Way back in the day (okay, so it was when I was in high school) I decided to pick up statistics for my math class. While it was challenging, I completely fell in love with the idea of being able to discern trends in data and extrapolating them for a larger purpose. Though since my times at college I’ve fallen out of love with the study itself, my love for percentages and trends lives on almost as strongly as my love for astrology—if you follow my Tumblr, you know that’s a lot. What better way to re-experience this love than through other people’s original characters (OCs)?
I don’t know about other people, but I know that over the years my fan characters have managed to build a life of their own and turn into their own, multi-universe original characters. And, as I said, while I can’t be completely certain of the fate of other fan characters, I have a feeling that this is the case for lots of people. As such, the statistics gathered at OC Survey appeal to me in mathematical terms as well seeing what trends are rising in character building.
A casual search on the popular fanfiction site Archive Of Our Own will reveal a trend that—while unsurprising to the fandom community—would be somewhat baffling to the casual observer. A search of standardized tags on AO3 indicated that nearly 63% of all the romantic and/or sexual fanfiction published there is classified as male/male (i.e. “slash”), compared to about 30% in the female/male category and a scant 6.6% in the female/female (“femslash”) category. Based on a survey of fanfiction.net, another popular fanfiction website, FFN Research estimates that 78% of fanfiction writers identify as female. Myriad explanations try to account for this: the most popular is that girls just like to fetishize gay men, but some contend that it’s partly an empathetic reaction to media dominated by male characters; others speculate that it is a way for women to write romance while removing objectification from themselves. As other LGG&F writers have speculated, the real explanation is probably a combination of these motives, as well as innumerable others.
As a genderqueer person I’m fairly certain that my own experience with slash fanfiction differs somewhat from the norm. Only recently have I begun reflecting on how formative both writing and reading fanfiction was at a time in my life when I felt isolated and frustrated by my own seemingly incongruous feelings. Knowing now that there are a surprising number of people for whom the gender binary doesn’t hold true, I like to think that for some small portion of the fan community fanfiction has been an important tool for self-discovery, as it was for me.
“Maniac” is such a strong word, I prefer “enthusiast”. (x)