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19 March 2008 @ 12:01 pm
Attention het fans! Got kink?  
First off, many thanks to those that participated in last week's successful dicussion on the appeal of slash for women. All of your responses were very thought-provoking, so much so that I've got a new query for you het fans out there. ash_carpentermentioned that slash tends to tackle kink much more readily than het does. I agree with her. Why is this? Is it an issue of power dynamics or discomfort with bending gender norms that makes kink in het rarer? What sort of sex do you like to write/read and why? 

Many of the slashers agreed that the concept of wish fulfillment was a factor in their enjoyment of slash. How does this idea manifest itself in het fics? A few possibilities include happily-ever-after, romantic endings to stories or vanilla sex that is much better than what we would likely receive in real life. Feel free to name drop an author or story that you think has effectively tackled kink in het. 

As before, if you know anyone that might be interested in contributing their thoughts to this discussion (say, your flist), feel free to pimp this thread. The more contributors the merrier!  

ETA: I'd like to clarify what I mean by kink. It doesn't have to be extreme or BDSM-related, but it can be. I regularly write rimming, which I consider kinky, but by no means is it a physically aggressive act. Same goes for fisting, role play, orgasm denial, menstrual play, etc. Kink is pretty broad, and I don't want to place boundaries on it. Remember that kink in het pairings is also not necessarily perpetrated by men. The BtVS women occasionally get to femmedom it up, as well.
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eowyn_315: VM winkeowyn_315 on March 19th, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
Well, you already know what I think, but for purposes of discussion, here goes.

From your last discussion, I got the impression that slashers prefer to read/write about something they can't experience in their real sex lives, whereas I think het writers tend to read/write about what they know. (Presuming the majority of het writers are straight females. I suppose you could also have lesbians who like het for the same reasons some women like slash - it's something different than real life.)

With that in mind, I think the same is probably true for kink. I'm going on the assumption that most people's sex lives are not as kinky as the fics they read/write, which could be untrue, but that's just based on the people I know in real life.

Given that assumption, it would make sense for slashers to read/write more kink, because they've already expressed a preference for sex in fics that is different from what they experience in real life. Het readers/writers, on the other hand, stick closer to real life situations.

I think there's still an element of wish fulfillment in het fic, like you said, with vanilla sex that is better than real life, or endings that are happily ever after. The difference, though, is that those wish fulfillments take the real life experience and make it better, whereas slash is a complete departure from real life (for a woman, anyway).

Personally, as a writer, I don't do kink, because I'd feel out of my depth writing it. With nothing to draw on aside from other fics I've read, I think it would come out sounding cliched and probably unrealistic. There's already plenty of bad kink out there, so if it's not going to be good, why bother?

Then again, I don't write sex very much at all in my fics. I'm much more focused on the plot, and if there is sex, it's because it's necessary to the plot. Thus, the sex itself is usually unremarkable except as it relates to the plot. If I ever came up with a fic idea where kinky sex was specifically necessary for some reason, maybe I'd write kinky sex.
slaymesoftlyslaymesoftly on March 19th, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
*nods and agrees* As usual. LOL
(no subject) - clawofcat on March 19th, 2008 11:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - slaymesoftly on March 19th, 2008 11:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on March 20th, 2008 12:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - slaymesoftly on March 20th, 2008 02:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on March 20th, 2008 03:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - slaymesoftly on March 20th, 2008 01:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eowyn_315 on March 20th, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on March 20th, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eowyn_315 on March 20th, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on March 21st, 2008 12:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eowyn_315 on March 21st, 2008 12:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eowyn_315 on March 19th, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
ash_carpenterash_carpenter on March 19th, 2008 05:54 pm (UTC)
Oooh, I got mentioned in the lead-up! ARGH! People will get the wrong impression and think that I have something useful to say ;-)

I agree with the above commenter that, a lot of the time, the kinkiness in slash is probably an extension of wish fulfilment.

Having said that, it's not always the case. I think that my personal reasons for the kink I write in slash probably deviate slightly from the norm and in a way I feel very vulnerable in discussing it, but here goes...Certain things, such as real roughness, humiliation, non-con, harder BDSM etc, are very difficult for me to write in het fic. That is not because I'm not into it, but rather I am conscious that it may be harder for other women to read. It sounds silly, and I don't really understand why it should be the case, but slashers seem to be able to accept their boundaries pushed when they're reading/writing about men in a way that they can't with a man/woman pairing.

And I totally respect that, and understand it to a certain degree. And, to be honest, I'm just not comfortable in writing (for example) a non-con daddy!kink fic with a het pairing, whereas I could do it for a slash one. Part of that is my own hang-up, I guess, but part of it is that it's just too close to the bone and I am conscious that it is more likely to upset people. There are women on my flist that have had harrowing experiences and I sometimes hate the thought that I might be cheapening something through presenting it as titilation.

And, having said all of that, and gotten a little bit deep...There's still the fact that kinkiness between two men turns me on more than kinkiness between a het pairing. Again, maybe that's because I can live the het kinkiness, so I don't need the whole wish fulfilment thing. To be honest, I don't know.

Right...That's enough from me. *feels kinda exposed about some of the things she said*
The Anti-OTPsnowpuppies on March 19th, 2008 06:23 pm (UTC)
I agree a lot with what you've said here, so don't feel too exposed. *hugs*

I do think that it is easier for a heterosexual woman to push the boundaries using slash, particularly if that woman has a history of sexual abuse/assault, etc. I, personally, have such a history, and many of my earlier works (notably a WIP that has been removed from my journal - pending completion - that was about a boy who was molested by his father) show this. Writing about a girl in a similar situation would have been too close, too real, too intimate an experience, so I used the male gender to place more space between myself and my character. I was still able to play out my fears, my feelings, my hurts and my guilt, but by placing these things on a character of the opposite gender, I was forced to intellectualize it, to put it through a filter of maleness that helped me analyze what I was thinking and feeling.

While it's true that a lot of slash writers (particularly kink writers) do so out of enjoyment, there is also a 'space' there that gives us room to approach novel and sometimes frightening situations, not just emotionally, but intellectually, as well.
(no subject) - ash_carpenter on March 19th, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - snowpuppies on March 19th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on March 19th, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on March 19th, 2008 06:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ash_carpenter on March 19th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eowyn_315 on March 19th, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - slaymesoftly on March 20th, 2008 01:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eowyn_315 on March 20th, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - slaymesoftly on March 20th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ash_carpenter on March 20th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hello_spikey on March 19th, 2008 10:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ash_carpenter on March 20th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
The Anti-OTPsnowpuppies on March 19th, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
I think slashers tackle kink more often because they are more accustomed to thinking outside the norm. Choosing to read or write about a slash pairing already puts you ouside what is mainstream. Going further is fairly easy for a slasher. Also, you might entertain the fact that some slashers might have first entertained the notition of slash because it was outside the norm - as slash becomes more and more mainstream, these folks would naturally seek out more and more obscure practices and such. Not to say that all slashers are in it for novelty - you've already had a discussion on that.

I wrote mainly (about 95%) slash for three years, then began branching out into femmeslash, and have just recently began adding some het to my catalogue. As such, I think my het fic is a bit kinkier than what is 'normal' for het. I wrote a Harry/Hermione drabble that incoporated bondage (which, after everything I've read and written, is a rather mild kink to me) a while back, and you'd have thought all the poor het 'shippers' eyes were gonna pop out of their heads!

Het writing is, at its heart, a mainstream, normative act (of course, there are notable exceptions, present company included), and it takes very little non-normative content to make the majority of het readers uncomfortable (I think LJ, and particularly the circles I run in serve as exceptions, with het and slash readers/writers being more adventurous, shall we say - still, most of the commenters I have to kinky het are primarily slashers).

This is my POV, and is not meant to be offensive or single anyone out, but I do believe that if we look at fandom at large, particularly het fandom, we will find that the majority do not wish to stray too far out of the norm. Slash readers/writers begin out of the norm.
ClawofCat: onyourkneesclawofcat on March 19th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
"I think slashers tackle kink more often because they are more accustomed to thinking outside the norm."
This is why I really need some kinkier het writers to pipe up. I know for a fact as a het female, I do think outside the norm in both practice and fic. Is it because I've gone there that I'm willing to have the characters go there? I'd say that's a likely explanation. Does a writer's decision to include kink become a matter of transference? I have no clue. Of course not everything I've ever written I've participated in, but I do have a wellspring to draw from and maybe that's key. Hopefully others will illuminate the issue.

"I wrote a Harry/Hermione drabble that incoporated bondage (which, after everything I've read and written, is a rather mild kink to me), and you'd have thought all the poor het 'shippers' eyes were gonna pop out of their heads!"
Hm. Have you considered that it might not have been the kink itself that raised eyebrows, but the age of the characters? It wasn't until college that I tried out that scene, and I would expect that most people who do decide to tread on the darkside, don't do so until they're a bit older.

It takes very little non-normative content to make the majority of het readers uncomfortable
I wish I had a way to gage this based on comments to my own work. I generally get pretty good responses to kinky stuff, but that could just be because my audience is self-selecting. You're not going to read if you don't like the kink. I also concur on slashers commenting. Some of my favorite and most regular commenters are slash writers. Go figure?

Awesome thoughts. Your brain is sparkly and wonderful. And I needed a distraction from my trauma paper. This was just the thing! *hugs*
(no subject) - snowpuppies on March 19th, 2008 07:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hello_spikeyhello_spikey on March 19th, 2008 10:41 pm (UTC)
I'll come from left field with: Huh? What? Slash is more kinky?

I don't really see a difference in the frequency of kink in het vs. slash.

Maybe it's just the authors I like to read - I am kinda new to this whole fanfic thing and don't often stray beyond the comforting walls of LJ. (Also, my reading is self-selecting for kink. If I don't get at least ONE warning, I don't tend to read.)

I've read massively kinky het. (onlypassenger comes leaping to mind with her Buffy-rimming-Spike-in-the-Desoto fic... herself_nyc has written some beautiful menstrual play and yes I realize I just used 'beautiful' and 'menstrual' in the same sentence...)

And I've read schmoopy love-love-love Slash where GEEZ guys there's more than one way to do it... (Thinking I shouldn't give an example, though, because that sounded kinda mean. You know who you are, boring slash writer!)

So... I guess I'm saying I have nothing to say, short of going back and doing a statistical analysis... hrm... porn analysis. Someone write a grant!

But what I'd /like/ to say is that there is no difference, but perhaps slash is thought of as more kinky for the same reason gay people often find themselves erroneously perceived as kinky: because same-sex relations are seen by some as 'other than normal' and therefore inherently kinky.

(Damn. I want to qualify that. Not accusing anyone of homophobia here! Lord knows I get all a-quiver over slash and loves the boy-on-boy action more than I really ought to. But still, could there be a flavor of the exotic in same-sex relations that adds to its appeal and links it with the exoticism of kink?)
eowyn_315: jack thiseowyn_315 on March 19th, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
I think it's somewhat ironic that the question about slash being kinkier than het comes from Cat, a het writer who's explored more kinks than I knew existed. :) So you may very well be right, and there's equal amounts of kink and schmoop on both sides.

There's definitely the perception, though, that slash is kinkier. I think it's partly what you said about slash being inherently kinky because it's "other than normal." I think it's also that for some reason, bad fic tends to get more of a reputation than good fic, and a lot of het's bad fic seems to be of the schmoop variety. I've heard plenty of slashers say they won't read het because it's all weddings and babies and crap. But I've also heard het fans say they won't read slash because it's nothing but PWPs with characters who are just thrown together even though it's completely unbelievable that they'd have sex. I don't think either statement is true, but for some reason, those are the reputations they get. Maybe if you read a few bad fics, it turns you off the pairing, and without getting to the good stuff, you assume there isn't any het/slash that's good? I dunno.
(no subject) - clawofcat on March 19th, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eowyn_315 on March 19th, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on March 20th, 2008 12:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hello_spikey on March 20th, 2008 12:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hello_spikey on March 20th, 2008 01:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on March 20th, 2008 01:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hello_spikey on March 20th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ash_carpenter on March 20th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eowyn_315 on March 20th, 2008 02:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
darkdreams1222dreamsofspike on March 19th, 2008 11:27 pm (UTC)
Okay, I'll take a stab at giving you my answer to this one, since I specifically asked you to bring it up ;) hehe...

I am a heterosexual female, and while slash does nothing for me, I *do* loooove me the kink! :P LOL

Almost everything I write has an element of kink to it, usually in the realm of power games, bondage, etc, with the female being the dominant partner in the situation.

I do think the whole wish fulfillment thing has a lot of bearing on why people read/write certain kinks. For example, I see mine as an expression of a desire for control in my life that I've really never had, for various personal reasons which I won't go into here. ;) Suffice it to say that I felt very dominated and controlled during most of my youth, by men in general as well as specifically.

Therefore, my female lead characters tend to take an authoritative, powerful, and sometimes downright abusive role.

A lot of the things I write happening between Spike (because it's *always* Spike) and various female characters are far more extreme and damaging than I would ever begin to want in real life, but it's a form of emotional catharsis for me.

Also, for me a good kink fic is nothing without the emotional impact. Therefore if it's just straight out kink with no emotional connection, then I'm flat out not interested.

For me, it's fascinating to explore the dynamics of a relationship through the various power exchanges that take place in that relationship throughout its course. I like to try to say something about the emotional state of the characters, by *using* sex to do it.

As to why het has a reputation for not being as kinky as slash, I really couldn't say. I think the bending of gender roles, such as having the woman be in control, is uncomfortable for some people, as I've found to be accurate from some of the comments I've gotten on occasion from readers who aren't comfortable with the types of things I write.

I feel like I'm just kind of rambling...lol...just tossing my two cents worth in...off to read the other comments and see what everybody else had to say :)


Edited at 2008-03-19 11:52 pm (UTC)
ClawofCat: nakedspikeclawofcat on March 20th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
"I see mine as an expression of a desire for control in my life that I've really never had"
Both of these threads have been really illuminating about how writing becomes a filter for both writer's personal lives, as well as culture. Why are we attracted to certain things? What do we normalize/exoticize others? I could even see going into a thread about what people are squicked by and why. It's so fascinating and deep, so thank you for sharing that. When you get the background, sometimes you see writing in a whole new way, which is why I love those DVD director commentary thingies that writer's sometimes do. You get the process and the motivation, and that's gold.

"for me a good kink fic is nothing without the emotional impact... I like to try to say something about the emotional state of the characters, by *using* sex to do it.
Word. It's crazy how we totally do the same thing, except, you know, do it differently. I very rarely use power games or sub/dom in my writing. Now that I think about it, usually the emotional issues at hand are not ones perpetrated by individuals. It's usually an amalgam of collective trauma, the trials and tribulations of being a person in the world. The sex that my characters then have sort of acts as a gateway for them to touch those places of hurt, palpitate them, digest them. They usually come alright on the others side =)

Thanks so much for speaking up, hun. It's always wonderful to hear what goes through you and other writers brains.
flake_sakeflake_sake on March 20th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
I find myself nodding at a lot of the things said in the comments above. I wish I could be half as eloquent.

I think the "hits-to-close-to-home"- factor is of some relevance here.
A lot of kinky fics deal with sub/dom relations and I can only take so much female sub (while I have no problem to sub in RL games at all with someone I trust). When I try to analyze why a man that makes a complete slave out of himself doesn't squick me near as much as a woman does, I come to the conclusion that it's most likely a cultural background thing. There are just to many real acts of forcing women into submissive roles for me, to feel entirely comfortable with it in fic. A more extreme example would be racist sub/dom. I doubt I could read that without feeling disgusted.
If I read het kink (which I love) I need an underlying sense of equality (which is easy to achieve with the slayers), otherwise I can enjoy the hotness for a while but it'll leave a bad taste in my mouth.
ClawofCat: fangel s3clawofcat on March 20th, 2008 01:35 am (UTC)
You've hit on something here. Are the sub/dom dynamics portrayed in fic truly representative of how sub/dom is in RL? Certainly, sub/dom dynamics don't always (or even mostly) occur under non-con situations, but how much of that negotiation and BDSM based on trust do we see? Um, like, none? This has been something that's bothered me for awhile, and that I'll actually address in an upcoming Faith/Angel fic of mine. S&M that isn't degrading, not meant to be shameful, demoralizing, or any of that. *sigh* No pressure, Cat.

It's most likely a cultural background thing. There are just too many real acts of forcing women into submissive roles for me to feel entirely comfortable with it in fic.
Yup. It's always about culture. Gives my little anthropologist heart a happy to hear it. As I said to Ash above, I don't really work within a sub/dom dynamic. I'd say top/bottom is a better way to describe it, which for me removes the psychological power play aspect and focuses more on the acts themselves. Sometimes my men top, sometimes my women do (and it's so fun when they do, like in my recent kinky Spawn ficlet), so I like to give everyone an equal share. It just seems fairer that way somehow.

If I read het kink (which I love) I need an underlying sense of equality
There is something really satisfying about that, isn't there? I don't think I've ever written a kink fic where everyone is perfectly equal, but I did write a sex scene between Faith and Angel where they are very equal (emotionally and position-wise). After writing that ficlet I came to the conclusion that egalitarian sex, sans bullshit, might be my favorite because you see it so infrequently. When two characters can look at each other honestly and say, "Yes, I accept you for who/what you are, and I'm not going to take advantage of your short-comings or your weaknesses." Gosh, sex is such a complex topic and form of interpersonal communication it just blows my mind.

Thanks for stopping by and adding your two cents! Got my brain turning.
(no subject) - hello_spikey on March 20th, 2008 02:37 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on March 20th, 2008 03:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - flake_sake on March 20th, 2008 12:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clawofcat on March 20th, 2008 10:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - flake_sake on March 22nd, 2008 08:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
Barbrahirah on March 20th, 2008 04:10 am (UTC)
Huh. I'm a lesbian IRL (if you want to get technical, I'm more like bi in theory, lesbian in practice) and to some extent, yeah, it is easier to write about hex sex because it's not so personal. But the main reason I write mostly het with a smattering of femslash is because I'm a canon ho, and in BTVS fandom, that's what the major canon relationships are. I try very hard not to work out my issues with the characters - the characters have enough issues of their own, and besides, my issues are boring. So far as reading goes, I'm more interested in characters than in particular arrangements of naughty bits, so I read a variety of Spike pairings, both het and slash.

I've written sex scenes involving light BDSM of various kinds, violence-as-foreplay, blood/menstrual play, human/demon sex, mommy!kink, erotic asphyxiation, and probably some other stuff I can't remember. I usually write a sexually confident, mostly-toppy Buffy (which seems to be unusual, although I would argue that what we know about her relationship with Riley supports the idea that this is what she's like when she's not depressed out of her mind.)

But I don't consider myself a kink writer, and I doubt anyone else would consider me a kink writer, either. I don't write super-explicit sex scenes, and I seldom write PWPs. Some of the most popular kinks in fandom (noncon, incest) are squicks for me, so I don't write them, or, if I do, I don't eroticize them. Dirtybadwrong sex, where's it's all about the characters feeling self-loathing and shame, is a huge turnoff to me, even if the sex is otherwise hot. Other things (like consensual dom/sub) which I'm fine with in moderation are taken to extremes in a lot of fanfic that make me cringe, particularly when characterization takes a back seat to the kink.

So even though I've written sex which is technically kinky, I've never felt as though I fit in with the kinky crowd, or that my stories have much to offer said crowd.
ClawofCat: got ecstasyclawofcat on March 20th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
Hey, Barb! Nice to see you join in on the discussion. I write canon fics too, so I know what you mean. Scene stealers are my guilty pleasure.

I usually write a sexually confident, mostly-toppy Buffy (which seems to be unusual)
Hm, yeah. I agree with you there. I've written Buffy as top and bottom, but she's usually more passive than not. If we look at her relationship with Spike in s6, it seems pretty apparent that she was often the sexual instigator and aggressive about it. My theory about Buffy-on-bottom in fic is that it's not so much about Buffy and that writers are more interested in portraying a top Spike because they get off on it, or it reinforces an ideal form of sexuality for them*. I know I certainly like top Spike. Spike's kinda like a service top though, often depicted as interested in fulfilling Buffy's sexual needs. But I digress.

But I don't consider myself a kink writer, and I doubt anyone else would consider me a kink writer, either.
lol, actually when I asked hello_spikey to list a dozen het kink writers, your name came up. At least one person thinks you are!

Other things (like consensual dom/sub) which I'm fine with in moderation are taken to extremes in a lot of fanfic that make me cringe, particularly when characterization takes a back seat to the kink.
Based on what others have said, it seems that's what's really the defining line in terms of quality kink fic - if the characterizations are upheld. Anyone can write sex, a good writer can write good sex, a great writer can sell you the pairing that has that sex and make you believe it. And while I love kink, I don't enjoy shameful, painful, or traumatic sex either. Angst is great, but I like my characters to come into the sex with it, not leave with it. I write cathartic kinky sex, or at least try to. Using sex as a vehicle to promote ephiphany or realization about onself is one of my favorite things to do, especially for Buffy and Spike who are so elemental and physical at their core.

Thanks for your thoughts! And cheers to striking.

*see the last thread on slash and wish fulfillment
(no subject) - rahirah on March 21st, 2008 12:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
Shapinglightshapinglight on March 25th, 2008 04:08 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure I have anything useful to add to this discussion. This is in part to do with the fact that, like hello_spikey, I tend to go for fic with kink warnings on it and so am unaware of the relative lack of kink in het as opposed to slash fics.

Will just add that I personally feel uncomfortable with the sub/dom theme if the sub is female for the same reasons as hello_spikey does. In fact, I should say, what she said.

I do see Buffy as very dom, though have in the past read a BDSM fic where she was in a threesome with Angel and Spike and took the sub's role at times. Enjoyed that. It was by laure_alexander and was called Sin Wagon.
ClawofCat: vamp spikeclawofcat on March 26th, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, thanks for the rec. I'll check out "Sin Wagon" when I get the chance. This is sort of random, but have you ever read Perpetuity by likeadeuce? It's post-NFA Wes/Lilah and it's dark. Awesome, awesome shot.
(no subject) - shapinglight on March 31st, 2008 08:37 am (UTC) (Expand)