"This sort of “what if?” fantasizing is in one sense what really fueled the gay-romance revolution. The bulk of today’s writers in the genre started writing “slash” fiction, where you take two preexisting characters who are normally straight and make them gay. Such combinations are indicated as M/M (two men) or F/F (two women), or M/M/F/Werewolf (two men, a woman and a werewolf).
"Women would write stories as part of what Prof. Penley calls a “gift economy.” In slash fandom, where almost everyone is a writer, you create something, hoping it will inspire someone else to write another story. It’s a sexed-up game of Exquisite Corpse. “In other words, I will write this really hot story, and maybe in turn you will write one for me. They’re doing it for their own pleasure,” she says.
"Slash found its best, most perfect medium online, but it’s been around for decades. Penley first came across it in 1986, when slash stories were being distributed as photocopied zines, like comic books. She was blown away by them, at the writers’ transgressions; by the way the women rewrote popular culture to meet their own social and sexual desires."