Why does slash fiction matter? Why does my work matter? Why do I think it’s important for the conversations we have in slash fiction about homosexuality, heternormativity, sexuality, and gender identity to get pushed into the mainstream?
Here’s why it matters, damn it:
A major reason that Jerry Sandusky was able to rampage at Penn State for so long, to sexually abuse and rape so many young boys, is that the male-dominated jock culture in the football program didn’t want to talk about male-on-male rape. Or use any term they associated with “homosexuality.” Or use the word “anal” in conversation.
As this CNN article argues, the words that Mike McQueary used to describe what he witnessed in the football showers–Sandusky brutally rape a young boy–mattered. The words that got watered down, somehow, from “severe sexual acts” [whatever the fuck that means] to “horseplay.”
Even the title under the photo of McQueary included in the article plays this same little game: “Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary says he saw Jerry Sandusky molest a boy in the showers in 2002.” Fuck, no. He saw Sandusky RAPING a boy. Not molesting, RAPING.
As Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor, argues in the article,”Witnesses are embarrassed to describe in graphic terms what they saw and then it becomes a game of Telephone after that, as one witness changes the story a little before talking to the next witness.”
So, to be clear: because grown, presumably heterosexual men were “embarrassed” to use words like “sodomy” and “rape” in the context of male-on-male sexual abuse–Sandusky lost his key to the locker room, but retained access to the facilities and to god knows how many children through The Second Mile foundation. For years, this happened, because these supposed leaders of men–exemplifiers of the American heteronormative masculine ideal–were afraid to talk frankly about these matters because–? They were afraid of being read as gay? Because only gay men can talk about anal rape without blushing? Please.
This quote from Dr. Chuck Williams of Drexell from the CNN article is pitch-perfect: “Discussing sex is not an issue for men…We probably talk about that more than anything else….However, homosexuality is definitely a nonstarter in male-dominated culture, which colored how the men involved responded to the incident.”
What in the hell?
So the dominant discourse will encourage grown men to call each other a “pussy,” “cock,” or a “dick” in polite conversation, but can’t tolerate any discussion of matters considered “homosexual” in nature, even if it means helping a child get justice?
Complete and utter bullshit. Because it’s true. Because the heteronormative speech and behavior codes in this country discourage put good ol’ American [white, middle class] masculinity in direct conflict with anything the dominant discourse deems “homosexual” in nature. And here, to be clear, the discourse is defining “homosexual” as male-to-male; female-to-female sex is awesome and so not considered “gay.” Hey, it feeds heterosexual male fantasy, so it must be ok.
Ok. So here’s one reason why the complicated and highly sexual conversations that we have in slash fiction–as writers, readers, producers, and consumers–matter, why they need to be pushed into the mainstream, become part of the popular, if not the dominant, discourse. I refuse to believe that I live in a country where children are exposed to pedophiles–the ones that are rooted into the heart of every community, every church, every institution–simply because men cannot bring themselves to say “anus” or “sodomy” for fear of being read as gay. So we have to start saying this stuff, talking about it honestly, making it part of our CONSTANT discussions of sex in this country. Look, fucking is fucking, ok? And slash fic communities are constructed around engaging in these conversations, in navigating discussions of homosexuality (M/M and F/F) through fictional characters. We’re here to help.
So slash fiction matters. Talking about Sam fucking Dean or Kirk and Spock giving each other blow jobs won’t save the world. But–but, goddamn it, it can help.
[ETA: I should have named this post “Sam fucks Dean and saves the world.” Ah well.]