tsukinofaerii: Iron Man holding  a blood-stained USA flag (Steve/Tony: Bloody Flag)
tsukinofaerii ([personal profile] tsukinofaerii) wrote2010-02-04 11:45 am
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Slashy Meta: Two for One

Please don't eat me.

There's two types of fail-meta wandering around fandom that I quietly determined not to poke into—misogyny in slash and homophobia in slash. On both I am all too likely to be RAGE FLAIL ANGRY YELLS OF DENIAL, and no matter how mildly I word my post/comments I can't be certain that I won't come out with all sorts of wrong. Slash is near and dear to my heart, and I've gotten very used to the "you write what, omg that's sick and wrong" reaction. So I bristle.

This is me avoiding bristling, and not avoiding poking the issue with a stick, because I have a long history with sticks and getting bitten on the ass.

(Note to self: tackle slash-shaming as relates to misogyny, homophobia and knee-jerk reactions to outsider accusations in another post. I do believe it's tangentially relevant to this post, but only tangentially. It seems to me that there's a correlation between slash outsiders [gay men who don't read/write fanfic, for example] talking about reasonable concerns in regards to slash, and the instantaneous VROOSH-ASPLODEY response from some slashers that is more emotional than reasonable.)

I feel like fandom, and slash particularly, have been instrumental in helping me grow as a person, as a bisexual person and as a writer. When I see posts that can be summarized as "slash is inherently anti-gay" or "female erasure in slash shows it's misogynist", it feels like my last ten years are being sneered at, and I want to defend all the good slash can do, and has done. I'm addressing both of these issues in one post because I feel like one leads naturally into the other, and I can't easily separate them.

I believe that the misogyny inherent in Western culture not only leads to misogyny in fanfic, but also directly into slash fanfic. Misogyny and homophobia are linked, and both are embedded into culture on an inherent and pervasive level, both of which end up reflecting in a genre that (unexamined) seems designed to avoid and discredit both. In short, it's a domino effect of fail. I do not think that the presence of problematic tropes discredits the entire genre.

I also feel that the majority of this discussion is about this discussion, which is repetitive at the best circle-wank at the worst. What started out reasonably (LAMBDA Fail) has become about how slashers react to criticism of slash and is then being applied to the genre itself with no differentiation. Yes, writers can be terrible about responding to criticism; this does not devalue what they write. I'm dealing with slash, for the record, not with the issue of slasher reaction to criticism.

Here's what I'm going to do. This is divided into two pieces. The first are My Thoughts, and is hopefully not exactly the sort of flaily defensive thing I've been trying to avoid. I can only use my own perspective, so that's what I've done. The second (much more painful lol) will be posted later, in the form of a ten-year review/meme of my time writing fanfic, from where I started to where I am now, pulling one fic a year from my files and looking at it to see if I have grown like I feel I have, or if I'm just in an echo chamber making myself feel better.

Between these two, I reached almost 5000 words of what is hopefully not BS. Yeah, it's like that. Oi.

First off, it seems to be the done thing to identify one's self and establish some sort of cred. I'm cisgendered female, ambisexual (or pan/bisexual, whatever the kids are calling it these days). I have no queer cred. No, really. I don't. For all that I'm not heterosexual, I'm still not a part of the LGBTQAI community. There's a lot of reasons for that: I'm not welcome there, it's not where I found my support when I came out, I don't have friends there, etc and so forth. I support various political goals, but that doesn't mean anything. What it comes down to is that I do not identify as part of that group. If I'm going to align myself with any community, I'd call myself a slasher or a fan (except those aren't valid demographics outside the internet). Fandom is where my friends are, as well as people I consider family, it's where I find emotional support and where I spend my free time. Let's just call that a community, for the sake of argument. I'm probably weird in this, but it wouldn't be the first time.

A lot of the complaints about misogyny circle around two problems. 1) Women simply don't get as much fanfiction written about them as men and 2) fan antipathy towards female characters.

When I first got into fandom, I failed. HARD. My first fandom was Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon. Cultural appropriation, misogyny, heterosexism... Hooboy, I think I lit up the bingo cards like a Christmas tree. That was... Gods, ten years ago. I was young, and dumb, and not a writer. I wrote, but it tended to be of the "and this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened, the end" sort of work. In other words, I really had no clue. I definitely didn't identify myself as a writer, and I didn't think about what I was writing. Safe to say, this was back when I thought a hymen was about two inches in and was worried that I didn't ever remember having one. Since I left Sailormoon fandom, I haven't been in a female-centric fandom, but I remember my starting point very well, and I know why I've gone this way.

Sailormoon had characters who were female. They were not perfect. Usagi is the role model for problematic female characterization in a lot of ways, but I loved her and still do! She had awesome friends! She did things! It was great, and I could relate to them! Okay, so she was awash with pink, which I OD'd on as a kid and tend to not like. Didn't matter. Awesome was awesome.

Very, very few of my fandoms since then have had that sort of set up. Strong characters do not always mean relatable characters, especially in terms of female characters. Even if I have relatable female characters, what are the odds that they're going to have a relationship that I can ship? And what I write is mostly shipper fic, so relationships matter to me. Will their Designated Love Interest be one I can buy into? Probably not, because 99% of what media gives me looks nothing like what I want from a relationship, which is essentially BFF + attraction. With other women? HA. HA HA HA. If that were the case, shows wouldn't fail the Bechdel Test so hard. With non-romantically intended men? Noooo, because if a Female Character has Male Friends, then it gets in the way of the Romance, and that Is Not Allowed. (I have Bad Opinions of people who think women & men can't be friends platonically, which is sadly not yet a discredited trope.) What about minor characters? I admit, I'm lazy; I don't want to spend energy crafting a character that may as well be an OC when I can just use an OC. I want intense, driven relationships, and my shipping history shows it.

What this comes down to is... I don't write women in my fanfiction because I don't see women in my media. I see caricatures, I see female-shaped McGuffins, and I see cardboard cut-outs with breasts. When I am (rarely) given a woman, chances are I'm not given anything to do with her. Notable exceptions (Xena & Buffy) sadly happened before I learned of fandom. When I do find female characters that I love, I go ballistic with joy, and almost never ship them with their intended love interests. (My Fruits Basket Tohru-ship is Tohru/Arisa/Saki, for the record, and I am grateful that I got out of that series when I did. I do not like the way it went.)

Looking at this, I can't say that I don't have any antipathy towards female characters. I do—I resent them. Where I should be seeing someone relatable, I'm seeing a thousand versions of wrong, and I hate it. Relena (orbits Heero), Kairi (McGuffin), ChiChi (wife/mother period), Hermione ("the girl" of the trio)... All perfectly good female characters, but not anything I can buy into. I used to bash characters with the worst of them, and I'm working on doing better, but the fact is, most media doesn't give me what I want. It's become habit, actually, to look to the male characters for the strong relationships and relatable characterizations that I love, which means even now that I'm poking in fandoms with a plethora of female characters, I still don't write them.

It's a problem, and I admit it. But I don't think it's me projecting onto the characters. It's that I can't in most cases, and I'm not going to beat myself over the head for it. I can look for ones I'll fall in love with (I'm looking at you, Ms Potts ♥), but I'm not going to try and make myself identify with someone that I really don't. I can look for fandoms with relatable women, but I almost never fall into a fandom because I went looking for it. I fall into a fandom because a friend is in it, or I saw a good fic, or because I literally tripped over it. For me, fandom tends to come before canon. It's a community thing. Without the community, I doubt I'd even be a fan.

So when this comes together, I—as a shipper with a dearth of women to ship? I end up in slash. It gives me the sort of intense striking character interactions I want to see, whether it's brothers (Supernatural), friends (Marvel, Sherlock Holmes, Kingdom Hearts) or enemies (Harry Potter, Dragonball Z). And then that brings up the problem of feminine erasure.

Some common myths about slash fandom that I feel the need to debunk, at least in regards to myself.
  1. It's straight women using men as proxies.
    Surprise! I don't buy this, and recent pokings into it seem to agree with me. Most of my flist is made of slash fans, and I'm always faintly surprised when someone turns up straight. I know I have some heterosexual people on my list (HI, PEOPLE! I SEE YOU!), but my experience has always been that slash tends to be filled with people like me, who aren't straight, but don't fit into the LGBTQAI culture for whatever reason. We have male writers, female, transsexual, intersexed, lesbian gay, asexual, bisexual... The whole human spectrum! For another thing, if I wanted to use male bodies as a proxy, why would I even be a fan at all? No, really. I could use any sexually attractive male body as a proxy. I love these characters, so I write about them. It's all very simple. As a side note, I don't believe the gender or identification of the writer has anything to do with whether or not the writing is doing harm. Women can write misogynistic trash as well as men, for example.
  2. It's all about sex.
    The piles and piles and piles of non-explicit slash says otherwise. Some of the best fics never show the sex. (Everyone who knows Marvel on my flist will know of [livejournal.com profile] seanchai & [livejournal.com profile] elspethdixon, but I feel like I should point them out as a pair of non-porny slash authors doin' it very right.) Yes, sex comes up, but (for me) that's related only tangentially. I like reading about these characters that are intensely connected. I like reading about sex between two characters who are intensely connected. The logic seems faultless. Two penii do not necessarily make anything better.
  3. Women write slash so they don't have to deal with women.
    I write, therefore I am. I'm not saying, on any level, that women don't frequently get the short end of the stick in slash. We call that bad writing and fridging. But I think that any woman who is trying to write herself out of the picture is trying something pretty much impossible. As the writer, it's impossible to disassociate myself entirely with what I write. Everything I put down in text is a thought I'd had, a feeling I know, a memory... On some level, there will always be some of myself in there, no matter what I write, and I write for my own enjoyment. So this is all about me, in a lot of ways. This, naturally, is the source of a lot of issues, because I am not a nice person 100% of the time, and my issues will and do bleed through.

All of that being said, slash is not sunshine and roses. Female characters do get badly treated and unfairly ignored. There's a lot of reasons for that. I've already outlined my own reasons when I fail. The only solution I can think of is to make a conscious effort to include female characters, and to monitor ourselves and each other.

Problematic tropes of any sort need to be called out, period and a paragraph.

But the fail of one is not the fail of all, and condemning an entire community for the failure of a few. Trying to cover all of slash in a blanket of misogynistic fail because a percentage of slashers do fail will only cause knee-jerk reactions and argument-ending flounces. It's like saying, "This rice is brown, therefore all rice is brown." It's a classic logical fallacy. This goes both ways. That one slasher doesn't fail does not mean no slashers fail.

In that vein, I'll bring up the recent discussion about the appropriative nature of slash, and how it harms gay men. First, let me reiterate something. I'm not referring to m/m profic. I have no experience with it, I'm not involved and I would be out of line to take a stance. Slash and m/m are two different subjects from where I stand, in the same way that het fic is different from Harlequin.

There's been some posts saying that slash, by default and inevitably harms gay men. (The post I can think of off the top of my head is locked, and so I won't link it.) And while I can see some of the reasoning behind that, I can't agree. There are problematic tropes, and those do harm. There are careless writers, and those do harm. I am not ever going to say that slash is by default activism, because it's not. But what I can't see is how those bad points negate the good writers, and the valuable stories, and their positive effects. Some of these stories touch lives, expand awareness, and provide a touchstone for people who don't find it elsewhere.

I said upward that I put a piece of myself into everything I write. Clearly, I'm not a gay man. I can research and ask questions, but I'll never have that personal experience. And that's not a bad thing. That's what writing is. It's extrapolating and creative and deeply personal. It touches people, reader and writer both. Is it appropriative, in that I use gay male characters to write these stories? I've commented elsewhere saying that it is, but after thinking I'm going to reverse that, because I don't see gay male culture in my stories, nor do I try to reflect it, because in most cases I am not writing about gay male men in gay male culture.

(I've just been blindsided by the following.) I am writing about characters in the same limbo I'm in, where I'm not straight but I'm not of the LGBTQAI community. Most of the fic I read (which is self-selecting) does the same thing. Is this harmful, that I'm using male characters in a way that reflects my own experience? Especially seeing as (looking over my past fic), I frequently write them as bisexual, which blurs the lines even more? And in the end, I'm still not writing my own experience in the actuality of it all, so does it even matter? (Tangentially, why is it that bisexual characters are being counted as gay in this debate? That's bugging me now.)

This lack of gay male culture in fic is also one of the reasons slash fic is being said to hurt gay men, because I don't write their culture into my stories. (This references the locked post that I'm not linking to.) If I were to do so, that would be appropriation, and I don't think it would be wrong to tell those stories as they are, provided I do the research and handle it respectfully. Between these two arguments I see absolutely no resolution, and so feel no compunction about stepping away from it until my fic is critiqued and I can apply it specifically to myself.

This post which is worth considering, points out that the abundance of female slash writers are, inevitably due to demographics and numbers, drowning out the voices of gay male slash writers. In profic, this is absolutely and 100% a problem, IMO.* In slash fic, I'm torn on this because, in my experience, gay men tend to have little interest in writing/reading slash fanfic. Obviously some do (the writer of that post self-identifies as a gay man), but fanfiction in general seems to be something women are interested in more than men, and that holds true in slash as well. Can a majority voice (female) drown out a minority (gay male) voice when the minority has shown little interest in the venue in question? I'm not sure the answer is "no", but I'm not sure it's "yes" either. If it is "yes", does the harm of this outweigh the good enough that it should be stopped?

Yes, I did just say "slash does good", which is not the same as "slash is activism". One thing I think that slash does by simply existing (that it really doesn't get credit for) is increasing visibility and making people aware of issues. It's done a lot of work towards bringing the idea of gay characters forward. Heteronormativity means that unstated sexuality is mistaken for heterosexuality. Slash refutes that, twists it, plays with it and overall rejects it. Even the people who are complaining that the slash is taking over their fandom at some point have to acknowledge that there is indeed such a thing as homosexuality, which opens doors. It's all taking place in their own head, so it's quiet and unobtrusive, but I think I would rather have that than scores of people who never acknowledge it, never think about it, and never even glance away from that heterosexual assumption so many have. I think that's valuable.

All in all... You know, fandom isn't perfect. We have problems, there's absolutely no question. But where is all this hatred coming from? I don't recognize any of the claims being thrown out here as absolutes. Fandom, and the world as a whole, needs to be more self-policing and aware. That's the only way we're going to end some ugly cycles, and ultimately make things better for all of us. We're already somewhat self-policing, and getting better, but a conscious awareness and implementation of it would be the next step, and I think that needs to be taken on an individual basis. (Trying to get all slashers to agree to anything is harder than herding cats.)

TL;DR, problems are problems, but making blanket claims solves nothing. Fandom is reactive, not proactive—we can only work with what we're given, but we've developed a pretty solid ability to take straw and make it into gold. We're already doing that, and we need to do it more. We just need to keep an eye out for people turning straw into crap.

Even donkeys can do that, after all.

* ETA: [personal profile] logophilos was patient enough to explain what's happening in profic publishing in the comments here. Consider the strike-out text retracted.

[personal profile] logophilos 2010-02-05 01:30 am (UTC)(link)
"In profic, this is absolutely and 100% a problem, IMO."

Can you explain why? I see this distinction made over and over and for the life of me, I can't see why. There are as many - or as few - men involved in writing pro m/m as there are in slash. Many pro m/m writers are ex slashers who've just moved on to original fiction (and some write both!) The populations are not remotely discrete.

The problems with pro fic which don't relate to slash are
1. Publishing slots in gay publishing houses dominated by non-gay people
2. Non-GLBT people assuming they can barge into GLBT spaces like Lambda and demand access to awards set up specifically to combat erasure.

But so far as the GLBT involvement, it's the same. The kind of writing is the same - good, bad, indifferent. Exploitative, thoughtful, etc. The *motivation* is the same - I wrote slash, I write original now (both pro and non-pro) and for exactly the same reasons, which I've explored in exhaustive detail on my journal recently.

I really don't why so many slashers want to explicitly disclaim pro fic in these discussion. Yes, Lambda Fail was atrocious - but you know, a lot of us straight people hated what was being done supposedly in our name. If anyone wants to claim that slashers are immune from failing on axes of privilege, um, well, I point you at the last year or so on Metafandom for a start. The fail by pro authors is the usual pro fail compounded by the usual head up the arseitude you get in any group of people with delusions of grandma.

I get pissed off when slash is segregated into the straights/non straights, because I will maintain no matter how much shit I get for it, that slash is primarily a *female* activity. Every thing else flows from that, including the acceptance of all sexualities. It's terrific that queer people find slash empowering. But *I* find it empowering too, and you could use my sexuality as a fucking ruler :)

There are problematic tropes, and those do harm. There are careless writers, and those do harm. I am not ever going to say that slash is by default activism, because it's not. But what I can't see is how those bad points negate the good writers, and the valuable stories, and their positive effects. Some of these stories touch lives, expand awareness, and provide a touchstone for people who don't find it elsewhere.

This is exactly right. I think if we want to stop the bad stuff, we have to be brutally honest about our own failures and motivations. But we also have to acknowledge that slash would not exist at all if it didn't bring a lot of good with it - even for gay men. Xtricks pointed out himself that he likes to read good slash, and writes it. I have gay friends who love what I write and find it a positive thing for them. (And likewise I have read books by gay men which I feel empower me as a woman.)

"We just need to keep an eye out for people turning straw into crap."


[personal profile] logophilos 2010-02-05 03:07 am (UTC)(link)
"female presumed-heterosexual writing is being systematically promoted over that of gay men, both in the initial publishing stages and in shops where the books are available."

Yes and no. The people publishing m/m are not and have never been GLBT publishers and are marketing to an audience which never formed the traditional market for gay fic by gay men. In that respect, pro m/m has *widened* the market for gay men because they can and do pitch at this new female audience quite successfully. When they want to.
The gay market for gay fic isn't growing, I believe, and gay publishers are going out of business, so the opportunities to write for one's own group and be published by one's own people are much less. But that's not because of m/m. Men looking elsewhere for publishers are competing with the women already with those publishers.

Some gay publishers are taking on women writers - like Lethe Press has. But seriously, if gay men have a problem with what *gay* publishers are doing? They should take the fight to them, not to women authors.

I've repeatedly said that m/m would be much improved by more gay men's voices *alongside* the women's - and there's definitely an opportunity there for gay writers, so long as they write romance. Romance publishers aren't interested in wider gay lit, but they're not interested in wider lit by women either.

"I think that might be significant in how we're reacting to having Gay Men telling us We're Doin' It Wrong, even though they might be right."

Yes, indeed. And gay men, god love them, don't understand the hostility isn't coming from homophobia or even rampant privilege a lot of the time.

"Have a cute panda icon."

Sankyuu :)
elspethdixon: (Default)

[personal profile] elspethdixon 2010-02-07 10:12 pm (UTC)(link)
The people publishing m/m are not and have never been GLBT publishers and are marketing to an audience which never formed the traditional market for gay fic by gay men.

From the publishing end, yes, but from the distribution end... at my local Barnes & Nobles, the Samhain Press and a couple other original slash/yaoi publishers whose names I can't remember's books are shelved on the same "LGBT-interest" shelf as LGBTQ literature and non-fiction about LGBTQ issues/people. Which isn't the publishers' or authors' fault (really, m/m profic ought to be shelved in the romance section, given that that's the genre a lot of it's really part of, I think), but I can see how a guy who went to that shelf looking for fiction by gay men about gay men and found romance fiction by women that happened to star gay or bi men could be irritated, the same way I'd be annoyed if I went to the (mythical) LGBT interest section of my local video rental place (ha! I wish they had such a section) and found mainstream girl-on-girl porn shelved there.

[personal profile] logophilos 2010-02-08 12:05 am (UTC)(link)
I don't disagree with anything you say. When I go to a gay male book section I want to read books by gay men, not women, even if they're gay themselves. If I was a gay man, I'd be more than irritated.

But the vast majority of m/m is not marketed through gay bookstores. It's only recently that they are even being shelved in those - and I believe if they *are*, they need to be put separately. Romance is the best place for them.

Gay men do enjoy reading some of it though. And since some of the female authors - by no means all - are LBT, you get into sticky territory if you try to exclude them from gay space, don't you? Which is not to say that someone like Erastes, a bisexual woman, has any business flogging her crap while pretending to be a gay man, and passing off her stuff as by a gay man for gay men. Which she does.

Again, this is a separate issue from whether women should write pro m/m, because authors don't have a lot of control over where their books are shelved or stocked (though a few aggressively market their books at the gay market, like Erastes has, and someone like J. L. Langley has, through her gay friend and sometime co-author.) So long as authors don't play identity games by putting up bios claiming to be male (when they are not male or even genderqueer), then the gay reader can make an informed choice.
elspethdixon: (Default)

[personal profile] elspethdixon 2010-02-08 02:14 am (UTC)(link)
And since some of the female authors - by no means all - are LBT, you get into sticky territory if you try to exclude them from gay space, don't you?

There have been a few people in this debate eager to do just that to queer women, unfortunately. I'm not exactly sure where slash by us bisexual/lesbian/etc. girls falls on the spectrum of queer literature. On the one hand, it's fiction by queer people, about queer (usually bisexual) characters, but on the other hand, it doesn't *feel* like most gay lit when I read it, because most gay lit is srz bnz literature, and most slash is fantasy on some level. Which is why I personally like it better (I'm a genre fan, not a literary fiction fan), but...I don't know.

I mean, I know I wouldn't publish a m/m romance under a fake male name, but I also don't know if I as a bisexual woman would have any right to submit something I'd written about male characters for something like the Lambdas or not (imagining for the sake of argument that I a)had written published original fiction and b) it wasn't pure SF pulp with an exclamation point in the title). My instincts say no, given that the general drift of the discussion seems to be that having your gender match the characters' gender is just as important or more important than sexuality, and that my writing would only count as queer lit if it was about women (and probably also only if it was realism rather than escapism, the same way comicbooks and Harlequin novels aren't usually considered for literary awards).

[personal profile] logophilos 2010-02-08 02:37 am (UTC)(link)
Shelving policy for gay bookstores and how GLBT people choose to participate in writing or selling m/m is up to you/them. As a straight author, my main concern from the start was not to pass myself off - which is why I chose a gendered pen name over my gender neutral real name, and why I've strongly resisted calling my writing gay fiction (even though that's led me to be accused of homophobia.) My writing may have many attractions for gay readers - authenticity isn't going to be one of them, and I know that.

I don't want a gay man to read my stuff under false pretenses, though I'm tickled pink when they say they have and enjoy it. What false pretenses for me as a straight woman obviously gets more complicated for women who aren't straight, and I leave that for you guys to fight about. Equally, I think the Lambda awards is something for those they're aimed at to argue over, though I really resent racist and privileged arguments being made in supposed support of straight authors by members of the GLBT community. Because if you're going to fail like a failing thing, please don't pretend to speak for me on any subject, thank you.
elspethdixon: (Default)

[personal profile] elspethdixon 2010-02-08 02:53 am (UTC)(link)
I really resent racist and privileged arguments being made in supposed support of straight authors by members of the GLBT community.

You mean the separate waterfountains and lynchings crap, where people decided to add racefail to their lambda fail just so they could offend even more people? *nods* What really got me, personally, was the WBC comment someone on the m/m profic discussion comm made. The WBC were demonstrating outside of synagogues in Brooklyn right when that argument was going on (one of the Jewish high holy days fell right in the middle of that debate) and I don't think I've ever seen red so quickly over someone's choice of metaphor in an internet discussion.

[personal profile] logophilos 2010-02-08 03:27 am (UTC)(link)
That's the one.

The WBC idiot is at it again:

What's so sad is that the argument about appropriation has centered on slashers, and the real fuckers are a powerful clique of historical romance writers who spewed all over Lambda Fail and will keep spewing because no one can make them SHUT THE FUCK UP!

elspethdixon: (Default)

[personal profile] elspethdixon 2010-02-07 10:49 pm (UTC)(link)
I feel like fandom, and slash particularly, have been instrumental in helping me grow as a person, as a bisexual person and as a writer. When I see posts that can be summarized as "slash is inherently anti-gay" or "female erasure in slash shows it's misogynist", it feels like my last ten years are being sneered at

This. I think a lot of us are reacting that way, to judge by the outpouring of rage that that one post where the poster declared that slash was anti-gay and that all bisexual slashers were lying liars who lie got (one of the only times I've ever knowingly abused anon commenting, because I'd have had to be poltie and respectful and not use cuss words if I were signed in).

I feel like some of this debate is getting mixed up with ongoing intra-LGBTQ issues of bi, pan, ace, and trans/genderqueer people getting ignored in the wider LGBTQ community, too. It happened during Lambda Fail, when a few people's legitimate concerns that the new awards policy would lead to them getting erased or left out (because that had happened before, in other LGBTQ venues) were swallowed up in the general "What do you MEAN I can't get an award oh NOES! It's not FAIR!" fail and dismissed as concern-trolling. And it's happening now, when slashers objecting to bisexual erasure, asexual erasure, to the gender binary implicit in much of the debate, etc. are being labelled as derailing. And when people say that things like paradox-dragon's post are derailing, and are issues that need to be put on hold for later...

We get told that often enough in the real world. Even if it's true, and I'll allow for the sake of argument that it might be, "your concerns can wait until later," is something some sections of the LGBTQ community hear too often in RL ("we'll add transphobia to this anti-discrimination bill later..."), and I suspect that for some of us, it's an automatic rage button, the same way "bisexual women aren't really queer (enough)" is for me.

For all that I'm not heterosexual, I'm still not a part of the LGBTQAI community. There's a lot of reasons for that: I'm not welcome there, it's not where I found my support when I came out, I don't have friends there, etc and so forth. I support various political goals, but that doesn't mean anything.... I am writing about characters in the same limbo I'm in, where I'm not straight but I'm not of the LGBTQAI community.

I do identify as LGBTQ, but I'm also not really a part of the LGBTQ culture that people seem to mean when they refer to the LGBTQ community -- my queer friends are all through slash fandom, I don't go to any local queer hang-outs and instead spend weekends staying at home with my girlfriend, I've only ever belonged to any LGBTQ groups or hung out with any non-slasher, non-fandom queer women when I was at college, because fandom is my main social outlet. And because I have limited first hand experience with wider LGBTQ culture, and because the characters I write about live what appear on the surface to be heteronormative lives in canon, I don't ground them in it, either. Because I don't know how to. I don't know that tis is a problem in fanfic, where the characters have to follow canon at least a little, but I don't know what I would do about that if I went pro. Write historical fiction and fantasy novels about girls instead of modern-setting m/m stuff, I guess (original fiction, after all, is pretty much designed for exorcising all one's Mary Sue impulses).

Everyone who knows Marvel on my flist will know of seanchai & elspethdixon, but I feel like I should point them out as a pair of non-porny slash authors doin' it very right

*blushes all over the place* I feel weird commenting on this, because it seems immodest or something, but since your post is listed on linkspam's delicious links,I feel like I ought to point out for non-Marvel audiences that [personal profile] elspethdixon and [personal profile] seanchai are a) women and b) dating/engaged/common-law-married/whatever, and c) don't write explicit sex because we kind of suck at it (as in, "oh Jesus, I have channeled the soul of bad Harlequin novels and it is awful. Let's go for a tasteful fade to black now" combined with "gah, why is it so hard to descibe people kissing? This is harder to block than fight scenes! Let's just cut to the post-coital snuggling.")
elspethdixon: (Default)

[personal profile] elspethdixon 2010-02-08 04:10 am (UTC)(link)
I feel like I should just mention how amusing it is that they still haven't commented to tell me.

I think they don't generally comment until someone's post's actually been included in one of their DW posts. Right now, this one's just listed in the delicious account, and not all of those make the final cut (I don't quite grasp the derailing warnings, really -- if you think a post is going to distract from more important issues, why draw even more attention to it by linking it?).

In the case of not-cisgendered-lesbian-or-gay-man erasure (let's face it, if someone isn't "mainstream" gay, they get ignored), it's important that the conversations happen, even if they're sparked off of something else. There's never a good time to put yourself forward to be noticed, and being told to sit back and wait for a turn is... yeah, rage button is a good term for it.

I'm not sure the same conversational rubric that applies to some other discussions of -isms can be applied to intra-LGBT issues in quite the same way -- because in this case, at least some of the debate is different kinds of queer people arguing with one another, and I don't think that, say, an asexual fan saying "You guys ignore me every time you have one of these discussions and you're doing it again!" or a bisexual fan saying "I am so %&*@ing sick of being told I'm not actually queer" is quite the same thing as a guy going "but when you say that women see all men as Schroedinger's Rapist, you hurt my feelings, because not all men are like that," or the classic "let's turn this discussion of race into a discussion of class," thing.

I have mixed feelings about the debate having morphed into yet another "slasher misogyny" debate, because on some level that is straight girls making it all about themselves and probably is derailing, but misogyny is also a legitimate issue in fandom that also shouldn't be ignored (and it shouldn't necessarily have stopped a m/m fiction and homophobia debate from being able to run parallel to it -- the chromatic casting meme and Magic Under Glass cover discussion were both able to exist at the same time that all of this slash debate's been happening, and I saw some people on my flists be able to successfully participate in two different discussions of poc representation at once, so in an ideal world, we should be able to have two different kinds of discussions of slash at once). I don't think that telling queer women to keep their mouths shut in discussions of LGBTQ issues and slash is beneficial to the discussion, though. When the discussion turns to straight women and misogyny and why aren't people writing het, that shifts the focus from gay men to straight people. When the discussion widens to include queer female slashers and *their* feelings about slash, it's still focussed on LGBTQ people. I don't think that's derailing in the same way.

I would pay good money to see you two write a Harlequin pastiche

I've read enough Harlequin novels that I suspect I could actually write one "straight" (i.e. not a parody). Not with Marvel characters, though - it would have to be parody in that case. It might be kind of fun, though. After we do RR&R 4 and that living armor plotbunny and that Bring Back Jan fic where Dark Reign was set up by Immortus as part of a long-term plot to conquer the timestream, and the Carol & Wanda detective noir pastiche.
elspethdixon: (Default)

[personal profile] elspethdixon 2010-02-08 08:16 pm (UTC)(link)
It'll be a while -- RR&R 4 is on page 90, and we still have 3/4th of the outline left to go. I think the salt aliens fic broke us and destroyed our ability to write anything that isn't ridiculously long.

It's become its own straw man, because we can't even agree what we're talking about.

*nods* And all the people currently debating what is or isn't derailing aren't exactly talking about the original issue anymore, either. Though I suspect that's an argument that's been brewing for a while and that this latest meta/linkspam/etc. discussion is just the thing that finally prompted it into boiling over.

I think one thing fandom could use in situations like this, if people want discussions to cover certain topics and not stray from them (or at least not drop the original topic entirely when a new one comes up) is people who are able to redirect the conversation back to where they want it to be, not by going "you guys are derailing from topic X" (because that just shifts the topic to meta-discussion of the ways in which people are talking and not talking about X) but by making further metafandomy posts about X, along the lines of "remember the slash and homophobic stereotypes issue we were all talking about a couple weeks ago? Well I'm not done talking about it yet, and I think that [insert poster's thoughts on yaoi here]."

I've been tempted to make one myself, on slash, becuse I'd really like to see someone, or preferably several someones, spell out exactly what they think the problems with various published m/m novels* are in specific and concrete detail, with individual examples rather than just references to general trends (the way fandom does with race or sexism all the time), but I don't know if I have the emotional strength/reserves to handle the kind of dogpile I might get if people decide that I don't have the right to talk about it or am talking about it in the wrong way.

*I don't feel comfortable encouraging public critique of people's fanfic, but professionally published fiction is a different situation and is, I think, fair game.
elspethdixon: (Default)

[personal profile] elspethdixon 2010-02-09 06:22 am (UTC)(link)
If you do post, I'm sure you'll be very respectful, but I know what you mean about not wanting to risk the dogpile.

What I was halfway thinking of doing wasn't so much pointing out anything myself as saying, "People! Tell me a published gay romance by a woman or a straight guy and what you think it does wrong or right, and why." i.e. Trying to get other people to do it for me.

Though I'd maybe start things off by bringing up, say, the evil dead lesbian thing in BSG 2.0, or Cordelia Vorkosigan's "he was bisexual; now he's monogamous," line in... whichever Vorkosigan series book that was in. I just remember it being an annoying moment in an otherwise awesome series. Or if we were talking about fics, the Reboot het fic that shall remain nameless that I found on ff.net last week that had background Sulu/Chekov and had both of them as totally OOC flaming camp stereotypes, apparently just for the lulz. (it ruined what was supposed to be 50,000 words of the-reviews-made-it-sound-good McCoy/Uhura fic for me. Why couldn't Sulu and Chekov have been an item and still acted like themselves?)
elspethdixon: (Default)

[personal profile] elspethdixon 2010-02-09 07:42 pm (UTC)(link)
And McCoy/Uhura is something I could have probably bought too. They could bond over being fed up with Kirk and Spock's little tantrums.

I know. It could have been so glorious -- it was even *long*, and judging by the first chapter, before I ran into the OOCness, it was mostly Uhura-centric.

McCoy/Uhura hadn't seriously occurred to me before I saw the fic (beyond that it would obviously be hot), but now I really want to read it. Just... not that particular fic.
elspethdixon: (Default)

[personal profile] elspethdixon 2010-02-09 09:10 pm (UTC)(link)
I've done it here.

I've just gone ahead and tagged it with my worst case scenario/FML tag right away in preperation for the backlash I'll probably get.
were_lemur: Jack Sparrow, sprawled on the ground. (don't worry boys and girls there's enoug)

[personal profile] were_lemur 2010-02-15 02:07 am (UTC)(link)
I think that I've actually seen a few fics that took canonically presumed-straight characters and tried to make them fit into "gay culture" (which I still haven't seen defined). I remember laughing loudly and pressing the back button. It was so OOC I couldn't take it seriously. There's only so much that can be done within the confines of a pre-established canon without warping it.

There are a couple of characters who I'd like to watch try to fit into GLBT culture. But what would make it funny and/or interesting would be how they didn't fit in.

In once case I went the opposite direction, and had the character thinking how "those people" weren't like him and his (male) lover. Because for that character, that kind of denial/homophobia makes sense.
were_lemur: Aragorn and Boromir sharing a meaningful look (im in ur fandum queering ur dudez)

[personal profile] were_lemur 2010-02-16 08:08 am (UTC)(link)
It hurt to write that story -- hurt to know how much he hated some part of himself that he refused to acknowledge. I keep thinking I ought to revisit it, to examine his self-hatred at more than drabble-length, but I never have had the spoons/heart/courage to do it. :(
linkspam_mod: A metal chain (Default)

[personal profile] linkspam_mod 2010-02-13 09:59 pm (UTC)(link)
Your post has been included in an Linkspam Roundup.

[identity profile] chaosakita.livejournal.com 2010-02-04 10:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm curious, who of your readers are you directing this to? Aren't you just like...preaching to the choir? Are you going to confront the people causing the huge problems? (Sorry for all of the questions :p)

[identity profile] tsukinofaerii.livejournal.com 2010-02-05 12:12 am (UTC)(link)
If I were preaching to any sort of choir, this would be a non-issue and I wouldn't have posted at all. *sigh* The way I see it, I can expect four reactions:

1) People who believe Slash Is Wrong, who will only read this to disagree with me.
2) People who believe Slash if Activism, and who will only read this to disagree with me.
3) People who don't care/don't want their squee harshed, who will either ignore it or resort to a collorary of Moff's Law.
4) People who are upset by this mess and as confused by how to think/speak about it, and who will reply with their own equally confused and upset thoughts, which will hopefully result in less confusion all the way around.

I'm mostly speaking to #4, but I'm open to dialog from all angles. I do believe all angles are probably represented on my flist, and I think talking about this is important.

[identity profile] chaosakita.livejournal.com 2010-02-05 01:36 am (UTC)(link)
Where was this mess in the first place???

I'm probably number three. I'm actually disturbed that people bother to care so much about something so (presumably) trivial. But that's my personal opinion.

[identity profile] tsukinofaerii.livejournal.com 2010-02-05 02:15 am (UTC)(link)
[livejournal.com profile] metafandom is a good place to start link hopping, but where the debate actually started was in RL. There was some serious hard-core fail in the m/m romance genre (fail such as heterosexual cisgendered women claiming to write gay male romance better than gay men and, furthermore, trying to claim that they had a right to certain LGBT writing awards). The discussion is spilling over into slash. In that the discussion is, basically, "does slash fanfic hurt gay men, and if so how", I can't say it's trivial, and it's making a lot of people second-guess writing slash fic at all.

Sok Noni Sklep

(Anonymous) 2011-07-16 02:59 pm (UTC)(link)
You certainly have some agreeable opinions and views. Your blog provides a fresh look at the subject.