kris’ ramblings: beware the slippery slope*

*Or stuff-that-I’ve-been-thinking-about-which-needs-to-come-out-of-my-head-and-will-probably-make-no-sense-to-anyone-else-but-me-and-is-also-likely-to-cause-offense-to-people-oh-well-I’m-closing-my-blog-so-fuck-it


One of the main issues which gets raised in the m/m romance community from time to time – and inevitably causes a wankfest whenever it does – is the fact there are a heck of a lot of heterosexual women writing this fiction about homosexuals.


The whys of this as well as the reasons for the genre appealing to straight chicks has been flogged to death and, while I do think this is worth the occasional revisit, especially for those new to the genre, it is not what I want to talk about in this post.


Nor do I really want to explore the possibility and/or probability that a number of these so-called heterosexual women may not fit as nice and easily into these sexual and gender identities as some may think or, perhaps more pointedly, would like to think.  That is another topic in itself.


Instead, I’d like to try to put words to something that has always intrigued me, which is the notion that there is – or might be – a legitimate way to writing m/m romance.


Now I’m not thinking about techniques, style, blah, blah.  Rather, I’m talking about the belief some people have that the m/m romance written by gay male authors is more authentic than those stories by heterosexual women. 


Interesting, yes?


I have to admit I find it fascinating there are readers who prefer the stories by men because they believe these give them a ‘real’ experience.


I think part of my interest in this stems from my work in the history and heritage field where the concepts of legitimacy and authenticity in relation to original sources and ‘the evidence’ are matters I engage with on a daily basis. 


It has also given me an understanding that these issues are not as straight forward as they seem.  Indeed, they can be ambiguous at the best of times and absolutely fraught with ginormous stake-filled pits of agonising doom at their worst.

Besides the whole ‘who can/should write who’s story’, which has been discussed frequently in historical and similar discourses and is an argument that scares me shitless so no going there or else, implying there is a right and wrong way to properly writing – and reading maybe?? – m/m romance is, I think, a slippery slope.  


What do I mean by that exactly?  I guess what I’m trying to say is to be wary of assumptions when it comes to such positions/stances because they are not always as simple as you might think. 


Still not sure what I’m getting at??  Well, let me throw a couple of questions at you…


In this time of internet anonymity, can a reader really assume a male persona means the author is definitely a gay man who will offer them a more genuine story?  


If a woman has had sex with a man and has even pegged him, does that mean she honestly understands what it’s like to have gay sex? 


Why can’t a female author use her own experiences of discrimination to help her empathise and portray homophobia and bigotry?

Beginning to see what I mean?  Doesn’t seem so black and white, does it.


Then there is that bottom line for a lot of readers, myself included, which is who gives a fuck who writes it as long as it’s convincing and enjoyable!


Of course, we, in turn, can be seen to be dismissive and marginalising GLBTQ authors and readers in what is essentially a genre about them and their communities.


Yeah.


And people think this lovey-dovey stuff is all about unicorns spewing rainbows and butterflies farting.  


Geezus.  


What a minefield m/m romance can be.



Also, I wish I wasn’t Libran cos this post made my head hurt.


The end.
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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.
This entry was posted in f/f, glbtq, m/m, me, serious randomness, serious shit. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to kris’ ramblings: beware the slippery slope*

  1. Chris says:

    …and you end up at a place where people can only write about the tiny little space that is them. Can't write about history (were you THERE?!). Can't write about men if you're a woman; can't write about women if you're a man; whites can't write about blacks, nor blacks about whites. What about gay women writing about gay men? Gay men writing about gay women? And onward, sliding ever onward…

  2. Tam says:

    What Chris said. 🙂

    Also it's ROMANCE, by it's very nature it's pretend and unrealistic. Are all those het romances written by women an “authentic” portrayal of a heterosexual relationship? HAHAHAHAHA Oh sorry, mine never looked like that and certainly didn't end like they did, nor was the bastard a hot sexy shifter. Sigh.

    I write and read m/m romance for entertainment, not to better understand the gay experience. Maybe I learn something along the way, bonus. I have real life friends I can ask about it, I don't have to rely on a romance about a vampire and a Viking fairy.

  3. JenB says:

    Arguments about m/m romance make me tired.

    My pleasure reading is purely for entertainment.

    My editing is purely for a paycheck (you didn't expect me to spew any BS about improving the quality of e-published books, did you?).

    Anyone who thinks I should feel differently about either issue can lick my butt crack. (It's summer in Texas, and I'm pregnant, so think about that.)

  4. Jason says:

    wait! this genre isn't about unicorns spewing rainbows and butterflies farting? …huh…

    I don't take offense to women writing or knowing the secret handshake of gayness. I've read tons of books by guys where they get stuff wrong. I mean simple stuff. ~shrugs~

    I like good stories. That's what it boils down to. And I like my romances to have two penises and no vajayjays involved. If a vajayjay-haver can write that, I am good with it. 🙂

  5. Kris says:

    Chris: Exactly. It is a hard argument to make because of the can of worms it opens; not only about who can write the story, but potentially about who can read it. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't talk about the issues associated with writing different stories. Far from it. However, we need to also recognise that it is not so clear cut as some people would argue.

    Tam: “Are all those het romances written by women an “authentic” portrayal of a heterosexual relationship?”

    Good point. There are many who would agree that romantic fiction is primarily fantasy, which the reader can give or take with a pinch of salt as they lose themselves for a couple of hours in a love story.

    As you say, it doesn't mean that there aren't variations to the telling of this story in ways that can allow the reader to gain a better understanding of an issue or experience, etc.

  6. Kris says:

    JenB: “Anyone who thinks I should feel differently about either issue can lick my butt crack. (It's summer in Texas, and I'm pregnant, so think about that.)”

    You have a way with words that brings a fucking tear to my eye, redneck. You really do.

    And, yeah, for all of those who become embroiled in the arguments re: m/m romance, there are just as many who couldn't give a toss one way or another.

    Jase: Sorry to destroy your fantasies, hun. 😛

    “If a vajayjay-haver can write that, I am good with it. :)”

    I'm pretty much the same. Just because an author has a dick and is gay doesn't necessarily mean that they can write a better story than a straight chick. This works the other way around too, because, let's face it, there are some female authors who suck at writing romantic fiction. Boobies don't equal decent stories about twu wuv.

  7. Matthew says:

    The worst m/m story of all times was written by a man.
    If an author has a penis, it only means he has a penis. We can assume he knows what he is writing about and we could end up WRONG because maybe he's in the closet and never had an actual experience at all and it shows.
    And then there are female authors with their heads deep in their whichever-orifice-they-found-the-closest writing about men through female perspective. Not a good way.
    And then there are authors who are bloody GOOD and you don't care if they are a man, woman or whatever.

  8. oh my, ppl like to dig stupid things. on the other hand – that makes forums and communities live ;P no war = stagnancy ;] kidding.

    i have to confess i had some thoughts about this issue, like, is book written by a gay guy more beliveble than one written by a hetero woman? my conclusion? most things ppl already posted above – it's about ability to write a good story, not about having a penis/vagina. sure, personal experience counts, but good author can just do a research, ask, talk, use OTHERS experience and incorporate it in their story or what not.

    meh, i can't continue stating obvious. too early in the morning >.<

  9. lisabea says:

    I stopped reading blogs.

    I mean, I read some, obviously, but all the debates and the bitching and the finger pointing–and my biggest pet peeve–the lists of pet peeves about m/m fiction–honestly? If a writer were to spend their time taking all these things into account every time we sat down to write, we'd all be writing the same damn book.

    I don't care if I'm not supposed to do something. I'm doing it anyway. No one was hurt. No lives were lost. I am a woman writing as a woman. I have nothing to hide.

    And I'm true to myself when I write. It's all I can do. I write m/m fiction and because that's where my voice is. I love men. I love gay men. And I sell books. People seem to like them (for the most part) so …I let the other stuff go.

    I wish you would keep blogging, my little frittata.

    xo

    L

  10. lisabea says:

    **extra AND should be ignored.

    I need coffee.

  11. KB/KT Grant says:

    Always such drama on-line.

    People should write what they want and don't listen to anyone else.

    And those people who are so bent out of shape need to get lives because it's getting beyond old.

    I'm a straight woman writing both lesbian and MM fiction and making money. And I will continue to do so. These critics don't pay my bills or sign their names on my royalty checks so they can just STFU.

    BTW I love the picture you used in this post.

  12. Kris says:

    Matthew: “And then there are authors who are bloody GOOD and you don't care if they are a man, woman or whatever.”

    Yes. I think when it comes to fiction the notion of authenticity is a lot more fluid because there is the story-telling itself to consider… and then, of course, there's those bloody fickle readers. 🙂

    Tygrys: “… sure, personal experience counts, but good author can just do a research, ask, talk, use OTHERS experience and incorporate it in their story or what not.”

    We reached similar conclusions. 🙂

    The only proviso I would say to this is just because a good author can do the research etc to pull off telling a different experience does not mean that they are this experience; that is, in this case, gay.

    If an author identifies/d as queer that's one thing, but research and an active imagination does not mean you are gay. It means you can strongly empathise with the experience and promote and support GLBTQ rights because of this.

    To assume any more than that because you've become powerfully and emotionally invested in your characters and their story runs the risk of being offensive because no matter how much an author might feel – and they do – it still doesn't make a straight female a gay male.

  13. Kris says:

    LB: “If a writer were to spend their time taking all these things into account every time we sat down to write, we'd all be writing the same damn book.”

    I've heard Sean say the same thing many a time. I agree, although I've decided that the authors of m/m are just as much as to blame as we readers. 😛

    It seems to me that in the case of m/m romance honesty – or as honest as you can be while protecting your privacy – and openness are key… and both are things you will never be accused of not being, Sweet Bea. 🙂

    “I wish you would keep blogging, my little frittata.”

    But I will be sewing the wild oats of my discontented awesomesauceness, my vegemite muffin. It will be fun!

    KBC: “People should write what they want and don't listen to anyone else.”

    I agree… to a point. 🙂 I absolutely believe that authors have every right to write the stories that have in their heads and their hearts; however, it doesn't mean that they can make assumptions about the characters/people whose stories they are telling.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that although love stories may essentially be a story of the human condition and heart, these will be impacted by the gender, sexuality, race, culture, religion, etc, etc of the people involved.

    Therefore, while an author can write what they want, I believe the better story will come from an author who acknowledges those gaps in their own experience by researching and talking to the different people whose story they are trying to tell.

  14. ElaineG says:

    I am with you in the “don't give a flying fig who wrote it” category. A good story is just that: A GOOD STORY! I will not ever assume someone can't write about something just cause they didn't experience it…that's just asinine. It would be like telling me I can't READ about something cause I am not able to experience what I am reading about….stooooopid all the way around I say. If, as a woman, I can read m/m and enjoy it why can't a woman write it? I will never be a Navy SEAL but I do enjoy reading about them. I shudder to think what I COULD read about…hmmm, stay-at-home moms who lock themselves in their rooms during summer, cause while having only one child her house is filled to capacity every day and other peoples children don't LISTEN like her child does? So far, I haven't found that book, so I guess reading for pleasure and not reading to relive experiences is all I can do lol!

    Wow, that was a mouth-full wasn't it? *blushes and shuts up*

  15. orannia says:

    What Chris said. And may I add that in such a world there would also be no science-fiction or fantasy novels…no Harry Potter (and no associated lego).. *sad*

    I read to escape, pure and simple. The books I read are fiction, so I'm not expecting what I read to be true (regardless of how invested I become in the characters 🙂 Which is what Tam said 🙂 If I learn anything, it's about me, about how I respond to what I am reading.

  16. Kris says:

    ElaineG: “Wow, that was a mouth-full wasn't it? *blushes and shuts up*”

    *pinches cheek* So cute when you rant. ;P

    Oh, and now I'm thinking about what I could read… *single, chick who lives with two boy kittehs who drive her insane and who has a tendency to hide in her womby house cos she has depression, anxiety, OCD etc and the world can be too skerry* …

    Ok, I'm not liking that book very much. Not at all. I need entertainment and escapism. Definitely.

    Orannia: zOMG! *clutches pearls like she's just seen a taxidermied kangaroon scrotum* No Harry Potter lego?! NOOOOOO!!!!

    “If I learn anything, it's about me, about how I respond to what I am reading.”

    That's so very true, Orannia, and exactly the type of insightful remark I've come to enjoy as purely you. I think it is also such a positive reminder of the things we readers can take away from books. When you think back about it, those are some very powerful memories. So thank you. 🙂

  17. orannia says:

    *clutches pearls like she's just seen a taxidermied kangaroon scrotum*

    YIKES! I'd never send youa taxidermied kangaroo scrotum…no sir 🙂

    I should be thanking you for such a lovely comment. Thank you sweetie 🙂 That made my day!

  18. Tracy says:

    I honestly don't give a flying fuck who writes the book as long as it's enjoyable. I don't care if women write m/m or if men write m/f.

    What Chris said. Actually, what everyone said. 🙂

  19. Kris says:

    Orannia: 🙂

    Tracy: “What Chris said. Actually, what everyone said. :)”

    Lazy. 😛 I guess it shouldn't surprise me that most of us feel the same way on this issue. We tend to hang out with the people we can relate to, even online. 🙂

  20. K. Z. Snow says:

    What are you doing here? I thought you'd sought refuge at tumblr.

    I have absolutely nothing of any value to contribute. But I do think gay (or portrayed-as-gay) authors have a leg up in this genre — kind of like a male dog and female dog vying for space at a fire hydrant.

    Don't even ask me why I write this stuff. I'm not making a shit's worth of money at it. (Hm. Maybe I'm just sick of euphemisms like “netherlips” and “glistening folds.” Ya think?)

  21. Kris says:

    KZ: “But I do think gay (or portrayed-as-gay) authors have a leg up in this genre — kind of like a male dog and female dog vying for space at a fire hydrant.”

    What a way with words you have. You should be a writer!

    Oh, wait.

    *kiss, kiss*

    I do think that there is the perception that a male persona would give you more kudos in the m/m community and certainly some of the long-time authors were specifically requested by pubs to take a male pseud, but is that really the case now?? I'm not so sure. Perhaps I'm giving more credit to readers and pubs than is warranted; however, given the amount of chicks writing m/m, I just don't think it's a big deal anymore.

  22. Rainbow says:

    You know, as long as one write well and the story is worth it, who cares if the Author is male, female or whatever else?

  23. Kris says:

    Absolutely, Rainbow. I think our prayer would be something along the lines of…

    Dear Author, Please to be writing a good story. Love, We Readers. PS – The gender and sex bits?? Well, we just don't give a flying fuck. Us.

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