The appeal of slash
When I first discovered slash stories (back in 1997) I was shocked at my reaction: they spoke straight to my lizard brain in a way few other stories ever had. It wasn't just because of the sex, although that was part of it. Back then, I didn't understand why they appealed. Now I do.
I'd read my share of line romances, in which the women typically weren't allowed to want sex. Their sexual response was nearly always coerced from them, and they felt ashamed of it. The most vile form of this was in the coded BDSM stories common to Mills & Boons, in which the Brooding Hero raped (it was called love, not rape) the heroine, and she liked it. She liked it because -- I can now see -- she wanted to be dominated, but couldn't take responsibility for that desire, and in fact didn't even understand what she desired.
I didn't want to be her, ignorant and ashamed, but there weren't a lot of other/better exemplars.
The thing I remember most strongly about the first slash stories I read was that the slashed couple didn't understand what was happening to them (hence: we're not gay, we just love each other). Despite their confusion, both characters had agency in their desire; the trajectory of the story brought them to a place where they owned their desire and understood it. For instance, How Ray Got His Groove Back by Bone and Aristide.
I honestly think if I had found het stories which consistently did the same thing, I would have fallen just as hard. Self-knowledge is sexy, you know. And I could take a new self-awareness away from slash and use it in my own life.
ETA: The Mini Meta fest has a 300 word limit for each piece, which is why this stops here. This is a snapshot of the start of my journey. I have lots more I could say, and in fact, slash has different appeals to me now, plus a whole raft of problems I was unaware of back then.
This entry was originally posted at http://cupidsbow.dreamwidth.org/342488.html.