Slash Origins: YOU'RE ALL WRONG!

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Title: Slash Origins: YOU'RE ALL WRONG!
Creator: Michelle Christian
Date(s): November 18, 1993
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Slash Origins: YOU'RE ALL WRONG! is a 1993 essay by Michelle Christian.

It was posted to the private mailing list (as part of a larger discussion about slash, its origins and its audience), Virgule-L, and is quoted with permission from the author.

A similar essay is Well, *of course* we need to heartily discuss every nuance of the origins and definitions of slash! and Meta Essays, List Surveys and Notable Discussions on Virgule-L. For additional context, see Timeline of Slash Meta and Slash Meta.

Some Topics Discussed

  • differences between homoerotic literature and slash
  • what is slash?
  • is slash being diluted?
  • slash and visibility

From the Essay

"Buddy" stories have been being written for centuries. There were buddy stories in the Bible, for Pete's sake. Old testament, even. It isn't about whether or not English people of the late 1500's, early 1600's thought that Prince Hal and Poins (or Falstaff, or hell, *any* male friends in Shakespeare's plays) had a thing going. It isn't about whether (as I jokingly suggested) Homer decided for no reason that Achilles and H. had a thing going. It's about the fact that science fiction had developed a social enough subculture that PEOPLE, IDEAS, a level of SOCIAL TRUST that mitigated women's fears about sharing their sexual fantasies with each other and TWO GUYS FROM A TV SHOW all came together in one place. M Fae will be happy to point out that she dreamed up K/S fantasy stuff long before she learned about the organized slash subculture. Plenty of other people could probably say the same. No doubt somebody *did* dream it up about Hal and Falstaff, or Puck and the Faery king, or hell, Mallory's ever-so-erotic Arthur and any friggin' knight he was interested in at the time, much *less* Launcelot du Lake (in fact, now that I recall, Lance did end up in bed with a man, at least once, in Mallory's tales--*plenty* of evidence for any strong-hearted slash fan today).

It still isn't slash. It's homoerotic "something", but anything that came before the subculture doesn't have a context. It's like writing Bodie and Doyle wearing condoms before AIDS. There was no point or reason at the time, but now we have this whole new social context that we try to apply to the history before the context existed. Isn't that bad science? Certainly it's bad anthropology to study something outside its own contexts, isn't it?

Or is it just a case of history constantly changing because people keep looking at it from a different point of view? Or (and an even weirder concept for me) is it just that it's much too recent a history to have any concrete, acceptable legend?

Show me the zines, show me the subculture that propagates the material, show me the stories and the relationship concepts that deal more with how women see relationships (in general, at least) than how men see them, and then we'll talk High Chaparral. I mean, geez, tell me I'm stupid or something for missing the point, but this seems so f-ing obvious I don't know what all the fuss is about. xI'm sorry to be so pissy about all this, but it's midnight here and I was reading through this e-mail and suddenly heard Bill Shatner's voice in my head saying, "Get a life!" (So naturally my response was to hit "reply".)

Maybe (and this is a *big* maybe, so anybody feel free to slap me down for it) slash is becoming diluted, altered so radically from its origins that it's hard to point to it anymore unless "you were *there*".

Maybe in ten or twenty years, when women are reading male/male romance historicals that they bought in their local supermarkets, this will all be lost forever in the ever-blending line between general erotica, gay erotica and pornography in general. The slash subculture is getting bigger every day. The concept of homoeroticism and women getting off on men together is becoming more and more socially acceptable (or at least more in the social consciousness). People are inserting their own opinions here on this list because there's no Slash Bible that says, "here's how it started, and here's where.

Della Van Hise published the first, ever-to-be-sold-to-strangers slash fanzine and she called it Naked Times. Pat D. watched American slash fandom (the culture) being born out of a pre-existing group of literary SF fans who made the long-jump to television media." Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. (Or is it that we're right now trying to decide what goes into that slash bible? And if that isn't what we're talking about, then we're trying to discuss proto-slash, or whatever, and *I* think you'll become hopelessly lost in homosexual subculture because slash is a women-originated literary medium, and the overwhelming majority of literary texts that are still around were written by men. (take a breath, [Michelle]) And homosexual erotica (pornography, gay literature, *whatever*) isn't--or at least, it wasn't fifteen years ago -- slash.