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Friday, November 13, 2015

Objectification, Divisiveness and One Author Calling Bullshit

It seems like there always has to be a kerfluffle in the writing world. Especially in romance. I happen to be very active in the m/m romance community, even though I write all genres and genders of romance, so I see these explosions daily.

The latest is an anonymous article about the objectification of gay men by romance women. You can read it here.

I have lots of feels here and I will try to list them in a relatively coherent way, off the cuff as this is. I may not achieve literary crit greatness here, but bear with me.

One, I find the argument in the article specious at best if you take the first lines as the premise of the whole commotion.

"As a gay man, the M/M Romance genre makes me extremely uncomfortable.

A lot of women in the genre, both readers and authors, seem to fetishize physically attractive gay men. Not all women in the genre are like that, but a substantial amount."

Hmmm. Because het romance readers never fetishize hot het men. Because before m/m conventions had go go dancers there were never Ellora's Cavemen flexing their muscled, oiled bods at RT. As the former owner of the first exclusively GLBT romance publisher, I can tell you long before we had naked waiters at the UK meetup there were hot cover models carrying mermaid dressed authors across the stage at the Fairy Court ball. Romance is about the fantasy. Period. The article fails to address this.

Second, as the L in LGBT, let me talk about how straight men have objectified my "people" for decades. Do we even get romance novels? No, we get bad porn reels with big boobed porn ladies pretending to be into one another, all for men to enjoy as a fantasy. Because most of us lezzies of a certain age have never seen our partners look like that...

I'd also like to note that the pics accompanying the anonymous post are more likely to be found on a gay porn site than a m/m author's FB and are there for shock value. Here's more what I see on my facebook and on m/m book covers. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=505808079586315&set=a.248987658601693.1073741828.100004713810507&type=3&theater

Am I saying this guy is 100% wrong? No. Am I calling bullshit? Yes.

On the eve of a gay man being appointed Director at Large of RWA, what I see in this article is divisiveness.

Yep. There's the go-go dancer groping commentary. I've seen both genders and all sexual preferences do this at all kinds of events. Do I love it? No. In fact, my main objection to sexy male models parading around at cons is largely feminist. If I would object to a woman being viewed that way, I have to give equal time to the guys. But that's my issue, and I don't go if I don't want to see it. The porn fest masquerading as lit is another comment in the article. This is causing authors to defend romance. It's not all sex! they say. Sex is bad! Bullshit again. You don't like erotic romance? Don't read it. But don't tell me it's not valid, and that het romance doesn't do the same thing. Listen to Can Johnson talk at a panel about alpha alpha heroes and tell me het romance is any less interested in the heat.

Romance is a valid genre, with a huge, diverse following. We don't need divisiveness and we don't need all the tired old accusations of objectification just because our genre is mostly about women taking their sexuality into their own hands. As a m/m romance author, I think my genre is also about acceptance and love, because many a reader has told me they didn't believe in gay rights until they read a m/m romance. How can that be bad? Own what you read and what you write, and sure, fight for understanding and equality. But don't try to blame all the ills of the world on a go go dancer and a couple of smokin' hot novels... I'll call bullshit.




Siobhan Muir said...

Yeah I saw this article and this is what I have to say about it. What an angry article. From the perspective of someone looking in from the outside, most advertising for the gay community specifically, not LGBT in general, is all about sex. Look at Andrew Christian's underwear ads. He looks for the guys with the biggest packages to model his underwear. What exactly are they advertising, really? But I've been to romance conventions and it's not about porn stars, go-go dancers and bodies. It's about the relationships two people, regardless of gender, can have and their stories. As for the models in my FB feed, as it happens my husband does have mostly naked women in his feed, and I have mostly naked men to appreciate the male body. Would I like to know their names? Yep, and I know some of the models. Would I treat them like people when I met them? Yep, that's they way I think of them. This "anonymous" writer who's so mad men are being treated like sex objects, might look at how he treats women in just his day to day life and see if he's just as disdainful as the hetero men. My point is, if you go to Vegas and Chippendales, women are just as disgusting as men in Hooters. When you go to the romance conventions, people are people, not sex-starved crazies. I don't know what convention he went to, but it wasn't any of the events I've attended. Any of those "sexy events" are after hours, anyway, and are optional to attend. Oh and another point, why would anyone write a story about "average" people? The whole point of storytelling is to write about something extraordinary (maybe the people are ordinary, but something extraordinary happens to them). And not all of us concentrate on penis size. That's not what's important in our tales. *sigh* I'd love to chalk it up to this guy needs to get laid more often, but that's just agreeing to his premise. Something happy needs to happen to him, though. And those pics he posted are NOT on FB in my feed - that would have to be a secret group. FB frowns on male genitals being exposed, no matter who is posting them.

Julia said...

I do adore your reasoned approach to romance as a whole, lady

BA Tortuga said...

Oh, hell. We just adore Siobhan, full stop.

Katherine Halle said...

I'm bookmarking this post. Thank you for this. So much!

Ann Alaskan said...

Excellent post Julia ... Thank you

Lee Rowan said...

Since when is it a writer's job to make anyone "comfortable?"

Julia said...

I wonder that as well, Lee. The expectation that I should stop writing something because it makes someone squirm, the tacit demand for an apology, makes me a grump