January 29th, 2007

Scott and Logan

Some Further Thoughts on Realism in Slash

Some of the discussions I’ve been in lately – on this journal and elsewhere – have touched in various ways on realism in slash fanfic. There’s a tension, it seems, between those in slash fandoms who want the men in the stories to sound like men in real life, and those who prefer slash stories that are less realistic. Those of us in the realism camp sometimes complain about slash that we feel feminizes one of the men in the story, or represents male/male sex as if it were just male/female sex only with two male bodies, or seems to value “romance” over credibility. A good example of an essay that cogently explains some of these concerns is at http://xtricks.livejournal.com/58571.html.

Those in the non-realistic slash camp typically respond that they aren’t interested in realism, that they write and read slash that doesn’t sound like genuine men having real life sex because they are writing sexual fantasies, and their preferred fantasy is one that objectifies men’s bodies while imposing a female construct on the sex. A well-written example of that argument is Kirby Crow’s The Slash Not Written for a Gay Audience. As she says, “In Slash fiction, female writers are generally not writing about gay men, even if they're writing about two men in bed together. They are appropriating men's bodies to explore an idealized sexual fantasy that bears little - if any - resemblance to reality or "real" gay relationships. Hence the term fiction.”
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I understand these elements appeal to lots of people, and I don’t in any way want to deny them their fantasies. I don’t want to deny straight men their pseudo-lesbian porn, either. But for me, when I’m writing or reading slash, I want it as real as it can be, because I'm not in it for the hot male bodies. If that’s all you're in this for, then chances are we just aren’t going to like the same stories. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for sex that sounds both hot and real and characters whose lives have the texture of human experience even if they inhabit a fantasy world, then you and I may well share some slashy squees.