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27 August 2003 @ 06:03 pm
What do women want? The Salon.com article of the same name is a cool article about women and sexuality that hangs itself off a study demonstrating that women respond sexually to almost all kinds of porn, mentions a possible "disconnection" between a woman's arousal and her thoughts--cunt and head, basically--then goes on to talk about how certain assumptions of orientation may be culturally created, and raises the question of whether women, more so than men, may be naturally bisexual, or whether eroticized cultural images and stereotypes mold women's sexuality--which also has a flip side, suggesting that men might be "dehomosexualized" by cultural homophobia.

It also did a quick compare-and-contrast of what I'd guess you could call erotic narratives, masculine versus feminine:
In fact, a woman may get fully aroused in the opposite way that a man does, Diamond says. She likens arousal to a pathway: For most men, their interests start with a sexual attraction, and then lead to an emotional attachment. But for women, she said, the interest can go through the pathway in the opposite direction, with a deep emotional bond spawning a sudden sexual interest.
Which makes most slash narratives inherently feminine, if you take that as true, no matter how much we strive to amplify the masculinity of our characters or writing. I think I'm okay with that, though I'd love to see some examples of the masculine model--sex first, emotion later. I can't think of any offhand, except maybe one or two stories of my own. There's probably a substantial number across fandoms, enough to constitute a subgenre, if you want to look at it like that.

Mostly, the article is just an overview of what-ifs and study findings, but it compresses a dozen different topics of interest into one rather short piece, which makes it kind of handy.

kormantic wrote me an awesome little drabbly thingy with Faith and Xander and company, which made me grin and squee. She is so good to me. :>)

I've been watching vids and reading QaF stories, but I've been holding off posting so that I could rec them all at once when I had a chance to gather my thoughts.

Belatedly I had a chance to catch up on my reading and devour Maps and Legends, the new QaF story by sparkledark and blaurosen, and it was wondeful. Road trips are great story fodder and this one just twists off so well from canon that it takes my breath away. The story is entirely composed of Brian/Justin scenes, and yet all of them matched canon tone, as if scenes or DVD chapters had been excerpted from episodes and strung together. Kind of amazing--with that degree of focus, some writers risk getting mired in dialogue. But the dialogue never overwhelmed the story here, and in terms of voice, it was fantastic. The content of their conversation, the story movement, the fights and fears, the plot developments and the ending--all of that was bang on key.

I think this will be one of those cornerstone stories that helps begin to build an oeuvre of respected fiction for a fandom--well, a fandom probably can't have an oeuvre, but I have no other word right now--and QaF has really needed that.

I wanted to make a few edits here and there, removing dialogue slurs (stylistic issue for me), filling in a few missing words, punctuation glitches, etc, but those were mostly minor cosmetic issues. I probably shouldn't even mention them. I'm so giddy to have great fiction! :>)

By the way, if anyone hasn't found their way to sisabet's QaF vid page yet, it should be the next browser stop, because it's got great vids, as well as story recs and other fannish links.

silviakundera has a QaF vid called Fast as You Can (Fiona Apple), which I found a few days ago and adore. I've always loved that song, and its jittery speed and attitude is pure Brian Kinney. The clips were sharp and fast and fun--that little rewind-replay of Justin's dash for the loft was great!--and I thought it overcame a few things that I might have knocked in other vids. For example, there was a shot of Justin turning away and crying, which worked against the emotional grain of the song--pretty much a mismatch and yet in the way of good vids it alters its source, taking a stark emotion and making it rather jaunty. Which works here only because Justin is a melodramatic little princess; the vid doesn't disrespect a horrendously serious moment, the way it would have if it had used a shot of Brian's face as he's seeing Justin's attack, for instance.

Another example is the "I'll be your girl" line--it's usually not a great idea to play feminine references against male characters in vids, and vice versa. I've seen some painfully bad results, though it's usually most egregious when the entire song has recurring gender markers. (For a cool page on other vid guidelines, check this out.) But anyway, I think it's forgivable here. Not as perfectly in context as my favorite example, which are the lines "come out, Virginia" and "you Catholic girls start much too late" in a Wiseguy vid ("Only the Good Die Young" by Merricat Kiernan and killabeez) I love, but okay. One thing I might have changed was the "give me some more of your drugs" clip, because I'll almost always choose a lyric-to-clip metaphor over literalism; and yet it is a great clip.

One of the things that's fun about this song, is you get that change of tone and pace midway through to play with. I think that works well for Justin and Brian, whose relationship yo-yos between poignancy and soap opera.

You know, I've been watching more vids and reading more stories, but I think I've shot my wad with commentary today. I've been watching (and rewatching) some vids I want to make more critical remarks about, but I'm waffling, because I don't often go the critical route with stuff by people I know. And the few times I've done it, I've second-guessed myself afterwards. I'm a wuss.

anaxila recently posted some fabulous fairy icons, which people should flock to. On a radically different note, koimistress posted just today an excerpt from the blog of an Iraqui woman which carried a whiff of The Handmaid's Tale, the echoes of which in my psyche can still freak me the fuck out, years after first reading it.

Great speculation or maybe wishful thinking from gwyn_r about the possibility of canonical gay characters on Angel this fall. No spoilers except for casting--pure what-iffery.

sherrold pointed out this article, which rails against gay stereotypes in Queer as Folk, Queer Eye, and other shows. Because I am lazy and am tiring of typing, I'm just going to dump my list response here, even though it's kind of inadequate to what I'd really like to say.

Comparing any purportedly "co-opted" gay images with minstrels is becoming popular, and I always do stop to give the idea serious thought--but my gut tells me it's specious. I'd like to tackle that idea and tear it apart in an essay or something; I just don't think I could do it as well as others could. Must think about it more.

This article's points misfire widely to me. Like when he asks, "Where are the shows about gay people in which homosexuality is a taken-for-granted-but-never-ignored aspect of the characters' lives?" Uh, hello, how about on QaF, which you so blithely malign, jerkwad? No complex gay characters, my ass. Those characters are incredibly complex, and they're *not* the de-gayed, sanitized guys you see on Will & Grace either.

Maybe this critic has watched the show for three years and is saying that, but I doubt it, because Emmett, Michael, David, Ben, Lindsey, Melanie, Vic, Ted--these are all just people living their very ordinary lives. The only characters who really act up and out, out on the edge, are Brian ("...another stereotype, the sex-crazed Adonis") and by extension Justin, who gets sucked in (er, yeah) to that lifestyle a lot of the time. And yet Brian is probably the most complex character on the show, I'd say, and Justin is pure gayboy hero material. The show has so many examples of joy and love and positive messaging without beating you with a heavy moral stick, and yet its whole point is to entertain, which is what it should be doing. It's self-aware, too; they have an entire episode parodying idealized media depictions of gay life, and they hold themselves up for examination. It could be a hard line to walk, between showing people at their human, normal worst--drugs, casual sex, misogyny, etc--and stereotyping them, but I don't think the show has ever come *close* to perpetuating the simplified, pandering portrayals of gays on, say, sitcom television.

The only person over-simplifying things is the person who wrote the article--he's guilty of stereotyping his source material instead of seeing the real, rounded people in those shows. QEftSG gives us gay men acting exactly like themselves, showing themselves to be human--joking, turning serious, displaying empathy and generosity and good-natured mockery. QaF is more soap-operatic, but it's never dumb.

Thank you and good night.
Current Music: The Other Side -- David Gray
Angela: sweetx fathom5angeyja on August 27th, 2003 06:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the Salon link. I'm interested in anything looking at fan fiction vis a vis this, if you know of something?
luna_k on August 27th, 2003 06:44 pm (UTC)
Wow, link-o-rama, dude. Thanks!

I have to say, though, that I feel exactly the opposite about the Miami Herrald article than how you seemed to. I agree with the columnist. Another article, along those same lines, is HERE, from The Washington Post's Tom Shales.

It could be a hard line to walk, between showing people at their human, normal worst--drugs, casual sex, misogyny, etc--and stereotyping them, but I don't think the show has ever come *close* to perpetuating the simplified, pandering portrayals of gays on, say, sitcom television.

That, I definently would have to agree with you on.

Remember a few years ago, when Priscilla Queen of the Desert and To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, The Birdcage, and whole bunch of similar movies came out all at the same time? It was debated ad nauseum whether this was simply satire & reinforcing stereotypes, or advancing acceptance & tolerance. Honestly, 10 years later I can't really tell which has happened.
Anna S.eliade on August 27th, 2003 07:04 pm (UTC)
I have to say, though, that I feel exactly the opposite about the Miami Herrald article than how you seemed to. I agree with the columnist.

I agree with some of his points, but didn't bother to brush up my initial response--I think that Will & Grace is lame, and I think all his criticism of that show are true. I think that there are a lot of sanitized, desexualized gay characters on network TV, to date. But I think his points about QaF and QEftSG are totally off the mark.
Pet: AJhandapetslife on August 27th, 2003 08:18 pm (UTC)
think I'm okay with that, though I'd love to see some examples of the masculine model--sex first, emotion later. I can't think of any offhand, except maybe one or two stories of my own.

I've got a couple, actually. It's funny, though, that the automatic assumption is that emotion must be involved somewhere. *Some* sort of emotion, yes: we're not talking about robots here. But there are so many levels of sexual interaction in slash! There's the buddyfuck, the comfort fuck, the one-night-stand, the sex-with-boyfriend, the married sex, the awkward sex that you really shouldn't have had with your best friend. But I wonder if the assumption of some sort of emotional connection, even eventually, is another sign of that feminine pathway?

Many of my gay male friends who aren't in relationships have a lot of one night stands. They love having sex, so they do, and they get off quite cheerfully with no emotional expectations on either side. And I try to show that as much as possible in my stories (clearly, not in the "and then they lived happily ever after" stories). I don't know whether it's a popslash phenomenon, but I can think of quite a few popslash stories where the emotion comes after the sex, if at all. There are definitely fewer (that I can think of) in media slash, however.
sparkledark: pretty boysparkledark on August 27th, 2003 10:24 pm (UTC)
Belatedly I had a chance to catch up on my reading and devour Maps and Legends, the new QaF story by rachelanton73 and blaurosen, and it was wondeful.

Yippee! You liked it!

::dances lamely::

Your opinion matters a lot. Thank you!
SilverJaimesilverjaime on August 28th, 2003 01:29 am (UTC)
Interesting comments about slash - I wondered why I was attracted to slash fanfic having no previous curoisity about gay-ness per se....
As for a fic with sex before emotional attachment - Jackson's 'Sweet Revenge' does that to a certain extent, which I find incredibly hot!
(Anonymous) on August 28th, 2003 08:55 am (UTC)

I watch QAF and agree with what you said was offbase about the article's criticism. I wanted to say that I think the article was even more offbase about Queer Eye. That show is doing more to humanize, demystify and soften public perception (without being condescending) about gays than any show I can imagine, and not because it's a minstrel show. The Fab 5 don't inspire mockery, but instead a reassessment of the purported danger of homosexuality to straight people, especially straight men. I also disagree that they are not the center of the show. Technically they sit at the margins during the catharsis of the show, but it is never anything but clear that they are the stars and that they at least share the main focus of the story. Whether they were successful in their professional efforts is central to the show (even if the outcome is never in doubt). Their reactions to the video at the end are what we are all waiting to see. The viewer cheers Carson and Kyan, as they cheer themselves, as much or more than the straight guy. Moreover, I see them as just like me. At the end, they root for the hero, they snark at what needs to be snarked at, they ooh and aah at the heartfelt and the romantic, and they feel and show great compassion. So, gay guys are shown as decent human beings whose emotions reflect those of the straight people I know. There's something wrong with this picture?

Finally, the fact that these gay men hold stereotypically gay jobs is what has made this show so powerful. That is the only real stereotype that emerges. These guys are all over the spectrum of personality. Much of the humor is recognizable as typically straight, dorky humor. I say to myself that at least half of them are guys I would never have guessed in high school were gay. Any straight person watching would have to reassess their beliefs, beyond the surface ones, they have about gays. And at the end of the day these 5 gay men improve the lives of the straight men who open themselves up to what these gay men have to offer. If this is offensive, I can't conceive of what would be beneficial.