Slash, Morality, and the Cybertronian Way
An essay by Traci Johnson (Loco Exclaimer)
This is an essay on homosexuality, especially that portrayed in relationships between the fictional characters in the fandom Transformers. The first half deals exclusively with homosexuality as an issue in itself with little to no mention of any fandom, and details my point of view on this issue. The second half details said relationships as portrayed between any two given characters from Transformers. I hope you enjoy.
Part One: Homosexuality, Morality, and Religion
I honestly find it revolting that religion is even an issue when it comes to homosexuality. It's an issue of discrimination against human beings, and ought to be treated as such. Women were seen as second-class in Biblical times; does that make them lesser beings? No.
Still, this section will deal with the "morals and ethics" of being gay.
Some people, for an indeterminate reason that none of them can really place or name, believe being gay is "wrong." This, it seems, is for the same reason that whites thought of blacks as lesser back when African-Americans were used as slaves-- because their parents and their society taught them so. There really is no other reason for it.
Something is morally or ethically wrong because it hurts someone else. Murder, rape, or theft, for example. And I've yet to encounter a person who could find anything morally wrong or any harm that was inflicted because of two gays being in love. When they marry, it isn't as though heterosexuals break up or break down. They don't cause the return of Hitler.
I've heard it said that it's wrong because if a man marries a man or a woman marries a woman, they can't reproduce. This too is absurd, for four reasons.
1. By this same logic, any heterosexual couple that marries and chooses not to have children is abhorrent. Likewise, so is anyone born sterile.
2. Keeping two people of the same sex from marrying is hardly going to make them go marry and reproduce with members of the opposite sex.
3. We don't live in Biblical times. Populating the Earth is no longer of pressing concern-- the Earth is well on its way to overpopulation, so it's not really a necessity for every couple to breed.
4. There are many children all over the world with no home to call their own. Two homosexuals who are willing to open their home to these children help to reduce the orphaned population of this world, and provide a loving, caring home for kids that need it.
Actually, I believe it morally wrong to rally against gay people. All over the nation of America, homosexuals are tortured, raped, and murdered simply for being in love-- the same way the KKK rallied against black people. To do this to a fellow human being for no reason-- to spread so much hate simply because of the way they choose to love --is morally unforgivable.
Of course, there is also always the issue of Christianity and homosexuality. This is largely because of one verse in Leviticus, but before I get into that, let me say this: I myself am a Christian. I spent hours studying the Bible, looking for this stuff. If there's any believer who actually bothered to do the research on this, it's me. This said, allow me to continue.
This is the verse in question, which speaks out about homosexuality in general:
"Do not lie with a man as one does with a woman, for it is an abomination."
First of all, in Biblical times, the word "abomination" was said to mean "unusual" or "a deviation from the norm." It didn't have the same very strong connotations it does today. However, that is a weak argument in itself, and a mere supplement to my main thoughts on the matter.
Leviticus was a holiness code written for the Jews hundreds upon thousands of years ago. It never applied to gentiles, and therefore, doesn't apply to the modern-day Christian. But whether or not this is true, it was a code meant to keep one pure and clean in God's eyes-- it was abolished when Jesus came, as the point was eliminated.
Furthermore, pick and choose is very evident here, as if this one verse is the entire foundation behind one's hatred of homosexuality, then by proxy, they must also follow the other rules set out in Leviticus or be hypocrites:
* No touching dead animals (5:2)
* No making/swearing an oath (5:4)
* No eating the fat of any animal (7:23) -- this includes using the fat in cooking, which rules out many foods
* No eating rabbits or pork (11:6-7)
* No having sex with a woman during her period (18:19)
* You may not go over your vineyard twice, pick up fallen grapes, or harvest to the edge of your field (19:9-10)
* No two different kinds of animals may not mate (19:19) -- this kills off mules and ligers
* You may not plant your field with two different kinds of seed (19:19)
* No wearing clothing woven of two different materials (19:19) -- check the tag on your t-shirt right now
* You may not eat the fruit of a tree for the first four years it has been planted (19:23-24)
* You may not cut the edges of your hair or trim your beard (19:27)
* No working on Sundays (23:2)
* If a house has mildew, it must be torn down (14:36-45)
Also, there are a great many fasts and celebrations to observe, you can't have round haircuts, and the restriction against playing with the skin of a pig in there completely eliminates pro football.
God is love, and it is therefore hard for me to believe that he hates any kind of love. If you believe that, you're undermining every fundamental thing Christians believe in.
1c. Homosexuality as a "Choice"
Some people say that homosexuality is a choice, and that gay people could and should just as easily be straight. I say this is crap. First of all, being straight as a pole and unbending, how would you know what being gay is and what it stems from? Secondly, love is blind, and it's impossible to choose who you fall in love with. Thirdly, if they had a choice to be the same, and avoid persecution, and still achieve happiness, a lot more of them would take it. Fourth, even if it was somehow a choice, it's still impossibly wrong to judge them. Let me give you a few reasons as to why.
If homosexuality works the way the people who are actually homosexual for some odd reason universally claim it does, then they have no choice in the way they were born. They're just gay by nature. If that's the case, judging them is the same as hating women, blacks, or Asians. Needless to say, wrong.
If it is a choice, then it's more like religion, in a sense. Suppose you went into a job interview, they loved you, and it really looked like you were going to get the job. And then, all of a sudden, they tell you that because you're a Christian/aethiest/Wiccan/whatever, you aren't getting the job. Of course, not many homophobes-- the same homophobes who would blame such rejection based on sexual orientation on the gays for being gay --would simply turn around and say, "oh well. It's my fault for being who I am." Hypocracy on a new scale.
It's my belief that people say homosexuality is a choice because they want to make it more right to hate it. If it's not something born into a person, it's not wrong to hate it, because it's something bad about the other person that they could change about themselves, right?
Human beings simply never cease to astound me with their close-minded narrowness.
Part Two: Homosexuality and Transformers
In Transformers, for some reason, there's a lot of anger and heated debate on this topic. I'll never understand why, since they have no real genders, but I'll get to that in a moment. For now, here's part two of my essay, this half dealing with the relationships of Transformers and other characters.
2a. Canon Relationships
Once it was argued to me that the Autobots were canonically straight, period, bar none. This person clearly had no idea what he was talking about. It is impossible to determine a character's sexual orientation unless they are in a canon relationship. These are the only firmly established canonical pairings in Generation 1:
* Spike and Carly, who were married in the show.
* Wreck-Gar and Nancy, who were married in every appearance they had.
* Hot Rod and Arcee, who were dating in DreamWave.
* Orion and Ariel, who were dating in the show before they were reformatted.
* Seaspray and Alana, who admitted to loving each other.
* Powerglide and Astoria, who admitted to loving each other, though they tried not to do so to each other's faces.
* Sir Blackthorne and Nimue, who became engaged in "A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur's Court."
That's it-- a small selection of characters, half not even Cybertronian, who are established as being at least "bisexual," for want of a better term, since they are wed to members of the opposite "sex." This out of a cast of hundreds. One can't say that all of the characters would be uninterested in someone of the same build, or that any particular team-off or pair-off was established as "just friends." Please take a moment to note that I'm only listing pairings that were stated in canon to be dating or married, or admitted to loving one another, and not just pairings that had a lot of subtext. So I'm not counting Elita One's group, since a lot of M/M pairings had just as much or more subtext.
I'm not saying that there aren't plenty of pairings that are incompatible. But I'm not here to argue my shipping preferences.
2b. Transformer Genders and Reproduction
As for Transformers having to be straight because they have sexes, this is again absurd. So-called "femmes," originally known in Generation 1 as female Autobots, seem to be only a mold, and not an actual sex. It's argued by many that they were merely created to appease feminists. The idea of Cybertronian asexuality is further enforced in DreamWave's More Than Meets The Eye volume 1, on Arcee's profile (Kup's POV):
"That's when I explained her resemblance to the females of other galactic species."
It's further enforced in that the very purpose of the two sexes is for reproduction, and reproduction takes place four ways, as established by Simon Furman, Bob Budiansky, and the canon of the show:
1. Budding (which exists in Generation 1 only)
3. The Matrix (the Allspark in TFA and Bayverse continuities)
4. Manually building another Transformer
Only one of these requires two partners, and that one requires only that both partners have a spark. Since both "male" and "female" molds have sparks, reproduction between two mech molds would be easily possible.
Furthermore, if reproduction required a female, their race would hit a dead end pretty fast, if you consider the following line, also from Arcee's MTMTE profile:
"[...] I seem to recall stories about there being more Transformers like her. Of course, that was crazy talk even when I was young."
Also, in the show itself, Shockwave remarks that he thought the females were extinct. It's strongly implied that in Generation 1, aside from Elita One's group and Arcee, female Cybertronians no longer exist. Nancy and Nightbird, of course, don't count, with neither being Cybertronian, and the latter lacking any clear indications of sapience.
2c. Cybertronian Morals and Ethics Regarding Homosexuality
Little of Primus's will is expressed to us in the continuities in which his existence is mentioned. And Cybertronian sexual habits are certainly never discussed. So while gelatin arguments can be formed about humans, it's impossible to say that same-sex would be religiously wrong to Cybertronians even assuming that they do have gender.
To say that giant alien robots should follow the same loosely-made moral "standards" our modern society has set for itself is to say that they should have stoplights and human-style 21st century Christian weddings. They are far more advanced and have evolved in different ways, and with a huge-scale war going on, I highly doubt their first concern is our baseless "morals" about whether or not two people should be in love. Chances are, they would actually approve of and enforce it-- with so few females, and the easy possibility of asexual reproduction, they would probably be more than welcoming of any relationship that might bring forth new Cybertronain life.
Therefore, it's hard for me to believe that "slash" ought to be an issue with Transformers anyway.
There are many people and many loves in this world. Some, yes, between two people of the same sex. But to say that they can't be in love and you can makes you the worst kind of hypocrite. It all boils down, in the end, to my most favored saying:
"Love is love, no matter the form."