(Fic) Which of you is the man?
In which I address a burning question about Willow and Kennedy's relationship...
Thanks to the people who answered my poll earlier today; you'll see why I asked soon enough. Also, there are some author's notes at the end of the fic giving the context; anyone feeling the irresistible urge to beat me over the head with a shovel on seeing the fic title might want to read them first. Then you can beat me over the head with a shovel. :-)
Title: Which of you is the man?
Setting: Shortly after Season 7.
Warnings: As some of my flist have already concluded: I have no shame.
Which Of You Is The Man?
"So. Which one of us is going to be the man in this relationship?"
"What??" Willow's eyes went huge with consternation. Kennedy did her best to keep a straight face.
"Well, one of us has to be. I read it in a book." Now she couldn't keep from grinning any longer. "Heteronormativity for Dummies, I think it was called."
Willow snorted with laughter. "You'd have to be a dummy to believe that. Now are you gonna--"
"No, wait! We have to decide! Ten thousand years of kyriarchy demand it!"
"Oh well, in that case - and by the way, what have you been reading that you sound like a feminist website all of a sudden?"
"Feminist websites. Duh."
"Oh. Well done." She grinned. "'Cause you're clearly the man here, so it's good that you're being an ally and educating yourself."
"I'm the man? You're the one who shaves regularly."
"My legs! Not my face. And I shave my legs because I often wear skirts, like a proper woman, unlike certain people here who always wear pants and are therefore clearly men."
"Not wearing them now, am I? Besides, have you ever tried fighting in a skirt? Pants are a job requirement! Also, behind the times much? It's 2003, not 1903!"
She punctuated her last remarks by trying to poke Willow in the ribs; Willow fought her off by exploiting Kennedy's secret hidden weakness - her ticklishness. The resulting struggle took them halfway across the bedcovers before they collapsed down side by side, flushed and giggly.
"You know that's cheating."
"Hey, how else am I gonna beat you? You know you're way stronger than me. Which, by the way, is proof that you're the man."
But Willow was relentless. "Who opens the stuck jars? Who always carries my bags - for which, thank you, by the way - who shifts the furniture around when we clean? I think my case is proved."
"No way. I'm strong because I'm a Slayer, right? You do know what that means? She alone will stand? One GIRL in all the world?"
"Two thousand girls in all the world, actually."
"Yeah yeah. My point stands, 'Girl'. Has there ever been a male Slayer? No. Am I a Slayer? Yes. I rest my case. Other than to point out that there are plenty of boy witches out there, so it's perfectly possible for you to be the male in this relationship."
Willow shook her head, then grinned impishly. "Oh no it's not. Look over there."
"Huh?" Kennedy followed Willow's pointing finger... all she saw was the chair beside the bed, with Willow's clothes folded neatly in a pile atop it. She looked puzzled. "I don't get..."
"Exactly!" Willow made a dramatic gesture towards the other side of the bed, where Kennedy's jeans, top and underwear lay casually strewn over the floor. "I think that's conclusive, don't you? If there's anyone male in this relationship, it's certainly not me."
"I don't get it." As Kennedy continued to look puzzled, Willow's triumphant expression deflated.
"I forgot. You've never had a boyfriend, have you? It's... oh, never mind. you wouldn't get it."
"Does that mean you're admitting defeat, Mister Rosenberg?"
"No. But I'm willing to compromise. Maybe we could take turns?"
"Take turns being the man?" Kennedy began to smile, a wicked expression creeping across her face. "I think I can handle that. As long as you go first."
"Go first? Do you mean... oh!" As Kennedy reached under the bed and pulled out the complex-looking arrangement of straps and dangling bright plastic, Willow felt her face heat, and a matching warmth begin tingling rather lower down her body. She grinned back at Kennedy, their eyes meeting in a conspiratorial look of perfect understanding.
"I'll get the lube."
As those of you who read metafandom will know, the perennial fandom debate about slash has recently flared up again. This time, several gay men and their allies have been getting angry in their journals, saying that m/m slash written by straight women for their own pleasure is cultural appropriation which fetishises them, treats them as no more than sex objects, and takes away their own identity. To which the slashers reply that (a) a group of men - even if they're gay - telling women what they can and can't find sexually appealing is highly problematic (b) it's not only straight women who read or write slash anyway. The argument has escalated from there, going in all directions.
People who write femslash have complained that they're always treated as invisible in these debates. Comparisons to racism and colonialism are brought in. Everybody agrees that hostile stereotyping is wrong; most people also condemn the use of tired clichés like the idea that there must be a "man" and a "woman" in a gay relationship... or for that matter the idea that character traits like being active/dominant or passive/submissive should be treated as gendered in the first place. But is the use of stereotypes acceptable if you're writing a clearly-labelled romantic or sexual fantasy with no claims to realism? (Or a parody *koff*.) Or are you merely contributing to oppression?
And what about the appropriation question? Is it good, bad or neutral for a member of Group A to write a story about members of Group B, when the writer is not a member of Group B? Does it make a difference if Group B is an oppressed minority? What if Group A is also oppressed, but in a different way? Should straight people write stories about gay people? Should men write stories about women? Should white people write stories about black people? Vice-versa? I've heard the answers "No, definitely not" and "Yes, absolutely" expressed with equal passion.
Lots of questions. Maybe I should have answers... but instead I decided to write fic. Because, as many of my flist already know, I have no shame.