Young women nowadays are confronted with mixed messages. They are called "modern women", ready to face all that our modern world can give them, including sexuality. But they are also "girls", who need to be cared for, protected, kept away from the bad things that occur in the modern world, kept innocent, chaste, child-like. There is still the dichotomy of the "virgin" and the "whore", the good girl and the bad girl, and, in many high schools and colleges, there is no in-between.
In a world rife with contradiction, it is often hard for a young woman to be able to explore her sexuality. There is no safe ground between thinking about it and doing it, and in today's modern, dangerous world, doing it, whether it's heterosexual sex, homosexual sex, or "deviant practices", can often have dangerous consequences.
This is even more true for a girl who is less "socially adjusted" than her peers, the quiet girl, the shy girl, the geek, nerd, outcast. To explore a sexuality from the norm, or to even be apart from the norm in general can be even more dangerous.
Young women need safe places to explore their sexuality, to empower themselves in one of the most dynamic of gender struggles. They need to see what's out there, what's possible, what they would like and what they wouldn't like. And before they can do what they have been thinking about, they need to talk about it.
The Internet has become in recent years a place for young women to meet and interact with each other. And with the introduction of the Internet into mainstream American culture, there has also been the appropriation of the male-dominant technology, namely, the use of the Internet to disseminate fanfiction. Young women have appropriated the technology of the Internet to explore and discuss sexuality via the medium of fanfiction.
This appropriation can take a variety of forms, but all center around one particular thing--the use of fanfiction to express ideas. Whether it is through slash, Mary Sues, romantic fic, or plain old fashioned trashy PWPs, women across the world are using the Internet to explore fanfiction, appropriating not only technology, but also the media text.
Women use the already existing text of a particular tv show/movie/celebrity/etc. to create a universe in which they explore their sexuality or possible sexuality. UnConventional Relationshippers is a group of predominently young women who take the media text of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and use that text to create works of fanfiction in which they explore their own possible sexualities.