Slash fiction and human mating psychology.
Marriage is a romance in which the hero dies in the first chapter. --Laurence J. Peter
"Slash fiction A Popular Slash Couple
Slash fiction is a genre of fan fiction. It focuses on the depiction of sexual or romantic relationships between two or more male characters, who are not necessarily engaged in relationships in the canon universe. " or "slash" is a kind of romance fiction, usually but not always very sexually graphic, in which both of the lovers are male. To be considered true slash the lovers must be an expropriated ex·pro·pri·ate
tr.v. ex·pro·pri·at·ed, ex·pro·pri·at·ing, ex·pro·pri·ates
1. To deprive of possession: expropriated the property owners who lived in the path of the new highway. media pairing, such as Captain Kirk/Mr. Spock (K/S K/S Kirk/Spock ) from the original Star Trek Editing of this page by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled due to vandalism. series or Sherlock Holmes/Dr. Watson (H/W See hardware. ). The term "slash" arose from the convention of using the slash punctuation mark to unite the lovers' names or initials.
Like mainstream genre romance novels, slash is written almost exclusively by and for women. It originated in the mid-1970s when female Star Trek fans began to write and disseminate narratives in which Kirk and Spock fall in love and become lovers. As time went by, virtually every cop, spy, adventure, and science fiction television series featuring two male partners was "slashed" (i.e., slash stories focusing on the main characters were written and disseminated) by some of its female fans.
In the early years slash was disseminated primarily via fan magazines ("fanzines" or "zines"), which were sold by mail order and at fan conventions. Today, slash is disseminated primarily via the internet. Enter slash into any search engine and you will find hundreds of sites, most of which are devoted to only one or a few male pairings, though some archives contain thousands of stories featuring many pairings and TV shows.
Slash is not distinctively American. It seems to have arisen spontaneously at about the same time in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Australia, and Canada, and many of the most frequently slashed TV shows are British. A similar but professionally produced genre (Buckley, 1991; Thorn, 1997), with sales in the millions, arose in Japan: comic books for girls called shounen ai (boy's love a popular English name of Southernwood (Artemisia abrotonum); - called also lad's love.
See also: Boy ).
When most people, including the second author of this article, first learn of the existence of slash they are deeply puzzled. Why, they wonder, would any woman want to write or read such fiction? Our goal, when we began collaborating in 1994, was to answer this question. We also hoped that if we could discover why slash appeals to so many women we would thereby discover something new about human female mating psychology; in other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , we hoped that slash could be used as an unobtrusive measure of human female mating psychology.
An unobtrusive measure is any research method that does not require the cooperation of subjects (Webb, 1966). For example, if one were interested in studying the human walking gait one could employ obtrusive ob·tru·sive
1. Thrusting out; protruding: an obtrusive rock formation.
2. Tending to push self-assertively forward; brash: a spoiled child's obtrusive behavior. measures, such as using electrodes to record the timing and strength of muscle contractions as subjects walked back and forth in the laboratory, or unobtrusive measures, such as analyzing the wear patterns on old shoes. If one were interested in studying human mating psychology, one could employ standard obtrusive measures, such as surveys, questionnaires, and laboratory measurements of genital blood flow, or one could use less common but perhaps no less useful unobtrusive measures, such as analyses of commercially successful erotica erotica - pornography (Ellis & Symons, 1990; Symons, Salmon, & Ellis, 1997). We reasoned that slash exists because a sizable international community of women derives pleasure from writing and reading it; hence, the essential features of this genre must contain information about human female mating psychology.
Our research on slash has not, to date, led to the discovery of a heretofore-undreamed-of psychological mechanism or even to a novel hypothesis about such a mechanism. Instead, slash has turned out to be an exception that proves (tests) the rules, and the rules remain essentially intact. That is to say, it was more the case that our previously held views of female mating psychology led to a deeper understanding of slash than the other way around. We did, however, develop testable hypotheses to account for the appeal of slash, which we describe later in this article (see Salmon & Symons, 2001, for more information).
Before discussing slash and its fans, however, we first consider the general question of why human beings enjoy fiction at all. Our discussion is animated by the premises that mental phenomena, such as enjoyment, are the products of brain states and that the human brain, like every organ in every species, is the product of evolution by natural selection.
WHY Do HUMANS ENJOY FICTION?
In their article "Does Beauty Build Adapted Minds," Tooby and Cosmides (2001) noted that involvement in fictional, imagined worlds appears to be a human universal. They define fiction broadly to include "any representation intended to be understood as nonveridical, whether story, drama, film, painting, sculpture, and so on" (p. 7). To the evolutionist ev·o·lu·tion·ism
1. A theory of biological evolution, especially that formulated by Charles Darwin.
2. Advocacy of or belief in biological evolution. , there are two possible explanations for the human tendency to create and consume fictional representations.
The first explanation is that human engagement in fictional experience is a functionless byproduct by·prod·uct or by-prod·uct
1. Something produced in the making of something else.
2. A secondary result; a side effect.
Noun 1. of psychological (brain) adaptations that were designed by natural selection to serve other functions. In this view, engagement in fictional experience is not something that we are designed to do but, rather, something that we are susceptible to, as we are susceptible to becoming addicted to drugs. This hypothesis is elaborated and championed by Pinker (1997), who argues that many of the arts are best understood as evolutionarily novel technologies that effectively "pick the locks" of our brain's pleasure circuits.
The second explanation is that human engagement in fictional experience is itself an adaptation; that is, it is something we are designed to do. Tooby and Cosmides (2001) champion this hypothesis. They begin by noting that some psychological adaptations may be designed to operate in two different modes: a functional mode and an organizational mode. When an adaptation is operating in the latter mode, it becomes better organized to carry out its function (the first mode). For example, rhesus monkey rhesus monkey: see macaque.
Sand-coloured macaque (Macaca mulatta), widespread in South and Southeast Asian forests. Rhesus monkeys are 17–25 in. (43–64 cm) long, excluding the furry 8–12-in. fighting is the behavioral outcome of the underlying psychological adaptations operating in their functional mode, whereas rhesus play-fighting is the behavioral outcome of these adaptations operating in their organizational mode (Symons, 1978). In other words, the fighting mode and the play-fighting mode are both functional, in the sense of being the designed products of evolution by natural selection, but their functions are different: The function of fighting is to harm one's opponent, while the function of play-fighting is to safely practice and thereby improve (organize) fighting skills (without harming one's play partner).
Tooby and Cosmides (2001) argue that human engagement in fictional experience may have been favored by natural selection over the course of human evolutionary history because it produced adaptive benefits.
Fictional information input as a form of simulated or imagined experience presents various constellations of situation-cues, unlocking [emotional] responses, and making this value information available to systems that produce foresight, planning, and empathy. With fiction unleashing our reactions to potential lives and realities, we feel more richly and adaptively about what we have not actually experienced. This allows us not only to understand others' choices and inner lives better, but to feel our way more foresightfully to adaptively better choices ourselves. (p. 23)
Tooby and Cosmides add, however, that the psychological adaptations underpinning our enjoyment of fiction may not detect what experiences are actually adaptively organizing in the evolutionarily novel environments in which we live today, only what experiences manifest cues that would have made them adaptively organizing in the circumstances and conditions prevailing throughout the vast majority of human evolutionary history (in the human environment of evolutionary adaptedness or EEA EEA European Economic Area
EEA European Environment Agency
EEA Employment Equity Act (Canada)
EEA Een En Ander (Dutch)
EEA Erick van Egeraat Associated Architects
EEA Energy and Environmental Analysis ).
Not only do current human environments differ in many respects from the EEA, but, more specifically, most current modes of disseminating fictional experiences also differ profoundly from the oral story telling of our Pleistocene ancestors. Although it is often alleged that the human EEA is unknowable un·know·a·ble
Impossible to know, especially being beyond the range of human experience or understanding: the unknowable mysteries of life. or merely conjectural con·jec·tur·al
1. Based on or involving conjecture. See Synonyms at supposed.
2. Tending to conjecture.
con·jec because the past cannot be observed directly, in fact it is a dead certainty that writing, photography, motion pictures, videos, and the Internet are evolutionarily novel technologies that played no role in shaping human psychological adaptations. It would be surprising indeed if these new technologies did not provide a broad scope for "picking the locks" of our brains' pleasure circuits, even if, as Tooby and Cosmides convincingly argue, human engagement in fictional experience is an adaptation.
Written fiction probably contains elements of both engagement of organizing adaptations and of pleasure circuit lock-picking, and different kinds of fiction may contain different proportions. Perhaps "great" works of fiction are those that most fully engage organizing adaptations, which is why they have survived the tests of time and translation, while "lesser" fiction, including genre romance novels, may primarily pick the locks of the brain's pleasure circuits.
THE NATURE OF THE GENRE ROMANCE NOVEL
Romance novels have been called, with some justification, "women's pornography." While there are profound differences, which we outline below, between male-oriented porn and female-oriented romances, we would like to begin by considering pornography in light of Tooby's and Cosmides's analysis of the nature of fiction and the psychology that underpins it. If we can persuade the reader that porn consists almost entirely of lock-picking rather than engagement of organizing adaptations, our subsequent argument that the same is true of genre romances may be more persuasive.
To begin with, Tooby and Cosmides (2001) characterize fiction as consisting of representations understood to be nonveridical. Whether porn meets even this most basic test is questionable. The sex presented in film and video porn is, in an important sense, veridical--a fact that pornographers consciously emphasize by requiring ejaculation ejaculation /ejac·u·la·tion/ (e-jak?u-la´shun) forcible, sudden expulsion; especially expulsion of semen from the male urethra. to occur externally--and the more porn sex looks like "real" sex the more effectively it achieves its goal of sexually arousing the male viewer (e.g., porn videos are more sexually arousing when shot in color than in black and white). We suspect that surreptitiously sur·rep·ti·tious
1. Obtained, done, or made by clandestine or stealthy means.
2. Acting with or marked by stealth. See Synonyms at secret. filmed "real life" sex would be even more popular and more sexually arousing than ordinary porn (all else being equal). This may help to explain the current popularity of amateur home-video porn. Another of Tooby's and Cosmides's fiction criteria is that fictional worlds engage emotion systems while disengaging dis·en·gage
v. dis·en·gaged, dis·en·gag·ing, dis·en·gag·es
1. To release from something that holds fast, connects, or entangles. See Synonyms at extricate.
2. action systems. In at least one sense, porn does not disengage dis·en·gage
v. dis·en·gaged, dis·en·gag·ing, dis·en·gag·es
1. To release from something that holds fast, connects, or entangles. See Synonyms at extricate.
2. action systems: Its main purpose is to facilitate action, in the form of masturbation masturbation
Erotic stimulation of one's own genital organs, usually to achieve orgasm. Masturbatory behavior is common in infants and adolescents, and is indulged in by many adults as well. Studies indicate that over 90% of U.S. males and 60–80% of U.S. .
More importantly, it seems unlikely that by viewing porn men come to better understand other people's choices and inner lives, to feel their way to adaptively better choices, or to learn generally applicable truths about female sexual psychology or male-female mating relations. On the contrary, the portrayal of female sexual psychology and male-female relations in porn are systematically and deliberately falsified to conform to Verb 1. conform to - satisfy a condition or restriction; "Does this paper meet the requirements for the degree?"
coordinate - be co-ordinated; "These activities coordinate well" men's wishful fantasies and thereby to enhance sexual arousal sexual arousal Horny/horniness, randy/randiness Physiology A state of sexual 'yellow alert' which has a mental component–↑ cortical responsiveness to sensory stimulation, and physical component–↑ penile sensitivity, neural response to stimuli, . Porn is set in a male fantasy realm, dubbed Pornotopia by historian Steven Marcus, in which sex is sheer desire and physical gratification with an endless succession of lustful lust·ful
Excited or driven by lust.
lust , physically attractive women who are always eager to have impersonal sex with strangers and who are always orgasmic.
In sum, porn probably is not very useful for organizing our understanding of human relations human relations npl → relaciones fpl humanas because it systematically and deliberately falsifies those relations (although it may have other uses, such as teaching young people about the nature of human genitals gen·i·tals
Genitalia. and the mechanics of sex). To use Pinker's (1997) analogy, porn, like drugs, seems to be something we are susceptible to.
That porn is probably best understood as almost pure lock-picking, however, in no way diminishes its usefulness for the study of male sexual psychology. On the contrary, the nature of a successful lock picker constitutes potent evidence about the nature of the lock. Commercial pornography is a multi-billion-dollar world-wide industry, the essence of which remains essentially constant through time and space and the nature of which has been shaped primarily by consumer preferences. Analyzing the essential features of porn thus has great potential to illuminate the pleasure circuits of the human male brain (Ellis & Symons, 1990; Symons, Salmon, & Ellis, 1997). For example, the fact that one of the most popular kinds of Internet porn is the subgenre sub·gen·re
A subcategory within a particular genre: The academic mystery is a subgenre of the mystery novel. called "barely legal" (featuring actresses who are at least 18 years old but who strive to, and often do, appear younger) is an unobtrusive measure of a fundamental aspect of human male mating psychology.
In addition, experimental exposure to pornography does not make the vast majority of men more likely to commit acts of violence against women (Allen, D'Alessio, & Emmers-Sommer, 2000; Malamuth, Addision, & Koss, 2000), implying that violence is not a component of most men's sexual psychology. The small minority of men who are more likely to commit acts of violence (in an experimental setting) after viewing porn have a preexisting pre·ex·ist or pre-ex·ist
v. pre·ex·ist·ed, pre·ex·ist·ing, pre·ex·ists
To exist before (something); precede: Dinosaurs preexisted humans.
v.intr. hostility toward women or a violence-prone personality, which better predicts their behavior than does the exposure to porn.
We believe that genre romances are analogous to male-oriented porn in the sense that they are wish-fulfilling fantasies, well designed to pick the locks of the pleasure circuits in female brains, and largely worthless as guides to male mating psychology or male-female relations in the real world. Romances probably are not very useful for organizing female psychological adaptations because they deliberately falsify falsify,
v to forge; to give a false appearance to anything, as to falsify a record. reality, not just in creating fictional characters This is a list of fictional characters. It has been expanded into the following lists:
v. fal·si·fied, fal·si·fy·ing, fal·si·fies
1. To state untruthfully; misrepresent.
a. male mating psychology and human mating relations to conform with female wishes (just as porn systematically falsifies female mating psychology and human mating relations to conform with male wishes). But precisely because genre romances have been shaped in flee markets by the cumulative choices of tens or hundreds of millions of women to effectively pick the locks of the pleasure circuits of women's brains, they have great potential to illuminate female mating psychology.
The extremely constrained (and hence extremely psychologically informative) nature of genre romances springs into focus most sharply when existing romances are viewed against the literally infinite background of possible kinds of erotic fiction that women could be writing and reading but aren't. The argument that women's erotica necessarily contains information about women's mating psychology implies the corollary that the absence of certain kinds of erotica contains such information as well. Consider that any of the following kinds of erotic fiction could be disseminated via the internet, at virtually no cost, if even a handful of women were disposed to write and read them:
1. Narratives in which heroines have sexual relations sexual relations
1. Sexual intercourse.
2. Sexual activity between individuals. with trees, ferrets, isosceles triangles, or any other random creature or object.
2. Narratives with little development of character, plot, or setting in which heroines have brief, impersonal sexual encounters with attractive male strangers, with no obstacles, no falling in love, no strings attached, and no happily-ever-after endings (i.e., narratives that directly mimic male-oriented pore).
3. Narratives in which heroines have sex with their husbands or long-time lovers.
4. Narratives in which heroines meet, win the hearts of, and ultimately marry gentle, sensitive, mild-mannered, hard-working, nonthreatening heroes with slightly feminine facial features Facial Features
See also anatomy; beards; body, human; eyes.
the condition of having an upper jaw that protrudes beyond the plane of the face. — gnathic, adj. who are anxious to shoulder half the housework and childcare.
5. Narratives in which heroines marry such men as described above, and then have impersonal, short-term extramarital ex·tra·mar·i·tal
Being in violation of marriage vows; adulterous: an extramarital affair.
Adjective flings during ovulation ovulation /ovu·la·tion/ (ov?u-la´shun) the discharge of a secondary oocyte from a graafian follicle.ov´ulatory
The discharge of an ovum from the ovary. with Mr. Good Genes macho studs.
Any of these erotic genres could exist, but to our knowledge, none of them does. Just as the dog that didn't bark in the night was to Sherlock Holmes a clue to a murderer's identity, the genres of erotic fiction that women don't write and post on the Internet is a clue to the nature of human female mating psychology.
What, then, actually does characterize women's erotic fiction? The genre romance novel has the following features. The goal of the heroine is never sex for its own sake, much less sex with strangers. The core of a romance novel's plot is a love story in which the heroine overcomes obstacles to identify, win the heart of, and marry the one man in the world who is right for her. (The romance novel's obligatory happily-ever-after ending precludes the possibility of serial romances featuring the same heroine with different heroes.)
Romances vary dramatically in how much explicit sex is portrayed--from none at all to a lot--because romance readers vary dramatically in how much explicit sex they enjoy reading about. In a romance novel, sex serves the plot rather than the other way around, as in porn. The hero finds in the heroine a focus for his passion that binds him to her and ensures his future fidelity. Sex scenes depict the heroine's control of the hero, not her sexual submission. The emotional focus of a romance is not on sex but, rather, on love, domesticity, and mutual nurturing.
Radway (1984) found that the members of an American romance novel readers' club were acutely aware of men's tastes for impersonal sex and sexual variety, and they didn't like it. They did not want to adopt men's standards, either in real life or in their erotica; they wanted men to adopt their standards. In short, the genre romance novel is set in a female wish-fulfilling fantasy realm that one might call Romantopia.
In an anthropological study, Gorry (1999) analyzed the characteristics of the heroes of 45 popular romance novels, each of which had been independently nominated for its excellence by a minimum of three romance readers or writers. She found that, overwhelmingly, the heroes of these popular romances shared the following traits.
In terms of physical characteristics, heroes were uniformly described as tall (in the novels in which height was stated exactly, the heroes were 6', 6'2", and, in one case, 6'3"). In addition to height, the adjectives most frequently used to describe the hero's physical appearance were muscular, handsome, strong, large, tanned, masculine, and energetic. (Not every one of these traits was explicitly mentioned in every novel, but no hero was described as lacking any of them.)
Regarding physical and social competence, heroes were described as sexually bold, calm, confident, and intelligent. No hero was described as lacking any of these traits, and no hero was described as being a gentle, sensitive fellow (except with respect to his feelings for and actions toward the heroine).
The most consistently described traits had to do with the heroes' feelings for the heroines. The hero wanted the heroine more than he had ever wanted a woman; he had never been so deeply in love; he had intrusive thoughts Intrusive thoughts are unwelcome, involuntary thoughts, images or unpleasant ideas that may become obsessions, are upsetting or distressing, and can be difficult to be free of and manage. about the heroine; he was gentle with the heroine; he considered the heroine to be unique; he wanted to protect the heroine; he was possessive pos·ses·sive
1. Of or relating to ownership or possession.
2. Having or manifesting a desire to control or dominate another, especially in order to limit that person's relationships with others: of the heroine; and he was sexually jealous of the heroine. As Harris (1995) documented in her meticulous survey of the psychological literature and the ethnographic, historical, and literary records, this is essentially a textbook list of the syndrome of traits that universally constitutes the experience of romantic love.
Being rich and having high socioeconomic status socioeconomic status,
n the position of an individual on a socio-economic scale that measures such factors as education, income, type of occupation, place of residence, and in some populations, ethnicity and religion. (which many researchers, especially evolutionary psychologists The following is a list of evolutionary psychologists or prominent contributors to the field of evolutionary psychology.
: Top - 0–9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
1. Relating to or caused by temperament: our temperamental differences.
2. Excessively sensitive or irritable; moody.
3. characteristics of successful warriors.
SLASH FICTION AND ITS FANS
One hypothesis that might account for the existence of slash is simply that the women who write and read this erotic subgenre are, in some yet-to-be-determined way, psychosexually unusual--analogous, for example, to male paraphiliacs. We will discuss two lines of evidence that we believe suggest otherwise: First, the results of our empirical research Noun 1. empirical research - an empirical search for knowledge
inquiry, research, enquiry - a search for knowledge; "their pottery deserves more research than it has received" (Salmon & Symons, 2001) with a group of mainstream romance novel readers suggest that most ordinary romance fans can enjoy reading a male-male romance. Second, slash fiction is so similar to mainstream genre romances that it could reasonably be classified as a species of that genus.
OUR RESEARCH ON ROMANCE NOVEL READERS
Our participants (22 women, members of a Canadian romance readers club), none of whom had previously read a male-male romance, agreed to read such a romance (The Catch Trap by Marion Zimmer Bradley Marion Eleanor Zimmer Bradley (June 3, 1930 – September 25, 1999) was an American author of fantasy novels such as The Mists of Avalon and the Darkover series, often with a feminist outlook. , in which the two lovers are trapeze artists, a flyer and a catcher). After reading the novel, participants completed (anonymously) a long questionnaire, which included questions about their reactions to The Catch Trap, their views on romances in general, and various personal and demographic information. For our purposes the key question was "Compared to other romances you have read, how much did you enjoy The Catch Trap?" Seventy-eight percent of the participants reported enjoying it at least as much as they enjoy other romances, and significantly more reported enjoying it more than average than reported enjoying it less than average. Although this was admittedly only one small study, we think this result is dramatic enough to tell against if not to outright disconfirm the "psychosexual psychosexual /psy·cho·sex·u·al/ (-sek´shoo-al) pertaining to the mental or emotional aspects of sex.
Of or relating to the mental and emotional aspects of sexuality. quirk" explanation for the existence of slash; that is, our research implies that romance readers in general, not just slash fans, can enjoy reading a romance in which both lovers are men.
We also tested which participant characteristics did and did not correlate with degree of enjoyment of The Catch Trap. Some correlations were unsurprising and not very interesting (e.g., enjoyment and homophobia were negatively correlated). But other correlations were less obvious and more interesting. For example, participants who enjoyed The Catch Trap more than the average romance were significantly more likely to report that they had been considered tomboys as girls. Also, these participants were significantly more likely to report that they enjoy buddy, action, science fiction and horror movies. Finally, these participants were especially attracted to the protagonists' working partnership.
SLASH AS A SUB-GENRE OF ROMANCE FICTION
Slash is much more similar to mainstream romance novels than most academic students of slash have realized (e.g., Fraser Lamb & Veith, 1986; Jenkins, 1992; Penley, 1991; Russ, 1985). For example, a slash story is in essence a love story in which two long-term male partners, usually depicted as heterosexual (however unlikely this may seem), suddenly realize that they have come to love one another. Slash stories typically have a happily-ever-after ending, namely the establishment of a permanent, monogamous romantic and sexual union.
In addition, while the average slash story probably contains more graphic sex than the average romance novel does (as many students of slash have noted), graphic sex is not a necessary component of either genre; there are PG, R, and X versions of both, and in both the emphasis is always on the emotional rather than the purely physical aspects of sex. In slash and mainstream romances alike, sex occurs within a committed relationship A committed relationship is an interpersonal relationship based upon a mutually agreed upon commitment to one another involving exclusivity, honesty, or some other agreed upon behavior. as part of an emotionally meaningful exchange, and it serves rather than dominates the plot.
While slash fans produce a great deal of slash-related artwork, it is unabashedly un·a·bashed
1. Not disconcerted or embarrassed; poised.
2. Not concealed or disguised; obvious: unabashed disgust. romantic, very much in the vein of romance novel cover art. It may depict nudity, but it almost never depicts penetration. A further similarity is that the heroine of a romance novel is always the main point-of-view (POV POV
point of view ) character, but it is common for the POV to shift between heroine and hero, because many romance readers enjoy having a direct pipeline to the hero's thoughts and feelings. In slash, one of the lovers is always the main POV character, but the POV commonly shifts between the two.
In describing their characters, slash writers are to some extent constrained by the physical traits of the actors who play the roles in the series being slashed, but poetic license poetic license
The liberty taken by an artist or a writer in deviating from conventional form or fact to achieve a desired effect.
Noun 1. regularly enables the main POV character to be "feminized": that is, to be portrayed as the smaller of the two, physically weaker, lighter in coloring, more seductive, more in touch with his emotions, and quicker to perceive the development of mutual love. During an episode of anal sex Noun 1. anal sex - intercourse via the anus, committed by a man with a man or woman
anal intercourse, buggery, sodomy
sexual perversion, perversion - an aberrant sexual practice; in slash fiction, each protagonist may play each role, but the main POV character is much more often depicted as the bottom and his partner as the top. In the early days of slash, writers often made technical mistakes in their descriptions of male-male anal sex (e.g., easy anal intercourse Noun 1. anal intercourse - intercourse via the anus, committed by a man with a man or woman
anal sex, buggery, sodomy
sexual perversion, perversion - an aberrant sexual practice; without lubricant), which suggests the possibility that they were not literally imagining anal sex at all. In light of this hypothesis, it may be significant to note that in Internet slash discussion groups it sometimes emerges that female fans who enjoy reading and writing about anal sex in slash do not actually enjoy having anal sex. In fact, it has been argued that slash is not really about male homosexuality at all; rather, it is about a female fantasy of heterosexual sex acted out via ostensibly os·ten·si·ble
Represented or appearing as such; ostensive: His ostensible purpose was charity, but his real goal was popularity. male bodies (Russ, 1985).
A frequent romance novel theme is the heroine's giving of her virginity to the hero. Although slash protagonists usually are depicted as having had a great deal of sex with women, they are also usually depicted as "anal virgins." The loss of their anal virginity affirms a bond they share with no one else, and "first time" slash stories are extremely popular. Although male-oriented and female-oriented eroticas differ profoundly and in many respects, they are alike in that each typically depicts sex between new rather than long-established partners. Romances, of course, depict sex primarily as a vehicle for establishing a permanent relationship, whereas porn depicts sex primarily as an end in itself. Nevertheless, this similarity between these otherwise so different eroticas suggests the hypothesis that men and women alike experience sex with new partners as especially exciting.
A final similarity between slash and mainstream romance novels is that themes of sexual exclusivity and sexual jealousy Sexual jealousy is a special form of jealousy in sexual relationships, present in animals that reproduce through internal fertilization, such as the Madagascar hissing cockroach, and based on suspected or imminent sexual infidelity. are prominent features of both.
In sum, perhaps the main lesson to be learned from analyzing slash is the rather banal one that the more things seem to change in the domain of human mating psychology, the more they actually remain the same. Romances--mainstream novels and slash stories alike--are in essence female fantasies about overcoming obstacles to achieve the perfect mateship
THEN WHY DOES SLASH EXIST?
We propose two kinds of answers to this question, which should be regarded as complementary rather than as competing and as hypotheses to be tested rather than as established conclusions.
First, although the heroes of mainstream romance novels are "warriors," the heroines are not warriors, no matter how intelligent, well-educated, fiercely independent, professionally successful, and spunky spunk·y
adj. spunk·i·er, spunk·i·est Informal
spunki·ly adv. they may be. In slash, however, both lovers are warriors. Slash is based on shared adventure, and its protagonists slay slay
tr.v. slew , slain , slay·ing, slays
1. To kill violently.
2. past tense and past participle often slayed Slang each other's dragons. This, we believe, is the most significant difference between slash and mainstream romances.
The typical slash fan may be a woman who is psychosexually unexceptional un·ex·cep·tion·al
1. Not varying from a norm; usual.
2. Not subject to exceptions; absolute. See Usage Note at unexceptionable.
un but who, for whatever reason, prefers the fantasy of being a cowarrior to the fantasy of being Mrs. Warrior, the fantasy of being a hero who triumphs over the forces of evil to the fantasy of being a heroine who triumphs over an alpha male.
Who might such women be? Our research suggests at least one hypothesis: They might be, disproportionately, former tomboys. Research on tomboys suggests that most do not reject traditionally female activities but rather embrace traditionally male ones (e.g., they may play with both dolls and trucks). As adults, they typically score high on tests of assertiveness, competitiveness, and willingness to take risks. Slash may have a special appeal to such women because it uniquely fuses traditionally female romance with traditionally male camaraderie, adventure, and risk taking.
The second reason for the existence of slash may be that it solves some of the problems inherent in the genre romance formula better than genre romances themselves do. Here is one example (see Salmon & Symons, 2001, for others): For the happily-ever-after ending to be credible, the reader of a genre romance must suspend disbelief regarding the way male mating psychology and male-female mating relations are portrayed. (Of course, slash fans must suspend disbelief that two heterosexual men could fall in love with each other and sexually desire each other because of that love. Women who cannot do this do not become slash fans.) In the real world, intense sexual passion and romantic love are evanescent ev·a·nes·cent
Of short duration; passing away quickly. , but in Romantopia they are not: The hero's sexual and romantic passions bind him permanently to the heroine. To find the happily-ever-after ending credible and satisfying, the reader of a genre romance must believe that this bond is so durable that the hero will never be tempted by the opportunities that are bound to come the way of a warrior who possesses every trait that young women seek in a prospective mate.
However, the essence of slash is that a deep, abiding, and most importantly Adv. 1. most importantly - above and beyond all other consideration; "above all, you must be independent"
above all, most especially tested friendship is firmly in place long before the scales fall from the protagonists' eyes and they realize that they love each other. The partners have put their hands in the fire for each other in the past and they will do so again in the future. They have fully earned each other's trust. In short, before they fell in love, before they had sex, the partners were united by a bond that is plausibly more durable and secure than sexual or romantic passions.
We hypothesize hy·poth·e·size
v. hy·poth·e·sized, hy·poth·e·siz·ing, hy·poth·e·siz·es
To assert as a hypothesis.
To form a hypothesis. that slash writers and readers derive pleasure from imagining romantic or sexual relationships built on the foundation of an established friendship. If we are right, it seems unlikely that male-female slash will ever replace male-male slash in the hearts of fans, even if many more TV series come to feature male-female partnerships. With a male-female pairing, such as Mulder and Scully Mulder and Scully can refer to:
FEMALE-FEMALE SLASH: A TEST CASE
Homosexuals constitute the acid test for hypotheses about the nature of psychological domains that are (or may be) sexually dimorphic dimorphic
see dimorphic fungus. (Symons, 1979). For example, mainstream male-oriented porn is sometimes claimed to constitute evidence of men's contempt for, disrespect for, or objectification ob·jec·ti·fy
tr.v. ob·jec·ti·fied, ob·jec·ti·fy·ing, ob·jec·ti·fies
1. To present or regard as an object: "Because we have objectified animals, we are able to treat them impersonally" of women. If this claim were correct, one would expect gay male porn either not to exist at all, or, if it did exist, to differ in significant ways from straight male porn. But gay male porn does exist, and it is essentially identical to straight male pore except with respect to the sex of the actors. The existence and nature of gay male porn thus supports our alternative hypothesis alternative hypothesis Epidemiology A hypothesis to be adopted if a null hypothesis proves implausible, where exposure is linked to disease. See Hypothesis testing. Cf Null hypothesis. that the essential features of porn illuminate human male mating psychology, not men's attitudes toward or feelings about women (Salmon & Symons, 2001).
If, as we have argued, slash fiction illuminates human female mating psychology, then slash that is written and read primarily by lesbians should be essentially identical to male-male slash, except with respect to the sex of the protagonists. This prediction appears to be confirmed. Some lesbian (and bisexual) fans of TV shows featuring female comrades who face danger and adventure together (e.g., Xena and Gabrielle from Xena: Warrior Princess The concept of warrior princesses is relatively new in fiction but it became increasingly popular with the feminist movement's successes in female empowerment, gradually pushing the stereotype of a "damsel in distress" to the background. ) slash these shows, and their stories have all the earmarks of male-male slash: They are based on friendship and shared adventure, their protagonists are "warriors" who battle the forces of evil, and their plots are resolved when two soul mates "Soul Mates" is a second-season episode of the science fiction television series Babylon 5. It originally aired in the United States on December 14, 1994. Synopsis recognize their mutual love and consummate that love sexually.
CODA (1) A distributed file system developed at Carnegie Mellon University in the late 1980s. Evolving from the Andrews File System, Coda is noted for its ability to withstand network failures. See AFS.
(2) A software company based in the U.K.
Without question, there are now and always have been happy marriages. That said, we recommend the following armchair experiment in unobtrusive measurement: Open any book of quotations and read the entries on marriage (this article's epigraph ep·i·graph
1. An inscription, as on a statue or building.
2. A motto or quotation, as at the beginning of a literary composition, setting forth a theme. is a typical, relatively mild example). After reading a few dozen quotations on this topic you may conclude that the core fantasy that animates slash fiction--erecting a "marriage" on the foundation of an established, trusted, and tested friendship---might not be such a bad idea.
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visible muscle tremor caused by fever, fear, weakness, electrolyte imbalance, especially hypocalcemia and hypomagnesemia, and neuromuscular disease.
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Address correspondence to Catherine Salmon, Ph.D., Psychology Department, University of Redlands The University of Redlands is a private liberal arts and sciences university located in Redlands, California. The university's campus sits on 160 acres (0.6 km²) near downtown Redlands. The university was founded in 1907 and was associated with the American Baptist Church. , 1200 E. Colton Avenue, Redlands, CA 92373; e-mail: Catherine_salmon@redlands.edu
Manuscript accepted September 24, 2003