There's a reason that people who persistently challenge slash are often called homophobic; it's because slash is for many people a form of sexual orientation, and it can often feel as if you're at a party with your fabulous gay lover and some strange woman comes up to you and says, "I'm not homophobic, but I'm really curious why you feel the need to express your sexuality with another woman and do odd things to her with strap-ons. What's that about? It's not the normal sort of thing to do." Most of the time, that question is just disingenuous and annoying.
Many people who don't get slash--who actively don't get it, and who make a big, tedious deal about that--don't really want to. Many people don't stretch an inch or two to make the associations that might help them understand why other people see what they see and feel what they feel; instead, they come at it from an argumentative angle, as if providing a series of reasons against slash is going to be useful for debate--and then debate falls apart into rancor, they way it would if you were trying to compare two different belief systems on their merits. Christianity versus Judaism: come on, let's try to figure out which one is correct, shall we? Then we can convince the other side why their view of the world is wrong and inaccurate.
But here are some questions. Anyone who needs to ask "Why slash?" should first answer these questions. Then, if they still need to ask "Why slash?", they should go somewhere else. Far away from me.
1. Why do you write?
2. Why do you read?
3. Why do you write fan-fiction?
4. Why do you read fan-fiction?
5. Why do you become aroused?
6. Why do you interpret what you see the way you do?
7. Why do you interpet what you see differently than other people?
All the reasons you could possibly come up with are the same reasons that people into slash read, write, get turned on, perceive the world in a certain way, blah blah blah. They're individual reasons--cumulatively there are going to be some similarities that could create a profile of the average slasher, but the people who ask "Why slash?" usually have little ethnographic interest in gathering the answers of individuals as food for thought, to find real meaning.
Sometimes slashers speculate about the reasons for slash. Among other things, it's a cultural phenomenon that's helped give a shape and genre to a certain area of female desire and fascination. And people are interested in themselves. They're asking the question "Why slash?" for very different reasons. They're rarely trying to undermine or normalize themselves or their attraction.
Slash is an orientation. Why do we have sexual orientation? Slash is a genre. Why do we have genres? Because we categorize things, to order the world. Slash is a cultural realization. Why does culture change? Things crystallize, concepts are invented and adopted as useful, and people's identities shift to accomodate them. It's a push-pull of people shaping culture, culture shaping people.
Slash is also an act--maybe this is the problem. In fact, yes, I think it is. Because when I read some people's "Why slash?" essays, what they're asking is, "Why do you perpetuate this unnatural sexuality on the bodies of the straight?" As if it's a kind of identity rape or sexual assault. I guess slash really is the manifested fear of the heterosexual: the gay agenda in action. We will gayify the world. We see gayness everywhere. My god, the innate bisexual potential of humanity, the possibilities of desire, the unpredictability of love--make it go away! Run for your lives, clutch your fictional children close.
But it's just another genre of fiction, another interpretation of the text, another creative act of appropriation and personal use: a revision of sexuality, in some cases, because maybe we want more queerness from our tv shows and movies and books than we're getting. Or an extrapolation of sexuality or love or both, from a character we read differently, who has layers and potential that we see, because we're looking for it.
We often do things in fiction that we're careful not to do in real life. No proseltyzing about the superiority of the homosexual lifestyle from the pulpit, no attempts at mass queer conversion, no handing out of ho-yay leaflets to schoolkids on corners. But in fiction we can express ourselves.
To play around with odd analogies--I wouldn't especially want to see the growth of a genre that takes most of the Jewish characters on tv and tries to convert them to Christianity through the healing power of fiction. But it would be an interesting cultural phenomenon that might have a lot of meaning to the people involved. It would also be different from slash though--it'd be more of an imposition of majority culture, rather than a minority subversion, I think. And I suspect there'd really be a conversion ethic behind it; hey, I've had Christians give me their testimonies. But I don't see gay people going around trying to drum up business. Conversion attempts begin to take on overtones of muscle when they're offered by a majority.
I've wandered off into side-paths of thought. Some of what I was writing reminded me of the old list of questions for heterosexuals, which is a pretty amazing reversal of typical challenges and questions that gay people get--challenges to the validity of their sexuality.
What do you think caused your heterosexuality?Now I'm sleepy. I can't believe I bothered to write all this. It's such a tired, tired discussion topic.
When and how did you decide that you were a heterosexual?
Is it possible that your heterosexuality is just a phase that you may grow out of?
Is it possible that your heterosexuality stems from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?
Isn't it possible that all you need is a good gay lover?
Heterosexuals have histories of failure in gay relationships. Do you think you may have turned to heterosexuality in fear of rejection?
If you've never slept with a person of the same sex, how do you know you wouldn't prefer it?
If your heterosexuality is normal, why are a disproportionate number of mental patients heterosexual?
With whom have you discussed your heterosexual tendencies? How did they react?
Your heterosexuality doesn't offend me as long as you don't try to force it on me. Why do people feel compelled to seduce others into your sexual orientation?
If you choose to nurture children, would you want them to be heterosexual, knowing the problems they would face?
The great majority of child molesters are heterosexuals. Do you consider it safe to expose your children to heterosexual teachers?
Why do you insist on being so obvious, and making a public spectacle of your heterosexuality? Can't you just be what you are and keep it quiet?
How can you ever hope to become a whole person if you limit yourself to a compulsive, exclusive heterosexual object choice, and remain unwilling to explore and develop your normal, natural, God-given homosexual potential?
Heterosexuals are noted for assigning themselves and each other to narrowly restricted sex roles. Why do you cling to such unhealthy role-playing?
How can you enjoy a fully satisfying sexual experience or deep emotional rapport with a person of the opposite sex, when the obvious physical, biological, and temperamental differences between you are so vast? How can a man understand what pleases a woman sexually, or vice-versa?
Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?
With all the societal support marriage receives, the divorce rate is spiraling. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?
How could the human race survive if everyone were heterosexual like you, considering the menace of overpopulation?
There seem to be very few happy heterosexuals. Techniques have been developed with which you might be able to change if you want to. Have you ever tried therapy?
A disproportionate number of criminals, welfare recipients, and other irresponsible or anti-social types are heterosexual. Why would you want to hire a heterosexual for a responsible position?
Do heterosexuals hate and/or distrust other of their own sex? Is that what makes them heterosexual?
Why are heterosexuals so promiscuous?
Why do you make a point of attributing heterosexuality to famous people? Is it to justify your own heterosexuality?
Could you really trust a heterosexual therapist/counselor to be objective and unbiased? Don't you fear that s/he might be inclined to influence you in the direction of his/her own leanings?
--appropriated from here
I think it's the mice in my head that are making me squeak.