Meta Sexual Poaching: I'll Be a Post-Slasher in the Post-Patriarchy

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Title: Meta Sexual Poaching: I'll Be a Post-Slasher in the Post-Patriarchy
Creator: executrix
Date(s): March 5, 2007
Medium: online, LiveJournal
External Links: post is here; archive link
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Meta Sexual Poaching: I'll Be a Post-Slasher in the Post-Patriarchy is a March 2007 LiveJournal post by executrix.

Some Topics Discussed


I've been following a lot of threads about slasher identity, and I admit that to an extent, I would think of myself less as a slasher and more simply as a fanfic writer if there weren't still battles to fight. Also, I kinda think of slashers like Faith and Buffy dancing together in "Bad Girls" so that is a vision of coolness I am loath to abandon. But just because I own black leather pants doesn't mean I can still be ladled into them.

I must also confess that I think a lot of analysis about slash fanfic seems to me to be just as true of het or genfic, and one reason why I refer to slash "ships" instead of drawing a distinction between "ship" and "slash" is that I think that shipping operates very similarly whether or not the lovers have matching bits.

But then, I still have a positively Galenic loyalty to my belief that fan goggles (slash or otherwise) view a source text as something to be scavenged and used to decorate the fan's mindspace. A particularly lovely piece of driftwood may be left as-is except for a little cleaning up; whereas a damaged tapestry may wind up being darned, patched, irreparable areas removed, and the salvaged part re-deployed in several pieces of patchwork.

As I've said before, I do think fanfic is transgressive, but because it assumes that the underlying text is completely up for grabs; it isn't necessary to invert everything, or even change everything less than 180 degrees, to be transgressive. Choosing to leave things the way they were, and give us missing scenes or developments from canon, is just as transgressive as going completely AU or AR.

However, for someone who insists on unconventional pairings, it can be awfully disappointing if there are canon same-sex couples, who then are shadowed beneath the same ghastly pall of respectability as the canon mixed couples.

Which leads to my Why Incest? Why Now? theory. That, in the past, horses would be frightened by explicit announcement of same-sex activities in reputable fiction. So, Old Skool fantexts often had, whether because of the creators' conscious or unconscious actions, what Hedwig would call "mostly, that Text we call Sub." Nowadays, however, the argument could be made that a male couple or female couple *could* be portrayed in canon as lovers, so it's evidence of some sort if they aren't. (Personally, I'm skeptical about the evidentiary value of absence-of-evidence.) So, if your kink is subtext, then one place where they're still whispering and casting lingering looks instead of just making them a couple--is sibcest.


  • [alixtil]:
    I was loving this bit and thinking about how it relates to my own fan goggles, which are often 'cest goggles as much as anything, and then you went there! With So, if your kink is subtext, then one place where they're still whispering and casting lingering looks instead of just making them a couple--is sibcest. which I think is true, even if it's of course only part of the answer to the Why Incest? question, which I've tried to answer in part before as well.
  • [executrix]:
    I suspect that a conscious or subconscious part of political organizing consists in moving the bar a little further, so that one's opponents will, e.g., say, "I think it's wrong for men to spend all their time cruising for promiscuous sex with other men! They should get married!" For reasons including strenuous work by slashers, many persons within fandom no longer think there's anything more outrageous in shipping, e.g., Snape/Draco than Neville/Pansy (although they may find one couple more interesting or more plausible) so if you want to be out on the edge, it's Blackcest or Malfoycest time... I think fluffycest is definitely more transgressive. I think it was the Nixon Administration that scored an instant bestseller by publishing a lavishly illustrated investigative report about pornography, whose purchased could be handwaved by people who would be ashamed to buy porn from a porn supplier. Because, even though we reprobates pointed and sniggered, they could say that they bought the book for lots and lots of OH GOD MORE proof that Porn is Bad.
  • [lunabee]:
    ...I am an angst whore and I don't really like to read fic in any pairing (incest or no) where the couple fries eggs for each other and picks out curtains. LOL I'm also not a huge fan of established relationship fic because I really enjoy the first time aspect of a lot of fic. As you say, if those fics aren't done right, they can read as lazy. But it does feels more daring to me, in a way, not to fixate on the taboo aspect of their relationship. In a lot of fic, the writer seems to be asking the reader to come to an acceptance of the relationship along with the characters. Sam struggles with his feelings and so does Dean and then when they finally, inevitably get together, we as readers have taken that journey with them, if that makes any sense. The stories that elide that portion of the relationship ask the reader to just automatically accept their relationship as valid, which feels more transgressive to me.
  • [exectrix]:
    I'm much bigger on established relationship fics than first-times, because I can believe that, given factors like hormones, boredom, and alcohol just about any two individuals will fall deeply in bed...ONCE. But making a go of a relationship is tough, so I'm more excited by the character development that can ensue in that kind of story. I'm with you on the elision--I don't write a lot of coming-out stories, because I just figure that my slash characters have been having more or less same-sex emotions and activities for a while. I don't think explanations are needed, because *to me* it's no big deal, although I often write about the interaction between the individual to whom it's no big deal and the society to whom it is. I don't feel the same way about incest, and I agree that the "it's an axiom, on with the story" approach is highly transgressive.
  • [shimere277]:
    I just think two guys together are hot. Is that Meta? I think siblingcest is just a variation on a theme of the twins/doubles/clones/androids thang - F'r ex - am I the only one who thought Conrad's "The Secret Sharer" was ginormously slashy (before I even knew what slash was!) Tell me a whole generation of guys didn't go there mentally about the Doublemint Twins... Look, if I want transgressive, I'll get out the spork and the platypus...
  • [lunabee]:
    I do think that RPF is a fundamentally different kind of fandom, simply because there isn't a fixed fictional text that can be treated as a canon. *nods* I was thinking about how much effort has to go into RPF research as well. It's not like there's just a show you can watch a season of or a movie to watch. You have to comb through interviews to find out all these personal details. And then you still have to watch the show so that you can put the actor's character persona in context with his or her real life that you're exploring.
  • [executrix]:
    My theory is that there are so many RPF stories involving things like waking up canine or turning into a sofa because the whole concept of "AU" has got to be different when you can't say that something could really be an episode of the show.
  • [snarkylightning]:
    Nowadays, however, the argument could be made that a male couple or female couple *could* be portrayed in canon as lovers, so it's evidence of some sort if they aren't. I find that argument too laughable to take seriously. There are a thousand reasons that a couple may not want to plaster their status all over canon, regardless of whether they're gay or straight. Maybe they're dating someone from the wrong House/clique/gang/neighborhood. Maybe they're dating their boss or employee. Maybe they're dating their student. Maybe they're worried about putting their girlfriend or boyfriend in danger from their crazy fans if they're a famous artist/author/singer/musician/actor. Maybe they just don't feel the need to broadcast their relationships to everyone else in canon. Maybe they're a self-loathing homosexual and in denial about being gay. Maybe they're cheating on their wife/husband and don't want anyone to know. The argument that someone can't be gay or in a certain type of relationship because they didn't mention it in canon is fully dependent on the canon. How was it narrated? By whom was it narrated? Is the narration reliable? How much of their life do we learn about? Do we see their childhood? Is there any reason that a relationship between two particular characters could exist without us knowing and if so, why?
  • [discordiana]:
    Maybe this is too tangential, but it got me thinking about transgression to the casual viewer (or society) as opposite to fandom/the TPTB that flirt or incorporate non-heteronormative stuff. Shojo Kakumei Utena. It's an anime, I don't know if you're into it; but besides having a strong feminist theme (does a lot of gender subversion) and bringing all the gay social subtext in the open, it also does the same with incest. I wonder what that means about the fan when the text itself is so transgressive. If the incest is text, then the fan who is into it is not transgressive to the text. But the simple act of being a fan of that text is transgressive... I think transgression has no moral connotation per se. It's just the relation between a subject and a norm -- if the norm's right, then the transgression leads to wrongs... though this is hard for me, because I'm all "transgression yay" myself, and I want to frame it in a way where its inherent value is emphatized as err... trascending morals?? But there's a huge risk in that. Does this thinking ends up in rape apologetics no matter what? Sometimes I feel transgression is not the act of breaking rules per se, but to not see them as rules imposed from high. So whatever your actions are, they're transgressive anyway, because you're not taking them for granted. And yet that's not transgression, more like subversion.
  • [thelena]:
    I do think that RPF is a fundamentally different kind of fandom, simply because there isn't a fixed fictional text that can be treated as a canon. I get the impression that there are two school of thoughts. One side likes their RPF mostly as complete AU (as far as putting the people they are slashing into completely different jobs, countries, situations; not to mention eradicating girlfriends and intentionally ignoring "canon" facts). Many of these say that actually makes them more comfortable, that writing something closer to the facts would be more intrusive (for example it is canon that the apartment of actor X was vandalized during a shoot; writing a fic where actor Y comforts X about it would feel too close to home). But there has been RPF that actually tries to follow "canon", meaning interviews and real life known events. I mostly encountered it during the popslash/boyband slash phase, where people would incorporate information they gleamed from interviews, mimic speech patterns and behavior from television specials and reference real life events ("This story is set back when N'Sync were touring in Germany and their old manager Larry Rudolph was a real bastard" or "this is a story where bandmember A is upset that the song he wrote for the album wasn't picked for a single").
  • [executrix]:
    thelana: thanks, I hadn't thought about the motive you cite for going AU. As for your next paragraph, I agree that RPF writers who want to be canon compliant go about it similarly to the way ficwriters in media fandoms go about canon compliance. But I still think that news and biography are a different kind of canon from a media property--my emphasis is on saying that there is no FIXED FICTIONAL TEXT to serve as canon, not that there is no canon.