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?"