Warning: This is merely an attempt to intelligently set forward my point of view. I'm not going to deny that I'm biased, because quite frankly, we all are. I'm only trying to be logically biased. Please don't flame me for my view. On the other hand, comments, counter-arguments, or additional points to make, don't hesitate to e-mail me at email@example.com; I love getting responses to my essays. The only condition, besides not bashing other points of view, is that it be relatively coherent and thoughtful. None of this 'U R relly relly sick every1 knows that homosexuals will go to hell and the idea of harry and ron doing each other thats just disgusting' - I won't even grace that with a reply.
So, without further ado, sit back and enjoy (hopefully) Firebolt's first fan-essay!
I can remember the first days of Harry Potter fanfiction. It was only a year or so ago, really, but that year made a difference - stories written by fans were few and far between, at least in any large quantity, and the Harry Potter section of fanfiction.net had maybe two or three pages to its name. In that year, things have changed - there are mailing lists and websites for fanfics everywhere you look, and FFN now sports over 200 pages of fics, and more by the day. We've come a long way, but the basic idea stays the same. People still write stories, people still read stories, people still review stories. And people still flame stories.
Because there has been something of a mini-revolution in the past year, which has been growing for a while. Maybe it's been months, maybe it's been the whole year or even earlier, but a new category of Harry Potter fanfiction has taken hold. In these stories, it's not Ron and Hermione who kiss and hold hands. Nor is it Harry and Ginny, Draco and Hermione, Remus Lupin and a Mary Sue (more on those some other time), or any of the other myriad pairings that have existed in Harry Potter fics for as long as anyone can remember. No. In these stories, it's Sirius Black and Remus, or Harry and Ron, Draco and Neville, Ginny and Hermione, or any of another long list of pairings. Slash or same-sex pairing fanfiction has come to the fandom.
And these fics, along with their authors, are getting flamed out of their minds.
Why? Well, putting aside all the normal causes that lead to flames, like terrible spelling and grammar, silly, time-wasting posts on the part of the author, or most often out of sheer spite on the part of the flamers, it's because the stories feature same-sex pairings. There are many people who don't like the idea of homosexuality.
Well, that's fine. You have every right not to want to get involved in a romantic or sexual relationship with someone of the same sex as you, just as I have every right to dislike Johnathan Swift and the boy next door has every right to hate the taste of pizza. People have different opinions and beliefs, that's a given. If we didn't, we wouldn't be human beings, we'd be a giant, worldwide beehive. It's when you cross the line between 'I don't like or think I should do this' and 'I don't like or think anyone should do this' that it stops being a matter of personal choice and becomes a matter of prejudice and discrimination.
Yes, discrimination. The same grouping into which sexism, racism, neo-nazism, and various other -isms (although not all of them) fall innto.
But, the anti-slasher protests, even if some of the flames are prejudiced, there are plenty of valid, non-discriminatory reasons to be completely against slash and homosexuality in general.
All right, then, let's take a look at the most oft-cited justifications of the flames, and see what they say.
1. Homosexuality is against my religious beliefs!
Okay. Well, if you're against it because of your religion, I respect that. Everyone has the right to choose their religion, or should have the right, and you have every right to stick to that one. But why don't we stress the 'my' part of that statement? They're your beliefs, and not necessarily mine or anyone else's, and we have a right to choose our beliefs as well.
2. Slash pairings are out of character.
When you think about it, no fanfic is completely in character, simply because the fic writers aren't writing the characters as the author originally planned - so what J.K. Rowling was thinking when she wrote the books isn't really an issue until she tells us straight out about the leanings of the characters. And how many POVs are the books told from? One. Harry's point of view. Not having seen the inside of most of the characters' thoughts, we can't say for sure which ones are homosexual, which ones are het, and which ones are bi. Okay, sure, having seen the Yule Ball, we can say that the majority of the characters, if not all, are heterosexual. But that doesn't eliminate the possibility of their being bisexual. In fact, Harry might be bisexual, too - people don't always realize they have homosexual leanings the moment their hormones start working.
While we're at it, how is Remus and/or Sirius having a long lost girlfriend/wife any more plausible then their having been lovers in the past?
We have no evidence pointing either way - they could have sworn themselves to celibacy, for all we know.
Putting the last two paragraphs into two words, prove it.
3. It's not natural!
There are scientifically documented instances of males having sex outside of our species, you know. Insects do it. Birds do it. All sorts of animals do it. Despite our general denial of the fact, human beings come from nature, and are, according to scientific definition, animals. So I'm afraid I don't see where that line of reasoning comes from.
4. Harry Potter is a children's series!
Harry Potter was only labeled a children's series by the publishers and the media. J.K. Rowling never meant it to be just for children. In fact, she has even said that she wrote it for herself. In any case, even if it is a children's series, adults read it too, and write fanfiction just as much as children do. If adults want to write male/male or female/female NC-17 fics (not that all slash is NC-17, far from it), that's their call. If they want to write male/female NC-17 fics, that's also their call. People can write fanfiction as they want to write it, otherwise I would have tried to get clichés and self-inserts outlawed long ago.
5. I have nothing against homosexuality, but it's just wrong!
So what you're saying is people can be gay or lesbian if they want, but it's immoral and overall a Bad Thing anyway? That's like saying that you're for conservation of wildlife when you have elephant ivory carvings all over your mantelpiece. There's a word for that kind of attitude, boys and girls: hypocrisy. Political correctness, for another phrase. You don't like something but don't have a good reason why other people shouldn't like it either, and so you formulate an excuse so you can stomp on their views anyway. I've said it once, and I'll say it again - you don't have to like something, but that's no call for forcing your views on other people, or insulting them because they don't agree.
And the sad truth about the controversy of Harry Potter slash is that that's what most of the critics are saying. Not that slash fiction is badly written (which it isn't, at least not any more than most fanfics are), not that it directly contradicts the books (which it doesn't), not even that it can be NC-17 (which it can admittedly be, but far from always), but that it's Different. And I ask the reader, isn't the very purpose of writing to tell a story? To offer new points of view, to bring variety to each other's lives, to keep things interesting? What is there that's so wrong about another viewpoint on the idea of love?
All right, I say. I'm only one voice among many, and if the anti-slashers of the world are set in their opinions, I really can't change anything.
And that's another sad truth. But before I close off, let me leave you with one last comment.
You don't have to read slash if you don't like it.
Yes, it's true. On your browser toolbar is a button marked 'Back'. Click on it, and you never saw the story. And you know what? You don't even have to click the back button. I have never seen a Harry Potter slash fic - although I can't admit I've seen them all, I've seen more than a few - that wasn't marked with warnings all over. If you pay attention to the summary and the author's notes at the top, you have perfect control over what you read.
And if the author has enough respect for your dislike of slash to write the warnings, shouldn't you have enough respect for their ideas to leave the story alone and not flame?
~ Firebolt, 11/4/00.
Last edited 12/21/00.