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(Fic) Which of you is the man?

19th January 2010 (17:15)
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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?
Characters: Willow/Kennedy
Setting: Shortly after Season 7.
Wordcount: 632
Rating: 15
Genre: Parody
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."

"That's not--"

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."




Author's Notes

 

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.
 

 


Comments

Posted by: none of the above (frogfarm)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 17:30 (UTC)

Having no shame is preferable to having no sense of humor.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 18:21 (UTC)

Glad you think so. :-)

Posted by: joe_sweden (joe_sweden)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 17:38 (UTC)

Surely it's Dawn? A very short, annoying man.

[insert more thought-out response here and all]

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 18:22 (UTC)

Dawn may be the short annoying man but I don't think she's part of Willow and Kennedy's relationship, is she? Unless they've been off having threesomes and Joss never told us?
:-)

Posted by: joe_sweden (joe_sweden)
Posted at: 20th January 2010 11:09 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 17:44 (UTC)

You may have no shame, but you have a great sense of humour.

Though if you truly had no shame, in the name of cultural appropriation you could have had them bring up whether Judaism or Catholicism is the most patriarchal, or Jewish vs Latin family structures... ;-)

KENNEDY: Oh come on, you guys invented patriarchy! At least we have the Virgin Mary. You're the man.
WILLOW: You guys had God knock her up. Male fantasy much?


...maybe it's a good idea you didn't. But now people can beat me over the head with that shovel instead. :-)

Edited at 2010-01-19 18:14 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 18:23 (UTC)

Well, it's possible this will turn into a long-running argument for them in the same way as astronauts versus cavemen did...

Thanks!

Posted by: Nicki (peroxidepirate)
Posted at: 20th January 2010 00:49 (UTC)

Posted by: The Anti-OTP (snowpuppies)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 17:59 (UTC)

Totally adorable - I loved the tickle fight.

About the rest: I stand firmly in the "write whatever the hell you want to write" category. It's fiction. Not real. And ANY author's work on ANY subject about ANY people will have the author's bias written in, it's inescapable. To limit what topics an author can or cannot write about becomes a slippery slope until fiction, itself, cannot be written, since the author cannot write about anything except that which he or she has experienced, from his or her own point of view.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 18:30 (UTC)

Thanks!

I pretty much agree with your viewpoint - it's perfectly fair to complain if someone represents another topic badly, but not that they had the audacity to write about it at all. I can certainly sympathise with the counter-argument that boils down to "It's icky for people who aren't me to be writing about me" (though it's usually expressed in more abstract language about appropriation and disempowerment and privilege) but I'm not sure what reply you can give beyond "I'm sorry you feel that way."

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 18:15 (UTC)

LOL! Cute fic. I've heard someone saying that Willow is the man of the relationship in Tillow a long time ago, which made me laugh.

Oh, can you link me to metafandom? Sounds like an interesting place.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 18:33 (UTC)

Willow "I'm not large with the butch" Rosenberg? :-)

Thanks!

And metafandom is simply a community newsletter that collects links to discussions on LJ and Dreamwidth, usually in multiple individuals' journals.

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 19:11 (UTC)

Kennedy's totally the man. She wore suspenders. Don't get much more mannish than that.

I have no opinion on the metafandom thing except to say that I feel frightfully non-transgressive and non-edgy since I don't write slash. I must be horribly boring since I just write often-kinky canonical vampire het sex.

Although I'm finding a lovely irony in you, a straight man, writing femslash in response to the big slash appropriation debate. Charming. :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 19:23 (UTC)

Umm... you do know that in English English 'suspenders' refers to this garment here?



If you think that's mannish, well, I'm not sure what else to say...


I'm finding a lovely irony in you, a straight man, writing femslash in response to the big slash appropriation debate. Charming. :)

I did say, twice in fact, that I have no shame. :-)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 19:32 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 19:44 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 20:01 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 20:09 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 19:50 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 20:03 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 20:04 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 20:09 (UTC)

Posted by: joe_sweden (joe_sweden)
Posted at: 20th January 2010 11:11 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 20:12 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 20:21 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 20:31 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 20:38 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 19:47 (UTC)

I loved it. It made me grin happily. Funny and cute.

And I second the "no shame is better than no sense of humor" reassurance. Thought it seems like I might need to believe that after writing doll!Dawn making obscene gestures (btw, it so almost went a dirty route when I was writing it and became Willow/doll!Dawn so apparently I have some shame) and genderswap!Buffy/Spike.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 20:18 (UTC)

Really, you're sweet and fluffy and innocent. I would totally have made that story Willow/Doll!Dawn, with no hesitation at all. ;-)

And my picture of Dawn is, in fact, that she's a lot cruder and likely to make rude gestures or use bad language than Buffy; it's a whole combination of teenage rebellion and "I'm just as grown up as my sister, or even more so!"

Posted by: the infamous Midwestern subterrainean Explodebear. (hkath)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 20:19 (UTC)
bastard people [WFG]

Hee, adorable fic! I am really enjoying Kennedy now that the comics have fleshed her out a bit :)

That's an interesting argument. I've seen bits and pieces of it also, and linked to a bit of it myself a while back.

I don't think it's such a black and white issue - and I'm not just saying that because I'm a queer woman who's written her share of m/m slash.

I mean, should your fic have offended me just because it depicted someone who was somewhat like me, or more like me than they are like you? It didn't. I liked it! Maybe I even liked that aspect of it in particular!

I've read plenty of fiction, fan and original, that did offend me in some way by disrespecting its own minority/gay characters. (I actually remember being sent a story by a fledgling writer for review once, and being shocked at how obviously repulsed by gay sex - hell, by homosexuality in general - the author seemed, all the while writing about gay men having sex.)

I've also read plenty of fiction that I feel got it right, and I doubt that there is a 100% correlation between straight-and-femaleness and unsuccessful gay-themed fiction.

I don't even know what I'm trying to say, at this point. Just that this issue does bother me - because the guy I originally linked to did have a point about that LA Times article - it didn't once acknowledge the existence of actual gay males in the world. It sounds kind of weird as an accusation, I know. But I found it kinda disturbing once I read the article and discovered it referred to cat people the same way it referred to gays - as characters only.

Not to mention, the excerpts cited from the porny books were incredibly lame. Maybe I'm just used to better, though, after being around fandom for so long. :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 20:57 (UTC)

Glad you liked the story!

I mean, should your fic have offended me just because it depicted someone who was somewhat like me, or more like me than they are like you?

Well, it certainly wasn't meant to offend anybody... but as I wrote it the thought was there in the back of my mind that it probably would offend some people. I've certainly seen comments to that effect in the various metafandom-linked threads, and I'll confess to a slight feeling of nervousness after posting while waiting to see what sort of replies I'd get.

I liked it! Maybe I even liked that aspect of it in particular!

Well, one of the big conflicts in the current debate is the one between those saying "Don't write about gay people unless you're gay yourself, because it's appropriation and fetishising" and those saying "Write about gay people all the time! We want to see more gay characters in fiction, not fewer!"

Plus for myself, I do enjoy reading fic by people different from myself to see their different perspective on things, and get to understand them better. All the way from the deep questions of identity and worldview down to basic things like "What does such-and-such actually feel like if you're the woman and not the man?" :-)

Posted by: Chani φ (frenchani)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 20:32 (UTC)
medieval demons

No shame, really?

Now I'm waiting for a witty fanfic exploring the cliches of gay intercourse...through Giles/Ethan relationship.

;- P

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 20:59 (UTC)

I may have no shame, but I'm also still a heterosexual male. Some things it's unfair to ask of me. ;-)

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 21:58 (UTC)

Awww, adorable.

And homigod Kennedy is so the man. Get real guys.</small>

And like some other people said...whatever works for you works. I think it's a little silly to tell people they can only write what they know, since even if you write about someone of your orientation/race/gender, as long as it's fiction, it's never going to be exactly you. As long as there isn't anything crazy racist/sexist/homophobic, if we say the majority can't write about the minority, the minority will never get recognized which is bad.


Pretty sure none of that made sense but whatever. :D

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 22:36 (UTC)

So you don't think that by writing this I've stolen your voice and made you invisible?

Good to know. ;-)


And homigod Kennedy is so the man. Get real guys.

That's why I made her get Willow to wear that thingie at the end of the fic. To confound expectations. :-)

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 19th January 2010 23:52 (UTC)

Posted by: Nicki (peroxidepirate)
Posted at: 20th January 2010 01:33 (UTC)

Cute story! No shame required.

Although if you ask me, if two girls need lube it means they're doing something wrong. Er, unless, uh, ok nevermind.

I really don't know what to think about the slash debate. Mostly I believe the representation of diverse groups is always of the good, provided the people doing the representing bother to know something about the culture -- be it sexual orientation, nationality, race, religion... -- they're writing.

But now and then I happen across guy-slash that's so heteronormative it freaks me out (Jayne/Simon, anyone? Not all of it, of course, but a lot...).

I feel like a lot of it comes down to respect. If you respect the (group of) people you're writing about, your stories won't seem like the nasty fantasy of a dirty old woman (and yes, thank internet slash fandom for my belief in the existence of dirty old women).

Basically, I think straight women should be as cautious when writing about gay men as men should be when writing about women -- they shouldn't be asked to stop doing it, by any means. But they should acknowledge that they'll never entirely know what it's like, they should tread lightly, and they should be willing to listen and learn. It's not that hard.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 20th January 2010 17:04 (UTC)
willow-kennedy

they shouldn't be asked to stop doing it, by any means. But they should acknowledge that they'll never entirely know what it's like, they should tread lightly, and they should be willing to listen and learn.

That's pretty much the approach I try to adopt myself.

Though this isn't the first time someone picked my up for mentioning artificial lube in a sex scene. I think reading all the debate on m/m slash has subconsciously influenced me into worrying that I need to include it in any sex scene, full stop. :-)

Though from what I've seen it's not *that* uncommon for women using dildoes or large vibrators to use lube with them. Maybe that's just a biased sample?

Or maybe I should write another fic where Kennedy actually asks Willow "Why do you always get out the lube? You don't really need it, you know." and Willow realises it's just a habit she got into back when she was sleeping with Oz, and never grew out of. ;-)


Posted by: M (spankulert)
Posted at: 22nd January 2010 16:26 (UTC)
Willow outside my comfort zone

"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."

hee! Good stuff. And I think humor is always a welcome respite :)

Posted by: kerkevik (kerkevik)
Posted at: 28th January 2010 21:46 (UTC)


Hi,

I got caught up in all this way back when I posted the following fic on the now sadly defunct extraflamey W/T fic site.
The Dance of the Happy Little Toaster http://kerkevik.livejournal.com/1791.html

At the time I got a whole host of very positive responses to it, especially to the last line which, as I pointed out in the A/N, was unashamedly stolen from a lesbian movie in the first place.

I did get one very curious response though. You'll have to excuse me for paraphrasing, but it was something like six years ago, and the site is gone now, but it went something like this. She did say that she like dthe fic, until she reached the last line, which made her feel like she'd read something out of Playboy.

But it wasn't that line that was curious; rather it was another comment she made that got the curious response out of me. She made a complaint about straight guys encroaching on our territory and writing porn fics about us. Now I was a total innocent, in fic terms, in those days. If anyone had used words like slash, or femslash, on me I would not have had a clue!

But please note, she specifically called me straight.

Fucking Straight!

Now I was well used to getting, shall we say, 'less than favourable' comments about my sexuality, but that one was a new one. it was obvious she hadn't bothered to check my profile, where the first thing I said was that I was Queer (don't ask me why I always use a capital letter. I can't recall ever not doing so, except in the case of typos that I didn't have the time, or inclination, to go back and correct).

Now it may have been a sign of my complete thickitudity, but it took several day before I began to realise that I was slightly annoyed; then ever so offended, then fucking insulted that she'd just assumed I was straight.

She'd actually called me STRAIGHT!

No bigot had EVER insulted me like that!

Anyway, as far back as I can recall writing stories, those same stories have included women of all colours, sizes & sexualiites. Black; straight, bi, asian queers, or one who said, "As long as I can fuck it, I don't give a fuck what it's got between it's legs!" She was speaking, by the way, about a big australian queen she was sodomising behind his boyfriend's back.

I've gotten so used to feeling in a culture of one that, in writing terms at least, the term, 'oppressed minority', has become near meaningless to me.

So long, and thanks for all the fics,

Still under Willow & Tara's spell,
Ray.

Posted by: zooeys_bridge (zooeys_bridge)
Posted at: 7th March 2010 03:59 (UTC)

I'm particularly interested in your comments at the end. Issues of group participation and representation are always interesting, especially when it comes to under-represented communities. It seems to me that these issues in fanfiction kinda go back to the old discussions about authenticity and cultural property like can a white man (or woman!) play the blues. Can a man write a woman's experience in literature? Etc; Etc;

For me I guess, in the end, it's just fanfiction and smut is smut. No more, no less.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th March 2010 13:20 (UTC)

Hi!

I thuk in the end I'd answer that it's harder for a non-member of a community to write about, or sing about, or participate in that community's culture and way of life. But ideas and stories are the common heritage of humankind, not the sole possession of any one group of people.

We've surely been borrowing ideas from each other and being inspired by each other ever since the first two clans of humans developed divergent cultures back on the African plains 100,000 years ago...

Posted by: zooeys_bridge (zooeys_bridge)
Posted at: 7th March 2010 20:51 (UTC)

Posted by: red_satin_doll (red_satin_doll)
Posted at: 17th January 2013 18:31 (UTC)

Here from your rec on eilowyn's site today - and I enjoyed this thoroughly. And in fact, it felt so "insidery" that I sort of assumed you were a lesbian until gabs mentioned otherwise upthread. I suppose if you had been that would have negated the point of your author's notes (or negated their connection to the story.) But honestly I had no idea who/what you your identity is. A cute funny and sexy metafic, so - home run.

It felt very real I suppose because I remember the first time, as a freshly "out" but still single lesbian twenty-something, getting that question directly from two co-workers, who happened to be female and African-American. It didn't offend me at the time because it was in the context of a conversation in which they were genuinely interested in educating themselves. Context and tone count for a LOT.

Which gets back to the point that several people have already made two years ago about slash in general and writing about "other people". I especially like the respons from peroxidepirate to "listen and learn" and that's pretty key. Take the responsibility for checking our assumptions, and educating ourselves, not asking other people to do it for us, or say "I'm a liberal, I'm ok with gay people, I'm not racist, see!" and call it a day. And I mean this for everyone; being a member of a "minority" (white female lesbian in my case) isn't a "get out jail free card". And boy I have committed some whoppers in my time.

Two other things - this also reminded me a lot of discussions we used to have when I was in a lesbian support group back in my twenties: we used the terms "butch and femme" of course, but the implication is clear. We played the game of the group putting everyone on the butch-femme scale (1 most femme, 10 stone butch) and everyone seemed to want to be at least somewhat on the butch scale. Even I was a little horrified to be a 2 or 3, although my presentation was quite feminine. I wanted to be that "5", in the middle, and I can't say why except for internalized sexism, that somehow it was more "progressive" to be androgynous. Now I just shake my head at that.

But then I got into my first relationship and discovered something. The phrase "butch in the streets, femme in the streets" (a common cliche saying in the circle I hung out with) worked the other way around, and butch/femme wasn't just male/female, it was something more flexible and slippery than that, something that could be played with consciously; and there is no perfect state of androgyny.

Re: the lube? Since someone else brought it up - I had no problem with that at all. Different women have different degrees of, um, natural lubrication, especially after age 40. And it's always handy to have on hand with toys, so I didn't think that felt wrong at all.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th January 2013 20:16 (UTC)
willow-kennedy

I sort of assumed you were a lesbian until gabs mentioned otherwise

In the words of the cliché, I'm not but some of my best friends are. :) Including one I've been very close to for ~30 years, and who has had many frank conversations with me about lots of things...

And given that I'm writing fic on LJ, which is overwhelmingly female in make-up, I tend to assume that there are going to be more lesbians and bi women reading my fic than there are men, so obviously I have to write with that in mind. Luckily, I haven't so far run into any major problems or conflicts.


I don't know if the butch/femme thing (and presumably the parallel male top/bottom thing) is more of an American categorisation? It's not really something I've encountered much here ('Here' being the UK), except in an obviously ironic or joking form.


the lube

In my defence, I can now remember that the previous fic I wrote that featured lube was actually Willow volunteering to have sex with a magically genderswapped male!Buffy, so it's quite natural for her to feel the need for some artificial help. :)

(Why yes, I do get some really strange ideas for fic...)

And also: yes, it's now my personal fanon that Willow always keeps a bottle of lube handy for use with sex toys, either with her partner or alone. She's the sort of person who never likes to be caught unprepared.

Posted by: red_satin_doll (red_satin_doll)
Posted at: 18th January 2013 21:39 (UTC)

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