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by C.M. Decarnin
"But," I interrupted plaintively, "I don't want to write about real men. I want to write about ideal men."
This moment at Escapade 9 came back to me a half day after reading Maygra de Rhema's essay "Being My Own Hero: An Essay on the Why and Wherefore of Slash", which nudged me during a two in the morning wake-up to write a slanting commentary footnote, like the Chinese did on the works of the Zen masters. She's detailing her dazzling obsession with the heroically unknowable, the O.S., the Other Sex, Them, Men, the male p.o.v. In contrast, my intellectual interest in the behavior, reactions and feelings of real men is pretty calm. "Really? Men think like that? Huh. Who woulda thought it." Actually the facts can be fascinating. But they have nothing to do with why I like, read, and write slash. Somewhere in my late teenage years I discovered the principle of gay male love as the Sex Pistol, the Equalizer, the magic that took the built-in misery and disappointment of gender bias out of the romance equation altogether. Why two males rather than two females? Jeeze, do the math: I was a het girl, two Sex Objects for the price of one? Gimme! Also, I was deeply ingrained with the sad sexism of our (and every) culture, no matter how mad it made me; it was so much easier to see males as heroes... Today girls have Xena and Buffy and Scully (even Cleopatra, and The Queen of Swords); all I had was the original Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, and it just wasn't enough. Plus, as I say, no chemistry. And fantasy is all about chemistry, or why bother.
And of course, it's always easier to heroify what's not plain ole boring humdrum mundane SELF, who you know damn well is sure no hero. Nothing like a gender swish-pan to add that missing touch of the exotic, the out-there, the alien, the potentially heroic.
And what has romance to do with heroism?
I don't know, but I'm pretty sure it's why I'm still single.
I really expected it. I really thought Great Love was qualitatively Different from regular life. Ghod knows every time I fell in love it felt like it was on a heroic scale. It was only in my late thirties I even began to tingle with an uneasy suspicion: can it be this thing I've confidently expected -- doesn't exist? That no one -- ever -- in the history of the Whole World -- ever had a Grand Romance as I envisioned it, that, indeed, the persons I envisioned having it with -- didn't exist?
That all there was was... ordinary guys?
Yes, somewhere RL had gotten seriously overwritten with the great myth of our time, in whatever form it floats your boat: True Love. Which is to say, untrue love, heroic, passion-driven, epic, event-shaking, love so great it is the story-line.
The one thing Real Life will never have.
It made one hell of a vivid fantasy life. And if we had to choose to keep only our real life OR our fantasies, how many of us wouldn't at least have to stop and think? Eh?
Like Jack Benny pondering the demand "Your money or your life!"
I don't really think men have such different basic stuff from women. I do think they have the differences and deformities of any ruling class.
No individual raised in a ruling class is to BLAME for absorbing its values, no such individual is responsible for the overall societal impact of their class. But every such individual imbibes the benefits of ruling-class hogging of resources, and suffers the severe penalties of loss of insight. No member of a ruling class can afford to see, feel, hear, smell, taste or above all analyze such input and yes now you know why they call it "female intuition" because for a male to have it he'd have to bloody well sense what's going on in the world around him, and then ghod help him.
It's a sort of anti-Sentinel syndrome, and thereby hangs an essay all its own: what does Jim make of all he sees and senses? There's a strong canonical intimation that the work of his life is to block it all out.
Okay, so here we have this entire sex of guys who, should they take off their blinders, would have no bearable choice but to revolt against their class.
Do I sense...
I am interested in what real guys are like; I am interested in what real guys think they are like (kettle o' fish #2). In what goes on in their minds.
But for me this is only useful as a bit of local color when it comes to slash. M/m slash characters written by women have male bodies inhabited by female minds. It can't be any other way. And (oh, I hate to break it to you world but) ghod are they heroic!
Slash characters are us without our little grins and shuffles, our inhibitions, fears about LOVE L-U-V, sex sssssssss-eek-XXX, relationships (brrr, brrr, brrr!) and mainly without our careful insignificance, which we're handed at birth like an Islamic veil.
Shoot. I'd give anything for a man like that!
Except maybe my fantasies. And your fantasies. And my tv. And my VCR.
Imbued with all our noblest thoughts and impulses, sieved through every imaginable vicissitude, bent and twisted like pipecleaners into all conceivable sexual and emotional positions and making the most of them --
Okay so they aren't real men.
So we're imposing female feelings on them.
Fuck, it's about time somebody did.
Sometime around April 2001?