are m/m readers obsessed with ‘girl cooties’?



Me again with an ‘am I the only one who thinks this is weird arse?’ post.

What set me off this time? Well, it was the reaction by some m/m readers to a lesbian couple in Sean Kennedy’s Wings of Equity.

No, this isn’t anything about defending a mate’s work, which he knows because I told him that already. :p

It’s actually about my complete bafflement and simmering anger to what seems to me to be an over-reaction by some – only some mind – people to reading about lesbians in gay romance.

Tell me I’m not the only one who sees the irony in that.

Here’s the thing:

Yes, I was one of the readers who got majorly pissed off about a year or so ago when a few epublishers kept releasing m/m/f apparently thinking readers of m/m would be okay with that.

Yes, I also get tetchy when I’m not ‘warned’ – for wont of a better word – when one of the main characters has a sexual relationship with a chick in what is marketed to be an m/m romance.

Regardless, the off-hand remarks about the so-called ‘girl cooties’ in Wings of Equity had me totally scratching my head.

Firstly, the blurb makes pretty clear there is a lesbian couple who are secondary – that would be secondary – characters in the book. Therefore, readers can choose to buy it or not if that doesn’t appeal.

Secondly, they are lesbians. Erm, FYI, but this generally means there will be no ‘girl cooties’ impacting on the main gay characters. Strange, I know.

Thirdly, and maybe this is me, but the few people who are going on about this like it’s a major issue… can they seriously not see how offensive they are being?

I mean, what’s the big deal? Is it the possibility of reading girl-on-girl sex they have a problem with? Or is it they just don’t want to read any sort of sexualised female character in m/m?

Whatever it is, they’ve made their choice so should build a friggin’ bridge and get over it already.

Because right now, some of the comments they’re making, no matter what their original intention, well, they seem pretty homophobic.

I don’t know about you, but that gets right up my nose.
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About Kris

Reads, rants, randoms & R+s. You've been warned. BTW, don't follow me if you're a GLBTQQphobic wanker. It won't end well. For you.
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52 Responses to are m/m readers obsessed with ‘girl cooties’?

  1. love is love is love is love. No segregation is needed in m/m romance!

  2. Tam says:

    I personally don't care if there is a lesbian couple or a straight couple as secondary characters. I've read straight couples who may kiss, hold hands, or cuddle so why not lesbians? I don't think there has to be a warning. You would never see “Oh and by the way the heros have straight friends who may kiss each other good-bye upon leaving for work and may hug on occassion”. You shouldn't need a warning for a lesbian couple. Now if it includes graphic f/f smexin' yes, because some people don't want to read it and that's a personal choice, but just to express a relationship, no.

    I haven't finished the book yet so have not seen Jazz and her gal interact yet, but I'd be curious if Jazz were the best male friend of Ezra, would the perspective have been different? I'll have to reserve judgement until I finish, but I'm basically spewing from a hypothetical view point here.

  3. Chris says:

    I'd have to label myself as highly girl cootie phobic in m/m romance – but that's for m/f. Do not want. Hate the stereotypical power dynamics. F/f as characters in an m/m romance? Not an issue. More realistic, actually.

  4. You know what I say to this since just published a FF romance and have another one coming out in the fall.

    I've read straight romances where there is a secondary gay couple, even in a historical romance once. If that is acceptable, why can't there be a FF couple also in a MM? There's straight couples also in MM, so why not FF?

    Romance novels are about two people coming together and connecting. So what if they happen to be straight or otherwise?

  5. Jenre says:

    Well said Kris.

    I liked the characters and Jazille and Lady Bart in WoE because they were strong positive female characters in a genre which frankly has very few. I thought the level of sexual interaction – limited to appreciative glances, kissing and cuddles – was appropriate to the book. I would have felt uncomfortable with it to be taken further into more explicit sex but that's just because f/f isn't something which I particularly enjoy. I tried it, I wasn't keen, that's my own preference and if other people like it well then whatever rocks your boat as far as I'm concerned. What I liked was the sense of love, closeness and friendship between the women which contrasted well with the almost sibling love between Jaz and Ezra. The fact that they are lesbians was just by the by.

  6. Matthew says:

    I'm with you, Kris. I don't give a shit about secondary characters' sexuality. I want good characters and to hell with everything else.
    Little bit of theorizing: Maybe female readers are put off with the same mechanism that makes men flinch when it comes to m/m. Like when straight men are drooling over “lesbian” porn, straight women are drooling over m/m romance/erotica. .

    Whatever. I'm looking forward to reading WOE and not even an army of lesbian Amazones would stop me.

  7. Tam says:

    Matthew: I will say having just read an f/f that the words used for girly parts strike me as much more cringe inducing than boy parts and I think that is cultural. Some really nasty insults are hurled using the girl parts (the c-word for instance which I hate even writing). I can call someone a dick without really thinking about the company I'm in, but I'd never use the c-word. So I found that a bit off-putting but there aren't many other words you can use. You don't want to use the same term over and over. So it's cultural for me, I admit that. (And totally prejudicial I'm sure.)

  8. Ingrid says:

    I have yet to read this one. I am saving it for my holiday which starts this friday.
    My take is that as long as they are secondary characters I will be all right. I do not like it when I come across cooties without warning.

  9. The obsession with 'girl cooties' is something I don't understand. But then maybe I'm also not a proper m/m reader ;), because I still read m/f as well…
    I agree with you about the need for a warning though, for the tender-hearted souls among us it's a must. 😀
    And although I haven't read f/f stories or scenes before, it's not a problem for me either that they are a part of Wings of Equity.

    @Chris: I heard via the bloghop tamtam that you bought Pack of Lies by Vanessa Vaughn. That one has m/f scenes in it. 😦

  10. Eyre says:

    I don't mind having girls as secondary characters in the books. Why not have straight friends, sisters, aunts, lesbians? Where in real life are we going to find that all male community? Heck, even Cattle Valley has lesbians and one straight woman.

    Now, if the book was sold to me as m/m (not as mmf) and there ends up being a mmf sex scene with no warning, I do get ticked. If I want to read mmf, then that's what I would have bought.

  11. Lily says:

    I haven't read this one yet but from what I've heard I know I won't have a problem. I've read a couple of f/f books and while I enjoyed them I do prefer m/m.

    What bothers me is when I'm reading a m/m story and without warning a woman is thrown into the sexual mix. My preference is m/m and m/m/m only so f/f is ok. I'm just no longer into reading m/f stories.

  12. Clare London says:

    This always intrigues me, because I don't mind a mix of couples in a book. I like to know if there's explicit sex in a book – and I'll assume there's m/m for the main characters if it's marketed as a m/m book – but I don't mind if there's secondary action.

    [And of course, I'm just editing my m/m fantasy romance for its relaunch, and there's m/f in there as well as m/m (involving one of the m/m-ers, all in context you understand) and even a fairly mild m/m/f…*cough*.] Ah well! I can't please all the people…

    I'm really interested – in a totally non-threatening way! – to know what's the worst thing about “other” pairings in a m/m that some readers dislike. Do you think it's the explicit sex – especially if it's not made clear in the blurb – or the fact it might change the dynamics of the main characters, or does it 'dilute' the enjoyment?

    I personally love the m/m relationship to be central and strong and to take up most of the book, but I think it can be unrealistic to ignore any other relationships or relegate them to 2-D supporting players. A good writer can make it work for me.

    And that's NO reflection on this book or any other, especially as I haven't read it yet :).

    Good discussion! 🙂

  13. Mariana says:

    I just figured out I'm not particular about the orientation of “my” characters. I say my like I wrote them 😉

    But seriously, I read authors/stories that I enjoy or think I'll enjoy. I don't much worry about who's in it, as long as I'm entertained. I don't like when characters betray each other or when there's no happy ending; but those are usually my only beefs. I pretty much leave it to the authors to know what they're doing. I either enjoy it or don't; continue to buy them or not.

    I guess my expectations are only that the story evolve around the main characters. All that they go through to reach “happiness” is all good. Whatever characters are there as foils to that story is all good. And this is why I can't ever write reviews… I'm not very articulate or have specific expectations.

  14. Tracy says:

    I think as long as I'm warned ahead of time I know what I'm getting into. I just hate when the description is m/m and then there's a menage with a woman – like you mentioned. 🙂

  15. JenB says:

    I don't care if there are girl cooties in my m/m. I like m/m/f too, even when I'm not warned about the woman. I've read a few m/m/f scenes that didn't make sense and that totally sucked, but that was more about writing style than the mere presence of double x chromosomes. And I read f/f books, so I wouldn't think twice about a lesbian couple in a m/m romance. Hell, even if they're not just secondary, that's cool with me.

    I do get annoyed at m/m snobbery, though. When people act as though they're somehow special or superior because they “only read (or review) m/m now”. Big fuckin' deal. I went through about a month of that phase when I was fairly new to m/m. Thank goodness I snapped out of it quickly, because it irritates the shit out of me to see it now.

    Narrow-mindedness and prejudice are ugly from either side.

  16. I am kinda surprise this is just making the rounds – I have seen it for a while now and I have stopped visting sites when it pops up..

    Or just opt out of discussions when it comes up …

    I am a GIRL but if a (male or female)reader dont want to read a book because they are opposes to the trope or tired of a certain plotline – that I can understand…

    But when shouts of “girl cooties” gets branded about a book like it is the mark of the devil – I am seriously worried about these people..

    I read anything – a book is a book for me, if the blurb dont clearly mention it or the author snuck it in on you – then shame on the author, but if you knew up front that f/f or m/f or even m/f/m is in the body of work and it's not your thing..

    past it by and SHUT UP….

    well said hon…

    E.H>

  17. I don't give two craps about any characters sexuality as long as the book is well written. Although, I have been known to shed a tear while reading a m/m book when one of the main heros has a side relationship with a girl (damn you Jake Riordan).

  18. Jenre says:

    I think some of this is to do with labelling. Some pubs such as DSP don't label their products and so I can understand why readers who don't want to read m/f in their m/m books might be upset when there's a surprise m/m/f or even m/f scene involving one or both of the heroes, in what they thought was an m/m book. If there's no label then how can that reader avoid such books if it's not their thing? I don't necessarily think it's snobbery to prefer an m/m pairing only in what a reader expects to be an m/m book – although there are people who are very vocal about their preferences – just that everyone is different with different likes and dislikes and if only people could respect that without resorting to a) insults, b) over-reacting then life, as always, would be much pleasanter on the web.

    I personally don't like it when my m/m books have a woman thrown into the mix. But then again that's my personal preference. Perhaps I'm too hung up on compartmentalisation, or maybe narrow minded, or perhaps I just prefer it that once my hero has made a choice, he sticks with that rather than 'shops around' before deciding on the other hero. In any case non of this has any bearing on Sean's book which has the lesbian couple as a sub plot and not part of the main m/m couple at all, except as friends and someone to save his arse when he gets into trouble.

  19. Emilie says:

    If I'm reading a m/m story where the couple has developed a strong relationship, then a woman gets thrown in gratuitously, I really don't care for that, especially if there's no warning of it — and also particularly if their whole focus switches to her.

    If I go into reading a book knowing it's a m/m/f menage, and it's a balanced menage, that's different.

    For me, there's no reason a m/m romance shouldn't have some likeable female secondary characters of any orientation.

    I still read m/f romance, and I read lesbian romance every so often. I don't feel that I have a sexual orientation one way or the other, so stories of woman-love are not at all an issue for me. I just want to know what I'm getting.

  20. Girls have cooties? Damn, gotta go get my cootie catcher.

    Seriously though, as a reader and a writer, I think so long as there is a warning it's okay to add a female or two into the mix.

  21. Sean Kennedy says:

    Icky girl parts! Keep them away from me! *clutches pearls*

  22. Kassa says:

    I don't think anyone really cares about the existence of females in books. Female characters (written well) are going to appeal to most readers. For example if Jazz and Lady Bart had been lesbians but not together, say just friends with each other and with Ezra, then it likely wouldn't even have been given that one sentence I added.

    I think some readers start to get uncomfortable with the sexual connotations. Which is to each readers' preference. If there is mild kissing, some readers may be ok with that and some may not.

    I think it's a hugely valid point to ask why those readers who are ok and even eager and avid for m/m kissing and more are uncomfortable with f/f kissing and so on. To me that's an interesting question and what is at the core of the whole “girl cooties” debate. It's the sexual connotations, not the friendship or mere existence of females.

    At least that's how I see it.

  23. Tam says:

    “It's the sexual connotations, not the friendship or mere existence of females.”

    I think what Matthew said may be accurate. If you are a straight woman and you enjoy an f/f relationship in a book does that mean you have lesbian leanings? Not likely, but perhaps that makes some people uncomfortable even thinking about it so they just don't want to even get near it.

    Sometimes it is easier to be vaguely supportive of the GLBT community when it doesn't touch you directly in the bedroom. Two gay men is far removed from my own personal experience, I'm never going to be in their position so it's kind of a more esoteric thing.

    But as secondary characters I don't get the big deal. If they are going to have sex on page then yes, say so in the blurb/warning, otherwise it seems like a moot point.

    I also think there is a difference between avoiding any characters that are lesbians and avoiding situations where one or both of the heros have sex with a woman. That I'm not interested in reading right now. In 2 years or 2 months who knows.

  24. Chris says:

    Tam said: “I also think there is a difference between avoiding any characters that are lesbians and avoiding situations where one or both of the heros have sex with a woman. That I'm not interested in reading right now. In 2 years or 2 months who knows.”

    Exactly. I swear, most of the time I could just comment after Tam and my comment only needs to be “ditto”.

  25. Amanda says:

    I don't go looking for f/f romance but I will not stop reading a m/m or m/f if there is a secondary f/f romance in it. My only problem with women in m/m romance is in the case of menage, but then I hate all menage. I do think some readers see f/f the way I see menage, as a storyline they just don't enjoy crossing as a reader.

    Now the childish part of me wants to run around the room screaming “Girl cooties run for your life'”

  26. Kris says:

    Jason: “love is love is love is love.”

    Yes, Jase, it is. 🙂

    Tam: “Now if it includes graphic f/f smexin' yes, because some people don't want to read it and that's a personal choice, but just to express a relationship, no.”

    Is it strange that although I know that readers – including myself – want labels so as to inform our choices there is a part of me that is really sad that we need this? There just seems to be an inherent hypocrisy about it.

    Re: the c word – If that hadn't been used so much would the f/f you read still have bothered you cos I know that you've read f/f before and been relatively ok with it? I know I hate the word no matter whether it's used in m/f, menage, f/f, etc precisely because of its negative connotations.

  27. Tam says:

    “If that hadn't been used so much would the f/f you read still have bothered you “

    I'm not sure. Perhaps because it does make me cringe, even when used in a complimentary fashion (if there is such a thing LOL). I don't DISLIKE f/f but it doesn't make me go “Oh, I'd like to read more of that” just as there are other themes or types of relationships that don't work for me. Maybe for instance crossdressing, I'd never seek it out but if it happens in a book, no big deal.

  28. Lily says:

    If you are a straight woman and you enjoy an f/f relationship in a book does that mean you have lesbian leanings? Not likely, but perhaps that makes some people uncomfortable even thinking about it so they just don't want to even get near it.

    Good point, Tam. I hadn't thought along those lines. My only problem is when the woman is added, without warning, into the relationship between the men. I've read m/f, f/f, and menages w women added but it's not my preference.

    That doesn't mean I'm a snob, narrow-minded or whatever else. It just means I know what I like to read.

    In this case since the women are in their own relationship I don't see why it's a problem.

  29. Kris says:

    Chris: “I'd have to label myself as highly girl cootie phobic in m/m romance – but that's for m/f. Do not want. Hate the stereotypical power dynamics. F/f as characters in an m/m romance? Not an issue. More realistic, actually.”

    I think this is the difference in using the word 'girl cooties' in association with m/m that had me scratching my head, Chris. For me, it has always been a reference to m/f, in particular when it comes to a possible het r/ship involving one of the main characters. To use it in this context just seems odd and wrong to me.

    Katiebabs chook: “… why can't there be a FF couple also in a MM? There's straight couples also in MM, so why not FF?”

    I don't know. Maybe the thought of girl-on-girl sex is squicky for some people? I'm just not sure why some would automatically assume there would be lesbian sex scenes involving secondary characters though. That's not usually the case for secondary characters in romance is it??

  30. Kris says:

    Jenre: “I liked the characters and Jazille and Lady Bart in WoE because they were strong positive female characters in a genre which frankly has very few.”

    Absolutely agree with you there, Jen.

    “If there's no label then how can that reader avoid such books if it's not their thing? I don't necessarily think it's snobbery to prefer an m/m pairing only in what a reader expects to be an m/m book – although there are people who are very vocal about their preferences – just that everyone is different with different likes and dislikes and if only people could respect that without resorting to a) insults, b) over-reacting then life, as always, would be much pleasanter on the web.”

    I agree, Jen. I think what bothered me the most about some of the comments to Sean's book on this matter was that they came across as saying that lesbians had no place in gay romance. Maybe this wasn't intended, but I found that extremely insulting, especially given the number of queer females who write and read m/m, and, to me, saying that kind of thing is very, very different to saying that f/f isn't your cuppa and leave it at that.

    Matthew: “Maybe female readers are put off with the same mechanism that makes men flinch when it comes to m/m. Like when straight men are drooling over “lesbian” porn, straight women are drooling over m/m romance/erotica.”

    A couple of us had this discussion on Twitter yesterday and it is certainly an interesting question. Unfortunately it is one that I don't think a lot of people will answer because they may come across as being the g of glbt only.

    Me, although my preference for romance is now m/m, I still read m/f, menage and f/f. As long as it's convincing to me as a reader I'm there. 🙂

  31. Kris says:

    Ingrid: “I do not like it when I come across cooties without warning.”

    So that's any type of sex involving girls, Ingrid? Not particularly f/f?

    Janna: “The obsession with 'girl cooties' is something I don't understand. But then maybe I'm also not a proper m/m reader ;), because I still read m/f as well…”

    I lol'ed at the 'proper' comment, Janna. You raise an interesting point though. I wonder whether some of the strongly worded comments have been made by people who only read m/m? That would be interesting to try and find out somehow.

  32. Juniper says:

    Have read mostly m/m recently, but will read m/f if an author throws one into the series (scared I'll miss a plotline). If there is an m/f scene (or m/m/f as in Jane Elliot's End of the Trail or JL's Vintage Affair), I would like a warning in the blurb, though, that this is in there.

    F/f as secondary characters in m/m – why not – follows RL. We desperately need to see strong female characters in m/m fiction & not the usual bitchy or whiny characters that we see too much of.

  33. Kris says:

    Eyre: “Where in real life are we going to find that all male community?”

    Exactly! Unless the setting of the book is some sort of gaytopia, a hoohaaless community doesn't exist.

    “Now, if the book was sold to me as m/m (not as mmf) and there ends up being a mmf sex scene with no warning, I do get ticked. If I want to read mmf, then that's what I would have bought.”

    As I said in my post, I have exactly the same reaction to the surprise m/f or m/m/f which involves the main characters.

    Lily: “What bothers me is when I'm reading a m/m story and without warning a woman is thrown into the sexual mix.”

    “In this case since the women are in their own relationship I don't see why it's a problem.”

    Neither do I, Lily. As far as I can see they are two totally different issues. To write off all female characters – or maybe it's just sexualised female characters – in m/m as having 'girl cooties' is something that I just don't understand.

  34. Mumma J says:

    On reading everyone's reaction to Kris's blog this morning makes me wonder how far flung this problem is. The comments here don't seem to be as strongly against having f/f romance in a book touted as being m/m romance – using Sean's book as an example only.

    Kris and I were talking about this situation yesterday and I think that most, if not all, of the respondents here seem to be accepting of having an f/f couple as a secondary relationship. So I'm guessing that it is in the wider readership that there is a prejudice, (if I can use that word without upsetting too many readers). If it, the above relationship, is a problem then I'm inclined to agree with Matthew's theory:
    many “female readers are put off with the same mechanism that makes men flinch when it comes to m/m. Like when straight men are drooling over “lesbian” porn, straight women are drooling over m/m romance/erotica.”

    If this is the case, then readers may have to suck it up or simply not read something that could cause them to wince. I would hate to see books carrying an official warning as we see on cigarette packages.

    veri: oudia – oh dear am I being too outspoken?

  35. Kris says:

    Clare: Whoops. We always seem to do that to you don't we, Clare. 🙂

    “I'm really interested – in a totally non-threatening way! – to know what's the worst thing about “other” pairings in a m/m that some readers dislike. Do you think it's the explicit sex – especially if it's not made clear in the blurb – or the fact it might change the dynamics of the main characters, or does it 'dilute' the enjoyment?”

    From the comments here and elsewhere, I think it is about expectations as well as explicit sex. Some readers want to read m/m and m/m only, but, as long as they have some warning, are relatively okay with reading m/f or f/f sex or choosing to not to read it as the case may be.

    “A good writer can make it work for me.”

    I agree. Probably one of the best stories I've read that involved explicit m/f sex with one of the m/m main characters was Lynn Lorenz's 'No Good Deed'. The reason why it worked so well for me is because that character struggled with his actions as well as his feelings for the other part of the m/m. It made it much more convincing than just some random m/f.

    Another one, which has no explicit sex (that I recall anyway), is Brooke McKinley's 'Shades of Grey'. The m of the m/m who has the m/f (try saying that 3 times in a row) is struggling with his sexuality. It is because of this that the m/f actually means something/contributes to the development of character and plot.

    And, holy crap, that's a long comment. Just hope it makes sense.

  36. Kris says:

    Mariana: “I guess my expectations are only that the story evolve around the main characters. All that they go through to reach “happiness” is all good. Whatever characters are there as foils to that story is all good.”

    I think you explained yourself very well. 🙂 What you want in secondary characters or possible relationships – sexual or otherwise – with those characters is a subplot that contributes to the development of the main one/HEA. That's why I liked those 2 books I mentioned to Clare so much.

    Tracy: I'm starting to wonder if maybe some of us have been so put off by it because of all those books that had surprise chick sex in them a couple of years ago??

  37. Kris says:

    JenB: “Narrow-mindedness and prejudice are ugly from either side.”

    Yes. That really bothered me about some of the remarks because they came across – to me at least – as being anti-lesbian.

    If your preference is m/m that's absolutely fine, but being rabid about it – as is often the case with rabidness – to the point of being insulting to other same sex relationships, that's very uncool and seems hypocritical.

    EH: “But when shouts of “girl cooties” gets branded about a book like it is the mark of the devil – I am seriously worried about these people..”

    Yes. If it's clear there is m/f or menage or f/f in a book and you know that it's not your thing, well, as you so succinctly say, “past it by and SHUT UP….”

  38. Kris says:

    KC: *gasp* You mentioned that arsehole's name on my blog! HOW DARE YOU!

    You're just lucky that it's your b'day otherwise you'd be up shit creek.

    Emilie: “For me, there's no reason a m/m romance shouldn't have some likeable female secondary characters of any orientation.”

    That's it in a nutshell, Emilie. Why would you not have these sorts of characters? Until someone can answer me that I'll continue to be baffled and annoyed to the reaction to Sean's book.

  39. Kris says:

    Stephani: Apparently, we do got cooties. 😛

    “Seriously though, as a reader and a writer, I think so long as there is a warning it's okay to add a female or two into the mix.”

    Me too, although as I said to someone else, it kind of makes me sad that we have to have these kinds of labels on everything. As if we don't have enough in our lives as it is. *sigh*

    Sean: *snort* See, I knew you had pearls.

  40. Kris says:

    Kassa: “I think it's a hugely valid point to ask why those readers who are ok and even eager and avid for m/m kissing and more are uncomfortable with f/f kissing and so on. To me that's an interesting question and what is at the core of the whole “girl cooties” debate. It's the sexual connotations, not the friendship or mere existence of females. At least that's how I see it.”

    I think you're right. That's why I put the question out there about the possibility of not wanting to read any sort of sexualised female character in m/m romance.

    Having said that, I don't think that type of preference justifies careless remarks associating f/f with 'girl cooties'. To me, that's similar to people unthinkingly describing things as being 'so gay'.

    Tam: “I think what Matthew said may be accurate. If you are a straight woman and you enjoy an f/f relationship in a book does that mean you have lesbian leanings? Not likely, but perhaps that makes some people uncomfortable even thinking about it so they just don't want to even get near it.”

    Yes, I tend to agree that's partly the issue too. But if that's the case I really wish – and this is wishful thinking because I think people tend to be reactive more than anything else – people would actually say that as opposed to writing off the whole issue as 'girl cooties'. I personally believe the latter is pretty insulting.

    “I also think there is a difference between avoiding any characters that are lesbians and avoiding situations where one or both of the heros have sex with a woman.”

    I agree, Tam. I think there is a big difference, which is why I think the comments lumping of the two together – or, to give people the benefit of the doubt, maybe not differentiating between the two – set me off.

    BTW, thanks for answering my question about the c word. 🙂

    Amanda: “I do think some readers see f/f the way I see menage, as a storyline they just don't enjoy crossing as a reader.”

    More than likely that's correct, but why the need to over react to it. That's what I don't understand.

    “Now the childish part of me wants to run around the room screaming “Girl cooties run for your life'”

    *snort* It reminds me of being in the playground and teasing boys. LOL.

  41. Emilie says:

    The blurb makes it very clear that there are lesbian characters in the story. Personally, I think there's quite a bit of homophobia involved if someone says she loves reading gay romance, but doesn't want to see lesbian characters in a book. From what I'm gathering, there aren't any explicit f/f sex scenes in the book? If not, I don't see why it should be any more of an issue than having straight supporting characters in a book.

  42. Kris says:

    Juni: “F/f as secondary characters in m/m – why not – follows RL.”

    Why not, indeed. It doesn't necessarily mean that explicit sex will be involved. The same that it wouldn't if the female secondary character was straight.

    “We desperately need to see strong female characters in m/m fiction & not the usual bitchy or whiny characters that we see too much of.”

    Absolutely, which is why the characters in Sean's book are so terrific and, as Jenre said, are “someone to save his arse when he gets into trouble.”

    Mumma: You, outspoken?? Never! 😛

    “If this is the case, then readers may have to suck it up or simply not read something that could cause them to wince.”

    Exactly, Mumma. If you find gay sex hot, but not lesbian sex then that's fine. Just don't go on and on about it like it's the end of the universe – or in this case the end of m/m romance as we know it – because then, yes, you are being a homophobic git, no matter if you are tolerant to gay sex or not.

  43. Kris says:

    Eek! Some of my responses just disappeared. Here they are again…

    Kassa: “I think it's a hugely valid point to ask why those readers who are ok and even eager and avid for m/m kissing and more are uncomfortable with f/f kissing and so on. To me that's an interesting question and what is at the core of the whole “girl cooties” debate. It's the sexual connotations, not the friendship or mere existence of females. At least that's how I see it.”

    I think you're right. That's why I put the question out there about the possibility of not wanting to read any sort of sexualised female character in m/m romance.

    Having said that, I don't think that type of preference justifies careless remarks associating f/f with 'girl cooties'. To me, that's similar to people unthinkingly describing things as being 'so gay'.

  44. Kris says:

    Tam: “I think what Matthew said may be accurate. If you are a straight woman and you enjoy an f/f relationship in a book does that mean you have lesbian leanings? Not likely, but perhaps that makes some people uncomfortable even thinking about it so they just don't want to even get near it.”

    Yes, I tend to agree that's partly the issue too. But if that's the case I really wish – and this is wishful thinking because I think people tend to be reactive more than anything else – people would actually say that as opposed to writing off the whole issue as 'girl cooties'. I personally believe the latter is pretty insulting.

    “I also think there is a difference between avoiding any characters that are lesbians and avoiding situations where one or both of the heros have sex with a woman.”

    I agree, Tam. I think there is a big difference, which is why I think the comments lumping of the two together – or, to give people the benefit of the doubt, maybe not differentiating between the two – set me off.

    BTW, thanks for answering my question about the c word. 🙂

    Amanda: “I do think some readers see f/f the way I see menage, as a storyline they just don't enjoy crossing as a reader.”

    More than likely that's correct, but why the need to over react to it. That's what I don't understand.

    “Now the childish part of me wants to run around the room screaming “Girl cooties run for your life'”

    *snort* It reminds me of being in the playground and teasing boys. LOL.

  45. Kris says:

    Emilie: “Personally, I think there's quite a bit of homophobia involved if someone says she loves reading gay romance, but doesn't want to see lesbian characters in a book.”

    That was the kind of attitude that was coming through in some of the comments that made me so pissed off.

    What bothered me is that some people did not even see the hypocrisy in the off-hand remarks they were making, let alone how insulting they could be taken by the number of bisexual, lesbian and transgender women who write and read m/m romance.

    I know I'm pretty opinionated and can come across as dismissive sometimes, but I hope I would never say something as thoughtless as what the few have been saying about Sean's book.

  46. Ingrid says:

    Kris, it's the no warning that I am not fond of. Like I read Just for you from Jet. I knew before reading that it had girls cooties. So I was warned and choose to read it and it fit the book.
    Now with IE Zahra Owens, Facade, it comes totally unexpected, no warning and does nothing for the story.

    I read f/f and I am fine with it but it is not as fun to read as m/m.

  47. orannia says:

    I haven't read the review (yet 🙂 but…let me see if I've got this straight. There is a secondary (lesbian) couple in a m/m novel…and they interact, but not in an explicit way, and their existance is clear in the summary? And this is a problem…why?

    I'm not really sure if the f/f genre is for me, although I'm just about to read Ash (Malinda Lo) *grin* But from the sound of it, this couple are secondary/supporting and there interactions aren't explicit. Plus, as has already been said, if we have m/f supporting characters (I'm thinking of the fantastic Roger & Fran in Tigers & Devils) why not f/f or m/m? Don't we say that we want more real life in our fiction? And people don't live in isolation. (I keep wanting to see a non m/m couple in Sean Michael's books.)

    Hope that ramble makes sense…

  48. jitterbug says:

    I don't see any problem with a lesbian couple in a m/m romance. People who disagree are bigots and hypocrites. There. Thus I spoke.

    !

    Ahhh, were it all so simple… 😉 Still, maybe Matthew's right (the correpondence between straight men/”lesbian” porn and straight women/mm whatever) – but it would mean that, maybe unconsciously, those who are very vocal about against a f/f couple in a m/m book are beeing at least mildly hypocrite. If they also advocate equal rights for glbt people, that is.

    Though in this specific case I don't see why people would feel the need to complain. I mean, de gustibus non disputandum est and all that, but the blurb says it all.

    I think that most, if not all, of the respondents here seem to be accepting of having an f/f couple as a secondary relationship. So I'm guessing that it is in the wider readership that there is a prejudice

    Ha! But that's because we're made of awesome, of course. ;P

    Everytime we talk about m/f I cannot resist adding my 2 rusty cents. I still read some m/f (mostly book I loved or books from authors' I love), but I've discovered that now I usually skip the sex scenes. I don't like the way het sex is described anymore.

    OT: A couple of us had this discussion on Twitter yesterday

    I see you took to it like a duck to water, Kris. Ahh, how the mighty have fallen…. 😛

    veri: abless – why, thank you! I need it. This weekend I half poisoned myself with a mosquito-repellent jelly candle. It's obvious I need all the help I can get ;).

  49. I've encountered the “No Females in Fiction” crew. I think I flipped 'em the bird.

    I think the books should be clearly labeled, but the very existance of a lesbian couple or women in the world should not be grounds for tossing a book aside.

    And I do have a question: what do readers think of a set-up-well-in-advance m/f relationship, created solely for social/dynastic/monetary purposes? (I have characters getting married with the understanding they'll keep their male lovers, but do their marital duty on a regular basis)

  50. Kris says:

    Ingrid: I think a lot of people agree with you about the no warning associated with explicit sex.

    Orannia: It makes perfect sense.

    “Plus, as has already been said, if we have m/f supporting characters (I'm thinking of the fantastic Roger & Fran in Tigers & Devils) why not f/f or m/m? Don't we say that we want more real life in our fiction? And people don't live in isolation.”

    Totally agreed. Whatever the intention of some of the comments made it certainly came across that there were no probs with having m/m or m/f secondary characters in gay romance, but f/f?? Look out! It just seems like such an odd reaction, hence my questioning the issue of 'extreme girl cootieism'.

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