Women’s Breaking Taboos in Cyberculture: Tearing up Patriarchal Net through Slash Fiction?
(presented at International Conference on Language, Literature and Cultural Studies conducted on 22-24 August 2013 by Burapha University, Thailand)
Apart from women objectification in media as a topic commonly discussed either in scholarly or non scholarly context; this article provides an overview about women’s potential to become the subject rather than the object in the internet. Cyberculture providing more freedom and less control than offline world gives the same opportunities for everyone to actively participate in producing cultural symbols by constructing his/her expectation in the internet including breaking taboos prevailed in offline world. In terms of online slash fiction, a fiction about homosexual relationship written and uploaded in the internet by fans (mostly women) of particular source text, cyberculture enables women to become subject and construct their expectation as a response to the dominant ideology. In other words, being positioned as the subordinated gender in patriarchal culture, women are potential in generating a counter discourse towards the dominant ideology. More particularly, the women’s fantasy as seen in their online works shows that becoming a subject, the women enable what the so-called “female gaze” to exist. Some slash fictions written by Indonesian women and uploaded in www.fanfiction.net show how such female gaze exists and furthermore, how the women, in spite of being the second-class gender in patriarchal culture, attempt to break the cultural taboos by constructing their sexual expectation through the portrayal of their major male characters’ sexual activities. However, further analysis on the selected Indonesian women’s slash fictions, authors’ note and online interviews show that in spite of their potential of being the subject due to more freedom and less control in cyberculture, the women are not totally capable to liberate themselves from the dominant ideology concerning its discourse of women objectification as well as the sexual taboos in patriarchal culture.
Key Words: cyberculture, female gaze, sexual taboos, dominant ideology, slash fiction.