Never A Good Sign

Hey, it’s a Kirk/Spock story! I’ve missed writing for these two.

And for Bones. Because, man. He’s so damn much fun.

In this story, McCoy can’t keep a secret. Especially when he’s been drinking.

Continue reading “Never A Good Sign”

Put down the puritanical bullshit and pick up a slash fic.

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.”

A modern-day poster boy for the price of homosexual panic. But he didn't have to pay it.

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.]

Canon fodder (updated)

One of my favorite ongoing debates within slash is whether K/S is “canon” or not. There seems to be a real desire among some slashers (neatly summed up in the image above) for Kirk and Spock’s romantic relationship to be read as part of Star Trek canon: an immutable, irrefutable “fact” about the ST universe, like dilithium crystals or McCoy’s Southern accent.

Dude!–this argument goes–it’s clearly evident in the text (of canon) that Kirk and Spock totally love each other and/or totally had a complicated and acrobatic sexual relationship. On the one hand, then, K/S is already canon in these slashers’ minds; on the other, only Paramount (who still owns ST, right?) can make K/S “official” (and thus legitimate? Easier to talk about with friends and family? Facilitating slashers’ ability to come out of the textual/sexual closet, as it were? I don’t know).

This desire is complicated, I think, by the presence of Star Trek (2009), which reboots Kirk and Spock and makes an overt case for Spock’s heterosexuality (or penchant for humans, depending upon your perspective). However, the movie also recognizes the most important material object of the original Star Trek–Spock’s body–and carefully retains and protects that object and transports it safely to the new 23rd century. (I went on about Spock’s body-as-object in an earlier post here.)

[The question of K/S in the 2009 new-verse is an interesting one that I need to work with further–as a researcher. As a reader, I don’t buy 2009 K/S, but that’s a long story that has as much to do with where I went to college as my opinions on the film.] Continue reading “Canon fodder (updated)”

Standing at attention

I’ve come back to slash again, and so, of course, I need to write about it. Perhaps this is just a cheap attempt to stay away from my @#$@#$ thesis–most certainly–but, as a reader, I’ve found that I get something from writing about some of the stories that I’ve read.

As usual, a warning: the links below will lead you to K/S writings. What is seen cannot be unseen; although, as Spock would say, there are always possibilities, that doesn’t mean that you have to look at all of them.

Here are two of the best:

Tired” by JackHawksmoor

Here’s why I love this story: I didn’t understand it the first time I read it. It’s sleek and fast moving and demands that you read every damn word, and I got lazy. A lot of the story’s action occurs offstage–there are pretty strong inferences in the text, but the story requires a close reading to follow it through.

As the action begins, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are involved in tricky negotiations with many unpleasant people, and no one is happy about it. Kirk, in particular, begins to act strangely. When Spock inconveniently picks up on his captain’s apparent distress, Kirk has to resort to semi-desperate measures to keep the trains running on time.

To me, this story proved once and for all that good slash = good writing. It’s easy to write an impersonal sex scene; it’s much harder to build a complex and interesting story in which the sex is a key part of the plot. “Tired” is proof that fan fiction in general and slash in particular is a legitimate genre.

Full Circle” by Killa

I love this story. It’s the polar opposite of “Tired”–it’s lush, it takes its damn time, and it’s worth every minute. “Full Circle” picks up where the story “Turning Point” (*sniff*) left off. [Check out my review of “Turning Point” here.] K/S must live with the consequences of their choices (and their dumb-assery) in the previous story: Spock goes off to Gol to kill part of himself, and Kirk gets married, like you do when you’ve just had your heart broken.

One night, his panic attacks–which have been haunting him since he and Spock parted–take on a different turn, and he dreams of Spock in a way that he can’t hide (damn human plumbing!) and that his wife, Lori, can’t ignore. Soon, V’gr gets the band back together, and Kirk and Spock must figure out how to reconnect. To be honest, a big part of this story’s appeal for me is that it helps salve the wounds inflicted in “Turning Point.” It’s nice to see our boys get a happy ending–at least for now.

My favorite scene in this story has nothing to do with sex–instead, it’s an extended conversation between McCoy and Kirk in which James tries to articulate what’s happened between he and Spock. After V’gr is–defeated? sent to another plane of existence? whatever.–Kirk hides in the observation lounge and broods over the “this simple feeling” moment in Sickbay. Leonard (gods bless him) tracks him down and finally gets James to tell him what the hell is going on between Kirk and Spock.

It’s a great scene because Killa nails the Bones/James relationship, one that’s central to ST but one that we don’t see often enough. In this moment, it’s easy to understand why Kirk needs McCoy (The “I need you, Bones! Badly!” line from STMP not withstanding. Hee!), and what Bones gets from his friendship with both Jim and Spock. Looking back on it, it’s a hint of what Killa’s able to do in her angsty, emotional, but not-really-slashy novella Bitter Glass.

Both of these stories pay off, not only in terms of sex (though that’s there, too), but in terms of plot, structure, and character. It’s been hard for me to find stories that strike this balance just right, which makes these stories all the more laudable and impressive.

There’s no room for “logic” in “physiological” responses to PWP

…and how could I write about texts that inspire a physiological response without mentioning K/S? Damn it.

I’m not sure how I missed that connection earlier. Perhaps the thesis part of my brain is sheltering itself rather desperately from the part of my brain that’s interested in slash.

To that end, I’d recommend these very short K/S stories whose sole purpose, it seems, is to engender a very particular kind of physiological/emotional response in the reader. Each of these is an exemplar of  the “PWP”sub-genre of slash,”PWP” being  either “Porn Without Plot” or “Plot? What Plot?,” depending on your fancy.

Strong Medicine by Killa
Kirk’s been ill, but he’s feeling better. So much better, in fact, that he goes to the bridge to see how far he can push Spock to physiologically respond in public. As always, Killa gets the interplay between James and Spock just right. And there’s just enough plot here to make the reader feel as though you’ve done enough to earn the very hot (if all too brief) sex. A fine example of a “sex in a turbolift” story.

Master and Commander by Aconitum-Nappellus
This story has an utterly ridiculous premise: there’s very little hot water left on the Enterprise, so Kirk and Spock have to share a shower! Oh noes! But there’s enough steamy sex within and without said shower to make you forget about the silly way that the men come together. There’s a lot of focus on Kirk’s body in this one, which is a bit unusual; in most of the stories that I’ve read, the reverence is saved for Spock’s…body.

Feast or Famine by pepperlandgirl
Hee! I can’t think about this story without giggling. When the Enterprise is on a boring mission, having sex with Spock is the only way that James can expel all of his nervous energy. And the mission that they’re on is •really* boring. It’s understandable, though–who’d want to stare at a starfield when you could be staring (among other verbs) at Spock?

The Berriesby Jesmihr
This story is longer than the others that I’ve listed here, as it actually includes a plot. I’ve chosen to include it, however, because said plot centers on Kirk seducing Spock during a camping trip (don’t ask). But Spock screws things up by getting drunk on the titular berries–and Spock’s a fun drunk. There’s a lot of lovely hot sex and an emotionally satisfying and believable conclusion (if you care about such things). Plus, we get the great image of Spock as a wild, woodland god. Yes.

Having and Wanting by Varoneeka
A pair of stories whose titles come from one of my favorite quotes from TOS, a line of Spock’s from “Amok Time”: “You may find that having is not so satisfying a thing as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often so.” Basically, Kirk is so hot that he’s screwed up Spock’s seven-year pon farr cycle. Spock becomes consumed with having Kirk, Kirk figures it out, and, as Eddie Izzard would say, sex is on, yeah? The only annoying thing to me in these stories is that we waste time dicking around with the “James and Spock are bonded” crap, which, for my money, is something that doesn’t belong in a PWP. But that’s me.

A post in which reason gives way to rant

In quite a few of the K/S stories that I’ve read, the day after always begins with disorientation. James or Spock awakens in the other’s bed, and there’s a moment of dizzying uncertainty–they aren’t sure if the night of wild sex they remember really happened, or if it was just a beautiful, vivid dream. Usually, it takes only a touch or a kiss from the other to bring Spock or Jim crashing back to earth, to the happy reality of what they’ve done.

I wonder if I’ll have a similar sense of disorientation tomorrow. My thoughts here seem reasonable now–but I wonder what I’ll wake up with in the morning. This began as a semi-reasoned attempt to further explore the feminism/slash parallels that I’ve been working with–and ended as an angry rant worthy of a royally pissed Leonard McCoy.

At least I can’t type in a southern accent. Continue reading “A post in which reason gives way to rant”

Ceding the Narrative

As I noted in my previous post, I very much admire slashers’ refusal to accept absences–even those “canonized” by Paramount and Roddenberry. Their spirit–their desire to radically write AND, more importantly, their willingness to do so with utter gusto, lie in stark contrast, I think, to the attitude of the modern feminist movement.

In that vein, the essay below is a piece of writing of mine that led me in a zig-zag sort of way to read slash fiction. As part of a course in rhetoric, I became interested in what words do and and in the converse question: what does the absence of words do? Certainly, the stakes in K/S and in feminist principles are not equal; if Spock does not love Kirk, no woman will earn less than equal pay for equal work. However, it’s really the contrast in attitude that I’m interested in here–the gleeful, knowing transgressiveness of the slashers and the dour yet smug attitude of the “modern” feminist movement.

I wrote this essay to be read aloud, so I’ve edited out some of the more overtly “spoken” elements. I’ve linked to some of the works that I reference; Google can point you towards the others.

Ceding the Narrative

I find myself returning to questions about the responsibility of the rhetor. Deviating from my usual critical “style of engagement,” as John Muckelbauer calls it, I want to examine discourse through the role of the rhetor. That is, I want to explore the role of absence, of silence, in Richard Vatz’s assertion that, “if we view the communication of an event as a choice, interpretation, and translation,” then “the rhetor’s responsibility is of supreme concerns” (158). That is, I’m interested in examining how the responsibility of the rhetor is affected by her decision not to participate in a rhetorical situation, particularly one in which that other, competing rhetors and an audience are invested. In not speaking, is a rhetor still engaging in what Vatz calls “a creation of reality”? (158).  How might an active decision to create such an absence become consequential? Continue reading “Ceding the Narrative”

Refusing to Cede the Narrative

One of the things I find so fascinating and effective about slash is its ability as a genre to locate and address absences within canon and fanon. Certainly, lots of fanfic (I nearly wrote “manfic”–oh dear) does this as well, but what I think is unique about slash is that it has an agenda–slashers go in looking for absences to fill in in a very specific way (ahem).

The slash that I’ve found most effective are those stories that are able to rush into a gap and build the K/S relationship within it. What I find interesting is that there is a menu of narrative gaps in canon/fanon into which slashers have a tendency to rush: the “lost years” between the end of the Enterprise‘s first five-year mission and the beginning of ST: TMP, for example, or the quick and (for slashers) unsatisfying ending of the TOS episode “Amok Time.” Continue reading “Refusing to Cede the Narrative”

Resuscitation

I suppose that just about everyone has a “ST saved my life” story. Every Trek fan, anyway. So here’s mine.

I wasn’t very happy as a kid (who was?). I always sort of drifted along in my own imagination, augmented with many, many books.

Then something pretty damn awful happened to me, something over which I had no control. Instead of drifting into another world, I broke for it at a fast clip.

Didn’t help. The awful thing stuck around, and I became more and more…unhappy? doesn’t seem quite the right word. Despondent, maybe, if a kid can become such a thing.

There wasn’t one moment when I discovered ST; I wasn’t suffused by a bright light after watching “The Trouble With Tribbles.” Rather, as the world in which I was trapped made less and less sense, I began unconsciously turning to ST as a concrete, knowable, tangible place in which fundamental things never changed: Kirk always stumbled into a new problem, Spock always helped him figure out how to solve it, and Bones always bitched at both of them until the damn thing was settled. Continue reading “Resuscitation”