Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture

By Henry Jenkins | Go to book overview

6

"Welcome to Bisexuality, Captain Kirk": Slash and the Fan-Writing Community

The sensuality that may be occasioned by intimacy, trust, and fairness is quite unlike that sexuality which is driven to hit on a particular gender embodiment. The sensuality that arises in a relational context of actual people being together and actually being themselves-not standins for a gender type-is radically different from that sexuality which requires that the 'other' not deviate from a particular standard of sexedness. Such a sensuality may be deeply satisfied with giving expression and meeting a mutually felt responsiveness…[Such a sensuality] may be experienced in a particular relational context as a transient release from gender altogether. (This sensual possibility is what explains why someone who has an ostensible sexual orientation may nevertheless, in a particular relationship, be quite sexually expressive and responsive with someone who is not apparently the "object" of that orientation.) (Excerpt from John Stoltenberg, Refusing to be a Man: Essays on Sex and Justice [1989]: 106; circulated by a "slash" fan [personal correspondence, 1991])

James T. Kirk, "T for Tomcat," man's man, youngest starship captain in Federation history, confronts a problem of an unfamiliar kind, a question of sexual orientation and personal commitment. In a plot familiar to readers of "slash" fiction, Kirk and Spock are stranded on a desert planet with little chance of immediate rescue; the Enterprise is away on an emergency mission delivering plague serum to Mmyrrmyon II, when Spock prematurely enters Pon Farr, the Vulcan mating fever. Spock will die if he does not achieve immediate sexual release. Kirk comes to the slow, reluctant realization that the only way to save his friend's life may be to become his sexual partner. Kirk reassured himself, "No one is asking you to

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