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Some more poking of the m/m genre
Sparky
sparkindarkness
Since this is still flying around I feel the need to add some more general points from my random point of view


The prejudiced crap people do to you, does not excuse you doing it to us
How many times does it have to be said that just because you are a marginalised person doesn’t mean you have a right to stomp all over other marginalised people? The fact that straight men have been exploiting and fetishising women since year dot does NOT justify women fetishising gay men. Just because they did it to you doesn’t mean it’s hunky dory you doing it to us.

Is Women writing gay male fiction inherently wrong?
I’ve seen this around. Sometimes it raises good points - but most of the times it has been said have, frankly, been major attempts to derail from legitimate criticism.

However, we need to clarify some terms:
“Gay/GBLT fiction/romance” straight and cis-gendered women cannot write this and claiming to do so would be dishonest. To me, ‘gay/gblt fiction/romance’ implies a gay/gblt author. Just as if we saw ‘black fiction’ we’d expect the writer to be black.

“M/M fiction” again, what do we mean? Do we mean just fiction with gay male characters (in which case, see below) or do we mean fiction with gay male characters where the primary focus is their relationship (and is ‘relationship’ a euphemism for ‘really hawt mansex’?) Fiction focusing on gay male relationships can be dubious because you’re skirting the line where it’s not just a book with gay characters, but a book where gay characters are presented for titillation, arousal and OH YEAAHHH YUMMY purposes. And this is especially the case when a book is primarily about sex or strongly sex driven (the “add 4 more sex scenes” school of m/m fiction). Because here we have gay men being used as sex toys. They may be well written sex toys, they may be non-stereotypical sex toys, they may even have been written to try to make them respectable - but they’re still sex toys, they’re still being used for others to get their rocks off. Sure, a non-stereotypical, attempted-to-be respectful sex toy is infinitely preferably to the stereotypical, disrespectful and plain awful sex toy. But it’s still a sex toy.

“Fiction with gay characters” not only am I happy for anyone to write this, but I’d desperately encourage it. We need more good, respectful (emphasise on these 2, note) representations of gay people - all GBLT people - out there. If we confine such characters to books written by GBLT people only then we are inherently reducing the portrayals to a very small fraction of literature. I want to open a book and see me. I want to be able to shop in any section of any book shop and know that there will be a me in one of those books of that genre. I don’t want the only place I can find another gay man to be in the GBLT section (assuming a book shop even has a GBLT section). I don’t want the very idea that GBLT exist to be a niche genre or a specialist work. I don’t want us to be invisible or rare. And yes, these stories can include sex - if the plot and characterisations demand it then it SHOULD contain sex - because the meme of gay characters being rendered sexless to be palatable for straight audiences has been done and it’s very very very tired. But sex should exist as a tool to advance the stories and the characters - the stories and the characters shouldn’t exist to provide sex. Sex is a part of the plot, not the reason for the plot.

I want us to exist in fiction - but I also want us to be real. I want us to be treated as people - not sex objects, not caricatures, not stereotypes. I want people to acknowledge we exist and be happy with that - but not use us and not appropriate us. So, writers need to constantly remember they are writing the other and that their depictions have consequences. I want them to write us, but remember us at the same time, remember what they can do with us, remember they are using us, remember that we are vulnerable and remember that we are people deserving respect and consideration.

Pseudonyms
This is a topic on which I am rapidly losing my patience because there has been so many frankly facile attempts to derail and distract and justify one of the most extreme examples of appropriation.

I am not against pseudonyms as a concept. I was not born with the name Sparky. There are many many good reasons why writers choose to use a pen name. There is nothing inherently wrong with that nor with using different pen names for different genres, books etc.

HOWEVER when you use a MALE pen name (and, to a lesser extent, but still very telling, a gender neutral or initialled pen name) in the m/m genre you are doing so in a context where authors do try to fake being gay men for the sake of “authenticity”. When you use a male name in the m/m genre you are implying that you are a gay man - you are implying knowledge and life experience you do not have, you have not suffered for and you have NO RIGHT to claim. This is an appropriation of our identity and is one of the most grossly disrespectful parts of the m/m genre. Women using pseudonyms in the Romance genre don’t feel the need to suddenly use male names - so why do they in the m/m?

Also, yes, women have used male pen names before to overcome misogyny. I support this and agree with this - of course they should to overcome the very real and utterly wrong sexism that exists in many genres. But to raise this in reference to the m/m and wider romance genres is not only inaccurate - but dishonest. M/m and romance are women dominated genres. The readers, writers et al are women to an overwhelming degree. To claim you need a male name to overcome the sexism against female writers in these genres is as ridiculous as claiming you need a male name to enter a WI meeting. Anyone making this comparison and argument is either grossly ignorant of the m/m and romance genres or (and, frankly, far more likely) attempting to dishonestly derail and distract away from the homophobia. And THAT is also part of the problem - the reason the m/m genre is seen as exploitative, privileged and homophobic is not just because of what authors do - but the fierce defence so many raise when their problematic behaviour is challenged.


If it’s not you, you’re writing the ‘other’. EDITED
This means if you are not a gay man (whether cis or trans) you are writing the “other” (with all that implies) when writing about gay men. It doesn’t matter if you face Othering yourself in other genres, it doesn’t matter if you are marginalised, it doesn’t matter if your marginalised group has also faced othering.

I’ll also say that this INCLUDES lesbians, bisexual women, trans women and heterosexual trans men. You are still writing the other when you write about gay men. If a bisexual or gay man wrote a gratuitous f/f scene for heterosexual porn, it’d still be gratuitous, fetishistic and appropriative, he is still writing about the ‘other.’ It’s not AS ‘other’ as a heterosexual and cis gendered person writing it, since, as a member of the GBLT community there is a degree of shared experience - but it’s still ‘other’.

Have lesbian, bi, trans and genderqueer writers been overlooked in this discussion? To a degree I think - but I also think it's because everything that's been said applies to you as WELL

Yes, there are lesbian, biwomen, trans women and genderqueer writers also using gay men, appriopriating gay men, disrespecting gay men, objectifying gay men

And that's still not ok. Nor is it ok to paint critics as straight women allies who don't understand. But thanks for rendering gay men even more invisible in a genre that is supposed to be about us. Thanks for making a genre that treats us as a subject matter even less about us. And thanks for playing the "gay friend who says its ok" to the writers who will continue to disrespect us, use us and dehumanise us.


It’s misogyny for men to tell women what to write
Your books are about us. This is us, our lives, our community, us that are being represented. Us that will be harmed. Us that have to deal with the fall out of stereotypes. Us that are offended. Us that have to deal with the grossly awful portrayals. Us that that are being used, dehumanised and appropriated.

THIS IS US. We have a right to be critical here. We have a right to be offended here. We have a right to input here. We have a right to be respected here. We have a right to be anger here. We have a right to say what is and isn’t offensive what is and isn’t homophobic, what is and isn’t privileged. Don’t silence us by saying it is misogynist for us to comment on and object to books that focus entirely on us.

Yes, there has been an awful, horrendous history of men lecturing, policing and controlling women. Yes, still today, women are constantly fenced in, judged and controlled by men individually and the patriarchy in general. And yes, some critics have used unpleasant misogyny and sexism in their rants. But that history does not mean we can be ignored or silenced when we are offended, hurt and angered by the way you are using us. The existence of misogyny, male privileged and patriarchy does not justify straight privilege, homophobia and the using/appropriation of gay men.


Edited again to fix date. Silly computer

(Deleted comment)
Fear over concentration of awesome!

About pseudonyms... I'm not entirely sure that I agree with your point, because it's a rather complicated one.

I have a gender-neutral name. Your explanation here seems to say that if I choose to write those sorts of stories, I'd have to take a stereotypical female pseudonym so as not to present the appearance of a lie. Lying about my name so as not to present the appearance of lying about my plumbing seems like the wrong way to go about it.

I am well aware that this is a side issue. If you have the patience to spare, would you please clarify? If it's one of those things that can be clarified :(

And as another tangent, do you have any GLBT authors you'd be willing to recommend? The only one I've found who addresses this on a consistent basis is Nicola Griffith, and I'm still trying to figure out whether I enjoy her work.

"plumbing" != determination of sex/gender

I apologize for poor phrasing, and for any insult resulting from that.

If you use your OWN gender neutral name then, of course, it's not problematic for you to use it to write m/m. There's no active deceipt - it just happens to be your name. Maybe mentioning you're a woman in the "about the author" foreward/backward for clarity to avoid any unfortunate misunderstanding - but you're not being deceptive or anything with your own real name. It's unfortunate, but you're not seeking or even indifferently/casually implying that you are a gay man.

I would include the foreward for clarity. But the fact that it's just one of those unfortunate coincidences


There's a list here http://www.squidoo.com/writing-gay-characters of supposedly good books, but I haven't checked them all

I was about to link a few more - but I'd be using internet personas and I don't particularly want to drag people into a possible drama llama not of their making so I'll PM you

Thank you for the link, and for the answer. It raises another question, which I'm not sure how to phrase correctly, so I'll try and ask it in private if that's ok with you.

How far does it go, though? You have a right to be respected, yes. And there are people writing M/M novels that are essentially exploitative, yes. I think you've got a right to be annoyed by that and take them to task.

Now, while doing so I think you need to recognize that you're not in a unique position here. Few portrayals of ANY stereotyped group are written by people who are part of that group. I'm going to venture a guess that the vast majority of us are part of SOME group that is misrepresented in books and movies, and that our self-image was colored by that misrepresentation as we were growing up to some extent. There's an aspect of cultural appropriation to it, also.

Not suggesting you can't be angry about it. It being common doesn't make it right. Just don't feel singled out.

Naturally any marginalised group is in this position - that was, after all, the core that started racefail! (albeit it exploded as more cluelessness was loaded on) this is why it's a core of writing the other - with respect etc.

This particular issue bothered me a great deal when I was writing The Wild Swans and at several times the tension got to be so extreme I almost abandoned the book. I was also hyper concerned because I was writing about AIDS in Manhattan at the beginning of the 80s, and so (unlike other fantasy stories I've told) I knew I was trying to write a true reflection of the sorts of things that had happened to real people who had really gone through this horrific experience.

There were a few ways I worked my way in: First, I talked to a lot of gay friends and did obsessive research. Second, I had a long, long conversation with Jenna Felice (who tragically died very young--in her twenties--of an asthma attack.) Both Jenna's parents and several of her aunts and uncles died of AIDs. I told her I was afraid to write it, because how could I possibly truly portray something that was so searing as what had happened to her? What right did I, as an outsider, have to tell that story? She listened as I described my vision of the book, and she said, "Well, I think you should write it. I think you need to write for me, because I can't. Maybe I'm just too close to it myself." So that was permission in a way, really.

Third, I told the story twice in alternating chapters, with Elias (a young gay man) as the protagonist in the 20th century, and Eliza (a young heterosexual woman) as the protagonist in the 17th century story. But it's the same damn story.

One of my sources once told me, "just about every gay is raised by wolves." By that, he meant, just as you said, that gays are raised in families not of their 'own kind,' i.e., they are raised by parents who expect them to be heterosexual, and so part of the coming out process is learning about this different world. So that's what I did with Elias: He stepped into this new world, and just as I was nervous writing about it (do I have the right, as the Other?) HE was nervous about it, because it was all brand new to him, too.

The funny thing is, I ended up feeling closer to Elias than to Eliza, and that was because of a technical decision I made: I told Elias' story from limited third-person view point, but I told Eliza's from omniscient, which meant that I got "inside" Elias' head in a way I didn't get into Eliza's.

It was nerve-wracking, and as I said, I almost gave up a few times. But once it was published, I did get emails from people (even those who had lived through the events) who said I got it right. That meant the world to me. And it was a co-winner of the Gaylactic Spectrum award for the Best Novel of the year (best positive portrayal of a gay character in a work of science fiction, fantasy or horror) and I was pretty proud of that.

Edited at 2010-01-14 05:58 pm (UTC)

There was a very interesting conversation with the editor about the cover, by the way. We discussed what the target market for the book might be, and she said that she thought it would be women. I was a little surprised, saying that I hoped at least gay men would read it, too. But she said she thought it unlikely, that gay men would avoid reading a book that had a woman's name as the author. I have no idea whether that was based on actual market research, "common sense" (which might or might not be accurate) or something else.

Well not all gay men avoid women authored fiction about gay people - far from it. I think many read it.

The problem is, well the problem is exactly what I've been blogging about. A lot of gay men won't pick up your book simply because they have read and come across so much fetishistic, approprative m/m out there that they're leery of it

The fact you are questioning and considering and even worrying is, I think, the first signn that you have an extremely good chance of getting it right. You sought advice and insight, you worried about getting it wrong and issues of appropriation - the fact you spent so much time and energy considering those issues it a major step towards not violating them. You put in research, you worked on it and you didn't make the characters tokens or appropriate them for titilliation. This? This is how it should be done

"just about every gay is raised by wolves."

This is how I've thought of it as well - because we're raised by people with straight privilege, surrounded by straight privilege and have very little early contact with the gay community - or any gay person for that matter - we can be very lost and adrift and seeking connections even while we absorb homophobia. It makes our earlyu years hard

Oh, yeah...and another thing I did to deal with the ethical issue of appropriation was that I tried to give back to the gay community for all the help I'd gotten doing my research (and to honor it) by tithing the profits from the sale of the book. Of that 10% of my author's fee, I gave part to the Quilt (a scene at the Quilt is the last scene of the book), part to PFLAG, and part to AMFAR, for research for a cure for AIDS.

(I'm offering an autographed copy of the book at the help_haiti auction, by the way, here).

Edited at 2010-01-18 02:13 am (UTC)


HOWEVER when you use a MALE pen name (and, to a lesser extent, but still very telling, a gender neutral or initialled pen name) in the m/m genre you are doing so in a context where authors do try to fake being gay men for the sake of “authenticity”. When you use a male name in the m/m genre you are implying that you are a gay man - you are implying knowledge and life experience you do not have, you have not suffered for and you have NO RIGHT to claim. This is an appropriation of our identity and is one of the most grossly disrespectful parts of the m/m genre. Women using pseudonyms in the Romance genre don’t feel the need to suddenly use male names - so why do they in the m/m?


Hmm. Torn.

I find the idea of an author picking a pseudonym in order to appear to be gay (when they're not) in order to appeal to readers to be distasteful. It does feel exploitative.

On the other hand, I don't have any similar feeling about female authors who use male names in order to improve the sales of, say, hard SF or military thrillers, even though it's more or less the same thing. Similarly, I know that there are MALE writers of m/f romance novels who publish under female names, because that's part of what that audience wants, and that also doesn't bother me in the same way.

I'm not sure what makes one worse than the other.

(Deleted comment)
Does it just come down to numbers, then? I think that it's fair to say that the m/f romance novel is a genre that is primarily about women; in general though not absolutely, the women are the protagonists and the men are foils. If the occasional man writing under a female name to sell romance novels is okay (and I think it is), would it become wrong if there were enough of them to dominate the market? And if so, where's the magic number?

I think a better answer might be 'a hetero man and a hetero woman are, in writing about a m/f relationship, both writing about something they DO have experience with'. The man writing under a woman's name is deceiving the reader about the perspective he brought to the experience, but does at least have credentials to speak about m/f relationships (even if they're not the ones he's claiming to have).

I wouldn't say numbers no, not at all in fact

It comes down to gay men being a devalued body being dehumanised.
It comes down to life experience being appropriated (which is both outright deception and disrespectful of that life experience)
It comes down to causing harm to those seeking to connect with a small and rare community.
It comes down to exploiting gay identity without paying the price for it.


If the occasional man writing under a female name to sell romance novels is okay (and I think it is), would it become wrong if there were enough of them to dominate the market?

I would say it would be wrong period (but not as wrong because if we're dealing with a heterosexual relationship then a straight man wouldn't be completely writing the other, but claiming female experience of such would be wrong because it's deceptive). Them dominating the market would be even worse - but it's wrong even without market dominance

So, basically, yes to your last paragraph. He is being deceptive because he is pretending to have an experience he does have (or rather, pretending to have experience he does have, from an angle he doesn't have).

Bwecause there's a major difference, as I say in the OP.

A woman using a male penname in sci-fi or military thriller isn't doing so to appropriate a fake identity and certainly not to appropriate the identity of a marginalised group or claim qualifications she doesn't have (though if she called herself, say, Colonel then she would be. Albeit it wouldn't be as bad as m/m because colonels aren't vulnerable, marginalised bodies).

In those cases a woman would be adopting a penname to OVERCOME unreasonable sexism. She's not faking authenticity or claiming a relevent life experience she doesn't have. She's working against the unreasoning prejudice people have against women in those genres.

That's a huge difference. There is a huge difference between claiming something you don't have and avoiding prejudice. There's a vast difference between assuming a marginalised identity and assuming a very relevent life experience


Re the difference between LGBT fiction and m/m (or f/f, I suppose) being, as well as authorship, the focus on the relationship - what about LGBT-authored same-sex romance novels? Especially with sex in? Are they inherently problematic because the focus on the relationship means that a straight female readership (ETA: or straight male, for f/f) might fetishise the protagonists?

Edited at 2010-01-15 03:28 pm (UTC)

Firstly there's a concern about portrayal - just because you're LGBT doesn't mean you can't write an awfully stereotyped and generally awfully portrayed book - that's a universal fail :)

I wouldn't call them appropriatiove if they are written by a gay man (whether trans or cis), I would consider them appropriative but on a lesser scale if they were written by a bi woman, lesbian (cis or trans) or heterosexual trans person (male or female) because, while it's appropriating the other, they have some shared experience and insight - albeit still appropriative.

I wouldn't consider it appropriative - but it can still be fetishistic (and still be problematic in other ways - such as protrayal etc) and it could still be dehumanising

I don't consider it inherently appropriative if the readership may fetishise it - because readers can fetishise everything (*points to rule 34*). If it has been produced expressly for the titilliation of straight female readers then it's not appropriative - but it is disrespectful and fetishistic, IMO.

Fiction focusing on gay male relationships can be dubious because you’re skirting the line where it’s not just a book with gay characters, but a book where gay characters are presented for titillation, arousal and OH YEAAHHH YUMMY purposes.

Admittedly, I'm coming to this as... not a gay man, but I am not sure whether this is necessarily 'dubious' - I think it's just the way porn works, so long as it doesn't constitute the way that people actually see gay men as being in real life. If someone's reading/watching something with only the purpose of being aroused, is it really necessary to present a true-to-life account of the way it would actually happen?

I guess this argument is also what a lot of women find upsetting about a lot of hetero and lesbian porn, but I'm not sure whether it is really that offensive if, when someone is purchasing the book/film/whatever, they're aware of the fact that it is just fantasy material and not supposed to be realistic. If it's occurring in mainstream media and presented against a serious, realistic backdrop, then yes, it is a problem, because then it is objectifying, but I think different standards should be applied to something that is just supposed to be porn.

Porn can be in many ways inherently fetishistic. In which case, if we're going to write porn about the other - which is fetishistic and dehumanising and appropriative of a very vulnerable group, then I think the best way to make this highly problematic content even remotely palatable is to a) make it as respectful as possible in a highly disrespectful context and b) be brutally honest about what it is. Label it as what it is. Don't deceive in the marketing, don't pretend on the covers. If there's one saving grace of even most disrespectful of het porn it's that it rarely pretends to be anything other than what it is.


But I'd be leery of using "it's porn" as an excuse. Because (as I touched on above) a lot of it is NOT clearly labelled as porn - in fact, there is a great deal of huffing and puffing if you call it erotica, let alone porn. And also because it is appropriating, objectifying, erasing and dehumanising a marginalised body that is already societally dehumanised and erased to a great degree

I think that makes sense, and I think that in general we should put in more thought about the fact that gay porn made by/for anyone other than gay men is, really, "about the other" as you say. And largely we need to be careful about suggesting that gay culture might exist just so that other people could look at it and go 'ooh, shiny'.

But I do think that to a certain degree the responsibilities of someone who is creating porn are a special case, because no matter who gay porn is made by and for, it's still centered around two men having sex as something arousing. Fair enough if you think that in itself is dehumanising, but I'm not sure if it's the same issue as cultural appropriation.

an intersectional moment

dharma_slut

2010-01-18 10:25 pm (UTC)

I want to concentrate on one single comment; a lot of it is NOT clearly labelled as porn - in fact, there is a great deal of huffing and puffing if you call it erotica, let alone porn.

This is a very telling point, because you are talking about women writers. And women have, historically, been discouraged from having, or admitting to having, sexual self-knowledge.

I think you are confusing a cultural paradigm here-- many women simply don't feel comfortable with the labels of erotica or porn, and rightly or wrongly believe that they can plausibly deny the existence if they avoid the word. The codes they use however, are perfectly understandable in the context of female conversation.

It takes as much courage as any human being has, to buck that. To be open about sexuality is to court the label of SLUT. Most women would rather lie about their pornish preferences to preserve social approval.

One reason women do so much sexual exploration via the written word -- and the internet-- is because these are facets that are so very difficult to explore in "real life." The internet gave us pseudonymnity-- you haven't noticed anyone here using a real name for instance. And speaking as someone in a female body, who has been outspoken in face-to-face situations-- I cannot describe to you what kind of deliberate empathic flattening I had to do in other social areas, if I were to be open about my queerness and sexually oriented view of the world.

And really, this is as true for men, in general. Take a look at the numbers of explicit sex scenes-- not to mention explicit torture scenes-- in any James Bond novel. By your reckoning (and mine) they are porn-- but if they were commonly acknowledged as such, how could a bloke read one in a crowded train without embarrassment?

So I beg you to take another look at this particular criticism. it is not about women lying to fool gay men-- it's about women lying to the entire world to preserve their own selves. If you want that to stop you will have to be part of the solution that makes the truth less dangerous for women, as well as for gay men. Give out a little of the compassion you are demanding.

Re: an intersectional moment

sparkindarkness

2010-01-19 12:35 am (UTC)

The codes they use however, are perfectly understandable in the context of female conversation.

Further gay male erasure and erasure of our issues, however. There's a lot of focus on women's needs and wants and feelings here - but it's all completely distracting and derailing what is happening and being done to gay men - gay men seem utterly redundant, ignored or even an unwanted and irritating intrusion throughout this and many other exchanges on the subject. There's always teh derrail and distract either back to focusing on the women and what they want need or to other attacks on other genres and side issues.

By your reckoning (and mine) they are porn-- but if they were commonly acknowledged as such, how could a bloke read one in a crowded train without embarrassment?

Why do you think if they were openly acknowledged as porn it would be embarrassing to read them? If a man is reading them anyway on public transport and the book is seen and recognised for what it is, even if we maintain the idea it's not porn, he is likely to be outed anyway. I face 10 billion more issues and hostility from being recognised as gay than every I would from being recognised as consuming porn. On a crowded train or bus I would usually avoid showing a book that would be indicate my sexuality anyway unless I was sure I had sufficent friends and allies around to make that a safe thing to do.

Embarrassment is the least of my worries.

it's about women lying to the entire world to preserve their own selves</I. It's about women doing things that they want and find needful. And ignoring, rendering invisible, brushing over gay men that are being used in the process. It's a "what about me?" argument that depresses me so. I can see what you're saying - I can see women wanting to preserve the fiction that their porn consumption is not porn for the sake of their own mental self-image - but they're throwing us under the bus so they can be titillated in a way that doesn't compromise their sense of purity.

Re: an intersectional moment

dharma_slut

2010-01-19 02:58 am (UTC)

Throw you under the bus in what way, exactly?

here's always teh derrail and distract either back to focusing on the women and what they want need

Well, that's because you walked into women's space to tell women they should change their ways. Back to the drag queen comparison-- I can just imagine a woman walking into a drag club to complain... hahaha, good luck with that!

It's a "what about me?" argument...

Yeah, that's intersectionality in a nutshell.

I can see what you're saying - I can see women wanting to preserve the fiction that their porn consumption is not porn for the sake of their own mental self-image...

You misunderstand my point.

Women do not "protect their mental self image" for its own sake. They protect their exterior image. Their families, their husband's status, their own-- upon which may depend their family's wellbeing.

Do you know the *actual* physical and social dangers inherent in being known to be a slut? I know of a case this past summer, where a woman was not promoted because there was a *rumor* that she had an affair-- while the man she was *rumored* to have slept with, was promoted. The CEO told me about it, as an object lesson in corporate culture. Women are penalised for their "titillation" in ways that men are not.

I am also beginning to wonder-- in what way do you think gay men are being rendered invisible here? It's more true with regards to racism, where a novel can have a cast of hundreds and zero POC. But you are complaining about novels that *feature* gay men, even if you think they are wrongly depicted. So it isn't "render invisible" that you are complaining about, I don't think.

Are you complaining about the way in which women tend to write men-- more verbal, more emotionally open, more communicative? Seems to me, that's the exact opposite of "objectification."

And if you are complaining that the m/m porn women write does not titillate you, there is only one answer, which is Write Your Own™ and in fact, men are doing just fine at that. If you are upset that women write more romance than men do-- same answer. If you are upset that the proportion of crap romance out there-- welcome to the club. What I do is write scathing reviews of bad fiction, and post them at the book's sales sites.

But-- if you are truly saying that women have no right to be titillated by men with other men, that that should only be the province of gay men... Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

Re: an intersectional moment

sparkindarkness

2010-01-19 11:36 pm (UTC)

Throw you under the bus in what way, exactly?

You ask this then refer to the m/m genre ABOUT gay men to be a female space? Same as the comments referenced before - how can this not be tossing gay men aside and rendering gay men invisible. Gay men are completely invisible, ignored and disrespected in a genre where they are the subject matter. We exist as objects to use - not real people. That is throwing us under the bus, that is disrespecting us


Do you think that acknowledging m/m as porn would make the reading of m/m in public less looked down upon and more damaging for a woman's reputation? Do you think it would be more dangerous for her to read that book?


I don't believe I have spoken once in this thread about what rights people have beyond the fact we have the right to be offended and a right to criticise.

I have never said women don't have a right to be titilated by whatever in the world titillates them. That's a ridiculous assertion. Women can be titilated and produce titillation - but a book using the OTHER expressly for the purpose of titillation is fetishistic and objectifying and problematic.

That doesn't mean anyone doesn't have the right (I'm amazed at how many portray disapproval and criticism as a ban. It's derailing and painting the person who has caused offence as the victim - and the offended one as the attacker)

Re: an intersectional moment

redstapler

2010-01-20 12:44 am (UTC)

I'd like to preface my response with the fact that I agree that appropriation is shitty, especially in the face of trying to pass oneself off as what one isn't. (Also, hi, I friended you because I like your writing.)

You ask this then refer to the m/m genre ABOUT gay men to be a female space? Same as the comments referenced before - how can this not be tossing gay men aside and rendering gay men invisible. Gay men are completely invisible, ignored and disrespected in a genre where they are the subject matter. We exist as objects to use - not real people. That is throwing us under the bus, that is disrespecting us

No one will ever look at Lesbian Sluts 12 and say, "My, what an accurate portrayal of lesbian culture!" I further doubt actual lesbians would purchase or watch it.

Is it fetishizing? Yup. Is it objectification? Absolutely. Do I think for a hot second anyone in that film is really a lesbian? Nope.

Now, just because women-produced m/m genre fiction is equivalent to male-gaze lesbian porno, are either of those things "right"? That's not for me to judge. I may be squicked by it, but as long as the people who consume it understand it for what it is, I have no major issues with it.

It's when people, as you have suggested, try and pass it off as what it isn't--an accurate portrayal of gay life--that I agree with you.

My other concern is that I believe there are actually women whose sexualities have become better informed by the m/m fiction they read. This also leads to an area where I've been scratching my head since your essay about the LA Weekly article.

I know women who really and truly believe they are "gay men in womens' bodies," or were "gay men in a past life." I find it appropriative and icky, but I'm also hesitant to discount whatever sort of sexual realization they may not have come to without it.

I have a feeling as time goes on--shall I say, I hope--that once people figure out where their preferences lie, they'll be able to write in ways that aren't pure objectification. The genre, unfortunately, may still be too new for it to be anything but.

Re: an intersectional moment

sparkindarkness

2010-01-20 01:54 pm (UTC)

*waves*

Ah, but if you call m/m fiction porn or on par with f/f in het porn you get a great huffing and a gnashing of teeth. And there's no argument at all that f/f in het porn is appropriative, disrespectful and fetishistic.

A lot of m/m - even the porniest - does not present and fiercely resists the label of porn


I'd not ask people to stoip writing but I do ask them to think, consider and respect

Re: an intersectional moment

redstapler

2010-01-20 02:27 pm (UTC)

Ah, but if you call m/m fiction porn or on par with f/f in het porn you get a great huffing and a gnashing of teeth...A lot of m/m - even the porniest - does not present and fiercely resists the label of porn

I know that's what happens, but it's still just silly.

It's porn.

Maybe when our society puts its big kid pants on and realizes that hey, "everybody" likes porn, that will stop happening.

I think, actually, when those ideas evolve some more, you'll get people understanding the damn difference.

I hope.

Re: an intersectional moment

dharma_slut

2010-01-20 06:27 am (UTC)

Well that's intersectionality for you. One groups' needs clash with another groups' needs.

I was going to debate with you, but-- this is going to blow your head up; SJ Pennington says she is better at presenting gay life than Adam Lambert is.

With no sex, either. In fact, she's upset with him because he got sexy onstage.

So, here is a specific example of exactly what you are talking about. I was going to say that I can't believe her hubris, but, sadly, I can.

Re: an intersectional moment

sparkindarkness

2010-01-20 01:52 pm (UTC)

I would say it's unbelievable but no no it isn't because people really are that silly. I boggle

So you say "“Gay/GBLT fiction/romance” straight and cis-gendered women cannot write this and claiming to do so would be dishonest," but then turn around and say, "Fiction with gay characters - Not only am I happy for anyone to write this, but I’d desperately encourage it." So who is supposed to be writing this, exactly?

Because "fiction with gay characters" isn't the same as "Gay/GBLT fiction/romance"

Anyone can write fiction with gay characters, in my book (actually, anything can write anything, it's a matter of how problematic it is). If they call that fiction "Gay fiction" or "GBLT fiction" and they are not GBLT then I think they are being dishonest since they are strongly implying something about them and the story that is not true

What if someone is writing fiction or romance that happens to involve two women or two men but they're not labeling it as such? If someone is trying to sell their work to a certain market they have nothing in common with, I can see where their attempt to profit there may be problematic, but a lot of fan fiction is personal. There are also people who write plenty of things that they have no intent of ever sharing with anyone... I've written fiction and poetry before for my own personal enjoyment that I never had any intention of getting published.

On that same token, does that mean if someone writes fiction with gay characters, they can't be romantically involved with anyone? One of the things I found most refreshing about what little I managed to see of the HBO series "Six Feet Under" was the relationship between one of the main characters and another man. If the people writing the show weren't gay themselves, is that fetishizing and appropriation?

What if someone is writing fiction or romance that happens to involve two women or two men but they're not labeling it as such?

Then that would come under fiction that happens to have gay characters. And if it's for personal enjoyment I doubt they'd feel a need to label it as gay/gblt fiction when they aren't either.

On that same token, does that mean if someone writes fiction with gay characters, they can't be romantically involved with anyone?

I touche don that in the OP - of course, if appropriate to the story any fiction should include romance or sex where it would be in character to do so.


It's appropriation, but not too horrendous for it. I wouldn't say it's fetishistic because the characters are not gay to be goggled over, stared at or drooled over - the characters are (I assume, not having see the film) characters that exist for the plot, not characters that exist for sex - not objects

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