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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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you have got to be kidding me
brothers grimm
seperis
Hmm.

fairestcat was asking inclusive fandom events of het and slash and gen writers on and off of lj. This has very little to actually do with that--I got caught up with amireal's comment down in the threads.

Okay, first, a story. Because I always start with a story. It clarifies my point. Okay, it clarifies my point to me.



Part I

I've talked about this before, but what the heck, this is lj, we all forget everything but grudges in like, a week. So. A million years ago when SV was stil crawling out of it's diapers after a whirlwind first year--and God, that was a good year--there was a poster on ClarkLexFic--the fic only list, though someone brought the thing over to ClarkLex to debate it out--wait, too many hyphens. Start over. A person posted that there was a massive amount of present tense fic in ClarkLex and blah blah ickycakes whatever, not the point. Discussion took off, became kind of weird, but the word massive stuck in my head, along with the later commentary. Now, getting beyond my ego being bruised--since I was, you know, *posting* present tense fic all over the place, so to speak--I got curious.

Okay, in my defense, I had too much time on my hands, and at the time, I was in that place where I really, really wanted to be right. It was a rare moment where my desire to be right, right, oh my God I am so right eclipsed my inherent laziness. I enlisted a couple of people, gave them a section of the SSA, and asked them to go through and count the number of past, present, and future tense fic. And they really did, while I heckled from AIM. Seriously. I have no idea to this day how I convinced them to do that.

Okay, and becuase I'm just that dorky, I kept the results.

Smallville Slash Archive, circa August-September 2002

9 dialogue
24 multi
1 other
2 poetry
1 script

649 past
290 present
37 other

total 976

327 other than past

*****

66.5% = past

29.7% = present

3.8% = others

_______________

(current jenn comment: I think these stats cover a specific period of time--I think the week or month before I posted the stats, to make a comparison)

69

3 multi

28 present

38 past

Past = 55.1

present = 40.6

multi = 4.3

Okay, you ask, the point is?

Perception. It was perceived that present tense was beating past tense with a big fat stick of beatingness. Okay, by like, a few people on ClarkLex. They also said we sucked, but beside the point. Except I never would have gotten all inspired if I hadn't gotten all feelings-hurt, so you see, good things come out of trolling.

I lost my point. Anyway. Perception--strangling the poor past tense on their own intestines. Reality, less than a third of the entire archive. However--big however--the poster perceived the difference because in the last three months before I did this little study, the number of present tense fic were on the upswing in a serious way. And if you had come in during that time and hit the archive for latest, you just might get the impression that the fandom is All About the Present Tense. That I can almost prove, if I get really inspired and go back to study by date, but considering that i do remember what was being posted, I'm about eighty percent sure I'm right. May-August 2002 was a good time for the present tense fic in Smallville. According to the above, so was the month before this poll was posted.

I had a lot more in my diaryland account about this, but that is lost, so I'm working from memory of self-righteous satisfaction here.

Part II

The thing about the slash and het and gen separation thing is the idea that:

I still have no idea what the debate is about, exactly. On whether we should all be one large, multipairing, happy fandom where the slash layeth down with the het and watch all their tiny fic spawn play together. Or whether we separate far enough away that we never meet. Or whether the permeable edges are as permeable as we think. Or if That Other Pairing is out to get Our Pairing. Or if it's just preference, or it's actual exclusion, or if it's simply no one who is still bound by physical laws requiring sleep can *ever* read everything out there. I mean, we talk about it a *lot* without actually talking about it much at all, and this is why I rarely do meta right here--I don't understand where most of these conversations go. It seems like the catch-all for whatever is happening at the time that needs a label. Sometimes, it feels like the words 'slash bias' or 'het bias' (I don't think anyone's been accused of being gen biased--isn't that odd now that you think about it?) are used in ways that aren't covered by any actual usable definition to prove a point in a debate. To prove that someone, somewhere, at some point, was being oppressed by those other people.

I mean, the major serious divide between slash and het in a weird way comes down to which lower body orifice we're shoving a cock into*. Unless you count some adventurous het I've read. And even being aware it's more complex than that, it also weirds me out because it's like prostitution being the oldest profession--this is the oldest debate. Before we twitched for mpreg or muttered about incest and looked for the far-off cities of RPS that would be built, we were asking the question "why do you slash characters?" like it's a question that needs to be answered to make the concept relevant. Like that's even a question that isn't on the order of any zen-inducing question like "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" or "What would Jesus do?" It's a question with multiple answers of varying levels of coherency because it's not a question that can be answered to anyone's satisfaction because it cannot be answered. Not in any way that will ever make sense to anyone fully unless they share your brain.

I mean, if I meditaed? That would be my mantra. Right there. Clears my head *wonderfully*.

On the other hand, I always love reading the answers, so asking and answering? So not a complaint here. It's more that--it's so rarely asked for the right *reasons*. It's a complaint or an indulgence or a--an accusation? The question always seems to actually be, "why don't you write het?"

Every time--every time--this debate is dragged out and aired--the number of x/x or x/y fic compared to another is a big one, but also always fun is the infrequent challenges that exclude this or that pairing/group for one reason or another, or the archive that says no whatever pairing/rating/genre or the random troll that wanders by with homophobic or heterophobic commentary that are somehow--and don't even ask me how this happens--are immediately proclaimed The True Voice of the Other Side. Like there is some secret cabal of slashers (hetters) out there quietly working to eliminate everyone who doesn't write their pairing and take over fandom so the one true vision is revealed.

Does anyone--and I'm serious--actually believe that? I mean, really, truly, you sit down and think to yourself, those *slashers* (hetters) are destroying fandom by tying the hands of hetters (slashers) or trolling them off the net?

So today, I'm reading comments and run across a thread and then think, huh. Wow. Do you know what this debate could use? Some actual *facts*.

So here's the actual question I want asked next time the word 'bias' is thrown around anywhere. Because sometimes, I've kind of thought that fandom sometimes might work on the concept that if someone says something enough, or believes it enough, and says it to enough people in enough places, it has to be true.

Can you prove it?

The next time someone, anyone, makes a bias statement, I want *math*. I want percentages. I want a full count and documentation of the places the count was done, who double checked it. Because I want to know when anyone uses the word bias in regards to a group, a community, a person, they're using it as more than a way to get quick sympathy and score points. If you're pissed enough with fandom to see a bias and pissed enough to use the word, and pissed enough to rouse up your buddies, then you are plenty energetic enough to get yourself to counting. You know, I did it? Okay, with help. But Christ, *nine hundred something stories</i>. So we did it. And I bet just about anyone else can do it too.

* Or in femmeslashes case--I really don't have a good way to put that one. Hmm. Give me a couple of hours. Think *spirit*, not letter.


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I mean, the major serious divide between slash and het in a weird way comes down to which lower body orifice we're shoving a cock into.

unless it's girlslash.

Point. I should edit for that.

Now how to do so is the question.

And you know, what it all comes down to is this:

Reality, less than a third of the entire archive.

When you hate it a lot, it seems like 3X as much. *g*

Does anyone--and I'm serious--actually believe that? I mean, really, truly, you sit down and think to yourself, those *slashers* (hetters) are destroying fandom by tying the hands of hetters (slashers) or trolling them off the net?

That's so baffling to me. Mostly I write (and read) slash, yes, but I also write (and read) het, gen, and femslash, and...see, It Isn't About The Genre: It's about the STORY. If I like the notion of putting two guys together in a situation with sexual sparks, it's not simply because they're male. It's because they're two interesting characters who might do something cool stuck together in that particular situation. Same thing with a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a whole team full of people. Characters are interesting. Physical anatomy is incidental.

Or, maybe I just fail at shipping, I don't know.

But what I totally fail to get in the (eternal) slash/femslash/het/gen struggle is any sense of actual persecution happening. I mean: one fan likes chocolate, I like butter pecan, someone else likes lemon sorbet, someone else prefers cheesecake. But is anyone actually trying to shove cheesecake into the lemon sorbet?

Or is there simply a helluva lot of cheesecake on the table, so it's hard to find the other flavors? Because if that's the case, then it's an organization issue. And that's easy to fix.

BUT. If it's that someone's bitching about there being too much cheesecake on the table, then hello, the solution is for the people who want it to put more of the other choices out there.

*sigh*

Fandom is so weird sometimes...

>Characters are interesting. Physical anatomy is incidental.

A-fucking-MEN. Er, I actually strongly agree with everything you just said, that just leapt out at me in particular. And I don't have anything much to say on this subject except basically what you said. Basically:

Word, yo.

Oh yes.

If anyone else, anywhere else, would be shot down and ridiculed. The majority of the world actually requires statistical information for such inflammatory and loaded statements. Those who don't are generally held in derision or suspicion.

Any statement on this always makes me want to demand their evidence, and not something vague like 'oh go look at the newsletter, you'll see what I mean'. Or go look over there, because that is not coherent proof but an isolated data point.

So, yes, this is the long way of saying 'word'. Plus that and I generally can't get the energy up to care about that type of debate. There are much more important debates out there that actually impact on people's lives. By lives I mean very existence.

Also? I am in awe of your survey, I don't think I have ever been that motivated to do anything, bar sleep.

If anyone else, anywhere else, would be shot down and ridiculed. The majority of the world actually requires statistical information for such inflammatory and loaded statements. Those who don't are generally held in derision or suspicion.

hahahaha of bitter laughter. Don't know much about American politics, do you?

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Okay. I'll attempt to say this even though I don't really trust my verbal skills right now. At all.

The databurst is NOT good for a count. It was a weekly rec service, it's my bias, you'd do better to go to the newsletter for, uh, whatsit, raw amounts.

However, statistically it has two things going for it -- it was in the range of 50-75 links *per week* from April 17 to July 12. It's not a huge sample size, but it's not small, and it spans several months. Always use big sample size, they told me.

I recced slash, gen, and het as my fancy took me. Again, the raw counts are useless. But if someone (not me, omg) were to categorize them, they might do one useful thing, if my brain is still working.

See, all of those links came from the noticeboard and flashfic flists. These were members who had posting access to all-inclusive communities. What I want to know is-- what was the percentage of *posting* to those communities? Nearly all those ljs bothered to *join* (not just friend) the noticeboard. Did they also have a concurrent habit of posting to the noticeboard? I think... I think using the percentages will cancel out the raw amounts generated by my whims.

Because my nightmare, late, late on Sunday nights trying to do twenty links without crying, was that they weren't posted, and if I didn't dig them up, no one would *ever* know they'd written this awesome stuff.

So there ya go. Knock it down, play with it, I have only theories in the dinosaurs turned into birds sense and not the general relativity sense. ^^;;;

And yeah, you'd have to go to sga_noticeboard archives to cross-check, which is why I weep just thinking about the data crunching.

This is just freaky. I found your post just after I went through every issue of the sga_newsletter form July 23 through Agust 1 and counted how many links there were for fanfiction for each pairing. McKay /Sheppard was the most with 100 links, Sheppard/Weir was second with 21, Sheppard/Beckett was third with 6.

If anyone is interested I'm willing to make a post in my lj with more details. I'm already planning to go through the newletter's memories to count how many links there are for each pairing.

Word.

toxictattoo was talking about this today too, in a somewhat different form.

Anyhow, amen. But I suspect you're preaching to the choir.

OTOH, this member of the choir will happily ask "can you prove it?" the next time I see it crop up.


Just in case you are curious, I did your suggestion and did the math. It certainly appears that most fic posted to LJ is McKay/Sheppard. It wasn't nine hundred stories, but it's not bad for a prelim study.

I went through the sga_reader friendslist from July 28th to August 1st . I took note of the pairing of every fic listed and worked out the percentages. There were 141 fics examined. I know this isn't a huge sample size, so there may be further studies. I also might go and look through the sga_newsletter to see how close the percentages match. Any errors are totally my fault.

Highest:
Mckay/Sheppard: 43%
Gen: 18%
Sheppard/Weir: 9%

More here!

Check the numbers on the newsletter memories for stats on the entire period since we started it:

http://www.livejournal.com/tools/memories.bml?user=sga_newsletter

Bottom line: fandom needs security cameras. I want to know who stole the cookie from the cookie jar. Or, you know, if there ever was a cookie.

I'd also definitely like to hear a more comprehensive argument than, "Because I say so" from the downtrodden. I'm a scientist, people. Show me the data. Give me the figures on numbers of fics produced in a given segment of fandom vs. the number represented in the disputed areas, for starters. Let's try a little statistical weighting, rather than misleading one-to-one comparisons. (And then, hey, logic it out for me how the success of any one group necessarily burdens another. Just for laughs.)

And on a side note: The biologist in me giggled at the number of x/x or x/y fic. Biggest dork ever, that's me.

Show me the data. Give me the figures on numbers of fics produced in a given segment of fandom vs. the number represented in the disputed areas, for starters. Let's try a little statistical weighting, rather than misleading one-to-one comparisons.

Exactly. Wordy, word, word! It's easy to say a group is "under-represented" or "biased" or "discriminated" against. Prove it by showing me the numbers.


This reminds me of some gender stuff I read. (It was a while ago, and I don't have links/refs handy—sorry.) It was suggested that if something is rare—in the article's case, female heads of state—having any examples visible at all is attention grabbing. So, for example, having a female Federal Chancellor of Germany really stands out, in a sea of mostly male European heads of state. The article went on to say that the relatively few women in the boys club had a larger impact as far as the viewer's attention went, so it could seem like they had pairity when they were still very much in the minority. So if you saw a picture of the heads of state together your eye would go "guy, guy, guy, WOMAN, guy . . . " and your attention would be drawn to the woman because she's not what you're used to seeing. In spite of being in the minority, in fact, because of being in the minority, she stands out more than sheer numbers would indicate.

I think that in some fandoms, slash might be similar. A viewer who's not specifically looking for slash would see x/y, x/y, x/y, Y/Y, x/y, x/y . . . and the Y/Y would stand out. At the end of the experience, it's not necessarily the numbers one remembers, it's the impact each different experience has on the viewer.

Of course, when you think about it that way, the best solution is to have much, much more slash (and female heads of state). The fact that this would enlarge my slash reading pool is a completely unintentional side effect that would never, ever influence my opinion on this matter.

You remind me of the thing I read where it'd been discovered that as little as 50% (or was it 30%?) of female participation in a mixed-gender group was enough to create a perception of the group as having been "female-dominated." Which is a whole side topic for gender relations right there, especially with the bit you point out regarding how perceptions are affected by the emotional weight the observer places on particular occurrences.

I've said this to Ami in a half-joking way lately, but when did we become Harry Potter fandom and its giant wank wars? I feel like there is, and will always be, a dissonance between slash and het, if ony for the feeling on both sides that "x has paired my favorite character with y, and how could they?" Clearly people are sensitive to the dismissal of their writing or pairing or whatever as being untrue to someone else's perceptions of the character, and that can lead to all sorts of defensiveness.

People don't read John/Rodney for the same reason I don't read John/Elizabeth; because it doesn't make sense in my head. However, it is, sadly, by its nature an argument where people will never agree to disagree. There will always be somone out there saying "you made John do what?? and someone else out there bitching about the poor caliber of work being put out by X shippers on Y site. All in the name of protecting their characterization, canon or no.

I would make a pithy reference to apples and oranges and Rodney's allergy to citrus, but my bedroom ceiling fell in at one this morning so I haven't really gotten enough sleep.

That said, I really do miss the good old days of Farscape fandom, where we all got along (mostly) and smiled and nodded and had one big happy archive and if Bekka wrote DRD porn we all just smiled and nodded and tried not to think about it too much. Maybe that's another thing; Farscape fans could never really take themselves too seriously and the actors were always willing to make dirty nasty insinuations about what Scorpy was doing with who and where that leather collar went (thank you, Wayne Pygram). But that's all beside the point.

The point is our investment in these characters makes us feel protective of them. Also? We're a whole bunch of opinionated bitches. I mean both these things in the kindest of ways, truly. However, opinions clash, and people take sides, and there is always going to be someone feeling slighted. It's exhausting, and I'm amazed at how people are able to keep up with it all.

Yeah, this would probably be more cogent if I had sleep and a few litres of coffee in my system. As it is, all I'm really trying to say here is "Why can't we all just get along?" while I hold my teddy bear and rock back and forth on the couch. We'll ignore the domestic argument comparison I just made (ceiling. fell down.) and just say, yeah, people are cwaaazy.

Ah, yes, Farscape. The series that refused to take itself seriously. "And you! Shut up or I'll tongue you."

How can you not love that? ::hugs:: Also, how'd they get that past the censors?

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I don't necessarily disagree--or actually, with any of it. I have--had my problems with what feels like* every discussion about John or JF going Rodney and DH-centric within a few post. And I self-identify slash, but as long as it's John, I'm reading more and more.

And it's not that I'm protesting how people feel, mostly because I do want the right to blow up every once in a while over something fannishly stupid in my lj for fun. And it's not even expressing oneself in strong terms. It's the expression plus the actual *belief*, plus the lack of actual backing, plus the level of accusation. I get the feeling of being marginalized. *grins* Perceptionally speaking, I feel half the time like I'm actually in the Rodney Fandom of Awesome and my tiny John real estate is being invaded.

But if a bias statement is made, as an accusation, if someone is going to say it, they need to back it up with something besides their own perception. That's--actually all of my thing there. well, not all of it, but all my fingers are up for, really.

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Surfed in from that metafandom thingy...

I agree with this sentiment 100%

I also think that another comment's assertion that the exceptions are more noticeable is pretty valid.

On the other hand, I also wonder if there's exterior factors that influence a person's perception of how much het/slash/whatever is around. For example, in society in general, het is the norm, but in several areas of the internet, most of the discussion of relationships that I see involves slash (primarily of the boy-on-boy kind), to the point that I'm more likely to see people babble on about this-and-that guy instead of this guy and that girl.

So from my own perspective, it seems like there's more slash than het around without me even looking at any fics whatsoever. (Though I rather suspect that it's a pretty equal measure, really, just that slashers are more vocal about their pairing/character preferences in the places I hang out.)

Here from sga_newsletter...

To me it seems very logical that there would be more slash than het fanfiction. The main characters of SGA are
male:
-Sheppard
-McKay
-Ronon
-Beckett
-Possibly Zelenka and/or Caldwell

female:
-Weir
-Teyla

Which means (excluding 3somes and other characters), there are 12 possible het pairings, 15 m/m pairings and 1 f/f pairing.

Add to this the fact that the overall majority of screentime and character development goes to McKay (to the extent that he's in danger of being mary-sue sometimes) and Sheppard, and it really doesn't surprise me that there's a lot of McShep out there.

What I never understand is why that bugs people. If it's not your thing, go start a community or join up with other communities that are your thing. I don't read het (mainly because there's not enough good Teyla and I hate Weir) but it's existence never bothers me even when I'm on sites where het is predominant. Maybe there is animosity because people expect animosity from the "other side" and walk into conversations being very defensive. I think maybe furikku is right. Slashers get defensive becuase they're the underdogs in RL and hetters get defensive because they're outnumbered on LJ and some fanfic repositories.

*starts singing Why can't we be friends, why can't we be friends...*

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