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[personal profile] nell65
The lj world is overflowing with 'why I like m/m slash' or 'why women like m/m slash' essays (and the odd, 'why I don't like m/m slash' essay in answer), but het fanciers, like myself, haven't had to produce much meta about why they like what they do.

Some of this is the straightforward result of the dominant heterosexual culture in which we all live, that is, you don't have to explain why you like what the majority of people around you and the culture at large assume you like, because, duh, of course you like that, doesn’t everyone? This is also at least part of the reason for all the "why I/women like m/m slash" essays and questions out there - it isn't the standard assumption that women like to read and write m/m romance or porn and so it does seem to beg explanation and exploration, even and perhaps especially by those who are drawn to it and find that they need to understand for themselves why they are swimming against the tide, as it were.

The thing about the lj fanfic world however, and especially the meta fanfic conversations (which I totally enjoy and follow almost more avidly than all but my primary fandom these days), is that it is dominated by the m/m shipping conversations, so much so that the het fanciers are starting to feel a little tossed about as the tide pulls in the other direction.

Which you know, is good for us. A little self-exploration of why you like what you like, and why certain things ping for you, never hurt anyone and probably helps many.

Now - I freely admit I am not a 'standard' het-shipper (assuming such a creature actually exists, as with the m/m fans, everyone has their own take on why they like what they like), and I may even be pretty much an outlier in the sense that I am pretty self-conscious about the particular sets of issues that fascinate me and hold me steady and fixated on the het as a writer and a reader. But I thought if I tossed this out, it might start at least, all the 'yes, but....' conversations that are so interesting. To me. *g*

That being said, some of the things that hold me to het, (and to a smaller degree the f/f) are pretty standard among het-fanciers at large, at least if I've been reading my meta+comments correctly. I love women, all shapes and stripes and sizes, and I want stories that feature women front and center. All of the fandoms that interest me most these days (with a few exceptions I could talk about later) have in canon a variety of strong and interesting women. I want them in my fic, just as I adore them in the canon source. Het and f/f and the rarer still gen (by which I mean stories without a central romance plot, rather than simply stories without sex) are therefore my stories of choice.

Second, when it comes to porn, I may be sufficiently unimaginative (though I don't really believe this, I just think it's the way I'm wired), but - in general - if there are not girl parts getting all wet and sticky *in the fic* generally mine don't either, metaphorically speaking, of course. ;-) There are certainly some exceptions, but as a general thing, this holds up over and over again. The identical, average, vaguely OOC BDSM situation, for example, leaves me unmoved when it features m/m, but when it's f/f has me squirming in my chair. That just is - it's not a defense or a rationale, just an observation about my preferences.

So - there are two incredibly basic reasons for my het-centric reading and writing tastes. Nothing terribly remarkable or unpredictable about them. Or particularly meta-ish!

If that's *all* it was, I probably wouldn't be writing this, of course. My love for the het is also political and intellectual and even at some level philosophical (in the metaphysics of the human condition sort of way).

I'm a feminist. And overwhelmingly heterosexual in orientation and life experience. I suspect had the 'right woman' ever come along, things might be different - but she didn't and the right boys did, and so here I am. A married, duel-career + family het woman. Which means that I'm riveted to the intellectual and political challenge of how, given all our cultural baggage, bulging with centuries worth of expectations for how 'men' and 'women' are supposed to behave, men and women actually create and maintain meaningful and mutually satisfying relationships, now or in any time.

Het-fic strokes this jones of mine in every story, from the awesomely good to the horrifyingly bad - at their core - *all* het stories struggle with this problem. And so, in my own home fandom - La Femme Nikita the Series, which is overwhelmingly het in orientation for a whole bunch of reasons I'd be happy to discuss later if anyone is curious, I have read completely or in part almost every story ever written and archived. Which means I've read a ton of het fic, ranging from the awesome to the really sappy and silly, through the horrifyingly awful, to the absolutely enraging. And I keep reading it - because in every one of those stories, the issues that fascinate me are raised - from how a man and a woman, given all their confusing and conflicting needs and desires and expectations, manage to get it on at all (lust of course usually gets things going - and I love reading stories where the female character gets to acknowledge and revel in her lust for a truly hot guy), to how they sustain the relationship beyond lust - in particular how does the woman cope with the ripe-tide of expectations that her first function is to put the relationship above all else vs. her own need to maintain herself and her own identity, separate from the 'we' of the relationship.

Now, I freely acknowledge that in far too many het-focused stories this conflict between self and couple has been reduced to series of clichés that are alarmingly rigid and often do damage to stories that began on an interesting premise. We have willful misunderstandings, interior monologues about what will be/was lost when commitments are made, whiny stupid refusals to accede to reasonable requests, and agonizing over stepping over the line to make a life choice that signals that one party has capitulated to the other's self-needs. Often with result that one of them, usually the woman, has to be rescued from some really silly, self-inflicted scenario by the dashing, manly hero. In far too much of the forgettable fic, this is all resolved through mind-blowing sex and a return to frighteningly conventional notions of m/f couple hood that seem to come right out of a promise-keeper's handbook to happy marriages. So, the conclusion is often irritating - but what keeps me reading is the ways that the authors, overwhelmingly women, raise the issues in the first place.

What does the female want, in this story? What does the male want? Why? How do they go about trying to get it? How do cultural expectations help or hinder them? How do they manage to communicate to their lover what their needs and desires are, if they've even managed to figure them out? What if all their needs and desires simply can't be met? What if they have fundamental differences in the way they see their world or want it to be shaped? How do gender expectations play into it? How don't they? If you love him/her, is it okay to do something that otherwise you wouldn't? Is it imperative that you do so? If you make a commitment - to, say conventional marriage - does that mean you have accept the traditional patterns, or can you continue to buck them and make your own way?

In my fandom, for example, Nikita wants to not be an uber-secret undercover agent more than almost anything else. Never gonna happen, she is a slave, in very literal ways, held by her spymasters until she dies. So - given that she can't have that and her lover, Michael, can't really give it to her, no matter how much he would like to, what, if anything, can they settle on instead? Can he give her the next thing she wants? The freedom, in Section, to operate independently of the rules that bind them with regard to whose lives they save and whose lives they don't? Sometimes. When it suits his needs. Or at least doesn't interfere with them. Can she accept this partial freedom of action? Will she? Will she challenge him about it? As she grows in professional knowledge and competence, will she challenge him less out of understanding? Or more, out of confidence in her own judgment? How will each of them use gender expectations to get what they want? From outsiders or from each other? By acceding to them or defying them? Seeing how each new story featuring them tackles this problem has kept me in this fandom for nine years - since 1997. (Counting *that* out on my fingers was a little scary!) ((Madeline/Operations stories also deal with this, and I read them too!))

I read and write het-fic for the exploration of the conflict between self and couple, between mine and ours, me and we, between a woman and a man.

I'm enough of a post-modernist, intellectually, to read all this conflict, all human relationships, as essentially about power - who has it, under what circumstances, and how do they use it? Wisely, carefully, carelessly, to heal, to harm, to bully, to build? Add to that gender-based confusion and conflict, and I love it all.

Even formulaic Harlequin lines acknowledge these sites of m/f conflict, on their way to a resolution. Het-centric fanfic does it using characters and situations that are almost always more interesting than anything hack romance authors have to offer - which is why I read here, and not in the grocery store - though as I grow more self-conscious about my own reading issues, I actually pick these up with more curiosity than ever - though I can't bring myself to pay for one when I can get the equivalent for free, online!

I understand, from the meta, that what draws many readers/writers to the m/m is the tantalizing possibility of avoiding all the things I just talked about - for me, the love of the het is the inverse. I embrace all this, and I want to read and write about it.

Date: 2005-09-15 11:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] delle.livejournal.com
oh, you rock. what a fabulous essay.

(of course it doesn't hurt that what interests you in het fic is precisely what interests me in het fic)

may I link in my LJ?

Thanks!

Date: 2005-09-15 01:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com
I knew, of course, that you are as much or more of a het-fancier than I am *g* - but it's nice to know that what I wrote struck a cord.

Link away - part of the purpose is to add to the large scale meta that is my current fannish obsession!

Nell

Wow. A lot to chew on.

Date: 2005-09-15 12:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaybee65.livejournal.com
I should probably go to my own LJ and sum up my own thoughts in a more systematic way, but because I love tangents (*g*), I'll tackle one or two here.

This particular meta topic certainly seems to fascinate fandom. Including me, I confess. In part, it's because while I live in a society almost utterly saturated in sexuality, I almost never discuss it with people in real life. It took fandom to present me with a huge cross-section of women being unusually open about what interests them sexually. My reaction has beem something along the lines of, "Wow! Where the hell do I fit in here, and where am I similar to and different from everyone else?" So yeah. Posts like this are wonderful, because they're thoughtful attempts to "find one's place" as opposed to bashing someone for having different preferences.

I am, for the most part, a Gen person, in the sense that you defined "Gen" above (that is, I prefer stories that are not relationship-focused, even if they do contain romance or even explicit sex as a natural part of whatever plot is unfolding). But when it comes to relationship-fic, I, too lean toward het and f/f.

Second, when it comes to porn, I may be sufficiently unimaginative (though I don't really believe this, I just think it's the way I'm wired), but - in general - if there are not girl parts getting all wet and sticky *in the fic* generally mine don't either, metaphorically speaking, of course. ;-) There are certainly some exceptions, but as a general thing, this holds up over and over again. The identical, average, vaguely OOC BDSM situation, for example, leaves me unmoved when it features m/m, but when it's f/f has me squirming in my chair. That just is - it's not a defense or a rationale, just an observation about my preferences.

I'm still squeamish about being frank about such things, but...yes. There is a wiring issue at play, which reduces my reaction to this: m/f = hot; f/f = hot; m/m = *yawn*. I don't find m/m squicky, just completely non-erotic. I read m/m slash and can enjoy it for many reasons (the writing, the dialogue, the interactions between characters, etc.), but I have never found (and I suspect will never find) it hot. I don't know why. It's not from any lack of appreciating good-looking men, because I certainly do. I don't know what it's from -- and I confess to having been really very surprised and quite taken aback to find out just how many women (judging by fandom) *do* find it erotic. It's like suddenly finding out I'm colorblind and have spent my entire life unknowingly being unable to see the color green. I can't necessarily stop being colorblind, but it's very enlightening and quite fascinating to discover that others don't see the world the way I do.

There are other tangents I can seize on, but I'll come back later.

Re: Wow. A lot to chew on.

Date: 2005-09-15 12:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] delle.livejournal.com
I don't find m/m squicky, just completely non-erotic. I read m/m slash and can enjoy it for many reasons (the writing, the dialogue, the interactions between characters, etc.), but I have never found (and I suspect will never find) it hot. I don't know why. It's not from any lack of appreciating good-looking men, because I certainly do. I don't know what it's from -- and I confess to having been really very surprised and quite taken aback to find out just how many women (judging by fandom) *do* find it erotic. It's like suddenly finding out I'm colorblind and have spent my entire life unknowingly being unable to see the color green. I can't necessarily stop being colorblind, but it's very enlightening and quite fascinating to discover that others don't see the world the way I do.

Wow. What a gorgeous way of explaining it. Because, yeah, slash doesn't do it for me? Doesn't mean it's bad or icky or whatever... just that it doesn't push my particular buttons.

I love your analogy to being color-blind. I do love green, though (trees, etc), can we make it, oh, beige or purple or something? *g*

Re: Wow. A lot to chew on.

From: [identity profile] jaybee65.livejournal.com - Date: 2005-09-15 03:42 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Wow. A lot to chew on.

Date: 2005-09-15 07:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com
As you know, some of my intial negative reaction to some m/m was a lot more intense than 'meh.' Or perhaps better put, as I kept reading m/m in more and more fandoms, seeking the powerful response so many fen described, rather than the 'meh' I was feeling, I turned to some of my oldest favorite stories, which are huge arenas of m/m fic - Hornblower and LOTR, and I got the powerful response. Only, to my utter shock and dismay - it was almost wholly negative.

It took me quite a while to work through all that.

This particular meta topic certainly seems to fascinate fandom. Including me, I confess. In part, it's because while I live in a society almost utterly saturated in sexuality, I almost never discuss it with people in real life. It took fandom to present me with a huge cross-section of women being unusually open about what interests them sexually. My reaction has beem something along the lines of, "Wow! Where the hell do I fit in here, and where am I similar to and different from everyone else?" So yeah. Posts like this are wonderful, because they're thoughtful attempts to "find one's place" as opposed to bashing someone for having different preferences.

Oh yes - I very definitely have felt, and continue to feel this way. Thus, this post, for example. *g*

I also really like the colorblind metaphor, it really captures some of my first responses to the m/m squeeing I found, once I ventured outside LFN.

I've certainly trained myself to be open to the m/m slashy vibes, and I can see now in many of the canon sources, where the m/m writers/fen are coming from. I don't *feel* it - but I do see it.

Coming back for more

Date: 2005-09-15 03:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaybee65.livejournal.com
This is a fun exercise, and it's made me sit down and think about my own preferences in a more systematic way. My conclusion? People's reasons for reading het are just as varied and incapable of being boiled down to a single "answer" as are the reasons people read slash.

You identified a few factors that apply to you. If you forgive the simplistic paraphrasing, they are (more or less): (1) you prefer that female characters be included in your reading material; (2) m/m slash doesn't hold much erotic interest for you; and (3) your favorite theme in fan fiction centers on the ways in which men and women navigate their relationships with each other – a theme which is at the heart of all het fic.

I read your essay and found myself nodding in recognition at points #1 and #2. But when I got to #3, I found myself thinking, "Oh, that's interesting, but it doesn't apply to me." Which in turn made me ask myself what *my* theme of preference is. Having given it some thought, I think it involves more of an internal conflict than external. I like reading about the struggle between human strength and weakness, or to use religious terminology, "virtue" versus "sin." Accordingly, I tend to like characters whose lives are, in essence, a battlefield between those two tendencies. In practice, this tends to mean supporting characters – not most fandom heroes/heroines, whose virtues outweigh their flaws too much for my taste, and not completely "evil" villains, either, who have the opposite problem. Rather, I like characters whom one might best describe as "morally challenged" as opposed to outright evil, and I like stories which explore the boundaries of that internal conflict.

However, I realize that there is absolutely nothing inherent about this theme that would prevent it from being explored just as well in m/m slash as in het or f/f. Or gen. So, I think my reading preference with respect to m/m really boils down to the first two reasons you mentioned, with the heaviest emphasis on #1 (primarily liking to read about women).

Re: Coming back for more

Date: 2005-09-15 07:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com
Oh yes, I completely agree that there are as many reasons to love the het as there are readers and writers for it.

For example, at least based on what I've read via fandom_wank, I'm reasonably sure that the avid H/Hr shippers aren't looking for the same exploration of male/female conflict in their romances that I am.....

(1) you prefer that female characters be included in your reading material; (2) m/m slash doesn't hold much erotic interest for you; and (3) your favorite theme in fan fiction centers on the ways in which men and women navigate their relationships with each other – a theme which is at the heart of all het fic.

You paraphrase beautifully. That's it - and while #1 and #2 are probably most important to me as a reader, after all I do seek out f/f and gen as well as het, #3 is definitely my primary focus as a writer.

Having given it some thought, I think it involves more of an internal conflict than external.

You say 'tragedy,' I say 'comedy of manners' ? *bg*

Re: Coming back for more

From: [identity profile] jaybee65.livejournal.com - Date: 2005-09-15 08:23 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Coming back for more

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Re: Coming back for more

Date: 2005-11-06 10:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sk56.livejournal.com
I seem to have been absent when this thread first appeared, or at least thinking of other things, because I didn't see this comment of yours

Rather, I like characters whom one might best describe as "morally challenged" as opposed to outright evil, and I like stories which explore the boundaries of that internal conflict.

I appreciate this twisty place, since it's the one that I think many of us occupy in our actual lives, and so it resonates in a way that the truly good or thoroughly bad does not, which perhaps is part of why I like to see female characters in this place -- as a woman, I'm always happy to see how other people in my half of the gene pool manage to negotiate the world.

Date: 2005-09-16 09:13 am (UTC)
ext_7700: (Default)
From: [identity profile] swatkat24.livejournal.com
Which means that I'm riveted to the intellectual and political challenge of how, given all our cultural baggage, bulging with centuries worth of expectations for how 'men' and 'women' are supposed to behave

I've not heard many people talk about this - I know it's not something *I'm* looking for in fic. Now I'm wondering if it may have something to do with my own utter disregard for what is termed 'masculine' or 'feminine' in society.

On a tangent, you really should watch Buffy. As a self-proclaimed 'feminist' show (altho, it's version of feminism
can be alternately heavy-handed/downright problematic/just badly written), it plays around with a lot of ideas on womanhood which you should find interesting. Plus, damn good show with loads of interesting female characters. *tempts*

Swatkat

Date: 2005-09-16 10:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com
I've not heard many people talk about this

I live inside academia - we talk about the social construction of gender all the time, and I'm fascinated (if sometimes horrified) by how gender expectations are playing out in my own life, particularly with regards to my roles as wife and mother.

So, I see gendered behavior everywhere - which is fine with me because I'm fascinated by it.

I don't see gender as 'bad' either - not only is it inescapble, it is marvelous in its complexity and confusion and I can't imagine anything ickier than a world where everyone is the same, with regard to how they are expected to behave sexually or socially.

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Date: 2005-09-16 10:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com
Oh, and on Buffy. I know - I keep hearing about it from this perspective, so I imagine I will someday get around to watching it. I also really enjoyed Joss Wheadon's short lived Firefly, so maybe?

But I do know I haven't rushed out to embrace it because I am a bit skeptical about just how much I'm going to enjoy a show that features teenagers, and is told from their POV, with all their teenage issues.....

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*flings up hands in surrender*

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Here via metafandom

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Re: Here via metafandom

From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com - Date: 2005-11-05 10:54 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2005-09-28 11:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nestra.livejournal.com
You should think about submitting this to the Fanfiction Symposium. I bet Lucy would be thrilled to have it.

Date: 2005-10-22 12:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] profshallowness.livejournal.com
Oh, I'm glad you linked me to this, it's fascinating, and probably may well be a guide to my thinking about what interests me in het.

I totally feel for you in terms of the lj meta context, where the talk is about slash, and that feels like the norm. Using it as an opportunity to look at where a het-fancier's 'yes, buts' come in, is a great way of going about it, and doing so without being defensive but more about how you've got to where you are is completely to be commended, because it's helpful.

I take on board your point bout reading about strong and intereting women (though what I have to figure out is why I prefer to read about some women over others, is i self-identification or more complicated?) The colour-blindness metaphor, or rather the point that it lead to about being able to see slashy undertones, but nt feeling them, is true to my experience.

I'm riveted to the intellectual and political challenge of how, given all our cultural baggage, bulging with centuries worth of expectations for how 'men' and 'women' are supposed to behave, men and women actually create and maintain meaningful and mutually satisfying relationships, now or in any time. I'm not sure that this is entirely it, for me, my interest is in particular men and women, and how they make it work.

Perhaps then, the fact that the more general philosophical question that interests you isn't at the core of my reading, or not so consciously, anyway, because I prefer stories where characters make it work that does look at the interior, the emotional and psychological aspects of that, that makes me say that. So I don't knowingly look out for it, or don't see the sites of conflict in this light, because it seemed to me, in reading your description about the working out that is part of a m/f ship (with the added view of gender expectations) that would be something that would happen in longer fics and established relationship fics. I tend to see fandom as providing shorter first time fics, though that may be because I read unconventional ships which have different story needs? Or maybe we're just reading different? But I do agree with you about the problematic resolutions of the more forgettable/frustrating fic - especially when it seems to jettison what we know about characters.

What you're saying about LFN (I haven't watched it) as a mainly het fandom is interesting - Dark Angel too has very little slash, though there was space in the canon for femslash, at least.

Date: 2005-10-24 12:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com
Oh, I'm glad you linked me to this, it's fascinating, and probably may well be a guide to my thinking about what interests me in het.

Thanks - my pleasure! And I'm glad to know it resonated beyond my fandom (all the other commentors are fellow LFNers, so I wasn't really sure if it was more fandom specfic than I realized or intended).

I totally feel for you in terms of the lj meta context, where the talk is about slash, and that feels like the norm. Using it as an opportunity to look at where a het-fancier's 'yes, buts' come in, is a great way of going about it, and doing so without being defensive but more about how you've got to where you are is completely to be commended, because it's helpful.

I was totally absorbed by all the slash meta - mostly because I didn't really 'get' slash - for a very long time, but then it seemed like it was time to quit worrying about other people's tastes and start exploring my own. *g*

I take on board your point bout reading about strong and intereting women (though what I have to figure out is why I prefer to read about some women over others, is i self-identification or more complicated?)

Oh absolutely - there is a lot of that. Some people like Byronic heroes, male or female, other's prefer the stoic Gunman, etcc.....and that will defintely affect *which* female characters people like and respond too.

The colour-blindness metaphor, or rather the point that it lead to about being able to see slashy undertones, but nt feeling them, is true to my experience.

Jaybee is a very smart cookie.

Perhaps then, the fact that the more general philosophical question that interests you isn't at the core of my reading, or not so consciously, anyway, because I prefer stories where characters make it work that does look at the interior, the emotional and psychological aspects of that, that makes me say that.

I'm not sure I'm representative, really, of most fic readers - because I *do* think of my tastes this way, but then, I've also spent a lot of meta time with friends comparing our different tastes in LFN stories/characters....and we wandered far afield into philosophies of life and the rest.

So I don't knowingly look out for it, or don't see the sites of conflict in this light, because it seemed to me, in reading your description about the working out that is part of a m/f ship (with the added view of gender expectations) that would be something that would happen in longer fics and established relationship fics.

Longer fics, at least, because the non-canon het pairing will need a fair amount of development as well....though like most people these days (at least on lj) I tend to read short because I'm out of time, but it isn't really my preference.

I tend to see fandom as providing shorter first time fics, though that may be because I read unconventional ships which have different story needs? Or maybe we're just reading different?

I think that is probably more fandom specific than not. The two dominate het pairings in LFN are established either before canon even begins, or literally, in the very first episode - so first time stories just don't have much place. As for shorter - I think that is a broad lj trend? (I don't have much evidence, just a gut feeling as a reader).

But I do agree with you about the problematic resolutions of the more forgettable/frustrating fic - especially when it seems to jettison what we know about characters.

Absolutely - a lot of it is just horrid and on so many levels. But in some ways, even the horror interests me - because I'm fascinated by the power of the dominate cultural tropes to overpower more original stories.

What you're saying about LFN (I haven't watched it) as a mainly het fandom is interesting - Dark Angel too has very little slash, though there was space in the canon for femslash, at least.

Interestingly enough, there is plenty of space in LFN for both f/f and m/m, in the sense that the main male was hit on more than once, in canon, by other men - but in terms of plot lines and regular/reccuring characters - the f/f is way ahead in terms of writing potential. I never watched Dark Angel (Jessica Alba, right?), but it certainly looked like something I would enjoy.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] profshallowness.livejournal.com - Date: 2005-10-28 04:01 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2005-11-03 06:45 pm (UTC)
mtgat: (Crazy Onna Stick)
From: [personal profile] mtgat
In from [livejournal.com profile] metafandom. Alas, I bring nothing with me to the discussion but: "Word!" :D

Date: 2005-11-04 12:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com
"Word" is fine. Glad you stopped by. *g*

Date: 2005-11-04 01:02 am (UTC)
msilverstar: (miranda lean laugh)
From: [personal profile] msilverstar
Also in from [livejournal.com profile] metafandom, and my fandom is the polar opposite of yours: not only is LOTR RPS a very intense slash fandom, there are the nutcases who insist that Viggo and Orlando, and Dom and Elijah have such twu wuv it must be real! And the ones who truly believe write the most godawful fic, it's like Mary Sue only with boys.

I wandered into Lotips with the Viggo love and immediately became consumed by the fandom, and have stayed that way for almost three years now. However, I have no OTP, I write every pairing I can think of, (Billy/Bean! Viggo/Ian McKellan!) and het, mainly with Miranda and Philippa. I'm in an RPG now where I write het Billy, bi Miranda, and bi Alan Cumming, because I just prefer lots of different flavors.

Most of the other Lotrips het-writers write self-insertions, which I find screamingly dull. The slash writers tend to be far better and the stories enormously superior. So it's been a bit of a rough road that way for me, but I perservere, because it's not the slash per se that does it for me, it's the frisson of erotic fanfic as grounded by people who's lives are far too unlikely to make up. And that includes the women.

Thanks for your post and inspiration for me to think about this more!



Date: 2005-11-04 01:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com
I haven't really gotten much into RPS (and I've spent years cackling at dl-anon) but I do know that, at least right now, it appears to be very full of m/m - though the only Lotrips I've read actually featured Miranda Otto, so you know, my tastes follow me even there! *g*

Thanks for commenting!

Nell

Date: 2005-11-04 01:20 am (UTC)
ext_7262: (mal/inara "tea" by earthvexer)
From: [identity profile] femmenerd.livejournal.com
Here via [livejournal.com profile] metafandom.

I really appreciated this post. And I saw a lot of my own feelings mirrored in it. I almost exclusively read and write het and f/f and I often have this weird feeling that I'm "not cool" or something because I'm not that interested in m/m slash personally. Especially since I'm interested in gender and queer theory...blah blah.

"That being said, some of the things that hold me to het, (and to a smaller degree the f/f) are pretty standard among het-fanciers at large, at least if I've been reading my meta+comments correctly. I love women, all shapes and stripes and sizes, and I want stories that feature women front and center."

This really struck a chord. My fandoms (BtVS, Firefly, Veronica Mars) all feature strong, vibrant, interesting women.

When I look over my primary ships, I see that while most of them are het ships none of them are "typical" hetero relationships. They are all about people who challenge one another. In some ways I think I am drawn to what I would call "queer het" if one takes the definition of queer to mean "a worldview that rejects compulsory Heteronormativity" and one sees Heterosexuality (with a big H) as something apart from which parts go where and having more to do with a standardized set of gendered power relations. I choose het ships that challenge the way that patriarchy thinks male/female relations should be. Because they're hot. *g*

Date: 2005-11-04 01:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com
I really appreciated this post. And I saw a lot of my own feelings mirrored in it. I almost exclusively read and write het and f/f and I often have this weird feeling that I'm "not cool" or something because I'm not that interested in m/m slash personally.

Thank you, and I'm glad you found it. The "not cool" feeling is a tough one to get past, especially since some of the most visible commentary about het tends to be very dismissive of it, as something one 'grows past' or 'gets over.' Thus my post. *g*

Especially since I'm interested in gender and queer theory...blah blah.

No kidding! I actually write professionally on manhood and masculinity (among other things). I kept waiting to fall in love with the m/m......it seemed such a natural. But, no. No love for the m/m emerged. I kept looking for the women in the shadows, and wondering about them, and loosing focus on the main guys. *g*

My primary het ship is Micheal and Nikita from LFN, which may or may not be 'queer het' but is certainly not a typical romance (though many, many, many fics try to make it one. Sadly, even some of my own early efforts - fortunately never finished, and so never posted!).

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From: [identity profile] femmenerd.livejournal.com - Date: 2005-11-06 03:28 am (UTC) - Expand

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From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com - Date: 2005-11-06 05:34 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2005-11-05 03:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thefourthvine.livejournal.com
Ooo, thank you; I've been hoping someone would write something like this for a long time. (Since I first read a "Why slash?" essay, basically.)

Also, La Femme Nikita sounds interesting. Do you have a recs page or post you could point me to? I checked through your memories but didn't find any there, and I don't think I've ever seen it on any of the multi-fandom recs sources I use, although I might just have skimmed over it from unfamiliarity.

Date: 2005-11-05 10:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com
Thanks - I'm happy to oblige!

LFN fandom predates LiveJournal, and most of it is still Message Board based - the currently active Fan Fiction Message Board (http://www.voy.com/133091/) has links to most of the places where fannish production is still taking place.

On lj multi-fannish places, well *I* am the one signed up to rec LFN fanfic on Crack_Van, but in my earnest desire to write the bestest, most compelling series summary evah! elventy!One!, I haven't started yet, and so, no recs there yet. *grins sheepishly*

There is an LFN lj community, http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=lfn_fans, but it isn't super active - though getting more so as more of the series is available on DVD. I also expect vidding to pick up as more of the series arrives in DVD format.

The best recs I know for LFN fic are at Nestra and Shrift's Polyamorus Recs (http://bifictionalbedlam.slashcity.net/recs/index.html), the best currently maintained website for the series is here, La Femme Nikita Forever (http://lfnforever.tripod.com/), and the main archive for all LFN fanfic is here (http://thesplitpersonality.net/lfn/writers/writers.shtml).

I hope you find something to interest you - cause, man, I love my LFN and pimping it is great fun! *bg*

Date: 2005-11-05 02:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stultiloquentia.livejournal.com
Great essay.

Date: 2005-11-06 05:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2005-11-06 05:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zebra363.livejournal.com
Also here via [livejournal.com profile] metafandom.

I really enjoyed reading this. I'm one of the people for whom 'what draws many readers/writers to the m/m is the tantalizing possibility of avoiding all the things I just talked about' holds true, but on the other hand I find m/f or f/f equally or more erotic (though maybe I'm just desensitised to m/m since I've read a lot more of it). I do see the appeal in exploring m/f issues, but probably have too much resentment at the very existence of some of those issues to really enjoy it. I might like it if I thought the woman was really strong enough to be the equal of the man. (Haven't seen LFN.)

Thanks for the reminder that many people in fandom, and life, aren't pre-programmed for slash!

Date: 2005-11-06 05:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com
I do see the appeal in exploring m/f issues, but probably have too much resentment at the very existence of some of those issues to really enjoy it.

I suspect that this is a very common reaction, but then I tend to be most interested in fictional m/f pairs that aren't very conventional - which addresses at least some of that problem.

I might like it if I thought the woman was really strong enough to be the equal of the man. (Haven't seen LFN.)

These days, I tend to only enter a fandom if there are strong women - so for me that's a sort of chicken and egg question. *g*

Thanks for the reminder that many people in fandom, and life, aren't pre-programmed for slash!

You're very welcome. *g*

I confess that a least part of what got me thinking about all these issues, in this context, more seriously was a growing resententment at my own inability to truly grok m/m - and feeling all fannishly left out as a result.

Date: 2005-11-06 09:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imkalena.livejournal.com
I love your utterly fascinating essay. I don't have much inclination to think deeply about it, since I'm a slasher from way back, but even before then I read a lot of romances, and what you say here . . .

I'm enough of a post-modernist, intellectually, to read all this conflict, all human relationships, as essentially about power - who has it, under what circumstances, and how do they use it? Wisely, carefully, carelessly, to heal, to harm, to bully, to build? Add to that gender-based confusion and conflict

I think this is the basis of what even grocery-store line romances are trying to explore, even if they fall back into the bottom-line societal comfort zone at the end, and I think it's something that romances beyond Silhouette Blaze are exploring with a bit more freedom. Which explains a lot about what I liked about them in the first place. :)

Everybody wants to explore power -- although it's the powerless who *need* a thorough understanding of it, which of course is why women read books about relationships, and men don't. When men and women are equal, we'll know about it -- women will quit trying to figure out men. :)


Date: 2005-11-06 05:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com
Thanks! I'm glad you stopped by.

Everybody wants to explore power -- although it's the powerless who *need* a thorough understanding of it, which of course is why women read books about relationships, and men don't. When men and women are equal, we'll know about it -- women will quit trying to figure out men. :)

Perhaps - on the other hand, given how much ink male writers have spilt pondering the question of what women want/should be/ought to be - as long as the desired other seems mysterious, we will still be trying to crack the code, whatever the power structure might turn out to be!

Date: 2006-02-05 12:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joandarck.livejournal.com
Here from [livejournal.com profile] zebra363. This was very interesting to read because it addresses something I've been dying to ask people about - what do heterosexual women get out of f/f? I know why I enjoy it, but I can't really imagine why straight women do. I'd thought wanting central female characters must be part of it, but why bother to throw in the sex? Just so it'll 'feel like slash'? So it's very interesting to hear that it can be erotic as well.

Date: 2006-02-06 02:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com
Hi there!

I'm glad you found your way here.

While I have no idea if I'm more or less mainstream with my tastes, I do know that I am not the only straight-identifying woman who finds f/f smut erotic and m/m not so much. I suspect for similiar reasons. To project myself into the action, I need a proxy whose body I understand. If she happens to be exceptionally beautiful = so much the better!

Speaking only for myself, the two smut stories I've read in the last several months that have stuck with me longest, and informed my own fantasy life, are both f/f. I have a woman's body - obviously - and so reading about a female body in the throes of passion (or something close to it!) makes it very easy for me to insert myself into the action.

Two guys getting it on without a woman's body any where in the vicinity? I'm not entirely immune to the pretty, of course, but long lovely descriptions of what it feels like to have a cock aren't something that really captures my lizard brain. Who cares what 'having' a cock feels like, I'm far more interested in what a cock feels like inside a woman, from the woman's POV. *g*

As for tossing in f/f sex so fic will 'feel like slash' - I don't know. I'm not at all sure what slash is supposed to feel like....I do know that m/m leaves me irritated and cranky more often than not, so one of the things I like best about f/f is that it doesn't leave me feeling that way at all!

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