Why Do Women Write and Read M/M? Here’s One Reason

Writer Sarah Madison posted yesterday about whether or not she should jump ship and switch genres. Currently, she writes m/m. She’s considering m/f.

While the m/m genre is strong, it’s definitely a niche market, and I’m guessing most gay men have never heard of these books, much less read any. They’re mostly bought by straight women, if the rumors are true.

Not only that, they’re mostly written by straight women. Isn’t that interesting!

Let’s look at what we have here: Straight women writing male on male books for other straight women to read. Aside from the irony, what might this mean?

I think Sarah hit on it to some degree when she said, in a m/m book, you get to write/read about two equal partners in a relationship. Although some writers still mirror the old romantic notion of having one big strong man take up with a more reticent smaller one–thereby reinforcing the bodice ripper’s “strong man, weak woman in jeopardy” trope–generally, you get two guys on equal footing.

Imagine what that must feel like to strong independent women, to read about two people in an equal relationship. Because despite all the inroads made by women in the last fifty years, don’t fool yourselves. They are still second-class citizens.

Sweeping generalization time, and while there are always welcome exceptions, I’m talking about the majority. In a het relationship, women may work full-time, but they are still the partner who does most of the cleaning and cooking and shopping. They get paid less. They often get left with the responsibility of raising the kids when their partner decides to trade up or go find himself, at which point, he may or may not cough up child support.

In short, women still get the short end of the stick. I’m amazed more of them aren’t screaming for gender revolution. Recently, the GOP voted against equal pay for women doing the same jobs as men. Yes, you read that right. They voted against equal pay for women. Apparently, it’s not enough to give birth, raise children, work full time and take care of goddamn everyone, they are also not supposed get equal pay.  (When the Violence Against Women Act lapsed, the GOP refused to reauthorize it, but that’s another damn story. If you are female and still voting Republican, you’re screwing yourself, sweetie. Reconsider at the next election.)

Many, many female readers are still enjoying traditional m/f romances. The sales numbers don’t lie. But more and more of them are finding their way to m/m, where relationships are far more equal than any they’re liable to enjoy.

… And m/m is hot. It’s different. It’s exciting and illicit and naughty and all those other cool things that make you tingle between the legs. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

Should Sarah jump ship? Read her blog. Then take her polls at the end. I know how much you love ticky boxes and she has several.

Happy Monday, everyone!





About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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17 Responses to Why Do Women Write and Read M/M? Here’s One Reason

  1. Sarah_Madison says:

    If you are female and still voting Republican, you’re screwing yourself, sweetie. Reconsider at the next election.

    And as soon as possible, the GOP will ban this too. 😉 It amazes me, Theo, that people assume battle fought and won are won for eternity. No, they are won for *today*. And they can just as easily be undone by the next set of people we vote in power. People who, by the way, automatically get health insurance and a pension plan once we vote them into office.

    And this is a gem: Imagine what that must feel like to strong independent women, to read about two people in an equal relationship. Because despite all the inroads made by women in the last fifty years, don’t fool yourselves. They are still second-class citizens.

    It’s one of the reasons I feel so strongly about civil rights for the LGBT community. When the civil rights of one group are suppressed, it impacts all minority groups–and together, we minorities outweigh the majority. 🙂

    • I find it somewhat dismaying that women have been battling for equal rights so long and are still losing ground.

      I think all people should have equal rights. All of them. Why are women paid less? Why can’t gays marry? Our culture revolves around the rights of rich white males, and everyone else is getting screwed. When they finally die, it will hopefully be better.

  2. A.M.B. says:

    It’s fascinating that the primary producers and consumers of m/m romance are women. I am writing a character right now whose sexuality differs from my own, but we share the same gender and it’s not sexually explicit. So, I am not as worried about getting the “mechanics” wrong. I can see the appeal of reading about partners on equal footing, though I imagine there are unequal same-sex relationships, too (perhaps ones where a male partner takes on a more feminine role and the oppression that goes with it). As for the persistence of sex discrimination, what’s sad is that the Republican Party wasn’t always so bad on these issues. There was a time when they supported reproductive rights and the Equal Rights Amendment (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/04/gop-platform_n_1852733.html). Oh how times have changed.

    • I realize the Republican party has changed. Doesn’t it seem this happened in a short amount of time, like in the last 8-12 years? While they may have always been greedy pigs, they didn’t sound insane, like they do now.

      I find this encouraging, in that, if they changed that radically in such a short time, they can change back just as quickly. Stop being idiots. Stop going after women and gays. Just… STOP being so extreme.

      • A.M.B. says:

        They’re going to have to stop going after women, gays, and ethnic minorities if they want to survive as a political party. Our changing demographic landscape doesn’t bode well for the bigots.

        • No, it doesn’t. And these rich white guys think they have a lock on the country, even after their incredible losses in the elections. A perfect example of insulating yourself from reality.

  3. kanundra says:

    Well I’m a woman and I’m enjoying your writing immensely. I’m not ashamed to say that it is ‘exciting too’ although a little different from reading the m/f stuff.

    But, I have some wonderful m/m writer friends who I’ve made through script writing and I don’t mind reading any of their work either. I’m on the last in the precog series now. 🙂 Although I don’t want it to end. lol. I think for me, what is good is that you also write in genre’s I’m interested. So even bigger bonus for me.

    Thanks for being an awesome writer. M/M or M/F or even F/F doesn’t bother me, the story has to be a good one. And with not too much erotica. (I’ve read some bad ones)


  4. kanundra says:

    Writing scripts is ‘easier for me’ than novels. But, I’ll be very happy to aid you in anyway that I can, hit me up if you want to chat about it, 🙂

  5. Tommy T says:

    It’s not that women “shouldn’t” write M/M, it’s that women who write ONLY M/M obviously and undeniably do so from a place that fetishizes and co-opts gay men.

    Think about this situation…
    You have a white author who ONLY writes books about being black, the black experience, black people having sex with other black people. That and that alone is ALL they write.

    At some point, people are going to give them the side-eye. Not only can the author not speak with authority or legitimacy, but the privilege the author is exercising in exploiting the black identity would be taken as a slap in the face. No matter how well intended, the same exact thing is true for women who only write M/M.

    But, not only is it exploitative and problematic, it ends up not being realistic or convincing. (Which is probably why M/M written women is generally consumed by other women.) It’s akin to having gay porn directed by a straight women (and yes, there is some out there). Gay men by FAR dislike and shrug off the porn – because it is just bad. Bad bad bad. It is some straight woman’s idea as to what gay sex is or isn’t and while that might appeal to other straight women, it is laughable to gay men.

    Again, replace “gay” with “black.” Replace the gay identity with another. Why is it ok for self-proclaimed straight women to repeatedly co-opt and lay claim to a gay man’s identity when if they did it to any OTHER identity, it would be frowned upon. I mean, come on, some white woman writing about the black experience again and again and again. Especially about something as intimate as their sex lives?

    Yeah, wouldn’t happen. Wouldn’t be accepted.

    The question isn’t why do women write M/M but rather why do women feel they have the right?

    It’s called being privileged and not owning up to it. It’s called being exploitative but finding a way to excuse it. It doesn’t matter how good the intentions, it’s wrong, and if we were talking about any other identity people would NOT put up with it.

    • Many women, whatever their sexual orientation, write about gay men because it turns them on to imagine men being intimate with each other. You say this is wrong. You say they’re co-opting an experience that can never be theirs.

      I say, whatever shines a light on men together romantically and sexually, normalizes that relationship and makes it easier to gain the equal rights we are entitled to.

      Do some of them get it wrong? Fuck, yeah. I’ve read and edited some horrible m/m written by women. But a lot of them get it right, or near enough that it doesn’t matter, and they are furthering the cause of gay men being an acceptable part of society. They are helping us achieve marriage equality. They are helping strike down the laws that say we can be fired for being gay, we can’t live in this or that building because we prefer dick to vaginas, and we can’t hold public office because we love men.

      So I say, let them write m/m. Let them sell a zillion copies, because it helps bring acceptance to men being with men in a way little else can.

  6. dataeast says:

    So instead of being authentic and admitting that you read m/m romance simply because you enjoy it and find it sexy, you instead write the predictable man-shaming garbage that you pseudo-feminists are wont to do. If the situation was reversed, you’d claim that men are objectifying women by reading f/f literature. This attitude is preventing true equality. Your unwillingness to complete a single act without it being charged by gender politics illuminates your true motives. You hide behind the veil of equality, but what you really seek is revenge on the patriarchy.

    • Fenraven says:

      Oh, I admit up front I used to read and write it because it’s hot. I almost never read it now, and when I do, I skim the sex. I got bored; so few writers have the skill or talent to write really good sex scenes.

      I don’t write or read het romance either, for the same reason: it’s boring. There’s a formula, and writers follow it closely or chance offending readers in the genre.

      I’m pretty sure 50 Shades was so popular in large part because the general public had little to no knowledge of BDSM, so it was new and exciting and yes, hot. Gawd knows what the next turn-on in reading will be. I’m almost afraid to find out. 😉

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