Boys Do It, Girls Do It…

(Just a little note here: I know folks have strong opinions on this topic, but I wrote this article in a lighthearted spirit and I hope readers will take it as such.)

So I’m thinking today about penises. Okay, fine, you over there snickering in the peanut gallery–I write erotic romance, so I actually think about them quite a lot. What to do with them, cute names for them, clinical names, sexy names, synonyms for the stuff that comes out of them and the places you put them. Whether or not said schlong belongs on a supernatural being and as such whether or not I need to glove the love. Is that supernatural being circumcised? And so on. But I’m getting so, so off track here, as I tend to do…

The question is, does not having one help or hinder my ability to write M/M??

So awhile back I wrote an article about why women love to read and write M/M. I had no idea this was still such a topic of interest but it managed to score head and shoulders above any other article I’ve ever, ever posted in terms of hits, comments, and retweets so I guess it’s still a topic of some interest. And hey, why not? As one very good friend of mine recently pointed out, there’s inherently nothing for women in a relationship between to men, so why would they be so into that? I get that it’s a little confusing. But hey, it is what it is.

And the problem that I run into sometimes as a woman who writes M/M, is that there are people (mostly men) who don’t feel that women should write in the genre. That many of us are doing it badly or are doing it for the wrong reasons. Oddly, I was reminded the other day that there’s a funny little flip-side to this argument: many folks (mostly women) do not believe that men should write M/M, either.

What’s that, you say? Well if you’re nodding along with that statement then you’re one of those women and I don’t need to explain. For those of us who don’t quite get it, here’s what I think it boils down to: emotion. I guess the idea is that M/M is supposed to be emotionally driven and that women are inherently more emotional than men, and hence better suited to write the genre (which of course we know, statistically, IS female dominated) because we all know that men are emotionally unavailable. 😛 Hmm.

So this got me thinking…if I take apart the various points of view a little…

M/M is all about emotion? So this gets into that whole topic of gay romance vs. M/M romance, and I have to be honest, I don’t always feel like I’m smart enough to know the difference. I’ve read a lot of varying definitions of what M/M vs “gay” means in fiction and I’m still confused. However, I’ve known plenty of men who are emotional. My husband’s best friend gives a speech? Everyone in the room starts crying including him, and he’s the biggest, most masculine Spanish guy I’ve ever known. Conversely, plenty of women (including, I’ll admit, yours truly) have difficulty accessing their emotions and those of their characters. My critique partner has hassled me in the past for not getting deep enough into the emotional connection between my characters. And he’s an actual, card-carrying gay man. Yes, I’ve checked. 😉

Then there’s the question of realism and accuracy…well, I think the bottom-line always is that we’re reading fiction. I’ve seen women use unrealistic sexual positions and scenarios in M/M, but I’ve seen men do it too, and I think to a degree that’s become accepted as standard in the genre.  Also there is a wide, wide variety of people in this world. My husband, for example, is extremely romantic. Extremely emotional. Yes, I’m a lucky girl. But if I were to write him into an M/M novel, I’m betting I’d get a finger or two wagged at me for committing the deadly “chicks with dicks” sin, because he falls outside the “norm” of male emotional behavior.

I’ve read M/M that I thought was well and poorly-written by both male and female authors. I do admit, I shy away from judging the relationship dynamics in M/M written by guys. I figure, I’ve never dated a gay man AS a man, so who am I to judge? Maybe they’re writing from personal experience. I can think the relationship doesn’t make for a very interesting story, but that’s a little bit different.

So who’s right? Damned if I know. Everyone? No one? All of the above? I mean, not me, that’s for sure–to this day I’m amazed that someone saw it fit to give me a college degree for crying out loud. My favorite authors in the genre are both male and female, I know that much.

Personally, it’s all about preference. With reading, just like with sex, it’s all about what gets you off. You, and nobody else.

4 thoughts on “Boys Do It, Girls Do It…

  1. I have to say (for me) gender doesn’t play a role in deciding which m/m writers I decide to read at all. If fact, I think women writers bring something extra to the genre… a more well-rounded approach to love and relationships.

    Though, women are certainly capable of writing filthy, gritty sex scenes. Thinking of Amy Lane’s barn scene in Keeping Promise Rock still makes me blush.

  2. I have NOT read that one, I most certainly will have to do so!!

    And gender doesn’t decide it for me either, obviously, but what prompted the post was a male author friend mentioning that he’d caught a little flak (it seemed) simply because he was male and I realized that it wasn’t the first time I’d heard of that. I respect that position, I just don’t agree with it.

    Like you said, women can be filthy too. There’s an excellent fisting scene in Heidi Cullinan’s Nowhere Ranch, for example. And I think men can write sweet and emotional. I was stunned when I read Christopher Koehler’s Rocking the Boat–the sex is erotic but the romance is VERY sweet (you know, for a guy :P). And Eric Arvin’s Simple Men is still one of my faves, it hasn’t much actual sex at all, but focuses on humor and romance. It’s a lovely story.

    Thanks for stopping by, Ken!

  3. Great line to start a post. Totally caught my interest. LOL. I was an m/m reader long before I wrote an m/m story successfully. I’ll be honest, my first stories were so bad. But it wasnt because I lack the right equipment. I simply hadn’t defined my male character’s differences well enough. But I’ve always adored the men in m/f romances more than the chicks so that’s probably why I write m/m as well. Most of the m/m stories I’ve read in the past were probably written by women. I’ve never cared enough to really look into that. The story, the relationship, is what drives me to read any romance, not the authors gender.

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Heather!! I like writing the male point of view better myself, I seem to connect better with them too! When I write het stories I seem to always struggle with getting into the heroine’s head more. I think possibly more of my preferred m/m writers are women because statistically more are out there, but I like the men too. And because it’s such a common convention for MM writers to use initials (KA Mitchell, etc) I sometimes don’t know which I’m reading–which come to think of it is probably the point. Silly me.

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