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Posts Tagged ‘questions

[open thread] slashfic, social justice and you

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If you’re not into meta/fandom, you might’ve missed the ongoing debate about slash. There’s a lot going on, so I’m going to link to a few articles instead of trying, and doubtlessly failing, to come up with something coherent on the subject, as all I have been able to do is chase myself in circles. (Ask Y: I do not enjoy not knowing the answer to something; as I have no answer for this, I’m asking y’all.)
Henry Jenkins, ever my hero, wrote the book (literally) on fan cultures, including an essay called Normal Female Interest In Men Bonking, which is one of my favorites; Geek Feminism has a post on women writing m/m erotica and the queerness or misogyny of slash fandom, and there’s a summary on why male/male fiction written by women is problematic in the eyes of some. metafandom‘s slash tag on Delicious is full of articles and entries, if you really care that much.
So, potential discussion questions: is slash misogynist? if it is misogynist, is it because of the original author’s misogyny (failing to create female characters female readers can identify with), or because of internalized sexism (girls are icky!), both or something else entirely? is it objectifying? fetishizing? Othering? appropriation of another group’s struggles? if so, what should slash writers do about that, if anything? is slash awesome because it gives women symbolic control over men’s bodies when we have, for basically ever, been denied control over our own bodies and sexualities, and basically gives us an excuse to talk, in detail, about what we find sexually appealing? or is it bad because it’s asserting hetero privilege over a marginalized group for our own entertainment? does that change if the (female*) creator/audience is queer, ourselves? if so, in what ways? can slash be a subversive genre? can writing/reading slash empowering, even as it is fetishizing? how do you tackle this particular quandary?
Or basically anything else you can think of. I wanna hear what y’all have to say. Talking in circles, tossing in facts, figures and links to relevant information (as long as they’re relevant), etc. is all fair game. Whatever you want, go!

(xposted from lion-hearted girls prefer blond(e)s.)

*yes, I am operating under the assumption that slash fen are female; I know there are exceptions.

domestication and appropriation

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So we had to read this article,* and the author talked about “domestication” of foreign products: of taking a thing, stripping it of it’s original meaning, and repackaging it in a way that fits the local (in this case, Japanese) culture. (Unlike “appropriation,” which I will get to in a minute, “domestication” was given a positive spin.) Take engagement rings, for example: they’re a Western idea that’s been adopted into Japanese culture, but with some of the original† meaning (e.g., romanticism) lost and the engagement rings placed in the specifically Japanese context of yuinouhin, which is basically a dowry given to the bride’s family. The diamond ring was added to the list of “things that a dowry is supposed to include.”

But, uh, isn’t that appropriation? If I were to, say, start selling kimono as this “neat thing foreigners do (and I can make money off of) so you should do if you want to seem really classy,” people would be pretty pissed off. I’d be appropriating someone else’s culture; taking the material object, stripping it of meaning and context, and replacing my own cultural values onto that thing.

So when is it “domestication” and when is it “appropriation”? Is it “domestication” because Japan has historically been subject to the West’s power, so adopting Western things for their own use, without the original Western meanings, is somehow a radical subversion of cultural appropriation of their own culture by the West? (Can there be anything radical or subversive about buying into Western culture? Can it be said that Japan actively imports the West, rather than the West actively exporting to Japan?) Is it still “domestication” (and not “appropriation”) if one Western country takes an object from another Western country? from Japan? from China? from India? from Brazil? from Rwanda? When does it become one and not the other? How do we tell the difference between domestication/appropriation and cultural imperialism? (That is, when is one culture actively importing another, and when is one culture actively (or even forcibly) exporting its own?)

I’d like to hear all of your thoughts, because I’m really not sure about any of this.

*”Introduction: Domesticating the West,” by Joseph J. Tobin (book unknown, we weren’t given that information, but I can find it out if anyone wants to know)
†okay, without getting into the history of engagement rings, let’s go with “the meaning engagement rings had around the time that the idea was introduced to Japan”

Written by Fangirl

November 4, 2009 at 11:27 am