|melannen (melannen) wrote,|
@ 2010-01-16 03:46 pm UTC
|Current music:||mc hawking - what we need more of is science|
|Entry tags:||admin:bestof, fandom:fandom, fannish:meta, fannish:slash, living:science!, thinking:sex and sexuality|
I was going to wait and post this later, with a much more elaborate stastistical work-up, population variables and meta-analysis - because I think it's interesting in its own right - but the ongoing conversation I'm seeing, and the extremely clear result I'm getting, is making me think it's more important to get the facts out there, than to make them pretty.
So: Are slashers straight?
I spent an afternoon and evening finding all of the polls & surveys of slash demographics I could that included a question on sexuality. Some I already had bookmarked, some I found through google, delicious, and following citations in academic papers. I'm sure there are more out there, and if you have links to more more polls I would love to add their data to my analysis. But you know what? The results of the ones I've found are pretty consistent, across a large range of survey population. And it is, to be quite honest, not the result I was expecting, even as a slasher who does not herself identify as straight, and is used to finding people like her in fandom.
Are slashers straight?
I present to you the raw numbers on sexuality for the 10 polls & surveys I could find results for, plus several more I could only find references to.
You'll note that there are a variety of categories used for sexuality; for the purposes of the meta-analysis, I am counting as "straight" any poll answer that was straight, heterosexual, primarily heterosexual, heteroflexible, or direct equivalent. I am using "queer" as shorthand for everybody else, including people who self-identified as bi-leaning-straight, questioning, and asexual. (You'll also note that the polls that included options beyond gay, straight, and bi had *significant* numbers of participants choosing them, something you might want to consider in general when talking about fans' sexuality. Just fyi.)
I only listed gender statistics for a few of the polls. That's because I'm lazy, and the way LJ polls work, separating out the responses by gender wouldn't have been terribly meaningful without a lot of annoying hand-collating anyway, so for the record: any poll with no gender statistics here either had no gender question, or over 90% self-identified women respondents. As this analysis is mostly meant to address the question of slashers' sexuality, I'm leaving gender identity unexamined for the quick'n'dirty version. (Though I'll note that only one of the polls had options specifically involving non-gender-binary people and orientation. Other possibilities, fandom: they exist.)
Library of Moria, a LOTR fic archive
Mostly Heterosexual: 39
Mostly Homosexual: 0
Percent identified as queer: 37%
Pre-metafandom, but widely distributed through its precursors
Only result available is an average Kinsey Scale rating: 1.8
(which kind of comes out to 40% queer, but not really)
Harry Potter slashers, by way of Fiction Alley Park
Percent identified as queer: 52.7%
locked, but currently available through Google's cache; mostly HP and anime slashers
Percent identifying as queer: 54.6%
posted by Proserpina "For the yaoi girls", but I have no idea where it was linked/promoted.
Percent identifying as queer:
Mostly the metafandom crowd; specifically slash-focused.
Heterosexual but slasher: 62
Bisexual, but heterosexual in practice: 102
Bisexual, but queer in practice: 26
Lesbian, gay, queer, etc but slasher: 30
Lesbian, gay, queer, etc: 19
Percent identified as queer: 76%
February 2, 2007
Mostly the metafandom crowd; not all slashers - includes het & gen fans.
straight women: 206
bi/omni/pansexual women: 186
Straight men: 10
bi men: 5
Gay men: 3
Percent participants who identify as queer: 59.7%
Feb 7, 2007
A small poll of one fan writer's circle, not specifically fandom-focused:
sligtly bisexual (kinsey 1 or 5): 9
Percent participants who identified as queer: 71%
Feb 13, 2008
Mostly the metafandom & anime crowd, but not specifically fandom-focused; a freeform survey which emphasized complex & fluid sexuality
Total participants: 71
Identified as some subset of queer: 60
Percent participants who identified as queer: 84.5%
Mostly the metafandom crowd, but with some exposure outside it
no labels: 31
Percent identifying as queer: 66.7%
Polls whose results are not included in this analysis:
There are two other polls on FAP, but they were free-response threads and I'd've had to collate the results by hand, which I didn't have time for: http://forums.fictionalley.org/park/sho
...it's on my list.
skuf ran a poll through metafandom sometime in early February, 2007, which was deleted, originally at: http://skuf.livejournal.com/132143.h
I found several fandom demographics polls pre-dating 2003, but none of them had a sexuality question, which is interesting in its own right. (I suspect that the farther you go back in slash's history, the less likely it is that we would have even dared to ask these questions, and the less likely we would have gotten accurate answers, if we did. And in a time when fanfic was getting a *lot* of flak from the straight world, presenting an image to outsiders of "ordinary housewives" was important. I think the time when we need that protective image is fading.)
Finally, Wikipedia's reference for saying that "polls claim most slashers are heterosexual women", which has propagated everywhere, is Anne Kustritz's paper "Slashing the Romance Narrative", first published in the Journal of Amercan Culture in 2003, available in pdf here: http://www.laurientaylor.org/research/s
(I will also note, because it seems worth noting, that the demographics section of that paper was very strongly trying to make the point that slashers are NICE WELL-ADJUSTED WOMEN WHO ARE NOT DEVIANT OR SCARY, so I am inclined to think the author had a bias toward categorizing slashers as heterosexual, especially as she uses the phrase "mostly to totally heterosexual" in the passage with the citation, but does not qualify heterosexual anywhere else. There is a lot of wiggle room in "mostly", as the variety of categories in the polls I listed above demonstrate. ...also, I @#$%&^@$ hate wikipedia's goddamn paternalistic notability and citation rules, since it means those two ten-year-old Phantom Menace polls somehow turned into GOSPEL TRUTH on the way to the printing press.)
So, over 9 polls, in a variety of slash subfandoms from the late-teens yaoi set to the mid-thirties meta fans set, dates ranging over 7 years. Only
SO when people say things like "slash fans are appropriating queer experience", what THE MAJORITY OF SLASHERS, WHO IDENTIFY AS QUEER hear is either "you aren't queer enough, your queer identity isn't real" or "male voices are the only ones qualified to speak for the queer community."
I think the question of how queer women can appropriate queer men's identity, and the damage that can be done when gay men speaking about themselves are drowned out by women, are valid discussion topics, and worth addressing. That is not a conversation that is going to happen as long as THE MAJORITY OF SLASHERS, WHO IDENTIFY AS QUEER, are being erased from the discussion. fyi.
And SO when people say things like "slash is a legitimate way for straight women to express their sexuality", what THE MAJORITY OF SLASHERS, WHO IDENTIFY AS QUEER hear is either "you aren't queer enough, your queer identity isn't relevant" or "straight voices are the only ones qualified to speak for the slash community".
I think the question of how straight women's sexuality interacts with queer sexuality, and the ways straight women's sexuality defines slash, are valid discussion topics, and worth addressing. That is not a conversation that is going to happen as long as THE MAJORITY OF SLASHERS, WHO IDENTIFY AS QUEER, are being erased from the discussion. fyi.
Can I say that one more time? I like saying it. Science makes me happy.
THE MAJORITY OF SLASHERS IDENTIFY AS QUEER.
ETA: People in comments have pointed out math errors that change the numbers slightly: I've added corrections in the relevant places. The conclusions still stand, however (for now.)
ETA 2 early morning jan 18: a short follow-up with more poll numbers + things /ETA 2