Romany (romanyg) wrote,

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The Great Slash Debate: Are some subjects just too sacred?

When I started reading LJ about two years ago, I came across a very well-written, reasoned argument against slash. Of course this was only a small part of the Great Slash Debate, but the Debate was new to me at the time and I read this post and the linked debates with a less opinionated brain than I have now.

What struck me the most, though, was the example of slash fic that he used to formulate his argument. I reacted the way he intended me to react--instant recoil. And it is only two years later that I realize that, no, he doesn't get to manipulate me that way. Why?

The example: Oskar Schindler/Itzhak Stern slash.

Now I realize that he purposefully pulled the most emotionally laden example that he could out of the slash hat and said, "See this? This is why slash is *wrong*."

Using this particular example is dirty pool because, hey, the majority of slashers draw the line at RPS. Schindler/Stern really belongs in the Great RPS Debate which is only a small subset of the slash debate. Historical RPS gets a tiny amount of leeway because these personages aren't around to take possible offense anymore. But Schindler and Stern are still in living memory and have been lionized--for good reason.

And you know, *any* sexualization of The Holocaust makes me deeply uncomfortable. As does the romanticizing of The Holocaust, which is far more prevalent and socially acceptable. There is already too much prurient interest in suffering.

Unfortunately, he didn't link to the example so that I could judge the prurience for myself. And the contrary side of me is now imagining how a writer could pull off such an idea with any kind of respect. It would take an *enormous* amount of skill, care, and love. But the task isn't impossible.

What makes the effort of Oskar Schindler so heroic is that, historically, he was not an heroic man. Selfish, greedy, and hedonistic, he originally just wanted to cash in on a missed opportunity. Life during wartime is just as much about capitalizing on the suffering of others as much as anything. But among his wonderful incapabilities, his inability to dehumanize. Once he perceived his workers as human, they couldn't be anything else but people to him.

And what makes the Nazi effort to dehumanize the Jews (as well as the Rroma, homosexuals and communists) different from the current European methods of dehumanization is the effort to *desexualize* these people. Any sexual contact between an "acceptable" German and a Jew was considered perverse, akin to bestiality. And while the Nazis were not historically unique in this "vision", they made a monumental effort in instituting it.

So Schindler, a sensualist, in the hands of a talented writer, could possibly acknowledge Stern's humanity in physical language.

But, man, this author would have so many razors to slide across...the lack of historical record of any bisexuality for Schindler, the strict disapproval of homosexuality in traditional Eastern European Jewish culture, the inequitable power dynamic, the backdrop of mass human suffering.

But a moment of humanity against one of the most flagrant abuses of human rights in living memory? Not impossible.

So yeah, I refuse to let this example of slash manipulate an adverse gut reaction out of me. Maybe there are subjects that are just too sacred to bring to these terms. But tenderness and acknowledgment shouldn't be a bad thing.
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