CONverging on controversy
Posted by Nicole Forcine
I am currently sitting in a hotel room outside of the Twin Cities, getting rested up and ready for the last night of convention parties and madness before returning to the normal life of a writer/professional mail opener. First, I got the blurb finalized for This Little Whatever and I’m bouncing in my seat in readiness. Does this butterflies in the stomach feeling ever go away with the next books? I hope to hell not.
Also, I got up yesterday morning and typed out a little short that I hope will find a nice place in a winter holiday anthology this year. I have a few weeks to get it edited, but fingers crossed.
So, lastly, I’m going to wander into a controversy that started right as I was driving to this convention and it blew my tiny little mind. See, I’m naive about our genre and our fans and our authors and reviewers and etc, and I really shouldn’t be. I should be old hat at this. I started enjoying men kissing each other back in ’96, when I was sixteen and into anime and discovered this thing called yaoi and oh how fun it is. I was a fan until college stepped in and kicked my ass and stole my love of reading and writing for the low, low cost of no degree and some debt. When I started writing again, I didn’t know there was a market (other than Nifty.com) for the m/m stories I kept cranking out for NaNoWriMo.
Then I learned. And now I’m here.
And now I gotta problem.
Okay, no beating around the bush anymore. Seriously, Wave, what the hell?
For those coming late to the party, well, other and better authors have addressed a recent post (now deleted and I’m on a tablet and have no clue how to link a screen shot) panning all the sudden surprise “het sex” that the reviewers on the site have come upon recently. Now, just like all of the others who have had issues with the post, I am not saying anyone has to change what gets their motors running. You want dicks and dicks only? Okay. Enjoy. I think you’re missing out on a lot of awesome books, but hey, I’m not queen of your book budget.
It’s still a little bigoted, though. I mean, are there people in 2013 who are NOT aware that some guys have vaginas? Are we seriously going to misgender in order to keep some narrow idea of what man on man sex is supposed to be? I’m a little disappointed. I believed our genre was a lot more open than this. We were supposed to be the ones stirring the dull old Big Six romance publishers to try different things because we’re so progressive and awesome and…seriously what the hell?
I thought I’d left behind the vagina-derangement syndrome back when I left yaoi, a place were any ladybits that any male character may have had contact with were roasted over the literary spit. Nice well rounded girls were morphed into evil harpies trying to keep our One True Pairing apart by being present, or loving, or heaven forbid, the canon love interest. But it looks like we’re facing the same crap. It was baffling among
teens and young adults, but aren’t we all too adult for this shit?
And (while I’m on a roll), it isn’t just Wave. It’s every reader or reviewer who says crap like “I want REAL men in my m/m” or who call any main character who has an “unallowed” emotion “like a girl”, or uses the highly offensive term “Chicks with Dicks” if they’re impulsive or emotional or a little femme.
Or a lot femme. Seriously, have any of you been to a Pride festival? Oh god the diversity of people and their experiences would blow your noodle. There are gay men who are big and muscular and femme as fuck. There are bi men. There are men in triads. There are trans*men. There are gay men who know exactly what the inside of a vagina feels like. Ignorning their experiences in order to appeal to some narrow definition of what “m/m” is, having the gall to accuse authors and publishers of ‘disrespecting’ their readers because they don’t warn for pussy, and not having the self-awareness to make it plain that your perferences are yours, is just terrible.
It takes some serious spine to insist on one way to do gay, especially if that one way is two alpha meatheads fighting over who gets to top and there’s nary a vage to be seen. And don’t get me wrong; some days I want to read a book set in a World of Gay with not a single limp wrist or limp dick in sight. But I’m not gonna lose it if I read a book about say, gay porn stars, only to find out that the main character is Gay For Pay with a girlfriend that he fucks.
I wouldn’t have discovered Chase in Shadow by Amy Lane if I didn’t give it a chance.
Oh, and by the way, warning for content in a book is something mainstream publishers don’t do. As a rule. That’s some fanfic level expectations there. Don’t get me wrong, I know the reaction of something in a book can be strong as hell (as someone with a few suicide attempts in her past, parts of Chase in Shadow hit me in dark places), and sometimes that means not finishing a book. That isn’t the fault of either reader or the author. It was a bad fit. Get a refund, buy something else.
Other novelists don’t do this. George R. Martin didn’t warn about the Red Wedding. Other forms of media don’t do this (other than ratings, but that’s a different rant altogether). The production team of Spartacus didn’t put a big ol’ “by the way, two male characters will be fucking in love and fucking too” warning before the last season (or two). They just did it. What’s really disrepectful is the expectation that the readers are so delicate that we can’t handle the occasional in story, plot dependant vagina mention without warning, just because some folks don’t like it.