Friday, July 8, 2011

Bisexuals, Bodice Rippers and lesbian fiction-- Oh My!

Wow, so I've been out of school for a month now and still not working and I haven't managed to do much on this blog. I'm still debating whether or not to really keep it going. I admit, it was nice just read as I pleased and not worry about getting a review up or coming up with a post. I'm not ready to get out of the game altogether yet, but still not willing to go full force again. But I do like getting info out there about new books coming out and such. 

There are a few books coming out in the next few months that I do want to promote so I will still be around for a while.

So... these last few weeks there's been some interesting posts that sparked some outrage and or had some interesting points of view. 

If you've been on Twitter and follow romance people and those who write/read GLBT, you might have come across this post by Dan Savage during Pride Month. It's a post about Bisexuals. Of course, pretty much every bisexual author I follow who read it was up in arms as well as me. Don't get me wrong, I like Dan Savage. 
I've been reading his column since the early nineties, The Stranger being a local free and alternative paper here where I live. But he went along party lines on this one and while he tried to stay somewhat politically correct in the post by acknowledging that Bi's exist, the gist was once again, that you're only bi because you haven't recognized you're actually gay, well for kids anyway. He does make a disclaimer that if you’re older and still identify as bi, you’re probably bi.

One thing that bothered me in this article was the insinuation that a bi partner should be honest with their straight partner that they're bi. I'm all for being honest with your partner about your sexual preferences and so on. You should be if you love that person. But the implication in this is once again that the bi person is a flake who because they can't decide which sex to be with, will cheat or never be happy with the sex they're with.

Seriously, I don't understand this. This would be like a heterosexual person telling their heterosexual partner, "oh, by the way, I'm heterosexual so beware; I might become attracted to another heterosexual person." Who thinks that way? No one. It also implies that bi's fall in love willy nilly. That anyone with a cock or pussy can seduce them away from the partner they're with more so than any heterosexual or gay person could be seduced away from their partner.

Dan is also chiding bisexuals for not coming out. Well, if he read his own article, maybe then he'd understand why. Typically, straight people just don't get it if a person says they're bisexual. What does that mean? You're gay? But you like the opposite sex too? And gay people just outright diss bi's altogether because, well, they can operate in a hetero normative world or they're just in denial about being gay. Isn't the argument that bi's are just confused until they figure out they're gay the same argument straight people say to gays? "Oh you're just going through a phase, you'll realize after you meet the right guy or girl that you're really straight and just experimenting now."

And he argues that if bisexuals would come out to everyone then there’d be less hostility by all those judgmental straights and gays, basically saying, it’s the fault of all those bisexuals for how they’re treated because they’re not out there yelling from rooftops that they are bi. I don’t know, does he blame gays then for not running around telling everyone that they are gay for all the homophobia attacks out there? No. It’s ridiculous.

I'm not saying there aren't people who say they're bi who figure out they are actually gay or straight. But why get on someone's case about how they identify? Who cares really? As far as I'm concerned a person could identify as a cat if that's what they feel. It's not my business.

Really, who would want to come out and say they're bisexual with each side giving them shit. They don't fit into a nice neat category that people can understand.

I think it's nice when people come out of the womb knowing they are straight or gay. But for that confused kid who has attractions to both and are just trying to find their way, I guess I only gets better if they finally get in line with that they are gay or straight.

To be honest, I'd say that over the last few years I've definitely gone from a 0 to 2 on the Kinsey scale. In fact, I've actually told friends and family, including my husband, that I'm probably bisexual. I have no problem saying this. But then again, I'm older and very secure in who I am and my sexuality. And... I give a crap what people think about it. I just don’t care.
But I can imagine being a much younger person and having attractions to both men and women and not saying a thing to anyone. Especially not when you'd get crap from both sides of the fence. 

Moving on....There was an article, the second in the last few months, going on about how romance novels are ruining women's ability to have realistic expectations in life and relationships. *sigh* You can read the article, but the comments say it all.

What gets me in these articles is that the main message is that women are just too stupid to think for themselves. That we're all a bunch delusional idiots who can't distinguish between fiction and reality. What always gets me is that these are women who write these articles and they are supposedly psychologists. 

Well, here's the thing...

A "huge number of the issues that we see in our clinics and therapy rooms are influenced by romantic fiction"

This is the problem right there. First there is no actual study to back up what they are saying based on people who read romance who aren't in therapy. But most glaringly is the fact that they are using  women who come to therapy as their source of statistics. As far as I know, and I've been in therapy, most people go into therapy because they are unhappy or discontented with something in their lives anyway. Of course they're going to bitch about something that's not right or perfect in their lives. 

I wonder though how many actually went into therapy and said "I read romance novels all the time and I'm so unhappy because I don't have multiple orgasms without any foreplay and my husband isn't a millionaire with  six pack abs. How can I get that?"

This article isn't a diss on romance readers, it's a diss on women and their intelligence. But what's new, right? 

Moving on some more...Sarah Diemer, whose book The Dark Wife I reviewed, did an interesting post on the lesbian genre in general. She wonders why lesbian books are predominantly contemporaries or mystery/spy/suspense and often coming out stories,  and why there aren't more fantasy or other sub genres within lesbian out there.

I thought this kind of interesting. I've been reading lesbian stories/romance for a quite a while now and she's right. There really aren't that many fantasy or other stories with gay characters, but not having the whole "I'm gay" focus out there.

I know there are some paranormal books only recently seeping into the lesbian genre. In my case though, I'm really sick of the shifter/vamp paranormals, so lesbian or not, I probably won't read them and are not too aware of them. But I do enjoy fantasy, sci-fi and other paranormal and there's not much out there. She does have a point.

"Is the lesbian genre remaining as status quo because women who love women want more and more and more stories about detectives and cops and office managers…or does it remain this way because lesbians will always buy a story about lesbians and don’t have any other choice but to buy these books if they want to read a lesbian book?"

This is an interesting question. I wonder if it isn't because gay persons are always on the outside of things in a heteronormative world. Many have to keep their private lives quiet or they chose to so they don't have to deal with homophobia and other judgments. So maybe in fiction they can be gay and in boring, everyday jobs and lives, without all that other reality stuff coming in? 

It could also be that most lesbians who write lesbian romance or books tend to be older and there's a generational gap in taste going on? Younger lesbians who are growing up in a world where there's still lots of homophobia but a lot less than there used to be and in a world where it is more acceptable to be gay than ever, might want stories that reflect their current lives and pop culture trends--- the recent explosion of YA paranormals.

To be honest, most of the lesbian I've read has been exactly what she's talked about. I would love to read more historical lesbian as well as pretty much any sub genre within lesbian. Maybe I need to look around more. But I think it's great that younger lesbians might bring, new, fresh and unique stories to the genre. 

Another interesting point she said was that most of her readers are straight. This surprises me because the reason that Kirsten and I even started this blog was because we were fed up with the lack of f/f available compared to say m/m within the GLBT genre. And we were tired of the straight girl "ew girl cooties" on message boards at even the mention of two women together in a romance.

Even now, author Jill Sorenson reviews lesbian and Bi oriented books on Dear Author and if you look the comments are always far less then for reviews of m/m. So it's interesting that her readership is mostly straight. The comments for the post are pretty interesting though. 


Cathy in AK said...

Wow, you may not be doing much on the blog, but when you post, you post! :)

I don't follow Savage and didn't read the article, but it sounds just like you said: regurgitation of the party line. I don't get the labelling thing either, but people tend to want to categorize, so we may be stuck with such narrow identifications for a bit longer.

Oh, my life is not a romance novel!!! No kidding. Heck, at least it isn't a Stephen King novel!

I'll have to read Diemer's post. In the meantime, I'm doing my best to help :)

I noticed Jill's DA reviews receive fewer comments too. But I do believe there are WAY more straight women reading f/f than let on in public. Why is it okay for a straight woman to read m/m and a straight man to read f/f (well, we know why they really do :)(kiddding) but not the other ways around? You may want to re-read Savage's article for that answer :P

LVLM(Leah) said...

Heh, well, I save up. LOL

Dan Savage started the whole It Gets Better thing. He's an amazing spokes person for the gay community and rights. So I didn't get why his stance on bisexuals isn't to just let people identify as they wish and not make people feel bad or need to make a choice. But anyway...

It's so funny that those articles dissing romance as the opiate of women claim what they do. Most authors and readers of romance are living "normal" lives and know that perfection doesn't exist. Still doesn't mean their guy isn't their hero as is.

I think maybe more straight women read f/f then comment as well. But I think there's still a stigma about being open about it or there'd be more comments? Not sure why it's always the bastard child of romance.

M.A. said...

Hope all's well and good with everyone. LVLM, I hope you'll still blog when you have the yen. I've always enjoyed your insightful comments. : )

LVLM(Leah) said...

Still trying to hang in there. heh.
Thanks MA. And thanks for the recommends. I need to read them.