kitewithfish: You are the warm rock that my happy lizard self lies upon. (lizardhappy;somethingpositive;)
[personal profile] kitewithfish
My friend Tolkienista and I just had an interesting conversation about slash and sexuality and whether or not it’s okay for slash authors (many of whom, if not all, are white cisfemale authors writing about cismen having sex with other cismen.)

I’m a white cisfemale bisexual woman living in large city, for the sake of this conversation. Tolkienista’s a friend of mine from grad school, and also a white gay cisgender man.

Tolkienista’s blog can be found here. http://tolkienista.wordpress.com/

On the Editing: I have marked the majority of my edits with [content changed brackets] to indicate changes. Places where […] is marked indicate spots were non-relevant or confusing bits of conversation happened- mostly going, “Oh, yeah, right, I see what you mean” etc etc, and I have removed them for the sake of flow. Other unmarked corrections for grammar and spelling occurred.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Tolkienista
I am wondering, for a moment, about slash. Because I just read a long tumblr thing from a woman who was sort of blistering about the HRC logos and then talks about being into writing slash.

Kitewithfish
Which she should be- [HRC] are kind of problematic in their complete domination of the discussion about gay rights

Tolkienista
No, I get that
[…]

Tolkienista
And I am just suddenly wondering about the ethical dimension of imagining and writing about the sexual experience of someone who is not "your people," in a very narrowly defined sense of the term.

Also, I think people are wrong when they say that the HRC dominates discussion of gay rights. I actually think that gay rights began to move forward a bit in the past five years as the HRC's rights-centric, steady-as-she-goes approach stopped being as popular among rank-and-file

But they are right when they say that the HRC is awful

so I consider it a wash.

Kitewithfish
I think there's something to be said for the problems of slash being an extension of patriarchal systems of thought

In that most of the authors are women, righting about sexual experiences in which there are no women.

And most of them DON'T go anywhere NEAR the gay issues properly

They have a nice sexual fantasy without any real conception of their male characters as having a gay identity.

Or having an identity.

And I feel like there's something there about the idea that TV and movies mostly focus their full fleshed depictions of humanity on straight white men.

So that the characters women writers most identify with are not the shallow uninformed portrayals of women in limited roles with limited character development...

But the straight white men who get to do lots of awesome things and have real emotional lives.

Tolkienista
Ah, that makes sense

Kitewithfish
So, I think you are really really on point when thinking about "ethical dimension of imagining and writing about the sexual experience of someone who is not ‘your people,’ in a very narrowly defined sense of the term."

Because the thing is, we are also seeing a lot of people of color imagining themselves in the roles of white characters

(or, at least, they are supposed to)

Because audiences of color will watch white actors, while many audience will not watch actors of color in lead roles.

Tolkienista
Yes, and white supremacists get mad in return

Like w/ heimdall

Or black cosplayers

Kitewithfish
Including some folks of color in audiences. Because they don't want to watch the narrowly portrayed roles given to black actors.

(rather, black actors who are not Will Smith)

[…]

So, I think you are totally on point-

Tolkienista
Speaking of will smith http://www.avclub.com/articles/will-smith-reveals-the-real-predictably-will-smith,95376/

Kitewithfish
There's this weird thing where the mainly female, mainly white writers of fanfic are writing about male/male sex without thinking about homosexuality and social issues around it (well, a lot of them are not, but some of them are, but most kind of handwave it)

So, it's like, I kind of thing the prevalence of gay sex in fandom is this weird intersection of 1) a move to queer dominant narratives, and to portray desire complexly, including cases where the only fully human characters are two while male straight characters who, realistically, are being portrayed REALLY REALLY romantically in the movie (but audiences and writers have straight blinders on and don't see the queer)

(eg, The Fast and the Furious is a love story.)

and 2) it's the place where women writers, who are not required to be reflective about gay identities in order to show sexy sexy porn, fixate on the only people in movies they relate to- men. So they write the men as having the awesome, fully personal and fully human relationships the authors see as part of their makeup as a form of self projection. [Because the other characters are not being written as fully human enough to project onto. Which is the fault of Hollywood and the writers.]

And it's WEIRD that both are going on there, because one is working to dismantle Hollywood narratives, while one is playing with them in a way that challenges them but without much reflection in how that challenge is constructed.

[…]

Tolkienista
[T]his is fascinating

I’m glad I asked

Kitewithfish

I mean, did you hear about the Ogi Ogas survey fiasco?

Tolkienista
NO

Kitewithfish
Ok, go look up Ogi Ogas

And then I will send you the fannish links

http://fanlore.org/wiki/SurveyFail

Basically, he is an unethical researcher, who was gathering material for a mass market book that was going to use "evidence" (whose collection was very badly put together) from surveys of fanfic authors...

to prove that fanfic writers were the female equivalent of men who watch tr*nny porn.

Tolkienista
Oh yuck

Kitewithfish
He used "tranny" in his own discussion of transgender folk working in porn, and defended it as unobjectionable

SO, his argument was that women are writing fanfic to imagine themselves as male-bodied and getting off on THAT

When, in fact, I think it's that sexual desire is flexible, and that women authors are able to find sexual gratification in sexual situations that have no direct biological parallel to the sex acts that get them on IRL

Much like men are able to watch lesbian porn, and get off on that.

without having a deep thoughtful consideration of how desire is actually experienced and acted upon in the community of queer women.

There are SOME VERY TROUBLING ASPECTS of this phenomenon in fanfic, I think

Like, the trope that seems to have died out in modern fic of "we're not gay, we just love each other" where two characters continue to ID as straight men tho they are monogamously involved with a male partner, who identifies as cismale, and straight.

*waves hands in air*

NOW.

I think because of the "queering the narrative" aspect of fanfic gaining ground and the general shift away from viewing queer relationships as morally wrong...

this [WNGWJLEO, hilariously pronounced “wing-jello”] depiction tends to pop up less, and be less clearly marked with a bunch of "no homo" shit when it does

(it sometimes occurs as a de facto narrative when authors do not want to engage in a story on the questions of identity and gender and sexuality fully)

but it is not marked as such nearly so much

SO, while I think there are many viable and smart points to be made about the problems of cisgender women writing about straight-identified men having sex with men, I think also that slash has made a space in the world for a narrative conversation about desire, sex, sexuality, kink, and identity to be played with, including a space for works by authors of color, queer folk, disabled folk, genderqueer and trans* folk, and people who inhabit identities across those spectrums of intersectional oppression to write and think aloud

Which is valuable [and wonderful, and fascinating, and necessary for the good of the world as we know it, and should be sponsored and celebrated and examined and treasured and robustly critiqued and make its way into our brains and reside there, changing us as literature can indeed transform us.]

And, unfortunately, not likely to take place in the dead tree writing world, which is dominated by straight white men who can get paid for their work.

[Tho fandom can be just as bigoted and stupid as the broader culture from which it spawned.]




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