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Random thought of the day

Why is it so hard for women to write about sex?

There it is. We can finally all agree that women want to have sex. Variously portrayed in the past as tamers of men and tenders of children, we’re now deemed well endowed with horniness. But does that mean we experience desire in the same way that men do? My lust tells me we don’t. Mine, I confess, isn’t blind or monumental or animal. It comes with an endless internal monologue—or maybe dialogue, or maybe babel. My desire is always guessing, often second-guessing. Female lust is a powerful force, but it surges in the form of an interrogation, rather than a statement. Not I want this but Do I want this? What exactly do I want? How about now? And now?

The essay wanders all over the place between what the author is thinking as a memoirist and as a reader of other women's memoirs.

But, in short, it makes me think:

Is part of (some) women's attraction to reading/writing slash stemming from how, by doing so, we can deal with our desires in a way that is otherwise not permitted by mainstream society? Eg. writing male viewpoints, are we effectively masculinizing our feminine desires as a way to deal?

Comments

( 8 comments — Add your .02 )
sakuratea
Feb. 21st, 2014 11:31 pm (UTC)
I think that slash can be an imaginative space where a lot of gender problems aren't necessarily as problematic for the women who enjoy it. That was definitely one of the takes I've read on shonen ai in Japanese Women's comics. I think I might have seen an article about that in another fandom, too... I bet academic interest in slash has *way* blown up since I was last interested in this topic, though. Lemme know if you want to some old references and I'll see if I can dig em up.
(Deleted comment)
caitri
Feb. 22nd, 2014 06:49 am (UTC)
Erm, it comes up a LOT. Like, I'd say that about 80% of fic in any given fandom is slash. >_>

I read a volume on yaoi (Boys' love manga : essays on the sexual ambiguity and cross-cultural fandom of the genre, edited by Antonia Levi, Mark McHarry and Dru Pagliassotti)that had an essay that concluded that yaoi and western slash were quite different in audience. If I recall correctly, there was even an aspect of comparing the two is insulting to yaoi because of the societal differences/implications of the two genres.
(Deleted comment)
caitri
Feb. 22nd, 2014 06:46 am (UTC)
Sure, if you have easy access to some citations that'd be great!

A lot of the scholarship I've seen tends to focus on specific fandoms. There was a 1999 psychological survey that concluded that women who liked to read slash liked to read it because...they liked it. Joanna Russ also did a really great essay where she talks about the draw as the ability to have a romance between genuine equals--which she felt was impossible for women and men in the 80s.

I also think the demographics of slash are changing. For instance, a lot of the young women I talk to at cons and conferences reference having grown up with slash; it's just another fandom activity to them.
browngirl
Feb. 21st, 2014 11:45 pm (UTC)
s part of (some) women's attraction to reading/writing slash stemming from how, by doing so, we can deal with our desires in a way that is otherwise not permitted by mainstream society?

I've seen women say so, and say (relatedly) that by dealing only with male characters and not their personal experience of femaleness, writing slash was easier nd/or freeing. This isn't my experience, but it is many women's, from what I've seen in discussions etc.
caitri
Feb. 22nd, 2014 06:50 am (UTC)
Oooh. *chinhands* D'you happen to remember what boards and such these were on?
elanya
Feb. 22nd, 2014 03:42 pm (UTC)
I've always considered slash as being to some extent a "feminizing" of male desire, but I can see both things happening. Within the social context/construction of "female" and "male" desire, slash is a way of women projecting their desires onto men, I think for a variety of reasons, and definitely the exploration of their own sexuality is part of it.

I would say that, in general, slash frees men (at least fictional ones) of some of the constraints of social constructs of masculinity when it comes to romance, and gives (mostly) female authors the opportunity to explore sexual desire within the context of a supportive community. Not everyone writes it that way, and of course not everyone writes it for the same reasons.

But as much as fandon and fanworks, especially fanfic, is starting to become a part of the broader pop cultural consciousness, slash is still heavily stigmatized outside of fandom (and even by some segments within it) - where it is hardly a safe or accepted practice. I think the fact that it is messing with (again socially constructed) gender expectations from both the "male" and "female" sides (laying aside, for the moment, various queer sexualities >.>) is part of the reason for it.

Another interesting consideration as regards slash as a 'safe' expression of female desire is the relative unpopularity of f/f slash as opposed to m/m. I think there is a lot of complex things going with that as well, as regards how comfortable women are with female sexuality, how interested they are in reading about female sexual gratification versus male sexual gratification, who writes femslash, etc. I don't know of any articles or studies or even really any big conversations, I just have questions on that front :p
( 8 comments — Add your .02 )

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