Sexuality in Slash: My God, Spock, You're a Woman!

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Title: Sexuality in Slash: My God, Spock, You're a Woman
Creator: Rachel Shave
Date(s): October 18, 1999
Medium: online
Fandom: Star Trek, The Sentinel, other fandoms, gender, slash
External Links: Sexuality in Slash: My God, Spock, You're a Woman/WebCite
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Sexuality in Slash: My God, Spock, You're a Woman is a 1999 meta essay by Rachel Shave.

The topic: Star Trek, gender, Uke, Lubrication, and slash.

Mentioned or cited: Turning Point, Magic Mommas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans and Perverts, and Methos a Woman?.

It as part of a series at Fanfic Symposium.


When we first look at slash fiction, the sexuality of the protagonists would appear rather obvious. However, in the words of Ira Gershwin, "it ain't necessarily so"! I'm going to focus on K/S to explore the claim made by Joanna Russ that the sexuality in slash is only nominally homosexual. Russ suggests that K/S is not about two men but rather that Kirk is a man but Spock is a half-Vulcan alien. She uses the notion of Patricia Lamb and Diana Veith that this alieness is a coding for the female (Russ, 1985: 83). Like a woman, Spock's reproductive cycle is cyclical and uncontrollable (which makes one wonder if Vulcans have pre-pon farr contingencies in their laws like our PMS ones). Despite being descended from Surak, Spock is just another star fleet officer, which is similar to the negation of women in our society. As well, through being isolated from both humans and Vulcans, Spock parallels the non-traditional woman who is alienated both from the traditional women and men. (I would hope that this alienation has decreased somewhat in the last 15 years since this article was written.) Taking all these points together, Spock encodes women, who constitute the vast majority of slash fandom.
Taking this discussion out of the ST:TOS arena, we can find similar elements in some other slash fandoms. In The Sentinel, some slash writers have codified Blair into a virtual female, one that is frequently reduced to tears. This is possibly due to his longish, curly hair; his slighter build in comparison to Jim and Simon; his high communication and empathy skills, and his ability to display a greater emotional range than the cops he hangs around with these days! In The Professionals slash fiction, Ray Doyle has also been known to be described as fine-boned and slight, while his green cat's eyes frequently fill with unshed tears while in AU slash, he is often made elfin. This reading of slash does not appear to work in the Blake's 7 universe where it is hard to conceive of Blake, Avon, Villa, Gan or Tarrant as being codified as "female".