ein_myria: (Default)
[personal profile] ein_myria
I know that there are others who object to the use of femslash (because it's derived from 'slash', and seems to imply that femslash works can't stand on their own worth).

The use of 'femslash' as a term is actually pretty recent for me; when I started reading fanfiction, I actually started out with "yuri" - which was japanese animation and manga aimed at a largely male audience. Then came "f/f" and "alt" works with the pinkrabbit and xena-dom. "Slash" started being used and "femmeslash" started being used in relation to that. "Femslash," which seemed to contest the "femme" bit, seemed to come into vogue after that, particularly because [livejournal.com profile] femslash_today used it. Other terms are also used, ladyslash, and so on...

Personally, I'm not such a strickler for definition. I consider genderswapped MTF to be femslash. I consider futanari to be femslash in some respects. It's really about "gender construction." I read het and slash (to some degree; mostly in manga) and am largely interested in femslash from the "unconventional relationship" perspective; and to me, it's not synonymous with "lesbian." Don't get me wrong, a lot of the euro-american lesbian cultural tropes do seem to have greatest penetration in this genre, but f/f isn't exclusively about that.

There are women who identify as straight who write really awesome femslash and similarly, "straight" women who read, enjoy femslash and the smut. Let's not forget about the men too--who do enjoy reading and writing the stories--and are often marginalized in this genre precisely because of their gender. "Bad fics" and "too much focus on the strap on" have people wondering whether the author is male, as if somehow gender is to blame for the lack of realism, or for the penis envy. (Is there such a thing as reverse mysogyny? If there is, this would be an example.)

There's certain implicit assumptions and cultural expectations about the way femslash is written. I once assumed and intimated (more than a decade ago now) that an infamous epic lesbian porn series on ASSTR was probably written by a man because the writing was incredibly rough, raunchy, and raw, "as if a man wrote it." I think I must have been slammed by I don't know how many flames (and one personally by the author), because no, the author was female, and that was simply how she wrote porn. It was thus that I was educated about how apparently the author's "gendered authenticity" matters; there's a pressure on several fronts: to not be seen "pandering" to the male gaze, and also to be "authentically" female-centric. I wonder if that's why f/f is seen to be so conservative?

Let's reverse it; with slash, it's largely women writing about the Other. Is there pressure, where you might be denigrated for being female because you write mediocre to bad slash? Is there pressure not to "pander" to the female audience? Slash and femslash in this respect seems worlds apart.

These days I just care about a good immersive narrative in femslash. In some ways, that's why I'm all up in arms about that lambda debacle; an awards for "self-identified lesbians"? *shakes head* Lesbians aren't the only ones writing "good" f/f fiction these days.

Adapated from a comment I posted on [personal profile] aron_kristina's journal, and from the things I've read in this post.

Date: 2011-04-29 04:15 am (UTC)
erinptah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] erinptah
there's a pressure on several fronts: to not be seen "pandering" to the male gaze, and also to be "authentically" female-centric. I wonder if that's why f/f is seen to be so conservative?

I think you've hit on something here.

Of the western terms, my favorite is definitely femslash; but if all of fandom spontaneously decided to start using yuri for everything, I wouldn't complain.

Date: 2011-04-29 01:42 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] mizuno_youko
Let's reverse it; with slash, it's largely women writing about the Other. Is there pressure, where you might be denigrated for being female because you write mediocre to bad slash? Is there pressure not to "pander" to the female audience?

Yes and yes, in some circles.
Also, slash and BL/yaoi are often ridiculed, mocked, and dismissed for the lack of "authentic" masculinity in the genre, and even among slash fans, works that are written by men or are perceived to be similar to what men would write are often elevated to a higher level among certain groups of fans (and from people outside the slash-loving community). People who read and/or write bad slashfic, especially stuff like mpreg and OOC stories, are Those Fangirls, and Serious Fans look down on them. Not just because their writing is bad or cliche, but because of the kinds of things they like. I see the same thing happening with bara and gei-comi fans looking down on BL/yaoi fans, even though there are some excellent and realistic BL works and some really terrible (and unrealistic) bara works.

I think the situations aren't that different, though the ratio of "writing about the Other" to "writing about people who share one's own sexuality" is different, meaning that the pressure for authenticity manifests in different ways.

I don't see misandry in the observation that bad f/f written by and/or for men can be bad in different ways from bad f/f written for women. To look at commercial examples, bad shoujo yuri is more apt to suffer from over-the-top melodrama, while bad shounen yuri is more apt to suffer from obnoxious fanservice, though they can share flaws like poor characterization, reliance on stereotypes, and cliche villains. I've only read a few yuri works that were specifically aimed at queer women (the ones from queer magazines like Anise and Phryne), so I don't really have enough material to contrast them with all of the works aimed at general audiences. There are a few out queer women who do yuri manga, but again, not enough to really make any observations about their work in general.
The excellent stories are excellent regardless of who created them (though the attention and praise they get may depend on who created them, for a whole variety of reasons from supposed authenticity to kyriarchy, as you touched on briefly), but the mediocre and bad stories often share traits with other mediocre/bad stories aimed at the same target audience.
I agree with you that it's unfair to assume someone's gender based on the flaws in their f/f writing, but I don't think it's completely out of the question to note that some of those flaws can relate to gender or sexuality--I just think people get carried away applying that sometimes. And some of the stuff aimed at the male gaze is so absolutely repugnant on a fundamental level that I can see why people are bending over backwards to go the other way, though--as you noted--that creates its own share of problems.

Date: 2011-04-30 03:21 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] mizuno_youko
Thanks! I look forward to reading your thoughts on my thoughts. :) Yuri manga is more my area of expertise than femslash fic, so I'm kind of bumbling around here.
Good luck with work!

Date: 2011-05-02 12:15 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] mizuno_youko
The misandry sentiment comes from what I've read on certain anonymous meta post threads about certain male authors who write femslash primarily, and I'm not sure whether it's representative of a larger communal sentiment. To be very honest, it makes me very uncomfortable engaging in a subculture that seems to be quite silent in response to such attitudes. I can see it snowballing into something big and uncontained. Then again, it could be trolls, and they're just trying to bait the young'uns, but at times, I'm just not sure. :|

Oh, I see. Yeah, I have trouble sometimes telling what's honest opinion and what's trolling. (Though even when it is trolling, it can be nice to see people reject it despite the Do Not Feed the Trolls thing.) I sure hope it's not representative of a larger communal sentiment. Hopefully it's just a few jerks who are trying to feel better about themselves by dumping on other people, or who are parodying people in order to set up a strawman.
I've seen a lot of disturbing attitudes in fandom in general. Often they are challenged, but not always, and sometimes the challengers seem to be in the minority. That's always disheartening.


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