Thursday, 2 February 2012

Oh Nos! Girlie bits! Run!

Today it's time for a rant from me. I don't rant much, and almost never about actual writing issues, but today....

I guess, this is about reading, more than writing, really. I'm talking about genre snobbery. What is that, you ask? Just this: the outcry that goes up should a writer introduce lovers into a m/m book, no matter how small the part they play, where one or more partner doesn't have a penis. I mean...what is that about? Seriously, look around you. Go visit all those so called 'gay ghettos' and imagine what it would really be like if there was not a single hetero couple around anywhere.

It's unrealistic, people.

Yes, I will concede it is possible (not likely, or remotely accurate, but maybe, in a stretch, plausible) that gay guys might tend to form friendship circles in which everyone is gay.

But come on. Really? No girls allowed? What century do we even live in? I'll give you two examples off the top of my, three, in which the women in the books are as important or more than the men, no matter what kind f relationship any of them are in:

Partnership in Blood, by Ariel Tachna. I love so many characters in this series, and two of my very favorite are Angelique, a vampire with some really definite ideas of where her men fit into her life, and Adel, a wizard who embarks on a huge self-learning curve when she realizes she's falling for another woman. There is nothing weak or lacking in these women and the relationships they have are as compelling as any of the gay matches in the books.

And Ms. Tachna doesn't hold back on the love scenes, either. If you ask me, Angelique's love scenes are some of the best ones in the books. Her relationship with David is a rocky one, and the sex between them is a reflection of their growth as people and as a couple. And it's beautiful. The books would not be the same without them. As for Adel, she's prickly and impatient and a dictator and her first partnership with Jude is beyond rocky. It's a landslide disaster. Again, no holding back on the sex, on the anger, or the force both Jude and Adele bring to the bed. A hard contrast to the tender love scenes between Adele and her later partner Pascale. The contrast is important. the relationships are important to the story line, and the characters involved? All amazing creations with incredible depth. And look! They don't all have dicks. Because in life, I know it's crazy, but not everyone has a gay-for-you dick. Go figure. (Adele happens to have a gay-for -you-pussy, when she meets Pascale, and more power to her, I say, though there is much more to her than just that.)

The Dark World series by Lex Valentin, specifically Unbreak Me. If that woman isn't strong and resilient and deserving of a love story, no one, anywhere is. And Lex manages to make all her female characters fun, funny, tough and more than able to hold their own against the men in their lives, whether it be standing up to the villians, partnering their Significant Others or kicking sense into their gay brothers/friends/whoever, these women are worth reading about.

Mercedes Lackey and her Harold Mage universe: There ares some very, very tough women in that 'verse. Some of them sleep together, some of them sleep with men, sometimes their love lives never get talked about. Always, the women are integral parts of the fabric of the stories and of the male characters, lives, no matter what role they take on for the males.

Lets face it, folks, we live our lives in a world where male and female interact. If all you write about are the men and their gayness, you're not only segmenting them off from a whole half of the world that matters, but you're doing a disservice to them. You're making them into creatures who live for one thing: love and sex, in the best possible vision of it. Sex, if you get down to brass tacks.

Gay men might, indeed, be gay. That isn't all they are, and damnit, if you refuse to mention that they know girls, love their sisters, fight with their mothers and get annoyed at their bestie girl-friends, maybe even have *gasp!andshock!* have slept with a couple of the fairer sex, I might just refuse to read your books. et's just get over it and be real and treat the guys we're writing about like actual men with actual rounded and full lives, shall we? hmm?

What books have you read that had women in them as part and parcel to the gay guys featured? If you're one of those readers who just cant stand the mention of girrlie bits in your gay romance, why is that? Help me understand.


Anthology Authors said...

Hm... I don't read these types of books, Jaime. LOL I am editing one, though, but it's based on manga, which apparently doesn't mention women all that much. It's post nuclear war and interesting, although not my thing. It's by CupNJava.

Cinderella said...

Well Carol Lynne's Cattle Valley has girls that are open minded. The mayor's right hand woman is named Carol and she strong. I do not mind a girl in the story I just don't want her story within the story. Does that make sense? Yes Lex's girls are very strong. I have several authors that do the girlie things but they warn us if bits are involved.

Jaime Samms said...

Not everyone does, Marci :D And you're right about manga. Those stories often don't mention women except very peripherally, or as annoying girlfriends who cause rifts between the guys.

Jaime Samms said...

See, Cinders, this is what I don't understand. People often say they don't want the girl's story in there, but never really give me a clear reason as to *why*. And why would we need a warning? Every guy I know, gay or otherwise, has women in their life, and every woman I know has had relationships with men on one level or another. To me, a world is a little bit flat and unrealistic if the women are only there as set dressing or plot devices. Not only does it force us to look at the men we're reading about in terms of how gay they are, rather than what kind of men they are, but it also dose a disservice to the women in the stories, treating them as second class and not worthy of being real and sympathetic characters in the guys lives. And obviously, that bugs me. :D As if women need to come with a warning label attached because they have sex. This is my opinion, remember, luv, but that burns my butt ;p

Anthology Authors said...

Well, I have to say that I don't want multiple stories in books I read. I want limited POV no more than two. Occasionally, I can deal with three, but I'm mainly interested in the two protagonists. Can you give me information about the others? Yes. Can they be important to the plot? Yes, but I don't want their story, too. Save it for another book. (g) And I have to agree. There are many shades on earth. Painting with only a few creates a bland piece of art.

JMO. (g)

Cinderella said...

Now Jaime! It is just a mind set with me I guess. But I do read the authors come up with about the girl in the series (not unless it starts being the main focus) then I find a new author. I like one story within the book there can be side stories but I am NOT a fan of skipping from one couple to the next couple every chapter. All my authors you included make the books so much more than a book. You knew I had to comment again...LOL

Jaime Samms said...

Marci: "I have to say that I don't want multiple stories in books I read."

Yes. This is a very good point, and I agree totally. A book should focus on one main story line. Sometimes (as in Ariel's series) the relationships unfold together as part of a greater whole, and in this case, a whole that cannot be told soly by sticking the the gay protaganists. it encompasses how the greater plot arch plays out in the lives of all the players. But in the end, is one story with many players....which I think made sense! lol!

and: "There are many shades on earth. Painting with only a few creates a bland piece of art." Also agree. I think is my point. The aversion some readers seem to have to stories with girls in them borders on a kind of exclusion that makes me uncomfortable.

Jaime Samms said...

Cinders: "You knew I had to comment again...LOL" I expect nothing less from you, my dear. *grin*

I guess I dislike the idea that women have no place in men's lives just because the men are gay. To me, that's Bull****. And not fair to the guys, anymore than it's fair to the women. It puts too much focus on their love lives and neglects the fact that they also have jobs, pets, friends, families, pet peeves, hobbies, fears and hopes that have nothing at all to do with who they might want to sleep with. Make sense?

Julie Lynn Hayes said...

Jaime, I totally agree with you and have often wondered this myself. I would think a good book depends on good characters and good plot and interaction, and by limiting yourself to only those characters with dangly bits, the reader does himself or herself a disservice. Especially baffling to me are the women, because it seems like they are denying who they are by only wanting to read about men, like women don't exist in their lives. That's just as counter-productive as those who can only read straight sex and won't consider gay without even understanding anything about it.

There are men and women in the world - true fact. Unless you populate another planet totally with men (and I'd sure like to know how they reproduce, but I'm sure you have some explanation for that too), this is the reality that we're faced with.

Heterophobia is every bit as limiting and ridiculous as homophobia.

Good blog, thanks for the chance to rant.

C. Zampa said...

I love to see women in m/m books. They play very important roles in two of as an ex wife/best friend and the other as a close friend/confidente to the main character.

It's that way in real life.

But..well...I'm not sure I can explain this without it sounding prejudice...

But I suppose I don't, personally, want to see a het sex scene in an m/m book. As the romance itself is m/m, what would be the purpose of adding a het sex scene? Would it support the romance in the story?

And, then, my ONLY reason for that is not really caring a lot for dual/trio stories running at the same time, whether they're all het or all m/m or both.

Does that make sense at all?

But it has nothing to do with girly bits or sex at all. Just the mixing of multiple stories.

Good topic!

Jaime Samms said...

"Heterophobia is every bit as limiting and ridiculous as homophobia"

You hit the nail on the head there, Julie, and that is precisely why it bothers me so. It seems like a form of reverse discrimination to me, to ban all heterosexuality from a story as if it is anathema. It is as natural a way to express love as sex between two men. And we shouldn't have to warn against it, any more than we should have to label our gay romance as such, like people might have to run in the other direction in case they get cooties....

C. Zampa said...

I knew my thought was incomplete.

I don't like mixing multiple genre romances in a single genre. It is NOT discrimination at all, just don't like stacking plots on top of plots in a ROMANCE.

However...if it was a mainstream novel? That can consist of multiple genres within one book, or so I think.

But women as major characters in a m/m novel? I stand by my belief that they belong there as much as the children of the characters or any other supporting role.

C. Zampa said...

Here I am again.

Okay---I need to add that, as a major part of my plot in one of my m/m stories, the main character DOES have sex with his ex wife...AFTER they are divorced.

Is this the sort of mixed sex scene you are referring to?

If it is the main character and one of the opposite sex, I feel it's sometimes critical in the story.

But it's the the plot revolving around another plot with a straight couple having sex that, to me, detracts from the story at hand.

Jaime Samms said...

That is one of the scenarios I'm talking about carol, yes. As well, in the Partnership in Blood series, the sex happens between all mixes of characters. M/m, f/f, and m/f. But the plot isn't so much about romance, although there is that, as it is about a magical war and the steps the vampires and mages take to win it, as well as the consequences they suffer (or enjoy;p ) for taking those steps.

And aspects of the plot cannot be worked out without inclusion of all the partnerships in question. It would have been highly unrealistic, IMO, and for me, far less enjoyable, if all the couples in question were m/m. It would have meant what? Women play no part in saving the world? Again, bull****.

Pommawolf Emeraldwolfeyes said...

It's only been in the last several months that I've notice the "whining" about females in m/m/'. I just wasn't understanding what the complaining was about as it really made no sense to me. I hate reading a review, and the person is complaining, or demanding a warning. Excuse me, but you can't tell an author how to write their stories and if they are set in what they want let them write their own...
Basically I can't understand what it is that they are wanting, and just don't read beyond their "whining".
I love the stories and books, and the authors who write them, and please don't let the "whiners' distract from what you do best...*S*


Jaime Samms said...

Pomma, a have to agree. I can't figure,out why some have to make such noise about the issue that is our everyday lives....makes no sense to me at all.

Johnny Miles said...

I haven't read enough m/m out there to be able to comment though I do understand where you're coming from. The thing I find weird is this: isn't the m/m genre read predominantly by women? So, is it women who don't want their m/m romance stories sullied with other women? Or men?

Jaime Samms said...

In my experience listening to readers, Johnny, it's the women who don't want other women in there. I don't get it either. Obviously :D

Perpetua said...

Hey Jaime,

You make a really intesesting point here. I will be the first to admit that I was not a big fan of reading m/f sex in my m/m books. However I love female characters! I think yes it's compleatly unrealistic to think that gay men don't have woman in their lives at all! I absoulatly agree with you a good author can write about a story of a main m/m couple but still include a rich and full life that include women. For example The Promises Series by Amy Lane I can't tell you how much I love Benny from this series although she was not the main focus of the book the story would not be the same without her in it.

When I first started reading m/m it was because I was hungry for something different, I was getting sick of all the weak whinny female characters that I was reading. I think that this coloured my perception for a while for a very long time I would only read m/m books and aye I was a total genre snob lol. But over the years I have mellowed a lot I think it was actually due to the authors within the M/M genre that wrote amazing female characters, like Ariel, Amy and it was actually Lex that got me reading a total m/f book again! After reading Fire Season I was dying to read the previous books in the series!!

Lol sorry I went on my own rant there! What I'm trying to say that for me the reason I had originally not wanted to read about m/f romances in my m/m was because I had become bored and disallussiond with the female characters that I was reading before. But I discovered that it was just reading the wrong books and I 'forgot' about the good ones that I had read!(Lauren Dane)

You said that you don't think there should be a 'warning' if there was m/f sex in a book but I'm not sure I agree wIth you(lol what else is new) I don't see it as a warning I see it as a guide for the reader, I like to look at this before I buy a book and if there is something in the book that wasn't in the 'guide' then it may lessen the enjoyment for me! If there was a heavy D/s or BDSM scene that I was not expecting then I'd be annoyed so while I don't mind the 'girlie bits' as much these days I can understand why people would what a heads up!

Lol ok Uhh I hope that made sense!

Jaime Samms said...

Petchie, it does make sense, in fact. See, I can understand that reasoning, even though it's based pretty much on your emotional reactions to the female characters. It makes sense.

Lex is one of those authors who can do both genres equally well, and I dare say she has as many f/m converts to m/m as she does m/m to reading f/m. She's just good that way.

And Benny. YES! totally agree about Benny. She happens to be one of my all time favorite female characters, and in fact, I kind of wish Amy wrote m/f, because Benny and Drew totally need a story of their own, and it kind of bugs me they get relegated to "also ran" status just because she's a girl.

As for the warnings, well...I guess...there's an argument for and an argument against, and they both make sense and are valaid. Because I don't necessarily disagree with you. I perhaps think a story's blurb should be sufficient content warning when if come to what kinds of plot issues are going to come up. (It's because of you, actually, that I try and make sure my D/s stories have blurbs that give a clear indication how heavy the kink is going to be. Because you're right. No one wants to open a book they think is going to be straight up roance and find somebody tied to the furniture every other scene.)

Perpetua said...

Oh Oh I'm sure Amy does do M/F so maybe Benny and Drew will get their own book!!

I kind of agree with you about the blurbs I think if the blurb is good enough then the 'warning' would not needed. I think your blurbs are always excellent I always know what I am getting into and I love that!

Lol thank you for thinking of me! ((hugs))

Jaime Samms said...

Well, let's hope we get to see Benny's story, then :D

You brought my attention to the idea, Petchie, that there should be some indication in the blurb for readers who want to know ahead of time if there's going to be BDSM or D/s. Seems reasonable that it shouldn't be that hard to let readers know ahead of time about other things, too, without having to resort to "warnings".

Jaime Samms said...

Well, let's hope we get to see Benny's story, then :D

You brought my attention to the idea, Petchie, that there should be some indication in the blurb for readers who want to know ahead of time if there's going to be BDSM or D/s. Seems reasonable that it shouldn't be that hard to let readers know ahead of time about other things, too, without having to resort to "warnings".

Sue Brown said...

My friend, Lisa Worrall,has just encountered this frankly mind-boggling aversion to girlie bits, from girlies.

I have blogged long and loud about the poor representation of women in m/m books. If authors (not all, this is not a generalisation) can't characterise a woman as anything than a screeching harpy. then can we expect readers to deal with the girlie bits?

Jaime Samms said...

You're right, Sue, and I don't know why the women in these books are so often so...disagreeable. I tried, especially in Better, to create female characters with strength and compassion. I think I did well with the mother and the doctor. I might have fell short with Jesse's BFF, but then, she is a bit of a self-centered character to begin with, and I tried to show her trying to get around that.

I just wish it was possible to find women, even the ex's, portrayed as real people who aren't all evil bitches, ya know?