Why do women - straight or gay, I don't know and I don't judge - write fan fiction that is so firmly anchored in gay male relationships? I want to know.
My theories include:
They take what there is - fan fiction draws on mainstream culture and adapts it for its own pleasures and purposes. Since women are at best marginalised and at worst excluded from mainstream culture, this is what there is. Lots and lots of men. Bringing me to -
They write about what is erased in cultural representation. Homosexual relationships are ghettoised and treated as exotic in most mainstream culture - film and tv, specifically - but fact is that if you are a superhero there are hardly any women available to you. This is an awful extension of sex class - all men are superheroes, therefore their mate must be Special to raise her from the ranks of the inferior gender. Ow. Since women are underrepresented in the writing and production of superhero films, they are under represented in them, and qualities perceived as feminine are sidelined or assimilated or erased. The hyper-masculine culture of superheroes means the only available sexual partners for them are unworthy, or physically challenging (not being immortal or physically unbreakable; at best normal women would be an Achilles heel to blackmailers), so they have to go to each other. The Incredibles had some fun with this trope - think of Frozone's sensible wife - but The Avengers draws the line at Pepper Potts. Fan fiction just picks up what's likely - and puts together the boys in various combinations.
They Feminise pornography - three decades after Angela Carter suggested the possibility of moral pornography, much of fan fiction remains merrily dedicated to PWP (Plot What Plot or Porn Without Plot) and people use fanfic to get a lot of stuff off their chests. Or other bits of them.
They represent gender-fluidity- concepts of transgender and gender fluidity or gender queering are fondly supposed by the latest generation to be new; it certainly normalises women identifying as or with men. It suggests a retreat from moving society forward to a place of equal opportunity to a space where women control what goes on. This may be a step backward, leaving individuals to carry responsibility for their non-conformist identity (black, female, queer) instead of engaging with above-the-line struggle - or maybe it's imagining a new world; a blueprint of erewhon for tomorrow. Here's hoping.
Identifying with either gender isn't new - plenty of Victorian novelists wrote from the point of view of genders which didn't necessarily correlate with their own, and readers are liberated into reading by identifying with the protagonist without worrying about the ramifications thereof; though fan fiction as usual raises the bar with a whole Alpha/Beta/Omega 'verse dedicated to re-aligning gender without females, which is like the Frankenstein Future for Furries.
Horses for Courses - women have historically been supposed to prefer their pornography written rather than photographed; maybe they just re-write what they like in the medium they prefer.
And Finally - the relation to the means of production - writing fan fiction is free. Once you possess the starting kit, and requires little organisation or teamwork - you can do it alone, without the assistance of willing peers or expensive and extensive kit. It requires literacy but not social acceptance - indeed, the world of fan fiction has merrily re-invented social acceptance online, so you can have it with a side of mental illness while the world outside reviles you and your hideous girly hobby. You can be socially accepted and even celebrated while nobody in your real life knows the truth or maybe even likes you a little bit.
To my great joy, places like Comic Con seem to be flummoxed when not horrified by the existence of Fan Fiction. I suspect because it's really gay.
Anyway, if anybody has an answer to my initial question let me know. I think it's a combination of the above, but what do I know? I am still looking for stories of Bucky Barnes in a gender reversed verse, preferably at the seaside. xxx