Is Slash Fiction Really Sexual?
“It is unfortunate that the erotic nature of slash and some of the other texts discussed here, such as Keegan’s has meant they are classified primarily as erotica rather than science fiction despite the fact that for many of the authors it is intimacy rather than sexuality that is the centrally important element.” Elizabeth Woledge. p. 57
In Woledge’s reading she argues that it would be inadequate to claim that slash fiction, a subset of fan fiction is dedicated to eroticize homosexuality, rather it implies women audience’s need of intimacy, which traditional masculine male protagonists usually fail to meet. However, gender blended characters who share some degree of femininity, vulnerability, and emotion like their female counterparts but still possessing masculinity have successfully served women’s need of gentle love and intimacy. Aside from this, the quote suggests that due to this misconception on slash fiction, which is to regard it merely as sexual and erotic, as well as the homosexual trait that is embedded in the texts, slash fiction has been excluded from the mainstream science fiction categories.
In her article, Woledge uses Star Trek and its slash fictions, Killing Time to illustrate her claims, for example, Star Trek has a long history of including characters that represent both traditional masculinity and femininity, and such sign has been adopted and further exploited in many of the Star Trek slash fictions. Their feminine side is largely amplified and taken to convey the sense of intimacy to female audience. However, as it was discussed in the quote, that mainstream literature continues to isolate slash fiction from science fiction category, and its legitimacy is constantly being challenged. For instance, Kill Time is by all means not written in a sexual manner, however, when it was withdrawn due to mistakes made in editing, many assumed that the novel was taken down because it contained “homosexual contents”, and therefore, was inappropriate to publish.
The media example could be drawn on the slash-fiction themed comics that Marvel fans creates. The short comics A Tony Stark/ Bruce Banner Romance portrays the fictional romantic relationship between two Marvel super heroes known as Hulk and Iron man. In Marvel cinematic universe, both characters appear to be males who feature extremely strong masculinity and power, they save the world, fight for the girls they love and commonly reject the feminine traits, such as crying and being subordinated. However, in Tony and Banner's romance, despite their super hero nature, and the fans depict them in a way, which suggests their feminine identities, such as caring for each other, vulnerable and emotional. Beside, the environment where their romance takes place is switched from battle field to a more domestic setting, such as home or laboratory. Even though the slash fiction themed comics never publicly acknowledge their homosexual nature, according their intimate relationship, it is clear that the depiction of these two super heroes strongly indicates that their gender is blended. In the comics, they quarrel like what women would traditionally do, they huge and canoodle each other, and sometimes hold hands. Similar to Woledge's argument that male protagonists possessing female identity would generate intimacy to women audience, converting super heroes into gender blended characters allows female audience to embrace character's femininity and help themselves to meet the need of intimacy.