Sexualized Saturdays: Playboys and Fluid Sexuality in Fanfiction

Bond-Silva-InterrogationToday I’d like to address a trope that has begun to bug me more and more recently. For me, it all started with Skyfall. Surprisingly engaged by the movie, and finding it surprisingly full of slash-bait, I drove home from the theater discussing the shipping possibilities with my friend and good-naturedly arguing over what exactly Bond meant when he said “What makes you think this is my first time?”

My friend pointed out, “Well, he is the quintessential playboy,” arguing that someone as addicted to the sensual pleasures as James Bond wouldn’t necessarily limit himself to experiencing those pleasures with just one gender.

I’ve also seen this a lot in Avengers slash fanfiction, especially about Tony Stark. It’s supposed to be unsurprising in these fics that he is bi, because hey, he sure does love having sex with women! Doesn’t it follow that he would love having sex with guys too?

Um, no. Not necessarily.

avengers-2Although I totally support queering straight-presented characters for the purpose of fanfic, this is a really problematic way to do that for a couple of reasons.

First of all, it erases the idea of individual sexuality by saying some people are just ‘sexual’. On some level, it’s the sexual equivalent of saying “I don’t see race“. As long as they are getting off, they don’t care who it’s with. Rather than saying “Yes, James Bond is pansexual and therefore attracted to all genders,” it says “he is so hedonistic that gender doesn’t matter,” which is a really shitty way to avoid giving your character a sexual identity.

On another level, it helps perpetuate stereotypes about polysexual sexualities, specifically that people who are attracted to more than one gender also have proportionally larger amounts of sex. No one ever says “Ah, Steve Rogers had a innocent crush on Peggy Carter! It follows logically that he must also have innocent crushes on men!” It’s all about how sexually active a character is. This is a long-standing stereotype and one of many that non-monosexual folks face.

It’s frustrating to see these stereotypes used in fanfiction that’s supposed to be transformative. Fanfiction is one of the few places that queer folk are regularly the three-dimensional heroes of their stories, and so it’s especially depressing when it drops the ball.

1 thought on “Sexualized Saturdays: Playboys and Fluid Sexuality in Fanfiction

  1. Your friends interpretation is one of many. One that you are free to disagree with, of course. But I feel like he misinterpreted the writers’ motives here.

    I think the writers gave Bond that line because they wanted to show his experience as a spy. Bond is worldly. Cool-headed. He’s also very attractive and most likely he’s been approached by men before. Besides, he wouldn’t let anybody’s sexual advances rattle him, regardless of how he felt about actually sleeping with that person. Bond was on a mission. 007 purred those words to throw Silva off his guard, get inside his captor’s head.

    I think it’s great that writers are leaving more room for flexibility in characters’ sexuality. Instead of saying “oh that could never happen” they’re now leaving the question open. From their point of view it makes sense. Filmmakers want everyone to be attracted to the hero, men and women. The more people that are into James Bond (sexually or otherwise) the more will go see Bond movies. It’s also a sign of the times. It’s becoming easier for men to talk about homosexuality. They start off by joking about it. Then, as everyone gets more comfortable, the more serious talk stars.

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