Why Women — Not Men — Are Behind The Hottest Fan Fiction On The Internet

Photo: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock
Fan Fiction: Why Women Write Men So Perfectly

I would imagine fan fiction has been written since the beginning of fiction-writing, and that as long as fans have been able to enjoy the works of others and those who perform those works, they've put pen to paper to expand on those same stories in order to make their favorite characters come alive in different scenarios.  

I also imagine that back in Shakespeare's day there may have been someone who adored his writing so much that they not only tried to emulate him, but took his tales and rewrote them, improved upon them, and even recreated them as glorious stand-alone works.

And so, with quill and ink well, parchment and imagination, the first fan fiction more than likely saw the light of day — which meant it was seen by the writer who dared to fantasize, and maybe a few friends.

Centuries later, in walks the internet, and basically that's all she wrote, so to speak. Thus the word, "fandom" was born, and from fans came the idea of "fan fiction."

First, entertainment was easily accessed; while we were all watching the same TV programs, reading the same books and going to the same movies, we were also made aware of all the other people out there who were interested in the same thing.

One may have been a Trekkie back in the day, but you'd have to attend a Star Trek convention in order to know if there were others like you out there.

Now, you merely have to go online, pump in your favorite TV show, or movie, or star or even literary character, and voila! You can follow the web's breadcrumbs and you'll be lead to all the sources you might need if you were pursuing friends who share your interests. And if you're really, really into your fandom, sooner or later you will, no doubt, cross into the realm of fan fiction.

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Who writes the most fan fiction? Women.

And why? Because as long as their are dynamic, sexy, intriguing male characters in fictional situations, there will be women who will fall head-over-heels in love with them. But here's the thing: what makes it fiction is not only that it's 'make believe' — it's that, for the women who write the fiction, it's a well-needed upgrade in character.

Say for instance, a fan falls madly in love with a male character. She wants to see him do more than what was scripted, in fact, she wants to create an entire 'other' life for him, one where she gets to make him do things his character might not ordinarily do, like have hot sex with another male character. Women want to see this, and since they don't get to see it in the original story, they make it so — and unlike the old days, they can now share their 'fics' on any number of fan fiction sites that specialize in slash fiction  — a genre of fan fiction that focuses on romantic or sexual relationships between fictional characters of the same sex — or male-slash-male (male/male) fics.

Why women? Why is it that women are behind the hottest fictions around, and not men?

Because men don't have the patience to craft an evolved, well-written fantasy that exists solely to please women and because the readers of fan fiction are also mostly female.

What does that actually mean, "craft a fantasy that exists to please women..."? Well, let's say a woman falls in love with a male character and wants to create a romantic/sexual fiction about him. She has to please the woman reading — meaning, she has to write the male character in an ideal way, which means he can't be a real man because real men, tragically, don't act as women would like them to act in their fantasies.

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When women write fan fiction, they make men into female men, which doesn't mean they feminize them, oh no. It's more along the lines of creating men who think like women. Women love the masculinity of men, as long as it exists as beauty, interest, patience, willingness and the desire to pay intense attention to the details of lovemaking. There is no wham-bam, thank you ma'am (or sir) in fan fiction; there's everything women want and nothing mechanical or boring.

This is also perhaps why women write a lot of male slash, because it's hard for women to think of men as having enough interest in women to see them as equals in a sexual partnership. They simply don't always want to defer to the role of receptacle, they want power, play, aggression, dynamics — even violence.

Women write male slash fiction so they can feel equal, because even the best writers know that men aren't all that interested in pleasing women, so they write past the women's roles because they feel women's roles are always subordinate, lesser characters than the ones of men.

Male slash fiction is about female fantasy, and ironically, in female fantasy, there are rarely any females. In this way, women get to create their version of perfect men, as they do not have them in real life. They get to BE these perfect men, live through them, play through them.

Face it, men are men, love 'em or hate 'em, are just men and not a lot can be expected of them, which is fine. We are who we are ... but fantasy allows us to make that which disappoints us into that which pleases the hell out of us.

Fan fiction writers are a plentiful demographic, too. You'll find fictions created by very young women who identify as gay, non-binary, bi and asexual, and you'll also see that many straight, married women in their 40s really throw themselves into it big time. Why older women? Because they see an opportunity to make men seem better than what their experience has shown them; they want to idolize men but real men are not worth idolizing, so they take to creating 'new' men, new versions of men that are worthy of believing in.

Women write men well — for female audiences — because only women know what other women want to read.

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They write male characters as romantic and all consumingly sexual — not so much of the Nora Roberts romance novel style, but more along the lines of incredibly well-written smut — the kind that lasts in the psyche for years to come. Every female slash writer is Anne Rice, in potential.

Not all fan fiction is smut, however. But smut is the most popular, and for good reason - it gives women all of what they want, and none of what they don't want: reality. Women write perfect men for women, and the real irony is that most of the women who read the stuff think men are writing it. They're not - it's just about all women here. But the truth is that they're not really writing men; they're writing fantasy men, and that's a far cry from the real thing.

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As creators of fiction, we bring forth new life into the world. Characters that thrill and chill us end up inspiring us, and some of us take those characters and further their storylines with our own perceived adventures.

While men have always played a huge part in the world of fandoms, they tend to live out their fantasies during conventions and cosplay. Men are fantastically good at bringing forth art and concept designs within their fandom ... but it's women who write the alternate stories, and it's women who tend to read these stories, online, in fan forums and specialized writer groups.

As it is with women, sexually — they want more.

They are not satisfied with endings, nor do they allow for endings in their minds. The mechanical guarantees of heterosexual sex leave women hungry for more, for something better, long lasting. That we fake orgasms just to get the act over with says much about the commitment our male lovers make to us.

And yes, we women do like to be touched, kissed, paid attention to. We do want romance and insanely hot sex, and we do want to think that if we get it, it's not just a one shot deal. We don't want to beg our lovers to get it right, just this one time, get it right ... and we don't want to ever have to say, "It's OK, I don't need to orgasm." We women know exactly what we want, and that kind of ideal can only be found in the reading and writing of fan fiction.

Dori Hartley is primarily a portrait artist. As an artisan, she is a silversmith, a sculptor, a doll maker, a muralist, a faux painter and a costume designer.