Recently, I have been reading a lot more femslash than I used to in my quest to read better fanfiction. And as a queer woman, you would think that I’d ship more femslash pairings. You’d think that when two female characters spent any significant amount of screen time together, my brain would immediately go to all kinds of happy slashy places.
Regrettably, though, that is not what happens. Well, not all the time. I started noticing that Iwas more drawn to certain female ships than others. In an article discussing the AO3 census, Luce mentioned that most male/male slash fanfiction pairings are usually either friends or rivals. I tend to gravitate toward femslash pairings where the two characters are rivals like Swan Queen (Emma Swan/Regina Mills from Once Upon a Time) but when two female characters are canonically good friends, I simply can’t ship them. It’s so rare to see good female friendships—or female relationships of any kind—that I feel the need to protect those relationships.
Not long ago, Luce also discussed some theories as to why there aren’t as many femslash pairings as there are male/male slash pairings.And I started wondering if maybe not being able to ship female friends contributes to the lack of femslash in fandom.
“I can’t believe this is the direction they are taking this show. Seriously, I’ve read fanfiction better than this.”
“This pairing in the show makes no sense. I mean in fanfiction authors would write novel-length fic developing their characters’ relationships, but the actual show just randomly hooks them with no development. It makes no sense.”
“Wow, this fanfic is amazing. The studio should hire this author to write for the actual show. It would be ten times better then.”
Chances are you’ve heard people say things like this, or maybe you’ve even said them yourself. I know I have.
Let me start this post by saying that I LOVE fanfiction. Yes, the caps are necessary, because that’s how much I love fanfiction. I can safely say that most of my free time I’m either on Tumblr or reading some sort of fanfiction.
But recently I have been very frustrated with fanfic. After writing about both the lack of lesbian couples in pop culture and about queering straight characters in fanfiction I’ve started to realize something. Fanfiction, which has so often been hailed as a way that authors and readers could write/read about characters of varied genders, races, sexualities, and physical and mental abilities, is not actually an epitome of acceptance and diversity. In fact, in many ways fanfiction has the same sexist, racist, and homophobic issues that the mainstream media has.
I have noticed an upsetting trend recently. No one seems to care about queer ladies being represented in the media. Seems that any time a show announces that they will be including gay characters, or any time someone critiques a show for not having gay characters, more often than not those characters tend to be male. Gay men, despite also not having much representation on television, seem to at least currently hold the market on representation. Why is that? According to GlAAD’s most recent Where Are We On TV Report, there are fifty LGBTQ+ characters on broadcast TV. 61% of those characters are gay men, while only 20% are lesbians, though there are more bisexual women (14%) than bisexual men (4%) on broadcast TV. And of course only one of those characters is a transgender woman. Thank you, Elementary!
I think the lack of queer female characters largely has to do with with how society has sexualized queer women. When I was younger, I remember hearing that queer men are less accepted in society because straight men are uncomfortable with queer men, but queer women are more accepted because straight men find them attractive. Yep, that’s right, there is this misconception that because queer women have been heterosexualized and fetishized, they are somehow more empowered than queer men. If that’s empowerment, then sorry, I don’t want it.
So you know the stats, but how many queer female characters are there in our geek wheelhouse? This is including both cable and broadcast TV shows.
Okay, fandom, I tried to find a fanfic for this Friday to recommend, but I like to give a variety of different fanfics when I post. This means I try to recommend various fandoms and pairings, or no pairings. I have tried to suggest fanfics that are slash fics, het fics, and gen fics, and this week all I wanted to do was introduce you, dear reader, to an awesome femslash fanfic. Finding good femslash fics, or any at all for that matter, is as hard as trying to find diamonds in Minecraft.
Fanfiction! The world of fanfiction is a pretty strange and varied place. I can’t think of any other place on the internet where I can find stories about sweet fluffy domestic schmoop and the very next story I scroll to will be about hardcore porn complete with bloodletting and bondage. Hey, whatever floats your boat; I’m not trying to judge here.
The only judgment I am making is whether or not a fic is good. What makes a fic good? Well, your qualifications may differ from mine, but here are what I would consider a couple standards for what makes a fic good.