Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I sometimes wonder about F/F, which is to say lesbian erotic romance equivalent to M/M (which is written mainly by and for women).
I mean lesbian romance clearly existed, written largely be and for lesbians, mainly in print, and with a fairly significant non-gay and/or non-female secondary audience. (I read a little Radclyffe myself). But would F/F be lesbian erotic romance for or deliberately inclusive of a straight female audience? This seems to be the assumption but the actual 'mirror product' would be lesbian erotic romance by and for men.
If we look at femslash (c.f. slash) and yuri (c.f. yaoi) the lesbian side of the prose coin is clearly not a direct mirror of the gay male material in angle or amount. While it is apparent at least in yuri that the male authorship and audience is increasing and popularity is growing as the genre expands--the western F/F audience in general is largely female (straight, lesbian and otherwise) and a lot smaller than for M/M.
And the "otherwise" may be a big part of the equation. As sexuality research is showing that men and women do not make up a simple dichotomy. While men showed arousal almost exclusively to visual material relating to the gender they are attracted to romantically (gay men to men, straight men to women), women react in a fairly indiscriminate manner to the intensity of the sexual activity regardless of its nature.
So it may be that when you look across the diversity of erotic material many areas will be of interest to women regardless of their romantic orientation. When you add to that the female reading bias erotica is, perhaps, becoming a chick genre. Now perhaps that won't be so bad. After years of any kind of pornography being a vice for the male of the species, maybe it is time for erotica to emerge from the chrysalis and enter its feminine, literary age of Aquarius?
But I do wonder if locating F/F within the erotic romance genre on websites heavily themed with female-centric language and hetero-centric images might just continue to fulfill the industry prophecy that 'F/F doesn't sell well'. Because to be honest there are only so many clinches and dew-bedecked rosebuds most people can stand on their way to find the kind of hot chick-on-chick action that might encourage any guy or gal discover the middle ground on their Kinsey scale.
A more (or perhaps less) 'broadly'-based F/F genre might need to strike out beyond the realm of romance rather than remain in the shadow of M/M forever.
Edited to Add: What Women Want (Maybe)--NY Times.