0010 - I was thinking about the term "canon nazi" (which I gleefully use to apply to myself, natch). It occurred to me that it can be taken to the extreme to the point of absurdity. The extreme canon nazi can claim that sexualising the HP characters is canon rape because there are no penises or vaginas in evidence in the source text. Harry Potter never once mentions his dick, and therefore he doesn't have one. This is just boneheaded because there are some inferences you have to form based on reading any work of fiction; just because not every person in a given book is described as having two arms, two legs and one head does not mean that it's justified to claim that they all actually have two heads apiece. Some assumptions are safe to make without contradicting canon -- and reproductive organs on every character are likely present unless it is explicitly stated that they are absent. The question then is, how safe is safe, in assuming things? Hair-splitting here or there, there are lots of assumptions that are far less inane than "no one has a cock" that can be completely wrong (or completely right). Is Harry heterosexual because he's only ever shown an interest in girls? (more on that below, unrelated) Does putting a person (bug!Rita Skeeter) in a jar constitute petty cruelty or righteous vengeance? I think the point I'm trying to make is that a lot of the disagreement over basic issues in canon stems from disparate thresholds of "safe" assumption in different people.
0011 - Am actually done answering comments from way back. *pats self* I rule. Even if you did get a response to a three-week-old comment today and thought, "wow, what a loser". :-P
0100 - In general, I'm fandom-happy at the moment; there is no immediate pressure to do anything really and that's a nice feeling to have. However. karaz, I picked up your request for the serpentinelion Fantasy Fest and it's currently attempting to eat a rather large hole through my brain. I hope you're happy now. XP The other thing that's due at the end of the month is omniocular's Non-Fiction Fest (for which claiming is open), that should be fun. :>
0101 - So I was listening to Episode One of slashcast when it was released (you should all listen to it, btw, it is awesome on a stick) and heard something in the discussion on slash as fetish that kinda made me wonder a bit. It concerned the idea that some (many) slash fics are not about gay relationships per se; they are about male/male relationships where the males involved are "only gay for each other" or whatnot. This is something I've seen around, in both discussions of the genre itself and as an assumption in discussions that only touched on slash. The sentiment appears to be that slash ought to be about gay -- including the challenges unique to gay relationships. Now, I'm all for more fic that explores the challenges of gay relationships, but with all due respect, not everyone is interested in that. I know one person on my flist who says that she doesn't want to read about the issues of being gay in fic because she has enough of dealing with those issues in real life. I'm not suggesting that *everyone* who's gay won't want to read about the problems facing gay people in today's society, but there are two separate issues at play here.
One is, funnily enough, assumption -- considering we're discussing Harry Potter fanfic here (well, at least I am, I dunno why those of you expecting Firefly discussion are still reading :P). What, if anything, can we assume about the wizarding world's stance on gay people? My answer would be that we can assume whatever we want, because canon says nothing either way. The wizarding world does appear old-fashioned and slightly conservative, but any conclusions you might draw from that about wizarding views on gay issues are your conclusions and a product of your upbringing, world view, and internal logic. The fact is canon says nothing about gays in the wizarding world; the only disparaging remark that could be considered homophobic, in canon, comes from Dudley Dursley, who's a part of the Muggle world. So in Harry Potter fanfic, it's perfectly feasible to construct a scenario where gays are welcomed with open arms in the wizarding world, or a scenario where gays are considered anathema to a healthy society, or a scenario where the pure-bloods persecute homosexuality because of their concerns over breeding.
I've written the latter, in A Gryffindor and a Slytherin and its companion, but generally I tend to portray the wizarding world as essentially the same as our world when it comes to homosexuality -- most people are fine with it, but the majority of these people are also fond of saying "keep it in the bedroom, I don't need to see you holding hands on the street, fer Chrissakes". In the end, though, a writer is given tabula rasa on homosexuality in the wizarding world because we just don't know what's true and what isn't. Assumptions are fine, and you can refuse to read fics whose authors make assumptions different from yours, but you can't seriously argue for any specific view of canon in this regard, not if you hope to avoid looking like a presumptuous asshat. I'm not saying that all views of canon are equally plausible, just that all views of "homosexuality in the wizarding world" are equally plausible. It's possible to argue about canon issues that have factual canon support one way or another; the attitude towards gays in the wizarding world just ain't one of those issues with factual support.
This comes into play when it comes to sexual orientation of characters, too. I have a tendency to write (and think of) Draco as simply gay, because he just strikes me as gay and there's no unequivocal indication in canon that he's straight. Pansy's obvious interest and Ron's assumption that Draco is "showing off for Parkinson" notwithstanding, there is nothing in canon that contradicts Draco as an either severely closeted or extremely cautious gay teen. And well, slashers will be slashers; if it ain't contradicted, it could be possible. XD On the other hand, I tend to write Harry and Blaise as bisexual. Harry because I can't call him gay in good conscience after he's spent a year of his life mooning (and getting hot flashes like some menopausal grandma) over Ginny Weasley. All the times Harry's noticed how handsome Tom Riddle is are weak compared to Harry's obvious and overt attraction to girls, and because I'm a canon nazi, I can't simply ignore this attraction and blithely write gay!Harry based on subtext alone. I don't begrudge other people the right to write gay!never-cared-much-for-girls!Harry, I just can't believe in that Harry because I believe in canon!Harry and his markedly physical feelings for Ginny. So if I'm slashing Harry, he's bisexual. With Blaise, I write him as bisexual because I think Blaise, being his mother's son, will tend to see and seize advantage where it's most visible and accessible, and since sex not only sells but pays, it makes sense for him to be flexible.
Both of these interpretations I hold are recent -- I was able to see pre-Ginny!Harry as gay, no problem, and Blaise was nothing but a name. HBP changed all that and I expect book 7 will change things too -- except, of course, after book 7 there is nothing else and we'll all just become more entrenched in our interpretations of what is and isn't, of what's in the subtext and what's just imagined. Really, it all comes down to individual interpretation of the text, doesn't it? I can't see Ron as gay at all; I think that I'm not alone in this -- I have for some time suspected that a lot of people writing homophobe!Ron are simply reacting to the strong hetero vibe, and are just unable or unwilling to differentiate between "strongly prefers members of opposite sex" and "hates the idea of same-sex relationships". I digress. Because I don't see Ron as gay, I don't look for gay subtext on Ron -- but it's there, as any Ron/canon male shipper can tell you, with diagrams and flowcharts if you demand it. One person's subtext is another's "whuh? what subtext?" and no particular interpretation is more valid than any other, we're all sitting on the bank of the same old river in Egypt, yo.
So, if a fanfic writer wants to make the assumption that the wizarding world is a gay paradise, she can do so. And then, wonder of wonders, there are no more societal issues to deal with. A gay relationship is the same as a straight relationship (apropos, I think it's extremely unfortunate that this is only possible in fiction at the moment). If you take away the stigma, the persecution and the human rights violations, a gay relationship is no different from a straight relationship -- the sex is unquestionably different, but the emotions involved are essentially the same. Obviously, there will be differences because of different ways in which males and females handle emotions, but that's a question of characterisation, notwithstanding the extensive social engineering of both boys and girls to handle their emotions in particular ways ("boys don't cry", etc). I suppose what I'm trying to say is at the very core of things, two people who love each other are two people who love each other, and their sexual orientation or gender should not matter any more than their race, creed, or underwear colour does.
So, doubling back, I said there were two separate issues at play in the question of the exclusivity of slash to only gay relationships. The first is outlined above. The second was raised during the slashcast discussion. One of the ladies participating in the discussion (either charlotteschaos or kerryblaze) brought up the idea that sometimes it's possible to develop strong feelings for a member of the same sex when you might not necessarily define your sexuality by that one strong attachment. Which brings me to my next point.
I shy away from attempts to put slash in a definitive box, so I'd disagree that slash must be about unequivocally gay people having relationships, simply because I don't think it's ever a good idea to classify people based on sexual orientation alone. To me, attempting to classify slash as "fan fiction about *gay* people" is similar to saying "only gay people can have relationships with members of the same sex" which I consider patently untrue. I'm not speaking of prejudice here, just the idea that everyone has a certain, globally defined sexuality and slash as a genre of fiction is about people with a certain sexuality (gay, iow). I don't think of people in terms of their sexual orientation and so I'm loth to write about people in terms of their sexual orientation; if I write a story about two straight men who have drunken sex, I am writing about straight people having gay sex, no question. Which would then mean that according to some definitions, it's not slash but basically gay PWP with straight people.
What if after that one night of drunken debauchery, one or both of the men develop an emotional attachment to the other (for whatever reason) and decide to pursue a relationship? Is that gay? Does that make either of them gay, even if both are only strongly attached to this one man and don't notice others (and continue to find women just as attractive as before)? I know a man who fell in love with a friend in a similar way; it didn't end well but that's not my point. My point is that sexuality is fluid and attempting to put a cap on slash as "only dealing with Real Gay People™" misses the point. Sometimes you're born gay, sometimes gay happens (whether because you were born that way but it was latent is another issue, one that's too complex for this particular discussion). I didn't notice girls in a sexual way until I had a sexual experience with another girl; after that it was like a switch flipped, basically. I go through phases of preferring men entirely and then preferring women entirely. If I'm in a "girl" phase and you put me in a room with horny!Brad, I'd ask him where Angelina was. Sometimes I have an equal preference -- a lot of bisexual people I've talked to say it's a constant percentage. Some believe everyone is bisexual to a degree, which is something I can agree with, certainly. The point is, sexuality isn't constant for everyone -- there are, obviously, people who are strongly hetero or gay, people to whom the very idea of sexual relations with a member of the same or opposite sex is nauseating. I don't think there are very many people like that, at least not in their heart of hearts, but I don't know everybody on the planet so that's just a guess I'm hazarding. And if human sexuality is fluid (as I believe it is), how can anyone say what's "really gay" and what isn't?
I'm not trying to downplay the issues that gays face in today's society, nor am I suggesting that these issues should be ignored or swept under the rug -- not at all. I have often found myself feeling distaste over how easily some fics gloss over both the internal and external conflicts of characters either realising they're gay or living in gay relationships, or both. But what I'm trying to say is, my or anyone else's distaste notwithstanding, this is fiction -- and in the case of Harry Potter, it's fiction set in a world where people can turn into animals and fly broomsticks and train dragons for a living. If an author wants to gloss over gay issues or ignore them altogether, it is her right to do so and no one should say that she's not writing slash just because her slash doesn't fit into a particular definition of slash.
Just as an aside, I'm not saying that the discussion during slashcast is centered around this in any way or forces any particular view of slash -- not at all. It's a fun discussion, definitely worth a listen. Some parts of it sparked thoughts that have been percolating in my head anyway, that's all.
0110 - Wikipedia explains a popular form of Russian humour. I died and went to heaven, man. It is all the explanation I will ever need for why my Russian jokes are never funny to non-Russian speakers. Reading it all in English, it really doesn't seem as funny as it does in Russian. XD