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May 1st, 2009

9:58 AM

What's at the end of the rainbow?

Firstly, great Anoop interview. <3 Anoop! For some reason, I can't be arsed about the show after he's gone. Adam? Kris? Allison? Danny? Whatever. When is the next season starting? I'm so over this bore of a season.

Okay, back to more "serious" stuff. Now that a couple of people have started a "Rainbow" charter for RWA. My question is this: don't we have a better name for such a charter? There is a political meaning attached to the "Rainbow", or so I hear, and I wonder whether it's wise to use such a name for a writing group. On my personal front, I have heard grumbles from some people that they don't dare to say that they don't like reading MM stories even if they are okay with gays in real life because they fear they will be unfairly slammed with the "homophobe" label (their reasons are more to do with the lack of realism, the writing style, et cetera). With a writing group superficially affiliating itself to the GLBT affirmative action movement via its name strengthen such impression? Will the name allow hotheaded MM authors with no self-restraint to accuse people who don't read them as homophobes? Some (straight female) MM authors blog about NOTHING but GLBT movement issues, I know, for reasons only they will know, but writing MM stories is not and need not to be synonymous with real life GLBT affirmation action, right?


My point, if I have one here, is that sometimes I wonder we are in the danger of attaching too much political/social affirmation weight to a genre that very rarely represents GLBT in real life - heck, most of these stories are set either in fantasy settings or an OKHomo alternate Earth. Some established players within that genre even go on to state in blogs and what not that there is a difference between "gay fiction" and "MM romance" because, I paraphrase, "MM romance" is an idealized kind of homosexual romance made appealing for its target audience: primarily straight females. It's okay to use the MM genre as a platform to introduce GLBT issues, but at the end of the day, it's still about writing stories rather than initiating social reforms.

UPDATE
04 May 2009: Okay, I'm closing the comments because discussion is becoming circular and have veered so far from the topic of this blog entry. If you have an issue with Kirsten Saell or the way the Rainbow Charter is doing things, I suggest you take it up to them by email.

79 comment(s).

Posted by Tina:

"I know, for reasons only they will know, but writing MM stories is not and need not to be synonymous with real life GLBT affirmation action, right?"

I can tell you from personal experience writing gay graphic novels that: yes, you're expected to care about all gay issues all the time and if not you're labeled a jerk.

Recently on their Twitter, a semi-pro netjournalist [I think he writes for After-Elton] noted that I was a "BL artist antipathic to gay issues". Simply by saying that yaoi is created for women by women in Japan, and they're not inclined to 'consider gay men' when writing their stories, made me a "homophobe".

So yes, the knee-jerk impressions are strong in this mission, ObiWan. :-(
May 1st, 2009 @ 11:09 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

Question: since when did m/m encompass the totality of GLBT anything? Where, I ask, are the L, B and T? Granted, there is a trans romance on the RRW's booklist, but I counted the penises and there were still two of them.

I'm fine with a RWA chapter devoted to m/m--in fact, I think it's a grand idea--but if that's all anyone there is going to talk about, and all anyone is going to associate with them, they should NOT be labeling it GLBT. Sorry, I'm harping again to the same old tune, and even I'm getting tired of it, but it does need to be said on occasion.

I agree with you that activism or even liberal leanings are not necessary when reading or writing m/m--any more than they are to all those straight men in Malibu who produce "lesbo" porn films. I can see more of a backlash coming from the gay community in the near future over straight women annexing male homosexuality for their own titillation, just as there is in the lesbian and bi-female communities over the porn industry's exploitation of f/f sex. Perhaps the vigorous activism (which is sometimes so vigorous it comes off as insincere) is an attempt to head that off at the pass?
May 1st, 2009 @ 1:03 PM

Posted by Mrs G:

Interesting points.

While I'm not sure if we can completely equate MM romances to porn - some authors don't write MM stories in ways that titillate - I think I see the point that Kristen Saell is making.

Maybe a better word to use is "fetish"? For example, all those Japanese women going ga-ga over yaoi, I doubt they really care about GLBT affirmative action when they pore over those comics. I suspect that to them, MM relationships with or without explicit sex scenes are a fetish that they enjoy. Just like how some people have a fetish for sexy underwear, men in suits, et cetera. I also suspect that the vigorous championing comes mainly from published authors - I'm pretty sure that many readers are NOT thinking about GLBT affirmative action when they are reading their favorite MM stories.

Perhaps all that vigorous championing is a way to gain respectability? But I agree with Kirsten in that all that political weight associated with the genre may very well invite a backlash, especially when there is a high degree of fetishization associated with the genre that the gay community may find offensive. I don't know. We'll have to wait and see what happens, I guess.
May 1st, 2009 @ 1:19 PM

Posted by kirsten saell:

Well, there are other kinds of titillation than sexual. I would think women probably want a deeper emotional experience when reading about sexuality (whether it's m/m or otherwise) than men. But emotional titillation is still titillation, and it still involves taking something that exists in the world and putting a spin on it to suit your needs, without necessarily considering the actual real people in actual real m/m situations. And I'm not saying it's horrible to do that, but that it should be acknowledged somewhere in the process of reading/writing, even if only to oneself.

I'm sure there will be plenty of gay men out there who are fine with the concept of m/m romance written by straight women. Just as there are people like me who don't mind watching some of that "lesbo" porn action once in a while. But it doesn't reflect my reality. And if I'd had to fight tooth and nail to force an acceptance of my bisexuality from my parents, boss, coworkers, friends, neighbors, etc, I might find it more harmful and offensive than I do.

I would hesitate to use the word "fetish" to describe m/m romance, because that might lead to people considering homosexuality itself as a fetish, which it most certainly is not. And relegating (or appearing to relegate) many people's everyday reality with a kink like sucking on toes or wearing assless chaps, is just inviting trouble, IMO.

I agree with you that GLBT rights are likely not foremost on someone's mind when reading m/m. They're certainly not anywhere on the minds of the rednecks who look at Hustler pictorials of women together, before heading out to cast their vote against same sex marriage.

And as I said, I don't have any problems with writing for titillation. But it needs to be acknowledged that you're not primarily doing it for the gays (or the lesbians). You're doing it for your own enjoyment (again, nothing wrong with that). But co-opting the Rainbow symbol doesn't necessarily indicate an acknowledgement o
May 1st, 2009 @ 1:37 PM

Posted by kirsten saell:

Of course it cuts me off on the last two words, lol: But co-opting the Rainbow symbol doesn't necessarily indicate an acknowledgement of that.
May 1st, 2009 @ 1:40 PM

Posted by Fae:

I don't see where anyone's stopped authors representing f/f, trans or bi from joining. I don't think it's fair to say "Question: since when did m/m encompass the totality of GLBT anything? Where, I ask, are the L, B and T? Granted, there is a trans romance on the RRW's booklist, but I counted the penises and there were still two of them."

I mean, A. the chapter *just* started and B. the chapter doesn't seem to say that only m/m authors are welcome.

Perhaps the reason there aren't any authors of GLBT romances other than m/m is because...none have joined? I'm not a member but that'd be my first guess, honestly. They can't be represented if they don't join.
May 1st, 2009 @ 3:10 PM

Posted by kirsten saell:

I mean, A. the chapter *just* started and B. the chapter doesn't seem to say that only m/m authors are welcome.

That is true. But I'm referring not just to RRW, but to online discussions in general. Almost any time GLBT romance is discussed, the default setting is m/m. Any time menage romance is discussed, it's "boy meets girl meets boy". And when so many of those discussions are labeled GLBT when they're only really there to explore the "G" or the male aspect of the "B", it starts to rankle. If people want to discuss m/m, that's cool. But don't use an inclusive term when you don't intend to be inclusive. Even Mrs G's OP--and I'm not bashing Mrs. G because I love her to bits--but she was really only interested in how co-opting the "rainbow" affected m/m fiction and m/m authors. Which is really what compelled me to post the question.

And I'm not saying authors of f/f fiction aren't welcome in RRW, or even that they aren't there. (I wasn't up to clicking on every one of those 30-odd links to find out if any of the members actually writes anything other than m/m or m/m/f, and it might be nice if what they write was noted next to their names.) Just that if you want to call yourself GLBT, it helps to court the L, even if it's just for the sake of tokenism. One f/f cover on that bookshelf would have done it for me. And it might make writers of f/f feel welcome to join when so often they either get humored and ignored, or dismissed as insignificant and told to go away.
May 1st, 2009 @ 4:41 PM

Posted by Mrs G:

Hey, no offense taken. You can bash me on my blog all you want!

Well, I mentioned M/M because I have yet to see any strong LBT presence in the GLBT community. As been said, let's face it, GLBT is pretty much MM anyway at the moment, no sugarcoating about it. Mentioning the LBT part of the sandwich will have people wondering, "Wait, there are those stories on sale? Where? I've never seen them much!"

It will be interesting to see more of the LBT part of the sandwich to make a stronger appearance in the Rainbow charter, though. But are there any out there?

And hmm, where does that leave MM(+)F authors? Do they fall under GLBT thanks to the B? What happens if there is no MM, only MF in the MM(+)F romances, then? Do we need a new charter? Does ANYONE take MM(+)F as a genre seriously, considering how many of them are written for what seems like cheap thrills rather than anything else?
May 1st, 2009 @ 4:50 PM

Posted by kirsten saell:

It will be interesting to see more of the LBT part of the sandwich to make a stronger appearance in the Rainbow charter, though. But are there any out there?

Well, my three published books all feature female bisexuality. My fourth, coming in July, is m/m/f, and I hope the thrills are not simply cheap ones. And I'm writing an f/f romance right now. So the books are out there. And I'm not anti-m/m. I'm not. I read them. I've written them. I'm just tired of the L being disregarded.

But yes, when those letters come up: GLBT, everyone automatically assumes it's m/m. So why not just call it m/m? Or make an extra effort to be inclusive, instead of just saying you are.

Here's the thing. There had to have been a lot of behind the scenes emailing and excited inviting of people to join in the months leading up to this. I mean, they went public with over 30 members in their list. It might have been nice to have at least one f/f author as a member before they opened up shop looking like what is yet another all boys' club. And if there are members there who write f/f, that site isn't doing anything at all to draw attention to them. As I said, one book cover would have done it--but without that one book, the site gives the impression there aren't any. And even if they're unpubbed and have no cover to post, the site could put what subgenres they write next to their name so I could check them out. But if there are no f/f authors there, at this point where they've only just gone public, it might be partly because they weren't notified or invited. And if there are, and they have books to promote, why only put m/m covers up?

They can holler about inclusiveness all they want, but the impression I got is that at this point, it's still all about the guys. And if that's the impression, why would an f/f author join?
May 1st, 2009 @ 5:19 PM

Posted by Mrs G:

Well, I do know that Bryl Tyne, a member, had a story with Noble Romance featuring a man who would like to be a woman. I haven't read it, but I suppose that one can fall under the "T" part of the BLT sandwich? I don't know about the rest, since only an insider can answer those questions, but I wonder whether the scarcity of FF authors is because there are so few epublishers out there that accept those stories for publication. Most FF authors may opt to target the erotica market instead, who knows.
May 1st, 2009 @ 5:25 PM

Posted by Teddypig:

But don't use an inclusive term when you don't intend to be inclusive.

That seems to assume a lot there.
If you don't intend to be exclusive why the hell is it so horrible to state you intend to be inclusive?

Listen, as a gay man I read M/F M/M/F all the time and even review it. I admit I don't tend to read trans or lesbian romance because it does not tend to appeal to me and frankly it's not top of my list.

What is so shocking about that? I relate to characters having romantic feelings towards men because I happen to be a gay man! So Straight women + Gay men = common interest in a swinging dick.

I don't understand getting upset at writers who I know for a fact are not being exclusive in their support for the problems you see in the marketplace.

They are at least doing something to attempt to change things.
May 1st, 2009 @ 7:19 PM

Posted by meh:

Most of the erotic romance e-publishers have long stated f/f won't sell and have excluded it from their accepted genres in their guidelines. It's trending away from that as an increasing number of their already contracted authors have been gently pushing for the opportunity to try. Stands to reason, if growing number of het females want to write it, growing number will want to read it.

As an only slightly related aside, femdom is the other big "absolutely no one will buy it" heard on high from the powers that be.
May 1st, 2009 @ 8:34 PM

Posted by Teddypig:

I see ton's of F/F on the Amazon lists constantly. I think Emily is right that it is being sold more and there is a growing trend. Look at Tipping The Velvet.
May 1st, 2009 @ 8:41 PM

Posted by Mrs G:

I have to hand it to Phaze. While I'm sure I'm not on their Christmas guest list, I'm glad they never had any "no f/f" restriction on their submission FAQ. Liquid Silver Books is another one that I know of that publishes f/f stories. Perhaps smaller epublishers are starting to realize that capturing a niche overlooked by the bigger epublishers is actually a smart business move.
May 1st, 2009 @ 9:02 PM

Posted by Mrs G:

Oh, and for some reason, I love femdom stories. I have no idea why (and no, don't tell me).
May 1st, 2009 @ 9:03 PM

Posted by Barbara Sheridan:

There had to have been a lot of behind the scenes emailing and excited inviting of people to join in the months leading up to this. I mean, they went public with over 30 members in their list. It might have been nice to have at least one f/f author as a member

I know a little of what went on behind the scenes. A call went out for those interested in having an RWA chapter geared towards writers of GLBT. Quite a few folks signed up for the informational email loop but to be a recognized RWA chapter only those already belonging to RWA national could be charter members to get things rolling.

I don't know everyone who expressed interest in seeing this special interest chapter formed but perhaps they're in the "Not sure I want to/can spend $100 for National fees plus the extra to join this." camp as some of us were.
May 1st, 2009 @ 10:08 PM

Posted by Jody W.:

I know of at least one f/f author in the chapter. If she's able to sell her book, I'm sure she'd love for her cover to be displayed prominently :) As for why they don't put their slash beside their names, perhaps it could be suggested? I don't know.
May 1st, 2009 @ 10:21 PM

Posted by Ciar Cullen:

I can't begin to equate GLBT activism with female writers of m/m romance. The obvious first issue is that these women are not male, and not gay (generally, at least the ones I know something about). I have some favorite female m/m romance authors, and I read them because I like their stories and for some titillation value, of course. But I agree, Mrs. G, I don't want anyone telling me that I'm repressed or homophobic if, for example, I don't want to review f/f or BDSM. They do nothing for me, and it's not my sexual preference. I wouldn't force hetero romance on a gay man or Lesbian, or imply there is something wrong with them for not liking it. Agree again that the tone of some blogs and comments tends towards a reverse standard. I've been called repressed by an author who chats constantly about her "open" relationship lifestyle. I don't care what she does, but I reject the notion that a middle aged married straight woman must like something other than she likes to be cool.
May 1st, 2009 @ 10:43 PM

Posted by Teddypig:

I don't want anyone telling me that I'm repressed or homophobic if, for example, I don't want to review f/f or BDSM.

Right, sex is sex and politics is politics which by the way I feel politics should always be inclusive.

I'm accused of being transphobic because I insist there should be private events I can attend as a gay leatherman that are purely about celebrating my sexual preference with like minded men that do not include representatives of opposite gender or transgender.

I think I can support the political rights of a group to demand equal treatment under law but it has nothing to do with my personal sexual preference or what I prefer to read, look at or participate in around that personal sexual preference.

Politics, inclusive. Sexual preference, not inclusive.

Maybe that is dinosaur thinking but that is my opinion.
May 1st, 2009 @ 11:59 PM

Posted by kirsten saell:

I don't understand getting upset at writers who I know for a fact are not being exclusive in their support for the problems you see in the marketplace.

I'm not protesting the fact that gay guys don't read f/f. I'm not even "upset" at the writers involved--I just think they could have done more to give a concrete appearance of inclusiveness if they were going to use the GLBT banner. Imagine being a woman and walking into a place looking for work, and every single person working there is a man--thirty of them, all right there. The "now hiring" sign may say women applicants are welcome--it may even say they're MORE welcome than male applicants--but unless you've actually got a contact or an in there, it's still gonna feel awkward applying for a job. You may even assume that--as you've come across in the past--the sign is just lip-service.

And I know there's tons of f/f material on Amazon--either full-on lesbian romance, or f/f and f/f/m erotica. I don't tend to read lesbian romance (which is as different from f/f as gay fiction is from m/m) and I prefer romance to erotica. And as I said, I'm not anti m/m--I've just come to expect in every internet discussion on GLBT romance, that m/m material will have co-opted the totality of the term GLBT. And it sucks every time that expectation is borne out. I don't know that there's anyone to blame, I can only say how I feel (and how other writers and readers of f/f have told me they feel), and why.

I know of at least one f/f author in the chapter. If she's able to sell her book, I'm sure she'd love for her cover to be displayed prominently As for why they don't put their slash beside their names, perhaps it could be suggested? I don't know.

Oh, please please please, someone suggest that to them! As I said, one f/f book cover, or one f/f or f/f/m next to a name (even if the author, like me, writes m/m and m/m/f too) would have given me a totally different impression. And dude, m/m is NOT hard to find.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 12:16 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

And dude, m/m is NOT hard to find. I'm sorry, but it's not. There are probably fifty romance titles dealing with m/m and male bisexuality for every one dealing with f/f and female bisexuality--and they're all categorized as GLBT.

I'm so used to wading through an ocean of m/m and m/m/f on publishers' sites looking for f/f and f/f/m titles that might not even be there. I actively seek it out, and it would be nice if it was easier to find. I wasn't really interested on sifting through 30 author sites looking for something that might not even be there. I shouldn't have to do that. So please, those little slashies need to go up next to the names. And if there were a couple of f/fs and f/f/ms next to those names, you might find they get more f/f writers wanting to join. :)
May 2nd, 2009 @ 12:18 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

Kirsten, while I'm glad you posted here (it's been an interesting discussion so far), I also think you should contact the founder or its more high-ranking charter members directly if you feel strongly about this issue, because I doubt they read this blog.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 12:24 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

Right, sex is sex and politics is politics which by the way I feel politics should always be inclusive.

I just wanted to say, I agree completely. People should not be made to feel guilty because they have preferences in the kinds of sex they want to read, write and engage in. You're not a dinosaur, Teddy. Dinosaurs aren't even remotely related to pigs. But the rainbow is a symbol weighted with political meaning, and the term GLBT implies inclusiveness. Something we should all keep in mind whenever we want to use that symbol and that term.

It may take an extra effort initially to actively woo writers of f/f and f/f/m, and an extra effort to make the ones already there visible, to put paid to the inclusiveness implied by the GLBT rainbow, but I think it's worth the effort. We're so used to being snubbed, we assume that's what's happening, even when it's not.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 12:34 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

I also think you should contact the founder or its more high-ranking charter members directly if you feel strongly about this issue, because I doubt they read this blog.

Oh, these things have a way of getting around. I'm picturing a fair amount of umbrage at my criticisms, and a flurry of emails will probably ensue momentarily. If nothing happens in the next few days, I'll probably email them.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 12:39 AM

Posted by Mrs G:



Still, to be fair to Rainbow, they haven't had much chance to do anything yet. Who knows, Kirsten, they may actually make an effort to be inclusive in the future. From what I can see from where I am, the charter members do seem very enthusiastic about giving the whole thing a go.

And if they feel that we are expecting too much from a writing charter, well, they are the ones who used the word "Rainbow" in the charter name. Which sort of brings me back to my original post of making this blog entry: given that the charter is a writing one with no political mission stated in its website, is it wise to use a word closely connected to GLBT affirmative action to identify itself with? Or am I reading too much into that "rainbow" thing?
May 2nd, 2009 @ 12:47 AM

Posted by veinglory:

I am not in any way associated with Rainbow, but it seems perverse to slam them for being MM-only when they are not. The group is for G, B, L, T and probably a bunch of other subjects--it just happens that a lot of the members will be MM because this subgenre is thriving right now.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 12:49 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

I am not in any way associated with Rainbow, but it seems perverse to slam them for being MM-only when they are not.

I'm not slamming them for being m/m only, just for appearing to be m/m-focused if that's not the impression they want to give. There are things they could have done to give a different impression--especially if, as Jody says, there is an f/f writer there. f/f is hard to find. It would be nice if they made it easier to spot, and the opportunity to do so is sitting right there on their member list.

And as I said, I don't know that it's anyone's fault in particular, just that the popularity of m/m, and the fact that in many minds GLBT romance = m/m and m/m/f, is a barrier the L,B and T have to deal with at the moment. We're so used to being ignored or dismissed a little effort might be helpful in convincing us that that isn't the case here. Especially since it would have been so easy to do.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 1:15 AM

Posted by Teddypig:

I agree with Ms G about dropping them a note about your concerns Kirsten. They are probably swamped with the announcement.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 1:27 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

Or am I reading too much into that "rainbow" thing?

I think you have a valid point. I would guess that the m/m romance community (authors and readers) is more socially/politically progressive by nature than the men who produce and consume lesbian porn (where many guys are morally outraged by the idea of women having sex with each other because they actually, you know, want to, but are hot for two chicks performing if it's for their titillation). But there is a certain...discomfort for me in them using a symbol for gay rights to promote romantic/sexual material mostly aimed at non-gay people. I don't know that there will be a backlash over that, but it wouldn't surprise me. You can't really equate it with a claim that "Lesbo Strap-on Gangbang IIII, The Movie" is a step forward for lesbian rights, but some in the gay community might find it too close for comfort.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 1:27 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

I agree with Ms G about dropping them a note about your concerns Kirsten. They are probably swamped with the announcement.

Or just not thinking about it, because most of them are m/m and they don't realize it's an issue, I know. I think I will shoot them an email. It's a relief to know they have at least one f/f writer there, but it would have been nice to not have had to make trouble and alienate people (once again) to find that out.

Then again, making trouble is one of my innate gifts and I hate to waste it. And I do like to say these things publicly, so that people in general who might be plugging along unaware realize it is an issue--one that encompasses more than RRW's membership.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 1:35 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

Kirsten, I think you are starting to make some unfair generalizations about Rainbow. Give them time to prove themselves. If a year has passed and you still think they are deliberately ignoring FF authors, then we can start sharpening our claws for the kill.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 1:57 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

I don't think they're deliberately ignoring f/f authors. I just think they might be unaware that f/f and f/f/m romance at the moment has a higher wall to climb than m/m. It may take more effort to support f/f writers than it does m/m--and they might not realize that, either. At the moment, f/f romance is all but invisible, even when it's there--not just at RRW, but pretty much everywhere.

In other words, don't just tell me they're there--show me who they are--especially if right now they only comprise 3% of your membership. If all I actually see is m/m books and authors, I'm going to assume that's all there is. Because of the vagaries of the marketplace, especially online, extra effort is required to promote the interests of f/f authors. That's not RRW's fault, but it is something they're going to have to deal with if they're to have any success at it. That's all I'm saying.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 2:14 AM

Posted by Tina:

@Barbara Sheridan I remember getting email about that, but I balked at the $100 membership because at present time I’ve only 1 novel out, Gadarene. :/ I'm contracted for two more graphic novels before I can do anything new--so it would've been a waste of money for me to join a 'fiction' charter.

@Ciar This was a problem for 'yaoi' from Japan, printed in English, from the start. Yaoi does little to depict anything remotely realistic or pertaining to gay men - and yet yaoi-fans in the states go out of their way to actively promote that they're 'down with GLTB issues' and so any reviewer or reader that dislikes the material is obviously a homophobe. *scratching my head* I’ve often felt as a creator and a reader, that a majority of 'yaoi' in itself, is a bit homophobic because it fetishizes gay male relationships for a female audience and the side effect of that I’ve seen first hand: when young female fans see real gay men, all they see is 'the sex'. It seems that there's nothing more to a gay men then how he fucks, who he fucks, and when he fucks. :/ Perhaps because the visual element in graphic novels enables a certain form of disconnect for younger fans, and they just don’t get past ‘there’s a real human being inside that gay person’. I know fans like this, it's unfortunate. I think often creators and yaoi-bloggers promote GLTB causes because they want to eradicate the ‘disconnect’.

Everyone: I’ve earned some of the criticism leveled against me [I've been called a homophobe] but for some of the wrong reasons. My ties to the community aren’t as strong as they were when my brother was alive, [he passed in '96]; but I know the struggles, I know the life, but I am not a gay man nor will I be an advocate for a gay man because quite frankly, I write gay porn comics. :/ It’s Christina-Hefner Syndrome – many out there say she’s a real feminist because she controlled and ran Playboy for the last 30 years…but she’s doing
May 2nd, 2009 @ 2:33 AM

Posted by Tina:

CONTINUED:

It’s Christina-Hefner Syndrome – many out there say she’s a real feminist because she controlled and ran Playboy for the last 30 years…but she’s doing it at the expense of the gender-imbalance in the media.

I write gay erotic graphic novels – are there gay men out there who really want me to make a stand and promote gay issues?

Sorry, I won’t be the Pimp lobbying for the better treatment of prostitutes.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 2:36 AM

Posted by Cathy in AK:

*raises hand* F/F-writing member of the RRW here :) When the call was going out for lgbt writers to form the chapter, I noted the many M/M authors already signed up but felt no sense of not belonging because I write F/F. I'm not sure how many members are F/F writers (and need to fix that) but there are some others. It's very possible that, like me, they aren't pubbed and have no covers to giddily display :) Or aren't members of the RWA and can't be part of the chapter.

I like the idea of identifying the subgenre beside an author's name. Granted, without notations it generates a lot of traffic to many authors' sites, but that gets tedious. Heck, even *I* haven't looked at all of my co-members' sites!

As for the use of the rainbow, I think it's more of a way to get folks to recognize the lgbt aspect rather than used as a political statement. At least that's how I've seen it. The chapter is focused on the writing, and there will be the inevitable connection to social/political issues, but the writing comes first.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 2:47 AM

Posted by Cathy in AK:

Sorry, the "aren't members of RWA and can't be part of the chapter" should have included something about "Maybe there aren't more F/F authors listed because they aren't RWA members...."

Dang tiny area to write....
May 2nd, 2009 @ 2:53 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

Hey Cathy, good to see you! *waves*

I noted the many M/M authors already signed up but felt no sense of not belonging because I write F/F.

That's cool. And as a nonmember, I wouldn't know how enthusiastic they were about enticing f/f RWA members. If they were enthusiastic and welcoming, that's awesome.

F/f has a hard climb ahead of it, and a most of that has nothing to do with RRW. It has to do with the "Girls Gone Wild" stigma that needs to be overcome, and the general assumption online that GLBT = two or more penises rather than two or more vaginas. It has to do with f/f's relative invisibility and its occasional characterization as something no straight woman would (or should) want to read. None of that is RRW's fault, or even straight men's fault (because they should be allowed to enjoy f/f material made with their tastes in mind just as straight women enjoy m/m written to their sensibilities), or lesbian writers' fault for penning fiction with a lesbian rather than straight/lesbian/bi-female readership in mind. But it is something that's going to have to be acknowledged and dealt with.

A lot of f/f writers and readers have come to assume that discussions and orginzations labeled GLBT aren't necessarily going to be useful to them. Again, not RRW's fault, but it's a reality they're going to have to work extra hard to overcome.

Are there other members who write f/f or f/f/m? If so, I want to know, because I'd like to support them, and I can't do that if I don't know who they are.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 3:19 AM

Posted by Cathy in AK:

Kirsten, it is a hard climb, and I'm hoping the RRW will do a lot for promoting and encouraging F/F and F/F/M writers and readers. I'll certainly do MY best to make sure the genre doesn't get lost in the shuffle :)

I don't have a list of members writing F/F, but I may soon. (Though it may be faster to simply "click" on members' names on the site, considering how slow I am) I'll be contributing to the first member newsletter; my topic is being a straight woman writing F/F. As research/member involvement, I'll be asking the membership to respond to a few questions. I'm sure I'll start figuring out who's doing what ;)
May 2nd, 2009 @ 3:50 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

Kirsten, it is a hard climb, and I'm hoping the RRW will do a lot for promoting and encouraging F/F and F/F/M writers and readers. I'll certainly do MY best to make sure the genre doesn't get lost in the shuffle

Maybe you could also suggest ways to make the few f/f(/m) authors stand out from the m/m, so they don't just fade into a sea of mantitty? I'm not sure how warm they're going to be feeling towards me right now, if I were to email them with the suggestion, LOL. I really would like to see subgenres listed next to names, or even see them just post numbers of how many members write f/f(/m), so I know how much time I'd have to invest in finding them.

And that's an excellent topic for discussion. The assumption tends to be only lesbians and straight guys are interested in reading/writing f/f, and that's simply not the case. Right now, most of the options for f/f are either heavily lesbian-slanted romance and general lesbian fiction, f/f(/m) erotica without the romance, or porno aimed at men. And I don't believe for one second that the readership isn't there, but I do feel that most of the books currently available don't serve the tastes of that readership.

Every once in a while I find exactly what I'm looking for--La Bonne by Michele DeLully, or Bonnie Dee's contribution to the anthology Three--but it's just so hard to find it's almost not worth the effort of looking. It almost made me feel guilty for writing an m/m/f, because the enthusiasm with which my previous three books were received by women like me, who love that type of book and have enormous difficulty finding it, makes me feel I should be doing more for them.

I do hope RRW can be an effective advocate for f/f, and I wish them all the luck in the world. But taking on f/f is going to involve a lot of work overcoming the barriers to its success, barriers that are not necessarily the same as (or even remotely similar to) those facing m/m.

M/m doesn't have to
May 2nd, 2009 @ 4:22 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

M/m doesn't have to contend with the ingrained sexism that faces female protagonists in general, and romance heroines in particular. It doesn't have to fight the idea that men will always be more interesting and dynamic than women. And it doesn't have to face hundreds of years of male homosexuality exploited for women's consumption by producers of pornography. Huge challenges. Surmountable, I hope, but it ain't gonna be easy. :)
May 2nd, 2009 @ 4:23 AM

Posted by Fae:

I had a whole post written out but instead I'm just going to say good for Cathy and the other f/f authors who took the initiative and didn't assume anything and joined the group. I hope RRW does wonderful things for their careers. :)
May 2nd, 2009 @ 4:46 AM

Posted by Cathy in AK:

"I hope RRW does wonderful things for their careers."

You and me both, Fae. And thanks :)

Kirsten, I'll do what I can to get things a-moving from within. I love a good challenge ;)
May 2nd, 2009 @ 5:05 AM

Posted by di:

-- It might have been nice to have at least one f/f author as a member before they opened up shop --

It doesn't count for you, if they also write m/m? Or is just just one f/f author you know about?

Because the president of the chapter has written f/f (and bi), in addition to m/m.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 7:04 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

@di:

I know now there are members who write f/f(/m) (and it doesn't bother me if they write m/m as well), but that f/f presence wasn't reflected anywhere on the actual site. If there are authors there with published f/f(/m), why aren't any of those titles on the bookshelf--the most visible and easy to access place to instantly communicate that kind of inclusiveness? Or next to the members' names, the next best place?

Yes, I'm coming at this with a bias, but that bias is based in large part on by my past experiences online. And no, the RRW isn't at fault for that, but they do need to be made aware that dismissive attitudes toward f/f abound on the internet, and that will lead people (not only me, frankly) to assume that that attitude exists at RRW, too, if all they see promoed on the site are m/m titles. And, really, it would have been so easy for them to communicate an actual presence of f/f(/m) writers already within their membership. But they didn't.

Do they really expect me to pick through the booklist on every author's website to find out whether anyone there actually writes the stuff? I already have to pick through sometimes hundreds of m/m(/f) titles in publishers' GLBT sections, often to find the f/f(/m) offerings are minuscule or non-existent. Why should I have to subject myself to that, when they could have just put subgenres next to names to make it easier for people like me?

Honestly, I don't think it's so strange that my initial impression was of an all-boys' club. It's something I've found in plenty of places on the internet under the GLBT banner, and there was nothing there to tell me otherwise.

At the very least, I hope they take into account that this was not just my first impression, and take some measures to make their f/f(/m) presence more visible.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 7:38 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

Tina, I suspect that your last post will make you really unpopular with some people, but I can see your point, I think. I happen to scratch my head whenever I come across a porn creator online lobbying for freedom of speech, for example, because that kind of lobbying smacks of self-serving to me. It's clear that this person wants "freedom of speech" because to that person, "freedom of speech" translates to "the opportunity to make porn without being lobbied by opponents of the industry".

While I'm not equating porn to MM romances, I sometimes wonder whether all that constant lobbying for GLBT rights from MM authors does not have that same degree of self-serving motive behind them. Which is to say, "Give equal opportunity to the GLBT people... and give me a chance to sell my books in bookstores, please".

But I don't have any genuine objection to such activism, let me make this clear, because at the end of the day, the message they are spreading is a good one. It's just that sometimes writing is writing and shouldn't be associated too heavily with a political/social affirmative action, you know what I'm saying?
May 2nd, 2009 @ 8:41 AM

Posted by di:

It looks to me like the bookshelf is recently released titles only. I wouldn't expect that to be an inclusive list, representing the diversity of the group's works, especially given the lack of (epublished) f/f out there. I wouldn't make statements (your 1st comment here) about the group based on that page without doing more research.

Also, your statement about counting penises with the transgender romance was rude and dismissive. I would love for you to tell one of my friends that she doesn't count as a woman, because she was born with a penis and has no plans for gender reassignment surgery.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 9:43 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

Di, she was talking about romance novels. It's not fair that you take her quote out of context and base it on real life. She's not talking about your friend or any transgendered person in real life.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 9:54 AM

Posted by Fae:

But she asked where the trans was in the group when it's right there on the bookshelf page, second book listed. Apparently the trans only counts if it's a F to M trans or one where the trans person has had gender reassignment surgery? I don't know, I'm all kinds of confused about what exactly Kirsten is expecting from this group that they're not giving.

She wanted them to have f/f members before they started...they did, apparently. She wanted to see trans/bi/f/f represented on the bookshelf page, Trans is and when one of the f/f authors has a new f/f or bi release I'm sure that will be too. How much more inclusive are they supposed to be?

I'm not trying to be rude or anything, I'm genuinely confused about what the problem is, because I'm just not seeing it.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 10:33 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

Perhaps this discussion is better off addressed to Kirsten via email?

She said that she knows now that she was mistaken about the Rainbow being an MM-only affair, so this seems to be a hasty judgment made based on her past experiences with the MM community. Perhaps listing down M/M, F/F, etc by the authors' names would have allowed people to avoid making the same mistaken impression that Kirsten did. So, the problem is... solved? Made clear? Seems like that to me.

And I really, really don't want to host a discussion about what makes or makes not a transgendered person here, because that is one flammable topic that I doubt will end well for all parties involved.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 10:44 AM

Posted by Fae:

Understood, Mrs. G, and I certainly don't blame you on that. :)
May 2nd, 2009 @ 10:50 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

Thanks, Mrs. G. I'm glad someone gets what I'm trying to say.

As I've repeatedly stated, I do have a certain expectation that f/f will be mostly ignored (as it was in Mrs. G's original post, heh), if not actively excluded, in a lot of places where "LGBT" is celebrated and promoted. The very fact that Fae and others are unaware that this is an issue only underlines my point. F/f authors are so used to being disregarded it really does take more than the tag "LGBT" to tell us that we're going to be represented in any venue or discussion.

That's may not be RRW's fault, but it is something they're stuck dealing with. When a specific group is up against the kind of blanket disregard f/f often has to deal with in the online community, it doesn't matter how inclusive you are, unless you provide some concrete evidence of it, because eventually we just assume the worst until someone steps in and proves otherwise.

I used to be very free with the benefit of the doubt, but I've been disappointed too many times. If a group is going to represent permutations of f/f as well as m/m, they need to be made aware of the snap judgments people (again, not just me) make so they can do something to counter them.

Perhaps listing down M/M, F/F, etc by the authors' names would have allowed people to avoid making the same mistaken impression that Kirsten did.

It wouldn't be necessary at all if the initial impression wasn't so frequently proved correct.

Sorry to hijack your blog, Mrs. G. And I hope something more useful than resentment can come of this discussion.
May 2nd, 2009 @ 1:34 PM

Posted by Stacia:

I'm a member of the new chapter, and I also find it somewhat disheartening that the primary focus of the chapter (and the discussion around its formation) is m/m. At least one member of the group is gay but writes primarily heterosexual romance. I think the group is still trying to find its purpose: is it a group for GLBT writers, or is it a group for writers of GLBT-themed work, or a mixture of the two?

I write and edit lesbian fiction, so I will be doing my best to make sure the L in GLBT is represented.
May 3rd, 2009 @ 12:26 AM

Posted by Cathy in AK:

Hey Stacia, nice to see another RRWer here :)

I hope we f/f folks can shift the focus to become more balanced. Part of it, I think, is the overwhelming popularity of one genre over another. Do you know how many vampire writers there are in the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter? Lots! And at times it feels like they're running the universe. But as a non-vampire writer or reader, I recognize their popularity and it makes me work harder on putting out the best story I can write.
May 3rd, 2009 @ 12:42 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

Hi, Stacia, so glad to know there are more of you there! I think you've really nailed my feelings--disheartened. And it's not really that there was no visible f/f(/m) on the chapter's site. It's that it's not visible there after being virtually invisible in almost every online discussion of LGBT romance, and in almost every epublisher's LGBT section. I mean, Ellora's Cave still labels their m/m category "gay and lesbian"? If there are still a few lesbian books there from years ago, they don't even have a search engine to help you find them amid all the m/m.

All of that combined just kind of made me think, "Here we go again..." and I'm glad you guys were here to reassure me that that wasn't the case.

Lesbian and bi-female fiction face completelely different challenges than m/m, and one of those challenges is how overshadowed it is at the moment by m/m's popularity. That isn't RRW's fault (or m/m's fault, either), but if RRW is going to be an effective advocate for f/f authors, it's something they need to think about. And f/f authors on the inside are going to have to work extra hard to get the support they need.

@Cathy: Whenever I go looking for fantasy romance, I end up wishing publishers would divide their categories into vamp/shifter/were and non-vamp/shifter/were. The "non" category might end up virtually empty, but at least I wouldn't have to sift through a bajillion v/s/w books to find those three high fantasies...
May 3rd, 2009 @ 1:51 AM

Posted by Stacia:

@Kirsten: I think part of the challenge for writers of lesbian romance within RRW will be to make the m/m writers aware that the primary lesbian romance market seems to be the print market, and that the LGBT print and epubbed markets are two completely different animals, with different customer bases. For the most part, the epublishers do not publish "f/f" unless there's an "m" in there somewhere (and preferably two).

The L may not be represented in the epublishing world, but we do have books in print (dozens of lesbian romances per year; check out Bold Strokes Books and Bella Books, for example), and it saddens me that the same people who bemoan the lack of L in GLBT keep focusing on who isn't publishing f/f instead of looking at who is.
May 3rd, 2009 @ 3:20 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

I would love to purchase books from publishers like Bold Strokes and Bella and Cleis, but my reality doesn't allow for it. I live a 5 hour drive through mostly unpopulated country from the nearest bookstore (which may not even have an LGBT section), and Amazon often charges more for shipping to my area than the cover price of the book. And I'm a single mom with three kids whose ex can't even pay his share of our small debt let alone child support. My yearly income (including government benefits and my income from writing) is less than $20 000 a year. Canadian.

The few small LGBT print presses who do put out ebooks want an insane amount of money for them. I'm sorry, but I will simply never pay more than 8 bucks for an ebook, even from an author I love (and I'm an ebook author and vocal advocate), let alone $12.95 for a book by an author I've never read before.

If the only people who produce books I can afford don't publish f/f, and the only people who publish f/f produce books way out of my price range, where does that leave me?

I'm not the only person who would purchase more f/f from the publishers you suggest if their books were more affordable. It's a discussion I have on a regular basis with friends of mine who are interested in f/f and actively seek it out. I don't know whether starting a dialogue with publishers about making their books more accessible to people like me who would LOVE to buy them falls under RRW's mandate, but it is something to think about.
May 3rd, 2009 @ 4:01 AM

Posted by Ciar Cullen:

I came back here to read more comments because I am a bit confused. I do not want to offend anyone, so please forgive me--I'm just an average woman with a few gay and Lesbian friends, and we don't talk very much about books.

Publishing, as a business with a bottom line, will focus on the size of the market, naturally. Am I wrong in assuming that m/m has a much larger audience than f/f, for example? It seems to me that m/m appeals more (again, I could be wrong) to hetero readers than f/f. And by m/m, I mean the type written by women largely for women.

That said, advocacy takes on a different spin. Kristen knows I'm a fan of her writing, so this is not about her. So while I think any chapter of RWA or any org that calls itself "rainbow" should be inclusive, and I've glad they've taken that tiny step, is it a publishing failure that there are not more f/f ebooks, for example? I'm bitching and moaning cause I can't keep up with the deflation of erotic content (I used to write "hot," now it's practically considered "sweet"). Is that the publisher's fault, or the market demand?
May 3rd, 2009 @ 7:40 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

@Ciar,

It's a fallacy that straight women don't like to read f/f. One of the biggest problems f/f faces is that there is very little out there of the type straight and bi women who enjoy it want to read. It's all very well to say "there's lots of lesbian romance out there", but I'm not necessarily interested in lesbian romance (and certainly not at those prices, oy). Saying "you want f/f? Well, there's lots of lesbian romance!" is like saying "you want f/f? Try some lesbo porn. There's tons of it out there!" And yeah, there is, and yeah, it's f/f, but it's not what I'm looking for. (And no, I'm not equating lesbian romance with "lesbo porn", just saying neither are what I'm really looking for.)

I've talked to a fair number of straight women (most of whom have become fans of my writing, heh), who love f/f but feel embarrassed to admit it. One of them said that because she had so many online friends in the m/m reading community, and because the prevailing wisdom there was that straight women don't (or shouldn't) enjoy f/f, she was reluctant to publicly express her liking for it. She said she didn't want them to think she was a lesbian or bisexual or some kind of "freak".

She got over it eventually, and recced my books to several of her friends and they've been well received (4 and 5 star ratings) among the ones willing to try them. And oddly, some of them rated the ones with the most (and most graphic) f/f content the highest.

Remember, these are avid fans of both m/m and m/f who'd never thought they would enjoy f/f. But they figured because they were straight women, it wouldn't do it for them. Because that's the prevailing wisdom. And they've gone on to seek more out since trying it.

One thing that happens again and again is readers will stumble across me in the comments of some thread, discover my books, and then email me for recs of bi-oriented f/f, because they are actively looking for it and can't find it. And sadly, there isn't very much I can d
May 3rd, 2009 @ 8:44 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

And sadly, there isn't very much I can do to help them, because I have the same problem. These women aren't looking for lesbian fiction, they're looking for f/f and f/f/m romance (erotic or otherwise) that has a bisexual or bi-curious spin on it. Finding that is often like trying to find a good BBQed steak in a sushi bar. It's just not there. Even less so at LGBT presses than at epubs, most of the time.

So it's a failure that's on a lot of doorsteps. Writers, for not writing the books readers are looking for, publishers for making the few books hard to find, and the "prevailing wisdom" of female sexuality, which makes some women feel like freaks for liking what they like.

None of these are problems facing the m/m community. Writers write what they like (and lots of it), and publishers make it easy to find, and no one starts questioning a woman's sexuality because she likes to read it.
May 3rd, 2009 @ 8:45 AM

Posted by Keziah Hill:

I think the basic problem with a chapter of RWA called Rainbow, is that it gives the impression of a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people who write romance for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. I don't think this is mostly the case (although I'm sure that there are some queer people writing for queer people in the chapter). Using the imagery and codes of a sexual liberation movement is a bit disingenuous to me. On the whole they are writing their books for straight women (which is fine - so do I). Are people who write gay male romance targeted to straight women somehow discriminated against in RWA? I wouldn't have thought so given it's so popular. Or at any rate I doubt they would be any more discriminated against (discriminated isn't quite the right word - negatively regarded is more accurate) than erotic romance writers. Although perhaps RWA has changed recently.

I think for f/f to reach a straight female audience, it has to be written to target that audience not to target a lesbian audience. We know from many sexuality research projects that women who identify as straight also admit to sexual fantasies about sex with women and a reasonably large proportion have had some kind of sexual encounter with women. Maybe that's the problem. Maybe for straight women f/f romances are a little to close to home ie not in the realm of fantasy in the way that m/m romance is? Thinking out loud here. It's a fascinating subject. But bottom line, I write what I want to write whether there is a market for it or not (and there is a big erotica market for f/f).
May 3rd, 2009 @ 10:45 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

I think for f/f to reach a straight female audience, it has to be written to target that audience not to target a lesbian audience.

Good point. Lesbian romance often doesn't appeal to straight women because of the relationship dynamics, or certain plot points. But as underrepresented as f/f is even at LGBT presses, where gay fiction is almost always more abundant, bi-female/bi-curious romantic fiction is virtually non-existant.

Maybe that's the problem. Maybe for straight women f/f romances are a little to close to home ie not in the realm of fantasy in the way that m/m romance is?


I think a large part of the problem is that up until recently, men were kind of the default setting when it came to research on human sexuality. That is, researchers assumed that findings that applied to males would also apply to females, and that's simply not the case.

Recent studies that measured sexual responses in straight and gay men and women found that for men, the type of erotic material they enjoy is irrevocably tied to their orientation--straight men need at least one vagina (preferably two) to enjoy porn, and gay men, as Teddy so eloquently put it upthread, need at least one swinging dick.

Women are different in that they respond sexually to all kinds of visual/literary stimuli--but only if it's giving them sexual signals. A straight woman will get more physically aroused by the sight of a clothed woman doing yoga than she will by a hot guy with a flaccid penis walking naked on a beach. Straight women got turned on physically by lesbian material (often despite saying they didn't), and lesbians got turned on by m/m. Many women across Kinsey scale even got more aroused by watching chimpanzees mating than they did by the naked man on the beach. There was absolutely no correlation between a woman's orientation and what kind of erotic material she found arousing. If there were, we would have to assume that a large percentage of women find monkeys sexuall
May 3rd, 2009 @ 1:13 PM

Posted by kirsten saell:

Oops, forgot to close a tag. My bad.

If there were, we would have to assume that a large percentage of women find monkeys sexually attractive.

Which is why every time I read someone saying "Of course I like m/m and don't like f/f--I'm a straight woman," it makes me grind my teeth. Because it makes straight women who do like it feel like they must be closet lesbians, when 99% of the time nothing could be further from the truth.

Honestly, there is a significant number of lesbians out there who prefer to read m/m over any other subgenre of romance, and lesbian writers who write m/m exclusively. Does anyone accuse them of being closeted straight women?

So while I think that f/f romance can make straight women uncomfortable, that discomfort is based on a total fallacy that female sexual orientation = choice of erotic material.

The very fact that so many women who didn't think in a million years they would enjoy f/f liked my books (and often gave higher scores to the ones with a lot of f/f) tells you that if you hit the right notes as far as story, relationship dynamics, hot sex and good writing, you can find an audience.

But bottom line, I write what I want to write whether there is a market for it or not

Me too, whether it's m/f, f/f, f/f/m or m/m/f. Eventually the market that already exists will reveal itself, and that's good enough for me.
May 3rd, 2009 @ 1:14 PM

Posted by Jules Jones:

"None of these are problems facing the m/m community. Writers write what they like (and lots of it), and publishers make it easy to find, and no one starts questioning a woman's sexuality because she likes to read it."

That, right there, is insulting to me as an m/m reader/writer, even if you didn't mean it to be. Perhaps especially because you didn't mean it to be. Because yes, I *have* repeatedly been told I'm weird and perverted for liking m/m, and had my sexuality questioned as a result. I had to fight to find a publisher who was willing to take a chance on publishing m/m, because it's not so long ago that a major erotic romance publisher could say in their guidelines that they would consider material with a little f/f, but absolutely no m/m, because they catered to *women's* fantasies. Even when epublishers started taking m/m, the menages were very much the traditional m/f/f with the two women having sex with each other and the guy, and the occasional terribly daring two men having sex with the same women, but quite definitely not with each other. It's still the situation that print erotica publishers will happily have f/f scenes in their m/f novels theoretically aimed at women, will even require them, but will reject even a hint of m/m. There are plenty of bi and lesbian activists who will tell me that there is something wrong with me, that I am suffering from internalised misogyny, because I'd rather read m/m than f/f.

I do understand why the current erotic romance ebook market is so frustrating for someone who'd rather read f/f. But I understand that because as someone who'd rather read m/m, I'm in exactly the same position when it comes to the print market right now, and the ebook market until five years ago. And because right now there are a lot of erotica activists who assume that of *course* A Real Woman would rather read f/f than m/m, and come up with deeply insulting theories about why m/m readers are denying our true nature. No, not you, Kirsten
May 3rd, 2009 @ 5:34 PM

Posted by Mrs G:

Can we actually have a discussion without taking offense here and there? Surely we can just explain why we disagree with the other person without going, oh, I'm offended here, I'm insulted there, et cetera. If you are so easily offended, maybe it's better to take a deep breath before posting.

Humor me, please.
May 3rd, 2009 @ 6:45 PM

Posted by kirsten saell:

Oooh, I hate bravejournal, I really would have liked to read the end of your comment, Jules.

because it's not so long ago that a major erotic romance publisher could say in their guidelines that they would consider material with a little f/f, but absolutely no m/m, because they catered to *women's* fantasies.

And there was a chorus of rebuttal from an already thriving online m/m slash/fanfiction community, and publishers eventually listened. But you don't hear that chorus so much now that the biggest and most lucrative epublisher says they won't publish *f/f* because they cater to women's fantasies. You don't even really hear if from other epublishers who do publish it--instead you frequently see them online saying it doesn't sell well because it doesn't appeal to straight women. You don't hear a chorus of "that's what people said about m/m, and look how wrong they were" from the m/m community--the very people you'd think would understand how sexual identity and orientation often has nothing to do with the kinds of erotica women like to read.

What you do hear is a lot of "straight women like m/m and don't enjoy f/f because, well, because they're straight." And a great deal of that, unfortunately, comes from the online m/m community itself (not so much the writers--although there are a few--but the readers). And you would think when some of the most talented m/m writers are bisexual women or lesbians, the assumption would be the opposite--we're women, we like the kind of books we like, and that can sometimes be the exact opposite of what we enjoy in real life.

A Real Woman would rather read f/f than m/m, and come up with deeply insulting theories about why m/m readers are denying our true nature.

Your true nature as what? I wasn't online during the period you mention, and I apologize for speaking in ignorance--if people were speculating as to your sexual identity or orientation because you appreciate m/m--well, that's a shitty thi
May 3rd, 2009 @ 6:57 PM

Posted by kirsten saell:

I wasn't online during the period you mention, and I apologize for speaking in ignorance--if people were speculating as to your sexual identity or orientation because you appreciate m/m--well, that's a shitty thing to do. And I can understand how angry that would make someone--believe me, I do--because I see that frustration all the time with f/f readers. But I can't really imagine you ever wondered if those theories were accurate?

Women who have always identified as straight, who have people constantly telling them they're closeted bisexuals or lesbians because they like to read f/f, often do end up wondering if it's true, and it can be deeply discomfiting. It hits very close to home, even when it's not remotely true. Sometimes they end up avoiding f/f like the plague, on the off chance that they'll find it arousing. Some of them can accept it in small doses, like in those het print romances you mentioned, because the girl gets the boy in the end so it doesn't feel like a threat.

I've always identified as bi, so I have no problems screaming from the rooftops that I love reading f/f (and m/m, for that matter). Most of the straight women I know who do, don't feel so free to share their feelings. And that's sad. And it's doubly sad that their reticence sometimes finds its origin in the judgments of the very people who should be their allies--other readers and writers of LGBT romance--who often say things like "I don't know why straight women don't like f/f, but they don't". Sorry to disabuse them, but many straight women do, thanks.

It is true that there's more acceptance for f/f in mainstream print romance and erotica--and that it's greater at the moment than acceptance of m/m. But right now, online, the m/m community is very strong--largely because they were driven online to get the stuff they wanted to read--first in slash fanfic and now from original fiction. But the mainstream print readership is making its way online now, too. Not seeking f/f in part
May 3rd, 2009 @ 6:59 PM

Posted by kirsten saell:

But the mainstream print readership is making its way online now, too. Not seeking f/f in particular, but because of the rising popularity of ebooks. As ebooks become more mainstream, I would expect a general cooling of the m/m trend relative to the total numbers of sales (there will still be lots of readers, but the pool will be bigger and more diverse), and a warming to f/f material as readers of those print romances switch to ebooks.

I'm not sure I've ever encountered the erotica activists you mention, who assume women would rather read f/f. I haven't really encountered any of them online--mostly the opposite: that Real women read m/f and m/m, and only men and lesbians enjoy f/f.

I'm advocating for f/f in ebooks because ebooks are what I write and what I prefer to read. (My first print royalty statement will be interesting--whether the print version of my first book, that came out in January, does better than the ebook did, which wasn't remotely as abysmal as everyone seems to think it must have been.) It would be nice to see more meaningful dialogue about it.

Mostly what I would like to see is for m/m writers to see f/f writers as allies rather than adversaries--and for f/f writers to feel likewise. Right now, in the online community, m/m's got all the mojo, and all f/f writers can really do is jump up and down and wave our arms and scream "We're here! We write LGBT, too!" It would be nice if the frequent response wasn't, "Oh, you're writing an f/f? How quaint. But dear, you know that stuff never sells. Straight women read romance."
May 3rd, 2009 @ 7:00 PM

Posted by kirsten saell:

You know, Mrs. G, I really hate Bravejournal's tiny text window and comment character limit. Grr. Although, granted, I have been running off at the mouth in this thread. :D
May 3rd, 2009 @ 7:05 PM

Posted by Ciar Cullen:

"Which is why every time I read someone saying "Of course I like m/m and don't like f/f--I'm a straight woman," it makes me grind my teeth. Because it makes straight women who do like it feel like they must be closet lesbians, when 99% of the time nothing could be further from the truth."

Kristen, I really hope you get the outlets you need for your writing, but I take issue with the statement above a little. No one can make anyone feel something, honestly. Liking a certain kind of book or couple pairing isn't a litmus test of one's sexuality, at least I hope it isn't (or I'll have a lot of explaining to do to my husband). I'm getting the feeling a lot of folks who are actually supportive of your efforts are being blamed a bit for...what? I don't like reading f/f, and that doesn't make me anything at all! Except a woman who doesn't like reading f/f. I never said that there isn't a market for it among hetero woman, of course there must be. I just raised the issue of whether or not there is as large a market as m/m. That could be my bias, but I'm not to blame (nor do I think is any writer or publisher) for the dearth of f/f stories. I truly believe if there was a growing market for f/f, publishers would be putting out calls for those stories. And that may happen, like it did recently for m/m written for women. For your sake and the people who want such stories, I hope it does happen. But I hardly think in epublishing anything is verboten these days.
May 4th, 2009 @ 4:41 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

I'm getting the feeling a lot of folks who are actually supportive of your efforts are being blamed a bit for...what? I don't like reading f/f, and that doesn't make me anything at all!

It makes you a woman who likes what she likes.

But again, my whole point goes back to the popular assumption that women are like men. A man who likes m/m is going to be either gay, or have some bisexual leanings, no matter how mild--otherwise it wouldn't turn him on. A 100% straight guy might be openminded enough to enjoy a book that contains some m/m sex, but even if those m/m scenes don't actively squick him, they aren't going to arouse him because men's sexuality doesn't work that way. With women, it's a whole different kettle of fish.

The research I cited has only been done in the last few years. Even now, the general assumption is that if a woman likes f/f, she's a lesbian or has bisexual tendencies, and if she protests that she's as straight as the shortest distance between two points, the assumption then is that she's in denial. One of the things I hope the RRW will do is find some way to help reveal this assumption for the fallacy it is.

And yeah, women who are uncomfortable with the possibility that they're not a zero on the Kinsey scale have to own that discomfort. But I do find it unfair that they're made to wonder about the possibility at all, when it's based on a complete fallacy that is reinforced time and again, all over the place.

I don't blame you for not liking f/f erotic material. Not every straight woman does. Not even every lesbian does, quite frankly. And I don't know whether you've ever said or believed "I don't like it because I'm straight", but if you have, I would hope you don't think that way now. You simply don't like it because you don't like it, and I wish people would not feel that I'm trying to somehow force them to like it, or make them feel guilty that they don't--because I'm not. There's nothing wrong with you not l
May 4th, 2009 @ 5:21 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

There's nothing wrong with you not liking it, just as there's nothing wrong with another straight woman gobbling it up like candy.

But RRW is there to support writers of all kinds of LGBT romance, and one of their responsibilities to f/f authors, if not to actively combat the fallacy that a straight women could never enjoy f/f, is to try to ensure their members don't unwittingly reinforce it.

I do think the market for ebooks containing f/f in all its permutations is going to expand, because the ebook market in general is slowly becoming more mainstream. The market for lesbian romance may never be as large as the market for m/m romance, but contrary to what some would have you believe, there's more to f/f than lesbian romance. If f/f is thriving in print, I see no reason it won't also thrive in ebooks in the near future--and I intend to have a backlist ready when those print readers make the switch. :)

P.S. One of the things I hate most about Bravejournal is that the tiny window doesn't allow you to see how embarrassingly longwinded you are until you've already posted. *g*
May 4th, 2009 @ 5:23 AM

Posted by Fae:

Again I had a long post typed out but, jesus, it'd be a mile long to refute some of the pure untruths being bandied about here right now.

Why I keep coming back to read and fume is beyond me. Suffice to say I disagree with *everything* Kirsten has said. Beginning to end, and I find a GREAT portion of it nothing but blame-laying and finger-pointing at the M/M community and M/M authors in general.

Bowing out for good now. All that M/M isn't going to write itself. :-(
May 4th, 2009 @ 9:11 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

Suffice to say I disagree with *everything* Kirsten has said. Beginning to end,

*sigh* That's quite the sweeping statement, and I'm really trying to believe that you don't disagree (fumingly so) with:

"It makes you a woman who likes what she likes."

"I don't blame you for not liking f/f erotic material. Not every straight woman does. Not even every lesbian does, quite frankly."

"You simply don't like it because you don't like it, and I wish people would not feel that I'm trying to somehow force them to like it, or make them feel guilty that they don't--because I'm not. There's nothing wrong with you not liking it, just as there's nothing wrong with another straight woman gobbling it up like candy."

"The market for lesbian romance may never be as large as the market for m/m romance, but contrary to what some would have you believe, there's more to f/f than lesbian romance."

"and one of those challenges is how overshadowed it is at the moment by m/m's popularity. That isn't RRW's fault (or m/m's fault, either)"

"Honestly, there is a significant number of lesbians out there who prefer to read m/m over any other subgenre of romance, and lesbian writers who write m/m exclusively. Does anyone accuse them of being closeted straight women?"

"And you would think when some of the most talented m/m writers are bisexual women or lesbians, the assumption would be the opposite--we're women, we like the kind of books we like, and that can sometimes be the exact opposite of what we enjoy in real life."

"Mostly what I would like to see is for m/m writers to see f/f writers as allies rather than adversaries--and for f/f writers to feel likewise."

"What you do hear is a lot of "straight women like m/m and don't enjoy f/f because, well, because they're straight."" [I honestly hope you don't want me to go searching out all the conversations where this huge misconception has been asserted. I could, but it would be a lot o
May 4th, 2009 @ 12:23 PM

Posted by kirsten saell:

[I honestly hope you don't want me to go searching out all the conversations where this huge misconception has been asserted. I could, but it would be a lot of quotes and links to dig up. And I have never said all straight women would like it if only they tried it--just that liking it or not liking it isn't tied to a woman's sexual orientation.]

So I really hope you're just not reading my entire comments, because if you are, you really do think there's something wrong with some straight women enjoying f/f? And you haven't noticed the many times m/m (and m/f) readers have said outright that straight women do not like f/f, which implies that if you do, you can't possibly be straight? You also would prefer m/m and f/f writers to view each other as adversaries? Um, and you disagree with the fact that the online m/m romance movement had its origins in the huge popularity of slash fanfic, and that's why publishers were finally willing to give it a chance? Oh, and also you disagree with the whole idea that women should be able to read what they want without anyone questioning their sexuality?

So yeah, I sincerely hope you're just not getting what I've been trying to say, because if you did get it, and still disagreed with all of it, beginning to end, it would really make me wonder what the point even is of trying to discuss this.

Yeah, you think I'm blaming m/m. I'm not. I'm blaming a misconception that is almost universally still believed to be true. That belief is no more (and likely less) common among the m/m community than the general romance community, but it rankles more that this misconception can remain relatively pervasive in a community where lesbians often prefer to read erotic material inverse to their sexual orientation, and where readers and writers in general should not feel they're being judged for what they read. The persistence of that misconception may not be anyone's fault, but it's something that needs to be shown for what it is--completely f
May 4th, 2009 @ 12:24 PM

Posted by kirsten saell:

The persistence of that misconception may not be anyone's fault, but it's something that needs to be shown for what it is--completely false.

Unless you really do believe women who enjoy f/f can't possibly be straight, and a lesbian who writes m/m really is a closeted straight woman or a gay man trapped in a woman's body, who's living in denial. In which case, there's not much point talking to you.
May 4th, 2009 @ 12:25 PM

Posted by Fae:

What I believe has no bearing, Kirsten. You won't hear it anyway. All you'll hear is what you want to hear, which is yourself and your 'movement' being denigrated, despite the fact that not a single person in this entire huge conversation has said anything remotely disparaging about it. Despite the fact that the group that the original post was about turned out to, shock of shocks, not be discriminating against those you thought it was.

You feel persecuted, but I don't see anyone here persecuting you. You've several times in the course of this conversation alone had to apologize because you made sweeping blanket statements that were proven completely incorrect. You made those assumptions because no matter what I or anyone else says, you feel persecuted. Okay then. Feel persecuted. It's neither my job nor my inclination to make you feel otherwise.
May 4th, 2009 @ 1:30 PM

Posted by Fae:

I think my main point in all of this is that I don't believe there's some great conspiracy to keep f/f or trans or bi romance out of epublishing. I have never seen anyone accuse those who enjoy it of being perverted or closeted lesbians. And I think there are ways to champion this cause that don't belittle the hard road M/M has had and still does have. I might be ignorant of the challenges facing f/f authors, but I believe there are a lot of people who are ignorant of the challenges m/m faced and still faces.

M/M isn't mainstream anymore than any other glbt romance is. It's popular in epublishing, yes, but those who read and write it are still considered by a vast majority of society, and the romance industry, to be perverts and it's still often labeled as fetish or alternative romance.

Assuming m/m has it easy, and insinuating that we've never faced the challenges other glbt romance does is ignorance and divisive.
May 4th, 2009 @ 2:14 PM

Posted by kirsten saell:

You feel persecuted, but I don't see anyone here persecuting you.

I never said anyone here was persecuting me. I never said anyone here was denigrating f/f (although Mrs. G's OP did kinda ignore it, and only focused on how RRW would impact m/m authors). My initial comment was made after my first impression of the RRW site led me to believe that it was less inclusive than it wanted people to believe. This was not only my first impression--at least three other people have informed me that it was their first impression, too, and at least one actual member said ON THIS THREAD she found it disheartening that the launch (and all the talk around it) was focused on m/m. Since there was no visible f/f presence on the site, I assumed there was none. And I wasn't the only one.

I explained (more than once) that my negative impression was exacerbated by attitudes I've seen elsewhere--that when people want to talk about LGBT, they often only want to talk about G and male B. And when you say "hey, if they only want to talk about m/m (which is their right, and I'm perfectly fine with), they shouldn't call it LGBT", you often get smacked for it. I am not alone in that experience, either, believe me.

I've repeatedly said that it isn't a matter of blaming anyone--just a matter of bringing it to the attention of people who can change it. The feelings exist among f/f readers that they're in competition with m/m, and because m/m is so much more popular online, they often either feel left out of conversations, or actively excluded. I'm not even saying that m/m aficionadas do this on purpose (or do it at all), just that many f/f readers and writers feel that way. And if RRW is going to represent f/f as well as m/m, they need to be aware of those feelings.

Assumptions about a woman's sexual orientation based on what she reads is one thing that I feel needs to be stopped all around--and I'm sorry, you're living in a cave if you haven't seen it in regard to
May 4th, 2009 @ 2:46 PM

Posted by kirsten saell:

--and I'm sorry, you're living in a cave if you haven't seen it in regard to f/f. Or perhaps you simply haven't been in any conversations that dealt with f/f (although I'm sure you've been in many that purported to deal with LGBT).

I find it ironic that Jules is allowed to be angry over other people's past speculation as to her sexual/gender orientation as a m/m writer, but I and other women (straight or otherwise) who read f/f, should just shut up about it. I'm sorry, but it happens a LOT, and I'm so sick of it. I'm not saying that you're speculating and judging, or even that anyone here is, just that it happens, and that it's doubly sad when it comes from m/m readers or writers. It may be less pervasive among them, but when it comes from them, it stings worse.

And it really makes me sad that when you wonder why your prefered genre is getting less support than it deserves from an organization that's supposed to be inclusive, the automatic response is to be bitchslapped. Again, all I can say is, how hard would it have been to put proof of inclusiveness on their site? Tags next to names? One book cover?

If you want a concrete example of why this is an issue, go to Uniquely Pleasurable, a review site for "LGBT" fiction. You'll find more than three hundred reviews for m/m and bi-male fiction, and TWO for f/f (one of which was a short in an anthology alongside several m/m stories). When that's the kind of inclusiveness you come across over and over when the LGBT banner is flying, you come to expect it everywhere unless you see evidence otherwise.
May 4th, 2009 @ 2:48 PM