amaresu: Sapphire and Steel from the opening (Default)
[personal profile] amaresu posting in [community profile] fem_thoughts
Provided by [personal profile] el_staplador

Class differences in femslash. Some of my favourite rarefandom pairings, particularly in Shakespeare and opera, feature a lady and her maid. Or think about Gwen/Morgana in Merlin, or Jenny/Madame Vastra in Doctor Who. What are others' experiences with writing or reading class inequalities?

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Date: 2012-08-13 03:44 pm (UTC)
snowynight: Kino in a suit with brown background (Default)
From: [personal profile] snowynight
I wrote a fic with Cinderella/Princess Charming with this theme. In my The Roads not Taken, in which there are 4 different paths my heroine Cinderella navigates facing a romance with class inequality, I try to make the impact of class subtle but always here, and I try not to give value judgment on the different choices she makes, because I do think that class issues are important as a factor of making decision.

Date: 2012-08-13 04:44 pm (UTC)
woldy: (Default)
From: [personal profile] woldy
I quite often write characters with class differences in the modern day (e.g. Ginny/Pansy from Harry Potter, or Gwen/Morgana contemporary AUs), but I get uncomfortable at the point where class segues into authority figure/person authority is exercised over. For me, lady/maid pairings are always close to dubcon territory, because the servant is so vulnerable to being fired, accused of theft etc. and can be literally ruined by their employer if they turn down an advance or displease them. Sometimes lady/maid can be very sexy (Sarah Waters' Fingersmith is a great example) but I think it requires careful handling.

Mind you, if someone was really into dubcon and authority figures then I could see this scenario being great!

Date: 2012-08-13 06:55 pm (UTC)
dharma_slut: Van Dyke (Van Dyke)
From: [personal profile] dharma_slut
I have a snippet that features an upper-middle-class woman with lots of unexamined privilege and a nearly-homeless woman who has been living on her wits for quite a while. Class differences aren't as obvious in modern day America, but they do exist... my poorer woman has to balance the security of living with someone who doesn't mind giving her a bit of financial support, have to worry about money, with the sometimes insulting assumptions her partner makes. And they do love each other.
Edited Date: 2012-08-13 06:58 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-08-13 07:35 pm (UTC)
lea_hazel: Don't make me look up from my book (Basic: Reading)
From: [personal profile] lea_hazel
I've always been hypersensitive to any sort of power differential in relationships, so this type of dynamic would probably have me on edge. Actually, it depends on how it's presented. Usually, the harder a writer tries to convince me that there's nothing untoward going on, the more ooked out I am. Weird, maybe, but that's the pattern I've noticed.

Fortunately I find that power differentials are more common in het than femslash.

Date: 2012-08-14 03:47 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: John Byrne art of Destiny and Mystique, caption "Destined" (destiny mystique)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
Yes, I agree. I really like a story where there is a power differential that is character-relevant, but I don't like it when it's glossed over or fetishised. I don't like teacher/student for the same reason.

Date: 2012-08-14 02:01 am (UTC)
sqbr: WV stands proudly as mayor (homestuck)
From: [personal profile] sqbr
One of my favourite narrative kinks, especially in romantic relationships, is (how to explain this...) a complicated give and take between opposing and changing power differentials. I avoid stories which fetishise power gaps, since that's the opposite of what I'm after, but just because one character is of a lower class than the other doesn't necessarily mean that the power balance between them all goes one way.

I'm likely to find a straightforward boss/employee relationship squicky and off putting unless they're female boss/male employee. But Fingersmith by Sarah Waters is a perfect example of shifting and changing f/f mistress/maid power relationship I really enjoyed.

Two f/f pairings with class differences I've written.
Leliana/Bethany from Dragon Age: Leliana is lower class, but grew up the cosseted favourite of her mother's rich employer. Bethany is noble, but grew up poor. (She's also a mage, which means she had magical power but is oppressed for it)
Anne de Bourgh/Mary Bennet from Pride and Prejudice: Anne is richer and more noble, but also very sickly and controlled by her mother. She is financially independent, but in some ways Mary is more free.

Date: 2012-08-14 04:44 am (UTC)
erinptah: Madoka and Homura (madoka)
From: [personal profile] erinptah
I'm surprised to see so many people going with the "as long as it's not fetishized" answer. I like power-dynamic stories of a lot of different kinds, and serious treatments can be fantastic, but sometimes the angsty, sexy mileage you get out of the inequality is part of the fun.

Now that I think about it, my f/f OTPs tend not to have a lot in the way of power-dynamic fodder of any kind. Even with Dorothy/Ozma, Ozma never has direct power over Dorothy as a citizen of Kansas, and when she moves to Oz she gets promoted to honorary princess anyway...

I did enjoy this Rei/Minako princess-and-her-bodyguard AU, and would love to see more fics in that vein -- canon or AU. Stoic "I am not worthy of her" plus noble "I can't abuse my position by making a move", mmmm.

Date: 2012-08-15 02:30 am (UTC)
erinptah: A map. (writing)
From: [personal profile] erinptah
Yeah, it's definitely awkward when the author doesn't realize there might be a problem here. A fantasy/fetish scenario (unless it's really badly written) is still a treatment of the issues. It's like the difference between "mmm, that's some good non-con" and "what do you mean this isn't a sweet romantic love story?"

On a completely different note, thinking about Jenny/Vastra (the only lady/maid pairing I've read recently), most of the fic I've seen hasn't gone either way. Vastra doesn't seem tuned in with that part of human dynamics, while Jenny knows her skills are irreplaceable and her value far in excess of her paycheck. So they're written as plausible power equals for in-character reasons.


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