Friday, March 23, 2007

M/M: Genre trumps Gender

I love Mrs Giggles blog because it gives me food for thought. Specifically her last two posts which could be summed up as:
* What do gay men think about romance M/M? -- and
* What does romance M/M written by men look like?

Gay Men and M/M
My experience is that gay men do read romance-M/M but the are a minority market. Romance, HEA and all, does appeal to some men both gay and straight. Maybe it would appeal to more if marketed to them more--but I don't think it will be a marketing breakthrough made in my lifetime. And as for some gay men objectioning to the stereotyping in M/M romance. Well, compared to the stereotyping of women they get off pretty lightly (and similar "authorial sins" are rampant in gay authored and marketed genres). I object to the stereotyping too, join the queue at the back. And I have already worked that whole "appropriation" argument over here (link goes to my article at and may contain some suggestive pictures of men).

Gender and How M/M is Written
So, moving on, why would you specifically want to read M/M written by men? Well, if you read the genre widely you probably already have, but given the frequency of ambiguous and cross-gendered names it can be hard to tell. And why are female writers using males names and acronyms? (I put aside here gender as a false dichtomy, which is it, and that many authors in this area have gender-fluid or non-traditional gender identities) ...Why did JK Rowling use her initials? Why do male writers of MF romance continue to use initial or female pen names? We don't want to be ruled out of the game at the starting block. If you read the M/M genre widely you probably also read gay literary romance, non-romance gay porn, yaois and many other genres with their own conventions loaded onto the homoeroticism--you have an appreciation of genre that springs from the canon--not the creator.

Romance-M/M (which is I think what is meant in this context by "M/M") is a genre, it is written largely the same by men and women--emotional, narrative and sexual traditions intact. If you stray too far, an erotic romance house is unlikely to publish you--(and if they do the work will probably be clearly branded into another category such as yaoi, mystery etc). Just as when women write gay porn, they write according to that genre. Genre trumps gender. This is not to say gender is unimportant, but it is--in this case--irrelevant. The most liberating thing about being an erotica writer is that you are judged on your work, not your genitals (although quite rightly the effect on the readers equipment, whatever it may be, certainly comes into, um, play).


Nell Dixon said...

I've never read Mrs Giggles, though I've heard of her.

Anonymous said...

Interesting about the appropriation thing in the other article. Personally I wouldn't let anyone hold my creative faculties hostage just because the objector happens to be male or gay and I'm not. If I don't kowtow to men in general, won't do it for a gay man.

KMFrontain said...

Darned Blooger. It signed me in as anonymous. It was me, kmfrontain.

veinglory said...

--and let us not delve into how many gay male writers portray heterosexual women...