?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Some Data and Analysis on Genre Identity/Preference in Tolkien Fandom

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Some Data and Analysis on Genre Identity/Preference in Tolkien Fandom

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
hermione
Over on the post about my paper presentation this weekend, the issue of genre was brought up because I didn't address it in the paper but I definitely asked about it in the survey. I decided not to include it in the paper because it involved defining and explaining terminology (genfic, het, slash) that I just didn't have time for, and I wasn't sure I could introduce the topic in so short a time in such a way that I could impress upon a non-fanfic audience all of the significance and sometimes emotion that accompanies these genres. However, it certainly interests us, so I'm going to share some data here. (I did post some data in the conversation on the earlier post, but the comments are becoming convoluted enough that I worry that it's going to become difficult to find and discuss it, and it is worth breaking out into a place where it is easier to find and talk about.)

I am going to share the data sets for the four genres for readers and writers from my survey and also from Centrum Lumina's AO3 Census. It is important to note that the questions I asked and she asked are not identical and, in fact, measure slightly different things, but I think they are similar enough that we can at least look at them side-by-side to see if there are any trends between the Tolkien fandom and fandom as a whole, at least as it exists on AO3.

My questions were phrased as "I identify myself as a [genre] writer" and "I enjoy reading [genre] stories," where the genres are genfic, slash, het, and femslash. The question for writers was meant to determine how many people identified their activities as strongly focused upon (or antithetical to) a particular genre. This isn't quite the same as "I write [genre]" (and yes, this was intentional). The readers' questions were a more straightforward measurement of reader preferences.

Centrum Lumina more straightforwardly asked, "What category(s) of work do you prefer to read?" and "What category(s) of work do you typically write?"

So here you go.

Tolkien Fanfic Writers Tolkien Fanfic Readers AO3 Writers AO3 Readers
Genfic Strongly Agree: 12%
Agree: 28%
Disagree: 20%
Strongly disagree: 5%
No opinion/Not sure: 34%

Strongly Agree: 30%
Agree: 43%
Disagree: 5%
Strongly disagree: 2%
No opinion/Not sure: 21%

23% 17%
Slash Strongly Agree: 22%
Agree: 26%
Disagree: 20%
Strongly disagree: 14%
No opinion/Not sure: 18%

Strongly Agree: 41%
Agree: 32%
Disagree: 8%
Strongly disagree: 7%
No opinion/Not sure: 12%

37% 31%
Het Strongly Agree: 4%
Agree: 24%
Disagree: 26%
Strongly disagree: 14%
No opinion/Not sure: 32%

Strongly Agree: 12%
Agree: 53%
Disagree: 10%
Strongly disagree: 4%
No opinion/Not sure: 21%

18% 17%
Femslash Strongly Agree: 3%
Agree: 14%
Disagree: 36%
Strongly disagree: 25%
No opinion/Not sure: 21%

Strongly Agree: 16%
Agree: 34%
Disagree: 18%
Strongly disagree: 12%
No opinion/Not sure: 21%

10% 15%


Femslash. When I first crunched the data for writers, the femslash data jumped out at me immediately and honestly made me wince a bit. Very few authors (17%) identified as femslash writers. I noted in the other post that I wondered if the number of femslash readers would be higher--knowing this to be the case for Centrum Lumina's census--and I was correct: They were. By quite a bit. Only 75 respondents identified as femslash writers in my survey. However, 344 readers indicated that they enjoyed reading femslash stories. This means that there are more than 4.5 times the number of femslash readers than writers, which is even higher than the 4 times as many readers to writers in Centrum Lumina's census. (This honestly surprised me. I expected a disparity but not this much of a disparity.)

But the more I think about it, perhaps the less I should be surprised. Tolkien fanfic writers are generally an experienced bunch, writing on average for 6.1 years. Femslash is a relatively new genre in the fandom. I haven't looked at how the data for age and years writing varies (or doesn't) based on one's genre preferences, but I would not be surprised to find that veteran writers simply haven't started working with this genre yet. (Anecdotally, this doesn't seem to be the case, as I can think of five veteran Tolkienfic writers right off the top of my head who have done significant work with femslash stories.)

Then there is the "negative identity" side of the equation. 61% of writers disagreed or strongly disagreed that they identified as femslash writers. Compare this to ...

Het: 40%
Slash: 34%
Genfic: 25%

The "disagree" option, to me, seems fairly innocuous. It could mean that the author wouldn't touch a femslash story with the proverbial ten-foot pole. But it could also mean that the writer hasn't yet tackled such a story but is not necessarily opposed to doing so. Or it could mean that the writer just didn't see the femslash genre as part of her identity as an author, even if she did write or was open to writing femslash stories.

A full quarter of writers, though, strongly disagreed that they identified as femslash writers. (Compare to 14% for slash, 14% for het, and 5% for genfic.) This response suggests to me authors who avoid or would not consider writing a femslash story. That this is so high and that it is much higher than the same numbers for the other two genres that include erotica (het and slash) does suggest to me that a bias against femslash exists in the Tolkien fandom.

The numbers for readers are slightly less depressing, suggesting that half of readers do enjoy femslash stories. This is still the lowest number of the four genres, but it was in the AO3 Census too. The disagree/strongly disagree numbers are also the highest for femslash than the other genres (30% versus 15% for slash, 14% for het, and 7% for genfic).

It's hard to know exactly how to interpret these data because, of course, there could be multiple explanations. It could be that there is a bias against women or against same-sex relationships between women that there isn't for men. I kind of see that as the worst interpretation.

It could also be a reflection of the newness of femslash as a genre compared to the other three. The other three were commonly used to classify stories (and authors) when I started writing ten years ago. I recall only seeing a handful of f/f stories, and femslash wasn't a term I recall seeing used widely until a few years ago. On a positive note, the number of readers relative to writers suggests that there is something of an "untapped market" in femslash: a good number of readers at least willing to try a femslash story but relatively few writers producing them. Authors, take note. ;)

No Opinion/Not Sure. The number of respondents who answered "No Opinion/Not Sure" hovered around 20% except for three questions. I find these disparities to be interesting.

Among the writers, 34% and 32% answered "No Opinion/Not Sure" when asked if they identified respectively as genfic or het writers. I considered that this might reflect uncertainty about how to define those terms (whereas slash and femslash by extension seem more easily defined and widely used); however, the same uncertainty wasn't seen among readers. What I suspect is going on is that both of these genres are so common that authors write them but don't identify with them. It is certainly possible to write Tolkien fanfic that focuses only on same-sex relationships, but most people, at some point, write a story that doesn't have much of a relationship focus at all, and the number of opposite-sex canon couples means that most people probably write a story, at some point, with an opposite-sex couple in it, even if that couple is not the focus of the story. At what point does one stop simply writing about the texts and become a het writer?

Among readers, only 12% weren't sure if they enjoyed slash or not. I wonder if this might reflect the one-time (and somewhat ongoing) controversial nature of slash in the Tolkien fandom. It was an issue on which, it seemed, one could not avoid taking a stance once upon a time. The low number of respondents who essentially didn't take a stance seems to reflect that.

Genfic. Every now and then, I'll come across a genfic writer or two kvetching that they aren't popular or don't get read because they write genfic. It has always been my feeling that this was not true, but of course, I had no way of backing up that assertion with anything other than anecdote.

Now I can say: It's just not true. 73% of readers enjoy genfic. The same percentage enjoy slash and slightly fewer enjoy het (65%). Where it gets interesting, though, is that only 2% strongly disagreed that they enjoy genfic (the group that, as explained above in the femslash section, I think of as those who wouldn't read a genfic story even if they had the chance to do so). 5% disagreed and 21% didn't know, and I suspect that most of all of these "don't know" readers either have read genfic or would. This is the group that might not be perfectly clear on the terminology or have experienced a wide enough range of fanfic to have tried a variety of genres; again, more analysis based on the years of experience of respondents in each group will perhaps add clarity here.

So basically only 1 reader in 50 will encounter a genfic story, go "Eww, genfic!" and move on. The numbers for the other genres suggest that far more readers turn away from a story based on its genre alone, so my initial instincts here were correct: Genfic writers, you really don't have a lot of complain about. :)

I'm interested to hear others' thoughts on these numbers. This is just a very preliminary analysis and some thoughts off the top of my head. Also, keep in mind that the survey is ongoing, so I hope to have a larger and more representative data set when the survey concludes in December 2015.



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/355379.html
  • I think it is hilarious that Gen fic writers keep identifying themselves as a sad little group in the Tolkien fandom. Nice to have your figures.

    Every now and then, I'll come across a genfic writer or two kvetching that they aren't popular or don't get read because they write genfic. It has always been my feeling that this was not true, but of course, I had no way of backing up that assertion with anything other than anecdote.

    Now I can say: It's just not true. 73% of readers enjoy genfic. The same percentage enjoy slash and slightly fewer enjoy het (65%). Where it gets interesting, though, is that only 2% strongly disagreed that they enjoy genfic (the group that, as explained above in the femslash section, I think of as those who wouldn't read a genfic story even if they had the chance to do so). 5% disagreed and 21% didn't know, and I suspect that most of all of these "don't know" readers either have read genfic or would.

    The numbers for the other genres suggest that far more readers turn away from a story based on its genre alone, so my initial instincts here were correct: Genfic writers, you really don't have a lot of complain about. :) I'm interested to hear others' thoughts on these numbers.


    I'd like to do the numbers on page clicks. I noticed a while back, that those poor maligned/neglected Gen Fic writers have thrown around in my presence some startlingly large numbers, especially on ff net. Now the other thing I noted, whereas they and het writers have complained that they are not read like slash writers. Well, I have one ambitious work that is majority het (lotr) and adjusting for number of chapters, it has far, far more readers than my most read slash story.

    I guess from those numbers, if I want to be read, I should write more femslash stories. But my numbers do not bear that out. They are my least popular stories. Maybe I don't do the genre very well. Also, my femslash stories have been short and I am not a great short-short writer. I think people need to be exposed to more and better--oops I meant to type longer--femslash stories.

    How about the epic femslash novel? Does anyone know of one? I think that is a burning need. Femslash ficlets are not going to single-handedly sell a genre that readers at this point in time have been less exposed to? Bring it on! I think it will find an audience.

    Edited at 2015-01-14 01:27 am (UTC)
    • I have to admit that the genfic persecution complex makes me roll my eyes. I mean, come on. Most Tolkienfic is genfic. There are two large genfic archives. Writers of genfic stories never had to worry about their work being ineligible for the MEFAs. Writers of genfic don't get flamed on ff.net for writing genfic.

      I think part of it is that slash and het writers kind of took their toys to other corners of the Internet and had a lot of fun there. Maybe the genfic writers felt left out? I don't know. We're all left out from something is this fandom. Perhaps it is also a form of rationalization: "Many of us don't want you (the writers of erotica) to share our spaces, but at the end of the day, you have more readers than we do." Like they are making a sacrifice by not being kewl and writing erotica.

      (I should say that I do not mean this of all genfic writers. I am a genfic writer, for pity's sake! But some do have a persecution complex that ... doesn't exactly seem to bear out in the numbers.)

      Page clicks would be another interesting way to look at the same question (and would be really easy to do). On the SWG, By the Light of Roses appears to be my most clicked-on story aside from my ficlet collections and AMC, but it would be interesting to look at my short slash/femslash stories compared to short genfic stories.

      Femslash does seem to have the biggest gap between reader interest and author production. I don't know that that means that there will be a high demand; some of those readers might be picky beyond genre. But it does seem that there is a potential audience for something that is not yet being produced in great numbers.

      My femslash "The Sailing Forth" was almost 11,000 words ... not a novel but longish. And ... it has just 184 clicks, compared to roughly 1,000/chapter for By the Light of Roses. I agree that it is a genre that deserves more attention from writers.
  • I think I answered No Opinion to all the genre questions. :P Primarily for the reason you suggested - I don't identify as a writer of any particular genre, though I write all of them.

    I guess I just never saw the point. I write fanfic, and that's enough of an identify for me - and I dislike painting myself in a smaller box, because I don't want to become known as a _____ writer. If anything, I identify more strongly as a writer of certain groups - I'm a Sindar of Doriath, Feanorions, and Orodreth writer. :P

    As far as femslash goes, I wonder if some of it is a fear of being labeled as exploitative or pandering to male readers/buying into the patriarchy? I doubt it's a large reason, but it's certainly something that is possible, considering the amount of times I've been accused of catering to men by doing such things as wearing heels or red lipstick.

    I primarily write genfic - the numbers of hits, bookmarks, comments, and kudos that I can see in my stats on Ao3 clearly backs up my suspicion that my genfic is more popular than anything else. In particular, humorous genfic tends to be more popular.
  • What I find interesting is that compared to the AO3 numbers, there is a slight bias against genfic on that archive, at least compared to slash. It seems strange that het, femslash, and gen are all about equal; I hadn't expected that. (I crunched some AO3 numbers about a year ago: at that point, half the fics in the archive were slash. The other half was the combination of all the other categories.) So people complaining about that may have a point. But in Tolkien fandom, that people think there's a bias against that, well, SOA in some respects and more recently MPTT have shown that there's a dedicated audience for them.

    What saddens me is that even though there's apparently an audience for femslash stories, the lack of reviews and hits on femslash fics make it seem the opposite.
  • When I first crunched the data for writers, the femslash data jumped out at me immediately and honestly made me wince a bit.

    That made me wince. A lot.

    Coincidentally, I directed a couple of mutual LJ-pals to the Heretic Loremaster and the "Open Thread for Slash Discussion." Remember that? One hundred-twenty-one comments? Buried in there is some discussion about the preponderance of m/m slash vs femslash.
    • I do wish I'd know what provoked the "oh HAIL no!!" response in 25% of writers when asked about femslash. I need to look more closely at other information about people who answered each but don't have time right now and also don't want to dig too deep now when I'm just going to have to run the same data again in a year's time, when the survey is over.

      I do remember that! :D I'll have to look back at it sometime soon.
  • Still feeling punched in the gut by the femslash numbers, though looking at the table makes it seem like writers are much more likely to be conservative in their identification than their readers are - I do find it notable that the readers' agree/strongly agree scale tips in a positive direction in every single genre.

    Based on my own experiences, I can't help thinking that femslash readers are more numerous than femslash writers because reading can be a comfortably anonymous experience, whereas commenting on a femslash fic or especially writing it may be (whether real or perceived by others) akin to a virtual coming-out, something that a lot of people may not be willing to do for a variety of reasons. I took pains to stick around that virtual closet for a lot longer than I'm all that comfortable admitting.

    The difference to slash perhaps being that even when a queer female writer tackles two men getting it on, she isn't immediately "under suspicion", because it's still two men and the default assumption is more likely to be female gaze/attraction than the idea that she is making a transformative effort and queering the narrative for identification purposes. (Tacked on ofc comes the idea of a male-as-default, which Tolkien's works in particular do little to challenge.)

    I don't know; it's late and I'm tired so this may not be coming out (hah, pun not intentional) right. I also don't want to disagree with the apparent bias against femslash on the whole, because I agree that, looking at the numbers on a whole, that is the case. (I don't remember, did you ask for sexual orientation in the questionnaire?)

    But I'd like to bring up a link to CentrumLumina's Femslash Flowchart that also lists a lot of possible reasons and interrelations between factors, as well as to my f-locked post with more ruminations on female-centric fic and femslash, though I'm currently in the process of revising that (still welcoming comments, though).
    • akin to a virtual coming-out, something that a lot of people may not be willing to do for a variety of reasons

      I can see how that might have been an issue for a lot of people. The Tolkien fandom as a whole was certainly not open or accepting when I encountered it! Much less so than the world I had been living in for quite some time. I had not heard such reactionary BS in literally decades as what I stumbled upon in the Tolkien fandom. I found it hard to be polite about it and it did me lasting damage. It used up all my patience.

      Perhaps there is a certain element of "female gaze/attraction" for me in writing slash fic, but that is far from my primary motivation. It just makes it easier for me. My principle reason for enjoying the genre is wanting to "queer" Middle-earth and reaction to my loathing of the type of formula romance which dominated het fic in the Tolkien fandom at the time I came around. My first novel was a het novel, which tried to turn that love-marriage-baby-carriage story on its head. Mine included pre-marital sex and infidelity--like in real life! That business in "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" on the question of marriage to the end of Arda is worse than my Catholic upbringing and contrary to human nature.

      It made me want to run in circles and pull my hair out screaming that people wanted to adopt the Law and Customs uncritically while being perfectly willing to alter all kinds of other details. I think also my interest in slash was initially very particular--Maedhros/Fingon--I was new to The Silmarillion when I came to fanfiction and actually thought their relationship might be implied or construed as canon. Reading Tolkien's letters and his biography cleared that up for me pretty fast. I adored The Iliad as a kid and I loved Mary Renault's work. There was a rebellious element of wanting to read and write it also within this judgey Tolkien fandom. Mainly I wanted to balance the world in my fiction.

      I don't want a fictional world without a spectrum of sexual preference and gender identification. But it's not a political campaign for me in my writing. That's I save for real life. Although, like real life my fiction includes an ugly side--not everyone is universally tolerant and welcoming in those questions. One could make a fantasy world like that--I love Ellen Kushner's world. But we all write best what inspires us--the story we fell compelled to write, not the one someone else thinks we should write.

      So I never liked the old slash genre of everyone in Rivendell is gay and randy and somewhere among the flower pots are a couple of women, implied maybe.

      (Oh, god--with big dumb jolly jock Glorfindel topping frail, bookish, cranky little Erestor. Shudder! Never say never--I've read a couple of good ones of those. Not a model for me of what I want though.)

      Edited at 2015-01-14 04:42 am (UTC)
    • The difference to slash perhaps being that even when a queer female writer tackles two men getting it on, she isn't immediately "under suspicion", because it's still two men and the default assumption is more likely to be female gaze/attraction than the idea that she is making a transformative effort and queering the narrative for identification purposes.

      Hmmm, but still admiring the female beauty or loving to read about the attraction between two women: it should not place you under suspicion of anything. I know that most people feel comfortable to place people into definitions, but that irks me personally. You are you.
    • That's a really good point about the possible reason for the disparity between readers and writers. When I wrote my first femslash, I was in the privileged position of being already known as a straight [married] woman--I mean, lots of people know Mr. Felagund! :) I can see how that choice would carry extra baggage if I were a single woman.

      I did not ask about sexual orientation on the survey.

      Thank you for the link to the femslash flowchart and to your post, which I commented on and hope I will catch on Tumblr. (You will reblog it on the SWG at least, I hope: 8^)
  • Here via LJ Home Page

    How horrifying it is to know that Prof. Tolkien's beautiful creations are used in the service of homosexual pornography. I'm glad he's not around to see it!
  • It could also be a reflection of the newness of femslash as a genre compared to the other three. The other three were commonly used to classify stories (and authors) when I started writing ten years ago. I recall only seeing a handful of f/f stories, and femslash wasn't a term I recall seeing used widely until a few years ago.

    I think there's an important question hiding here. If there already were f/f stories around years ago (albeit only a handful), BUT the term femslash has only arisen a few years ago: How many writers actually write f/f, but do not identify as femslashers? To how many writers is "slash" about same-sex relationships, whether m/m, f/f or Other/Other, so that they do not feel the need for the "femslash" label?
    I'm not saying this alone might account for the amazing disparity in numbers, but it might be part of the reason. Maybe this can be explored via another survey.

    What I suspect is going on is that both of these genres are so common that authors write them but don't identify with them.

    I don't know about the others, but yeah, that's me. I mean, that's my reason for choosing "No opinion" on all these questions. I identify as a writer, not as a writer in any specific genre - I'll dabble in anything if inspiration hits. I wouldn't define as a horror writer, a short story writer, or a romance writer either, although I've certainly written horror, short stories, and romance. -- If your question had been worded like Centrum Lumina's, my response would've been a bit different - but still not useful: In that case, I would have said that I typically write genfic. But that might look like I only write (or like) genfic, which again is not true; it's just what I've (so far) produced most of.
    In conclusion, there's a lot below the surface that the questions don't properly bring up.

    Every now and then, I'll come across a genfic writer or two kvetching that they aren't popular or don't get read because they write genfic. It has always been my feeling that this was not true, but of course, I had no way of backing up that assertion with anything other than anecdote.

    I think this points towards a completely different phenomenon. My (wild, unbackable) theory is that there is a lot more genfic, so while it is the most popular genre, there are also more stories vying for attention, with the result that maybe a single story may not be noticed so much. Like, if there are 2000 genfic stories, and 200 readers who only read five stories each, there are going to be some stories that are left out. If, on the other hand, there are 20 femslash stories and 20 people massively into femslash, and each of these 20 people will read five stories, then it is going to look as if femslash is getting all the love and attention while the poor genfic is lying by the roadside, starving. It's not true, but it may feel like that to the genfic writer whose stories only found one reader.
    Moreover, readers in minority genres may be more passionate and more eager to encourage those who cater specifically to their tastes. So where a genfic reader may think "Well, that was nice" and, at most, gives a "like" or a "kudo" (after all, there is so much fic around!), a (fem-)slash reader might be more likely to write a review. So again, on the surface it looks as if "everyone's into (fem-)slash" and "nobody reads genfic anymore".

    That was my theory. I have absolutely no idea whether there's any truth to it, or whether it's worth looking into further.
    • My (wild, unbackable) theory is that there is a lot more genfic, so while it is the most popular genre, there are also more stories vying for attention, with the result that maybe a single story may not be noticed so much...[snip]

      Yes!!! That is to say, I don't think that's such a wild theory at all! Your theory highlights the limitations of surveys like Dawn's and Centrum Lumina's. These certainly yield interesting results, but (and I think Dawn, who has experience with statistical analysis, would agree with me here), they are not robust by any means.

      So, what you're saying, oloriel, makes sense to me. Further analysis would require a bit more data and would need to take rates into account rather than just %.
    • Oh yes, very much this.
    • How many writers actually write f/f, but do not identify as femslashers? To how many writers is "slash" about same-sex relationships, whether m/m, f/f or Other/Other, so that they do not feel the need for the "femslash" label?

      That's a good point, reinforced by other comments in this discussion that point out that "femslash" was once an assumed part of "slash" in the Tolkien community. (Although, as far as I ever knew anyway, it was rare in comparison to m/m.) I don't really recall hearing the term very often in Tolkien fandom until relatively recently.

      In conclusion, there's a lot below the surface that the questions don't properly bring up.

      Absolutely. It's really too complicated to be perfectly captured in a survey, short of asking people to estimate which proportion of their work fits into which genre ... which oh god I can only imagine. A lot of people indicated that they didn't know how long they'd been writing Tolkien fanfic or how many stories they'd written, so I can only imagine the response to that! :D Followed by much angst over whether the proportion should be by word count or number of pieces ...

      What I hope is that the data from my survey taken with data from archives (which is relatively easy to glean) will provide a fuller picture.

      My (wild, unbackable) theory is that there is a lot more genfic, so while it is the most popular genre, there are also more stories vying for attention, with the result that maybe a single story may not be noticed so much.

      I think that's a good point. Somewhere in this discussion, I said something about slash writers taking their toys to a separate corner and genfic writers feeling a little envious of the fun they were having. I think this really says better what I was thinking when I said that, which is that the slash portion of the fandom felt much closer-knit and more supportive when I first entered the fandom ... but of course they would, as they were much smaller!
  • Grabbing a rare free moment now.

    My questions were phrased as "I identify myself as a [genre] writer" and "I enjoy reading [genre] stories," where the genres are genfic, slash, het, and femslash.

    I had to think about this when I filled out the questionnaire to be honest. Identify is a very strong word and, perhaps 9 years ago I would have said het, but the more I have grown as a writer, the more I was able to explore all of the above. I identify myself being a writer, but not as a genre writer. Frankly, I might have ticked them all with agree. I can't remember.

    Looking at both slash genre's, you will see that there are more readers than writers actually, and I wonder if that has to do with what already has been said before: the animosity of reading as opposed to writing and publishing it. I for long have tinkered with my own verse, quietly on a small archive where nobody visited. It was out there if you searched hard or if I linked you to it.

    But, being the optimist: we femslash writers have an audience who want to read more than we are actually publishing! I never expected that! :D

    Femslash is a relatively new genre in the fandom.

    What is relatively new? If we have been discussing the harsh treatment of femslash writers in 2009... then femslash is not new. That was six years ago! This being said... I've asked the lovely mods of MSV/SinS often if I could participate as a femslash writer, but if there isn't anyone who can return the favour... Then, suddenly OMG in late 2012 the mod replied and said, 'Rhaps, will you come out and play, can you write a femslash story. 'Cause we have someone who is willing to return a femslash story in return.' Of course I grabbed my toys and wanted to play! (thank you Elleth for that wonderful request). Thusly two femslash stories finally debuted in MSV around feb 2013. It was a wonderful experience. The next event, more femslash writers signed up and it has been slowly growing. It feels to me that femslash finally can play with her big bro m/m.

    So if you look at that milestone... yeah you might see it as relatively new. Otherwise, femslash is not a new genre. Nay, I think something else is going on and I shared some of my thoughts at Elleth's (locked) post, although also in the good ol' thread at the heretic loremaster :)

    That this is so high and that it is much higher than the same numbers for the other two genres that include erotica (het and slash) does suggest to me that a bias against femslash exists in the Tolkien fandom.

    I agree and I wished how we can take that bias away. I for example always have to search for a beta for my femslash work, but there are wonderful people who helped me, even though they admitted it was the first time they betad a femslash story. I think, wow, you are so brave to help me with my story, not so much the genre haha.

    I so wish people would be willing to look beyond that bias and read the fantastic wealth of femslash stories with fantastic characterisation, world building and craft(wo)menship.

    At what point does one stop simply writing about the texts and become a het writer?

    Hmm, I am not sure. But within this fandom I want to write as naturally as possible within Tolkien's world. So I will not deny that Morwen loved her Hurin for example, or that Melian grieves over the loss of her husband. But I do write about how both ladies do embrace love and see for what it is, and allow to let love hurt their wounds in the arms of a female lover. For me, you fall in love with a person, but not their gender. *steps off the soapbox*

    Edited at 2015-01-14 03:10 pm (UTC)
    • I've asked the lovely mods of MSV/SinS often if I could participate as a femslash writer, but if there isn't anyone who can return the favour... Then, suddenly OMG in late 2012 the mod replied and said, 'Rhaps, will you come out and play, can you write a femslash story. 'Cause we have someone who is willing to return a femslash story in return.' Of course I grabbed my toys and wanted to play! (thank you Elleth for that wonderful request).

      Thank you for taking it! When I asked, Red was upfront that they weren't against femslash, but did not include it in their advertising or FAQ because no one seemed to be interested - but now it seems rather that in many cases people just didn't recognize it was a viable alternative, and Kei recently mentioned that my femslash request for the MPTT Santa challenge also was a happy first for her - so I think I'm going to try and keep offering that alternative where I can to help raise some awareness. :)

      Otherwise, femslash is not a new genre.

      Yep, agreed. It is gaining more and more mainstream momentum, I'd say, but there were always fandoms that were primarily oriented toward it - Xena in its heyday comes to mind. Then there's femslash_today that was founded in and stayed active since 2005, and the fanlore article shows femslash or related terms are even older. I agree that what needs figuring out is why it never (or not yet) burst into the mainstream the same way slash did.
    • (no subject) - dawn_felagund - Expand
  • I am one of the people who put "not sure" for all writerly categories as I do not particularly identify with any of the fic genres.

    Yes, my most successful stories have been slash, but I have found that I have a hard time participating in slash exchanges where the gender of the main couple is the point, and one might be asked to write any pairings: I seem to be very picky as to which pairings I feel inspired by. In particular, I am not drawn to incest (although cousins do not count as such for me, siblings and parent figures do), and I don't like erasing canonical love interests. And then, I generally like to stick to the canonical chronology, etc, and I like to give relationships some space and time to develop... Take it all together, and there are few plausible couples left, at least without delving into OCs.

    Which brings me to my point on femslash (which, as others have mentioned, used to be just "slash" to me...). Tolkien *has* written some compelling female characters, but most are either happily paired off, or don't seem to interact with each other enough to spark my imagination. So, I have not really written any yet (I have done some genderswap drabbles, but that is all.)

    But I do read a lot more widely than I write, of course.
    • Tolkien's texts do pose some challenges for femslash, it seems. The dearth of female characters, for one--and as you note, most of them are paired off since most of them exist almost as an extension of a male character! I hadn't thought about breaking up canon couples as an obstacle, but I can see that being the case for people. I know when I've been requested to write Feanor with someone other than Nerdanel, I'm like, "B-b-b-but ... Nerdanel??" :( (Then I do it anyway.)
  • I found the lack of a 'why' section in the questionnaire limiting. I put myself down as a slash writer because a lot of my content is slash or has a slash pairing somewhere within a gen story. My last fic though was femslash, and the one before was gen from Elwing's pov, and I very much enjoyed both. I don't focus on a specific genre any more than I read one. I write what the story calls for, about characters I like and can connect with (and will come back to), and that's more or less how I read, too, and I doubt I'm alone with this.

    I won't read a fic because it's slash/femslash/gen, I'll read it because the summary and the characters appeal to me, and honestly the Years of the Trees and the early First Age - where most of the footnote women are found - are off my usual beat. If the writer is someone amazing or if the summary really piques my interest, I'll click in and give it a try . Otherwise I have limited reading time, and I know when and who I like reading about --- it's fanfiction after all, and I read as a fan.

    And therein - in the content of the material - lies the larger portion of the problem as I see it, because what and who drew people into Tolkien's world in the first place will colour their reading choices, and generally those would be the well known (mainly male) characters. What has always been lacking are popular f/f pairs to ship, and something like that takes time to grow.


    Edited at 2015-01-14 09:10 pm (UTC)
    • what and who drew people into Tolkien's world in the first place will colour their reading choices, and generally those would be the well known (mainly male) characters. What has always been lacking are popular f/f pairs to ship, and something like that takes time to grow.


      I think that if someone produced a magnificently characterized and entertaining epic novel centered upon an f/f couple it could dramatically effect the fandom's reading tastes. I think the world is ready for that. But I do not think lecturing authors about the subject will work. We are not talking about equality under the law, but fun. What do people find fun? Plenty of us found Xena Warrior Princess and her girlfriend Gabrielle a ton of fun in the 1990s. So, entertain me Tumblrites don't rant at me!

    • (no subject) - dawn_felagund - Expand
Powered by LiveJournal.com