In my continuing plan to ignore the election for this week, I now present to you the final in my series of student guest blogs from my class on Sex, Violence and Comics. This one is from Danielle Vecchione. Dani is a sophomore Education major. Since the assignment was to write about either gender bending or slash fiction in comics fandom, Dani took it upon herself to write about both. I guess, in a way I sort of knew that gender bent slash existed but I never really stopped to think about how much of it was out there, so this was actually pretty enlightening for me.
As always, I’m sure Dani would love to have any feedback on her essay that anyone might be willing to give, so by all means comment. And if you have time, go back and read the previous three students and comment on them as well.
So I chose to try and look for something related to Daredevil cause I’m watching the show on Netflix and I freaking love it and I used ao3 because it’s a platform I’m really familiar with and I enjoy reading fanfiction much more than looking at fanart. I found a slash genderbent fic about Foggy Nelson and Matt (Maddie in the fic) Murdock having sex in the office. BUT I also stumbled upon this genderbent fic about Deadpool and Spiderman in a relationship as Penny and Whitney instead of Peter and Wade, and it’s so cute. It’s a short domestic fic about them going grocery shopping and Whitney/Deadpool just being vulgar as per usual. It’s just silly and funny! So I decided to do a comparison about the two types, if that’s okay.
While I enjoy slash as much as the next person, sometimes I feel like it’s super unrealistic of how gay or lesbian sex is actually like and feels very lesbian-porn like (male audience target). Even if this isn’t really the aim, I think because of how these relationships are portrayed in media that is just how it tends to happen sometimes, which is what I think happened in the Foggy/Matt fic. I’ll link it at the end just so you can see what I mean. However, I like domestic or fluff pieces because I feel like they have a more gender neutral audience instead. The male gaze is less apparent, if it’s even there. Of course, with queer fics I think the general consensus is that it is based for a queer audience but many heterosexual people enjoy them as well. I think people just like seeing different types of relationships represented. I think with both types of fic, they are made to just be entertaining but in different ways. To me, the purpose of genderbent fics is to explore the concept of gender and to see how things might change or stay the same when changing a character’s gender. In the slash fic, we see that Foggy remains very sarcastic and witty with the one liners and a little less assertive than Matt/Maddie. In the fluff fic, we see Deadpool just as outrageous as ever. Their performativity may change, as we can see here that some of the characters are less “rough around the edges” than they are in their original stories. They may dress or act more feminine to fit their ‘new’ gender. However, these are all based on an author’s interpretation. In the Deadpool fic, Whitney is a little more flirtatious than Wade is (in a more demure way, for a lack of a better term) with the way she tickles Penny and such. But they could have easily written her just as brash in his advances as Wade would be. In the Daredevil fanfic, it seems like Maddie has a similar demeanor to Matt. It all just depends.
As someone familiar with fandoms and fanfics, I can say that many people see it as a negative thing. Some say that people are focusing on the wrong things in stories/comics/movies and for celebrities they say that it is putting the person in the box they don’t fit in. In reality, for the fans it is a very positive thing. They are celebrating their hobbies and creativity in a healthy way. They are taking a character they enjoy and expanding it in a way that is enjoyable for them. I think if I was a writer, I would be so flattered to see my fans doing something like that. Just let people like what they like! (However, fans do have to be careful about doing this with celebrities because they are real people, not just fictional characters.) Also, many people do it as a statement to say that there isn’t enough representation of people like them in media so they create this fiction and art as a way to try and make up for it. It may seem silly to some, but to others it’s a very important thing!