I was reading The Naughty Bits again. I don't know how Teddypig keeps up on all these controversies. But this one started with a blog writer posting about how Loose Id seems to be a m/m publisher now. (http://karenknowsbest.com) Loose Id has some awesome m/m writers published with them, but they have m/f, menage of various sorts, even a few stories with intersexed protagonists. Some of the comments on the original post got really nasty, but a number of the nicer, more thoughtful commenters made some great points. One I thought pertinent was discussion about how GLBT romance almost entirely means m/m romance in e-publishing circles. There's very little f/f romance, and little f/f/m romance. Kirsten Saell pointed this out. Here's part of a quote from her: "As someone who enjoys m/m/f, but likes f/f/m more, I’d like to see some differentiation (both on publisher sites and in reader discussions) between the types of menage and glbt out there (because the term “menage” does NOT only mean two guys and a woman, and glbt does not mean m/m)." I didn't know she wrote f/f/m romances, and will have to check them out. I certainly don't mind a good lesbian romance, either. I prefer the butch/femme dynamic, but that's just me. I'd like to get some recommendations of lesbian romances that sound like the kind of stories I'd enjoy.
A point they didn't make in this particular commentary is how it's generally assumed that bisexual equals menage. Some bisexuals have relationships with only one person at a time. Trust me, I know this. Hard enough to date one person -- I can't imagine dating two or more at the same time. Again, just me.
Here was a quote from one author defending her work, and the comment in reply. I totally agree with Donna here.
Posted: Jul 4th, 2009 at 4:05 am
Quite a number of menage stories I've read have the, er, climax of the story being the woman being penetrated both backdoor and more traditionally at the same time. The men usually enjoy this. (The woman usually does, too. I think it's quite the pr0n star scenario, and often think, "Ouch, ouch, ouch.") One m/f/m menage story I read had this kind of scene, and one hero of the story thinking that the sensation of feeling the other guy's penis through the woman's membranes was "not unpleasant." Not unpleasant. You know, because they're both totally straight, and just really good friends, and the laws of this universe involve a woman having a pair of men. Who are straight.
Here's another good point, Bree responding to a comment from Kirsten:
"I don’t know how many people I’ve come across who’ve told me (often in a less than pleasant way), that f/f interactions just do not “do it” for them. I hesitate to call them all bigots because of that.
Yeah, can we back that truck up or something? I don’t read m/m either, but I love your f/f/m books, Kirsten. And I have seen people who use the word “bigot” for those who don’t read m/m turn around the next day and sneer at f/f stories. That makes me far more angry than people who just admit up front that they don’t like the dueling penis stories..."
This pretty much goes back to people using the terms GLBT or "gay and lesbian" when they really mean m/m. You could easily make the argument that the "B" and "T" are just tacked on to the names of some organizations without those organizations particularly having programs targeted at bisexuals or transgendered people. So it's often token to start with before it's used to describe m/m stories. A lot of m/m stories don't actually include gay-identified men or anything to do with gay culture or political awareness anyway. I generally like the ones that do, if they're well-written. I'd like to see more stories with FTM characters, if the stories were relatively respectful and well-written. The only one I can think of offhand is *spoiler for the story* Greg Wharton's "Butterflies and Myths." Stone Butch Blues is already a classic story with transgendered characters, and that was published in the early nineties.
But I can totally see women who are all about m/m stories saying bad things about f/f stories. I worked through some of my internalized homophobia when I was in my early twenties. It's a process that can take many years. I can't imagine seriously entering that process when the only experience you've had with any same-sex relationship is reading romance. I just can picture some readers never having had decent conversations with someone who's openly gay. (I know I've said that before.) Some readers are very insistent about being straight. I've always thought of myself as being kind of bent for liking to read gay romance. But then, I think of myself as kind of bent because I don't have a sexual orientation one way or the other, either.
But if you read Treva Harte's comments, she kept them high-class all the way. I thought some of the other comments would be quite provoking, too, let alone the post. One author was completely mocked for making rather intemperate comments, and told that it reflected badly on the publisher she works for. It again goes to show that if authors or publishers act unprofessional online, it will haunt them forever. Someone will dig up that post or comment years later to show that that person is intolerant, or unprofessional, or hurt her own cause. Taking the high road in public really seems to be the best way to go, especially in a little world where the readers, authors and publishers mostly seem to know of each other.
And reflecting on the original post, and some of the comments made, it's perfectly fine for a reader to not be into m/m romance or menage. If their idea of romance is that it is between one man and one woman, that's perfectly fine. Some of the people who made comments along those lines were accused of being prejudiced, which is ridiculous. That's how I distinguish the paperback romances at the secondhand bookstore from the family sagas. If it's a story about three generations of women, it's not a romance in my book. I don't even get into anything different than a "one man, one woman, happy ending" explanation of romance when I'm talking to the senior citizens at the bookstore. I think of it as picking my battles. Getting into a big discussion of gay rights in a public place where people are shopping, and probably see me as an employee, doesn't seem like the right thing for me to do. I'm volunteering, but I'm still a representative of the store. If I began a discussion about my belief that a romance is just as much of a romance if it has GLBTI (I for intersexed) protagonists, I figure the senior citizens will either quote Leviticus or give me the popular wisdom on the subject from the 1950s.
Every so often at the bookstore, we get an erotica book, and I just say, "Not a romance." They trust me to distinguish when something isn't a romance. I don't know what ever happened to the copy of The Story of O that we got as a donation. I think it ended up in "Esoteric," which really means "Miscellaneous." We have a set or two of Anne Rice writing as Anne Rampling, the Sleeping Beauty books. One of the other volunteers asked me what it was. "Erotica," I said.
"Erotica," I hissed. A customer walks by.
"What did you say?"
"Just go ahead and put it in 'Horror.'"