Tuesday, August 24, 2010



I tried posting this as a comment on EREC, but Google kept complaining my URL was too long, then putting weird gaps and breaks even after I'd split the comment up. So. My response to this article:

I'm not a straight woman, and I'm also not a reader of romance, but there are some things I find curious from the original article.

"If you aren’t familiar with M/M fiction here’s what it is: Straight women fetishizing the lives of gay men."

Already we are opening the doors for this to be a misunderstanding of semantics. Labels are difficult things, and one person's m/m label is different from another's. Is this meant to be a definition for the content of the article, a definition for the mainstream, or simply a statement of the author's opinion?

"...all these writers have either taken male pen names . . . or names that are . . .purposefully gender-vague—and write about gay male relationships."

What does the gender-assignment of their names matter? It doesn't make their writing any more or less legitimate. That is the job of the writing itself. It's ridiculous, really. I have an aunt with what is traditionally a masculine name. She was contacted in response to a resume once and brought in for a job interview. The would-be employer, who had liked her so well on paper, sent her away for misrepresenting herself as male on her application. He was more concerned over issues of gender assignment than capability. Names are just ways of recognizing to/of whom we speak.

"As male pulp writers and pornographers wrote about lesbians as sexual objects, so too do the M/M writers."

One could argue that all pornography/erotica/romance is objectification. I'm okay with that as long as it stays in the realm of fantasy and out of my reality. Do people really take romance & romantic smut as world-changing literature? Or even remotely realistic (maybe I'm just too cynical to think that all of that sap is plausible)?

"In the M/M stories . . . there is a “male” man and a “female” man. . . . A feature of M/M novels is often rape. A stronger man rapes a younger, more feminine man."

^This is why I do not read a lot of free-access fics. In browsing the submission requirements for a lot of publishing houses, force is not accepted even when not used to be provocative. From what I understand from those who do read homosexual romance, it is not a common element. Not even so common as it is in heterosexual romance.

"Neither of these scenes read as fetishistic" - I haven't seen these shows, nor the titles they're watching, but usually the porn actors are there for graphic sex, and as sex objects. One cannot say it is non-fetishistic because it is a different medium. What if a straight man or woman wrote the script, or produced it?

"Even descriptions of gay male sex and the language used to describe it is wrong."

Poor euphemisms go back to the dawn of time, and the blatant mistakes cited should never have gotten past the editor. Poor writing is something suffered in all genres. It's not an attack on a specific group.

"The edict for writing has always been: Write what you know. "

I'm with the others who call bullshit on this sentiment. I like reading fantasy, sci-fi, and horror.

"Our relationships and sexuality are sacrosanct in their differentness from heterosexual relationships."

The only differences (aside from genitalia) that I've found in my relationships with men and women is mainstream acceptance and legal ramifications. There are hardships that come with being out, and I've suffered some of them, but that doesn't change the fundamental interactions between myself and my partner.

"Imagine a group of white writers writing only about people of color and then telling those people of color that they know better about their lives than the people of color themselves."

It's not the writing about people of color (another PC term that makes me go cross-eyed) that I object to. It's the attitude of superiority. Is this really done? Citations? Sources? Objectionable no matter what the genre.

"That’s like saying slavery was acceptance by white people wanting blacks in their lives."

Using the terms of the article's argument, it'd be more like saying lawn-jockeys were acceptance by white people wanting blacks in their lives. Also an offensive analogy, but more respectful of just how horrible a thing slavery was (AND STILL IS). It shouldn't be bandied about lightly.

"Can straight writers write about queers? Of course they can. But the M/M genre is not that. It’s about reinterpreting gay male relationships for heterosexuals in a fashion that is fetishistically sexual and which thus can be accepted–because it is ultimately negative."

So again we come back to the matter of semantics and the definition of the m/m label. I guess ultimately it boils down to this: If you're not falling into the limited scope of this article's definition, don't take it as applying to you. It further begs the question: Is the author of this editorial responsible for providing broader scopes of the definition, or even mentioning that they exist; or is it the responsibility of the readership to recognize that many editorials parade opinion as fact?


  1. "The first lesbian novels I ever read were purloined pulps found in the homes of people whose children I babysat for in high school. At the time I didn’t put together the fact that these straight couples were using my lesbian life to fuel their sexual fantasies, but that was definitely the case."

    That right there should have been your cue to take the rest of this article with a grain of salt. ("Using MY lesbian life" -- no, honey, they weren't using YOUR anything.)

    It is pretty obvious this woman has her hackles up because a personal experience offended her, and now she's trying to rally a cause against something with which she has not even tried to familiarize herself.

    The fact that a married couple was reading lesbian romance, to me, as a lesbian, IS AWESOME. It does not signify objectification, rather a mature ability to explore sexuality between themselves as grown adults. If it had been some sort of gay-hunting snuff film, then there would have been a problem.

    Methinks the author of this article hath read way too many fanfictionz writ by the sexually inexperienced teenager squeeing over her bishies. In that case, yes, amateur writing is going to be amateur and isn't going to depict gay sex (or any sex, or any relationship between adults) accurately. Secondly--I agree that fantasy shouldn't have to be dragged through the mud of reality, and to place homoerotica on some nonfiction pedestal is aberrant to the cause.

    Whatever that cause may be - which is apparently just to bitch vaguely about heternormatives getting off on the thrill of forbidden romance.


    Anyway. Long time fan, first time commenter. Apologies on behalf of all the uninformed over-reacting lesbians within reach of a computer. Their numbers are many.

  2. You're so sweet. <3 Don't feel the need to apologize for them. I know they're not representative of the core group. That article and the discussion that it gave rise to just raised my hackles.