This is a short explanation of slash and a brief summary of some of the issues usually raised by people who discover it for the first time.
What Is Slash?
Slash is a very specific subgenre of fan fiction. To put it briefly, slash posits a romantic (yes, as in sexual) relationship between two series protagonists of the same gender.
Why Call It Slash?
Fans started calling this genre "slash" because of the punctuation mark ("/") used to denote a relationship between two characters, as in "Kirk/Spock". As near as anybody can figure out, slash grew out of the hurt/comfort genre in Star Trek fan fiction, when one writer took a h/c story between Kirk and Spock just a little further and made it sexual. Fans of other shows picked up on it, and you will now find slash writers in almost every fandom.
Who Writes Slash, And Why?
Most slash stories are written by women. This is probably because most slash stories are about men. Now, don't look at me like that. Too often, the most dynamic characters in a show are the men. And also, quite often these men are simply gorgeous. It's a generally accepted fact that men like the idea of two beautiful women together... so why shouldn't it follow that women like the idea of two gorgeous guys together? Makes sense to me!
So, most slash is by women, and about male characters. But you do find slash stories about female characters. And these are usually written by men. Note I said "usually". I have occasionally read m/m slash written by men, and f/f slash written by women, but those are the exception rather than the rule. Some people argue that if a man writes m/m fanfic it shouldn't be called slash, but I have yet to be given a reason for this.
So, You Make Characters In Slash Gay?
No. Yes. It depends on who you ask. Some writers write their characters as gay, very many don't. Some slash writers I've spoken to think the issue is irrelevant. Slash writers have written stories where the characters called themselves gay, and stories where they haven't. I personally don't see that it matters - my own stories deal with one person falling in love with another person; their gender is irrelevant. And I think I can safely say that the people who read slash don't care either way.
What About The Moral Issues?
The problem here is, not everyone can agree on just what the "moral issues" are. Are fans technically supposed to write fanfic based on TV shows? No. But most Powers That Be look the other way because fanfic sustains interest in the shows. Would the actors be offended? Who knows - and it doesn't really matter, because the actors aren't the characters they play. (I do know of one actor who thinks the whole thing is very funny.) Isn't there something wrong with the sex acts depicted? Slash fans don't think so. The bottom line here is, if you don't like it, don't read it. We like it, so we will.
But You Shouldn't Write That!
Slash fans resent this attitude most of all. The whole point of having freedom of speech is being able to say, read or write what we want to. If slash isn't for you, fine. Don't read it. But don't try and tell other people what to do. This may be a cliche, but nobody can force someone to read slash. So those people who don't like it can stay far away from slash, and those of us who do like it will continue to read and write it. There are many fanfic subgenres, and slash is a perfectly valid one: it allows the writer to explore the characters in depth. That's all most of us want, anyway: enjoyable stories that explore our favourite characters.
This text was written by T'Mar. As her website is not available at this time and it's such an excellent and very helpful explanation of slash, I have duplicated it here. No copyright infringement intended.
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