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Is M/M Slash Like Pseudo-Lesbian Porn Produced for Straight Men? - Mo's Journal
January 22nd, 2009
02:22 pm

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Is M/M Slash Like Pseudo-Lesbian Porn Produced for Straight Men?
When I first heard of slash (approximately 4 weeks before I started writing the stuff) it seemed very strange to me. The idea of stories about sexual and/or romantic connections between putatively heterosexual male characters from movies, comic books, tv shows, books was not something I'd ever contemplated before. "Who reads this?" I wondered and was surprised to find that mostly women do, mostly women living heterosexual lives, and that many find slash sexually arousing.

Now, straight men being interested in sex between women is nothing surprising or new and a large subset of commercial porn output consists of pseudo-lesbian scenes (complete with long nails and not-particularly-realistic sex acts) aimed at the heterosexual market. So, is slash just the female equivalent of that?

I don't think it is, although both have in common the idea that if you're into men or women, two might be twice as nice as one. But I don't think that's all there is to either phenomenon.

I'm very interested in the whole "Why Slash?" question. I've read lots of essays on the subject (and even written up my own reasons for liking it). I've also heard from lots of readers of my stories what they get out of them, and out of slash in general. Of course, everyone is different and what one woman gets out of reading/writing slash isn't what another will. Likely that is true of straight men and pseudo-lesbian porn as well. Still, with the trepidation that accompanies generalizations that one knows aren't true in all particulars, I offer the following general differences between male consumers of pseudo-lesbian porn and female consumers of slash:

- Men are truly consumers of the porn. It is produced by someone and generally purchased by someone else. Women in slash are often both consumers and producers. Of course many slash readers never write but the writers are often avid readers as well. And there's an interaction between writer and reader that I don't think occurs between consumers and producers of commercial porn.

- Not all slash is explicitly sexual. As far as I know, there is nothing for straight men that's comparable to romantic m/m slash focused on relationship building, with little or no actual sex.

- Women are more interested in text; men in pictures. At least that's the conclusion I draw from observing what medium is more prevalent in each.

- Women are more interested in there being some story or character. Even what's labeled PWP has more sense of character and plot than a lot of male oriented porn.

- Many women like m/m sex where one of the men is very feminized in behavior and personality and somewhat androgynous in appearance (not what I write and not what I like *at all* but it's very common) and pseudo-lesbian porn tends not to have butch-looking or acting women. Both women tend to be very classically feminine in their dress, makeup, nails (yikes) and demeanor.

- From all the slash discussions I've been involved in and/or read over the years it seems to me that women interact with the text somewhat differently from men. Women tend to insert themselves in the scene by imagining themselves as one or the other of the men (one reader said to me "I can be Logan fucking Scott or Scott being fucked by Logan and I can switch back and forth whenever I want to" - I think that's a common sentiment) or by imagining themselves as acknowledged observers (i.e. the men are letting the woman watch them). My impression is that men tend to insert themselves into the scene by imagining themselves joining the two women, or the women *stopping* and one of them having sex with the man.

- Women regularly report that their marital sex changes as a direct result of what they read in slash. I've heard from many who have expanded their sexual repertoire because sex acts they were not interested in are presented in a way they find erotic in a m/m context and they then want to do them. I've never heard of anything like this with straight men and find the idea of it unlikely. I do hear of men who want their wives/girlfriends to engage in sex with women for them to observe. Those seem to me effects on sex life of a different character.

- Men sometimes feel threatened by explicit heterosexual porn because of fear that they are reacting sexually to the *man* in the scene, so pseudo-lesbian porn isn't scary in the same way. Women don't seem to have that reaction to women having sex. Still, hang around slash circles and you are likely to hear from women who don't want to see women having sex (either in pictures or word pictures). Some report that they find the idea of women sexually aroused and engaged "disgusting" and "gross." I think both of these are minority reactions (i.e. I don't think most straight men are threatened by porn with men in it or that most straight female slashers find stories that include women gross) but I do think these are not uncommon reactions. I find both of them to be kind of dismaying, but in different ways. They suggest internalized homophobia in the men and internalized misogyny in the women who have them.


So, dear f-list, what do you think? Do you find my generalizations true generally :-)? Are they true for you as individuals? Are some of them so off-base that I should strike them? Can you think of others that should be added?

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From:undomielregina
Date:January 22nd, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
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It's an interesting question. I think your observations are correct -- at least regarding how a majority women and men consume erotica/pornographic material in our culture today. A question I ponder on occasion is how much these differences are biologically determined and how much they're a result of a fairly sexually repressive culture. I wonder if I'd feel more comfortable consuming something with less "redeeming" value derived from characters, plot and emotion without the cultural reinforcement that sex divorced from emotion is a bad thing for a woman to engage in. (I'm not sure that's a bad thing for the culture to reinforce, either, but I'm quite sure that the message given to men about how they should conceive of sex is not the same.)

I know that I do approach slash in most of the ways you've mentioned, but I'm reluctant to generalize from that. This year has been doing a really good job beating that tendency out of me :)

One last note -- I still do have those books for you, and plan to get them boxed up and shipped out. I got hung up with the holidays and I'm finally emerging and trying to get stuff dome.
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From:mofic
Date:January 22nd, 2009 08:39 pm (UTC)
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It's always well nigh impossible, I think, to determine what part of gendered behavior is genetic/hormonal and what part is socially induced. My general feeling is that there's so much social pressure to conform to gender roles that my role as a parent and as a feminist is to not contribute to that pressure. I don't know how well I succeed, though.

That's interesting about "sex divorced from emotion" as a concept. I think women are under pressure not to have sex divorced from a relationship, but I don't think that's exactly the same thing.

Oh, and thanks for the books, whenever you get around to them.
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From:fajrdrako
Date:January 22nd, 2009 08:57 pm (UTC)
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I do think women liking slash and men liking lesbian porn are similar aspects of sexual psychology. The differences reflect difference in sexuals reactions. More... form than substances. Yes, women like text, men like pictures. I think the familiarity of the personalities and their identities is important to women - which is why slash is about specific men visually familiar from television and movies. Male porn is less based on individuality; any sexual 'type' will do.

Since I am a bisexual female, and since I like femslash as well as m/m slash (though I prefer m/m slash) I can't really react to, or relate to, your comment about het women finding femslash yucky. Most of the women I know either love it, or are indifferent to it. I know Lesbian women who are unaroused by men in general, but who love slash and find it sexy. And I know a very, very high proportion of slash fans who are bi or gay. HIgh, that is, compared to the out population in general. This may be just because slash fandom tends to be gay-friendly (by definition!), and it's a safe environment to be uncloseted in.

Myself, I don't like feminized men in slash, unless the source material warrants it. But I think that's a matter of specific tastes and kinks, nothing to do with slash as a whole, which is big enough to include any number of extremes.

Porn written by/for/about Lesbians is traditionally very like porn about Lesbians written by/for men. I know lesbians who like m/m slash; I've yet to meet fully homosexual men who go for lesbian erotica or femslash. For what it's worth.

I also find that there are exceptions to every generality a person could possibly think of.

So I think some of your generalizations are true and some are not, because fandom is a very diverse group.


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From:mofic
Date:January 22nd, 2009 09:25 pm (UTC)
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Well, I did say they wouldn't be true for everybody. I don't think *any* of the things I'm saying apply to all slashers. Most don't apply to me and I'm a slasher :-).

Oh, and I guess I wasn't clear. I wasn't talking about femmeslash in particular but about *women*. I read lots of comments from women saying that they like slash because they don't want porn that has women in it. I don't think that's true for all slashers or even a majority of slashers, but I think it's something that comes up as a fairly frequent minority opinion - it particularly comes up when people are upset at slash writers having het couples in the story. And I think that's different from the reaction of some men, which I described.

Anyway, sorry I wasn't clear on intent here...

Oh, and you say "Porn written by/for/about Lesbians is traditionally very like porn about Lesbians written by/for men." but that very much has not been my experience at all. I do think that porn by and for lesbians - in general - is very different from what's produced for men.



Edited at 2009-01-22 09:27 pm (UTC)
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From:executrix
Date:January 22nd, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
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Seconding what fajrdrako said--there are a lot of people in fandom who are *some* kind of queer and/or genderqueer. Personally, I take the most interest in characters who I can believe are gay or bisexual (which is not to say that TPTB feel that way about them!)

One thing that I haven't seen written about the current race imbroglio is that there are a lot of different ways to react to difference. Sometimes people say "I really don't know anything about Group X, I'm going to read that fic/that novel and find something out!" or "I think Group X is way cool" or even "Man, I sure wish I belonged to Group X instead of the group I belong to".

Unfortunately, all too often the response is "We'll send missionaries to make Group X just like us because we rawk!" or "I don't know anything about Group X, which proves there's nothing worth knowing" or "Let's exterminate Group X."
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From:thinking_lotus
Date:January 22nd, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
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speaking as a non-slasher I'd say you're probably mostly correct in your generalizations, . I don't know why I don't like slash. I'm not repelled by it or anything, I just don't find it interesting. I don't even find the idea of it interesting. I've tried reading it too. I definitely prefer m/f and f/f if I'm going to read porn, and I'm not a big fic fan anyway, especially if it involves real people or at least fictional people portrayed by real people (as I believe you may know already? Have we had this discussion?)

I'm OK with drawings though. M/m, f/f, m/f, aliens, household appliances, pets, whatever.
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From:mofic
Date:January 23rd, 2009 02:43 am (UTC)
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No actually with all the things we've discussed I don't think we've ever discussed fanfic!

I found the whole idea of fanfic fascinating from when I first heard of it. It seems to me like the adult equivalent of the dominant form of play from my childhood and my children's childhood. I played Hopalong Cassidy and Lone Ranger and they played Star Wars and X-Men. I'm still playing X-Men...
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From:eveningblue
Date:January 23rd, 2009 02:04 am (UTC)
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You bring up a lot of interesting points, so I'm only going to respond to a few.

1- I prefer text to pictures when it comes to porn, but only because underlying picture porn is the knowledge that human beings had to pose or interact for it. That's sort of yucky to me. I want to read explicit porn safe in the knowledge that no one was exploited for it. That's why I prefer book-porn to movie-porn (I'm actually quite a visual person, though I am also very verbal).

2- I have to divide sexually explicit slash from the other kind. SE slash, like other kinds of porn, turns me on, so it's no big secret why I like it. But I also like het porn, and girl-on-girl porn, so.

3- However, non-porny slash, is different. That's more tricky. Why do I like it? I think the main reason I like it is the same reason why I find so few romance movies appealing--the relationship between the two partners is rarely even. I like the kind of slash stories in which an equal partnership is portrayed. (This means I do NOT like the ones in which one of the partners is feminized, or the ones in which one of the men sits around pining for the other, wondering "will he like me too?", etc.)

But I should say I enjoy romances of any kind, straight or gay, if the partners are equal. I just find them hard to find. I like slash stories because they scratch that itch for me.

I'd also like to add that since I joined LJ, I've found way more high-quality slash stories than het or femslash in the fandoms I've been in. Therefore, those are the ones I read. I would like to read more het involving strong man/woman relationships, but I can't seem to find them. When I do, the strong woman is suddenly acting OOC like a baby girl. It's disheartening.


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From:mofic
Date:January 23rd, 2009 02:54 am (UTC)
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Interesting thoughts. Some comments on your comments:

1 - how do you feel about drawn or painted porn, as opposed to photos/videos? I totally agree with you that there isn't the moral ambiguity with stories that there is with photos and videos, where there's concern about whether the models were coerced. OTOH, some people see moral peril in fanfic, seeing it as appropriation of the creative property of someone else. That doesn't bother me (as long as no one tries to pass off characters and ideas of others as their own). I'm also not bothered by RPF, which I know some find morally repugnant. I'm bored by it, but don't think it unethical.

2. A long time ago I wrote a paper on the psychology of humor (that makes me feel like Sherlock Holmes saying "I wrote a monograph on cigarette ashes" BID). I remember reading something in my research (don't remember who said it) that said that it's impossible to write in detail about pornography without the writing being sexually stimulating but detailed writing about humor is rarely funny. I think that's overstated (on the first part, anyway) but it is true that lots of sexually explicit material is sexually arousing. And sometimes gender of the characters doesn't matter so much, even to readers to whom it would matter a lot in real life.

3. I have a very non-romantic view (in general, with exceptions) of relationships and tend to like to read (and write) fiction where the relationships are friendship-based. I'm not sure if that's the same as equal, but I like for the partners to recognize and respect each other's strengths and autonomy.

In your non-numbered points, I do think quality just trumps everything. Even genres I'm not interested in can have a story or two that I find worth reading. And in the two fandoms I read first (X-Men and Star Wars) with a few exceptions I found that there was better slash than het and gen around. I think, to some extent, that may be fandom-specific, though. I think some fandoms lend themselves more to het stories and others more to slash.
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From:shadowscast
Date:January 23rd, 2009 02:33 am (UTC)
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When I first heard of slash (approximately 4 weeks before I started writing the stuff) it seemed very strange to me.

LOL!

Okay, as for your generalizations: they mostly seem to match what I've observed, though in a lot of these cases I'm going on very little info and/or vague impressions. For instance I have hardly any data on what men like about pseudo-lesbian porn!

As for me individually ... first of all, I have to confess that I'm still not even sure why slash appeals to me in the first place! It certainly does, there's no doubt about that—but why? Nine years in, I'm still not sure. Nor do I really understand why I'm mostly drawn to m/m slash rather than f/f slash. It's not for the sex (in all honesty I tend to skim over the sex scenes when I'm reading); it's not 'cause I just love reading about men (in non-fanfic literature I prefer reading books with strong female protagonists) ... seriously, I just don't know!
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From:mofic
Date:January 23rd, 2009 02:55 am (UTC)
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It's all a mystery, really. I think it's very interesting that you prefer strong female protagonists in non-fanfic. I think that some of the fandoms have more interesting male characters, which leads to slash, but that doesn't account for all...
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From:melannen
Date:January 23rd, 2009 04:18 am (UTC)
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Your sixth point - about how women imagine themselves as one of the men, or as a watcher/observers, whereas men tend to imagine themselves interrupting the scene - really resonates with me, and it's something I'd never quite picked up on before. (Perhaps because people often talk about women visualizing themselves as one of the men - which I don't do - and not about the other options.) That makes me realize why I'm often made uncomfortable by men's discussion to porn; the assumption that he will come in and it will be all about him must hit something in my "patriarchy is creepy" filter!
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From:mofic
Date:January 23rd, 2009 12:48 pm (UTC)
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LOL on the "patriarchy is creepy" filter. I know what you mean and I share that a bit, as a visceral reaction. OTOH, sexual fantasy is to some extent always all about the fantasizer. The classic Mary Sue, where all the men fall in love with and are wowed by the author's self-insertion, is just as "all about me" as the guy who comes upon the lesbians having sex and they suddenly want him - just in a different way. And my guess would be that a lot of women who know better than to write Mary Sues still imagine them.

Of course a difference is that in real life there are lots of heterosexual men who think that lesbian sex somehow doesn't count or that lesbians just haven't met the right man etc. so the fantasy has a real life patriarchal analog that isn't there for Mary Sues, which contributes to the creepiness factor.
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From:thefourthvine
Date:January 23rd, 2009 04:47 am (UTC)
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Women in slash are often both consumers and producers. Of course many slash readers never write but the writers are often avid readers as well. And there's an interaction between writer and reader that I don't think occurs between consumers and producers of commercial porn.

For me, this is one of the key differences: the homosocial community of fandom. We're doing this for each other. We know each other as people, or try to. I'm guessing the director of lesbian porn isn't quite such a person, or quite so involved in the process, in the mind of the guy watching it.

(Note: when I say "homosocial," I don't mean that there are no men in fandom, or even in slash fandom. There are. But the world of fandom is socially feminine in the same way that most parts of the real world are socially masculine, to the extent that most of the men I know in fandom - who are accepted parts of fandom and not interlopers - act like women in their fandom lives. And many of them can relate amusing stories of how this has bled over into their real lives.)

Many women like m/m sex where one of the men is very feminized in behavior and personality and somewhat androgynous in appearance (not what I write and not what I like *at all* but it's very common)

I tend to hear a lot about seme/uke stuff in animanga fandoms, but in media fandoms, not so much. Or, put it this way - everyone talks about the androgyny and feminizing as extreme, but at the most it ends up being pretty much the way I remember my sister's posters of Duran Duran (her obsession when I was very young): those guys still looked male, just prettier and cleaner (and with more makeup on) than the real men we knew. This, I think, is part of what Speranza called "Like men, only better."

But, in general, I don't see feminizing in fiction as much as I hear people talking about it. It's always something that used to happen, or that is rampant in some fandom over there. So I guess I'd like to see the actual (recent) fan fiction - outside of animanga, where the fans are taking their inspiration directly from a trope that is common within anime and manga - where this occurs.
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From:mofic
Date:January 23rd, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC)
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It's always something that used to happen, or that is rampant in some fandom over there. So I guess I'd like to see the actual (recent) fan fiction - outside of animanga, where the fans are taking their inspiration directly from a trope that is common within anime and manga - where this occurs.

Well, I write Scott/Logan movieverse. When I started doing this, I read *every* Scott/Logan story as each came out - fascinated by what's the same and what's different, what other people saw in the couple. And I swear, in most of them, Scott was very feminized. There was lots of kind of classically "girly" talk from him; he was often obsessed about whether or not to give Logan his "virginity". Stuff like that - he did not sound like a mutant superhero so much as a girl being asked to the prom.

That kind of depiction often came from very young writers whom I'm sure never intended that he sound like that or realized that he did. I remember saying that I wondered if *my* Scott sounded like a middle-aged lesbian mother and I didn't know it.

On the other point - I do think the social aspect of fandom is a really salient point. It's a big part of what makes it attractive to many of us, and I don't know that it's possible in a commercial enterprise.
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From:lilacsigil
Date:January 23rd, 2009 05:25 am (UTC)
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Women are more interested in there being some story or character

I think this is part of the difference - men observing f/f porn are often "part of the action" whereas m/m slash (whether porny or not) is about the characters in question. There is certainly a big genre of m/f with self-insert type original female characters, but if women can imagine themselves as one of the men in m/m fic as you write above (I don't, personally), why are there so few m/m fics with self-insert type original male characters? There are some, but very few. Is it because the female characters in the source text are more often unsatisfactory in some way than the male characters?

I have read male-written f/f fic, and while some of it is similar to female-written f/f fic, some of it is very off-putting and I suspect that it's written for a male gaze, not mine.

(I just re-read what I wrote in the first paragraph, and I don't mean to say that ofc writers hate canon female characters! I do mean that there is an awful lot more m/ofc than m/omc or f/ofc or f/omc written and I wonder why the canon men are so much more satisfying - it could just be a numbers game.)

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From:mofic
Date:January 23rd, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
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That's interesting about original characters. Most of my OCs - and all of my really fleshed out ones - are male,but I think you're right that female o/cs are more frequent. I do think that in certain fandoms there are more interesting male characters. It's generally true of comics fandoms and sci fi ones as well.

As to the inserting yourself as one of the men, the first time I heard of that it sounded very alien to me, but I've learned to do it and I do think it enhances the experience.

Edited at 2009-01-23 04:26 pm (UTC)
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From:barenakedrachel
Date:January 23rd, 2009 05:57 am (UTC)
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I have personally observed much of the same going on that you listed, although I have very little experience with reading any type of erotica and zero experience writing it... and I hardly ever view commercialized porn since I find it quite boring (yes, I need a story with much more than just the sex and am much more drawn to creating my own pictures from words than I am to just looking at provided pictures, much of which are laughably unrealistic, imo).

I've spent a lot of time in the past trying to "figure out" how to label and explain myself and my likes and tastes, only to pretty much just give that up and simply list/say what I like... That has helped immensely in realizing what I actually like - and one of my most recent realizations (I'd say within the past year) is that I LOVE M/M SLASH!!

For some reason I find it very arousing... but I don't care for the combination of a very "masculine" man with an "effeminate" man. I prefer to read about two men who perhaps both previously thought of themselves as hetero, or perhaps only one of them, it doesn't really matter. I can tell you that I know I don't like it for the "two men is better than one" aspect and I can tell you that I don't ever, ever imagine myself in either man's place. I just love to see two men together and I find that sex and intimacy between two men (at least in any of the films I have seen or in the slash I have read) is so strong, raw, and powerful... two men seem to connect very differently than a man and a woman.

I think some of what I get out of it is purely voyeuristic. I go about my life with a personal conviction that comes from I-have-no-idea-where that men are far more sensual and sensitive and loving than culturally portrayed and/or raised to be... so maybe to watch two men open up to each other is highly gratifying to me, personally.

As for the category of F/F slash, I enjoy it as well, but not as much as M/M ::shrugs:: I do fall into your category of wanting to read about or visualize two classically feminine women as opposed to one or both butch-looking or acting. I think my reason for that is simply that I'm not attracted to more "masculine-looking" women. I don't care for the high-maintenance look with the long nails and lots of makeup, but I definitely like somewhat feminine-looking women. Tom-boyishness is perfectly OK, though ;-)

I generally find the idea of any human being aroused by another human to be lovely.
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From:mofic
Date:January 23rd, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
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I think some of what I get out of it is purely voyeuristic. I go about my life with a personal conviction that comes from I-have-no-idea-where that men are far more sensual and sensitive and loving than culturally portrayed and/or raised to be... so maybe to watch two men open up to each other is highly gratifying to me, personally.


I think this is a very good point. And using it as a jumping off point - two men could be to some extent freed from the constraints of male/female roles when interacting with each other. Or, looking at it another way, maybe how men behave sexually with each other is more essentially male in some sense, because it's not dependent on a code of masculinity that presupposes the feminine "other." Maybe because they understand each other's bodies and sexuality better than m/f couples do (or at least think they do) they can experience sexuality more completely together (I explore this idea in fanfic a bit).
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From:barenakedrachel
Date:January 23rd, 2009 06:20 am (UTC)
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OK, one more thing...

If I'm going to read porn or watch erotica, not only do I *like* m/m, I am pretty sure I prefer it over m/f. I think my ranking would go like this: m/m, then f/f, and then, lastly, m/f. In fact, I'd rather not watch or read m/f at all, largely because I find it boring.

However, in reality, I love connecting with men and I love hetero sex so long as it's with someone I feel a major, huge, ginormous connection to.

I have yet to experience actual lesbian sex (involving any action from the waist down), so I can't report on that. But my suspicion regarding that is that I would get off wonderfully, but still want a relationship/partnership with a man. That is a large reason why not much has happened for me in that arena -- at the same time that I would want the sexual experience with another woman, I wouldn't want an actual girlfriend. This would be all fine and dandy (I'm sure I could find a fuck-buddy out there somewhere if I weren't picky) if it were not for my either culturally or biologically fueled repulsion to casual sex. Did that make any sense? I want the sex divorced from the relationship, yet I don't. Perhaps in another life I'll be less internally conflicted :)

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From:mofic
Date:January 23rd, 2009 12:23 pm (UTC)
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I think it's really common for people to find things erotic in fiction and fantasy that aren't what they want to do in real life.
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From:barenakedrachel
Date:January 25th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
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Have you read this article? Just came across it today... very interesting! Long, but I found it fascinating:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/magazine/25desire-t.html?em=&pagewanted=all
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From:mofic
Date:January 25th, 2009 01:32 pm (UTC)
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I haven't read it, but definitely saw it in the magazine and thought I will read it. Although my first reaction was, "They had to have a man write it?"
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From:hitchhiker
Date:January 25th, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC)
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I do hear of men who want their wives/girlfriends to engage in sex with women for them to observe.

that is consistent with men interacting with lesbian porn by way of inserting themselves into the scene as a third party.
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From:mofic
Date:January 25th, 2009 01:31 pm (UTC)
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Yk, that's true and I never thought about it like that. I guess my impression, though, is that men who ask their partners for this don't really want to just observe - that they see that as a less threatening request than saying "I want to have sex with you and another woman at the same time." But that conclusion is based on my sample of less than 100 cases, as they say in the medical literature :-).
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From:mahlia
Date:January 29th, 2009 01:15 pm (UTC)
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(I am behind in my reading!)
I can identify with a lot of what you said. My pet peeve in slash fandom is the tendency to feminize one of the men in the pairing. I managed to cause a huge debate/fight on a Luke/Han list because I dared to have Luke as a non-innocent and had him top Han. I especially hate the feminizing in Emergency! fandom. Johnny Gage is a trained Rescue Fireman/Paramedic who risks his life every day. He is not going to burst into tears at the sight of a needle and just basically cry all day long if someone looks sideways at him! I really like a pairing of equals. That is why I like your Scott/Logan stories. It is much more realistic with how the characters actually are in canon.

As for pictures, I must admit I like them too, but not as much as reading as I prefer to use my own imagination.

I have to admit that I do like to fit myself in as one of the characters in some of the stories. I find that to get into the fandom I usually have be attracted to at least one of the pair. I can't seem to get into a slash fandom where I am not attracted to a character even though I may adore the show. NCIS is a good example there as even though I can see the Gibbs/DiNozzo pairing I can't read it as Michael Weatherley and Mark Harmon do nothing for me.

I do use the straight men/two women thing to justify to males why I like m/m slash. When you put it in terms they understand, they accept your interest in it more.
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From:mofic
Date:January 29th, 2009 03:12 pm (UTC)
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On equality and feminizing - as I said in the post, I don't like unrealistically feminized men. It throws me out of the story. OTOH, I'm not sure what "equal" means in relationships. I think power dynamics in relationships are very interesting, and one of the more interesting things about same-sex relationships is that there is no socially imposed gender-related power scheme to fall back on, so the individuals have to figure it out for themselves.

I think power tends to be both complex and *dynamic* in relationships - it's not always clear who has power in what domain and it can shift over time. With my Scott/Logan, there's certainly an element of dom/sub to their relationship, but there are also areas where Scott very much has power over Logan. In addition, there are times when one of them has more power in the relationship than the other (e.g. in We're Not What You Think, when Logan has amnesia, Scott knowing more about Logan than Logan knows about himself gives him power, but he uses it pretty gently).

So I'm not sure I'm writing them as equals, exactly, but I'm certainly writing them both as powerful guys - both physically powerful and with forceful personalities, of two very different kinds. Another factor is that Scott has a position of power on the team - he is accustomed to people doing what he tells them to.

I feel like power dynamics in slash is something that hasn't been explored in meta enough...
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From:lydiabell
Date:January 29th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC)
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In the kind of m/m slash I like, it matters that it's these two particular men. There's something about them that makes the author put them together -- usually it's chemistry of some kind in canon, but even if the characters have never met, there's something about their personalities that makes the author think they would have chemistry.

That's not universal -- some slash isn't about the characters at all, but is just porn about the two hottest bodies on the screen. But lots of slash is about the particular characters, and comes out of an affinity that the author has for them. In pseudo-lesbian commercial porn for men, it's never about the female characters. They're always bodies.

(Reading up, I see that you did make this point briefly and I glossed over it. Oh well. :)

That's the main difference for me. I find a lot of your other generalizations to be true for me as well (though not the feminization one). I don't have any problem with reading het or f/f, but I have found that I have a barrier to writing explicit sex involving a woman -- it feels like TMI. It's hard for me to divorce myself and my sexual likes and dislikes from the character's self and preferences.

Edited at 2009-01-29 07:28 pm (UTC)
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From:mofic
Date:January 29th, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC)
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The thing about characters - yes, it was one of my bullet points, but it's worth talking about more. A subject of endless discussion in slash fandom is what makes two characters slashable. And it so often is about the characters. Not always, as is demonstrated by people who follow particular *actors* from one movie or show to another and by RPS, but often it really is about the characters and how they are presented in the source text much more than about the two hottest bodies on screen, as you say.

There's not really a sense of character in straight-oriented porn afaict. The idea of men discussing whether two women are slashable seems completely unlikely. I think that's related, though, to a preference for text over pictures. Or, more accurately, I think most men have a preference for visuals and most women have a preference for story and characters. Truly, if by some miracle :-) a slash writer could get the canonical actors to act out her stories and have them filmed slashfen would be in heaven! I don't think a preference for fanfic is because - for most women - the reader would rather read about these characters than see them but because it's the way she gets the stories she wants with the characters she loves.

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