Why I Like Slash

2017-11-13

I am a queer person, and I use the term queer to describe non-heterosexual/non-cisgender people. If you don’t like that term, you may not want to read this article.

There’s a nasty stigma around slash fiction that all the enjoyers and creators of it are crazy fangirls that fetish same-sex relationships between men. But in my experience, that’s only a very tiny minority. Most slash writers are women, yes, and queer women at that. Here is a forum that talks a bit about the phenomenon of transformative fiction, and why generally women and other minorities are drawn to it more than to straight, cisgender, white men. Basically, minorities enjoy expanding past, or even straight up changing, canon because they crave representation, and material they are able to relate to.

But I’m not here to get into a big conversation about demographics and socio-political zeitgeists. I want to talk about why I like gay fanfiction.

To clarify, when I say “gay”, I don’t mean just mean gay male fanfiction. I have almost as many female/female ships as I do male/male. It’s sad that, as many queer women are involved with fan fic, that the amount of femslash pales drastically in comparison to dudeslash and het fic. (More on that at this link.)

First of all, fan fiction is not exclusively smut. Sex scenes do take up a good portion of the medium, but in most cases, smut accompanies real plot lines, usually a buildup of romantic tension between characters. Most fan fiction sets up the scenario where the characters in question finally admit their feelings for each other…which is usually then followed by sex as a form of catharsis for all the romantic and sexual tension that’s built up over time. The sex is usually a celebration of the getting together, not just porn for the sake of porn.

Second of all, I mentioned above that most slash fan fiction is about two (usually white) cisgender males, written by female-aligned persons. My friend Gemma made a YouTube video about that phenomenon, which you can watch here. It’s easy to pass off male/male fan fiction as young straight women using it as masturbatory material, but, I also stated that most slash fiction writers are queer themselves. So why would gay (I’m using that as an umbrella term here) women spend their time writing about the relations between two men? Sexually, aesthetically, and emotionally, what do homosexual relationships between men have to do with us?

Right now, on Fanfiction.net, the dominating fandom in TV is Supernatural, with over 120,000 fan fictions written for it. On Archive of Our Own, the number of fan fictions is over 170,000. Of those AO3 fan fictions, the top three most commonly written about pairings are all gay relationships between two white men, one of which is incestuous. Dean Winchester/Castiel (Destiel) takes up almost 40%, Dean Winchester/Sam Winchester takes up 14%, and Sam Winchester/Gabriel takes up 6%.

The loathsome BBC Sherlock series has 102,021 fan fics (as of this writing) on AO3, and over 50% of them are Johnlock. Again, two white guys. This leaves the next dominant pairing of the fandom, Sherlock/Molly, in the dust with only 6855 (currently) fics to its name.

And the pattern continues. Marvel Cinematic Universe? Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes, Steve/Tony Stark, and Clint Barton/Phil Coulson. BBC Merlin? Merlin/Arthur. The entire pantheon of Star Trek? Kirk/Spock. All of Star Wars? Kylo Ren/Hux. ALL WHITE GUYS.

But, maybe with the exception of Kylux, pretty much all of the fandoms I just named all feature white men as their main characters. They are the most developed and central to the story. And usually, their connection to each other is the most meaningful, even though both parties may have female love interests in their life:

  • Except for his brother, Dean Winchester’s most important connection is to Castiel. The angel even says himself that he and Dean have a “profound bond”. Even though Dean’s supposed “love of his life” is a woman named Lisa, who is promptly shunted to the side whenever the plot shows up and eventually put on a bus, never to return to the show.
  • Bucky Barnes is Steve’s best friend for life, and when forced to choose between Bucky and his loyalty to the Avengers (not to mention his own personal freedom and safety), Steve picks Bucky without a moment’s hesitation. Even though Steve is maybe? dating Peggy Carter’s niece?
  • And everyone, even non-slashers, sings praises to the deep friendship of Kirk and Spock, the slash pairing that more or less started it all. Even Gene Roddenberry himself wrote into the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture that their connection “had been the touching of two minds which the old poets of Spock’s home planet had proclaimed as superior even to the wild physical love which affected Vulcans every seventh year during pon farr” and called them soulmates. Even though Kirk is the essential “ladies’ man” and Spock is “supposed” to have no feelings.

Even a fandom like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which is dominated by strong female characters, a good amount of which are lesbians/queer, the second most popular relationship tag on AO3 is a non-canon m/m pairing (two white dudes, of course; ones who have little to no significant interaction, I may add). The first and third are het couples, and the very prominent lesbian pairing that is canon comes fourth.

However, there are exceptions to every rule. The Once Upon A Time fandom (I wrote a bit about feminism, or lack thereof, in the show in this post), despite the fervor of the Emma Swan/Captain Hook shippers, currently has more Emma/Regina Mills fics on AO3 than any other pairing. A f/f pairing! And one of them is sort of a WOC! (Lana Parrilla is Latina, but her character isn’t necessarily. I mean, Mills is a pretty white last name.)

But this is not about me trying to convince you to ship what I ship, or even have a deep in-depth conversation about the nuances of fandoms in cases of race, gender, or sexuality. I’m just trying to explain why I like slash.

Kirk and Spock. Dean and Cas. Steve and Bucky. Holmes and Watson. These are indelible bonds that endure the test of time. Kirk loved Spock so much, he threw away his entire career just for the chance to bring him back from the dead. And to quote the greatest movie of all time: death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.

When I ship characters together, it’s not because of how attractive they are or if I think they’d have hot sex scenes together. I see this connection between them, this kindredness in their souls that scream that they are at their strongest together, and that they make each other feel whole and content. And I’m sorry to say, but I usually see that in pop culture between the main man and his “bro” rather than between the two heterosexual love interests. Very seldom do I see the protagonist and their opposite sex partner share that intense yet tender bond (there are the exceptions: Buffy and Angel, Smallville‘s Clark and Lois). Maybe that’s because screenwriters don’t know how to write meaningful romance. Or maybe actors have trouble portraying that deep need. Whatever the cause, for the most part, slash just seems to work better. So until Hollywood dramatically improves its m/f relationships, I’m gonna keep on shipping the gay. ~TRL

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“Wynonna Earp” Is Everything “Once Upon A Time” Should Have Been

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**Spoilers ahoy.**

Our main character is a badass woman in a leather jacket, with past childhood trauma and a history of institutionalization. She is forced to travel to a small town that contains clues about her origins – apparently, one of her ancestors (or two) were legends. She teams up with a man in law enforcement. Her greatest wish is reconnect with her family. She’s the chosen one who has to save the tiny town she and her loved ones live in by fighting supernatural forces.

I used to love the TV show Once Upon A Time. Emma Swan was everything I wanted in a strong female character. But ever since…ohhhh, around season 3, the show’s been on a downhill tumble. It got so pathetic that I straight up quit watching after a while. There comes a time when you realize a show isn’t going through a bad spell–it’s just not good anymore.

Wynonna Earp, like OUAT, is about a woman who is the descendant of a famous hero. The show is based on the mythos of Wyatt Earp and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Wynonna is a complex anti-hero who teams up with her sister and other characters to protect her town and break her family’s curse. I’ve watched the first season and man, is it good. But I can’t ignore the more than passing similarities to the fairytale show I used to enjoy.

What Once Upon A Time Did Wrong

When OUAT began, it promised a show about strong women, family, and the power of true love. The main story was about Emma and her strained relationship with her son, her journey to believing in fairy tales–and herself–and Regina Mills’s attempt at redemption for the sake of her beloved son and her struggle with her dark side.

But all these fresh new ideas were shunted to focus on the toxic guyliner-wearing fuckhead Captain Hook, who from his first appearance made an impression as a disgusting slimeball who comes off as a bit rapey. And Emma gives up all her strength and agency when she bewilderingly falls in love with this festering pile of leather. Regina, Henry, Snow and Charming–they were all forgotten, painted into the background as a backdrop for the dais worshipping the all wonderful King Hook and his abusive relationship with Emma.

And this is to say nothing of how the show has completely exhausted its vault of ideas, despite having the entire Disney pantheon at its disposal, or that only one (1) of the main cast is a POC, and that the LGBT community only got one (1), rushed, undeveloped arc shoved into one (1) single episode.

TL;DR: Terrible character development, stale plot arc, practically no representation for anyone who isn’t white and straight.

What Wynonna Earp Did Right

Wynonna is a well developed character, clever, strong, and flawed. Her relationship to her sister outshines either of the relationships she has with her two love interests. The cast is significantly more racially diverse than that of OUAT, and the lesbian relationship between Waverly and Nicole easily gets as much attention as Wynnona and Dolls or Wynonna and Doc.

(Doc Holliday being an immortal sassmouth is probably the coolest thing about this show, to be totally honest.)

Also, Doc and Dolls are both great guys, complex in their own right and vastly different from each other but still utterly lovable, and they both adore and respect Wynonna. And her character isn’t sacrificed for the sake of her relationship with either of them. A female character who isn’t defined by her relationships with men! So refreshing.

I have strong hopes for Wynonna Earp. I just hope I won’t be disappointed again. ~TRL

Why Does Everyone Hate Smallville?

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We all know the origin of the Man of Steel: infant refugee from the planet Krypton, sent by his parents in a spaceship to our world. Endowed with superhuman abilities, raised by simple farmers, and eventually became humanity’s champion, fighting for truth, justice, and the American way.

BUT DID YOU EVER STOP TO CONSIDER SUPERMAN GOING THROUGH PUBERTY?????

Smallville is the story of a teenage Clark Kent growing up in rural Kansas, learning to deal with the normal pains of adolescence, along with being a superpowered alien. It’s a new perspective on an old story. You get to see Clark’s journey from young man finding his own identity, to the paragon of goodness we all know.

Not only that, there’s other characters from the mythos you get to meet and watch develop too. In this narrative, Lex Luthor is Clark’s best friend who gradually turns to the dark side and grows into his role as Superman’s greatest enemy. Lois Lane starts out as Clark’s comic foil, but their love and respect for each other grows throughout the story in a very natural and endearing way. There’s even appearances by other famous DC superheroes, like Green Arrow, the Flash, Aquaman, and Zatanna.

Are there obvious reasons why someone wouldn’t like this show? Yes. For one thing: TOO MUCH LANA LANG DRAMA. And I will admit, the first season…and some of the second…are pretty cheesy. Like for instance, (minor spoiler) the first time Clark uses his heat vision is when it’s accidently triggered by some lusty teenage hormones he’s feeling over an attractive substitute teacher. Or the girl who eats kryptonite-laced vegetables while dieting and her metabolism starts going super fast, so she has to suck the fat out of people. Or this one episode in the fifth season when Lana Lang joins a sorority of vampires. OR this one episode when Lana, Chloe, and Lois get possessed by 17th century witches and hexes everyone at a get together Clark was throwing to strip down to their underwear and act like party animals-

What, it was funny, okay?!

And you’d be surprised how many famous people played minor parts in the show. The fat-sucking girl I mentioned above? Amy Adams. Yes, the woman who now plays Lois Lane, ironically. Jonathan Taylor Thomas plays a guy who can clone himself. Lizzy Caplan plays a girl who can morph into whoever she wants, and at first is obsessed with Lana and wants to kill her so she can become her, but then comes back and tries to pass herself off as Lana’s ex-boyfriend Whitney so she can be with Lana (yeah, it’s a gay thing).

Overall, Smallville is an awesome show. Even if you’re not a fan of Superman or comics in general, it’s worth watching. No matter what happens, Smallville will always hold a special place in my heart. ~TRL

Book Review: “Killing Time”

Whaaat? Now I’m doing book reviews? Well, this is a special case. You see, this is a Star Trek novel, and if you’re a Spirk shipper, an absolute must read.

(**Spoilers ahead.**)

Killing Time is a short novel by Della Van Hise, originally published in 1985. When Pocket Books first put it out, apparently it was so gay that Paramount Pictures requested that the slashier parts be taken out. That didn’t end up happening due to a screw-up in editing, and the book was published as is. At least, until Gene Roddenberry read it and made the publisher recall it. PB had to put out a new, less gay version of the story.

I’m pretty sure the version I read was the censored edition, but even then, it’s still really gay. Let me show you what I mean.

To summarize, KT is about Kirk having strange dreams about being an ensign on a starship in an alternate universe, serving under Captain Spock. It turns out that Spock and several other members of the Enterprise, including one Jerry Richardson, are having similar dreams.

However, the dream soon becomes reality, and the Enterprise has been replaced with the starship Shi’Khar. No one remembers the other reality. In the new reality, the Federation was created not by mankind, but by the Vulcans. Kirk was wrongly accused of murder and offered a station on the starship as an alternative to prison. In addition, he’s also got PTSD connected with some disciplinary mental torture device they used on him in order to get a confession out of him, and his cabinmate keeps beating the shit out of him. This universe is not nice to our Jimmy. 😢

It’s soon established that the Romulans have a device they’ve used to pervert history so that humanity never formed the Federation. The leader of the Romulans, who happens to be a character we’ve met before – Thea, from “The Enterprise Incident” – is behind it all, wanting revenge on Spock for spurning and humiliating her. A big part of her plot is separating him from Kirk, since she knows they’re totally t’hy’la, so she can claim Spock as her consort.

Luckily, it doesn’t work, and Kirk, Spock, and Richardson finally realize the Romulans have changed history. They all work together to fix it, knowing that they and their reality will disappear if they set time right again. The three sacrifice their lives to undo the history-change, and Kirk wakes up in the right reality, once again Captain of the Enterprise, with Spock as his right hand man, with the other reality remembered vaguely as a bad dream.

This book is a Kirk/Spock goldmine. For one thing, it is established very clearly that Kirk and Spock are t’hy’la (duh), and they have a mental bond! (In Vulcan culture, mental bonds are developed between married couple. Hmmm…)

The first few chapters talk a lot about the close, personal “friendship” between Spock and Kirk, and they are very tender with each other. There’s even a part where Spock lays his hand on Kirk’s shoulder and Kirk covers it with his own (gee, good thing Vulcans don’t kiss with their hands or anything…oh, wait). Also, Spock muses several times on Kirk’s looks: “firm features, tanned flesh, expressive hazel eyes, and a compelling human grin. Single lock of gold-bronze hair falling to the middle of a high forehead.” Geez, Spock, we all know Kirk is a dreamboat, but come on.

Even when time is changed and they don’t know each other, Spock and Kirk yearn for each other’s company. Kirk wakes up from a bad dream and immediately calls out for Spock; Spock has a vision of Kirk and wonders possibly if this is his t’hy’la. You know…the Vulcan equivalent of soulmate.

Not to mention, due to the time corruption, Spock goes into pon farr (because no Spirk fic is complete without the ritual Vulcan mating frenzy!), and he dreams longingly about Kirk! (Unfortunately he ends up banging the Romulan chick out of desperation. She kind of takes advantage of his needy state. It’s a little on the squickish side.)

But the homoerotic subtext doesn’t end with the space husbands! There’s also some flirting between Kirk and Richardson, who calls Kirk “Juliet”. When Richardson dies, Kirk sadly calls him “Romeo”. I am not making this up. Also, there’s a romance between Richardson and this alien chick who works on the Enterprise/Shi’Khar named S’Parva, and they perfectly parallel Kirk and Spock!!!!

Toward the end after they’ve saved the universe, Spock is dying from a poison bullet wound, and the second reality is collapsing. And Kirk and Spock decide to die holding each other????? While melding their minds one last time????????? What kind of old-couple-cuddling-each-other-as-the-Titantic-is-sinking romantic tripe is this?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

These are are some lines that made me fangirl squee with joy:

Surely, he told himself, there would be someone with whom the Vulcan could bond, someone who could walk the path with him, balance him, love him. For a long time, Kirk considered that. (just platonically pondering whether or not your bro will have a life partner)

…when he opened his eyes again, it was to see Spock still standing, looking down at him questioningly. There was concern–and possibly Vulcan worry–written in the black eyes. Kirk held the penetrating gaze for a moment, then managed a smile when he saw the Vulcan soften. (And then he drags Spock off to the ship’s garden for a date I MEAN manly stroll.)

Absently, he reached out to touch the human’s cheek for confirmation, but stopped when Kirk’s eyes widened fearfully. (So Captain Spock notices a bruise on Kirk’s cheek and just casually reaches out to caress his face. #JustBroThings)

For an illogical moment, he found himself thinking of the future–with Kirk at his side. . . (THIS SPOCK BARELY KNOWS THIS KIRK AND HE WANTS TO SPEND THE REST OF HIS LIFE WITH HIM WHAT THE HELL)

The images whisper-walked through his mind. Blue and gold. Warmth and companionship. Stolen moments when the firm Vulcan mask did not have to fit so tightly. (I’M ABOUT TO EXPLODE I SWEAR TO SURAK)

He glanced up, meeting the Vulcan’s eyes. Somehow, shirtless, and with hair slightly dishelved, the Shi’Kahr’s legendary captain seemed almost vulnerable in the dim lighting… almost reachable. (Kirk checkin’ out Spock’s hot Vulcan bod, hell yeah.)

“Kidnap James Kirk, keep him from the Vulcan long enough … and Spock will do anything in his power to get him back safely, Sarela.” (Damn, Thea knows EXACTLY what Spock’s weak spot is.)

…what is dearest to him in all the combined universes… (This is what Kirk is to Spock, according to Thea. I MEAN)

Spock knew he must be there when his companion awakened… (So Kirk and this other crew member were in danger and Spock only had time to save one of them, and of course he picked his darling Kirky! Now Kirk is knocked out in sick bay, and Spock is longing to be at his bedside, calling Kirk his companion. Again, HE BARELY KNOWS KIRK.)

In seven years as command of the Shi’Kahr, he had never met a human who could arouse such forbidden feelings, who could wrestle emotion from him as easily as turning on the light. (*me, screaming* Also, they’re sexy anger-wrestling right now.)

“I need you. The Empire needs you. . . . What more can there be?” “James Kirk,” the Vulcan murmured without hesitation. (Lady, you just got REJECTED.)

“Can he be worth what you are doing, Spock? Can any one man be worth an entire universe?” The Vulcan’s response was direct and without hesitation. “Yes.” (JIM IS WORTH THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE TO SPOCK I CAN’T)

Kirk smiled wistfully, then reached out to touch the Vulcan’s arm reassuringly as he remembered the mind-fever he’d felt himself. Without explanation, it had vanished … and as he glanced at Thea, the reason became clearer. “As long as you’re alive,” he said quietly, absently projecting a warmth into his companion’s mind. (Kirk is “wistful” that Spock had sex with Thea. That’s not something I made up. Also, Kirk felt Spock’s pon farr????? Vulcan marital mental bond much?????)

He is even deeper in your blood than Vulcan. It was, he realized, a very simple truth. (*more screaming*)

“Perhaps it would be wise to discuss the matter in more detail later this evening,” he suggested. “Since we are both due on the bridge …” He let the sentence trail off, unfinished. (DID SPOCK JUST INVITE KIRK TO HAVE SEXY TIME LATER??????)

In the Vulcan’s quarters, Kirk sat slowly on the ornate meditation pillows (OH YEAH THEY DEFINITELY DID THE NASTY)

Remembering an ancient human proverb, he found some small comfort in the knowledge that Kirk was obviously laughing to keep from crying. (Again, they’re talking about Spock hooking up with Thea and Jim has laugh to keep from crying???????)

This novel is so perfect. ~TRL

In Defense of Star Trek V

The original Star Trek series spawned six movies. A lot of Trekkies will tell you, “the evens are good, the odds are bad”. I’m sorry, but you will never take away my love for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, aka, the redheaded stepchild of the Star Trek movie sextet. (Spoilers ahead.)

The plot is basically the crew of the Enterprise is roped into helping Spock’s surprise half-brother find the garden of Eden. That’s it, that’s the story. It doesn’t sound promising, I know.

People argue that the problem with the religious overtones of the movie don’t mesh with the overall philosophy of the pantheon. But I say why not. Star Trek has touched on topics of racism, gender, politics – why not touch on religion? To me, Star Trek has always been about hope, and the ideal that humanity will grow and improve. Sybok is tricked by the fake God figure. He’s searched for “Sha Ka Ree”, paradise, his entire life, only to finally reach it and find out it’s all a joke. But Sybok isn’t disheartened by his defeat. He shows incredible courage by sacrificing himself to save the others and the rest of the universe. It’s a story about faith, and the idea that we can become strong in times of misfortune, and I think that very much fits in with Star Trek.

Then people complain that FF doesn’t work within the Trek universe because it presents a society of criminals and amoral individuals: the denizen planet of Nimbus III. I, on the other hand, find it a very ambitious path to take. Before, Star Trek has only shown us shiny worlds like those within the Federation, like Earth or Vulcan, or planets that become fixed by being influenced by Federation ideals. But I think it’s necessary to show cesspools such as Nimbus III, to show that Starfleet hasn’t fixed everything, because they can’t. The point of being alive is to develop. As James T. Kirk once said, “Man stagnates if he has no ambition, no desire to be more than he is.” The universe will never be a utopia, but we will always work to make it so.

But if you’re still not convinced, let me just show you some moments you’re missing out on:

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Kirk, Spock, and Bones go camping together. Kirk climbs a mountain and almost falls to his death but Spock saves him, while Bones watches and worries from afar. They sing “Row Row Your Boat” around the campfire and Spock roasts “marshmelons”. (Also Sulu and Chekov get lost hiking in the woods and pretend that there’s a blizzard so Uhura will save them.)

Go Climb A Rock

Also, Kirk wears this shirt.

Uhotty

Canon Uhura/Scotty!!!!!! And they’re so adorable!!!!!!!!!!!!

Spocket Boots

Did I mention Spock has rocket boots? (He’s carrying Kirk and Bones up an elevator shaft.)

In Front Of The Klingons

THIS. F**KING. SCENE. Kirk almost dies but Spock saves him AGAIN and Kirk almost kisses him, but unfortunately, Spock stops him. (“Please, Captain. Not in front of the Klingons.”)

And there’s a lot more moments that I probably missed. But in conclusion, Star Trek V doesn’t deserve the bad rep it gets. If you disagree, go climb a rock. ~TRL

How To Speak Fandom

It occurs to me that I’ve used some jargon that someone who doesn’t spend half their life on Tumblr might not understand. So here’s a quick manual to knowing the lingo of fandom and fan fiction.

  • Ship – (can be a verb or noun, depending on the context) derived from the word “relationship”. To ship two people is to believe that they should be in a relationship.
    • I ship Mulder and Scully so much. Mulder/Scully is my ship.
  • Pairing – a synonym for ship.
    • The pairing of the Joker and Harley Quinn is problematic.
  • OTP – “One True Pairing”; two characters you ship so hard, you could never see either party with anyone else.
    • The Doctor and Rose Tyler are the OTP of many fans of Doctor Who.
  • BroTP – two characters you ship, but only in a platonic sense (brotherly love).
    • A lot people think Sherlock Holmes and Molly Hooper should date, but I just see them as good friends. They’re my broTP.
  • NoTP – two characters you are very against being together.
    • Wincest is my noTP, because Dean and Sam are brothers.
  • OT3three characters you ship together (yay polyamory).
    • Kirk/Spock/McCoy is an OT3 for some Star Trek fans.
  • OC – “Original Character”.
    • For my Walking Dead fan fiction, I created an OC who dates Daryl, but then gets turned into a walker.
  • OOC – “Out Of Character”.
    • It was so OOC for Superman to kill Zod in Man Of Steel.
  • Canon – recognized or established by the source material.
    • The Star Wars expanded universe is supposed to be canon, but has some continuity issues with The Force Awakens.
  • Headcanon – a personal theory by a fan, not necessarily canon, but could be supported by the canon.
    • I have a headcanon that Harry Potter is bisexual.
  • Fanon – a fan theory that is accepted by pretty much the entire fandom, even though it’s not actually canon.
    • Will Graham from NBC Hannibal is probably on the autism spectrum, but it’s never really been confirmed by the writers. It’s mostly fanon.
  • Slash – fan fiction that is romantic or sexual in nature and focuses on the relationship between two men. This term arose in the 1970s when many viewers of Star Trek believed Captain Kirk and Spock were actually in love, and began to share their Kirk/Spock (Kirk slash Spock) fan works. The term slash later became a general term for works about men in amorous situations with each other, even though the “/” is now used to denote gay, lesbian, and heterosexual pairings alike.
    • I was reading a fan fiction about Captain America and Bucky Barnes last night. It was very slashy.
  • Femslash – the same as slash, but with female/female pairings instead. The first significant femslash pairing was Xena/Gabrielle from Xena: Warrior Princess.
    • I wish there were more Swan Queen fan fictions to read. Everyone seems focused on Captain Swan and Rumbelle. Femslash is such a small community.
  • RPF – “Real Person Fiction”. Writing about real life people, namely celebrities, and sometimes shipping them with other real people.
    • There is a surprising amount of RPF about the members of One Direction.

6 Pairings That Romanticize Abuse

Abuse

Every time, I swear to God, every time I fall in love with a new TV show, some asshole comes along, sweeps up the main character, and brings down the entire show, causing me to stop watching in disgust. I’m not kidding, this has happened three times this year alone.

Abusive relationships being romanticized is one of the things that I absolutely hate with a burning passion. But gone are the days where the hero dudes go around smacking their girlfriends, because if that happened, everyone would be up in arms. No, TV and movies have found sneaky ways to paint abuse as “true love” and get away with it scot free. But luckily for you, my little raspberries, I’m here to expose their malpractices with the light of truth!

For this article, I’ve avoided obviously abusive pairings, like Joker/Harley Quinn and Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham, or pairings that have been beat to death by the mainstream like Bella/Edward (seen above) and Anastasia Steele/Christian Grey. I’m choosing to focus on those pairings who are the darlings of their fandoms, who can obviously do no wrong. Oh, but they can, my ducklings! They can. I’m about to rock your world.

**Warning: mild spoilers ahead for various media, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens and BBC Sherlock.**

1. The Phantom and Christine Daaé, The Phantom Of The Opera

Because every girl’s fantasy is to be stalked by a murderer in the shadows and be forced into marrying him or have to watch her childhood best friend be strangled to death. I don’t give a shit how many roses he leaves in her dressing room – that’s f**ked up.

Not to mention, Christine is 18. Eighteen! She’s barely legal as it is. She claims that the “Angel of Music” (the Phantom) has been tutoring her and watching over her since she first came to the opera house. She’s been living there since she was eight years old. And thanks to Madame Giry’s flashback, we know that Erik is only a few years younger than Madame Giry – so he’s 40, at least. This is a fully grown adult who’s been stalking a child and gaslighting her until she’s old enough to bang. That’s disgusting.

But, you know. Some free music lessons and a candlelit boat ride through a swamp make everything okay.

Gaslighting: a practice in which the abuser gains the trust of the victim and uses that trust to manipulate them into doing things against their will, all while maintaining the pretense of someone who has the victim’s best interest at heart.

2. Rey and Kylo Ren (Reylo), Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens

It honestly shocked me that this was even a popular pairing – or a pairing at all. Not as popular as Kylux (Kylo Ren and Armitage Hux), but it’s up there.

There’s not much to go on here, as there’s really only a couple of scenes between them, but what is there, is pretty frightening. I’m going to put aside the fact that Kylo straight up murdered Rey’s friend and father figure. I’ll even waive all the physical abuse in the lightsaber battles because, hey, this is Star Wars, and it isn’t exactly Star Wars without lightsaber battles.

But there is the creepy torture scene (torture isn’t a very good premise for a romantic relationship, now is it?) where Kylo is trying to get information out of Rey and threatens her with a line about how he can force her to tell him what he wants to know, and J.J. Abrams himself admits that this is supposed to be a “rape” scene. Getting inside a person’s head and violating their thoughts is mind rape. Plus there’s the disgusted, fearful look Rey makes as Kylo reaches toward her face that tells us all that Rey is in distress. Rey is trapped in the room, tied down, and can’t escape this situation, where she’s under the threat of physical violence and having her mind raped by Kylo. And that is abuse.

3. Kara Danvers and Mon-El (Karamel), Supergirl

This is what I was talking about earlier when I said TV shows often get ruined by some asshole (Mon-El) swooping in and becoming the protagonist’s “true love”. I’ve stopped watching Supergirl because my once beloved show about a strong, kind lady hero has been hijacked by this entitled jar of mayonnaise.

Upon crashing down in National City, Mon-El has done nothing by lie to Kara (not telling her that he’s the prince of Daxam), insult Kara and everything she stands for (“You fly around, rescuing people, like you’re just pure of heart, but that is crap. Because you love that attention. You love people loving you. You are not selfless.”), and go against Kara’s wishes (“You have ignored what I need from moment one today”), and generally just be a piece of shit (“I never said I wanted to save the world.” “Oh my God. You are so selfish!”). When she doesn’t return his affections, he whines and guilts her into loving him. And somehow – he ends up with her! What kind of message is that sending young girls?

Also, telling someone you allegedly love that they’re your “Kryptonite” (weakness) is NOT romantic. Love is supposed to make you stronger. If your romantic partner makes you “weak”, that’s a bad sign. Believe me, I know.

4. John Watson and Mary Morstan, Sherlock

I’ve been a little harsh on men in this list. But women can be abusers too, and this is a prime example.

Thanks to poor writing from misogynistic, self-satisfied dipshits, Mary Morstan’s characterization has been all over the place. But two things are for sure: Mary is a psychopath and a pathological liar. It eventually was revealed that Mary wasn’t as sugary sweet as she initially tasted. She was actually a killer for hire before meeting John, which she kept from him for almost an entire year, even after they were married. And the lengths she goes to keep that secret from him are outrageous. Namely, attempting to murder John’s best friend – the very same friend who had been missing for two years, whom John had been grieving over, which Mary had to know would devastate John at losing Sherlock all over again. But does she have any regards for his feelings? No. She would rather kill her husband’s dearest friend then have to come clean.

John does eventually find out, and naturally, is a little pissed off by it. So much so that he leaves her. When John finally does agree to speak to Mary again, she immediately guilt trips him – for being rightfully angry about Mary lying to him and trying to murder Sherlock. But for some reason, John takes her back and all is forgiven and forgotten.

(By the way, she never actually says that she’s sorry for shooting Sherlock in the chest. Not until she herself is dying, but honestly, series 4 is such out-of-character, bizarre, melodramatic, sloppily written horseshit that I don’t take any of it seriously. But that’s an essay for another day.)

And beyond all that…she’s just not a nice person. She makes fun of everyone, treating them all like they’re so beneath her. At one point she implies that John is so stupid, a dog is superior to him in intelligence. She’s manipulative, critical, and conniving. And yet, even though there’s little to no affection shown between John and Mary, she’s supposedly the great love of his life. His saving grace. His angel with a sniper rifle. *noise of disgust* Whatever.

5. Emma Swan and Captain Hook, Once Upon A Time

God, where do I BEGIN with these two?

Captain Hook completely ruined Once Upon A Time. He’s been sucking the soul out of Emma Swan for four seasons, and now she’s pathetic, codependent, and completely unrecognizable from the amazing, badass female protagonist that rolled into Storybrooke in a beat up Volkswagen seven years ago.

Hook started off, appropriately, as a villain. He gets into a sword fight with Emma right off the bat and makes lewd, rapey comments towards her. Emma was sensibly repulsed.

Then in season three, Hook decides he’s going to become the guy everyone loves – especially Emma. “I will win your heart,” he growls in her face. Again, another line that’s supposed to sound romantic, but is actually really gross.

Eventually, Emma was hooked (get it?), and her character development was sacrificed for makeout scenes with this guyliner wearing piece of shit. Like Mon-El and Mary, he lies to her constantly, doesn’t respect her wishes, manipulates her, and verbally abuses her when his world isn’t going perfectly ducky. In season 5, Emma saved Hook’s life by using dark magic, turning him into a Dark One (long story). She erased his and everyone else’s memory, but he does inevitably find out, and boy, does he drop that sweet boyfriend act fast. He hits Emma right in the emotional chink in her armor – by saying that all she’ll ever be is an orphan. He knows Emma’s trigger and uses it against her in the most brutal fashion possible. But are there ever any repercussions? Nope. Because Hook is the love of Emma’s life, and he can do no wrong!

Luckily, Jennifer Morrison, who plays Emma Swan on OUAT, has announced her retirement from the show after the end of season six, and this godawful romance can die a festering death. Let’s just pray Colin O’Donoghue (Hook) gets fired and the show is left to be run by the only two likable characters left, Regina and Henry Mills.

And number six…

6. Severus Snape and Lily Evans, Harry Potter

I get it, Internet. You pity him. He never got the girl of his dreams. It’s the age old love story: boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy calls girl a racial slur – wait, what?!

There was no fucking excuse for Snape to EVER call Lily a Mudblood. James was bullying him, Lily stepped in to defend Snape, Snape got his sensitive little male ego bruised and had been hanging out with a bunch of wizard white supremacists, and called Lily the worst word possible. She was his best and only friend, and he called her that. So no, I don’t feel bad for Snape at all. Especially since he carried his butthurtedness against her and James past their deaths and onto their orphaned child who had endured domestic abuse for the last ten years of his life. Snape gets no sympathy from me.

Okay. Rant over. Hopefully next post will be something more cheery. Thanks for reading. ~TRL