tv // lbd // shoulder touch

The Fandom Sex Spectrum

I really shouldn't be thinking this hard at this hour. I always end up regretting it.

But I was skimming through the SG1 Fanfic Awards site tonight for want of anything better to do, and wound up reading through the category descriptions. I tell you, the definition of gen is one of the best examples of Stargate SG-1 fandom culture as you'll ever find, sad as it is.

So I ended up discussing the whole ship/UST/smarm/pre-slash/slash spectrum with someone who shall remain nameless *cough*Yam*cough*, and of course pondering the distinct unfairness of the smarm category since it's always dominated by Jack/Daniel stuff and sometimes even indecipherable from pre-slash. But looking at the definitions of the categories, you can see why that is.

You would think UST and Pre-Slash would pretty much be equivalents, two corresponding sides of the spectrum and therefore worded equally. Not so...

UST:"Unresolved Sexual Tension": a story that focuses on the relationship between a man and a woman, where there is an evident sexual attraction.

Pre-Slash: Stories about two (same sex) characters discovering that their feelings are more than friendship. (Pre-slash is when there's no actual sex or kissing, though it may include a declaration of love. It is not the same thing as "smarm".)

These definitions, in effect, make (het) UST and (homo) Pre-Slash about two different things: Pre-Slash is about feelings, and UST is about sex (albeit unconsummated sex).

(In reality... well, I can't speak for Pre-Slash, but UST fic is about feelings every bit as much as it's about sex. Sometimes more.)

Is it any surprise, then, that smarm, which is blessed with the following definition - "A story that focuses on the depth of friendship between two characters" - is habitually closer to Pre-Slash than is UST, and therefore destined to be dominated by 'friendships between two male characters'? After all, who decides between friendship and 'more than friendship', between 'more than friendship' and sexual tension?

In this case, the author decides, which is a part of the problem. Which author is likely to say "No, please, remove my story from that category; when Daniel was admiring Jack's ass it was in a more-than-friendship way, not a depth-of-friendship way"?

You know, entries like this are why I don't tell my relatives how to find me on the Internet.
  • Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
  • Current Music: Lonestar -- I'm Already There
[Reposts for reasons of LJ weirdness]

Actually, that was, in part, the logic behind splitting up some of the Gen categories the way we have.

Yeah, I know, I was being sarcastic ;)

If it works the way we hope it will, the smarm-type stories will be confined to the Daniel and Jack categories, and those stories that do break the mould will have a better chance. Or at least more exposure. We'll see how it goes.

So you said. And to do my part, I plan to encourage people to nominate plenty of "Sam/Jack Lite" fic to the gen categories. So we'll see how that goes, too :)

PS. Did you even notice "smarm" isn't a category this year?

I did indeed. This post actually started out as a discussion about fandom as a whole, but I was using the awards defs as examples of what seems to be considered 'acceptable'
This post actually started out as a discussion about fandom as a whole, but I was using the awards defs as examples of what seems to be considered 'acceptable'

I know, and I apologise; I didn't intend to turn this into an Awards discussion. But you'll understand the Awards are pretty constantly on my mind for eight months of the year.

What is "acceptable" varies so much from community to community in this fandom, defining the differences in ways that are acceptable to everyone is an impossible task. What seems to be forgotten in these discussions is the "split" between gen and ship in this fandom happened a long time ago. Before it was possible to argue that the "ship" was canon. In a perfect world, the divisions would have evolved along with the canon. Then again, it wouldn't be fandom if we (generic "we") weren't fighting over something, would it?

So things like the definition of UST - tend to be more about what they're not than what they are (eg UST is a ship story without sex - it really isn't possible to use the same definition as for pre-slash; so much UST fic does pre-suppose the relationship exists. The pre-slash wording would exclude those fics).

Likewise, I struggled for weeks to try to find a positive definition of "Gen", but what it comes down to is gen is everything that's not ship or slash. A lot of the definitions used for the Awards are written on the same sort of principle; and as such I personally think they're a poor yardstick to use if you're looking for a definition of what is.

Sad but true.