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Observation; Comment?

Skimming some stuff related to writing my paper for PCA. Came across the following from a 1992 essay by Constance Penley, discussing TOS slash:

I already knew then... that this was an almost all-female fandom, and had also been able to get an idea of the extent of the production and the number of fans involved: there are probably not more than 500 active, core fans, although they publish a tremendous amount, which is disseminated beyond the core group through mail order and convention sales of th zines...

Compare this figure with something like, say jim_and_bones which publicly has over a thousand members, of which (according to the published mod polls) some hundred or so actively participate.

Just think that's interesting, is all.

Comments

( 14 comments — Add your .02 )
lindmere
Jan. 10th, 2011 09:40 pm (UTC)
That is very interesting, and attributable (I would speculate wildly) to the Internet and the much higher profile of fandom and fanfic.
caitri
Jan. 10th, 2011 09:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but I nonetheless think the TOS estimate is casting waaaaaaaay low. It makes me want to put together a quantitative study of zine publishers and authors. (Circ stats would be interesting but impossible to determine because of trade, photocopying, etc.)
ithiliana
Jan. 10th, 2011 09:52 pm (UTC)
I would say, be incredibly wary of citing anything like this without extreme qualifiers--Penley went to some cons, for a while.

But assuming that ONLY people who attend cons or who publish 'zines are active in fanac is a major problem--i.e. lots of fans doing active things did not attend the cons she attended.

There is NO reliable demographic work (then or now) on fandom numbers, activities, etc.

Are there more people writing slash now than then--probably, due to the internet.

But citing hard figures on this kind of guestimate is likely to get more snickers than not -- Penley also has this notorious footnote (to me! I wrote about it in paper, but am snowed in at home so would have to dig up later) about how ONLY Australian and UK fans wrote that nasty BDSM stuff, and they weren't true TREK fans, just nasty sadomasochists.

She interpreted what she saw in the light of her own lens (as we all do) (i.e. I don't believe hurt/comfort is the HEART of slash/fandom!)

But numbers? She is guessing.
caitri
Jan. 10th, 2011 10:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I don't think the TOS number she gives could be right at all, and it's virtually impossible to really come up with any numbers after the fact for reasons mentioned above to lindmere.

(Also, lol@the "true Trek fans" bit there. So much for IDIC, huh.)

Another interesting question, from a conversation I had with gadgetorious: how much has the import of Japanese yaoi changed slash fandom? We were discussing how tropes in stories have changed, and she being more familiar with the genre than I, noted that a lot of contemporary fan tropes originate from yaoi novels. Likewise in online fan art you see a lot of the very manga-style influences in images nowadays.

Mostly I'm just thinking "outloud" cos it is gray and quiet.
caitri
Jan. 10th, 2011 10:06 pm (UTC)
PS Have you heard from PCA yet?
ithiliana
Jan. 10th, 2011 10:20 pm (UTC)
Yep! It wasn't a formal letter of acceptance, but since I got emails about it, I gathered I was in--I've registered and reserved hotel room!

caitri
Jan. 10th, 2011 10:22 pm (UTC)
Awesome!!!

The geeking is gonna be So. Epic. *is all a-squee!*
morfin
Jan. 11th, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC)
What I'm curious about is the high incidence of slash writers being female. Seeing as how there's a large element of lesbian sex in male porn, I'm wondering what the precentage is of woman in general with an interest in male gay sex compared to the percentage of women fan writers who do slash. Does the fandom just reflect the sexual fantasies of women as a whole, or is it something more pronounced in female fandom?

Of course, women write much more fandom then men do, but I wonder if among the male fan writers there's any statistical significance of men writing fan lesbian stores. Just off the top of my head, I would assume if any existed, they would just read like Penthouse Forum letters with a loose application of the series setting.
caitri
Jan. 11th, 2011 04:48 pm (UTC)
Well here's some things I can offer up anecdotally on that:

1) The vast majority of fan writers are female, seemingly always. The few male fan writers seem to tend towards nonfiction pieces or action-adventure stories as well; this is observed from Trek fandom and from Darkover fandom. Also interestingly is that men seem more likely to format their stories as scripts/plays than as prose narratives.

2) F/F stories ie femmeslash tend to on average be a very small percentage of most fan stories, with the exception of very specific fandoms, e.g. Xena fandom where they obviously make up a large bulk of the stories. They also tend to be less pornographic than M/M stories for whatever reason--R than NC-17. Not sure why this is at all.
kelpietree
Jan. 14th, 2011 12:53 pm (UTC)
oops. just found the link:
Radio National (Australia) segment "The Book Show" - "Women Can't Write About Sex" broadcast 28 July 2009
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/bookshow/stories/2010/2787456.htm
caitri
Jan. 15th, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
Ooh, thank you, I'm going to go check that out!!!!
kelpietree
Jan. 14th, 2011 12:42 pm (UTC)
I'm not aware of exact figures. but i was listening to a radio interview with two publishers in the erotic novels (etc) industry. Apparently there is great debate over the "types" of fiction that males and females write including some very gendered assumptions eg: women write bad m/m fiction. Perhaps true?!!!! Defenitely slash fanfic leans toward trad romance tropes. Other opinions were that Men write better het fiction. However these publishers pointed out that on these gender divides many writers write under, not only pseudonyms, but also pseudonyms of the other sex. That there are a suprising number of men who write womens trad romance and quite a few popular women authors in homosexual erotica - only you wouldn't know it. Message was, that it was hard to clarify.
amarin_rose
Jan. 15th, 2011 07:20 am (UTC)
There's always more readers than writers. Also, back then there was no Internet - and everybody these days knows the Internet is For Porn. :P
caitri
Jan. 15th, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
This is true, but since at least ostensibly the communities were smaller they should have been easier to document!! *sigh*
( 14 comments — Add your .02 )

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