Posted in full at tumblr
at October 01, 2015 at 11:11AM
Since some people apparently misunderstood what I was trying to discuss - well it started as a rant, but turned into a discussion somewhere along the way - in this post, I shall try to make my point clearer and tag everyone who participated. Whether they want to continue the discussion then I leave up to them.
So in no particular order of appearance: meeedeee, ageorwizardry,doomhamster, bert-and-ernie-are-gay, centrumlumina,impostoradult, flourish
My rant was born of a frustration that every time anyone tries to discuss why F/F fics and female centred fic in general are ignored to the extent that they are, a common argument to shut it down is ‘well, fandom is dominated by straight women so what do you expect?’.
But there’s no evidence to support this claim and a good deal of circumstantial evidence that indicates the opposite might be true. Hence my rant about a reference for the straightness claim.
My interest is not and never was about women who read fanfic as a source of porn, there are problems in this kind of borderline fetishisation but it is not for this post nor did I intend the other post to go in the direction of discussing porn preferences. (Kindly don’t go there with this post. I know it’ll be difficult but please make another post and tag me in it. I’m sick of this discussion getting derailed into smut land). My focus was on all the rest of the fics, the relationship ones, the romantics, the angsty, the plot based action fics and so on, they too get ignored in a way they never would if it was an M/M or even just M/F fic, even when they’re not about people’s OTP.
But for some reason fandom is so obsessed with two white boys bonking that they’re incapable of seeing beyond the porn in fanfic, which raises the question why a space that is supposedly welcome to LGBTQIA people perpetuates the homophobic hypersexualisation of same gender pairing that the rest of society is so eager to do.
My interest in the sexuality of fandom is actually marginal. It could be an interesting thing to examine, but it is in no way high on my list. My one and only interest in it is insofar at this enforced heteronormativity of fandom is used as an argument to shut down discussion. And being of a particularly non-straight sexuality does not exempt a person from perpetuating this mindset - most whom I have seen use it have been identifying as bi or pan, but this is anecdotal evidence -
The reasons for reading and writing slash (and no, I don’t fucking mean smut I mean fics with same gender pairings that’s what the term slash means, it does in no way exclusively cover smut fics no matter how much homophobes would claim that jeeze) are multiple and varied and no single study could ever remotely cover everything and anyone who claims otherwise is either ignorant of how academic research works or lying. But saying that there should be no protest, no questioning, no examination of why F/F fics are ignored, of why the supposed heteronormativity of fandom is used as an argument to shut a mere attempt at debate down, is further alienating and shoving under the bus those (female) fans who are uncomfortable with these mechanisms, because in doing so they’re being told, once again, that they’re unwelcome in fandom.
As usual, the topic threads are so complex that it is hard to track what is being said. I often feel like we are talking past one another (which, when you read the diverging threads you will understand that we often aretalking past one another)
Several questions have been posted and they don’t always intersect
1. Where did the myth start that fandom was comprised of straight women? (history question and answer)
2. Why does the myth still persist? Why are people relying on outdated research? (history and current research question)
3. Is there new research going on that will give us better data about the makeup of fans (current research question)
4. Are there methodological limits on what kinds of data we can obtain? (current research question)
5. Does the discussion of why women write slash run the risk of over emphasizing some aspects of our culture (gender politics) and de-emphasizing other aspects (female sexuality) (sociological /gender politics question)
6 Even assuming fandom is mainly queer/bi why does femmeslash constantly get sidelined in favor of male/male slash ?(sociological /gender politics question)
7. Does the continued discussion of fandom’s gender makeup or motivations for writing slash marginalize those who want to discuss why femmeslash is being ignored? (sociological)
I am certain there are some that I missed or that I oversimplified or linked to the wrong posts. But it may help further the discussion if we indicate what aspect that we’re focusing on.
To answer #6 (so sorry about the numbering): Even if fandom was predominantly heterosexual, I don’t see how fans can rationally use this fact to shut down discussions about why there is a lack of femmeslash*
Just because one is heterosexual does not mean one would not be interested in femmeslash. Just as not all heterosexual women are interested in m/m slash. So to use the presence of heterosexuality to shut down discussions of femmeslash makes about as much sense (to me) as using Chinese grammar rules to shut down discussions of English grammar rules.
Keep in mind that I come from a slash (M/M) perspective and from a time where enjoyment of male/male slash placed you - whether you were heterosexual or gay - outside any norm. We might as well have been speaking Martian back then. (”So…you’re straight but you like to read about men bonking? Wait, you’re gay and you like to read about men boking? No, wait, you’re bi and you like to read about men bonking? Stop it! Just. Stop it!! What’s wrong with the lot of you!!!?”)
Back in 2013, when the AO3 census survey results were posted, there were similar discussions. And I found this one quote that pretty much summed it up for me:
“There are so many things that set us on our course of sexuality, and only a few of them are the things people mean when they talk in labels.”
*This is not to say fans are not shutting down discussions.
More thoughts on #1:
other commentators have pointed out that historical data about the sexual preferences of slash readers has been incomplete. Not only were there no surveys, even if there had been, many of the participants who might have identified as gay or bi would not have answered truthfully. This has everything to do with the lack of acceptance and self awareness of being bi or gay in the US in the 1960s-1990s.
Anecdotally, some of the “formerly heterosexual fan pairs” that I met in slash fandom in the 1990s have now gone on to marry or become partners. So the outward expression of their sexual preferences has changed over time as our society has grown more accepting of the expression. This would skew any survey and statistical results - if there had been any. So the "slash readers are primarily heterosexual" statement is neither 100% correct nor 100% false - from a historical point of view. We can try to extrapolate backwards from today's data*, but we cannot know for sure.
*those who gathered the more recent data would also be the first to point out how limited their surveys were - both in terms of scope and methodology.
Tags:slash history, fandom history, fandom meta, femmeslash, DWCrosspost
Tumblr post (this is likely a reblog, and may have more pictures over there)