Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Shipping News: Let’s Talk About Femslash also Shipping and Statutory Rape

Hi guys, it’s been a while. I suck I know believe me. If I had the option to spend all my time fangirling with you about fictional relationships then I would. Alas life is a thing that gets in the way sometimes. You have to forgive me though, well actually you don’t have to do anything, you can hate me if you want. It’s not like you’re the only one that reads this blog… oh wait. Please don’t leave me lonely reader! I love you! I bring you nice things – like femslash and Sterek drama.

Shipping Tid-Bits:

Hyapble’s Battleships – Classic TV tournament has a winner and it’s Luke and Lorelai from Gilmore Girls.

David Tennant talks 50th Anniversary and working with Billie Piper again over at RadioTimes.

Not only did this week’s New Girl have a very special guest star (the always fantastic Dylan O’Brien) but it also saw fan favorite coupling Nick and Jess do the dirty deed for the first time. It seemed to go well (great use of Ellie Goulding’s “Anything Could Happen”, which is soundtrack to my life at the moment) but only time will tell if it sticks.

I never thought I would ever get to say this: but Misha Collins, John Barrowman and Nathan Fillion met up over the weekend and tweeted about it. Malcolm Reynolds, Jack Harkness and Castiel walk into a bar… it’s either the start of a bad joke or a porn (possibly both, I’m thinking both). Anyway, in this case, a picture really is worth a 1000words (of fan fiction) and we have three.




Right well, I’ve had a request (did I mention that I love it when you guys ask me for things? That sounded like sarcasm, it wasn’t. I really do like it). One of my lonely readers has asked me to talk about femslash, which is okay by me because I love femslash!

Basically it’s like slash minus the penis. Seriously it’s the same premise except it’s two ladies rather than two gents (thus the “fem”). You see two women that have chemistry and you think they should probably date. If you really want them to date at the expense of all other pairings they are your OTP. When the text just isn’t enough you look to fandom for your fix – fan fiction and fanart are the best thing to happen to shippers… ever. What canon?

Like slash it’s mostly based in subtext because there just aren’t enough lesbian couples around unfortunately. While traditionally femslash is less popular than its male counterpart (this is for a variety of different reasons including of course misogyny) the phenomenon has grown massively in the last few years.

There is not as much research about femslash – and it’s not really my area of expertise academically – so I’m not really sure where it began but I guess you could trace it back to the pulp novels of the early 20th century. Before those badass lady criminals either died or got married they spent an awful lot of time in female company. And of course there is always Thelma and Louise, in which Brad Pitt played the “NO LESO” dude.

Then in 90s a little fantasy spin off created something special. I am of course talking about Xena: Warrior Princess. Xena/Gabrielle are basically the femslash equivalent of Kirk/Spock. Except it was even better because ladies are allowed a hell of a lot more leniency in expressing their physical affection (also female sexual fluidity considered more acceptable than male) so by the time this series ended it wasn’t really subtext anymore. I was only about 14 when the last ep aired but even I knew their relationship was more than platonic friendship.

Over the past couple of years a couple of powerhouse femslash ships have taken the fandom to new heights. These are Glee’s Rachel/Quinn (Faberry) and Rizzoli & Isles’ Rizzoli/Isles (Rizzles). The Faberry fandom rivals size and creative output of the biggest slash pairings (they have beaten both Sterek and Destiel in online polls) and Rizzles is only getting more popular. And don’t forget about Once Upon a Time or as I like to call it Magical Lesbians: The Femslash Dream.

Not sold on femslash yet? Well then wrap you’re head around this little piece of trivia. Glee’s Brittana started their lives as a femslash pairing based on a small amount of background interaction and a bunch fandom support… until it actually happened on the show! Congrats Glee you did something right (don’t get cocky… woops too late).

Side note: at the moment I am completely obsessed with the pairing of Beca and Chloe from the film Pitch Perfect. I just really love femslash okay?

The next topic is less fun and comes to us from you guessed it, the Sterek fandom (hiatus is not treating us well – it’s almost over guys, we can do it). Earlier in the week Tumblr was in uproar after someone accused the Sterek fandom of supporting statutory rape because Stiles is under the age of consent (in Calfornia anyway).

You can’t really argue with this accusation because as of right now Stiles is 16 (he turns 17 early in Season 3) and Derek is well over 18 although I’m not entirely sure how old he is. So if they were to have sex – Derek could indeed be accused of statutory rape and if he was arrested he would be a registered sex offender. Those are the facts. Unfortunately the argument deteriorated into name-calling and inaccuracies.

Here’s the thing about the age of consent – its job is to prevent those in a position of power from taking advantage of someone weaker than them. The problem is it’s really hard to regulate against a power imbalance so blanket laws, like the age of consent, are put in place to help law enforcement prosecute wrong doers but they also have to look at each case on a individual basis.

Let’s face it they are not going to stop every single 17 y/o from having sex with someone older than 18 – if they were pretty much everyone I know would have been arrested. Then there’s the fact that in the majority of western nations (and a number of other states) the age of consent is 16. This makes sense because the average age of first sexual intercourse in the USA is 17. That’s a hell of a lot of law breaking going on.

Then if you look at representation of these kinds of pairings in popular culture, it’s not exactly negative. There is the romanticization of teacher/student relationships (Dawson’s Creek, Pretty Little Liars), which is a lot more problematic than Sterek. Then there is the popular supernatural romance trope where an incredibly old mythical creature falls in love with a high school girl. Yes Twilight is super creepy but this example works for Buffy and Angel as well. Buffy was 17 when they first had sex and Angel was certainly over 18. If you’re looking for queer examples then Queer as Folk’s Brian and Justin are pretty good. Justin was just 17 when they first hooked up and Brian was a lot older than that.

For all those reasons (and more), I think it is socially and culturally acceptable to ship a pairing like Sterek but really that’s not the point. The person that accused Sterek of statutory rape is right. I might not agree with the morality of their statement (we each have our own ideologies about sex and that’s okay) but I can’t argue with it. In the state of California it is illegal for Stiles and Derek to have sex… of course they already do a bunch of illegal things (and I think the age difference would be a great point of narrative tension) but it’s perfectly reasonable to use this law in an argument against Sterek.

The problem happens when someone starts calling an entire fandom pedophiles. There are a lot of arguments against Sterek (you could argue about both physical and emotional abuse) but pedophilia is not one of them. A pedophile is a person who has a sustained sexual orientation toward prepubescent children, generally aged 13 or younger. It is not child molestation. Child molesters are defined by their acts; pedophiles are defined by their desires.

Stiles is not 13 or younger nor does he look 13 or younger so in no way could Derek being attracted to him be construed as pedophilia. Reading Sterek fan fiction is not pedophilia as neither Stiles nor Derek could be considered prepubescent children either mentally or physically (unless you are reading a fan fiction where they are engaging in sex acts under the age of 13). 

The reason I am telling you this is because you are undermining your own argument by employing the wrong terminology as well as spreading incorrect information that could have a negative affect of people’s understanding of an extremely serious issue. Throwing around a term like pedophilia as an insult makes light of a legitimate mental disorder that has terrible real world consequences.

You could make an argument that fan fiction and fan art depicting characters that are under the age of 18 constitutes child pornography but as they are fictional and the actors portraying them are over 18 it doesn’t have the same implications. Remember though. If you are making the argument about child pornography then it would include any pairing where the character is under 18. This means that any explicit fanwork about basically every pairing on Teen Wolf – with the exception of the parents – would be considered child pornography.  

Look, I saw ridiculous people on both sides of this argument. The original poster did word the accusation in an aggressive manor but it is a legitimate argument and as such shouldn’t be dismissed as hate. That said, if you make a statement on a public forum people are well within their rights to respond to it. Fandom really needs to stop treating criticism like a personal insult.

And that’s all I have time for today kids. Get back to shipping and remember it’s okay to be a fan of problematic things as long as you acknowledge the problems.