“Somewhere in the ever flowing tide of social media, a fan of femslash (female-female couples) tweeted about feeling ignored and erased by the field of fan studies. Fans have had a complicated, ambivalent, often conflicted relationship to the academic study of their texts and communities. That history was part of the impetus for this very journal, as a flagship project of a fan advocacy organization. But femslashers, at least since the era of Xena: Warrior Princess (Renaissance Pictures, 1995–2001) fandom on the Web, have been perhaps uniquely attentive to the public face of their activities.” – starts the editorial of the Transformative Works and Culture’s Queer female fandom issue. ” As we might glean from the primacy of slash as the unmarked term (denoting same-sex couples in general and male-male couples in particular), F/F remains underrepresented not only in scholarly research but also arguably in fandom overall (compared to M/M and also to het [heterosexual] and gen [nonsexual] fiction and art).” The text goes on to examine the relationship between queer female literature, queer scholarship, queer female fandom and scholarship about the latter: “(Scholars of queer media) have analyzed with great nuance the irreducibly queer language of mass media, but they rarely examine practices or texts produced by queer or slash fans, and consequently they have figured little in fan studies approaches to the topic (…).”

The issue then goes on the examine the complexities of queer femal fandom: “(i)t would therefore not be inaccurate to affirm that femslash fandoms do engage with multiple dynamics between female characters and, in doing so, expand the ambit of what could be considered homoerotic and subversive expressions of queer female desire.” – says Rukmini Pande and Swati Moitra. Their paper highlights the intersectionalities of gender, sexuality and race in fandom.

Femslash is still an overlooked part of fandom scholarship. There is more scholarship on femslash than this one issue of Transformative Works and Culture and if the issue has sparked your interest in the topic, you can try searching our bibliography.

In order of mention:

  • Ng, Eve, and Julie Levin Russo. 2017. “Envisioning Queer Female Fandom” [editorial]. In “Queer Female Fandom,” edited by Julie Levin Russo and Eve Ng, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 24. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2017.1168.
  • Pande, Rukmini and Swati Moitra. 2017. “Racial dynamics of online femslash fandoms.” In “Queer Female Fandom,” edited by Julie Levin Russo and Eve Ng, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 24. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2017.908.
On femslash’s representation in scholarship about fandom