Thursday, August 19, 2010

M/M: Fisking Gawker (discussing Out)

Based on an Out magazine article on M/M that is so eye-roll inducing (inept, insulting, rife with stereotyping and naive) I can't deal with it right now, Gawker asks: Why Are Straight Women So Obsessed With Gay Sex? He missed a few of the the romance stereotypes with:

"These homo bodice rippers are meant for the types of suburban ladies who pick up those paperbacks with Fabio on the cover."

For maximum disdain, and to tick all the stereotype boxes, that should obviously read: "These trashy homo bodice rippers are meant for the types of gin swilling, semi-literate suburban housefraus who pick up formulaic paperbacks because Fabio is bare-chested on the cover."

As for "The phenomenon emerged from “slash fiction”.That is true of some of the recent enthusiasts.  But plenty of people read M/M and don't even know what slash is--I found them in reverse order.  I think the phenomenon emerges from having a libido and an imagination, not having a television and a thing for pointy ears.

He then quotes Wilson from Out's explanation of why women like M/M: "a straight romance narrative—the usual machinations that bring a brutish alpha male and a wasp-waisted young female beauty to the point of bodice-ripping penetration—can’t deliver the same heady emotional frisson as a “bromance" which slashers and M/M authors alike view as a courtship between equals."

Of the many unconvincing global explanations of the M/M readership this strikes me as the most perverse.  That we are so incapable of imagining a man and women as equal we go for gay romance.  Maybe that is true for some people but how, exactly does it explain M/M D/s?  Or the fact that most slash and M/M still rests heavily on a power imbalance with an alpha male?

I don't think we know why women like M/M, I don;t think all women who like M/M like it for the same reason.  I have also lost interest in explaining this 'aberation'. 

He then continues: "From what we learn from these two authors, it’s not that women want to imagining overtaking these gay hunks, it’s that they secretly want to be gay men."

Um, what?  No really.  Even if you buy Wilson's pet theory, which I don't, how does that work?
  • Women want romance between equals (most sex/fantasy surveys from the last 50 years beg to differ).
  • So they read same sex romance (so why not F/F?). 
  • So they want to be gay men = Logical Syllogism FAIL.
"In Western sexual dynamics, women are often assumed to be passive, the ones who are ravaged by men. But, by aligning herself with a gay male identity, the straight female reader can envision herself as powerful, sexually potent, voracious and the active participant (or top)"

In blurring the fantasy/reality divide we seem to have reinvented penis envy. Freud would be proud.  I am not saying some M/M fans are not transgender or genderqueer, but putting the whole damn genre and readership in a single well-defined box is rather simplistic and not queerfriendly at all. 

"Gay male sex (especially of the anal variety) is one of the few transgressive acts still left in our porn-riddled culture, mostly because it gives most straight guys the heebie-jeebies."

Really?  I must be far more out there than I thought.

"Even more forbidden is making another man a bottom "

Almost all my books M/M are 100% bottom POV.  So I guess I am not fitting into this tidy generalisation based on a second-hand hearsay, sample N=1.

"These horny lady writers insinuate..."

Tick the box for insinuating that erotica writers are particularly lusty, but you lose points for not implying erotica readers are frigid or afraid of real sex.

"Human sexuality is a strange, complex, and wonderful thing and the harmless escapades that happen in people’s fantasies shouldn’t be used for debates about identity politics. As long as everyone is getting off, what’s the big deal?" [bolding mine]

Didn't you just argue that everyone involved in this sub-genre wants to be a gay man because it's the only way they can feel powerful?  If all that matters is that people get off, you really shouldn't care, or write articles about, exactly how or why.

See also:
Out magazine articles
Reaction to Out article by Gehayi
At the Cooler
OMG! You Mean Seperate Is Not Equal?
On a related note:
Here Media (parent company of Out/Advocate/Alyson) in financial trouble?


marcus said...

I guess researching your topic is as out of style as accurate reporting.

India Drummond said...

His "critique" of the genre and its writers sounds more like a stand-up routine than journalism.

Idiots call people who write about sex things like: sex-starved, horny, sex-obsessed and other silly things, but they wouldn't call a mystery writer a psychopath because he might write about serial killers nor would someone who writes about war be considered violent.

So, it's hard to even take this criticism seriously, since it comes out of a position of ignorance.

M Barnette said...

The guy is a died in the wool idiot.

Actually, India, Stephen King had people who were afraid of him because, sadly, there are idiots out there who equate what you write with who you are. I know, I used to encounter this moronic belief when I admitted I wrote horror stories while living in a small--rather intellectually backward--midwest town.

Anonymous said...

Women like m/m erotic fiction for the same reason men like lesbian porn. End of.