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snowynight: Kino in a suit with brown background (Default)
[personal profile] snowynight
Some anecdotes

I love Sherlock Holmes, so I can't resist the lure of the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film. It has Mary and Irene in a greater role than in the book, but the movie's never about them, never told in their POV. They pretty much respond to the action. I return from the cinema with a vague thought that I would like a gun-swinging Mary partnered with Irene in a steampunk Victorian London, but I don't really get the characters enough. Because the movie doesn't give me this.

When I watch the earlier season of Stargate: Atlantis, there are only two female favourite characters. They are shown as friends, and the fandom pretty much pair them as the spare. Later in the season there were more female characters introduced and filmed interaction between Teyla and them. While the amount of fic produced is not much as far as I know, Teyla launched several ships, Teyla/Kate, Teyla/Keller, Teyla/Sam.  While the canon is not good enough, it at least gives a starting point to write and passes the Bechdel's test in some episodes.

My hypothesis about the lack of femslash little black dress is thus:
There're just not enough female characters. Even nowadays a show can be without one female major character. Supernatural, for example  is a big offender.

When there are finally some, the writers often screw up on the female characters. The stories are often not about them, the story not told in their POV, they often go without agency or sacrificed for some dramatic effect. These combined don't encourage fans of female characters. When the show finally pass Bechdel's Test, there are usually no multiple female relationships, not to mention multiple female friendships.

And when there are such examples, people don't know about it.

In conclusion, with the current trend, we're less likely to see femslash little black dress.
Date: 2011-05-08 08:55 am (UTC)

yoshitsune: text: oh dear i really ought to do something but i am already in my pyjamas (ringo & leina; in class)
From: [personal profile] yoshitsune
Yes, definitely. Even when there are more than 1 or 2 female characters that I like and want to write about, they usually don't have the sort/amount of interactions that would launch ships.

Kind of off-topic of the 'little black dress' but another thing with the fewer numbers of main female characters is that one has less choice of pairing types that might hit one's buttons (e.g. villain/hero, or the best buddies).

For me, it's really only in writing minor characters (with lots of headcanon) and original fiction that I feel like I get to work with the kind of yuri pairings that interest me most.
Date: 2011-05-20 09:02 pm (UTC)

elspethdixon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] elspethdixon
another thing with the fewer numbers of main female characters is that one has less choice of pairing types that might hit one's buttons (e.g. villain/hero, or the best buddies).

How much that affects people's shipping depends on the kind of shipper you are, I think. With het and slash pairings, there are often plenty of fans willing to project their favorite dynamic onto whatever pair of characters comes closest to it and/or is prettiest or possess some quality as individuals that hits them in the Id. If you fall on the "I need the pairing to jump out at me from canon and grab me by the Id" side of things, though, yeah, it can be harder to find the kind of pairing dynamic you like between two women who are also in a canon you like. (Marvel's better about it than a lot of other fandoms, because even though they treat their female characters horribly, they have a much wider variety of them simply because the Marvel-verse has so many characters).
Date: 2011-05-08 09:09 am (UTC)

lilacsigil: Female scientists kissing, Global Frequency (Global Frequency)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
I think you're onto something with the idea of female characters not being written with agency. People often say "but the female characters are written badly!" and this may be true, but badly written male characters still get plenty of fic. The difference, though, is that a badly written male character still usually has agency - he will have a goal, a personality and a reason for existing in the plot. So many female characters, though, are there to be reacted to by men (viewers or characters). And yes, definitely the lower numbers of women in most canons are an issue. While male slash fandoms spring up around anything with two or more male characters who spend time together, some of the liveliest femslash fandoms seem to have either *just* two major female characters who have a strong onscreen relationship of some kind (e.g. Legend of the Seeker, The Devil Wears Prada) or an enormous cast gathered over many years (Harry Potter, DCU and Marvel comics, soap operas). An exception to this rule might be The Good Wife - while most of the fic fits the first category (Alicia/Kalinda have a strong onscreen relationship) there's a lot of other female characters around, mostly written with agency.

Last night I was watching a crappy movie (I won't say what it is as not to spoil people) and this post made me think of the femslash options. For male slash, there's four attractive, fit men who spend a lot of time together. For femslash, there's one attractive, fit woman...and two female ghosts. One has no agency and the other is a child. While it does pass the Bechdel test (the living woman and the girl ghost talk about various things) there isn't a femslash opportunity; the opposite is true for the men.
Date: 2011-05-08 12:52 pm (UTC)

havocthecat: the lady of shalott (Default)
From: [personal profile] havocthecat
I think you're onto something with the idea of female characters not being written with agency. People often say "but the female characters are written badly!" and this may be true, but badly written male characters still get plenty of fic. The difference, though, is that a badly written male character still usually has agency - he will have a goal, a personality and a reason for existing in the plot. So many female characters, though, are there to be reacted to by men (viewers or characters).

I'm really hoping this hasn't turned into the latest excuse (not from you, that's clear, but from other people) as to why they don't want to put any time into developing the female characters.

Because, tbh, I am so tired of the excuses from people who don't want to write women. I just want them to own up to a lack of interest instead of trying to allow the misogyny on screen (i.e., the large numbers of women lacking agency) to be their excuse.
Date: 2011-05-08 01:37 pm (UTC)

lilacsigil: Jeune fille de Megare statue, B&W (Default)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
Oh, I don't think it's a new excuse at all - but it is one way in which media producers and media viewers collude in excluding and ignoring female characters. I just think [personal profile] snowynight's distinction between "number of women on screen" and "number of women with agency" is a useful distinction in teasing out why people feel this way. It's not all on the viewers' side.
Date: 2011-05-08 02:07 pm (UTC)

havocthecat: allison blake is made of awesome (eureka allison blake)
From: [personal profile] havocthecat
I think that maybe I didn't explain myself clearly, partly because I went on a bit of a tangent from "femslash" to "writing women in general."

Well, usually when the "why does no one write the women" comes up again, people will say, "Oh, but it's just that the women are written poorly!" To which most of us point out that the poorly written, inconsistently characterized men are also written in vastly more quantities than the women.

The thing is, if someone replies and adds in the excuse, on top of what I just said, "I write Figwit because he has more agency than Arwen does," or "I write Lorne/Parrish because they have more agency than Elizabeth/Teyla," then that's...just another excuse. (Parrish has agency? Figwit? Compared to Arwen, Elizabeth, and Teyla?)

So. I agree that it's not all on the viewers' side. But. When the debate comes up again that there's internalized misogyny in fandom, and that one of the main expression of internalized misogyny in fandom is the lack of fanworks centering on women, the excuses come out to play. If I hear "well, it's not my fault I don't write any women; it's the fault of the PTB because they never create female characters with any agency," I will scream.

We already get enough excuses about how it's not their ~fault~ they don't write women, it's not their problem, it's all on the networks and creators' ends, that's why.

(I am not, and in no way irritated with you, or with the OP of this meta. I want to make that clear.)
Date: 2011-05-26 08:11 pm (UTC)

katta: Photo of Diane from Jake 2.0 with Jake's face showing on the computer monitor behind her, and the text Talk geeky to me. (Default)
From: [personal profile] katta
I think maybe romantic attachment is more relevant than agency? Because while it is completely possible to write a love interest out of a ship fic, it's still harder than writing ship fic for someone who is unattached or casually dating. And female characters tend to be romantically attached quite a lot, and more "seriously" than many male ones.

IDK, I do find it very hard to write femslash for the most part, in the sense that I have to go out and actively look for slashable characters to find them, since movies/shows tend to not want too many women in a room together. None of that is an excuse to avoid het or gen, though, since that only requires one woman, and most movies/shows can manage that.
Date: 2011-05-08 01:36 pm (UTC)

aron_kristina: Garbo being fab! (Default)
From: [personal profile] aron_kristina
I think The Good Wife is one of the few, if not the only, tv series (of the ones I have seen, mind) where female characters actually have goals of their own, where both male and female characters are painted in shades of grey, and where even older women are allowed to be interesting. Which is, I mean, it's a good show, but I shouldn't have to be THIS excited about it...
Date: 2011-05-08 01:46 pm (UTC)

lilacsigil: Kalinda Sharma face (Kalinda)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
Yeah, The Good Wife is an especially interesting example because it does so well networking all the female characters in really complex ways...then totally fails to do the same with people of colour or disabled people. Louis Canning never speaks to another disabled person; the black lawyers never work together (except to trick) and the one time Kalinda could speak to another South Asian person she literally can't. Not that many other shows are better, but it's so odd to see a show that totally gets the importance of all-female interaction but cannot see any further.
Date: 2011-05-08 01:49 pm (UTC)

aron_kristina: Garbo being fab! (Default)
From: [personal profile] aron_kristina
Yes, they clearly haven't gotten to the intersectional bit in the 'how to make your show not fail' guidebook :p I live in hope that someone will at some point get there though.
Date: 2011-05-26 06:19 pm (UTC)

halfshellvenus: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halfshellvenus
I was going to mention this one too, because Kalinda IS the femmeslash little black dress!

But I suspect that the show's fandom is rather small, at least at the moment, so that's fairly self-limiting. :(
Date: 2011-05-08 11:33 am (UTC)

lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Default)
From: [personal profile] lea_hazel
Even when there are female characters, a lot of the time their interactions revolve around men, or are handwaved. I'm thinking specifically of the two kinds of relationships that get slashed most often, rivals and best friends. Even if there are two female best friends in a mixed gender group, their relationship will have little more characterization than "we are girls and we're best friends", which just isn't enough for me to work with. As for rivals, it's rare that female rivalry is portrayed with any depth.
Date: 2011-05-09 07:47 am (UTC)

lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Default)
From: [personal profile] lea_hazel
The rivalries are especially frustrating to me. When it comes to shallow friendships, it's only too easy for me to invent as much backstory, motivations, fears, hobbies etc. as I need to make believable friends-to-lovers or friends with benefits stories. I can do that with pretty much any two characters I like.

Rivalries are harder. They're given motivations, but shallow ones. It's hard to get past things like a romantic rivalry, without turning it into a threesome fic, and even then it's hard. It's even harder when the dislike is a shallow cliquish junior high type thing, if you know what I mean. And yet, when two women (or girls) who are very different from each other, still clearly get along, certain parts of fandom will insist that they hate each other.

I enjoy so many different types of characters, and I am friendly with so many different types of people. Why can't that carry over into fic?
Date: 2011-05-08 12:44 pm (UTC)

havocthecat: elizabeth weir and teyla emmagan are into each other (sga lizzie teyla)
From: [personal profile] havocthecat
When I watch the earlier season of Stargate: Atlantis, there are only two female favourite characters. They are shown as friends, and the fandom pretty much pair them as the spare.

Some of us actually paired them because we liked the pairing, not because there were no other choices. I'd have just written crossovers for SGA if I hadn't liked to pair them.
Date: 2011-05-08 03:31 pm (UTC)


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I came across this right after reading your comment on my post about Schrodinger's Heroes. Given the prevalence of female characters there, and how the cast was designed both for adventure and for exploring sexual identity ... I think they'd laugh:

Alex and Ash talk about quantum mechanics.
Kay and Morgan talk about aliens.
Pat is sent to get coffee.
This was a test?
This is an ordinary day at the Teferact.

So, yeah, that's a whole new reason why people might be interested in fanfic from this series.
Date: 2011-05-09 04:02 am (UTC)

Re: *laugh*

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This has actually grown into a story idea by this point.
Date: 2011-05-08 04:16 pm (UTC)

muccamukk: Rebecca and Amanda hugging and laughing (HL: Fun Femslash)
From: [personal profile] muccamukk
I kind of think the agency thing is an excuse. People don't write femslash because they don't want to. There may be reasons for that, but I don't think it's a lack of female characters.

Remember Lorne/Parrish and Stackhouse/Markham in SGA? They both got more fic than Teyla/Anyone. Yes, it would be better to have more well developed female characters, but we currently have lots of good ones, and we all know fandom will build a ship out of bugger all if the boys are pretty and it hits a trope they like (example: Arthur/Eames in Inception fandom).

My current fandoms are A-Team (which I'd have to bring a woman in from the TV show to slash with Charissa), Highlander (which has a couple of potential women to slash and one solid pairing, see icon), Hawaii Five-0 (which has one or two potential pairings), and Marvel Comics (which has three or four practically canon pairings). In the first three cases, femslash would take a bit of wrangling, but is totally doable, I've seen fans latch on to less plausible ships, in the last it's begging to be written for Misty/Colleen, Jess D/Carol, Natalia/Bobbi and Carol/Wanda (to name three off the top of my head).

So the question of why I don't write femslash in more then comment fic comes down to my own reasons for not doing so, not to a lack of opportunity or a variety of available pairings.

I find that, personally and I'm not speaking for anyone else, I don't write femslash because it's too close to home. I'm a queer woman. All the women I've dated have been in fandom. Do we have a lot in common with Misty and Colleen? Not really, no. However, it would feel to me like putting something of myself, perhaps something that I wouldn't want to share, and possible something about one of my partners that they don't want to share. Writing about male characters is safe, distanced, because my heart is horrible gender essentialist, and I can never feel like one of the boys is really me.

That is probably also an excuse for internalised misogyny.
Date: 2011-05-20 07:13 pm (UTC)

elspethdixon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] elspethdixon
There may be something to your "too close to home" theory. I have a hard time getting a sex scene to even reach PG-13 territory, but I noticed that the one time I tried to do a f/f "and they they kiss and make out" scene, it was even more like pulling teeth than it usually is.

... come to think of it, (tame, PG-13-rated) sex scenes are also easier to write when I'm not cowriting them with my significant other, which just adds a whole extra layer of "ack, no, this is too embarassing! I can't describe a sex act to her and then have her describe the character's reactions and the subsequent sex act to me and then type it up and post it on the internet! That's practically like having phone sex and then letting my flist read a transcript of it!"

That doesn't really affect writing all the parts of ship fic that aren't sex scenes, though. There, I just have a bad case of OTP-fixation.
Date: 2011-05-08 04:41 pm (UTC)

From: [personal profile] magnolia
It's interesting how you only mention TV shows or movies. I've noticed a lot of femslash in those two areas compared to video games.

Sometimes it feels like you have to be into TV/movie fandom to find femslash. For someone like me, whose fandoms are all video games, there really doesn't seem to be much opportunity to find femslash.

I'm not sure if I'm coherent, just wanted to point out that the different types of fandoms can have a large influence on what femslash is around. Since I don't really watch TV or movies and I don't read comics, femslash pretty much doesn't exist for me.
Date: 2011-05-09 12:29 am (UTC)

sqbr: Dagna from Dragon Age reaching for a book (dagna)
From: [personal profile] sqbr
Is that a Dragon Age icon I see? :D

I've found some femslash for Mass Effect and Dragon Age (which are the only game series' I'm very fannish about) but I agree that there's very little given how much canon and semi-canon f/f the games have. It's hard to even find much m/f involving the female love interests in the parts of fandom I hang out in :/
Edited Date: 2011-05-09 12:30 am (UTC)
Date: 2011-05-09 12:52 am (UTC)

From: [personal profile] magnolia
Indeed! <3333 Dragon Age. :)

It makes me wish I wrote fic because there are certain pairings I love that don't get much attention (Paine/Rikku from Final Fantasy, Maya/Virginia from Wild ARMS, Chie/Yukiko from Persona, just to name a few).

Female characters just don't get a lot of love. It sucks. :'(
Date: 2011-05-12 03:00 am (UTC)

sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
From: [personal profile] sqbr
Yes, I'm very glad I do write fic (and make art) because otherwise the pairings I like would get very little attention if any! But I'm not very prolific and it would be nice to be able to just search and have a bunch of works come up to choose from :/
Date: 2011-05-26 07:15 pm (UTC)

here from metafandom

mullenkamp: Osana Mullenkamp, Lady of the Dark (Default)
From: [personal profile] mullenkamp
Sorry for jumping on an old comment, but I can relate to this so badly it's almost painful. My fandoms are just about all video games too, and...yeah. I totally feel your pain.

Dragon Age fandom is especially weird and frustrating to me, because the 'verse is so very female and queer-friendly, but the same tired heteronormative tropes keep coming up over and over again in the fandom, especially wrt Wardenshipping. I tend more towards queer polyshipping than straight up femslash in all my fandoms and DA is no different, but it gets really facepalmy to feel like some kind of wacky maverick just because my Warden isn't a) a fucking fem!Cousland b) in a monogamous het ship with Alistair (sorry, I've been flamed by one too many obnoxious fem!Cousland fans, can you tell? lolsob). Apparently a city elf mage in a quad with Alistair, Zev and Leliana is too much for some people to deal with, much less garden variety femslash. I'm an Anora/Cauthrien shipper and the general reaction I get to that is "whoa, I never thought of that, interesting!" Which frankly baffles me. Yeah, they don't really share any on-screen time, but Big Bad's Daughter/Big Bad's right-hand knight is a no-brainer to me, people slash dudes for much less all the time. But when it's two women, the ship is so weird and unusual to people. This in a fandom where dudes with little to no screen time/plot importance have whole fanclubs devoted to them (I'm looking at you, Cullen). I just don't get it.

And you would THINK it would have gotten better with DA2, since it's much less heteronormative in terms of the plot-centric romances, but everything I've seen is all LadyHawke/Anders all the time (with the occasional Anders!slash and Fenris creeping in second with either gender). I've been shipping the shit out of LadyHawke/Fenris/Isabela and it seems like I'm the only one--the only Isabela-centric fics I've seen have been male!Hawke/Isabela. And what about Aveline/Isabela? If they were guys, they would probably be the most popular slash pairing, the way they fuss and fight but are secretly best buds who are fond of each other. I've heard people say it's because of Aveline/Donnic being canon, but again, I don't see canon het ships getting in the way of dudeslash pairings. Makes my head hurt, it does.

In my experience, it really depends on the game/fandom though. I'm a YuRiPa shipper and I've never had trouble finding good fic for it. And in Tomb Raider fandom, femslash seems to be way more prevalent than het especially since the Crystal Dynamics reboot (Lara/Natla seems to be hella popular since Anniversary, and Lara/Amanda is also really popular, both ships are heavy on FoeYay which helps), but I think that's because it's one of those rare series where there's a comparative lack of compelling dude characters. In most cases though, video games seem to be worse off than traditional western media fandoms where femslash is concerned. Which makes me a sad panda.
Date: 2011-05-26 07:29 pm (UTC)

Re: here from metafandom

From: [personal profile] magnolia
Hello, are you me?

Aha, I agree with you on nearly every point. I only ship Aveline with Isabela if she doesn't marry Donnic (which requires missing out on the funniest quest, sob). I can't imagine Aveline being anything other than monogamous.

AHHHH I also love LadyHawke/Isabela/Fenris! And I love f!Tabris/Leliana/Zevran. I never thought about Anora/Cauthrien, but that's probably because I'm too busy shipping Anora with my f!Cousland. Oh lordy, now I'm gonna ship Anora/Cauthrien like burning.
Date: 2011-05-27 02:57 am (UTC)

Re: here from metafandom

mullenkamp: Osana Mullenkamp, Lady of the Dark (Default)
From: [personal profile] mullenkamp
I'm definitely a butthurt f!Surana fan, I won't lie. XD; I never even thought of f!Cousland/Anora, that actually intrigues the hell out of me now that I consider it. I just love the notion of Anora involved in any kind of femslash tbh. I generally explain Anora/Cauthrien to people as: "omg can you believe this jackass I'm married to, I can't even handle this arsegravy right now, I have taxes to levy" "no, no I can't, s'ok babe, come here I'll make it better" *snog* Grossly simplifying but, basically.

I love any sort of polyshipping involving Zev and Leliana, though, just on the grounds it's adorable. I'll spare you my ranting about the enforced monogamy in the games, but suffice it to say it pisses me off considering the characters themselves seem like they're poly friendly. And I totally grok what you're saying about Aveline, because I don't think she'd be anything but monogamous either, but it just strikes me as weird that it never even occurs to people given the amount of "slapslapkiss" chemistry she has with Isabela. I mean, she doesn't *have* to end up with Donnic, you know? At least it only strikes me as "weird", when my brain doesn't go to that sad, ragey place of "Aveline's not conventionally pretty and people never want to ship women like that, much less with the sexbomb women". tl;dr: these games are so queer and so full of strong awesome women, where is my femslash? It's not like we have the "lol ~agency~" excuse.
Date: 2011-05-22 01:15 pm (UTC)

alixtii: (Smile)
From: [personal profile] alixtii
I'm a little confused by this post.

1) Are we talking about an absolute lack or a relative lack?
2) Are we talking about within a particular fandom or multifannishly?

Within BtVS femslash fandom it was perfectly normal for us to refer to Faith as our Little Black Dress.
Date: 2011-05-26 04:46 pm (UTC)

minim_calibre: (Default)
From: [personal profile] minim_calibre
Faith was the best femslash LBD. When I go looking for f/f pairings these days, I miss Faith. I could see her paired with anyone!

The closest I have to that in what I am watching now is Community, where I can imagine pretty much any combination of Britta, Annie, or Shirley. Unfortunately, I am not fannish about it.
Date: 2011-05-26 07:26 pm (UTC)

Here from Metafandom

hanachan01: Roy Mustang/Edward Elric from "Noble Sweet Philosophy" by Cromwell (Default)
From: [personal profile] hanachan01
I've seen a lot more of that "little black dress" thing in RPF femmeslash fandoms. In the fandom for Morning Musume (a Japanese girl group), there were a few LBDs (but not a lot of fanfiction. As in most Japanese fandoms, fanart and fanvideos are more popular, and there are tons of them). I've read some Girls Aloud (a British girl group) fan fiction, and that fandom was very happy to pair up the girls in any combination, but generally centered on Cheryl Cole.

I wonder if the LBD's in RPF fandoms has to do with how with these pairings, one does not have to rely on males creating females, but with females taking charge of themselves. They are real people, so they are bound to have their own qoals and quirks come out. Granted, with most pop music acts there is a little bit of acting that might be thought out by a male manager or producers, but for the most part, these women are their own person. There is generally more material to work from too.
Date: 2011-05-26 07:44 pm (UTC)

here via metafandom

viridian_magpie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] viridian_magpie
There're just not enough female characters. Even nowadays a show can be without one female major character.

True. And even if there are, there often isn't a female character that I can actually identify with. When I read pairing fic, I prefer reading a pairing where I identify with one character and am interested in another. I can count on one hand the female characters I identify with in various fandoms and still have fingers to spare.

On the other hand, there's usually at least one geeky/odd male character per fandom.

Since you mentioned Supernatural: SPN has female characters I can identify with/find interesting. It's just that most of them don't last very long.
Date: 2011-06-02 04:54 am (UTC)

From: [identity profile]
Someone on LJ wrote a very good explanation of why there's so little femslash, can't remember where, but her rationale was that women are not comfortable with their bodies to intimately describe and name their pleasure or their genitals etc.

I think slash is a special kind of othering of our own sexuality that has a way of making us think we're more ok with queerness than we actually are. I get kinda irked when I see someone say "ick, het. I don't normally read it!" (I'm assuming it's a woman who's saying this...I could be wrong, but most likely not), the self-erasure is kinda disheartening if you completely cut out the other half of the human race when you read fanfiction.

It could also be a case of the genre of the fandom. Soaps, sitcoms and more domestic tv shows/books/games etc probably have a higher number of female characters, but the most popular fandoms I see is mostly sci-fi/adventure/fantasy which are nortoriously male-dominated. Maybe it's a matter of finding fandoms that largely revolve around female characters like Buffy or the novels of Diana Wynne Jones. I dunno.

It's kinda disheartening, because although it may sound like an excuse, I do think there are few female characters that are given agency and a life besides being a romantic interest and it can't be brushed off lightly. And the ones we do get are a bit cardboard-like, conventionally pretty and have just enough spunk/toughness to fulfil the "strong woman" quota that is some kind of fictional/narrative equvalent of affirmative action.


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