Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fiction

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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien » 23 Jun 2017 17:21

In regards to the OP, I will say that in reading fiction, I have very little requirements as to what the protagonist must be. I'm a young male bisexual, yet I don't require at all that the protagonist be 1) young 2) male or 3) bisexual. I choose what to read (and mind you, I don't tend to read webfiction) based on how interesting the plot sounds to me. The identity of the protagonist often has little bearing on what sounds appealing to me.
elemtilas wrote:
This whole politicisation of the Art has really become terribly disappointing.
It's quite a stretch to see a bullet point of "queer friendly" as "fixation on sexuality". I'm not sure where you get "fixation" from a harmless message that the forum is queer-friendly. Many fora and organizations may include such a message to ensure that people who frequently encounter unfriendly zones will know they have nothing to worry about in joining this one. I don't go looking for "queer-friendly" in the description of a site or forum, but when I see it, I at least know that this entails other qualities of open-mindedness, diverse demogprahics, etc. This is something I always assumed about conlanging, but it's nice to have it formally acknowledged.
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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by Axiem » 23 Jun 2017 18:34

eldin raigmore wrote: @Axiem; your response is essentially the same as Micamo's. It's a bit longer, so I won't quote it.
I suspect Micamo and I were writing our responses at the same time, and happened to be discussing the same thing. Mine was longer.
I still don't see why sexual desire should be more important to identity than food preference, when sex is less basic on the Maslow hierarchy than food.
The Maslow hierarchy isn't an iron-clad law or anything. It's a (probably untestable) theory, and one that's gotten a fair amount of flak and criticism since it was published what, 70 years ago?

But ultimately, often the question of "why" is "because it is". That's kind of how culture works: things are important because people were taught they were important, and the original reason someone thought it was even the littlest bit important is lost to time. But if'n I had to guess about sexuality, it goes back to some point in Europe when homosexual relationships were thought to be against Christianity (the love that dare not speak its name; gross indecency; and all that), and that attitude just sort of prevailed.
I still don't see why you and Micamo and as far as I can tell everyone else but me can tell that it's more important to identity.
That I can't explain, except that we listen to how people describe themselves or other people. And invariably, people will use "gay", "homosexual", or "lesbian" (or some more-offensive word) for a homosexual person when doing so then they will "vegetarian" for a vegetarian.
As for how to respond to questions about "what" an expected baby is going to be; some people might respond as if the asker wanted to know what race the baby would be?
(When I was around four, my mom brought my newborn youngest sister home, and I told one of the men who commonly worked for my parents "Sam! I have a new baby sister, and she's white, too!". At that age I had no idea how someone's race was determined.)
My spouse and I both have pale skin and blonde hair; race wasn't an issue at all. I don't know that I've ever heard the question asked in reference to race, but that could be a lack of exposure of some sort.
It's just not all I care about. And I don't know (in a very fundamental sense) why booksellers know or think it's the main thing readers care about.
To be fair, to Sal's point, I don't much see this designation given in bookstores. By and large, genre classification is the biggest point; you may see "African-American Fiction" or something along those lines, but that's because in our culture (for good or for ill), being black is marked. Inside of the romance genre, you'll probably see more breakdown in regards to sexuality, but I'd say the "I want protagonists like me" desire is much higher in romance.

As for fanfiction, I'd suggest that most of it really ends up falling in the "romance" genre, which is why it notates itself as such. (I'm considering erotica/porn a sub-genre of romance here, though I know it's more complicated than that)
eldin raigmore wrote: All understandable and correct.
It sounds like you're saying "Property X is not important to my identity, and I can't understand why it's important to other people's conceptions of identity". And the fact of the matter is, like I said, that it is. Just like "what church do you attend" (or "what denomination of Christian are you") used to be critically important to people's identity (except for those who didn't care). Ultimately, you just have to listen to what people say and how they talk about themselves and others.

I will note, though, that in your PM describing yourself to me, you named your sex and race; you didn't mention your eating preferences at all.

That said, if'n I had to guess, sex/gender being deeply ingrained in identity stems from the fact that historically, work has been divided by sex. And, there are physiological differences between men and women that end up having an effect on their roles in society (I speak in generalities, fully aware I'm glossing over the exceptions. Sorry.). So, clarifying which sex/gender (and for the most part, the two are intertwined (glossing over the 3rd genders in some societies, but those societies haven't had as much an influence on our current culture) pretty tightly) someone is clarifies an awful lot about their role in society and what their expected interests/work might encompass.

Also, working with an assumption of heterosexuality, that gender identity also ends up determining who one is attracted to. So a statement of someone as a "man" or a "woman" carries a lot of assumed indication in it.

Much like here in St. Louis, we ask people what high school they attended, because it packs a lot of information about class, religion, political views, and possibly race if it's by text all into one question. A lot of the assumptions may end up false, but they provide a shortcut for navigating social affairs.

Deviations from that assumed indication are marked—or a community decides to simply mark everything (cf. fanfiction pairings) for simplicity and to avoid a gap of assumptions.
Are men's rights activists just male chauvinists by another name? I don't think so; I think the loss of the privileges they should never have had has made it clear to them they still don't have rights they should always have had. I could be wrong.
My opinion of the MRA movement is that while there are some things they sometimes have reasonable points on (like "why do men receive longer sentences for violent crime than women, even when it's the same crime?"), the MRA subculture is so deeply toxic and ultimately incredibly misogynistic, such that it violates a great many of my core ethics. There are ways of calling attention to injustice without also being a raging (and it's almost always raging) asshole.
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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by eldin raigmore » 23 Jun 2017 18:44

Axiem wrote:
eldin raigmore wrote:All understandable and correct.
It sounds like you're saying "Property X is not important to my identity, and I can't understand why it's important to other people's conceptions of identity".
Not sure how you got what you said from what I said.

Axiem wrote:I will note, though, that in your PM describing yourself to me, you named your sex and race; you didn't mention your eating preferences at all.
But I did mention my weight! [:)] From which you could easily have deduced "I prefer to eat. I really, really prefer to eat. Like, a lot". [;)]

Axiem wrote: .... (other things, before, after, and between the above quotes) ....
All or mostly clear; all appear to be either correct, or quite likely to be correct; and all shed at least some light on my conundrum. Thanks.

[hr][/hr]
[hr][/hr]
KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:In regards to the OP, I will say that in reading fiction, I have very little requirements as to what the protagonist must be. I'm a young male bisexual, yet I don't require at all that the protagonist be 1) young 2) male or 3) bisexual. I choose what to read (and mind you, I don't tend to read webfiction) based on how interesting the plot sounds to me. The identity of the protagonist often has little bearing on what sounds appealing to me. ....
As an SF fan, I don't require that either the protagonist, or the 1st-person PoV character (if there is one distinct from the protagonist), be human, or biological, or, if it's fantasy, alive (see e.g. the discussion about succubuses (succubi? succubae?)).
If I have a preference -- and I'm not sure I do -- I guess I'd rather they be "not like" most of the people I have met or expect to meet IRL.
I like them to be hard for other characters to understand, and have a hard time understanding the other characters --- I guess.
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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by lsd » 23 Jun 2017 18:46

The display is a necesity in terms of consumption ...
And sexuality has shifted from the secrecy of intimacy (even blackmail) to the exhibition in the stands, ready-to-eat ...
Personally I remain old-fashioned, the secret is an important part of the fun ...

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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by eldin raigmore » 23 Jun 2017 18:51

lsd wrote:The display is a necesity in terms of consumption ...
And sexuality has shifted from the secrecy of intimacy (even blackmail) to the exhibition in the stands, ready-to-eat ...
Personally I remain old-fashioned, the secret is an important part of the fun ...
So you'll never get married? Because once you do that, the secret is out. Especially once you have a kid.

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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien » 23 Jun 2017 19:00

lsd wrote:the secret is an important part of the fun ...
As far as secrecy goes, I often have no desire for anyone to know that I'm bi. It's not because I'm ashamed of it, but it's because I don't see it as being anyone's business. I won't purposefully hide it, but I won't go out of my way to let people know. Online the only times I bring it up are in discussions like these.
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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by eldin raigmore » 23 Jun 2017 19:15

I kinda think my original question might be sufficiently answered now. Thanks, everybody! [:D]

Everybody feel free to post however you feel like posting on this thread now --- if indeed you ever felt you needed my permission! [;)]

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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by Ahzoh » 23 Jun 2017 20:44

Elemtilas wrote:This whole politicisation of the Art has really become terribly disappointing.
Aye, just as much sad that not wanting to be oppressed is a politicized issue.
Are men's rights activists just male chauvinists by another name? I don't think so; I think the loss of the privileges they should never have had has made it clear to them they still don't have rights they should always have had. I could be wrong.
My opinion of the MRA movement is that while there are some things they sometimes have reasonable points on (like "why do men receive longer sentences for violent crime than women, even when it's the same crime?"), the MRA subculture is so deeply toxic and ultimately incredibly misogynistic, such that it violates a great many of my core ethics. There are ways of calling attention to injustice without also being a raging (and it's almost always raging) asshole.
The MRA are, in fact, male chauvinists by another name. They are reactionaries; they wish to return to status quo ante. They exist in reaction to a perceived loss of male privilege and male power status and fight that loss under the guise of "men's rights". Of course, what many don't realize is that the issues they often bring up (such as the men get longer sentences than women and the child custody bias towards women) is already brought up by the feminists they oppose. Really, they just exist to speak over women's issues by framing themselves as the victims.

Feminist: There is still a cultural glass ceiling for women in the fields of science such as our ideas about gender that influences young children to fit roles and images that you can't reasonably expect most people to fit as well as discourage young girls from trying to get interested in these fields as they are deemed "things only boys can be interested in".
MRA: Yea? Well what about the draft? It isn't fair women don't get drafted. We fought for our rights, it's time for you to fight for yours!
Feminists: How about nobody gets drafted? Besides, there's been plenty of women that fought too.
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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by Axiem » 23 Jun 2017 21:44

eldin raigmore wrote: But I did mention my weight! [:)] From which you could easily have deduced "I prefer to eat. I really, really prefer to eat. Like, a lot". [;)]
Not really? While there's certainly some correlation between how much someone eats (or particularly, how many calories someone eats) and what they weigh, there are a lot of other factors, and the weight you quoted sounded to me like a pretty normal/average weight for someone of your age/sex.

And beyond that, even if I somehow magically knew you ate a lot, there'd be no way for me to even more magically know whether or not there's meat in it.
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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by elemtilas » 24 Jun 2017 02:42

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
elemtilas wrote:
This whole politicisation of the Art has really become terribly disappointing.
It's quite a stretch to see a bullet point of "queer friendly" as "fixation on sexuality". I'm not sure where you get "fixation" from a harmless message that the forum is queer-friendly.
There was actually some behind the scenes communications regarding that bullet point that led me to the conclusion. It's not really just a "harmless message"; it's more like an in your face personal mission statement. For what it's worth, one of the other main points of the group's constitution is also a personal mission statement.
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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by qwed117 » 24 Jun 2017 02:46

elemtilas wrote:
KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
elemtilas wrote:
This whole politicisation of the Art has really become terribly disappointing.
It's quite a stretch to see a bullet point of "queer friendly" as "fixation on sexuality". I'm not sure where you get "fixation" from a harmless message that the forum is queer-friendly.
There was actually some behind the scenes communications regarding that bullet point that led me to the conclusion. It's not really just a "harmless message"; it's more like an in your face personal mission statement. For what it's worth, one of the other main points of the group's constitution is also a personal mission statement.
Well, I wouldnt call it a mission statement much less than I would call the US Constitution's calms for equality and natural rights one.
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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by Reyzadren » 24 Jun 2017 03:03

Adding on to elemtilas, I have additionally seen many gaming forums/communities stating that they are LGBT-friendly. It turns out that what I thought it means "it is a safe haven for everyone" isn't what the term meant. Apparently, nowadays the term means that you must always include trans characters and the actions of other sexualities must be highlighted, above all else.

...In that case, I'll stick with places without such a tag, whether it's gaming or conlanging :/
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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien » 24 Jun 2017 03:17

Well, these are clearly very specific cases. I still have no issues with a group or organization saying they're "LGBT friendly" though, if all it means is that LGBT people are welcome to join.
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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by lsd » 24 Jun 2017 08:25

eldin raigmore wrote:So you'll never get married? Because once you do that, the secret is out. Especially once you have a kid.
Yes I am/have... but what is about my sexuality...

In a way I see this promotion for non-reproductive sexuality a good instinctive answer to reduce toxic human impact on nature, against the rule of money that is in the opposite direction...

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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by Micamo » 24 Jun 2017 18:40

Are we seriously doing this?

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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by Lao Kou » 24 Jun 2017 20:25

Have you seen Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? I only saw it 10-15 years ago for the first time, and was amazed. I don't care what your sexual/racial preferences are/may have been, you'd have to be a complete idiot to turn down Sidney Poitier's advances. (And the movie stacks the deck by having him be some sort of Red Cross exec in Geneva -- meanwhile the ingenue has a head of straw; why does he even find her attractive?) But we spend 90 minutes looking at Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracer, Isabelle Sanford, and anyone in reach doing major Angst about an interracial marriage.

Looking at it now, it just seems a piece of OTT ridiculous drama, but people were really concerned about it at the time.

And then the 80s -- some beautiful gay films and beautiful gay people intertwined with AIDS and HIV.

Back in the day, I read "Nights in Aruba", because it was "gay" fiction -- a good read, but not what I personally experienced as a gay man, but you read it, looking for crumbs
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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by annelyle » 28 Jun 2017 07:26

Going back to the original topic, I think a lot of online fiction states the gender identity/preference of its main characters because that culture has its roots in fan-fiction, specifically "shipping" and "slash" - romantic and/or sexually explicit stories about characters who had no such relationship in the original work. (IIRC the term "slash" comes from the symbol in the phrase "Kirk/Spock", the usual designation for one of the earliest fan-fiction ships.)

As a result, even original online fiction assumes that readers are savvy to this culture and are looking for (or trying to avoid) stories with specific romantic/sexual content. This seems to have bred an assumption by some readers that they will be told (aka warned) when any medium has non-straight content. Some of the reviews of my novels (which came out from a regular publisher, in old-fashioned dead trees versions as well as digital editions) basically boil down to "OMG TEH GAYZ!!1!", because even nowadays, having gay and bisexual characters who have relationships and may actually be seen in bed together is considered shocking by some readers, even when there's no explicit gay sex :roll:

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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by eldin raigmore » 28 Jun 2017 21:36

annelyle wrote:Going back to the original topic, I think a lot of online fiction states the gender identity/preference of its main characters because that culture has its roots in fan-fiction, specifically "shipping" and "slash" - romantic and/or sexually explicit stories about characters who had no such relationship in the original work. (IIRC the term "slash" comes from the symbol in the phrase "Kirk/Spock", the usual designation for one of the earliest fan-fiction ships.)
Thank you! That's a very believable explanation.
I think I'll make that my "working hypothesis" now.
(The question isn't really that important to me; it was just constantly recurring for a few weeks.)

annelyle wrote:As a result, even original online fiction assumes that readers are savvy to this culture and are looking for (or trying to avoid) stories with specific romantic/sexual content. This seems to have bred an assumption by some readers that they will be told (aka warned) when any medium has non-straight content. Some of the reviews of my novels (which came out from a regular publisher, in old-fashioned dead trees versions as well as digital editions) basically boil down to "OMG TEH GAYZ!!1!", because even nowadays, having gay and bisexual characters who have relationships and may actually be seen in bed together is considered shocking by some readers, even when there's no explicit gay sex :roll:
That's kind of sad-ish!
One would hope for reviews that were more helpful to deciding whether or not to buy the story and take the time to read it. (And allocate the shelf-space to save it!)
For some readers, I guess, knowing the sexual orientations and gender identities of two or three of the main characters might qualify as such information.

However, as you pointed out, the question was about why that was a prominent categorization-criterion on-line.
I suppose reviews in "dead-tree" periodicals haven't gotten that far (except for TIME Magazine's movie reviews in the 60s, which I'm glad to say they backed off from after a number of years).
You'd know better than I would, I think!

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Is your board-name here on the CBB the same as your pen-name as a novelist?
I think I've read and enjoyed one of your novels.
I might also have read and enjoyed other fiction of yours, without realizing it was yours.

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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by annelyle » 01 Jul 2017 07:03

eldin raigmore wrote: That's kind of sad-ish!
One would hope for reviews that were more helpful to deciding whether or not to buy the story and take the time to read it. (And allocate the shelf-space to save it!)
For some readers, I guess, knowing the sexual orientations and gender identities of two or three of the main characters might qualify as such information.
The reviews I mentioned were user reviews on Goodreads, Audible, etc, not magazine or blog reviews. The latter tend to be far more sensible and open-minded. Though honestly the only reviews that hurt are the "meh" variety - if someone hates my book, at least I made an impression [:D]
eldin raigmore wrote: Is your board-name here on the CBB the same as your pen-name as a novelist?
I think I've read and enjoyed one of your novels.
I might also have read and enjoyed other fiction of yours, without realizing it was yours.
Yes it is - though it's not a pen name, it's my real name. I know it's not usual to use your actual name online, but when you're a struggling newbie author trying to get your name out into the world so that people buy your books, hiding behind an anonymous username is counter-productive. And mine is so short and uncommon that it actually makes a sensible username.*

And thank you! All of my fiction so far has been published under that name - three novels and a couple of short stories.


* Google my name as two separate words, and all the top hits are me - followed by a few links to a poem by Sir Walter Scott. Having a short but rare name is priceless in the internet era!

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Re: Why is sexuality & gender-identity so key 2 grouping fic

Post by alynnidalar » 03 Jul 2017 03:20

I was going to say something similar to Anne--when it comes to fanfiction, the reason why the relationships are usually so prominently mentioned up front is because fanfic readers generally only want to read what appeals to them and avoid things that don't appeal to them. If I know that I really don't like a particular ship (ship = relationship = romantic pairing (usually)), then I probably won't enjoy a story with that ship; my dislike of the relationship is going to distract from enjoying the rest of the story. (conversely, if I really really enjoy a ship, I might be willing to read even a sub-par story as long as it does the relationship well, simply because I enjoy reading about that relationship so much) So I like to know before I get into a story whether it's gonna have my OTP* or my NoTP**.

In other words: people tend to react strongly to romantic/sexual relationships, as well as things like gender identity and sexuality. If a story centers on a relationship that they strongly dislike (or find boring), they're not likely to enjoy the story, because this dislike can overpower it. And if it centers on a relationship they really like/find interesting, then that can make the whole story significantly more enjoyable for them.

* One True Pairing; a fan's preferred ship in a work
** like an OTP, except it's that one ship you really dislike and kind of wish didn't exist at all and you keep accidentally running across fanart of it and it's the worst

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