tatjna (tatjna) wrote,

Slashariffic! Or.. not.

Seen on Twitter this morning:

"The problem with slash is that people start to interpret any male bonding in films as gay sub-text."

Go on, deny it. Harry Potter, Star Trek, 300, Sherlock Holmes. Particularly Sherlock Holmes, because it's current, and pretty much everyone I know who's seen it has said "Gay subtext." I haven't seen it so I don't know if there's gay subtext or not - however lots of folks say there is so I'll go with that.

Someone said, in response: "Problem? No, I don't see a problem." In a cheeky, humourous way, for sure. But something about it made me go "Hmm.."

First, let me say that I am fine with gay subtext, the portrayal of homosexual relationships in movies, and homosexuality itself, along with all the other manifestations of sexuality* - between consenting adults, anything goes and is valid. And I don't think people should be defined by their sexuality.

Wait, what?

I don't think people should be defined by their sexuality. Which means that when I meet someone, the things I want to know about them are not related to who they choose to boink (unless I'm interested in boinking them, in which case it would be of interest to me to know whether or not they were likely to be interested in boinking me). Blah blah blah..

So anyway, about that sexuality thing. Y'know how lately I've been having this ongoing debate with folks who are trying to tell me that I'm genetically predisposed to chase men with big wallets and big muscles, and that I want to be dominated, that I need to be pretty or nobody will love me, that I'm always on the lookout for a more 'alpha' man and that no matter how much I deny it, I'm a slave to my vagina and that automatically makes me a submissive person who needs to be provided for?

And you know how damn annoying that is? How invalidating of my humanity? And most of all, how untrue it is? And you know how frustrating it is when people say something that perpetuates this myth and then accuse you of being humourless when you call them out on it because they were "only joking"?

Right. Let's have a look at the flipside of that then. Because those very same people say that men are genetically predisposed to stick their penis in anything that stays still for 30 seconds, that they want sex above all else, that they are always on the lookout to get laid, that they are slaves to their penis who will do whatever it takes, ethical or not, to get their end away.

And you know how damn annoying that is? How invalidating of men's humanity? And most of all, how untrue it is?

It seems that lately, the trend is towards applying this incorrect stereotype to male-male relationships, probably because of the huge popularity of slash fiction. And while I repeat, it's totally fine to portray gay men as gay men, the assumption that any two men who exchange banter, hang out a lot together, joke around, show each other affection, bond, or flirt also automatically want to stick their penis in each other, is harmful.

We make it hard enough for men to relate to each other as it is, by constructing them as constantly in competition with each other for things to stick their dick in, for better jobs, for prowess at sports. Things like compassion, integrity, affection are supposedly signs of weakness. Remember my post about the amount of violence men experience in their lives, and how we then expect men to be non-violent, and condemn men who choose violence as a response to conflict? Same kind of deal. We construct men as competitive walking penises and then expect them to be compassionate communicators - and when they demonstrate bonding behaviour, we tease them about being gay. So what's the message being sent here?

It's ok for two men to exchange banter, hang out a lot together, joke around, show each other affection, bond, but only if they're gay. If you're a heterosexual man and you do that, people will assume you're gay, because men are all about penises and they only ever do these things when they want sex.

In other words, men can't have a close relationship with anyone that doesn't turn into something sexual. I think that by reading gay subtext into every male-male relationship portrayed in the media, people are perpetuating the exact same stereotype as the folks I've been debating.

I have nothing against slash fiction. But when two men can't bond without people crying '"Gay subtext!", there's something wrong. A stereotype is being perpetuated that is harmful to heterosexual men, homosexual men and women alike.

Yeah, I'm probably taking it far too seriously. But it hurts me when I point out sexist stereotypes and I get laughed at and invalidated. Sexist jokes hurt me. This morning I saw someone point out a harmful meme and have their thoughts invalidated and treated as a joke. "I have a problem with this." "There is no problem dear" *patpat*

Goose. Gander. etc

Meanwhile, The Algebraist is eating my brain. It's teased me into itself with vignettes that don't quite conclude, don't quite connect, that fascinate without satisfying, and now I'm absorbed by the way the author is drawing the facets together. It's an intriguing new way of storytelling. I like it.

* Exceptions: Children, animals, dead bodies. Yes, I think consent's important, why do you ask?
Tags: masculinity, men are people too, slash
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