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Sexism, Slash...and Man-Hugs

So, first, a couple of links: How to Do Masculinity is a great little article about how sexism (against women) makes men's lives miserable too. It has a bunch of little videos at the end, that are humourous, and my favourite among them is...

How to Give the Perfect Man Hug  - it's on youtube, but embedding is disabled, so you'll have to click the link and watch it on the youtube site. Please watch it! It's awesome! And it sort of makes my following point...

First, some background: I've discussed my feelings on love and slash before on this journal. Mainly that I didn't feel like the addition of sex enhanced a relationship, actually I felt it was the opposite.

So, at some point in December, I decided to watch the new Sherlock series that the BBC did. It is AWESOME...so, naturally I started to devour everything the fandom had to offer - especially Sherlock/John stories, because they are totally the OTP. Anyway, at first, I was totally on the slash bandwagon, and I hated John dating women, and I hated that the creators didn't have the balls to actually keep the characters completely sexually ambiguous.

I started to get annoyed that we live in a day and age where you still can't have a crime-fighting series with two male gay leads (well, unless you're Torchwood and one of your male leads is from the future and would shag anything that breathes).

So, eventually I moved from fanfiction into research and academic-type articles...as is my wont. I read this great article about whether or not the original Sherlock and Watson were gay, and what social perceptions of sexuality were in the 19th century...and it talked about the idea of a romantic friendship, which used to be socially acceptable in the early 1800s, but then wasn't anymore.

And this all lead me back to my original standpoint: Why do we have to have sex with the people we love? Is love without sex somehow lesser than love with sex? 

For instance, think of the idea of soul-mates. I know in Supernatural when it was implied in Heaven that Dean and Sam were soul-mates, there was a flurry of typing as all the Wincest shippers squeed. But, I hate to break it to you, there's no rule that you have to sleep with your soul-mate. If I were to believe in the concept of soul-mates, evidence would indicate that I've already found mine...and I've never slept with them and I never will (as I once told him: We both deserve better). 

Somehow in modern times, we've come to the conclusion that love with sexual attraction is better than love without sexual attraction...that basically, if you aren't having sex with a person, you aren't really in love with them. You just like them a hell of a lot or something.

Anyway, long story short, I'm no longer pissed off that the creators of Sherlock didn't make the two male leads gay or sexually ambiguous enough, I actually think that telling a love story between two heterosexual males is actually MORE subversive in our current culture.

Mark Gatiss, one of the writers, summed it up well when at a recent Q&A, he said: "This is a love story, not a sex story."

I think we all need to learn to separate the two, as well.

(that all being said, I'll probably continue to read Sherlock/John fics - 'cause a girl's got to get her kicks somewhere)

(Also, I just now realized that there's a good chance this is actually one of the themes of my novel - you know, the one I always talk about working on, but instead I keep writing Harry Potter/Supernatural crossovers).

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
yourkidney
Jan. 9th, 2011 01:30 am (UTC)
You're my spirit animal.

Everything you say is just HOW ARE YOU SPEAKING FOR ME?

You are now my Lorax :)

(Even though I also ship Wincest like burning, it was partly because it's hard to find emotional porn without the actual porn.)
hells_half_acre
Jan. 9th, 2011 01:45 am (UTC)
I'm glad you agree!

Perhaps we are soulmates! Let's commence to not have sex with each other ;)

...it was partly because it's hard to find emotional porn without the actual porn.

Yes, this is why even though I just said all that, I'm still going to ship Sherlock/John like burning ;)

yourkidney
Jan. 9th, 2011 01:57 am (UTC)
That sounds like the perfect conclusion to all of this! \o/
auriliawestlake
Jan. 9th, 2011 08:45 am (UTC)
A really fantastic look into the whole soulmates-without-shagging concept is portrayed quite nicely in Mercedes Lackey's Brightly Burning. It's part of her 'Heralds of Valdemar' series, but if you've not read much (or anything) set in that 'verse, the only bits you really need to know going in are as follows:

1. The setting is primarily medieval Europe in context, but with the odd bit of Renaissance thrown in for flavoring and a light dash of early-industrial.
2. The Heralds all have two things in common - they all have some sort of psychic gift and they all have a Companion.
3. Companions appear to be white horses with blue eyes and silver hooves, but have human intelligence and a dusting of magical ability themselves (I like to think of them as a powered-down, hornless version of a unicorn).
4. Heralds within the story have rather complicated job-descriptions, wherein they're one part diplomat, one part spy, two parts soldier, and two parts judge.
5. The concept of soulmates within the Valdemarian world is referred to as a 'lifebond'.

Specific to Brightly Burning, the main character (Lavan, male) is pyrokenetic (he can start fire with the power of thought alone) and though it's never explicitly stated, the observations of other characters within the context of the tale (and a baseline knowledge of Ms. Lackey's world) leads the reader to find that Lavan is lifebonded to his Companion.

Another exceptionally fantastic story about a nonsexual, same-sex pair of soulmates is the "Oath" series, also by Lackey (the books are The Oathbound, Oathbreakers, and Oathblood. The stories center on a sorceress and her BFF swordsworn (the mage is definitely straight and quite enjoys bedroom games, but is particularly picky about her men while the warrior is completely uninterested in sex at all, due to a touch of interference from a goddess).

Breaking away from book recommendations, however, I feel I ought to point out a theme I've noticed over the last six years or so of my immersion in various fandoms: Most sex-heavy slash is written by teenagers who still need a parent or guardian to be allowed into an R-rated movie. My theory about it is that they're so hopped-up on hormones and desperately curious about sex in general that all that pent-up frustration has to go somewhere. The result? Slashfic.

Please note I said most, not all explicit slash is written by teenybopper girls - some of my favorite slash stories out there were written either by men or women in their thirties.
hells_half_acre
Jan. 9th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
Well, the bad slash is written by teenagers anyways...the "emotional porn" that yourkidney is referring to in her comment above is usually what is written by 30 year-old women. I think you are correct and that we mature in our fanfiction preferences.

Thanks for the info on non-sexual soul-mate relationships! I've never read much fantasy, but it seems to be the genre for it because you soul-mates can actually be an acceptable and real thing.

My favorite soul-mate quote is actually from Eat Pray Love (which is a book that I didn't enjoy completely due to many reasons, some of which involve long words that I can't remember at the moment)...and the soul-mate being referred to WAS a lover, but an ex-lover...and I liked it because it's take was that you weren't supposed to end up with your soul-mate - your soul-mate was just supposed to come, reach into your chest and basically f*ck you up, and then leave you to reassemble yourself into a better person. Which sounds horrible, but again, I just liked the non-romantic take on it. Yes, she did sleep with the guy, but no, she was not going to live happily ever after with him...and that was how it should be.

But yes, I find you can usually tell which slash is written by teenagers because the sex is horribly unbelievable, and the writing is poor :P

That being said, when I was a teenager, I was a HUGE fan of slash (I didn't write any though)...and never read gen fic at all. Now I write gen and I think slash cheapens everything :P Haha, go figure.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )