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Some Further Thoughts on Realism in Slash - Some Further Thoughts on Realism in Slash - Mo's Journal Page 2 — LiveJournal
January 29th, 2007
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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.

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From:blueinkedpalm
Date:January 31st, 2007 12:32 pm (UTC)

Here from metafandom

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This was really good to read, thank you! I like the expansion on the concept that some people are into fantasy and others into realism.

I think the definition of quote-unquote quality writing has come to be accepted as including a certain amount of 'canon' and 'realism'. Stuff like she-spent-three-minutes-in-the-loo usually isn't relevant, but in a sex scene a condom might be if it's that sort of world with those sort of people--or it might not be, if the writer's skipping over bits and leaving enough there for the reader to assume whatever they choose to assume. Fantasies are enjoyable and fun, but I do appreciate being able to infer from the summary (which one usually can, anyway), and I don't like fics or pro novels that put a less realistic sex scene in the middle of a more realistic story. And sometimes, as in Phedre's case, there are means of including a less than realistic fantasy in a way that makes realistic sense.
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From:mofic
Date:January 31st, 2007 03:23 pm (UTC)

Re: Here from metafandom

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Thanks for dropping by. I like your icon - who are they?

I agree that realism doesn't necessarily mean a cinema verite approach of including anything and everything happening to the characters. The author has to pick and choose, but a certain level of real world detail adds to the texture of a sex scene - or any other kind of scene, for that matter.

Hey, there's a character in my fandom named Emma Frost. Any relation :-)?

[I don't have an Emma Frost icon, so I'm using a Mystique one]
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From:blueinkedpalm
Date:January 31st, 2007 03:51 pm (UTC)

Re: Here from metafandom

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a certain level of real world detail adds to the texture of a sex scene - or any other kind of scene, for that matter.

I feel that way too. I understand fantasies are fun and well-written, but there are so many possibilities in most fandoms to go "Ooh! Superheroes!" "Ooh! Thousands of years in the future!" "Ooh! Magic!" "Ooh! Alien sex pollen!" that it's often quite possible to keep some level of canon realism and the fantasy of choice.

I'm very fond of Emma, but the related character is from an obscure book series called Deathstalker; the icon characters are Poison Ivy and Supergirl. Lovely picture of Mystique!
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From:mofic
Date:January 31st, 2007 05:34 pm (UTC)

Re: Here from metafandom

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Lovely picture of Mystique!

eternalenigma made it. She consistently creates beautiful icons.
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From:carenejeans
Date:February 1st, 2007 12:14 am (UTC)
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(here from metafandom)

I agree with you, mostly, but… see, to me, the problem with this kind of argument is that it's a bit unfair to compare slash -- which is a form of porn/erotica -- to realistic fiction and even real life. When thinking about "realism," I don't compare slash to real gay lives or even to the standards of "serious" fiction like Rent. I hold it up to the standards of gay porn.

And gay porn is hardly realistic! The places where it veers off into fantasy may be different, but both gay porn and slash occupy a space in what Samuel Delany calls "Pornotopia" -- not a porn "utopia," but a place where sex is absolutely the most important thing; a place where sex bends all laws of realism, common sense, plot plausibility and even human physiology to its own ends.

Which is not to say that realism and plausibility don't have their place in porn, or that they don't figure into at least some of the people's enjoyment some of the time. And everybody has a place where their suspenders of disbelief just -- snap! But still, it's no more (or I guess, no less) reasonable to criticize (some) slash as unrealistic than it is to point to Tom of Finland and complain that men don't really look like that.

Well, I mean, yeah, you can point and laugh at both, but… I guess I'm not convinced that slash is a special case, and don't feel that it should be held up to more rigorous standards of realism in gay porn than gay porn is!

Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?, I too prefer slash to be on the more realistic side. Gay porn, too. 8-)
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From:mofic
Date:February 1st, 2007 01:15 am (UTC)
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Well, you and I have a definitional difference here. I don't think slash is gay porn, so I don't agree that it should go by standards of gay porn.

I think there is some slash that's porn (but I don't think I'd call it gay, necessarily) but the slash I'm interested in isn't porn at all, although it's often sexually explicit (but no more so than what I see on the shelves in my local library and bookstore).

If what you're looking for is porn, then clearly whatever turns you on is "right". But I'm looking for - both as a reader and a writer - high quality, character driven fanfiction. That's what I want whether it's slash or het or gen or defying of genre. If it's slash, then male characters who are presented as heterosexual in the source text or whose sexuality is not explored are presented as romantically and/or sexually involved in the fanfic. That doesn't make it porn anymore than having a heterosexual couple in a story makes that story porn. It makes it fiction that includes MSM.

That's the kind of slash I'm interested in. It might have explicit sex in it, but it's not porn because the sex is in there - just as it is in mainstream fiction or other forms of literature - because it has a function in the story. With porn, sex is the purpose of the story.

Now, if porn is what you want - go for it. As I said in the essay it's a great big slashy world out there and there's something for everyone. But I'm not the only one looking for realistic fiction with people that seem true to life whether they are having sex, fighting with their lovers, fighting with bad guys, or teaching English (my guy in the icon does all of those). So I don't want to be told that slash is unrealistic porn because that's what women want. I'm a woman and I don't want that. And that's why I wrote the essay...
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From:carmarthen
Date:February 7th, 2007 04:07 am (UTC)
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I like porn as much as the next gal, but I don't like the conventions of mainstream gay/het porn. It's why I read fanfiction. And the majority of the slash (and het/femslash) I read isn't explicit, so comparing it to the porn genre would just be silly.

Some slash follows the conventions of gay porn; fine, hold it to that standard. Some follows the conventions of realistic literature. Some is closer to heterosexual romance novels (or gay romance novels, the bastard younger cousin). In the end, we all pick which type(s) we like best.
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From:mofic
Date:February 7th, 2007 11:53 am (UTC)
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In the end, we all pick which type(s) we like best.

Yes, that was most of the point of my essay. That and my strong belief that my preferences for realistic character-driven slash don't make me less authentic a slash reader/writer or some sort of a gender traitor.

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From:alchemia
Date:February 1st, 2007 10:21 pm (UTC)
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Hi, I friended you because I wrote somethign tangenting off of what you wrote here, and I made a link/reference to you that is currently f-locked so you wont find it on metafandom etc; i figured its polite to let you see that, whether or not you find it of interest to read: http://alchemia.livejournal.com/285713.html
From:(Anonymous)
Date:February 26th, 2007 03:36 am (UTC)

Great!

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Hi there! Author, I agree...
And wonderful blog, interesting site name mofic.livejournal.com :), I see you you're are not newbe. Go on with the great job!
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From:mofic
Date:February 26th, 2007 11:40 am (UTC)

Re: Great!

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Glad you liked it. Drop in any time :-).

mofic.livejournal.com is just the automatic name given by livejournal. My username is mofic and that's because my fiction site at http://mo.fandomnation.com/fic/ is called mofic.

And no, I'm not a newbie, or not completely one, anyway. I haven't been on lj long - just a couple of years. I've been in fandom for a few years (since 2000) and online since dinosaurs roamed the earth...
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