Some clarification on what is offensive about yesterday’s brouhaha

Okay, before anyone comes at me with the old “it’s so-and-so’s site, she can review what she wants” battle cry, misrepresenting what are the issues with this entire debacle over female-bodied-sexuality in m/m romance, let me get a few things on record.

Yes, people can read what they want. They can review what they want. No one is debating their right to do so. That’s not the problem.

The problem is that it’s misleading to cast ones site as being inclusive when it’s not. Don’t pretend to be a champion of all folk under the rainbow when you’re actually just a fan of the peen.

The problem is that it’s hypocritical to QQ about discrimination and disrespect while being discriminatory and disrespectful. It’s hypocritical to take readers and writers to task for making the genre about “the erotic needs of straight women” while maintaining a policy intended to pander to the erotic needs of straight women.

The problem is that it’s disingenuous to claim the issue is about het sex when what you’re actually frequently talking about is male-bodied/female-bodied queer sex, which is not the same thing. Worse, it’s extremely offensive to mislabel male-bodied/female-bodied sex as “het” sex because in doing so, you’re deliberately and repeatedly misgendering trans* folk and committing erasure against bifolk, intersex folk, and any number of other people under the rainbow.

The problem is that the m/m genre is a hotbed of gynophobia and internalized misogyny by people who ought to fucking know better, and to further that problem while patting oneself on the back for being on a crusade for representation of under-represented peoples is absolutely absurd. And worse! It’s hypocritical to hop on the feminist platform rail about how badly female characters are presented in m/m romance with regard to characterization archetypes and tropes, while simultaneously perpetuating gynophobia and internalized misogyny with regard to the mere mention of certain anatomy and sexual situations.

The problem is that it’s absolutely infuriating to act as though female reproductive anatomy and female-bodied sexuality is so shocking and off-putting on-page that it requires the same sort of warning usually reserved for controversial and triggering subjects as rape and graphic violence and abuse.

The problem is the entitled attitude behind behaving as though authors have a moral and ethical obligation not only to write what you want to read, but to protect your delicate special-snowflake eyeballs from anything they might find objectionable. Do you think Stephen King included warnings for underaged sex and domestic violence in IT? Did V.C. Andrews (or her publisher) warn for incest and underaged sex and rape in Flowers in the Attic? They didn’t, at least not in any of the editions I’ve read. I don’t see anyone weeping big crocodile tears over the lack of warning labels there. Labels and warnings are a courtesy, not an entitlement. You are not owed them. When you pay for a book, you aren’t owed anything but pages with some text on them. that’s it. There are no guarantees you’ll like it. There aren’t even any guarantees it will be well-written (Dan Brown, I’m looking at YOU.) You’re not owed a book that is to your taste and specifications and has nothing within it that you don’t find objectionable and warnings if it has something you might. In fact, the use of warnings and labels is generally considered to be a form of censorship and to have a chilling effect on free speech, which is why there have been huge legal battles over warning labels and age restrictions on music and video games. You’re lucky to get them when you get them. So be grateful authors and publishers include them at all from time to time.

So. Read what you want. Review what you want. But don’t be hypocritical, offensive, or an entitled princess in the process.

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16 Comments

Filed under Musings, Politics

16 responses to “Some clarification on what is offensive about yesterday’s brouhaha

  1. Reblogged this on Theo Fenraven and commented:
    Followup thoughts from Amelia C. Gormley regarding Jessewave’s disciminatory post from yesterday. Why do I continue to reblog this stuff? Because it’s important. Because we’re on a crux in publishing and in m/m fiction. If we continue to want the freedom to write what we choose, we have to speak out, make the issues clear.

    • Thank you.

      We cannot as a genre claim to be about representing sexual minorities and decry the notion that we only do it for the fap factor and then limit our representation to only those who are most likely to be sexually appealing to cis-het women. If we’re going to write about characters under the rainbow, we need to write about the whole spectrum of experiences there.

  2. Pingback: Some clarification on what is offensive about yesterday’s brouhaha | Live Your Dreams....Read a Book!!!

  3. PaParanormalFan

    Such an important Issue, I needed to re-blog again!!!
    ***Big fist pump*** in the air in Support of Amelia!!!!
    Thank You & Take Care,
    Renee’

  4. Debora Derr

    Applause!!!!! Standing Ovation!!!!!

  5. therealtbaggins

    Well said.

  6. therealtbaggins

    Reblogged this on shadesofgay.

  7. Pingback: Linkspam, 7/5/13 Edition – Part 2 — Radish Reviews

  8. corenn@yopmail.com

    Err… I’m sorry. Published author don’t warn for rape either, so I don’t think that you can really argue that a lack of rating is nothing important in publishing.

    And to be brutally frank, I find male-bodied male hot. As a gay man, I don’t feel sorry for saying that female-bodied male are not my thing. Sexuality is sexuality, I won’t force myself to read porn which is just not my thing. If one of the main character in a M/M romance with explicit parts is trans, I want to know, period. I’ve got no problem with female characters, I have plenty of them, play plenty of them and I seriously won’t engage in a battle of feminist/female-loving creds, but I don’t want them in my porn. A relationship where the author don’t write porn? Yeah, though it will fuck up the UST for me for a pre-OP guy. But surprise!female-bodied porn? Yeah, I won’t change my sexuality just to be PC.

    Gender is gender, but sex is sex.

    • Nothing to be sorry for. People like what they like and are who they are. But I think you’ve entirely missed the point.

      No one is saying you have to like content with female-bodied people, whether warned-for or out of the blue. No one is saying Jessewave has to like it. No one is saying Jessewave has to allow reviews of it on her site.

      However, she is way, way, WAY out of line telling authors they are “disrespectful” of their readers for writing it. Especially when she’s been so blatantly disrespectful to trans* and bi authors in the community.

      No one is saying you need to like girl bits or find them hot. However, the “eww GIRL PARTS!!” attitude so many people in our genre espouse, the attitude which was so blatantly the basis for Wave’s rant, IS a misogynist attitude. If that is YOUR attitude, if you find female genitalia so offensive and horrifying that you need to be warned for them the same way (this genre, at least) would warn for rape and other triggery subjects, then you are being misogynist and sorry, not sorry, not going to apologize for calling you or Wave or anyone on it. My body is not some horrible thing that people need to be warned about.

      Lastly, addressing your first point, as I have said before and you clearly missed, warnings are a COURTESY in this genre. No one is entitled to them, no one is being “disrespectful” for not including them, especially if they’re for something so patently absurd as female genitalia on-page. When you buy a book, you are entitled to one thing: the book in question. With or without warnings. With or without content you will actually like. You pays your money, you takes your chances. End of story.

    • Judy

      I have to agree with both Amelia and Theo. An author doesn’t owe you, he doesn’t have to meet your expectations, any problem you have with a book, the plot or who gets it on with whom is entirely your problem.
      There’s a wide range of sexuality, and that’s not all there is to a person (whether this person is female, male, straight, gay, bi or whatever). You’re allowed to see this kind of literature as nothing but porn, but I think there’s more to it. And quite frankly : to reduce it to nothing more but porn is a dimunition (imho). I did not expect to stumble upon such an attitude, it’s the same narrow-mindedness that makes others rant about any book with any kind of sexual content.

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