Who’s writing slash and why?by Felicity Hannah
Do you read slash fiction? Well, you read the Erotic Review, so presumably you have fairly eclectic literary tastes– but until recently I had never heard of it. Frankly, it was a more innocent time.
Then one evening, quietly googling Sherlock plot predictions like the amazingly cool adult I have become, I stumbled across some of the most shocking filth I have ever read. Honestly, I may never be able to see Sherlock and Moriarty together on screen again without blushing.
I asked a gay friend about the abundance of same-sex fanfic, only for her to reveal that she herself has written slash set around characters from one of Enid Blyton’s boarding school series. She sent me some and it turned out to be a remarkably tender story of Darrell and Sally falling in love at university, written in exactly the same style as the original books.
So why is it being written? Does it reflect a lack of gay relationships in mainstream fiction and drama? Well yes, says the author of Malory Towers slash. That’s partly because few dramas cover gay relationships in anything like a representational way but also partly because of the numbers involved.
“The fact is that gays and same sex relationships are still massively under-represented for the people who want to see them, and probably always will be just due to the numbers game. I don’t think we’ll ever not want slash. Think about it, even if we assume the highest estimated percentage for LGBT people in society, 10% – that’s one in 10 people. How many casts have even 10 fully filled-out characters?”
It’s a good point – on top of that there need to be two characters of the same gender that are suited to each other and find each other attractive. Exactly, says my friend: “You have to massively over-represent LGBT people in your cast to be able to give your gay character more than one option.”
As well as providing a space for the gay relationships that may not fit into typical drama and fiction, there is also a long history of straight romantic fanfic written about characters who didn’t get it on onscreen, although whether that can technically be called slash is debatable. So, Sherlock and Molly , Mulder and Scully, Scully and Starling (from Silence of the Lambs), Captain Jack Sparrow and whatserface. Some are innocent depictions of developing relationships; some of it is so filthy you will want to wash your eyeballs after reading it.
But you can see why it’s being written, the demand for these pairings makes perfect sense. But then, since this is the internet after all, slash can take some unexpected turns…
Harry Potter and the One Direction
As an aspiring novelist, my mother is always telling me to write ‘the next Harry Potter or 50 Shades’. In fact, if she keeps going on about it I have threatened to write a mash-up of the two (SPOILER ALERT: It would feature a lot of Snape) (Seriously, he has a classroom in a dungeon, this stuff writes itself).
But anyway, it turns out I don’t need to because the One Direction fans have already got there. Actually, gay One Direction slash fiction set in Hogwarts is very sweet, a sentence I don’t expect to ever write again.
“Harry was used to feeling nervous talking to a really pretty girl…But this was different, this was someone older and cleverer and… well, a boy.”
Once you manage to stop your toes curling up into your feet, most of it is actually a fairly accurate depiction of the awkwardness all teens feel they start fancying people (unless it just feels familiar to me because I went to boarding school in a castle). Some of it, of course, is just unabashed filth written by teens, about teens and hopefully for teens.
“Really, boyslash written by the kids these days is just porn, not politics,” opines my friend. Having read some, I agree to an extent. But plenty of it is just teens working out relationships in a world where Harry Styles has a lightning scar and a magic wand.
Then there’s a subsection of slash known as ‘mpreg’ – male pregnancy. Each to their own, of course, but but but…
It’s a growing area of slash fiction, where fans write and draw fantasies about male characters (and, inevitably, One Direction) getting pregnant with another man and having a baby. Some focuses on the initial act, some just covers the aftermath, birth (don’t ask) and family life.
Could it be because some women like the idea of men with men, but also like a happy ending with a baby? Could it be because some men wish they could be pregnant? Could it be that if you leave the internet running for long enough, everything will be written eventually – in a similar manner to monkeys and Shakespeare? Don’t look at me, I don’t know.
It doesn’t even have to be human males, here’s the blurb for an online story called ‘Unexpected Side Effects’ : “After the battle with Megatron, Optimus Prime had been feeling odd, his spark behaving strangely. Never could he have guessed what that beam strike could have done or what it would leave him with.”
The writer is right; I never would have guessed either.