Imagine being in a relationship in which you are treated like an equal, consciously and unconsciously, sexually, emotionally, socially, romantically, without being bound by gender expectations, without risk of pregnancy (or having your reproductive rights taken away from you), without feelings of inferiority, without being mistreated or neglected because men don’t understand your body and can’t be bothered to learn how to give you pleasure (or that you even deserve pleasure). Imagine having a reciprocating relationship with someone who knows how to touch you and how to talk to you, who will never abuse you or take away your consent. Imaging feeling powerful, safe, like the default rather than the specific or second-class. Imagine not requiring special handling by awkward, inconsiderate men who were never taught any better. Imagine being allowed to touch and enjoy and indulge without apprehension. Imagine being able to trust your partner. Imagine knowledge and understanding, someone who sees your depths and treats you the way you’d treat yourself if you hadn’t been told from birth that you weren’t worth it.
Girls aren’t “making them gay.”
Girls are fantasizing about being equal.
I have wondering about this in fandom for many years and reading this just made me tear up. I figured this was a big reason, but breaking it down to this extent made me so extremely sad. I realized a long time ago that even if I met the nicest guy in the world, I still have to battle all those things mentioned above. Just being friends is hard. I don’t have a happy history in this area like a lot of women and I have major trust issues with men and I wish somehow that wall could be broken down and we could all truly be seen as equal…as people with value. If you have all of the above with someone of the opposite sex then you are really lucky. See women are expected to give all those things listed above and settle for not getting them in return. I believe it’s a rare thing if you have it returned. Like I said, if I was with the nicest guy in the world I will always doubt myself, think he see’s me as different, talk to me different… Why? Because that’s our experience. This world raises us to believe we are worth absolutely nothing. The idea of being equal is one of our greatest fantasies.
It’s sad that it has to be a fantasy.
It’s totally sad.
But on the other hand, slash writers are some of the most empathetic people I know. And they’re great educators, too, probably in ways they might not expect. A good slash fanfiction writer can help women understand their desires and overcome some of those feelings of shame and worthlessness.
Think about how many girls have learned how to masturbate thanks to slash fanfiction.
Sometimes just knowing that we’re all reading and enjoying the stories is an immense comfort. People will tell you that slash is trash, that fangirls are desperate and pathetic, but ladies telling ladies that they’re allowed is a powerful thing.
Yeah, oh man. This is. Yeah, this is a lot. I especially feel the taboo surrounding female sexuality to the point that even though I’m Pretty Gay myself, I’m uncomfortable with my own sexuality (not as in orientation) and also dealing with the sexuality of other women. Like in some ways, I am always hesitant to appreciate sexiness in women because we are almost never shown female sexuality in a safe, respectful, and equal way and it still freaks me out.
I will never forget — and I wish so *badly* I still had a copy — the essay one of my exes wrote before she gafiated, in which she talked about how the act of writing slash and being part of the slash community in general had allowed her to “write herself back into her body”.
To, essentially, take off some of the blinders and filters western culture had put on her, all the things that had convinced her that, as an “overtall, fat, awkward, anxious, and altogether unattractive” person (she did have some anxiety issues, but none of the rest was true by any measure but all the lies we’ve ALL been told), she deserved neither happiness, nor romance, nor anything resembling sexual parity or satisfaction.
We met through fandom — she later told me she’d been quietly lurking on my mailing lists and around my websites for two years before she ever actually spoke to me — and we had four good years together before our relationship started to fall apart.
And, while not all of our happiness — together and separately — can be laid at the feet of the various slash goddesses, quite a lot of it can be.
Slash wrote *me* back into my body, too — several times, in several ways. Slash connected me to genders I never could’ve imagined, or could’ve imagined being *worth* connecting to in the days before I really understood the possibilities inherent to taking the media I had been given and *transforming* it.
We are *here*, and our pleasure is worth it — our pleasures, plural, are part and parcel of our identities.
And, you know, some of us, after we’ve been writing slash for a good, long while?
Find new ways to express those pleasures when women are there, new ways to understand those aspects of our sexualities — our *identities* — which include *hetero*sexuality.
It’s a journey. A process. A continuum. A spectrum. A *multiverse*.
And it’s all allowed.
Because we made it that way.
Because we *make* it that way.
Oh, hey, Te, is that this essay, by any chance? http://jessica-ruth.diaryland.com/020301_62.html
Because I have been hanging on to that link for eleven years and still find cause to share it with people on a pretty regular basis.
Holy god, rEAD THE LINK
THE LINK IS BROKEN. DOES ANYONE HAVE THE ESSAY??? @DSUDIS
AAAAAH! Thank you so much @dirtydirtychai !! It’s always a joy when someone’s writing about the psychology of fanfic gets back out into public circulation. We need these essays – they are part of our history and part of our validation.
Thank you 🙂
women deserve sexual pleasure. the fact that this is a controversial statement is at the heart of why slash is so popular with women AND why there’s no shortage of crusaders ready to explain (with horrible enthusiasm) that it ‘shouldn’t’ be.
So… why can women sexualize gay men to make them feel better, but when men sexualize gay women to make them feel better, it isn’t?
Hint: both are wrong.
first off, shipping fictional characters (90% of whom are canonically straight/assumed to be straight) is nowhere near on the same level as fetishizing the sexuality of real wlw (i realize the there are women who fetishize mlm but that’s not what’s being discussed here)
secondly, women feeling sexually empowered and men feeling sexually aroused are two wildly different kinds of “feeling good” and the misogyny inherent in comparing the two is frankly staggering
thirdly, straight cis men are in positions of sociopolitical power over gay women, but women and gnc people (because there are a hell of a lot of queer people in fandom) do not have equivalent sociopolitical status over gay cis men
also, what would you prefer? that women be only allowed to ship and write for pairings involving women? why? so that you can then complain about the lack of representation queer men have in fandom as a result of your own imposed censorship?
just admit that you’re only interested in controlling women’s sexuality and then fuck right off.
all this. yes. especially if you add asexuality into the mix – as someone who is asexual and who has been writing MASSIVELY smutty fanfic since age 16, smut fic is a way for me to feel comfortable in sexuality. equality, consent, and kink. i control the situation, i make it so the characters WANT each other, they FEEL that thing that i can’t feel, or haven’t yet, and it feels so damn good to be able to write a love story without all those terrible real-life insecurities such as, what happens if we get to the bedroom and i still don’t feel anything? what if i meet someone i AM attracted to, and they don’t feel the same? what if i want to explore kink without being the one receiving pleasure?
fan fiction gives me a great realm to explore and play with my own sexuality and my own pleasure. reading other people’s smutty words is one of the only things that gives me any hint of the real, physical sensation of “arousal,” so of course fanfic is ingrained into my identity. and i like it that way, because it means in the many years i’ve been writing smut, i can now identify myself as hella gay because of the deep appreciation i’ve always held for fictional M/M ships and that i want that same “fanfic magic” with a girl IRL…
so yeah. fanfic is important to ace authors too.
I’d argue it isn’t even wrong for straight men to fantasize about two women fucking. What’s wrong is if they treat women or specifically queer women or lesbians as only sex objects. This is obvious if you think about the ethics for two seconds.
Yeah I don’t care if straight men get off thinking about two women. I care about how they treat me in real life.