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22 May 2012 @ 11:28 am
Question!  
As some of you might know, in my dayjob I create book covers for digital publishers (some print publishing, but mostly digital.) I work in many different genres but let's face it, the majority of digital 'presses' are of the romance/erotica ilk. It's selling like hotcakes, pun very much intended.

Over at cassiopeia7's journal, they touched on the "ick, het!" predisposition amongst our fandom, and since I'm fandom-monogamous, I haven't a clue how other fandoms sway. I see this reflected in many of the small publishers I work for, as well.

And I'm curious, why is this? Why is it that woman (most of whom are heterosexual, I'm guessing) are so adverse to Het fic? Is it not wanting to feel competition with the female protagonist? Is it that it's tough to write great female characters?

Let's hear some yakkity-smack!
 
 
Current Mood: curiouscurious
Current Music: "Girls and Boys" - Blur
 
 
 
i'm on a website where people fuck fruit: SPN Dean/Lisageckoholic on May 22nd, 2012 03:36 pm (UTC)
Okay, TMI-alert, maybe: while I was still in a relationship, I had no problem whatsoever with het, even wrote it. Now, for the last year, I still don't have a problem with it, but it... I don't wanna read about something I ain't getting regularly anymore? XD Slash is different, not so close to home, but lately het makes me, uh, some odd sort of jealous? IDEK. Might dip my toe into it again, anyway, though. Yep. Might be therapeutic. *gg*

Doesn't keep me from still shipping a plethora of het ships in different fandoms, though.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 22nd, 2012 03:57 pm (UTC)
Good points, all. And that's hardly TMI; it's honest! Thanks for piping up. :D
katsheswimskatsheswims on May 22nd, 2012 03:49 pm (UTC)
I do read het fics sometimes, but the majority of fics I read are slash. This is because I have books to read het romances, but none for slash so I have to read that on the internet. And I suppose I've never bought a slash book because I have to care about the boy and want to see him together with another guy before I read about it, and I can do this with fics because a book/tv show/movie has already made me care about them.

Edited at 2012-05-22 03:50 pm (UTC)
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 22nd, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
I think this is part of the appeal to fandom, in general! We alreadyknow and love (or hate...ahem...) the characters. Thanks for the input!
cassiopeia7: Sam&Dean: Marshall Eastwood & Walker Texcassiopeia7 on May 22nd, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
Hey, lurker! Imagine meeting you here! ;)

For me, it's because het relationships in fanfic are . . . ordinary, something I can get in my own back yard. And I'd much rather read about what I don't see every day -- vampires, pirates, two hot guys having hot sex. ;D
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 22nd, 2012 04:05 pm (UTC)
:D Honestly, I was appalled when I read your post; not about the "ick, het" thing, but the rabid creepiness of some fans. I just recently caught a video of a paparazzi assault on Shane West outside of an event Our Boys were recently at too, and I was like "Man, it is NOT cool being a celebrity sometimes." It's horrible that we can't treat human beings like, well, human beings.

Ooooh, hot vampirate dudes, getting’ their groove on…SO NOTED!
(no subject) - cassiopeia7 on May 22nd, 2012 04:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - quickreaver on May 22nd, 2012 05:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Amberamberdreams on May 22nd, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
I read a discussion about this topic a while ago, and the article that led into the debate postulated that women like to read M/M because it doesn't require you to identify with either party, so in effect, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. (And you get the bonus of two hot guys for the price of one...). At the time I had barely started reading slash so wasn't sure if that was why I enjoyed what I was reading or not, but having now been immersed for a bit longer, I think that has a certain amount of truth in it, at least for me.

Also, I find when I'm reading Het, the vocabulary people tend to use for female parts sounds crude and unpleasant and tends to jolt me out of the sexy times. Whereas cock and dick and hole - well, pretty mild.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 22nd, 2012 04:12 pm (UTC)
THE VOCABULARY, YES. My husband and I have discussed this too. Humorously. We decided that, for whatever reason, the words for boyparts are cute, and the words for girlpart...aren't. They're like you said: crude. Got no clue why this has come to be. I'm sure it has something to do with female oppression or summat but I'm not that deep.

Thanks for the input; makes good sense! I don't read much erotica period...het, slash or otherwise...but when I do, I have certain authors who 'do it for me', regardless of pairing.

Interesting!


Edited at 2012-05-22 04:13 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - amberdreams on May 22nd, 2012 04:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Chill McGundear_tiger on May 22nd, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC)
(Granted, I'm not a great reader of graphic porn and prefer my sex scenes soft core, but for what it's worth...)

Reading erotica is a type of voyeuristic experience. I like men, I like male bodies, so I like reading about men. I don't read porn to self-project or to otherwise participate; I read it to get my rocks off through "watching". When it's het, I might not consciously self-project but to some extent it will happen. And then I get jealous, and to get jealous is not the reaction I like from any reading material :D I don't get jealous, for instance, from reading about people exploring the jungle or kicking monsters' asses because, well, it's not like I tried or want to try that. Love and sex, on the other hand, sound like they're obtainable to any person but, somehow, not to me. And I don't need this kind of shit, especially not from porn.

I don't mean to imply, of course, that every woman averse to reading het is unhappy in her own love life. Maybe they just read to "watch", not to self-project.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 22nd, 2012 04:17 pm (UTC)
(I'm with you; I like my smut on the softer side so you'll get no criticism from me.)

The voyeuristic idea makes total sense. Though sometimes, I do get jealous of people exploring jungles and having adventures I want! That's when I self-project!

Thanks for the input. :D

Goodnight monsters, everywherehoneylocusttree on May 22nd, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
For me, it depends on the quality of the female character. Is she relatable and do I care? For example, I will read and have read het with Buffy in it, if it's a ship I enjoy. Honestly it does depend on the ship, and I don't typically ship that many het couples because it's typically already present in the story--I'd be less likely to read Scully/Mulder than Mulder/Krycheck, for example.

I did some reading on yaoi back in the day when nobody had heard of it, and one of the things I read was the it appeals to Japanese girls because of the level of equality at play between the characters. The sharp m/f divide isn't there to such an extent (unless it's super seme/uke stuff) so there's a power fantasy going on there.

I think it has to do with the characters. I've been tooling around the Avengers AO3 tag, and would happily read Natasha/Bruce Avengers fic...or Bruce/Tony...but not Natasha/Clint. It's just to do with personal interests and translations of the characters. I'm not that interested in Hawkeye so I don't much care who he hooks up with. And Black Widow was a fun character who was fully realized so I enjoy reading stuff about her.

There's probably also the element of 'forbidden-ness' making an impact here. Most of these fandom ships come from stories that are aggressively het-centric. I absolutely do not read romance novels and I avoid romantic movies like the plague that they are. So the slash element is also a way of understanding the source material differently, and when I was younger it definitely seemed more illicit. These days it's so average I've had the experience a lot of slash fans have--see a man and woman kiss onscreen and do a double take of 'that's not right!...oh, wait...'

Yes, that happens.

Edited at 2012-05-22 04:13 pm (UTC)
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 22nd, 2012 04:22 pm (UTC)
Ah, the forbidden fruit! Always tasty.

Hmm! That's interesting, about the "equality at play." That still applies, to varying degrees, everywhere in the world.

Thanks for joining the conversation, m'dear!
Morgan Briarwood: SPN Brokeback Manipbriarwood on May 22nd, 2012 04:22 pm (UTC)
Because most het romance fic is crap. So is most m/m, but there's something subversive about applying the cliches to men so that's less bothersome.

Het romance/porn is dominated by cliche born of male fantasy - the maiden in distress who needs to be rescued. Basically - Disney. Even when the female characters are strong and self-sufficient, it's a rare novel that doesn't end up with her essentially needing to be 'saved' - if not from physical peril, then emotionally, And the saviour, by definition if it's het, must be a man. And therefore it's offensive to me.

You know why I adore Halle Berry's Catwoman? Because at the end she decides she doesn't need the man in her life. I'm 90% sure that's why the critics panned it, too, though they never said so.

If you have a same sex dynamic, one character saving the other doesn't automatically create the 'Disney Princess' vibe.

Het can be written well. At least, it can in fandom. I'd like to think I write it well. But in pro publishing, writers tend to be constrained by the formula publishers think will sell - and that's not what I (for one) want to read. I used to read a lot from the Black Lace imprint; het adult fiction. Their writers had a specific brief for strong, independent female characters and happy endings (I was curious enough to write and ask for their author guidelines). But still more than half of what they published was "strong, independent female character" discovers the joys of submission to strong hunky make who treats her like shit. They basically defined "strong and independent" to mean rich and successful but an emotional mess. I suspect their editors were men.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 22nd, 2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
I don't even read 'romance', and you've stated the exact reasons why. I don't mind stories that feature sexual relationships, I just don't want that to be the main reason for the tale.

I've happened upon some really stellar writers here in this fandom, and I'm happy as a pig in mud about it!

Regarding your experience with Black Lace, I suspect their editors were, in truth, women. The surprising fact is a great many women like this stuff. I've worked with at least a dozen digital publishers and the ones showcasing romance/erotica are run by females, almost exclusively.

But now that digital publishing is booming, for both small presses and self publishers, we're going to see a wider variety of offerings. The problem is finding the good ones amongst all the crap. And man, there is a LOT of crap.
Kadysn: D/J cuddling S/Jbt_kady on May 22nd, 2012 04:27 pm (UTC)
Very good question, and it's one I've wondered about myself. I write het, and I've wondered why it is that het gets so fewer readers than slash does.

Maybe it's has to do with who the partners are. I can understand less readership for canon character/OFC than it would be for two canon characters, no matter their sex.

I read romance novels. I love them. They are ALL M/F pairings. Maybe that's one reason why I read fanfic slash. Maybe I also read slash because I'm already interested in the characters, and slash is another POV of them. I am picky about my pairings, though. Like you, I'm fandom monogamous, being strictly into SPN. When I read slash, all I want are Dean/Sam or J2. I'm not interested in any other pairings because I'm not interested in the other characters nearly as much as these two men.

Admittedly, I also read slash for what I get out of it. I get off on it. Two handsome men together is fascinating. ;-)
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 22nd, 2012 10:59 pm (UTC)
I discussed this with my husband, and he wondered if the fact it's FANfic has a lot to do with the popularity of so much m/m stuff (in any given fandom.) We're already infatuated with given characters; what better than to read them both, together, having sexy times?

Thanks for your input!
(no subject) - bt_kady on May 23rd, 2012 12:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
YohkoByohkobennington on May 22nd, 2012 05:03 pm (UTC)
Because m/m is hot!!!

xD Now seriously. To me, Im good with both, but I do prefer the Slash in fanfiction. Like somebody said, I got the books for the hetero sex *Gaelen Foley anyone? That woman CAN write sexy as fuck hetero porn, just saying*
And, I don't really like how people write hetero porn in fics sometimes. I have read it, and wrote it, but in Spanish, so it's different and still some people just suck at it.
Not that some don't suck at M/M, but it's less recurrent.
I bet you that if there was famous novels with M/M sex we wouldn't be having this conversation. It's still frown upon to, it's still prohibited. So what people do when you tell then "do not do that"? They feel more curious, try it, andwhen they like it they keep doing it
Simple human reactions.

The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 22nd, 2012 11:06 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. Didn't "Brokeback Mountain" start as a novel? I'd have to look that up...

Thanks for adding to the conversation; this is SO interesting!
(no subject) - yohkobennington on May 22nd, 2012 11:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fannishliss on May 22nd, 2012 11:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
fannishliss: scully rocksfannishliss on May 22nd, 2012 05:15 pm (UTC)
My impressions mesh up pretty well with what briarwood and honeylocustree have said.

Given that we're media fans, in order to write good het we need to be able to access female characters with potential. Weirdly enough, in a show about two brothers, I think the women characters are amazing, which is behind my whole Women of Supernatural project. I still ship Dean/Lisa like crazy -- poor Lisa!!! And of course it's going to be Sam/Jody summer. :D

I thought it was very interesting to watch the fans backlash against women characters like the Harvelles (who I love), Ruby, and Lisa. The Harvelles, Jo especially, were lambasted as cheap characters thrown in as a love interest Dean -- Bela also got painted with that brush -- but once they were not shown as romance interest, the cry faded back a little. Ruby was hated on in both her incarnations.... and it always made me laugh when people claimed that Ruby as a demon and a long game betrayer was a figure of misogyny. There's a distinct higher standard that women characters are held to in SPN fandom. People who hated on Lisa took the cake with calling her a wishfulfillment for Dean, too perfect, not fleshed out, on and on. After seven seasons people have reacted a little more sanely to women -- everyone LOVES Jo and Ellen now, and I haven't seen anything bad at all about Jody, so there has been some improvement. :D

My point being -- the show has these two or three main characters, so it's natural to write stories about them being Together (thus the profusion of Wincest, Sassy, and Destiel). Since the women get written off so quickly it's harder to maintain interest in a perfectly strong canon pairing like Dean/Lisa.

I've really enjoyed my foray into Doctor Who fandom, where there is a great deal of het. (The slash pairing is Doctor/Master, but in NuWho the Master is so crazy and overtly into BDSM that not many writers go there, that I've seen. Doctor/Jack is the other common slash pairing, which gets played down by Jack/Ianto shippers.) The women on Doctor Who are awesome, and the fandom has been around for so many decades... I write mostly Doctor/Rose stuff and it's fairly well-received ... but then recently I've been reading in Sherlock fandom and the number of comments those John/Sherlock stories get is mind-blowing!!!

So to sum up, good het requires a good woman character, one that audiences love. The woman has to be strong, and on an equal footing with the man character; she can't be a constant damsel, and she has to have the option of taking the initiative in sex. As a woman reader, reading slash -- I can be either guy -- I can be John or Sherlock depending on the story -- but it's harder to read stories where the man is clearly the hero and the woman is opaque, 1D and lame. Clearly NOT INTERESTING. But het has come a long way. There are still not enough woman characters (Avengers Men: Tony, Bruce, Steve, Thor, Fury, Loki, Clint, Coulson; Avengers Women: Pepper, Hill, Natasha. Almost 3 to 1 -- That's the way it STILL IS, even when Lauded Feminist Hero Whedon is leading the show).

And you know what? Pepper/Tony doesn't flip my flipper; Hill/Fury is just wrong (too many chain of command issues); and Natasha/Clint leaves a taste in my mouth where I just want them to be Best Friends. Which is pretty much why I spent all those years shipping Mulder/Krycek (For HOT angry sex, see Mulder/Krycek!!!)while Skinner competently and tenderly wooed Scully from behind the scenes. :D

To close:

YAY DEAN/LISA!
YAY DOCTOR/ROSE!! :D

Edited at 2012-05-22 05:20 pm (UTC)
downjune: jo harvelledownjune on May 22nd, 2012 06:06 pm (UTC)
So, hi, you have a Women of Supernatural Project? And this is going to be the summer of Sam/Jody? This is very relevant to my interests.

Can we be friends so that I can hear all about this? Is there a het-friendly corner of LJ that I can be a part of?

Basically, I'm new, and while Wincest rocks my socks off, I'd like to be able to show my appreciation for the ladies, too!
(no subject) - fannishliss on May 22nd, 2012 08:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - quickreaver on May 22nd, 2012 11:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fannishliss on May 23rd, 2012 12:18 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - quickreaver on May 23rd, 2012 01:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
downjune: team free willdownjune on May 22nd, 2012 05:59 pm (UTC)
I could seriously roll around in this question forever.

First, this from briarwood: Because most het romance fic is crap. So is most m/m, but there's something subversive about applying the cliches to men so that's less bothersome.

I think this is really true in a lot of cases. Gender tropes and cliches are friggin' obnoxious in heterosexual romance. And honestly, I find them pretty obnoxious in slash fic, too, but it's different, because now the writer is subverting gender roles by having a man be vulnerable and emotional. So, basically, it's a love story without the baggage.

But for ME, the sexiest relationships are the ones that are true partnerships (and there needn't be sex involved at all!! :) ), where there's balance and none of the power games that make both het and slash relationships so unhealthy. (What can I say; I'm kind of a vanilla fangirl. The characters can be fucked up, but they should be equally fucked up, haha.) So I'll read and write het and slash equally because for me it's about partnerships and friendships rather than top/bottom, dom/sub, uke/seme (if we're going yaoi).

Second, I do think there's a lot of crap women have internalized about what we should value in a character and what we should scorn, about how women should be sexy and how they shouldn't be slutty. Women reading women characters is so loaded with all the double standards we find in our own lives (is emotional vulnerability expected or is it weakness, can we be independent and in love, etc) I think a lot of people are just like, fuck it! I'm reading dude sex henceforth! There's so much resentment towards the ladies in SPN fandom; they just can't win! They're either weak because they're love interests, or demonic bitches because they think for themselves and have ulterior motives.

But fandom doesn't feel that way about Crowley or Castiel. They can double-cross the boys six ways from Sunday and still be fandom favs. Castiel can make out with Meg and be a rock star. But HOW DARE Anna sleep with Dean and touch his shoulder where Cas touched him. How dare she?!

Third, if you write them, they will come. I choose to believe this. I play around in Harry Potter fandom a little bit and there I am ALL about the het relationships because Hermione and Luna SPEAK to me like any truly great characters should, like Sam and Dean do. But there's a lot of shitty het fic involving them, too, so. Basically, I say 'MORE' to both the need for lady characters and writers willing to dig into those lady characters.
fannishliss: up to no good!fannishliss on May 22nd, 2012 08:15 pm (UTC)
I JUST READ THIS AND AM FRIENDING YOU RIGHT NOW!!! braintwins!! :D
(no subject) - quickreaver on May 22nd, 2012 11:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lavinialavender on May 23rd, 2012 12:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
Lady Moon-Loona-cyjennytork on May 22nd, 2012 06:31 pm (UTC)
This is just me, I don't speak for fandom in general.

I don't mind het or slash -- so far as the relationship's "details" are offscreen.

I don't like sex at all in the stories I choose to read. If it is mentioned at all, I prefer for the curtain to be drawn.

I am pretty much asexual in fiction and with celebrities. I have no desire to see characters having sex onscreen and I have no desire to read about it.

It won't turn me completely out of a story, but it will definitely sour me on it. I much prefer the emotional intimacy of friendship and PG-rated het or slash.
San Antonio Roseramblin_rosie on May 22nd, 2012 07:02 pm (UTC)
This. I prefer het, honestly, but if it goes past a kiss, I'm not reading, no matter what the pairing is.
(no subject) - quickreaver on May 22nd, 2012 11:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
auroramama: fourfoldauroramama on May 22nd, 2012 06:32 pm (UTC)
The woman
On most shows, there's only one female lead character, if any. So if you don't click with her enough to want to read fic about her, there goes your het.

On most shows, the generic default character is a white male. Like those cans with the white label saying FOOD and DRINK, they're not interesting, so character traits are added to differentiate them. This one is an ex-cop, that one hacks computers. The more specific they become, the more tempting it is to write or read stories about them.

But most shows think they've done enough differentiation when they've made a character a woman (or a person of color). They think "woman" is a role the way "ex-cop who had to leave the force because he broke the rules" is a role. The woman character gets given all the woman dialogue, the woman jokes, and the woman plotlines. They think that's enough, but we don't. We think she's still a generic character, and we aren't tempted to play with her.

And as others have said, there's a fair amount of published het romance out that's pretty damn good. The lead character is a character, not a Woman, and she's fully differentiated. If it's really good writing, the male lead will be a differentiated person too, not a heap of romance cliches, and there you go: a relationship you might want to read about.
fannishliss: up to no good!fannishliss on May 22nd, 2012 08:19 pm (UTC)
Re: The woman
your Woman paragraph is one reason why I love Doctor Who so much. Given that the role of "companion" is often a woman (not always) the writers have gone a long way to making interesting characters for them. In NuWho, Rose, Martha, Donna, and Sarah Jane are fantastic women characters with a ton of individuality and self-determination.

I also think that in SPN the fact that the boys are the main characters leaves a lot more room for interesting women side characters. it sounds a little weird... but take Jody Mills for example. She's a fully fleshed out career woman with her own life and own agenda, who got pulled into the Hunting world, and is now an ally with a full skill set. (BTW the actor is a certified stage combatant, which I would totally LOVE to see onscreen!)
Re: The woman - auroramama on May 23rd, 2012 02:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: The woman - quickreaver on May 23rd, 2012 01:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
Reaperreapertownusa on May 22nd, 2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
Way too much information, but the only way to explain it for me...

I was a gay porn viewer before I found fandom (in the larger sense - pre-Supernatural) and when I discovered slash fiction, obviously it was a match made...somewhere. I'm bi-sexual and have always strongly identified with the male gender - always put myself in the place of male characters, wanted to be a boy growing up and am nearly always male when I dream. My preference is towards men with feminine characteristics so maybe my M/M obsession is partly about feminizing men...I don't know - paging Dr. Sigmund Freud...

The only consensual Supernatural pairings I write are Lisa/Dean and Henricksen/Dean and the only other one that interests me is Jo/Dean so when it comes to romantic pairings in SPN, I actually lean towards het. But I don't like writing romantic relationships in general and usually write gen or non-con for SPN. I really, really like slash non-con for reasons that should probably get me committed...but in short, I'm personally not at all adverse to het. I just need to go to slash to explore the kinks and topics I'm obsessed with.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 22nd, 2012 11:27 pm (UTC)
I think you offered the perfect amount of information, to be honest!

Interestingly, I'm straight but also tend to associate more strongly with male characters than female. I never wanted to be male growing up, but envied all the cool shit guys got to do, over the junk women got stuck with. I don't have a type, per se; I can appreciate a wide range of physiologies and either gender. In my personal life, though, I've only ever dated guys and have yet to meet a woman that made me get that flutter in my gut. So... *shrug!* (There's my reciprocal TMI!)

Thinking about it, the authors who write what little slash I read tend not to feminize either guy. I want the personalities to remain intact and believable and...dudes! So maybe I fall into the 'voyeur' category. Hmm!

Thanks for adding to the conversation!
Nobody's laughing now: O - homo side characterslavinialavender on May 22nd, 2012 11:16 pm (UTC)
I really can't fathom the aversion to het. It's one thing if you prefer slash, but to actively bash het, and the way so many slash shippers feel the need to tear down potential female "threat" characters...it's pretty disturbing. Unfortunately, there's no shortage of misogyny in fandom, as women-heavy as we are. :/
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 23rd, 2012 01:22 am (UTC)
Isn't that odd? I can say, however, that my flist is NOT that way, to my observation, and I love my flisties hugely. :D