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What Does It Mean to Say that Slash is (or isn't) Subversive? - Mo's Journal
January 22nd, 2007
05:12 pm

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What Does It Mean to Say that Slash is (or isn't) Subversive?

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From:thelastgoodname
Date:January 22nd, 2007 11:44 pm (UTC)

I've not read that particular post, but...

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One problem I have with this topic (well, one of the many problems) is how it quickly becomes entwined with the "is slash feminist" question. This might be because of the nature of most of the people having the conversation -- women who write about men having sex with each other, and particularly, women who keep quiet about the fact that they write about men having sex with each other -- and it might be because somehow when the topic comes up, the implication is that the act necessarily becomes a political one.

Slash might very well be a subversive act, or a feminist one, but I'm one of those people who think politics is intimately tied to intent: it's only subversive (or feminist, or political) if one intends it to be subversive (or feminist, or political).

In a lot of ways, I think people who write slash might be giving themselves a bit too much credit for work they haven't actually done yet.
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From:mofic
Date:January 23rd, 2007 01:10 am (UTC)

Re: I've not read that particular post, but...

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Well, that's interesting. I guess I would see slash as political in a feminist sense only to the extent that the personal is political. I do believe that, and I think if we can analyze housework and sex and child-rearing and marriage from a radical feminist perspective, we can certainly apply that kind of analysis to slash - or any other hobby. But I think you're saying something else - that women are viewing writing or reading slash as a political act. And you don't see it as political if it's hidden, is that right?

I think of my slash as political in the sense that it deals with political issues of import to me. I do see slash in general as subverting - or at least challenging - the notion of compulsory heterosexuality, but it does so in a very confined space. I do not necessarily expect that women who read or write slash will challenge that notion elsewhere in their lives.

Lots of women who write/read slash are mothers. How many of them talk about their infant sons as "lady killers" or their toddler daughters as having "boyfriends"? How many of them assume heterosexuality for their children? How many challenge that assumption when others say those kinds of things? I don't know that it's more than the general population.

But anyway, my main impetus in this poll was surprise at the idea that what "subversive slash" is subverting was authorial intent. I'd never heard the phrase used that way, or at least never understood it to be used that way. So I was seeing "subversive" as meaning about compulsory heterosexuality, or gender roles, or the classic romance paradigm, or assumptions about power dynamics in relationships. It's interesting to me that there's this whole other view of slash as being subversive only to the extent it is contrary to the author's view of the characters. In that case, canon that is accepting of slash can't be subverted.
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