“Tommy” commented on a previous post where I explore the reasons why women write and read m/m. I think his remark brings up a valid point, so I’m copy/pasting it here:
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.
We’re talking about fiction here. It’s been said again and again, if writers wrote only what they knew, there would be limited books available and a lot of them would be boring as fuck. I mean, how many people want to read about the guy who picks up garbage for a living? Unless he finds a dead body in with the paper and moldy food, who cares?
Most of us lead boring lives, uninteresting to anyone but ourselves. Forcing writers to write only what they know would lessen by far the number of books in the world.
Writers write. We invent, we imagine, we live vicariously through our characters. What’s wrong with that? If I didn’t write, I’d get only one life, but because I can write, I live many lives. I am enriched by my imagination and skill, and as a result, so are my readers.
This was my response to Tommy; a special thanks to him for taking the time to comment.
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 all of them 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, not women.
So I say, let them write m/m. Let them sell a zillion copies of their books, whether they’re written well or not, because it helps bring acceptance of men being with men in a way little else can.
Now it’s your turn. What do you think?