If you've been hiding inexplicable fantasies about steamy sex between, say, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame, you can now breathe a sigh of relief-it's not as freakish as you may think. And you're definitely not alone.
In fact, you might consider joining the underground community of
'slash' enthusiasts, suggests Audrey Lemon in her zine good
girl (Winter 2002). Slash is a subgenre of fantasy fiction in
which writers compose their own plots for favorite pop culture
characters. Slash (which gets its name from the way stories are
categorized; a Kirk and Spock story is labeled K/S) tends to be
written by heterosexual females about homosexual relationships
between male characters portrayed as heterosexual or asexual in
their TV shows. The name also alludes to a violent element in the
story lines, in which one character typically is in danger and
awaiting rescue by the other. Common pairings on Internet slash
sites include Starsky and Hutch, and Angel and Xander from Buffy
the Vampire Slayer; even pro wrestling foes fall into lustful
Lemon has heard several theories about what inspires this longing
for eccentric fiction, which draws heavily from the
damsel-in-distress motif of heterosexual romance novels. Some
writers point to a dissatisfaction with male TV characters, who are
often portrayed as wooden and emotionally aloof. Others-especially
the gay male minority of slash writers-see the genre establishing
more of a gay presence in the media, where homosexuality is either
absent or devoid of intimacy. In this way, slash is a form of
culture jamming: writers infuse characters from TV-land's numbing
banality with emotion and sensuality.
For others, of course, it's just about imagining two beautiful,
naked men having sex.
But, as Lemon asserts, such theories still don't take into account
someone like her, a self-described 'fat girl, shy girl, queer girl'
who imagines these fantasies and feels compelled to craft them into
stories. Nor do they explain why this new form of erotica, written
by women for women, never contains women's bodies.
'I can't explain what the appeal is,' Lemon writes. 'These stories
start to feel like dangerous ground, the kind of thing that people
use to argue that women are inherently masochistic. Or maybe the
expression of a fierce, deeply held hostility against men, that
these characters should be made to suffer so terribly to earn happy
endings. It made me start to wonder just what hurt, what wounding
this is that we all seem to be struggling to write out.'
But even if slash is inherently a dark method of communicating dark
feelings, it does offer a valuable forum, concludes Lemon. So if
K/S turns you on, why not start writing your own tales of
intergalactic adventure and hot sex?
Discuss slash fiction in the Literature forum at Café Utne: