The professional fangirl, or being an out perv.
An anon asked: “Do you think your students read your blog? I am not one but I am curious how you feel about being maybe somewhat exposed.”
Boy, it’s sooo interesting you would ask this question today, because yesterday I had colleagues come in to both of my classes as guest speakers, and in both I talked about being a fanfic writer—and, yes, a writer of slashfic. It wasn’t nearly as weird as I thought it would be. But it sure got me thinking, so this response will be long, and I’m making it rebloggable so that I can find out what other people think.
In direct answer to your question, sure, I know some students know of my blog. The line I take, repeatedly, is that it’s officially off limits, and should be treated as part of my private life. However, social media means that the lines between public and private are really blurred nowadays, especially in forums that don’t use real names. So I tell students that if they find my blog, I can’t stop them reading it, but especially where fics are concerned I’m not talking about it in class, or to anyone who’s currently a student.
I want to be really clear: I am not ashamed of what I do here. But as a professor I’m in a position of power over students: I grade them. Like it or not, if they’ve read my slash they’ll know things about me that will make that process really loaded. I went to a private college that had one rule for all social behavior: anything that interfered with other people’s learning is right out. The only thing you could get in trouble for was making it hard for someone to learn. Reading the kind of things I write may fuck with students to the point that it’s hard to be in my class. I understand and honor that, and I let them know that’s my motivation in keeping my blog private. This way, if they do find their way to the blog and are freaked out, then I’m not the one that made it hard for them to learn (and if their heads explode they can damn well do their own mopping up).
I’ll say it again: I am not ashamed of being a fangirl. Shame is deadly poisonous, especially where sexuality is concerned. So when I talked about it in classes yesterday, I laid out my position:
1) fandom is a important cultural force that deserves respect and serious consideration;
2) fanfiction and fanart are important artistic movements that deserve respect and critical attention; and
3) erotic writing—slashfic— is a legitmate genre that deserves respect and serious literary analysis, and the best erotic writing is happening in fandom. The fact that most fanfic is slash does not take away from its serious cultural and artistic value.
As a matter of fact, fandom is creating a genre of erotic writing that hasn’t existed before, and that is beautiful and valuable and smart as all fucking get-out. The slashfic I’ve read is one of the most powerful and productive tools I’ve seen for looking at sexuality, psychology, and social dynamics.
I’m lucky to be in a position, personally and professionally, where I can be out about these things. (Not everyone’s so lucky, and it’s NOT cowardice to be careful of that. People pay different prices, and no one can calculate those costs but you.) I figured this out early on; my AO3 account has my actual name, fer chrissakes. In the end, when I’m able to be fully out, I think it could be really good for students to know someone who’s a slashfic writer and a respected professional, someone who might contradict their prejudices about fans. It’d be wonderful to be, dare I say it, a role model. Because, for the third time, I am not ashamed of what we do. I’m not embarrassed about my pleasures. And I look forward to the day when none of us will have to pay a social price for saying so.