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?"





25 comments:

M. A. said...

Hi Kirsten! I'm sorry you're unwell and hope you're back up and chipper soon.

Your comments really interest me, because I had a comparable argument with a M/M author (female) and we all but came to blows over the concept of M/M fiction's popularity as a fetish for stright female readers.

*shrugs* All I've got to say is, if it's not a fetish, what is it?

I'm speaking strictly from a straight female POV, mind you. I've read beautiful, compelling gay male love stories. I'm not disparaging or belittling M/M romance or M/M romance authors. But the bottom line is a fetish is a fetish is a fetish.

I do think female authors of M/M view their work as a supportive tribute to gay men more than a denigration/objectification of gay men, but let's be frank, readers read these stories for romantic/erotic titillation, not to celebrate the spirit of gay love.

I personally do not have a problem with that. Romance and erotic romance are written to appeal to fantasies.

Jill Sorenson said...

Oh, well. I've avoided that thread. I'm all for celebration of gay authors, to the exclusion of straight authors. Did you want to enter their whatever it is (contest), Kirsten? Can't you?

You picked out so many interesting comments! Now I can't remember which I'd like to respond to. I'm not really bothered by the fetishization of m/m by straight women, or of f/f by straight men. It follows logic that there would be more material targeted at straight people (and written by them) because they are the larger audience.

But that doesn't mean heteros should steamroll into a place set aside for GLTB authors.

I'm sure this was brought up elsewhere, but straight authors writing f/f or m/m don't get a chance at the RITAs. I would support inclusion for them in those awards. Not these.

MB (Leah) said...

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.

I think and agree that this is why maybe even if it is a fetishization, it's why no one is bitching about it.

What do gay men really care if a bunch of straight women like to read about their lifestyle? It's no threat to their status in society and they easily share what's going on with straight women all the time.

Whereas the fetishization of f/f from straight males is quite noticeable due to the power and social status difference. Plus the complete disregard for the woman's needs and desires in that.

But to be honest, as a straight woman who likes to read f/f, I do feel that even I am fetishizing f/f love and sex since I can't really claim to be part of that group.

It's easy for me to enjoy the fun and turn-on of reading women falling in love and having sex without having to deal with the realities of living it and dealing with real prejudice. So yeah, I feel uncomfortable sometimes.

Saying I have a lesbian sister, or gay friends and support them doesn't mean I have a clue about what their life is really like, or the right to have a say about what they want.

About the LLF, I think they should do what they want. I can understand them wanting by gays for gays.

Maybe they are shooting themselves in the foot, but who cares really. If many gay authors themselves don't like it and so on and feel that they are closing off instead of opening up and giving more exposure to gay authors then there will be a backlash within the group.

But I'm not part of that group so I really have no say in it.

And I sigh with you Kirsten on the fact that yes, yet again, it's all about the guys and f/f is not even brought up in this whole thing.

kirsten saell said...

*shrugs* All I've got to say is, if it's not a fetish, what is it?

Good question. And I think for some authors (who write a variety of stories) and some readers (who read a variety of stories) it may simply be the "love is love and it doesn't matter what gender the characters are" argument so often used when people advocate for mainstreaming LGBT fiction.

But for some authors and readers--those who write and read only m/m--it's the gender that does matter. I'm prepared to accept that some of these authors are simply playing to their strengths, but yes, I think for the most part it's fetishization.

I think my discomfort with fetishizing marginalized groups has a lot to do with the fact that I am female, and how women have been fetishized and objectified sexually. And maybe this is why female m/m authors insist so strenuously that it isn't fetishization--whereas a male author would say, "Yeah, it's fetishization. So?"

I just had an interesting discussion (that might still be going on, since I've been napping) with Teddypig over at Mrs. Giggles' blog. It's kind of all over the place, but he posited that since it's romance, and needs an HEA, that it seemed logical that the women reading m/m genuinely like gays.

I argued that women who fetishize m/m are no more likely to "like gays" than dudes who watch "big black dicks/white chicks" porn are to be overjoyed at their daughter marrying a black man.

Because I think women's sexual fantasies are much more...involved than men's. They tend to have a plot. They have a beginning, middle and end. A women's sexual fantasies tend to lend themselves to things like romance novels rather than porn montages of 3-second cum-shot clips. And when you consider THAT, you might even consider the HEA itself just another fetish.

I don't know if that makes a whole lot of sense, but the NyQuil is taking me to some strange places.

kirsten saell said...

Did you want to enter their whatever it is (contest), Kirsten? Can't you?

Hi Jill!

No, I'm not interested in entering--at least not until they have some decent bi categories (which I ranted about--I mean discussed in my last LVLM post, heh). But yes, if I wanted to, I could.

And I don't have anything against fetishization per se. But I think it's a fallacy to say female m/m authors are writing characters that are more nuanced and human than men write in f/f porn out of some higher purpose. They write characters with feelings and personalities because that's what they like to read.

I mean, I know guys who masturbate to random mental images of breasts. And I don't know any woman who can get herself from zero to O on random images of erect penises or manly chests or what have you. The medium women choose to express their sexual fantasies is going to be more elaborate and nuanced than what men tend to go for. And that's not to say that I masturbate when reading romance (well, sometimes, heh). But that the HEA provides a kind of emotional orgasm for women.

And no, I don't think f/f porn for men is evil. But it's not what I want. And it's sad that so many talented female authors won't even bother writing the stories I love because men got there first and got their sticky paw-prints all over the genre.

I hope there will be a gradual reclaiming of f/f and f/f/m by women, because I think it deserves better treatment than "Lesbo Strap-on Orgy III". And it deserves a lot more attention than it gets--a brief mention in passing, in one obscure blog post about the Lammies' rule change. Sad.

So if and when they provide some decent bi categories (like, say, one for bi erotica or bi romance), I think I might enter one of my stories. Even if only to remind people the genre exists.

kirsten saell said...

Whereas the fetishization of f/f from straight males is quite noticeable due to the power and social status difference. Plus the complete disregard for the woman's needs and desires in that.

That's the thing. Men feel no responsibility to portray f/f in a realistic way, or provide emotional context for the fantasy. Because f/f for men is about men's needs.

Which is why it's so disappointing that so few bi-female authors can be bothered writing f/f and so few female readers are willing to take a chance on it. I mean, if I say "f/f sex scene" 99% of women are going to think porn, not what I write. It's a hurdle, and not many authors seem willing to even try to surmount it.

And no one seems to be interested in talking about it...

Sigh.

M. A. said...

you might even consider the HEA itself just another fetish.


GMTA. The whole "racket" of romance fiction is catering to a specific fetish or fetishes. That said, everyone seems to be looking for something different and the market has expanded exponentially to accomodate them.

kirsten saell said...

The whole "racket" of romance fiction is catering to a specific fetish or fetishes. That said, everyone seems to be looking for something different and the market has expanded exponentially to accomodate them.

True. I think the way m/m for women has kind of evolved into a genre of romance rather than porn speaks more to the story-like, character-driven nature of women's sexual fantasies rather than simply sensitivity and responsibility toward a marginalized group.

I've been reading up rather a lot on the way women's sexual fantasies differ from men's--perhaps not in the specific acts they portray, but in their structure and focus.

One expert described women's fantasies as more emotionally self-centered than men's--a man might fantasize about a bunch of sexually voracious women, the things he does to them and the multiple orgasms he gives them. A similar fantasy for a woman is more likely to play out as a bunch of sexually selfless men whose sole purpose is to bring her off multiple times. In other words, men fantasize about giving pleasure to sexually available women, while women fantasize more about receiving pleasure from emotionally available men. Men are more focussed on how much the fantasy woman enjoys everything he does to her (even when she's reluctant). Women are more focussed on how much she enjoys everything being done to her (even when she's reluctant).

And when you consider women can become physically aroused by almost anything sexual--often without even realizing it--it's like there's this kind of membrane between physical arousal and emotional arousal (not necessarily love, mind you) that has to be pierced before a woman can get off.

I've joked in the past that the kind of male groveling you see in some romances after a whole book of the hero treating the heroine like a piece of shit is better than an orgasm. But there's truth in that, too.

It's the whole emotion-junkie thing. And in order to get that fix, you HAVE to have relatable, human characters (even if they're unrealistic). They have to have personalities and conflicts to overcome. A cardboard cut-out character in a romance is as unfulfilling to a woman as a bad camera angle in porn is to a man. (Of course, now I'm implying that romance is chick porn, which is probably going to land me in a world of hurt.) :P

Which is why it's so frustrating that women seem to have abandoned my genre (the one that embraces my sexuality) en masse. Because women care about the things I care about--character + emotion + sexual tension = exactly what I want to read.

M. A. said...

Kirsten, I think your whole take on the issue is amazing.

I do read M/M, but I admit to being really picky about it. I don't relate to the M/M romantic journey at all, and if the erotic/sensual elements get TOO "over the top" I start to get bored.

The bottom line is gay male sexuality doesn't "push my buttons."

And yes, now that I think about it, my fantasies do tend to be very selfish and self-centered. If given the choice to have mind-blowing sex with a gorgeous guy who adores me until I'm too weak to move OR watch a gorgeous guy who adores me do another guy until HE's too weak to move...I'd rather do than watch. In fact, watching would leave me feeling left out or neglected.

I've theorized for a while that the M/M fantasy can only "work" for a straight female if the female likes projecting herself into (at least one of) the male characters AND/OR the female has a degree of "voyeur" in her nature.

And I don't mean to sound critical of the M/M romance fan following. Obviously there are some accomplished writers out there and some excellent books. But, as we're saying, the material is feishistic in nature and that fetish does not "work" for me.

kirsten saell said...

I've theorized for a while that the M/M fantasy can only "work" for a straight female if the female likes projecting herself into (at least one of) the male characters AND/OR the female has a degree of "voyeur" in her nature.

Well, I have some voyeur in me, no doubt about that. And frankly, I'd rather watch m/m porn (the more hard core the better) than read m/m romance, because the porn engages my voyeurism while the romance doesn't quite hit me where I live, emotionally. Throw a woman in there, and that works for me--but not necessarily on the level that I insert myself into her (because I don't tend to do that any more than I do with regular people in everyday life).

I think I'm almost half male in my fantasy life--my m/f fantasies tend to be very...female. My f/f ones are more male. I don't know whether that's an offshoot of traditional gender roles within relationships (because when I'm with a man, I want him to wear the pants, but with a woman--those are my freaking pants) or if it means I'm slightly genderqueer or what. I mean, I'd never want to be a man, but when I consider possible same-sex relationships, I certainly want to be the man, if you get me.

And I think women are self-centered in their fantasy lives because they have to be self-centered from an evolutionary survival standpoint. While for a man, boobs and butt and an insatiable appetite for sex fulfills their evolutionary strategy of planting their seed in every available, genetically acceptable mate they can find--for a woman, who is much more invested in her offsrping and therefore more invested in finding a stable, emotionally available, generous, supportive mate, a more deeply emotional and self-centered fantasy seems...only logical.

Of course, I'm just putting together bits of what I've read in what seem like logical ways. And considering how doped up I am at the moment, I could come back tomorrow and wonder WTF I was thinking. But it all makes a certain sense (at least in my head) right now.

M. A. said...

Well, I have some voyeur in me, no doubt about that. And frankly, I'd rather watch m/m porn (the more hard core the better) than read m/m romance, because the porn engages my voyeurism while the romance doesn't quite hit me where I live, emotionally.

ROFL...Maybe there's such a thing as emotional voyeurism?

One thing I've noted with M/M "fandom" that bothers me a bit is that the newfound devotion to it borders on the scary/obsessive side IMHO. We all have our own tastes and likes and dislikes. Vive la difference. But I'm disturbed with the more extreme side of the fandom. I've almost felt at times there is a faction of the fandom wanting to see all other romance done away with.

I don't get it. I DO understand dedication and interest in one's work. But when people act as though no genre beyond the one is acceptable, I start to feel like I'm in Strangeville.

Jill Sorenson said...

You could enter the "Drama" category. I did notice no bi or romance in the listings.

I totally agree with you on the power differential between men and women, and how it comes into play with m/m and f/f material. I'd never thought of it that way (why gay men and straight women get along so well!). Very interesting.

I don't agree that m/m romance is the same as f/f porn. M/m romance is absolutely more nuanced, due to the emotional content. Many m/m authors make an effort at understanding the gay male POV, and their readers ARE gay-friendly, I believe. Maybe I'm a Pollyanna (okay, definitely!) but I don't think there are a lot of female homophobes getting off on m/m romance. Can't say the same for racist porn.

kirsten saell said...

I don't agree that m/m romance is the same as f/f porn. M/m romance is absolutely more nuanced, due to the emotional content. Many m/m authors make an effort at understanding the gay male POV, and their readers ARE gay-friendly, I believe.

Well, no, they're not the same. If they were, I wouldn't be so lamed out that women don't write much f/f. But when you think about it, that's mainly an offshoot of the differences between the needs of men and women.

I do see women's treatment of m/m as coming not solely (and sometimes, frankly, not at all) from the standpoint of wanting to do justice by the gay community. It's got as much to do with the fact that porn on it's own (of any kind) doesn't gratify women the way romance does. It's kind of a fortunate happenstance that women would rather read stories with actual people in them, and that this leads them to treat their "fetishes" in a more human and nuanced way.

I mean, men don't tend to read romance, and there's plenty of romance out there that fits men's sexual orientations. They simply don't get off on or don't need the emotional/relationship aspects of it.

Maybe I'm a Pollyanna (okay, definitely!) but I don't think there are a lot of female homophobes getting off on m/m romance. Can't say the same for racist porn.

Um, there are readers out there who seem to see gay as okay--but only if both men are manly. Show them a pic of a fem or an androgynous guy and a some of them start acting all squicked out the way a lot of men do when they see lesbian porn that portrays butches or androgynous women. And for those women, IMO, it truly is a fetish and has nothing to do with being gay-positive.

And don't even get me started on the lesbophobia within certain segments of the m/m community. Because women who advocate for m/m but start sticking their fingers down their throat at the first sign of two girls kissing aren't allies at all. Because for them, gay is okay, but only in as much as it serves their needs.

And I'm coming from the standpoint that porn is okay, indulging fetishes is okay (even if it makes me uncomfortable at times), and that everyone deserves to have erotic material produced that serves their needs as consumers.

Jill Sorenson said...

~And don't even get me started on the lesbophobia within certain segments of the m/m community.

Right! I've seen this too. There is an annoying "uber-hetero" attitude that some m/m fans have. Two guys = hawt! Two girls = eww! :P

kirsten saell said...

Well, that's a perfect mirror of male homophobia, isn't it? "Bring on the all-girl mudwrestling, boo-ya...hey are those guys holding hands!!?? OMG ::gag:: That's disgusting!"

And again, I'm not talking about women who are just uninterested in f/f. I'm pretty "meh" about lots of things I'm don't disapprove of--like BDSM or m/f/m menage or whatever. But there's a world of difference between being "meh" about something and choosing not to read it, and not wanting it on the same shelves as m/f and m/m romance because..."just, gross!"

That's not being gay-positive, and it makes me wonder how sincerely those women "like gay men" as Teddypig put it over at Mrs. G's. I mean, when you only approve of portrayals of homosexuality in romance or porn if they serve your narrow version of the fetish, that's not liking gays--it's liking "gay your way."

And the frustrating thing is that they so often get away without being called on it because 1) it's easier to criticize the privileged white male than it is a woman (or person of color, or whatever), and 2) there's a sense that because they're women and lesbians are women, it's okay--like Catholics telling pedophile priest jokes. And because 3) many of those same women will bitchslap you as a homophobe in a second for the smallest criticism of m/m, and are often seen as defending not their fetish, but gay men. So they CAN'T be homophobic, you see. They like the gays.

But I don't think (at least I hope!) we're talking huge numbers of women at this point, not in the places where I tend to hang out, anyway.

M. A. said...

Right! I've seen this too. There is an annoying "uber-hetero" attitude that some m/m fans have. Two guys = hawt! Two girls = eww! :P


Well, that's a perfect mirror of male homophobia, isn't it? "Bring on the all-girl mudwrestling, boo-ya...hey are those guys holding hands!!?? OMG ::gag:: That's disgusting!"


I sometimes wonder if these kinds of responses aren't deliberately exagerrated as some kind of psychological defense mechanism. I'll bet psychiatrists would have a field day analyzing it if they thought it was worth the trouble.

kirsten saell said...

I sometimes wonder if these kinds of responses aren't deliberately exagerrated as some kind of psychological defense mechanism. I'll bet psychiatrists would have a field day analyzing it if they thought it was worth the trouble.

I think in most cases it's just a typical hetero reaction--with typical hetero privilege that makes them think it's fine to describe the sex lives of a whole group of people as disgusting.

But yeah, I'd guess that with some, just like with male homophobia, it might be a self-hating behavior based on their own homosexual feelings. Or even just misogyny.

Whatever the reason, it's still rude and bigoted and unacceptable and just not very...adult.

I mean, I've come across a reader who was genuinely dismayed by the fact that she had to stop reading when a book looked like it was heading into f/f territory. I felt really bad for her because she felt really awful for feeling the way she did, knew something was the matter with her reaction (I mean, it's one thing to not get off on it, and something totally different to be so uncomfortable with it you can't even skim the scene and continue on), and I'd assume she wanted to get to the bottom of it. Do something about it.

Thing is, she realized it was *her* reaction, not the idea of f/f sex, that was inappropriate. Which is a far cry from the norm, really, when it comes to negative female reactions toward f/f and lesbians.

M. A. said...

I think in most cases it's just a typical hetero reaction--with typical hetero privilege that makes them think it's fine to describe the sex lives of a whole group of people as disgusting.


I think there could be multiple causes, including lack of objectivity and confidence in one's own sexual identity. Is there some kind of fear that, if the sexual relationship affects one positively in ANY way,one must have a proclivity towards that type of sex.

We all have our turn-ons and turn-offs, but the exagerrated responses read as maladjustment to me.

I really liked Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches series. A lot of her devoted fans loathed it due to family incest playing a detailed role in the storyline. This didn't bug me a bit because: a) I understand it's just a story and b) the incest was not abused as a plot device and made sense in the plot.

Did I get "icky" feelings about the incest itself? A truthful answer: sometimes, but not always. I wasn't titillated by it, but I wasn't repulsed by it, either. It's just a book.

But yeah, I'd guess that with some, just like with male homophobia, it might be a self-hating behavior based on their own homosexual feelings. Or even just misogyny.


I wonder if the hatred is directed more towards female sexuality itself, because the "diehard M/M fans" are not only put off by F/F; they're put off by M/F as well.

I once argued with another M/M author who claimed M/M was easiest to write because she identified with a male in love with another male. She couldn't I.D. with being female and being in love with or sexually attracted to a man.

Curiouser and curiouser...

kirsten saell said...

Is there some kind of fear that, if the sexual relationship affects one positively in ANY way,one must have a proclivity towards that type of sex.

There is. And I think research has borne out that for men, that fear has merit (not that being gay is something to be afraid of, but that getting off on m/m means they're not ramrod straight). And I'm sure I read somewhere that a lot of homophobic men actually got turned on by gay porn--which, if it can be believed, tells me their homophobia is probably internalized.

I think that same fear is there for women, and it's just so sad because for women, it's a groundless fear. It's that whole "able to get aroused by anything, regardless of orientation" thing.

I mean, every woman tested got hotter looking at a naked woman excercizing than a walking naked man with a flaccid penis--because women respond to things that say "sex", and in our culture, a naked woman says "sex", but a limp penis decidedly doesn't.

I mean, half of the women got more aroused by watching chimpanzees mating than looking at the naked guy. And I'm pretty sure none of them found the chimps sexually attractive.

So yes, I think the fear is there. But no, I don't think that it's in any way based on reality.

Did I get "icky" feelings about the incest itself? A truthful answer: sometimes, but not always. I wasn't titillated by it, but I wasn't repulsed by it, either. It's just a book.

There was a fade to black incestuous scene (brother/sister, and both underage, if I remember) in Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana, and it was an extremely powerful scene. And arousing, too (at least for me). And it was all because of the context and the circumstances leading up to it. What could have been squicky just deepened my empathy for two people driven to such a thing.

I wonder if the hatred is directed more towards female sexuality itself, because the "diehard M/M fans" are not only put off by F/F; they're put off by M/F as well.

Could be. I mean, women are bombarded with media images aimed at them, telling them their body parts are gross and smelly, their bodies are too soft, they should be good girls (only virgins survive in slasher flicks, right?)--and media images aimed at men: Girls Gone Wild, hypersexuality, all that crap. Hard not end up with a fucked up concept of what women are supposed to be, whether you're a good girl or a bad one. Maybe some women just give up trying to make sense of it. There's something a lot more simple about how men are told they should be. *shrugs*

M. A. said...

Could be. I mean, women are bombarded with media images aimed at them, telling them their body parts are gross and smelly, their bodies are too soft, they should be good girls (only virgins survive in slasher flicks, right?)--and media images aimed at men: Girls Gone Wild, hypersexuality, all that crap. Hard not end up with a fucked up concept of what women are supposed to be, whether you're a good girl or a bad one. Maybe some women just give up trying to make sense of it. There's something a lot more simple about how men are told they should be. *shrugs*


I think this is a very real and tragic possibility. To my mind, there is just something "not quite right" when women (of ANY sexual orientation or preference) view their sexuality as inferior to male sexuality.

I've had conversations along this line with "militant M/M romanticists:"

M/M Lover: "You know, in ancient Greece, sexual relationships between men were regarded as a higher union, while heterosexual marriage was strictly for procreation."

ME: "So where did the hetairae, and other important female entertainers come from if all men wanted was to elevate themselves through homosexuality?"

M/M Lover: "And in the 19th Century American West, male homosexuality was much more popular and acceptable."

ME: "So mail-order brides, dance hall girls, and brothels THRIVED in that region during that period...because men preferred sex with other men?"

Inevitably, my remarks don't go over well. And that's okay. But it's creepy to me that a segment of this fandom seems fixed on the concept that M/M sex is somehow "purer," "higher," "spiritually deeper," etc. than femiminity and female sexuality.

Jenna Byrnes said...

Hi Kirsten and Leah,

I have an award for you on my blog, go check it out! http://jennabyrnes.blogspot.com/2009/10/youre-great-read-blog-award.html

Congrats!

~ Jenna

kirsten saell said...

But it's creepy to me that a segment of this fandom seems fixed on the concept that M/M sex is somehow "purer," "higher," "spiritually deeper," etc. than femiminity and female sexuality.

I find it equally troubling that some lesbian fiction embraces the same kinds of concepts--that f/f sex is more fulfilling, more loving, more deep and meaningful than m/f sex. That a woman will always be better able to understand and appreciate a woman than a man can. I mean, I'm sure for lesbians and probably many bi women, it is. But that isn't going to be true for everyone.

And I think for a lot of authors and readers, it's much more subtle than the whole "the ancient Greeks believed it so it must be true" thing.

I read an article by a m/m author where she outlined some of the reasons she writes m/m. She said it had a lot to do with being forced into a feminine ideal as a child--dresses and dolls and all that. She was always jealous of the boys and the things they got to do, which made her idealize those things that were clearly demarked as masculine. Which makes me wish (for her sake) that her parents had maybe bought her some legos or something and let her wear jeans and sneakers.

I mean, I was probably the least girlie girl ever. My favorite Christmas as a child was when I got the deluxe set of spaceship lego. I didn't even wear a dress to my own wedding. But at the same time, I love being a woman. I've never wished I was a man. Never found the masculine more interesting or dynamic than the feminine, because I grew up realizing that the feminine could encompass more than looking pretty and being quiet and making babies and cleaning house.

But I think we're all kind of bombarded with this idea that the masculine is better than the feminine, and it's hard to get past that. The women who make inroads into what used to be male-only careers are lauded as groundbreaking. Men who go into nursing are labeled sissies. Women who choose careers over staying at home to raise babies=progress. Husbands who do the Mr. Mom thing while their wives work=not real men. A woman acting masculine is trading up. A man acting feminine is trading down.

I think that ingrained attitude informs the whole idea that a love story between two men is "moving and dynamic and intense" where one between two women is as thrilling as day old fish and white rice.

So I think there are a lot of factors at play in this, and many of them favor m/m and impact negatively on f/f.

But I don't know that any of that is going away anytime soon, because in some ways feminism works against us, by implying that anything traditionally feminine is worthless and that we should all become more like men. It's difficult. I've never had a problem reconciling being feminine with holding a hammer, but not everyone looks at things that way.

kirsten saell said...

Hi Kirsten and Leah,

I have an award for you on my blog, go check it out! http://jennabyrnes.blogspot.com/2009/10/youre-great-read-blog-award.html

Congrats!


Hey, Jenna! Cool beans, thanks!

Does this mean we have to showcase our ten favorite blogs? I'm gonna have a hard time choosing. Might leave it up to Leah. She needs more things to do. :P

MB (Leah) said...

I'm gonna have a hard time choosing. Might leave it up to Leah. She needs more things to do. :P

Heh, you're very funny. LOL

Maybe I might even get a moment to read a book to review today or tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I had this massive rant half typed out, and then continued reading the comments, and realised that Kirsten has stated most of my rant already. lol

Did want to state though, I am interested to see that if the MM trend by female authors for realistically female audiences continues, what the guys reaction is going to be in a decade or so when they live with the fallout in mainstream media and life from the stereotypes and attitudes that evolve from the trend.. Though it may be better than living as a lesbian under the fallout from the male fetish. (wouldn't be that hard to improve - excuse the bitterness)

Another thing I wanted to mention, a bit to bluh to articulate well this evening, but because it is romance it is better than the straight male FF porn, is a bit off in my book, realistically it can be basically argued that romance is chick porn.. and the fact that the majority of the books (from my limited knowledge) are erotic-erotica.. kind of knocks that out. IMO

Anyways, the main reason I wanted to post was to say thanks Kirsten for expressing your views, it is a rare treat to find someone singing a similar song to me.

Edie