dagas_isa: Kanzaki Nao from Liar Game (Default)
[personal profile] dagas_isa posting in [community profile] fem_thoughts
Please note that these are hypotheses, not definitive statements. And that even if all these reasons are all totally true and applicable everywhere (which they aren’t), none of them are inherently bad or good things.

Definitions:

I’m using ‘more conservative’ for more fic that focuses on realism or a fairly narrow set of realistic tropes, and ‘out there’ for tropes that are more geared towards idfic or common fanfic fantasy set-ups.



1. For people who write for feedback, being conservative is a better strategy.

Writing for smaller fandoms is different from writing for larger fandoms in that the maximum audience size is a lot different. In smaller fandoms, getting the largest audience really does depend on avoiding people’s squicks, whereas larger fandoms can afford squicking out a few people in order to really hit the kinks of relatively small proportion. Also larger fandoms tend to fill up on vanilla first time/cute romancey stories pretty quickly, while smaller fandoms take much longer to hit that threshold, if they ever do.

F/F, in general, has a much smaller base audience than m/f or m/m, so writers need to aim wider in their appeal, rather than cultivate a niche following, so even in relatively large fandoms the instinct is to go broad rather than deep.

2. Taste-makers in f/f are more conservative (?)

People don’t write in a vacuum. So if the early writers in fandoms where f/f is popular write more conservative fics, and the archives and contests are run by people who have more conservative tastes, and more people leave feedback for stories that are more familiar, then chances are new writers who enter the fandom are going to be influenced by what already exists.

3. Newbies/Dabblers tend to be more conservative in their early/occasional f/f stories than they would be if they wrote it more often.

People writing any kind of fic for the first time are already pretty nervous about stepping outside their comfort zone, so a first time f/f writer will stick with their comfort zone when trying a new pairing, and someone trying a new trope will stay with their familiar pairs. Also, outside of some very isolated pockets, there are fewer people who write f/f mostly or exclusively and opposed to people who write f/f in addition to m/f and/or m/m. And if the m/m or m/f audience is larger, then the more out there tropes are going to probably be written with those categories in mind.

4. Previous fannish history doesn't support more out-there tropes.

People who come in a new fandom from older fandoms where it’s totally normal that people write fics about Alice being a paper clip and Beatrice being a staple remover are more likely to bring that attitude into their new fandom. On the other hand, if say, if the characters as inanimate objects trope doesn’t already exist in someone’s fannish experience, it’s harder to create that from scratch.

5. The types of fandoms that lend themselves easily to f/f pairings are harder to work different tropes into.

Some fandoms lend themselves easily to hand-wavey justifications for why someone should suddenly sprout wings. Other fandoms are fairly gritty cop shows with no supernatural elements or movies about working for a high-end fashion magazine with no supernatural elements or slice-of-life series about high-school girls with no supernatural elements. The major f/f fandoms seem to fall into the latter category.

6. There are unfortunate implications for the f/f iteration of some tropes that are popular in m/f or m/m pairings.

A few examples: I’d love for there to be more f-preg and babyfic about my favorite couples, but truthfully there’s a fear of drawing on the pregnant lesbian trope, which isn’t something that exists so much in m/m or m/f pairings. There’s also a fear of drawing a skeezy male gaze contingent (or being accused of being a skeezy male) if writing f/f with dubcon or noncon aspects, which doesn’t exist so much with m/m fic (obviously m/f is different here).

7. Stories featuring f/f relationships are expected to be more realistic.

Assuming that most f/f that isn’t made for male fans of girl-on-girl relationships are written by queer women or their allies to be about queer female experience in one way or another, there’s more pressure to represent f/f relationships realistically rather than tell more over-the-top melodrama or really hot fantasy fanservice stories.

8. Rare pairs are already hard enough set up, why add to the challenge?

This doesn’t apply to couples that are canon or practically canon, but for ships that already take a lot of set up such as two women who’ve never met or spoken to each other in canon or even crossover ships, then creating a regency AU around them takes enough work that it might as well be an original story.


[Null-hypothesis] More out there stories do actually exist in fairly decent numbers; they just don't have many readers. And more people would write these stories if they knew that readers existed for them.

I’m of the belief that everything people want to see either already exists, or would happily exist if some writer knew there was an audience for it. However, as it stands, what’s out there might not be by the best or most popular writers or in the largest or most popular fandoms, or feature a favorite pairing, or do the trope exactly the way people want it, or even be terribly easy to find. And so the people who would read it, don’t because they believe it doesn’t exist, and the people who would write it don’t because they believe there’s no audience.

In short, the people who would read more trope-based f/f and the people who would write it keep missing each other.

Date: 2011-04-28 12:13 am (UTC)
ein_myria: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ein_myria
I'm not so sure that we can say that femslash as a genre is more conservative--the f/f pr0n in kinkmemes that I've been reading seems to suggest otherwise. If you're talking about stories with plot, then I can see where you're going. Peer pressure seems to be a factor, too. Eg: [profile] snuffnyc's latest Rizzoli&Isles story "Interference" was heading to a really interesting (and might I say more "dangerous") place in terms of relationship interaction when suddenly the mood of the fanfic changed altogether. I'm guessing the writing was affected by a deluge of comments from more conservative-minded users. The writing never seemed to pick up momentum after that.

Date: 2011-04-28 12:36 am (UTC)
tani: Mulan is fierce (Mulan Fierce)
From: [personal profile] tani
I found this really interesting. F/f pairings are somewhat unexplored territory for me, but I'm hoping to explore it more, which this post kind of helped me do. Thanks for writing it!

Date: 2011-04-28 01:51 am (UTC)
cypher: (hero of her time)
From: [personal profile] cypher
I feel like I get stuck on 6 and 7 a lot, alone or in combination -- for better or worse, I often feel like when I write f/f my fic is making some kind of "statement" about what it means to be queer/female. How much of that is an internal sense of obligation and how much of it is what I think the audience expects, I'm not sure.

...Part of it for me is definitely influenced by being in animanga/game fandom, and dealing with the ways that f/f gets handled explicitly in, e.g., yuri anime; I don't see my own experience in stories about sweet high school girl-crushes, and I find myself wanting to write female characters and f/f relationships that I can identify with more.

But then that weighs down all of my f/f stories with this sense of obligation/expectation about Doing It Right, instead of letting them just be fluff.

I think I am just rambling now, but thank you for giving me reason to think about this stuff!

Date: 2011-04-28 05:15 am (UTC)
amaresu: Sapphire and Steel from the opening (Default)
From: [personal profile] amaresu
#4 is true, but also might be something that is changing. At least partially with the amount of support the Female Character Trope Fest appears to be getting. It's directed at female characters in general, but there's a lot of f/f prompts.

At least a girl can dream about completely outrageous f/f fics being written more.

I think there's a lot of similarities to be drawn between how femslash fandom works and how small fandoms work. The both have very limited audiences and outside of Yuletide you're lucky if your small fandom fic gets 10 hits, let alone comments. It seems similar with femslash outside of the major exchanges.

Date: 2011-04-28 09:05 am (UTC)
jenwryn: Two ladies, kissing. (misc • girls; vintage make-out)
From: [personal profile] jenwryn
Ah, there's more than one point that rings home as true, to my ears. The funny thing is, I feel really easy, free, and prolific when it comes to, for example, writing stories about gay dudes. Gay girls, however? Yeah, whole different ballpark, and I do feel (somehow, and inexplicably) as though there's pressure from all kinds of directions – to the point where I often just don't get around to finishing things. I suppose that part of it, for me, is #7 – as a gay girl, I feel that I need to do it "right" in a way that I never do when writing slash. I also feel as though I'm putting so much into it that I may as well just go and write original fiction instead.

I guess it's also that most of my friends are far more into slash and, while they support me with the femslash that I do write, I therefore don't have much sense of community with my femslash readers – it's easier to write something that I know my mates will enjoy, and harder to write something that I don't even know will be liked (though I don't consider myself a feedback-writer). Which is a shame.

...for the record, though, as a baby-crazy lesbian? The realities of #6 makes me sadface. Ahem. XD;

Date: 2011-04-29 12:55 am (UTC)
dhamphir: (gay plot bunnies)
From: [personal profile] dhamphir
I guess it's also that most of my friends are far more into slash and, while they support me with the femslash that I do write, I therefore don't have much sense of community with my femslash readers – it's easier to write something that I know my mates will enjoy, and harder to write something that I don't even know will be liked (though I don't consider myself a feedback-writer). Which is a shame.

Reading this makes me very sad. As a femslash reader and writer, I personally don't understand this lack of community you're experiencing. Ever since I dipped my toe in writing I've known nothing but support and encouragement from the lesbian and femslash community -- from other writers and from readers via comments and feedback. Though, admittedly, since I've been involved in small or rather inactive fandoms I've never really had a lot of comments, they've been consistantly supportive.

I'm also confused, because almost all of the femslash writers I've become friends with are just that -- femslash writers. They aren't slash writers, except in very, very rare instances. And it's not a regular occurance for them to write het. Perhaps the disconnect you feel has to do with being a slash writer rather than primarily a femslash writer???
Edited Date: 2011-04-29 12:58 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-04-28 09:31 am (UTC)
aron_kristina: Garbo being fab! (Default)
From: [personal profile] aron_kristina
You make some really interesting points! I think, for me, it's very much that I miss the people who would love some crack. I do two types of writing, fic that demands to be written to make a point or otherwise fix something I feel needs to be fixed, and prompt based fic. I would love to write some out there femslash, if someone would make a prompt that I liked.

So, for me, and perhaps for some other people, fic memes are the place to find such prompts, and as we are all aware, those tend to be more focused on guyslash, with the few femslash prompts more aimed towards realistic stuff because there isn't any written. Which ties in to your point number one, because I think, as you say, that there needs to be a number of "vanilla" fics written first, before we start in on the crack and more out there things.

Date: 2011-04-28 11:29 am (UTC)
sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
From: [personal profile] sqbr
I definitely have issues with 6, specifically I feel like the huge backlog of tragic lesbian stories out there needs a whole bunch of happy lesbian stories to make up for it. I think this is one reason that when I feel like writing angsty messed up relationships they end up being het. There's also the 3/4 negative spiral where the fact that I haven't read much cracky f/f makes it harder to imagine writing it myself.

Date: 2011-04-28 08:52 pm (UTC)
petra: A woman in a police officer's uniform looking surprised (Annie Cartwright - Oh My)
From: [personal profile] petra
For me as a writer of f/f, I think it's a combination of 1 (not wanting to scare off my audience) and 4 (no fannish historical support).

Regarding the latter, I'm thinking of meta by [personal profile] thebratqueen about how far from canon it's possible to start without destroying the reader's suspension of disbelief. For the audience members who are used to Dude X/Dude Y, they may accept X/Y as not very far from canon at all, which allows for the more outré tropes to get stacked on top of each other, such that A and B are together (or want to be), and they have wings, and also it's the end of the world as we know it. That's three anti-canonical assumptions, and big ones, but other stories do the work to sell people the first step.

I often feel as though I have to work harder to sell my mostly-m/m-reading readers on Woman A/Woman B because they've never (or rarely) seen it before, and while they're used to the guys, I'm building the women's romance myself. I feel this way partially because I've had to do the work in my own head to get from "What, there can be femslash of A/B?" to "I ship A/B enough to write it at length."

As for not wanting to scare off my audience, in my present fandom "This story has a woman in it who takes her clothes off" seems to be enough of a content notice to make people avoid my stories. Two of them can sometimes tip the balance over into "That's new and excitingly bizarre. How are you going to make it work?"

Date: 2011-04-29 01:41 am (UTC)
lyssie: (Women with swords are the best)
From: [personal profile] lyssie
or would happily exist if some writer knew there was an audience for it.

This. I can't be the only one who jokes about writing ridiculous things like Parker/Sophie wing!fic or cracktastic "Ros and Jo get stuck in faux-medieval England and fight dragons"--but with the sad little thought that it would require lots of words and no one would be all that interested anyway. (and those are two, just off-the-top-of-my-head what am I thinking examples, not something I've ever actually floated before)

I mean, there's writing for yourself and then there's knowing that writing for yourself isn't going to get much of an audience (and f/f audiences are tiny already), so why risk losing even more of that audience?

Date: 2011-04-29 04:22 pm (UTC)
havocthecat: the lady of shalott (Default)
From: [personal profile] havocthecat
Well, I would be interested (like burning), but "fandom at large" and "your friendslist" are basically two different things here. :)

Date: 2011-05-02 05:08 pm (UTC)
originalpuck: White icon with pink artistic designs, saying "Morgan" in pink. (Pink Morgan)
From: [personal profile] originalpuck
writing ridiculous things like Parker/Sophie wing!fic

I need this to be a real thing. *wants* :D

Date: 2011-05-03 12:15 am (UTC)
lyssie: (Women with swords are the best)
From: [personal profile] lyssie
It is! I couldn't resist the challenge after tossing it out there. http://geteven-getfic.livejournal.com/471250.html

Date: 2011-04-30 01:56 pm (UTC)
summerstorm: (diaries ∫ vicki)
From: [personal profile] summerstorm
I think for me it's a bit of #1 and a bit of #8. I don't usually ship just one pairing in a given fandom, so it's not that f/f ones lend themselves less well to outlandish tropes. My fannish history is wide and varied, so I've read a lot of tropes and written a few. (In fact, the last time I had a f/f OTP, in Glee fandom, I wrote a superhero high school AU, a sex pollen PWP, and a tentacle fic. Only time I've written any of those three things.) And now I'm looking at my AO3 account and thinking that maybe I shouldn't say I don't write non-conservative f/f, because the first two things under the f/f category are porny incest, and then there's a PWP set in a college office, and further down there's secret dating and a mini spy AU and a number of rare pairings--

--but the truth is, I frequently hold back from writing tropes into f/f, and a big part of that is that there just isn't that much out there. Very often I'll latch onto a pairing and want to write it, but it would be the first or second fic for it, and I find myself fearing it might do the pairing a disservice if the first thing written about them is, say, plotless porn revolving around a cliché or a kink. Then add to that that if there isn't much of an audience for the pairing in the first place, you will cut it down by half by throwing a kink into the mix, and then I'm like, why bother, you know? Plus, again, when a pairing isn't established in fic, especially when it's a rare one or not well-supported by canon, I feel compelled to explain it, to set it up and build it up in fic, to sort of give it the base it deserves, and giving a rare pairing a base can take a lot of work that's just not really worth it if you're the only person who's going to enjoy the existence of that fic. So I don't write the base fic, and I don't write anything else, either.

Date: 2011-05-01 10:20 pm (UTC)
lyssie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lyssie
I'm actually sort of arrogantly proud at having been the first to write this or that pairing. Even if it was nothing but pwp kink or crack.

Late from metafandom

Date: 2011-05-17 01:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arks.livejournal.com
I think (5), (6), and (7) are respectively the canon, audience, and author aspects of the same problem. Namely, that "lesbian fantasy" much more often refers to "porn made for straight guys" than "lesbians in Middle Earth". So everyone avoiding the first veers also from the second.

But I really want to drop a comment on (8), because shipping "two women who’ve never met or spoken to each other" is very, very often one of the only options an f/f writer has. With option B being "incest". If you're lucky there will be a possible villain/hero pairing, which most often veers into dub or noncon, but that dubious option C only exists if the female villain and the female hero ever met.

And they probably didn't, because still now here in 2011 an embarassingly large fraction of fandom doesn't pass the Bechdel Test.

Date: 2012-04-29 08:04 pm (UTC)
woldy: (Default)
From: [personal profile] woldy
What do you mean by conservative? My experience in HP & Merlin fandoms has not been that femslash stories are less porny or less varied than slash stories, and often they're pornier and more varied than het fic.

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