|Repost on straight boys, fanfic, and moral ambiguity
||[28 Apr 2003|02:17am]
To start things off, we have this semi-rant. I originally posted on my journal here and on the sxandviolence community here.
This version is slightly edited to make note of the added information I've gotten since then, and for clarity.
A few days ago, a 30-something male introduced himself on BetterBuffyFics. The relationships he looks for in fanfic are Buffy/Faith/Xander, Faith/Xander, Dawn/Xander, and Willow/Tara. He doesn't like Buffy/Spike, and he didn't have anything to say about slash.
Now, I don't know this guy, obviously, and I'm about to make a lot of generalizations about "people like him." He might not be like that at all, so please read any comments as not about *him*, but about an abstract kind of fan which he seems to resemble.
My immediate reaction to his list of 'ships preferred was EWWWW. Now, I find the first three pretty unlikely except in a drastic AU, or possibly as darkfic, but that's not really my problem with them. My issue is that he's a guy, presumably a straight guy. He wants to have sex with Faith, with Faith and Buffy together, or with Dawn (ew ew ew), and he's using Xander, the Everyman of the Buffyverse, as his harmless stand-in. This is only compounded by the Willow/Tara thing, which in this context I have to read as the typical straight man lust for lesbian sex.
So as a mostly-dyke and a feminist, I'm squicked by this guy who doesn't seem to care about good characterization or the ickiness of Xander/Dawn sex. I'm squicked *as much* by the Xander/Faith or Xander/Dawn thing as I am by the Willow/Tara thing. The real squick, I think, is these four 'ships in combination.
But is it fair of me to be squicked by him?
I mean, I read male/male slash. I'll read underage slash, I'll read Xander/Giles, which is really as squicky as Xander/Dawn, from an objective viewpoint (although X/G isn't a preference, I am sometimes in the mood for it). I read Harry/Snape in the Potterverse, which has all kinds of issues with it. I've even read Sirius Black/Harry slash, although in that case, the author was playing up the wrongness of the relationship, and I'd call it a borderline darkfic.
Yeah, I prefer my pairings to be in character. But I am *turned on* by slash. And I guess I must be, to some extent, inhabiting the characters' heads, fucking vicariously through them, just as Mr. Thirtysomething is doing with Xander. Now, I'm inhabiting both characters' heads (sometimes simultaneously, which is odd, I guess, and sometimes I go back and forth depending on pov), but I don't think that changes the issue here.
So. Am I a hypocrite to be grossed out by this guy? What's the difference between a straight guy being into F/F and a straight chick being into M/M? What difference does bisexuality and/or lesbianism make? (And has anyone ever heard of a gay man liking femslash?)
One question that I think would help me answer the general hypocrite question is: Does it bug gay men that straight women are into M/M slash? Because I know it bothers the lesbian community (or at least it bothers most of my lesbian friends) that straight men are into lesbian porn/erotica/whatever.
I asked some gay friends of mine if it bothered him (first explaining what slash is.) The first guy looked at me with bewildered amusement and said simply, "No." The second guy, more academically inclined, said that it didn't bother him because it's different from the straight-man-lesbian-porn thing because of the different conditions of oppression and the lack of objectification. The third guy (my find of the week) is actually a Buffy fan and was extremely intrigued by the whole concept. I may have brought him into fandom. :)
So, from this extremely informal survey, it seems like gay guys aren't bothered by m/m slash written by chicks. Does that make a difference?