Thoughtful Thursday: …but aren’t you a lesbian?
Posted by S.R.B.
Hello and welcome to another Thoughtful Thursday.
I love the way that sounds like I’m a host on an 70’s style talk show. Though, I guess because of the variety of the posts, it’s more like a variety show. (Insert Cher joke here).
If you read my review of X-Men first class, you will recall Fright Dyke telling me that two men can love each other very much and not have sex. And you may remember my response that “my way is more fun.” There are several reasons for why I’m so fascination (*cough*obsessed*cough*) with boylove, and I will discuss as many as I can while answering the basic question: “But…aren’t you a lesbian?”
The simple answer is that it’s not about gender or sexual preference. It’s about subverting expectations and defying ridiculous social taboos.
And Porn. But I’ll get into that.
So, last time, I talked about how Slash, Supernatural in particular, is filling a storytelling niche that is largely ignored by mainstream society. And my main argument is that, as seen in Supernatural fandom, these stories will be written despite stronger social taboos (such as incest). Some may argue that these stories exist because of the strong taboo. We’ll talk about that first.
Fanfic is a safe space, a place where writers can experiment with various situation and realities, particularly sexual acts and taboos. Catherine Tosenberger (CT), in the same article that I referenced before, talks about this, and if you want a more detailed argument, I’d go read her stuff. Well, I’d go read it anyway, it’s awesome work. Most of my argument comes from her as it’s been percolating in my brain for the past few months. So…in other words, very little of what I’m going to talk about comes from my own brain, and is, in fact, my thoughts on her work. Please don’t sue me. 🙂
But, I’m not going to talk about incest. I’ve done that. She’s done that. I’m going to talk in more general terms about the remaining sexual taboos, in particular, those related to homosexuality and how it relates to teen sexuality. Rather. I’m going to talk about what SHE says about teen sexuality and how it relates to my own personal case, or, how it relates to me and the fact that I’m a lesbian who likes to read about boys kissing.
CT frames fanfic as a place where teens can explore sexuality and sexual identity in ways that they might not be able to in real life, for various reasons. She makes the claim that most slash fic is written by straight girls as a way to explore the mysteries that are Man and Sex. It’s interesting to note that most quite a few sex scenes between men actually read as if it’s between a man and a woman. Not that the one’s cock mysteriously disappears, but that the “secret entrance” acts more like a vagina than an anus. Most noticeably though a startling lack of lube or preparation. It can be argued that this is part of the fantasy, but it makes more sense (to me) that this a symptom of what CT was discussing, that young girls are writing themselves into the “bottom” roles as a way to safely experiment sexually.
I am all for this. I think sex is a wonderful thing, and it should be experimented with. You’re never going to know what you like until you try it. But, I am also aware that sexual experimentation is not always a possibility. Or a safe possibility. Again, for a number of reasons ranging from unwanted pregnancy to disease to rape. Online erotica is as close as some can get to sleeping around and remain celibate. Case in point.
So, in general terms, online erotica serves as a place for young people (and older people, I’m not gonna discriminate) to safely experiment with sex and sexuality. Or, roleplay. Roleplay is fun, and may be more accurate for some of the older readers/writers. As much as fanfic is need fulfillment, it’s also fantasy fulfillment.
I can hear you now. “But there’s still always a man involved. I thought you were a lesbian.”
To quote Storm Lodge in her song 8 Miles Wide, “Even hardcore dykes like cock shaped sex toys.” Biology is biology people. Female genitalia is designed to receive pleasure from a male genitalia. That doesn’t mean that homosexuality is psychological or a “choice.” That means that years of evolution have clustered nerve endings in a way that favors fucking. Who one finds desirable is SEPARATE. Sexual acts have very little to do with sexuality. Otherwise anal sex would be only for gay men, and there would be no strap ons or dildos. These acts are not to “simulate heterosexual copulation” but are there to aid the human body in getting off. Period.
That doesn’t mean that I read fanfic simply for the porn as a sort of verbal dildo. As I said before, fanfic is, largely, gay romance. As in Romance. Covers of fanfic should all have half naked men with their hair blowing in the wind. Yes, sex is a part of it. But more so are the issues surrounding the sex.
I wanna cite this, by Resonant, because it’s highly relevant. It’s called How to Write a Sex Scene. In it, Res talks about what makes a good sex scene. And number 1 is “Make me yern” and that’s what I read fanfic for. It’s wish fulfillment. It is satisfying for me to see two men find love when all is against them. It’s part of the reason why I loves SGA so much; because they were fighting the Military Dress Code of Don’t Ask Dont Tell. Or Jeeves and Wooster, or Sherlock Holmes, where capture means death. It’s why I love HSAU (High School Alternate Universe) where coming out could mean social ruin. Or bullying. Or being disowned. The stakes are so high. They’re Lovers in a Dangerous Time. (The Barenaked Ladies also did a WONDERFUL cover, but I could only find live versions on youtube…) Because of the lingering ant-gay sentiment in this country (some would say rising) the stakes are even higher.
There’s also the fact that lesbianism is more acceptable. That’s why there’s the Ellen show and the L Word and the Real L Word and why you’re more likely to find lesbians as side characters (Willow and Tara on Buffy) than male characters (it was supposed to be Xander!). I’m not saying that they’re universally accepted, just a bit less controversial. I’ve already talked about this. All hail the Bromance!
EDIT: I’ve just been informed by Fright Dyke that the above passage is based on incomplete data/mistaken assumptions. To clarify: the idea of lesbianism is more acceptable in the way it is portrayed by the media, but the media doesn’t actually portray real lesbians. (“Dean, we’ve been over this. Porn. Reality.”) I’m gonna go into this more next week, when I talk about femsalsh
But, mostly, it’s because there is a lack of interesting female characters in the media. Or, at least, a lack of interesting female characters that will lend themselves to femslash. Most women on TV are supporting roles, there to motivate the male characters. And the ones that aren’t are more interesting straight. Or are already gay, and therefore the stories don’t need to be written. There are a few exceptions (GELPHIE! Glinda/Elphaba) but I’ll talk about those in yet another post. Probably next week.
So, world, if you want this lesbian to read more girl on girl action, give me more interesting female characters to write about. But you’re not going to stop me reading my boylove, not as long as it’s lacking from the mainstream.