You know, this is a very interesting topic and I was wondering if you ever read Kirby Crow's essay 'The Slash Not Written For A Gay Audience' which is one of the few I have seen addressing this question directly, here: http://www.gwaddiction.com/slashrant.shtml What do you think?
I hadn't seen it, but I've seen others like it. Thanks for posting. It's pretty clear and succinct in summarizing arguments.
Hmm, what do I think? Mostly that the kind of slash she's talking about isn't the kind I want to read or write. It's slash that is just the straight grrl's equivalent of pseudo-lesbian porn for straight men. I want to read something more in depth, more realistic, more true-to-life. Slash isn't a kink for me; it's not sexual objectification of men's bodies.
I totally understand that men watching "lesbian" sex where the women have long fingernails just don't care that a lot of lesbian sex acts are painful and/or uncomfortable with long fingernails. They don't care that lesbians pretty much always have short fingernails and when one starts growing her nails her friends wonder about whether she and her lover are in the midst of LBD. If all you want is to look at two women positioned in ways that make straight men hard, well, pseudo-lesbian porn is just the thing for you.
Similarly, if all you're interested in is seeing two men together (in your mind's eye) and it doesn't matter if they seem real or in character or if the sex is even anatomically possible, there's plenty of slash out there that gives that experience. There's plenty of slash that doesn't care about context, or anatomy, and where one of the men is basically a woman with guy parts. I think that kind of fiction is appealing to some women for a variety of reasons, but it's not appealing to me.
I personally want to read something different. I want, when I'm reading X-Men (or for that matter, writing it) for absolutely everything to be real and plausible except for the superpowers. Because then I can suspend disbelief for the superpowers, too. I want characters who sound like themselves. I want to believe that these guys truly are gay, or bi- or heteroflexible :-) and that Marvel and Fox just forgot to tell us that. I want them to be credibly the X-Men characters I know and love, and to live in the not-too-distant future, and
also to want m/m sex. And, for me, that requires (for most of them, not Wolverine) that they would know there's an HIV epidemic out there (because I don't think it's going away that quickly) and have some concerns about that.
That concern can play out in lots of different ways. Maybe that means practicing safer sex; maybe it means self-destructive barebacking because someone doesn't feel he's worthy of living; maybe it means becoming infected while in denial that one is gay or while forced into unprotected sex or during one lapse while drunk. Maybe it means taking some risks and worrying about infection but not becoming infected. I think it can show up lots of ways. But me, I want it real. Because I'm not in it for the hot male bodies.