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.
Okay, look, I really don’t have a ton of problems with Once Upon A Time. Do I think the plot needs to get a hold of itself after the tangled mess that was the lead-up to the S2 finale? Yes. But in general, it’s a pretty great show and it’s leagues ahead of a lot of shows in that it has a variety of very different female characters with a variety of personality types, interests, and skills.
So what’s my beef? Well, here’s the thing. What legitimately always saves the day in Storybrooke? Say it with me: true love—especially true love’s kiss. Whether it’s platonic and familial or romantic, whether it’s Emma’s love for her son or Snow’s love for Charming, the power of true love truly seems to conquer all when it comes to our misplaced fairytale heroes. And that’s all well and good, but something’s missing. In a storyline that literally revolves around the power of true love, the portrayal of true love remains depressingly heterosexual.
The amount of male/male slash fiction floating around out in the aether of the internet grossly outnumbers the amount that features two ladies. We’ve grumped about this fact before, but recently, annoyed with this trend, people have decided to take action. This February has dubbed “Femslash February”, and writers and artists are using this month to focus their efforts on creating stories and artwork that focus on queer female relationships.
I knew that I wanted to write about femslash today, but I was having trouble finding any really great fics in my bookmarks. Part of the reason I think femslash is so rare comparatively is that it’s rare enough to see shows or movies that pass the Bechdel test, let alone have enough female-with-female interaction to base a pairing on. And although I love my Supernatural, my Marvel Cinematic Universe, my myriad action-packed anime, and even Les Mis and Tolkien, they’re all hella problematic when it comes to female representation and portrayal.
So I buckled down and subjected myself to the truly *ahem* laborious and unpleasant task of reading tons of femslash in order to bring you some Femslash February recommendations.
My current femslash OTP is Mulan and Aurora from Once Upon A Time. OUAT has a really diverse and interesting female cast, and so the show is a godsend to femslash shippers (and people who like cool pairing names—seriously, Swan Queen? Sleeping Warrior?) Both of these fanfics feature Mulan/Aurora as the main pairing; I couldn’t decide which one to rec, so instead of picking I’ve brought you one short and funny fic set in canon, and one long, dramatic, romantic AU. Continue reading →