Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wait for it...wait for it....um...a little longer...

...and there it is. Delux_vivens says:

is it just me, or are these women complaining almost exclusively about not getting recognition for their m/m writing, and not talking about any f/f writing

Finally. Someone other than me, in this whole insane shitstorm that is the Lambda rule-change imbroglio, noticed. Granted, it's way down the line of comments, but it's there.

Disclaimer: You'll have to forgive any incoherence, clumsy sarcasm and incomprehensible logic on my part--I've got a miserable cold at the moment and am a little...buzzed on T-1s, Sleepytime tea and nasal spray--and also my ranty tone. I'm peeved. And I'm not sure why.

I posed this question at Dear Author last week during the big freaky Lambda Award comment debacle:

Would we be having this debate if the Lambdas had been inundated with a buttload of f/f (not calling it lesbian, because IMO not all f/f IS lesbian even when it’s written by women, TYVM) written by straight men and that’s why they were changing their rules? Would anyone here think angry straight guy writers had a leg to stand on?

...and I've been thinking about privilege, fetishism, the concept of allies and my own largely self-serving advocacy for bi-female slanted romance. Something in the OP--and lord knows I don't always agree with what Jane has to say about stuff--really got me:

With m/m romance written by women for women, you have ostensibly one power group writing for the, as someone else put it, “consumption and excitement” of the power group but not for the benefit of the oppressed group. I.e., I think I would be offended if white women were writing about African American romance but for white women and making money off of it. This is not to say that white women can’t write about characters of other races but that when you write your work to the exclusion of the minorities, it seems exploitative.

Um, yes it sometimes does. I think in many ways, the only thing that makes the LGBT community okay with m/m slash written by and for women is the relatively equal footing straight women and gay men share. Gay men have male privilege, but they're gay. Straight women have straight privilege, but they're women. Hence the age-old camaraderie between these two groups.

And I'll say I'm much more comfortable with female fetishism of Greek billionaires ("Harelquin HQ says we need more rich Greek dudes with punishing kisses! Get writing, stat! We have books to move!") or vampires (super-strong, live forever, and well hung? How much more privileged can you get?) or cowboys (dudes, they have guns. If they've got a problem with our fetish, they'll let us know), than their fetishism of gay men.

And however uncomfortable I am with the issues of appropriation and fetishism as pertains to m/m, I'm an order of magnitude more uncomfortable with the way f/f is treated by straight men--because there is no equal footing. Straight guys, almost to a man, don't care about getting it right (or even getting it human) because they don't have to--lesbians and bi-women are dually marginalized. They ain't men, and they ain't straight. If lesbo porn gets everything wrong wrong wrong, and is populated by blow-up dolls with three-inch swords growing out of their fingertips who care more about getting naked than getting to know one another, and more about camera angles than eating pussy with skill, well, the men like it fine, and that's all that matters, right?

And when I read The Comment by delux_vivens--whom I don't know from Adam (or Eve)--something in my head went all kablooie. And I'm only now--after boring (or infuriating) you all with this drug-induced post--figuring out why. I had a reply all written out, but then I realized I had no idea who delux_vivens was, or who any of the folks commenting were, or what the hell I was even DOING in LJ, since that place is like a bizarre quasi-steampunk alternate universe only without all the nifty scrollwork and cool clothes, so I C&Ped it and I'm putting it here:

F/F writing? In a discussion of LGBTQ fiction? Surely you can't be serious.

If lesbian lit is that social misfit, unpopular kid you had to invite to the party because her mom is friends with your mom, who gets a condescending pat on the head and exclamations of "Oh, you're writing one of *those* stories? Isn't that nice dear," then f/f with a bi slant is the girl who gets freaking snubbed the moment she walks in the room, followed by whispers of "OMG, I can't believe SHE showed up! No one even pretends to like her! Slut."

I've heard plenty of people say they haven't seen homophobia among the m/m community. Maybe they haven't been hanging out in discussions filled with readers advocating for mainstreaming m/m romance, but "OMG, f/f? No no no no. I mean, what if I accidentally *bought* one? ::shudder:: If I came across an f/f scene in a romance, I'd rip out the pages! ::gag::"

Readers like that aren't allies--they're fetishists. They're no different from the most rednecky, ramrod straight guy who votes against same-sex marriage because "all those queers are going straight to hell", then goes home to watch all-girl mudwrestling.

Yeah. I'm irritated. I'm starting to understand where my umbrage is coming from. It's coming from the fact that there are a buttload more straight men out there producing f/f than there are women.

Gay and bi-male erotic/romantic fiction has a long history of being written by gay and bi-male men. It's only now that the number of women m/m authors is being perceived as a threat (or hordes upon hordes of competition) by the arbiters of the LGBT lit community.

Lesbian and bi-female erotic/romantic fiction has a long history of being written by...whom? Half the lesbian and bi-female writers I know of write m/m and m/m/f, often to the exclusion of anything else.

If you totalled up all the f/f and f/f/m written by women, straight and not so straight, if you stacked those books one on top of the other, it wouldn't even cast a shadow on the mountain of lesbo porn DVDs and girl-on-girl erotica and voyeuristic mainstream media crap produced by and for men. F/F and f/f/m has become so...colored by the straight guy brush that some lesbian and bi-female authors I know have told me they won't write it because it's like standing in a room full of two-way mirrors and stripping down until even your soul is on the outside--and not knowing if the people on the other side of the glass are women like you who see and understand and appreciate everything about you, or a bunch of guys wondering "Dude, why isn't she playing with her tits? I want her to play with her tits. Is there a microphone in here?"

And so many female authors (even ones who don't gag at the thought of two girls kissing) still won't touch f/f (or even m/f sometimes) because they don't want to deal with feminist/women's issues (a fallacy--if you can create a SFF universe where everyone's OK-homo, you can create one where women are equals--or superior!). They prefer the male as a character template, because he's not bogged down with "gender politics". Or he's strong and honorable and dynamic, and of course, women can't be any of those things. Or maybe they don't find a woman interesting enough, except as she relates to a man (or two, heh).

From kaigou on that DA comment thread:

Tangentially, I’ve always found it more than a bit problematic that the LGTQ community, like its cousin the het community, figures that a woman attracted to other woman who’s currently with a man is really just ‘hot for chicks to turn on [her] boyfriend’ — as though a woman’s sexuality, and her exploration of it, exists only within scope of her boyfriend’s interests. I mean, obviously, if my spouse didn’t dig two chicks together, then I wouldn’t find women attractive! Because my sexuality exists only to please him.

I guess it really is a man's world, right?

I don't know what I'm trying to say here, except that I'm disappointed that yet again, a discussion of LGBT fiction has been all about the guys. And I don't know if any of this long-ass, wandering, tangentially-challenged post makes any sense, because it hardly makes sense to me. I mean, if the LLF is trying to keep m/m for women from turning into f/f for men--well, they can stand there with their figurative finger in the...ah, dike, but the tsunami is coming. And I'd guess, considering the traditional straight woman/gay man camaraderie, it will be a kinder, gentler tsunami than the one that washed over f/f at the dawn of time and left a mess of mud-covered strap-ons, broken acrylic nails and empty bottles of lube on the beach.

And part of me--the really mean, snarky, NyQuil-impaired part--is ready to say the hell with it. What do I care if gay men are being fetishized? Hell, sauce for the goose, you know. If you can't beat 'em, beat their less privileged brethren instead.

So that's it. I give up. All the straight guys want to see chicks doing each other. All the gay men and all the straight women and half the queer ones want to see guys doing each other. I can't change the world. Why bother toiling away in obscurity writing stuff only a handful of freaks like me want to read--stories about actual really-and-for-true women who have conversations and feelings and souls and who also like to get it on with other women?

So if you all want me, I'll be standing in a dark room behind a two way mirror, looking in on two guys and saying "Dudes, they're still talking! Why aren't they fucking yet? Is there a microphone in here?"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lambda fail

And no, this is not a rant where I take umbrage on behalf of all the straight female writers of m/m romance who've just discovered they've been disqualified from the awards. As touchy a subject as this is, I'm cursed to see both sides of it. I feel for the talented authors who in years past might have joined the ranks of Mercedes Lackey and Annie Proulx, but who are now excluded because they've become, on the whole, too successful.

That said, I'd guess the straight women professionally writing m/m now outnumber the gay men doing the same. The awards had not previously made an issue of the gender/sexual orientations of the authors--likely because up until recently virtually all the authors writing quality literature exploring GLBT themes were GLBT people. When a straight writer wrote a book good enough to win the award, it was cause for celebration. But now that a hundred other straight female writers are finding success with m/m, well, it's like they've crashed the party.

So while I feel for all the authors excluded, I'm not annoyed about it. But I AM annoyed.

Why, you ask? Well, before I get to the meat of it, let me steer you toward an appropriate and edumicational link: F/F vs. lesbian. If you were part of that discussion, you've already got some background info and might even be able to guess why I'm annoyed.

I'll admit, until this debate came up, the Lambdas weren't even on my radar. I was aware of them only as blurbs on book covers and websites, or on movie posters for Brokeback Mountain, but I'd never gone out of my way to learn about them. Never even considered entering. Now I'm pissed enough that I'd egg their website if it would do more than dirty my computer screen.

But after reading a bunch of comments in places like EREC and Dear Author, I checked out their website and discovered this:


LESBIAN: Books eligible for this category are those that feature a lesbian main character.
GAY: Books eligible for this category are those that depict a gay main character.

Betty Berzon Prize for Gay Debut Fiction
Betty Berzon Prize for Lesbian Debut Fiction

Gay Erotica
Lesbian Erotica

Gay General Fiction
Lesbian General Fiction

Gay Memoir/Biography
Lesbian Memoir/Biography

Gay Mystery
Lesbian Mystery

Gay Poetry
Lesbian Poetry

Gay Romance
Lesbian Romance


These categories are non-gender specific. All LGBT individuals are eligible.

LGBT Anthology
LGBT Children's/Young AdultFiction
LGBT Drama

LGBT Nonfiction
LGBT Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror
LGBT Studies


BisexualFiction and nonfiction: novels, short story collections, anthologies, poetry, memoirs, cultural studies, public policy, law, history, spirituality, gender studies, etc.

TransFiction and nonfiction: novels, short story collections, anthologies, poetry, memoirs, cultural studies, public policy, law, history, spirituality, gender studies, etc.

See anything wrong with this? See why I might be pissed?

And even the LLF realizes there's something screwy here, because no book may be entered in more than one category, with the exception of bisexual and trans books, which may be entered in two. Because, in their words: "This exception is intended to bring more visibility to the most under-published segments of our LGBT community."

Um, no. No no no no.

While I would agree that transgender-themed books are pretty few and far between, books with bisexual main characters and bisexual themes being underpublished? Hogwash. Even dismissing the dearth of f/f/m and bi-themed f/f out there (often mislabeled by publishers and misconstrued by readers, further contributing to its invisibility) do you have any idea how much bi-male erotica and romance there is out there? You'd think no one had heard of m/m/f menage (except readers, that is, who gobble it up like popcorn).

But even setting aside all the menage romance out there, bisexuality is everywhere in GLBT fiction--it's just largely invisible. Or ignored.

Case in point: Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint, one of my favorite books evah, and my intro at the tender age of 16 to guy-on-guy action. Oh, a stunning gay romance! Except not precisely. Yes, one main character is for all intents and purposes gay. The other--in fact, the hero of the story--is bisexual. Just because he's in love with a man doesn't make him any less bisexual. Yet his bisexuality is invisible. Ignored by the readership. He's defined by his current relationship.

Case in point: Ally Blue's Adder. No, I didn't manage to finish it (contemp setting, rock stars, megalomaniac hero--three strikes, you're out), but from what I read, the hero of this "gay romance" is--you guessed it--bisexual. As evidenced by this line, on page 7: "The swooping high of performing, coupled with the adoration of his fans, would carry him through the pain. Then after the show, he’d pick one lucky girl or boy from the audience to help him feel better."

Case in point: My own Crossing Swords. The heroine, Lianon falls in love with a man. Yes, there's some girl-on-girl action in it, but it's an m/f romance. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a het romance. Even if I'd left out the two f/f scenes, it STILL wouldn't be a het romance. Lianon is bisexual. She was married to a woman. She's still attracted to women. She's also *gasp* attracted to men.

I think you might find that there are many bisexual main characters in fiction, just like there are in real life (know any male politicians who've been caught on the down low lately? Somehow they're always described as gay men living in sham het marriages) but you won't find them labeled as such. Except in erotica. Plenty of bisexual erotica out there, haha.

But as far as stories about regular, monogamous, boring people who don't go from partner to partner as if they're playing a game of musical genitals, or engage in spectacular three-ways every Tuesday and Thursday night, well, if they're men who like dudes, they're automatically considered gay. If they're women who like chicks, they must be lesbians. And if they leave a m/f relationship to explore a same-sex one, they're inevitably seen as transitioning to their true orientation--as gays or lesbians!

Who perpetuates this misperception that all m/m stories (and relationships) are about gay men and all f/f ones are about lesbians? Who perpetuates the belief that every m/f romance--whether in books or in real life--is about straight people?

Well, everyone. Readers, writers, publishers, writers' organizations. And the LLF, with its stupid assumption that there are no bi books out there because you can only be bi if you're a swinger or promiscuous and you sleep with both genders over the course of a book and angst about how you can't decide who you want to be with.

You know what, LLF? I'm guessing, if you want to really get down to numbers, there are as many--or more--bisexuals out there as there are gays and lesbians. And just as many bi books. You just don't see them, or us.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Review- Boardroom by Jade Buchanan

by Jade Buchanan
May 30, 2009
Contemporary/ Erotica/ F/F/M, F/f- bisexual
6K words- $2.50

Buy it Aspen Mountain Press, All Romance Ebooks, Omnilit

Kay Baardsson arrives late to lunch, expecting her husband to be waiting for her, only to find that Nils has been called out of the office. Lucky for her, his business partner, Thalia Mason, is more than up to the task of keeping her occupied… until Nils interrupts and things get a little more interesting.

Boardroom is basically a short erotic quickie involving a man who wants to fulfill his wife’s fantasy of having sex with his female business partner. Really, there’s not much to this story at all. No plot, nor any real characterizations. Just two sex scenes, a fantasy only. As a fantasy though, this is a good one and hotly written.

Kay is a bisexual woman who is married to Nils. They have this open arrangement in which they’re both willing to experiment and bring in others. Nils knows that Kay has an attraction to his business partner Thalia, who is a lesbian, so he sets up a sexual encounter unbeknownst to Kay. Nils comes a bit later, during the seduction, and joins in briefly to Kay's delight. Their next time together, it’s about all three of them getting it on.

Since this is so short, maybe better for an anthology really, I can only judge this as a written fantasy and not as a fully developed short story. I didn’t get why Thalia would go along with this since she doesn’t have a sexual attraction to Nils. And it seemed she just did it just to be nice to Kay, since no prior interactions between her and Kay occurred outside of briefly meeting at the office to give the feeling that Thalia has had the hots for Kay already.

Part of the problem for me was that it seemed Thalia was holding back and not really going for it even though she’s the sexual aggressor and dominant with Kay. I felt the author was holding back some energy between these two women in the way she wrote the scenes. Technically they’re kind of hot, but something was missing.

On a positive note, one thing that did come across very clearly is that both Kay and Nils really love each other and that while it’s Kay’s fantasy to be with Thalia, she needs him to be a part of it, which I liked. Also good for me was that this was a f/f/m ménage fantasy in which it’s set up for the female partner’s pleasure and not the two chicks for a man scenario. Nils does this strictly for Kay's pleasure.

I’d say if you want a quick erotic f/f/m fix read then Boardroom is a good one to go with. And although I don't think it's worth $2.50 since it only took me a half an hour to read and there’s not much development in this story, Jade Buchanan does have a way with writing a juicy f/f/m sexual scenario with some feelings clearly expressed.

Sex rating: Wet panties- f/f scene, f/f/m scene- not too elaborately or graphically written.

Grade- C+

Friday, September 4, 2009

Women leaving Men for women

I saw a link to this article on After Ellen Blog Twitter post and thought it's very interesting. Two authors are going to write a book about women who have identified as Het but have left their husbands or boyfriends for another woman.

I think it can be an interesting book, but one thing caught my attention and maybe not in a good way.

The editors are looking for women “who were aware that they had always felt robust same-sex desires, but wanted to try to make it work in the straight world, and also who identified as heterosexual at one time, but found that the situation they were in just naturally led to embarking on an intimate romantic relationship with a woman.”

I think this excludes a lot of women who've identified as HET and find themselves attracted to a woman, but who've also not had same sex attractions.

I don't like the sentence
but wanted to try to make it work in the straight world, because this suggests that women who fall in love with a woman after a lifetime of being/ identifying as HET, have been suppressing their "lesbianism," which I disagree with.

It might be the case with many women, but not all women who do this.
I think this could be an interesting study about what seems to have become a recognized, recent trend lately. However, I would love for them to not constrict their parameters to women who've "denied" their same sex attractions and are now willing to explore them.

I think there might be more women than they think out there who have fallen in love with a woman and or who might want to engage in a romantic/sexual relationship, but who haven't had strong same-sex sexual impulses that they've suppressed all their lives. It would be nice if they were included as well.

At any rate, it's nice that this topic is out in the open and getting discussed.