on this autostraddle piece about queerbaiting
June 29, 2013
i don’t really make a habit of reading autostraddle but someone linked to this article about queerbaiting on twitter and since i often do fandom meta/commentary, i was curious.
I take the writer’s point well enough, but she is working with a fundamental mis-conception that sort of… makes her article toothless.
I do think she is right in saying that it is heterosexism at work with queerbaiting in media.
Where she is wrong is in the intended audience. Because queerbaiting is not directed to a possibly queer audience. At all.
Because of the ways that it feeds into fandoms (and makes for really active fandoms: see teen wolf or supernatural), it can be seen that the primary audience (given the demographics of fandom) is hetero women. The phenomenon of slash fic is/was noteworthy because the bulk of it was (not too sure anymore) written and consumed by straight women.
Queerbaiting is about using queer desire to appeal and scintillate (most often) straight women. You can see the big difference in how fandoms interact with canonically gay couples (say Kurt/Blaine in glee – which is an active fandom, but probably produces maybe 1/5 the fic that Stiles/Derek does [basing this on AO3]). The difference, of course, is that the canonically gay ship is, for lack of a better words, not about straight women.
On this note, this is also why queerbaiting (contra the article) is, in fact, homophobic. Because it ensures that straight people remain central and assumes that gay people do not consume the same media. Because it says that gay sexual desire is more attractive/interesting when sublimated into homosocial relationships. That gay sexual desire is most interesting when it is never, ever consummated or acknowledged. Because it wants a world where teh gayz only exist in subtext.