This issue comes up every two years or so; I’ve been in the genre for about ten years now, and it seems to be some kind of cycle, like cicadas.
What kind of.. well, I was going to say “puzzles” me, but it doesn’t; it’s a common pattern … is the way that gay erotica, written by a gay man, that follows the “let’s fuck” pattern cited in the original complaint … That gets a free ride, whereas that SAME STORY, with a woman’s name on it, is likely to set someone to complaining. The ol’ double standard dies hard. A man shows “leadership,” a woman is “bossy.” That original post was not a neutral observation, it was an attack on women who are doing something that is FINE for men to do, but not for us. I don’t think I have ever once seen a post complaining about gay men ‘objectifying’ each other or ‘fetishizing’ sexual organs – but I’ve sure seen that done in gayfic by gay men.
I’m not crazy about erotica per se–I like a little plot and characterization, as opposed to the ‘any porthole in a storm’ aesthetic that you see in porn videos. It’s a genre, and there’s nothing wrong with it; I read some during my single-and-celibate years but, to me, there’s too much left unsaid – it’s simply not to my taste. Neither is the sort of angsty story where one character is chronically weepy and the other is a Manly Man; I’m not crazy about gender roles.
Now that I’ve offended half those here, let me point out that what I’ve just said is ENTIRELY a personal and subjective observation. Tons of people love erotica, a lot of it is fantasy, but humans need fantasy. Ruby Tuesday. “Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind.” Many people like the fantasy of being the “strong one” or having a strong partner to care for them. They may never get it in real life; an aunt of mine was addicted to the sappiest romances because her own love life was just plain miserable. This is a matter of taste–we don’t all like the same things, we don’t even always like the same things throughout our lives. There’s room for all sorts.
Where this hits the rocks is when the gender of the writer is an issue. There are good writers and bad writers, and dozens of genres and sub-genres. And to say that a person’s gender should disqualify them from writing anything — to the best of their ability — is like saying gay couples shouldn’t adopt. It’s ludicrous.
I once had a brief and annoying conversation with a “damn them girl-cooties” reader on an Amazon discussion thread. This gentleman was of the opinion that woman should not be ALLOWED to write gay erotica because he felt “violated” if he found out that a story he enjoyed had been written by a woman. No joke. I guess it’s because he felt a sexual connection to the author and since he did not like women (his post made that quite clear) he was offended that a mere woman was able to write something that got him sexually aroused.
Now, personally? I think that is 100% HIS PROBLEM. Because while we all put some of ourselves into what we write, I doubt if most of us are writing our stories with the intent that readers will see us as sexual surrogates. (Or maybe some do; the idea gives me the creeps but that’s, again, my subjective opinion.)
I doubt if it’s possible to stop some people from objectifying or fetishizing. Anytime someone says, “Oh, s/he’s really my type,” they’re saying that they have a particular set of standards that attracts them. At what point is that considered “fetishizing?”
My own feeling about all of this is that gay romance does far more good than harm, even the stuff that’s not top-drawer writing. With three GOP presidential candidates pandering to extremists who want to make BEING LGBT a capital offense — people who literally want to kill us for who we love — the more stories out there that show same-sex relations in the same light as het ones the better. Stories that portray us as human beings (and yeah, there are het folks who have highly active sex lives) are something to encourage, not condemn.
And the original complainant’s anonymity doesn’t impress me with his moral courage, either. If you have something to say, own it. If you’re not willing to do that… why not?