The Slash Debate

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Introduction

The Slash Debate was a kerfluffle which took place in 2010. In some ways it was a follow-up to LambdaFail and in general the issue of women writing m/m fiction. Some gay men argued that this is exploitative and that (typically or at least assumed to be) straight women could not write realistic m/m fiction or should do more research in order to write such relationships accurately. On the other side of the argument were women who wrote and read m/m fiction who felt it was inappropriate for men (gay or straight) to exercise privilege over what they should be able to enjoy in fiction. Slash was discussed as being a separate entity to m/m fiction written for and by gay men. Also, the issue of gay and bisexual women who enjoy m/m fiction and slash was brought up as a group feeling marginalized sometimes by both sides of the debate.

History

The Slash Debate officially kicked off on December 17, 2009 in response to "Man on Man: The New Gay Romance ... ... written by and for straight women" by Gendy Alimurung in LA Weekly. [1][2] The article upset some gay men because of the following factors:

  • Talking to and about women who write gay romance;
  • Talking to and about women who read gay romance;
  • No discussion whatsoever with or about gay men who read or write gay romance;
  • No discussion whatsoever about the impact of gay romance in the LGBT community; and
  • No acknowledgment that the women who write gay romance under male pen names may be appropriating or making it difficult for gay youth to get accurate information about being gay in society.

Discussion spilled in media fandom, especially on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth Studios, taking the issue to slash as well as professionally published m/m fiction by women.

A side debate began to spin off later in January over why more women didn't write f/f fiction or het fiction and how it could suggest internalized misogyny in fandom.

Arguments/Positions

There were several arguments articulated during this kerfluffle. The major ones were:

Pro-slash:

  • Women writing slash is similar to men dressing in drag. [citation needed]
  • Men are abusing their privilege in telling women what they should or shouldn't be allowed to write. [citation needed]
  • Fandom is mostly queer. [3][4]

Anti-slash:

  • Slash appropriates gay men for the sexual gratification of women. [citation needed]
  • By mis-representing gay relationships, slash can actually be harmful to the progress of gay rights. [citation needed]
  • Just because queers are writing slash does not mean that gay men are not being othered. [5]

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