If my anthropology minor has taught me anything, it is that “every view is a view from somewhere and ever act of speaking, a speaking from somewhere” (Lila Abu-Lughod). So the analysis of my slash survey I am currently undertaking is inherently biased, not only by the way the survey was disseminated, but also in the way I select examples and summarise responses.
Thus I will provide my own responses to the survey questions here, in order to clarify my background and positionality.
- Name/pseudonym: Jay
- Preferred pronouns: she/her
- Sexual/romantic orientation: grey-a, probably demiromantic
- Age: 18-25
- Country: Germany
How did you discover slash?
One of my older sisters was reading fanfiction when I became a fan of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. She printed me some Legolas-centric crack fic as well as some HP stories. While the first of these was Gen, with very light Draco/Hermione, the other was “Checkmate”, a slow build Drarry story, which I loved. Somehow, I never stopped reading slash after that 😉
Why do you read slash? What do you like about slash?
Many, many reasons: fanfic in general provides more material on characters I love; there are a lot of immensely talented writers out there and I get to enjoy their work for free without having to buy an actual hard copy. In conventional narratives, especially in films, romance fails to move me whereas in slash I am deeply affected at times. I love how the tagging system on AO3 enables me to browse fics as the mood strikes me and that there is a never-ending supply of works.
Furthermore, I value how fanfic has the ability to “fix” canon. For instance, when a movie ending leaves me unsatisfied, I turn to fandom and will receive the kind of ending I wish had happened. If not, I might even write it myself.
On a more serious note, I love the grassroot aspect of fandom. The way fans take media texts and make it their own, thus negating the power of corporation and networks over the narratives of our time.
Is there anything about slash/slash conventions that you dislike?
Personal squicks aside (OOCness, 1st person pov, grammar and spelling mistakes, overly verbose prose, too little plot, explicit depiction of mpreg, anything to do with soulmate or soulmate identifying marks), here are some aspects I dislike about slash:
- the insistence that one character be the top and one the bottom since it confines two males (in the case of slash) into sterotypical gender roles of “male” and “female” parts in sexual acts, and usually extends to turning the “bottom” into a “weaker” version of hid character
- the tendency to demonise female characters or eclipse them altogether
- the heteronormativity that still colours many romance narratives
- the lack of research some authors put into stuff – from petty things like using British English when you’re writing bloody British characters, to larger issues like how public institutions work, sexual mechanics, circumcision practices outside of America, etc.
- ship wars (not slash-specific)
- kink shaming (not slash-specific)
Surely there is more. I might add things if I remember.
Slashing characters that are straight in canon – do you see this as a form of critique of the source text?
Since this is the main issue of one of my essays, I shall refrain from answering in depth.
In short, my opinion is YES. The act of reclaiming media text and transforming it in itself constitutes a subversive act for me, plus taking subtextual tension/chemistry already present in the source material (whether unintentionally included or the product of queerbaiting or just coincidence) and turning it into slash is an overt act of defying the authority of the author of the source text.
Queering narratives because the creators did not seem fit to do it themselves points to a larger issue of representation which not only affects LGBTQIA+ folks but also every other marginalised group in society.
For a more eloquent rendition of this, please wait for my essay 😉