In order to gather some original data for two essays for university, I took to Tumblr with a call for participants. Within a few short days, 441 people in total were kind enough to take the time and fill out a survey on slash and Omegaverse.
First of all: Thank you to everyone who participated and those who reblogged to signal boost!
Unsurprisingly, the survey yielded a lot more results and quotes than I will be able to integrate into my two assignments. Thus this post shall be the first of at least three separate ones analysing the results.
The Respondents – who are they?
Regarding the participant’s age, the majority is between 18 and 25 years old, while the subsets 25-30 and 30-40 on the one end, and 15-18 on the other, are located in similar percentiles. Only 0.9% (4) respondents are under 15 years old; 7,3% between 40 an 50, and 1.8% older than 50.
Out of the 441 people, the majority (195) comes from the US. The United Kingdom (52) and Germany (44) follow, with Canada (19) and Australia (17) being the only other two countries in double digits.
All in all, there is a decent variety to the participants, which mirrors statistics on the origin of Tumblr users that I have seen.
Along the gender and sexuality spectrum
The last time I did a survey (the Sherlock Fandom Survey for my essay on BBC’s Sherlock, transmedia storytelling, and TJLC), I offered a variety of boxes to tick for the questions gender and sexual orientation.
In retrospect I regret this choice, seeing as it takes away the option to completely self-identify. This is why I gave no pre-conceived labels or categories whatsoever during this run.
In terms of gender, the notion that fandom is predominantly female rings true. 366 of 441 respondents (83%) identify as female. 26 identify as genderqueer or genderfluid, 13 as male (including one trans male), 6 as nonbinary, 6 as agender, and 24 chose not to identify.
I also asked respondents for their sexual and romantic attraction, should they agree to specify. 43 refrained, yet only 76 of 441 identify as completely heterosexual (none of whom identify as male), which shows that the “straight female” fanfic reader is a lot less common than predominant stereotypes suggest. Four identified as “mostly straight” or “straight-ish”, including “Probably heterosexual. I mean, I’ve never been attracted to a woman, but that doesn’t mean that I never will be… So who knows? :)”.
Five more respondents pointed to a more questioning attitude, like “Bi, pan (I don’t really know)” or “fuck if I know? “not monosexual” is about all I have for sure”.
Short of listing every combination of orientations that was cited, I cannot comprehensively summarise the results. A large part of respondents identifies as bisexual, sometimes with a bi- or panromantic orientation. Pansexual, demisexual and homosexual are common as well (“greypanromantic demisexual, but you can put lesbian”). There is also a large subset of people on the asexuality spectrum, from grey-a demiromantic over asexual panromantic or asexual biromantic to aromantic asexual. Three participants highlight a polysexual/polyromantic aspect.
Two participants are quoi, which I had to look up since I had not encountered that term before conducting this survey. The aromantic wikia defines it as a romantic orientation on the aromantic spectrum. According to theasexualityblog, quoiromantic is also known as WTFromantic or Whatromantic and “describes people who cannot differentiate between platonic and romantic attraction, cannot define romantic attraction and therefore are not sure if they experience it, experience attraction somewhere between romantic and platonic, or want to be in a queerplatonic relationship”.
I was happy to see that people didn’t hold back, oversimplify or feel the need to fit into preconceived boxes. While this means that I do not have a nice, clean graphic for this question, it also proves that the majority of fanfic readers identifies as queer rather than as heterosexual women.
Fandom and fan activity
The survey focussed on fanfic, yet I also asked about other fan activities the respondents engage in.
More than half of the participants (56,9%) not only read fanfic, but also write it themselves. Thus they have multiple views on the topic of slash as will become evident in the second part of this analysis.
Regarding fandoms, I did provide a list of boxes to tick, yet this was mostly to check whether or not the statements provided in later replies would also pertain to the fandoms I cite as examples in my essays. So beware, the actual fandom experience of the respondents is a million times more diverse than this graphic.
Now that I have provided a brief overview of the demographics and characteristics of my sample group, let’s dive into the first key topic of my survey: slash.
- #2 – Discovering slash fanfiction
- #3 – Slash – the good, the bad, the subversive
NOTE: The dominance of BBC Sherlock fans is likely to be due to the way this survey was shared on Tumblr. Several of the larger blogs that reblogged my post are Sherlock-centric, which led to this evident bias.