Why should girlslash be more like boyslash? No, seriously, why?

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Title: Why should girlslash be more like boyslash? No, seriously, why?
Creator: havocthecat
Date(s): January 26th, 2009
Medium: online
Fandom:
Topic: Fanfiction, Femslash, Slash
External Links: Why should girlslash be more like boyslash? No, seriously, why?, Archived version
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Why should girlslash be more like boyslash? No, seriously, why? is an meta post by havocthecat.

Essay

This post was inspired by this comment on twtd's The State of Femslash: January 2009.

However, for anyone not wanting to click, let me c&p the pertinent parts of the comment by lysachan, whom I don't know at all:

In my opinion, pretty much all the problems within the femslash fandom in general can be explained by its fairly small size when compared to, say, the slash fadom. Because of the fairly small number of writers & fics, there is no hierarchy or a pecking order of sorts which the slash fandoms most certainly have. I think it's exactly this hierarchy which a) makes criticism (constructive & otherwise) more common in the slash fadom, and b) decreases the amount of badfic as authors considered "bad" are quickly banished from fandom (whether that's a good thing, though, deserves a meta post of its own).

My first reaction: WTF? (I made a more verbose reply, which you can see if you click the link.)

Right, so. Let me elaborate. Why does the answer to "how does femslash change and grow bigger and better" invariably turn into "be more like boyslash?" Because, really, femslash is nothing like boyslash fic-wise (and while there are elements of boyslash fics I would really like femslash to steal, like the cracked out insane stuff), why do we need to become a clone of something else?

Femslash isn't boyslash, and that's okay. What boyslash has works for them, it seems from a mostly-outsider perspective, and I'm glad of that. But femslash doesn't necessarily need the same things boyslash does.

Why do we need a pecking order? I don't consider femslash to be an especially nurturing environment to beginners, and that should certainly change, but why do we need a hierarchy of femslash fen? For one, there are plenty of bad boyslash authors out there. No one has the power to banish bad writers of any genre, and while there are people I would love to say "you, out of my fandom!" to, there are others who aren't good writers, but will, eventually, develop into them. Those writers need to be nurtured, or at least left to find their niche, not to be henpecked at by BNF.

Pecking orders to banish bad writers? Bad. (I'm not a fan of fannish pecking orders in general, admittedly.) I'm willing to put up with gobs of bad writers in order to find the gems. Mostly because I have to put up with bad writers. (There's one prolific and awful author in particular whom I've been warned about repeatedly by people who don't even know each other, which I find to be HILARIOUS and sad at the same time.)

All that said, I don't have the time or the energy to nurture newbies to femslash. I have a pretty busy RL. But then again, I'm willing to read the newbies, and I leap at anyone who writes something different than the femslash norm.

I think this is why I often feel insulated from femslash fandom at large. I'm not, really, that insulated from it. I know. But I feel that way sometimes, because, for example, I don't OTP, not the way that some femslashers do.

To use the Gateverse as an example, there are some people who will not ever read or write anything other than Sam/Janet, period, end of story. That's their OTP. OTPs to that level are the norm for femslash. I, on the other hand, am going to read that Sam/Vala fic, or the Sam/Elizabeth fic, and when someone posts the rare Janet/Vala? I'm all over that, because those two would be scary together. But fun. (But, really, if you write Elizabeth/Vala or Teyla/Vala, I promise to love you forever.)

Are there even femslash BNFs? Do we need femslash BNFs? You have some people who run comms, and archives, and generally more well-known femslashers, but I don't know. What do you guys think? Are femslash BNFs, such as we have them, the same as boyslash (or het or gen) BNFs? Should they be?

Plus how do femslashers break out of the OTP and same-kinds-of-stories mold that a lot of us are stuck in? (No, not all of us, I know.)

What I want femslash to do is to find its own way of developing, not to take the same model that boyslash does, and then try to apply it to femslash. Why not take what works, and then discard what doesn't apply to us?

Reactions

Small sample of responses to the post:

[cleo2584]:

I think a pecking order is the last thing we need. Femslash has enough cliques as it is. These sorts of things develop naturally, but to establish something like that would, IMO, just precipitate something fandom crippling.

This is why I think a general femslash concrit comm would be beneficial to femslash fandom as a whole. No, we aren't especially nurturing to our new authors, but I don't think we are as cruel as anime fandom can be, for example. We do put up with them, and in some cases, some of them even get better! If we could get a great concrit base going, imagine how many more could grow and develop as writers.

Of course, to do the above, we would have to change femslash fandom's thinking about concrit in general. "OMG, LULZ, SQUEEE!!!!11!!" reviews on perpetuate bad writing. It's okay to get a concrit review. Femslash needs to remember this, to know this, to embrace this.

I will admit that BNFs are a) inevitable in some fandoms and b) work for some fandoms, but in general, I feel like they scare the hell out of people, especially new authors. Seriously, the only femslash BNFs I can think of come from Xena fandom and are professional authors now. And fewthistle seems to have stopped writing for the most part during the past year. ralst is undeniably a BNF in terms of organization, but there is a contingent in femslash fandom that has problems with the way she runs P&P (and some of it, I think, is warranted). But as a whole, I think there are few BNFs as we think of them in relation to fandom in general. Each fandom within femslash has them, but because they tend to write ONLY in their OTP etc, no one outside of the fandom knows them. Thus, the nature of the definition is different with femslash.

Back to pecking orders, femslash likes its comms, and its comms perpetuate the bad!fic, the cliques, etc. There is one in particular that I think is overmodded, and I think that is hurting the growth of femslash fandom as a whole.

We do need to find our own way of developing, but it seems to me that we're not pushing forward as other fandoms are doing (not "the way" other fandoms are doing...just "as"...because if we don't move forward, we will be subject to fandom death).

[studiesinlight]:

>"there are others who aren't good writers, but will, eventually, develop into them."

Oh, yes. Often I read a newbie, and think, "This story isn't what it should be, but in five years, this author is going to rock, and I just hope she's still in my fandom by then."

Your analysis of the prevalence of OTP strongly affecting the development of this genre is so much more sensible and useful than the idea that imposing an exile-eager hierarchy would do anything but snuff out the genre (even if it were possible, which it's not; perhaps that poster's rose-colored-m/m-glasses are leftover from pre-Net days? I think many people romanticize the zine-only era and some would like to re-create it)..