humanizing and validating; and I frequently experience in situations where I also both promise and deliver lots of cock. So the problem, clearly, is not just a desire for more cock. It’s the presence of a woman. And whatever the reasons, whatever the undoubtedly complex and tangled motivations behind why female representation in fiction written by a female author specifically as representations of female desire and female experience is so frequently a trigger for both subtle and overt misogynist aggressions to that female author from female readers, whether or not M/M slash itself is intrinsically misogynist or written for intrinsically misogynist reasons (and I don’t think it is), it still sure looks to me like there is a big fucking misogynist problem.[20]
"I work in a male-dominated field, and this is exactly how I feel when I’m either a) complimented on my ability to master such feats as using shortcut keys, or b) apologized to when a guy curses in front of me. It’s condescending and just draws attention to the fact that I’m different.

Before Sherlock, my only other ships were canon het ships (on The X-Files and The Office). This time around, I think I started by falling for Sherlock’s character, and was sold on Johnlock after the fact based on their emotional connection and the amazing fic out there, not because I ship slash as a matter of course.

I won’t claim their gender is irrelevant to me: I do find dudes having sex appealing because, well, I’m mostly attracted to dudes. And I’ve found writing a relationship that isn’t so subject to heterosexual gender roles really interesting (both because of their gender and who they are as characters).

So if people love slash, that’s great. But the aggression you’ve described reminds me of hearing women make a big point about how they’re only friends with men, because women are catty, and men are so much cooler, and feminism is bullshit, and women just need to man up. (No joke, I had a female coworker tell me she was “the opposite of a feminist.” o_O). It reeks of internalized misogyny, and it is sad.

At any rate (wow this got longer than I expected), thanks for sharing this, and I’m sorry these jackasses were pointing their jackassery in your direction. You and your writing are awesome. <3 Also, this makes me want to go write some M/F or F/F just to be contrary. :D"[21]
"Long read, but oh my God is it worth it. This is probably one of the best discussions of females in fiction and media I’ve ever seen. Thank you for making me feel like I have a place here, because often times I feel like I should just be chased out simply for my own life experiences and desires. :{"[22]
"This. And to be perfectly honest, my initial reaction to the idea that slash writing is a sign of misogyny was a very emphatic “WTF?!”. The second was that I do wonder whether or not the assumption that most slash readers and writers are straight or bisexual women is correct, because that’s what my limited experience would suggest, and I think there’s data on the subject, so I’ll go and do a systematic search. Because, really. There are a million reasons to like slash. Misogyny isn’t the first that comes to my mind."[23]
"All I get from this drivel is that it’s okay to overlook the lack of racial diversity in slash pairings because we should value the safe expression of yt female sexuality in all of it’s forms, even when it’s really fucked up.

All I get from this is that, as a QWOC, if I want to see myself reflected in fic, I have to take a seat because slash fangirls would rather express their sexuality in ways that openly exclude POC due to systems of ingrained prejudice that they’re responsible for upholding, but hey, as long as they’re expressing their sexuality safely, then it’s cool, right?!

All I get from this bullshit is the same tired fucking response about why we should give a fuck about M/M pairings; I feel like you’re saying that it’s okay that they’re aren’t any MOC in them because safe expressions of yt girl sexuality are more important than equal representation.

Fuck that noise. Instead of writing a post about the validation of slash shipping, write a post that calls out every motherfucker who openly shits on the characters that “get in the way” of their precious fucking headcanon. Walk a mile in my shoes, simply as a WOC, in fandoms like Merlin where fans can come up with every racist reason under the sun why having a WOC Guinevere was the worst fucking thing possible. Try existing in a fandom where, even if canon reflects you, fans reject the very notion that your identity, your sexual expression, your fucking existence is necessary and progressive.

Fuck that. I am not about to embrace a subset of fans who make it difficult for me to safely exist and express myself throughout fandoms."[24]
"I would argue (and I’ve seen the argument before, though I can’t figure out where at the moment) that a huge factor in the overwhelming dominance of M/M is the lack of well-developed female characters in TV and other media. Obviously people write M/M to get off, but people usually choose to write about characters they care about, and it’s hard to care about characters that are barely even dignified with basic personality traits.

Let’s look at, say, Supernatural, which is a show I don’t watch, but seems to have a problem with killing off its female characters kind of constantly. The AO3 breakdown, rounded to the nearest percent: 62% M/M, 11% F/M, 2% F/F (out of 68,777 works total). So only 13% of all Supernatural fics even have a pairing that contains a woman (maybe fewer, what with category overlap).

And then let’s look at Homestuck, which has plenty of of well-developed male and female characters: 45% M/M, 26% F/M, 13% F/F (out 25,865 works total). It’s still skewed towards M/M, but things are looking up for the women.

I’m going for a smaller fandom next, because it’s one that I’m hugely involved in and its statistics are immensely different from what we get a lot of the time. Orphan Black is a show with a female protagonist, an overwhelmingly female cast, and a canonical relationship between two women, one of whom is a main character. (It fails the reverse Bechdel test abysmally a lot of the time.) Its stats: 3% M/M, 7% F/M, 60% F/F (out of 442 works total). Whoa. Kinda like Supernatural in reverse. Yeah, the writers in this fandom are mostly queer-identified girls but so, apparently, are the majority of all fic writers (according to the original post).

Sure, this doesn’t prove anything. And the numbers for Orphan Black fic are much smaller total than the numbers for the other fandoms I looked at. But my point is: if you give us well-developed female characters, we’ll write porn of them. I promise. There is more at play than just the way that creators choose to populate their universes, sure. A lot of people of many genders and sexual orientations really just want to write M/M porn. That’s cool. That’s part of the story. But another part of the story is all the people aching for female characters worth writing about."[25]

References

  1. sherlock wears bee pants, Archived version
  2. It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender..., Archived version
  3. The Slow Evolution of a Lifetime of Devotion - It’s not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender politics of slash, Archived version
  4. bringing a pen to a swordfight (It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender...), Archived version
  5. Comment left at Professorfangirl's Bordello of Learning, It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender..., Archived version
  6. For some further reading, see AO3 Ship Stats Masterpost from Ao3 Ship Stats by centrumlumina, AO3 Census: Masterpost, Why Is There So Much Slash Fic?: Some Analysis of the AO3 Census, Unpacking the unofficial fanfiction census
  7. Spoil Me (It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender...), Archived version
  8. vynessia.tumblr archiveurl =http://www.webcitation.org/6codXIjRH,
  9. A hundred shivers It’s not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender politics of slash, Archived version
  10. Fabric of the Universe (somewhat moth-eaten) - Love and Sex and Faith and Fear: It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender politics of slash, Archived version
  11. Fanning and Politics, It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender..., Archived version
  12. AnInconvenientRuth, Archived version
  13. Cybrarian's Hideaway • defiantly geeky: It's not misogyny: sexwriting and..., Archived version
  14. ...having been breathed out: It's not misogyny:..., Archived version
  15. lbmisscharlie.tumblr, Archived version
  16. Rhyolight — It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender..., Archived version
  17. Blue Ruiner: It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender..., Archived version
  18. Blue Ruiner: It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender..., Archived version
  19. Blue Ruiner: It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender..., Archived version
  20. Blue Ruiner: It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender..., Archived version
  21. thirtypercent.tumblr, Archived version
  22. Bassfanimation, Petra Todd: It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the..., Archived version
  23. Love and Sex and Faith and Fear: It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender politics of slash, Archived version
  24. It's not misogyny: sexwriting and the gender... - The Gray Lady, Archived version
  25. welcome to the bummer town express, Archived version