First, a warning: This post will contain over-sharing and TMI. Click away now if you are uninterested or easily bored.
Okay, now that it’s just me and my two faithful readers, here are my random thoughts for today!
You know what the great thing is about a controversy or a big hullabaloo? It gets people talking, and thinking, about things they might not have spoken or thought about before. Such is the case with the jessewave post of several days ago. For me, it got me thinking about some rather uncomfortable things. And because I can and because I am prone to revealing way too much about myself, I am going to discuss those things here.
I really truly think that the heart of the issue is what I posted last. That although there were many great points brought up by many insightful bloggers and commenters, the real reason everyone had a fit was because a dirty little secret was revealed: many women read m/m romance for titillation, above all other reasons.
So that got me thinking, is that why I read it? And if so, is that necessarily a bad thing? Is that why I write it? Is that what my readers want? Wait…are people reading my stories one-handed?!?!
Now, I have thought about this before, and I will continue to revisit this subject again I am sure. Why? Because I want to be a better writer, and I think a big part of that journey is being a more aware writer, and a more critical reader. So, if I can really understand why I read, then I (theoretically) can improve my writing. I posted about why I write m/m romance before, and I still totally stick by all those points. But the recent tidal wave (see, I can do puns!) of drama brought up two other big issues for me to consider.
Issue 1: m/m romance is basically porn for straight women. Now, I don’t necessarily think this is true, at least not for me as a reader. But it is certainly (obviously) true for some women. And as a writer, I admit this made me feel a little…icky. Because, I guess, I can be passive if I’m just a reader. But as a writer I own it. It’s like I’m making a porno versus just watching one.
Also, it touches on an insecurity I already have about admitting I write gay romance. I don’t admit it, to anyone, I’m totally in the closet with this. And the absolute last people I ever want to find out about it are my gay male friends. Honestly, I am having a mini-panic attack even imagining them finding out. What would they think? Ugh, it’s too horrible to contemplate.
Think it shouldn’t be horribly embarrassing to me? Let’s reverse it. Imagine I’m a straight, married, 38 year old man. I live in the suburbs and have two kids. In my spare time, I write erotic romance novels about lesbian women filled with explicit sex scenes. Maybe it shouldn’t be creepy or weird. But still… This line of thought made me seriously question what I am doing and why. As in: “holy shit, I’m a disgusting pervert what the fuck is wrong with me?!”
Issue 2: Some women are so offended by m/f sex scenes that they need some kind of trigger warning so they don’t accidentally read them. Okay, this seems extreme. I did a lot of reading on a lot of blogs in the past few days, and this was generally denounced as ridiculous, but one commenter (I don’t remember on which blog, sorry) mentioned the fact that she had been abused and so that was why she preferred only m/m content, because for her, m/f sex was in fact a trigger. Hmm.
This actually is the entire reason for this post. I just could not stop thinking about this!
Here’s the thing: I personally have survived a shit-ton of abuse. I was molested as a young child, raped (more than once) as a teenager, beaten up, lied to, cheated on, and generally mis-treated by many, many men on an ongoing basis. I don’t want any sympathy for this, nor do I feel I deserve any. Because as bad as all that sounds, it doesn’t make me unique. Most women go through the same shit, or at least some of it.
Is this why? Is this the reason I love gay romance??? I mean, I still like m/f and f/f romance, there are no “triggers” there for me (although bdsm is a fucking mine field, let me tell you), but I definitely gravitate towards the male/male pairings. Is my abuse-riddled past the reason? Well, I don’t think it’s the only reason. I think all the reasons I previously stated are still true. But as I said in the title of this post, I want to believe.
I want to believe that men are kind, that men are capable of deep love, of being vulnerable and nurturing and selfless. I want to see men expressing emotions and devoting themselves to each other and their families. I want to believe men are good.
So I guess this is a big part of why I write m/m romance. And maybe it is why I read it as well. Because I have been hurt, badly, by men. Men who were supposed to protect me, who promised to love me. Men who I trusted and cared about. And I need, desperately, to create better men. Men that I can control, men that I can understand, men who don’t scare me and who will never hurt me.
And maybe that is a little sick, and a little embarrassing. But still, there it is. And I’m kind of pissed off (and also a little grateful) to this anonymous comment-poster on the unknown blog who sparked this whole epiphany for me, because I really thought I was okay and had my shit figured out, but obviously I didn’t.
I don’t know how this latest revelation can help me as a writer. I only know I will keep trying to get better and to do better work, and I will try to keep my mind and heart open to new ideas and new characters.
p.s. Just so no one feels sorry for me, or thinks I hate men…I am happily married to a very good man, who has only ever hurt me unintentionally (as married people tend to do to each other) so I’m good, now.