You Won’t Believe What Happened When These M/M Authors Were Interviewed

June 14, 2014 Opinion 39

Unless you’re familiar with the intertwining threads of internalized sexism and fetishization. Then you’ll totally believe it, because this is just another day in RomLand. I’m too sick for this shit. Seriously. But hey, Ridley coughed it up in my lap like a fur ball so let’s clean this mess and get me back to the couch. Henshaw’s article on Women Writing M/M Romance is a lovely example of why I stopped reading female authored M/M romance. The fetishization and projection is off the charts.

Amy Lane began by saying that “love is redemptive” and if any group needs the redemptive qualities of love, it’s gay men.

Right away you’ve lost me. Why do gay men require redemption? How are you not fetishizing your subjects if your baseline is one of innate suffering?

Z.A. Maxfield agreed, saying that what was missing from the previous fiction about gay men was the happy ending. By writing gay romance, “we’re rewriting the traditional endings the way we want them,” she said.

Way to dismiss all the male authors of m/m fiction that gave their characters happy endings. It’s like City Lights had nothing but tragedies on the shelves in the 80’s and 90’s. It’s like there’s no such thing as gay erotica. It’s like you can’t easily google your way to hundreds of books written by male authors that readers consider romance. Here I start to wonder how deeply women who write m/m romance read in m/m erotica and romance before embarking on their Ken + Ken play dates.

Writing about two men falling in love is completely different than the traditional romance. For one thing, both characters are equals, each with his own power.

Wait – what? Holy Othering, Batman – did we seriously just say that the power of a female character cannot equal or surpass that of a man? Are we teeing up for a round of Bitches And Ho’s?

“I’m tired of women’s nasty, mean games, and don’t want to write about them,” Amy added.

Looks like we are. If your experience of women is that of mean and nasty games, allow me to strongly suggest you change your friends. The common denominator in the problem would appear to be you. How would this author write a F/F book? Constant emotional abuse? I know many wonderful women who hold each other down and elevate their partners on the regular. (Wait tho, we’re about to go all Onion with this stuff.)

Backbiting and undermining of friends’ goals and aspirations aren’t often found in gay romance since men are more direct in their interactions.

Ahahahaha – that’s serious? Okay, hold up, do these women know any gay men? Like not in a My Best Friend Is Gay but in a I Go To MCC Services way? Unless you’re riding the fetishization train (next stop Strokesville & Feels) you’re aware that the only thing different about a gay man (or woman) is who they are sexually attracted to. People are people. (I’m this close to breaking into an R&B song, y’all.) Gay men are more direct and don’t backbite or undermine others? I need to go call some friends and family with the Good News.

Z.A. Maxfield said the equality of the partners is much more interesting to her. “There’s an equality at the beginning of the relationship that’s a very powerful dynamic to explore,” she explained.

And here we have it. Unless you fundamentally believe in the innate inequality of women then having an unequal power balance between your leads is a matter of authorial choice. What confers equality to the reader and the author? Nothing more than the way the author chooses to present the characters. Assuming a M/M couple are inherently equal is an assumption that ignores every aspect of their humanity but their sexuality or gender. That’s a great Macklemore song, I’m sure, but a terrible way to view individuals.

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Meoskop

Meoskop's first non-compulsory book review was in 1973. Although a hit with the 3rd grade, concerns raised by the administration necessitated an extended hiatus. Reviews resumed in 1985 but the concerns are ongoing.

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39 Responses to “You Won’t Believe What Happened When These M/M Authors Were Interviewed”

  1. P. J. Dean

    Oh God! Are they serious? I’ve only read 8 m/m romances. And will probably stop there. And the ones penned by straight women were markedly different in tone than the ones penned by gay men. Very different. Couldn’t put my finger on it but the voice was different. It’s the same type of thing I’ve encountered when non-POC writers write POC characters. Not that they shouldn’t write the “other” in their works. Hell, they aren’t going to cease and desist because of me. I don’t tell anyone who they can write about. But what I do ask of these authors is not to act like THEY have “discovered and brought to light a better, improved way” in which to depict and present the “other” in fiction to the reading public. Also not to discredit PRIOR writings by actual gay men, gay women, people of color and the disabled by depicting the works of those people as somehow lacking before these writers arrived on the scene or steered their writing in “other” directions.

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  2. Roslyn Holcomb

    Oy! I was really hoping this was an old article, but no such luck. I have no dog in this fight. I neither write, nor read M/M, and this is pretty much the reason why. I can’t stand the fetishization of gay folk even though I’m not gay. The whole damned genre is soaked in that crap and I can’t stand it. And the misogyny in that last comment about women being backbiting bitches while gay men are all sweetness and light just reeks of WTF?! There’s something seriously wrong there.

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  3. rameau

    I read m/m and I read m/m written by women and those comments and attitudes are the worst part of it. I don’t blame anyone for being put off by this. I haven’t been able to stomach Amy Lane’s work after her p2p comments.

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  4. Heidi Belleau

    a lovely example of why I stopped reading female authored M/M romance. The fetishization and projection is off the charts.

    Not that I am a completely impartial voice in this discussion (LBR I’m the furthest thing from), but I can’t let a comment like this slide. I’m more than happy to discuss M/M’s shortcomings and how incredibly toxic the internalized misogyny and straight fetishization/appropriation is in this genre, but this sentiment right here really rankles me as a queer woman. In what other genre would someone feel justified and progressive in saying “I don’t read female authors”? You can read what you like and use whatever metric you want in choosing books, but I still really have to draw attention to this attitude and why I find it hurtful.

    Yes, M/M can be fetishistic and misogynistic, especially when you have the power dynamic of straight people creating/consuming fiction about queer people, but to say that unless a man is writing it it’s not as legitimate solely based on gender is really unfair and delegitimizing of queer women in this space. We have lots of varied reasons (some more healthy than others, I’ll admit) for choosing to use gay men to write these stories, but they’re still ours and they’re still legitimate expressions of queerness.

    As a white author, I can completely understand and respect a POC not wanting to read a book I have written about POC characters (or to not read my stuff at all). I benefit from white supremacy. The power dynamic is incredibly problematic and even dangerous.

    I could similarly understand a queer person not wanting to read fiction about queer characters written by a straight person. Once again, considering the power dynamic of an oppressor writing about the oppressed. Or a cis person writing about trans people. Or a lesbian woman uncomfortable with a man (straight or queer) writing about lesbians–once again because of the power dynamic between queer men and queer women.

    But a woman (full stop, no difference paid between whether that woman is queer or straight) writing about a queer man? Is this really about the power dynamic of oppressor vs. oppressed, or is it about elevating male voices over women as being more “legitimate” indiscriminately? Are gay men realistically in our society threatened with erasure and invisibility by the voices of queer women as opposed to straight people?

    So basically my point is (as always), if you mean “straight women” say “straight women” and if you mean “all women, including queer”, then I’d like to genuinely ask, why does my gender identity change the validity and authenticity of how I choose to write queerness?

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  5. Meoskop

    @Heidi – that’s completely fair & I apologize for an imprecise statement that was hurtful, however inadvertent.

    I should have said I stopped reading m/m entirely because the rise of straight female voices made finding books that did not feel like appropriation became increasingly difficult. It wasn’t fun and I found myself moving away from the genre.

    As far as straight voices etc, I think anyone has a right to build any type of character they desire. Would I, based on encountering problematic representation in the past, be more wary of queer voices that center their story on a gender they don’t identify as? Yes, I would. Am I right? Who knows. But that’s my current reaction. I’d also be far more likely to read F/F than M/M at this point although a sub couple of either orientation would be equally welcome in a M/F book.

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  6. Mara Allen

    Not all straight and bi female writers of m/m romance agree with the opinions of the m/m authors who are quoted in your post. Not all straight and bi female writers of m/m romance disregard the long history of gay male writers and their work or believe that we are somehow creating stories of redemption on their behalf. Not all straight and bi female writers of m/m romance believe other women are backstabbing and nasty and don’t deserve to be included in m/m romance stories or in their own stories.

    I’d just like to make that clear, since it doesn’t seem to be already.

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  7. Ann Somerville

    Some of us hateful straight women actually started writing slash and then m/m as a way of dealing with patriarchal attitudes and hurtful heteronormativity. It was my way of dealing with the fact that men are not capable, in my world, of being trusted because of their overweening privilege. I create worlds and relationships where men *can* be trusted, where societies are better, when those men see the women in their lives as equals. I believe in ideation as a way to change attitudes.

    I don’t get interviewed at conventions because I don’t go to them, and I don’t work for one of the stroke fic m/m mills. But these women don’t speak for me, never have and never will.

    Heidi, some of the nastiest homophobia I’ve ever read towards gay men and gay men writing their own stories has come straight from the mouthes of bisexual and gay women. Being queer doesn’t mean you (generic you) are protected from fucking it up.

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  8. Nu

    I do not see how excluding women almost entirely from one’s reading and/or writing is empowering and resisting patriarchy, as both authors and fans have alleged. The suggestion’s insulting. Giving up on women is giving up on women and there really isn’t any way to spin that positively. Even if the quotes are taken out of context. The women writing romance, women’s fiction, etc. are performing the real leg work in responding to patriarchy, challenging existing narratives, charting new paths for heroines in lit.

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  9. Ridley

    @Mara Allen: Yeah. This comment is unnecessary. “Not All __” is classic derailling.

    We’re talking about those who do this thing. Those who don’t do this thing aren’t under discussion.

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  10. Ann Somerville

    “Those who don’t do this thing aren’t under discussion.”

    Really, Ridley? When Meoskop said:

    “Henshaw’s article on Women Writing M/M Romance is a lovely example of why I stopped reading female authored M/M romance.”

    The possibility that not all authors do this isn’t even mentioned. The idea that this nimrods don’t represent the majority isn’t considered either.

    You know perfectly well that I have been as outspoken as any of you about the problems in m/m but don’t you dare dismiss Mara Allen in that way. She’s one of the good ones, and doesn’t deserve this.

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  11. Ridley

    @Ann Somerville: Yeah, no. Saying that’s why she avoids female authored m/m is not at all saying all straight or queer women write shit m/m. It’s saying enough have done it that she’s stopped trying to find the good ones.

    Majority groups have a hard time writing the experiences of those they have privilege over. It’s why I prefer to read multicultural romance by POC authors and why I read most disabled romance expecting the worst. Pointing this out shouldn’t be controversial.

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  12. Ann Somerville

    “Pointing this out shouldn’t be controversial.”

    It’s controversial because all women authors get shit on whatever they write. If you said “I avoid women authored SF” or “women authored murder mysteries” you’d get push back. We’re an oppressed group same as gay or POC authors.

    Meoskop has every right to be wary of m/m as a genre, but to especially select out the stuff written by *women*, as if women are the only ones with problematic attitudes, is an issue. I hate what those women said. But I’ve seen gay men writing gay romance say worse stuff about women, and no one is saying they won’t read *them*. You don’t say “won’t read romances” despite the thousands of absolutely horrible and misogynistic books written by straight women out there.

    If you can’t see the sexism at the very least, then you won’t understand why some of us are cranky as hell with such attitudes, *and* with those expressed in that interview. It’s hard enough to be able to write and publish at all as a woman without being whiteanted from within.

    M/M is a problematic genre. Sexism is one of its many problems. Attacking those who are fighting back against that is not helping.

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  13. Meoskop

    I also don’t address that Not All Readers object to the sentiments present in the article. A statement made about myself followed by examination of a specific article is hardly a thesis on an entire field. If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it.

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  14. Ann Somerville

    @Meoskop:

    I love how you apologise to Heidi for your blanket statement, but Ridley jumps on Mara Allen for saying the same thing.

    It’s fine to be picky about who you read because of bad experiences, and something I do myself. It’s fine to point out the appropriation in the genre. It would just be nice to read a discussion about the problems in the genre without everyone immediately jumping to the “straight women are the cause of all this” without even thinking how that is a problematic belief in itself.

    Gah, I don’t even disagree with you and Ridley on m/m! I’m just sick of being crapped for what I write, whether it’s SF romance, SF/F or m/m! All I’ve had in the last two weeks is people claiming that being a woman means my writing must be irrelevant, bad, or hateful.

    Mara Allen is one of the solutions to the problems in the genre. She’s the last person I want to see attacked over speaking up.

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  15. meoskop

    @Ann Somerville: I apologized to Heidi because she was correct in my using “women” as a normative when I meant (primarily) “straight women”.

    I’m not apologizing for failing to add a disclaimer that there may be authors and readers not represented either by these authors talking about their books or my speaking about my preferences because that’s a ridiculous Not All Men hurdle that doesn’t need to be cleared.

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  16. Ridley

    @Ann Somerville: If pointing out that “Not all __” is classic derailing (which it is) constitutes an “attack” on someone, we must define the word very differently.

    I mean, look what it did: now we’re no longer talking about how lots of straight women who write m/m have a shit ton of misogynist and fetishizing things to say about m/m and are instead talking about how some straight women authors of m/m don’t do these things.

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  17. Ann Somerville

    @meoskop:

    “that’s a ridiculous Not All Men hurdle that doesn’t need to be cleared. ”

    You’re going to use a hashtag created by sexists when I am trying to point out that attacks on straight women’s writing is actually sexist too? Nice.

    I’m not even saying you can’t say “not reading women’s authored m/m” because of reasons. Just don’t jump down the throats of people trying to point out why that can be interpreted badly.

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  18. Ann Somerville

    @Ridley:

    “instead talking about how some straight women authors of m/m don’t do these things.”

    Then talk about the problems, don’t assign the blame to one whole group. God knows I’ve been talking about them since I entered the genre. Before I entered the genre.

    The actual causes are patriarchy and misogyny and male dominated story telling and media and also crappy writers with no talent jumping on a lucrative bandwagon. Gay men and straight women are capable of being affected by these as much as anyone. We’re all taught that the most interesting stories are those with white men in them, and god the pushback when we try and challenge that!

    Meoskop says the author complaining about ‘bitchy women’ needs better friends. What about women whose experiences of women are harshly negative and so have not many good templates to draw on? I have trouble writing woman centric fic because I have so many fucking issues that it’s actually triggering for me. What about the women who were raised in a strongly sexist, conservative environment? Is it wrong/strange for them to use male templates because they’ve been taught men have all the power and agency and freedom, and women don’t?

    These are real issues, real problems. Jesse Wave’s TERF-like attitudes came from somewhere – why are they so popular in m/m and elsewhere?

    But you didn’t host a discussion about this – you just posted a link to a shit interview with shit people, properly mocked, and casually tossed in blanket remarks. If you want to talk about the issues in m/m instead of dismissing the women authored stuff, then please, I’d love to see it.

    I see you just skated over the part where I pointed out that women’s writing in other genres has been under intense attack over recent weeks. Like that has no bearing on my or any other female author’s reactions to something like this.

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  19. Meoskop

    @Ann Somerville: I don’t consider Fiqah a sexist, but as Ridley just said – now we’re no longer talking about the problematic content of the article, but have refocused.

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  20. Ann Somerville

    “we’re no longer talking about the problematic content of the article, but have refocused. ”

    Fine, I’ve said my piece. Talk about the problems if that’s what you want to do. I’ve already explained why I think sexism/misogyny contributes massively to them.

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  21. Heidi Belleau

    @Ann Somerville:

    Being queer doesn’t mean you (generic you) are protected from fucking it up.

    Certainly not, and I’d never argue that being queer is a free pass to behave however you like OR argue that it’s impossible for queer people to be wrong/

    My issue, simply, is with the fact that lumping queer women and straight women together into one homogenized mass fails to take into account the very important power dynamics of privilege and oppression at play between straight people and queer people, between queer men and queer women, between straight women and queer men, etc. It’s also an act of erasure, which when you’re bisexual like I am, is just one more microaggression in a long lifetime of having my queerness denied and invalidated and ignored.

    Saying my voice as a queer woman is less valid/trustworthy than a gay man’s in an ostensibly queer space reinforces very harmful attitudes. Gay men are already the nearly sole focus of the LGBT movement, so it hurts me to have them held up as the only trustworthy authors of M/M, too. I realize I’m writing about queer men vs. queer women like myself, but being that we are equal in queerness, why am I put under scrutiny for writing queer men that straight women are not put under for writing straight men in M/F romance?

    I agree that oppressors can’t always be trusted to write the people they oppress (even inadvertently/systemically), even if they put out a lot of care and effort. (Lord know I’ve fucked up on my own attempts to write POC).

    But that’s not the dynamic between queer women and queer men, so saying “queer women can’t write queer men” is about as fair an accusation as saying “women can’t write men” period.

    That doesn’t mean no queer women can ever suck at writing queer men (whether from a simple craft standpoint or a fetishization/problematic issues with the portrayal standpoint), only that to blanket dismiss the validity of our portrayals on the basis of our gender alone just . . . isn’t ethical.

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  22. Mara Allen

    @Ridley:

    Lovely. I’m very glad to hear it’s about people who do this thing. In that case, it would be supremely in line with that thinking if statements such as, “Henshaw’s article on Women Writing M/M Romance is a lovely example of why I stopped reading female authored M/M romance.”

    A statement like that makes my comment part of the conversation, whether or not you may agree.

    There are a number of things I dislike that writers say in a variety of genres, but I have not yet condemned an entire genre on that basis.

    I have no desire to derail ANY conversation regarding writing m/m romance. I think a conversation and maybe very many conversations are needed, but extreme reactions (such as announcing your disinterest in an entire genre because some writers in it write offensive stories), *that* is the unnecessary comment.

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  23. Meoskop

    @Mara Allen – I understand your frustration with my statement. In reading other responses to the article this morning I see it echoed in other places. I did stop reading m/m because of the rise of voices like these and I’m not alone. It may not be true for you, you may wish it wasn’t true for me, but there we have it.

    When I say “I stopped reading SF because of the rapey and interminable sagas that came to define the market.” It makes SF authors who don’t write multi book series filled with sexism sad. You can find my statement anything you wish, but I stand by it.

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  24. Ridley

    Ya know, I don’t have to read m/m. If I keep picking up m/m that’s pure masturbatory fantasy for straight women, I’m allowed to decide m/m isn’t a genre I want to read. I don’t owe it to the “good” authors to keep trying.

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  25. Mara Allen

    @Meoskop: No, I think you’re entitled to stop reading whatever you wish to stop reading, and for whatever reason. Judging an entire group by the most vocal handful is a common reaction, I guess, and the quotes by those authors are enough to spur such a reaction. I wish they hadn’t made them and I wish they didn’t believe that. I think writers in any genre evolve in their understanding of why they write what they do, and writers who make foolish or offensive comments now will probably come to regret the comments later on. I’ve made my share of comments I’ve regretted.

    I’m just sorry you’re ready to give up on m/m and SF because of that. I can’t stand alpha males, I think vampire stories are insipid rip-offs of Stoker, I think MC novels are repulsive, and I find bdsm entirely unromantic, but if I left off reading m/f romance because these types of stories are now prevalent in the genre, I’d have missed fun, sweet stories like Tamara Morgan’s or exquisite gems like Cecilia Grant’s books. And that would have been beyond regrettable.

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  26. Meoskop

    @Mara Allen – On a lighter note you just inadvertantly made me laugh by choosing authors I’m on record as not loving. To each their etc.

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  27. Mara Allen

    @Ridley: It’s your blog so you have the power to take the conversation in any direction you prefer (and the power to silence conversations you feel are not going in the direction you prefer, although I’m surprised you would, considering how you feel about the often capricious muffling that goes on sometimes at DA.)

    So yes, the masturbatory fantasy is alive and well in m/m (and m/f and probably horror and other genres, too.) It’s common and if a particular masturbatory fantasy is offensive on the grounds of appropriation, I understand why you’d want to avoid reading those stories. I’m still trying to get a good grasp, myself, on where, in a subset of romance, the line is drawn between an author telling a respectful and thoughtful story about marginalized characters and their experiences, and a story that is offensively appropriative. Is that something only a reader can judge?

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  28. Mara Allen

    @Meoskop: Aww, really? To each his own, definitely, then. I thought “A Gentleman Undone” was one of the finest romances I’ve ever read.

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  29. Fangs 4 the Fantasy (@Fangs4Fantasy)

    My gods that is some grossly disrespectful homophobic bullshit heavily backed with a whole lot of sexism.

    And the utter arrogance, the dismissive, contemptuous arrogance of these women to decide they are bringing something so fresh and new to “gay literature”! Do they not think gay men have not been writing our own stories before? Do they really think we need them to write HEA and emotion in our stories? Really?

    And you can’t just decide to “write about a man” without power dynamics without considering the tropes and dynamics that effect gay men. What about men who have both been socialised in this society to be traditional men (which has its own conflicts when we have two together). What about the dynamics then? What about the pressures of homophobia and heterosexism and all the things that make our romances so much more than “something straight ladies can enjoy without the gender power dynamic”

    Ugh, this is why I find the m/m genre a really hostile and unsafe space for gay men – and that becomes a problem considering how huge it is and the time we have to spend trying to find our own stories among the fetishism

    The sad thing is so much of his genre is entirely about people who are not gay or bi men deciding to use us to fulfill something for themselves. We are tools and toys for them – we are things for them to USE which is clear not just in the posts but also in the comments here and there – people who are not gay men or bi men who USE us in their stories as ways they can address other issues or other things that are important to them

    We’re used as characters, but these stories are never about us. We’re just tools through which someone else’s goal can be realised.

    It’s contemptuous. It’s disrespectful. It’s dehumanising. And it’s why I avoid the genre – it’s a genre that uses me as a thing, but doesn’t welcome me as a person.

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  30. Ann Somerville

    @Meoskop:

    “It makes SF authors who don’t write multi book series filled with sexism sad. ”

    Yeah, especially when the sexism is coming from straight white male authors, and it’s SWM authors who are doing their damndest to try and stop non-SWM authors making a mark or being published. Maybe you should have a look at what the non-SWM, especially the women, are writing now:

    http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/issues/june-2014-issue-49/

    If you don’t know what’s going in SF now, then you’re missing why condemning women’s writing is such a hot button for me right now. That WDSF edition of Lightspeed is in direct response to that crap.

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  31. Ann Somerville

    @Fangs 4 the Fantasy (@Fangs4Fantasy):

    “the m/m genre a really hostile and unsafe space for gay men”

    Oh come on. You and I have talked a number of times about the problems with m/m, and I know it sucks in a lot of places, but this is well over the top, Sparky. Gay men are writing, reviewing, and publishing the genre, and unlike women trying to make their way in, say for instance, SF, gay men are lionised. Worshiped as oracles. To the point where some female authors have posed as gay men to boost their readership.

    Gay men also complain bitterly about the way gay people are treated in films and TV, and not given their own lives and storylines, and often killed off to advance a feeble plot. M/M is one genre where gay men are foregrounded, given their own stories, made the heroes of the story, and guaranteed a happy ending. Maybe you’d prefer that it wasn’t women writing this stuff, but I bet you wouldn’t mind if straight male Hollywood producers made movies with exactly the same characteristics.

    “people who are not gay men or bi men who USE us in their stories”

    Uh, women have been USED for centuries by men telling stories – our stories. That’s when we’re not being erased entirely. At least gay men in M/M are front and centre of stories about them, and there are gay men writing m/m too. They sell pretty damn well.

    “We are tools and toys for them”

    You are *safe* for us. Women see gay men as unthreatening to their physical safety. We feel a kinship with you because society hates you for the same reason it hates us, or rather it hates you because it thinks you *are* us – men who are womenly, feminine. Women see resonance with your struggles for equality with our own. We see you and ourselves as victims of the same kyriarchal system, and consider us all allies.

    That some straight women behave like shitheads in your spaces, and towards you (as do gay men towards women), doesn’t negate all of that.

    I write M/M and I don’t see gay men as ‘tools’ any more than any other group. I use characters to tell a story about the society I want to see, or to criticise the society we have.

    Ridley talks about m/m being masturbatory fantasy for straight women, forgetting what Heidi pointed out, forgetting that gay and bi women have been reading and writing stories like this for a very long time, and also forgetting that women have been masturbatory fantasies for men since forever. The difference is that here, women are doing it for themselves, and unlike women characters in other genres, the gay men in M/M aren’t fridged, are the centre of the stories, and will survive to the end and happily. Gay men are also welcome to write for the genre.

    Brett Easton Ellis wrote a best selling novel about torturing and raping women, which was turned into a top Hollywood movie and a musical. There is no romance equivalent, let alone a M/M equivalent. There is no female authored equivalent book in any genre. Ellis is treated as a literary phenomenon. Women who write modest little love stories, m/f or m/m, are treated like freaks. A woman who wrote the female version of American Psycho would probably be dead in a week, if any publisher dared to take the story on.

    “And you can’t just decide to “write about a man” without power dynamics without considering the tropes and dynamics that effect gay men.”

    No. And the best m/m does that. You won’t believe me but there has been a small amount of really superior writing coming out of the genre. The Tigerland series by Sean Kennedy (who is a gay man and a damn good friend) is a wonderful example of how the genre can explore current social attitudes and still be brilliant story telling. Mara Allen – who does not include *any* sex scenes at all in her books – does the same with historical attitudes to homosexuality (and women) in her beautiful books. Label them how you want, these are just fantastic, uplifting stories of the heart.

    The women quoted in that ‘interview’ display internalised misogyny, and it’s not surprising their attitudes to gay people are also fairly warped since they don’t seem to have much insight. But it’s all coming from exactly the same place and exactly the same society. How we as authors deal with that differs hugely, depending on talent, insight and experiences.

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  32. Ann Somerville

    @Meoskop:

    “I don’t consider Fiqah a sexist”

    You’re confusing the #yesallwomen tag started by a WoC with the #notallmen started by butt hurt white males. Who are sexist.

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  33. Meoskop

    @Ann Somerville – No Ann, I’m not. Fiqah’s heavily retweeted Not All Men useage more than a year ago launched a tongue in cheek use of the age old NAMALT standard. While men’s rights groups unknowingly tried it in response to #NotAllWomen it was already well in use as satire.

    You and Fangs can fight out if he has a right to his feelings as a gay man reading books centered on gay men without me, I’m sure. However Poppy Bright has written several books I’d consider in the Ellis vein, selling well and somehow surviving.

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  34. Ann Somerville

    “While men’s rights groups unknowingly tried it in response to #NotAllWomen it was already well in use as satire.”

    I wasn’t aware of that. I’m sure you knew I was unaware of that too.

    “You and Fangs can fight out if he has a right to his feelings as a gay man reading books centered on gay men without me, I’m sure.”

    Gay man feels > straight woman feels. Got it.

    “However Poppy Bright has written several books I’d consider in the Ellis vein, selling well and somehow surviving.”

    Poppy Brite is a trans man. Not your best example of a woman writing hate fic and profiting. I’m unaware a movie or a musical has been made of any of his books either.

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  35. Meoskop

    @Ann Somervile – yes, it was obvious you were not fully informed of the terms use. I chose not to raise the issue, giving you a tool to google if you chose. You told me I was confused, so I expanded on my prior statement.

    When Poppy Brite began publishing he was not professionally identifying as male, and while no musical or film transpired from his work it remains that authors identified as female do produce works of horror, often well received, without physical consequences.

    Again, you and Fangs are obviously interacting on a level informed by prior conversations and I leave the both of you to that. Yes, my inclination in a conversation about any minority is to offer the benefit to the party who is a member of the minority. Doesn’t matter if it’s NDN / Mascots or gay men and M/M fiction.

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  36. Ridley

    @Mara Allen: Since no one’s comments got deleted or hidden, I’m not sure how you’re going to compare me to Jane and her comment policy debacle. I did exactly what our comment policy states: “Any comments where the underlying argument can be described by a Derailing for Dummies entry will be soundly mocked.”

    Anyways, yes, ultimately it’s up to the reader to decide if what they just read made them uncomfortable. Authors just need to stay humble, check their privilege and do their best.

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  37. Fangs 4 the Fantasy (@Fangs4Fantasy)

    No, Anne, it’s not over the top – it’s how I feel about the genre. I do not consider it a safe space for gay men, I find it extremely hostile, a space where we exist as objects and tools and where our personhood is denied and our presence rejected. The appearance of gay men is taken, appropriated and welcomed only when those gay men are willing to play nice and fit the roles proscribed

    I don’t like mainstream media either – I criticise mainstream media repeatedly for the depiction of gay characters. I dislike tropes and fetishism of the Other, it’s a pet hate of mine

    Women are used as tools – is this supposed to be justification for women then using gay men as tools? This is rasied again and again – because women face misogyny, homophobia is ok, apparently.

    You may consider us safe to use, but it is still usage. All marginalised people are the victim of kyriachy – it doesn’t make it ok to use each other as tools and toys.

    There is a major cultural problem with the m/m genre with this appropriation and contempt – and this dismissive attitude of “we’re not following some mainstream tropes so it’s fine”. It is not fine, it’s just a different flavour of homophobia. Are there good stuff out there? Sure – but that doesn’t make searching for it, engaging with the genre or a great deal of the stuff, attitudes and people out there problematic enough to make it a hostile, unwelcoming and homophobic space.

    “Brett Easton Ellis wrote a best selling novel about torturing and raping women, which was turned into a top Hollywood movie and a musical. There is no romance equivalent, let alone a M/M equivalent. There is no female authored equivalent book in any genre. Ellis is treated as a literary phenomenon. Women who write modest little love stories, m/f or m/m, are treated like freaks. A woman who wrote the female version of American Psycho would probably be dead in a week, if any publisher dared to take the story on.”

    And what is this supposed to say? None of this is disputed but you and so many in the m/m genre keep raising this “we face misogyny, so the criticism of homophobia is irrelevant”.

    “and unlike women characters in other genres, the gay men in M/M aren’t fridged, are the centre of the stories, and will survive to the end and happily.”

    Here again – women face misogyny, so women fetishising and using gay men is ok.

    Over and over because sexism exists, homophobia is ok.

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  38. Mary

    Some really great points made in the article and the comments. So happy this is being discussed. The only thing I have to add is, it’s important to remember that “cis-looking straight woman” isn’t necessarily “cis-straight-woman.” On the great messy continuum of sexual orientation and gender identity, some of us fall in a zone that doesn’t get a lot of recognition (though I hope that will change). Some of us choose to appear cis because we can bear it and it’s *socially easier* (call us cowards, but that’s our comfort zones) and because our sexual orientation falls in line with what appears to be heteronormativity (i.e. attracted to men). Inside, however, we feel very different. I’m a FGM who just happens to operate ok appearing cis-woman but having sex as a woman is all the wrong for me, always has been, always will be. I can totally see how some m/m writers and readers may find an escape and ideation and even therapy there. I don’t personally read m/m as it’s too painful for me to do so (it takes a lot of emotional strength for me to deal with m/m film and books, without feeling crushed and deprived and depressed), but I imagine there are people like me involved in the field, alongside the misogynists and fetishizers. I haven’t seen anyone mention this side of things in any such discussions yet.

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