Sunday, July 22, 2018

Craig Chats: Welcome To Equality



Welcome To Equality

Disclaimer: I’m at the tail end of my anger regarding this subject, having spent an entire day reassuring my closest friends that they belong within the community they helped forge. Because of this, I honestly, wholeheartedly, sincerely couldn’t give two donkey dicksplats about censoring myself. Prepare for a frank discussion.  


Speaking of censorship, let’s get into this article— 

I won’t mince words (or do the whole someone recently did this but I won’t name them charade) Hans M Hirschi recently wrote a piece titled “On the mind of a writer who just so happens to be gay and really angry…” and it was…divisive, to say the least. 

Before I get into this, let me prefix this article by saying I *kind of* get where this anger Hans has comes from. I think all queer people do. However, I do not agree with the direction he’s taking that anger, or the reasons he’s provided as an excuse for his pointed article. You see, a lot of gay men (and other members of the LGBT community, I assume) have very personal stories connected to their sexualities, which straight people do not have due to their sexuality not being a concern. So, I can see why people who have such strong ties to a certain subject—one that is so personal to them—would want to claim ownership over that topic. (Again, let’s not beat around this bush, what Hans comes across as wanting in his article is gay ownership over MM as a whole) I can see why they’d want to lead the narrative—because they think they’ve earned that exclusivity simply by existing. Because they’re who they are. Because of the “authenticity” they bring to the table. 

To that I say—since when has romance been authentic? 

Hans goes on to talk about the overly sexualized cover models on MM novels. These walking “porn stars” (his words) that make the average gay man feel lesser and insecure… Because straight romance novels don’t have stunningly attractive female protagonists? Because straight erotica doesn’t feature model-like men pining over the average woman? 

Can you see the sarcasm in my writing? I hope so. 

The MM genre is not an anomaly in romance and/or erotica. The sexualization of the genre, and the fetishization of those it depicts, is not prevalent because the characters are gay men. Sex sells. Sex has always sold. And it’s been selling hetero romance/erotica novels long before it started selling MM novels. 

Welcome to equality. 

To his credits, Hans gives examples of a variety of diverse characters written by Shakespeare, the OG “straight white male” in fiction. It’s clear that Hans is a fan of diversity in literature, but he seems to have a problem with how unrealistic this all is. He thinks the men are too sex-crazed, and the stories exploitive… Again, so is straight romance. 

Twilight was all about dying for the D, and 50 shades was all about romanticizing BDSM and being a gold digger… This is hardly the genre for realism. He also goes on to list a variety of sub-genres including non-con, shifters, etc, as if they only exist in the MM world. It took me five seconds to find the straight equivalents on Amazon. He talks about rape fetishization as if straight women in the MM genre are the first and only to write this—again, look at amazon. Look on any porn website. This stuff has its audiences across all markets. This isn’t a personal attack on the LGBT community—people just enjoy messed up shit sometimes. And that’s fine. It’s a fantasy. And, frankly, none of your business.

Then, we move onto the Mpreg comments. I won’t lie—I found this absolutely ridiculous. Here’s a quote-- “Why is it okay to see us pregnant even though so many of us are involuntarily childless, suffering that pain, that emptiness, day after day for our entire lives. To be reminded of that in fiction, callously shortened as mpreg is, is utterly disgusting and heartless, and no matter what attempts at justification these authors and readers may offer, there can be none.”

The point here is that Mpreg is somehow offensive because gay men cannot naturally conceive with their partner… right? So, should women who cannot have children take up arms against every fictional pregnant woman, or every happy couple that conceive on their first try? Should straight men get angry if they’re shooting blanks? Can you honestly tell me you’d side with the woman who wanted all depictions of pregnancy erased from media because she couldn’t naturally conceive a child? 

Do you see how silly this is? 

And, once again I find myself reiterating that this trope is found in straight sci-fi/romance/fantasy, too. Mystical pregnancy has been featured in Star Trek, Angel, Charmed, etc. It’s got a TV trope page dedicated to it. It’s not exclusive to the MM community. 

Finally, Hans closes his article with this-- “Think about it, for every sex scene that you jerked off to in your latest M/M, a gay man was hung in Iran, flogged in Saudi Arabia, tortured in Chechnya, imprisoned in Uganda, thrown off a roof-top in Syria…” again, reinforcing this idea that because gay men suffer, we should have ownership over all depictions of our sexuality (or that’s how it comes across to this particular gay man), and that women should be ashamed for finding the fun in a gay man’s sexuality because so many gay men still suffer today.

Okay, in that case, why don’t we talk about how many women are suffering in some of those same countries? The fight for gender equality is far from over, yet this article doesn’t seem to care that hetero romance can freely depict sexually active, empowering, fetishized women despite women around the world being abused if they try to act that way. Don’t forget, for every hetero sex scene that’s written, and for every “porn star” posing on a hetero erotica, a woman was beaten for having sex before marriage. You better go to every producer and director working on their latest rom-com in Hollywood this very instant and tell them to shut that shit down for being so insensitive. /Eyerolls into oblivion. 

You know, it’s funny to me that this entire thing is asking for anything but equality. This isn’t someone asking for gay characters to be depicted the same way straight characters are—because that’s already happening. We’re already seeing over-the-top, unrealistically good-looking men getting into silly drama and having sexual adventures we’d never experience… You know, like in straight romance. 

No, what Hans (and the people who agree with him) seem to want is special treatment. The argument (which never offers a solution to the so-called problem presented) is that gay men don’t really live the lives that their fictional counterparts do, and that is somehow horrifying to behold. 

You want realism? You want authenticity from a gay man? Today me and my fiancé spoke a total of 5 sentences to one another. I didn’t change my underwear, and he visited a friend. We gave each other a passing kiss before bed, and I can hear him farting in the bedroom as I type this article. 

Fucking thrilling stuff.
Best seller material.
10/10 can’t wait for the movie adaptation.

Meanwhile, every woman I know is currently being flown to Paris by their millionaire BDSM lover. They’re kissing in the rain. They’re fabulous New York columnists that always get the man. They have vampires and werewolves pining over them despite having the emotional depth of a fucking cabbage. Yes, that’s all completely authentic. That’s all real. 

In closing, I would like to say that I do agree with one thing that Hans stated in his article. He is an angry gay man, and he’s using that anger as a disguise to ridicule a genre that he obviously has no love for. He claims in his article that there are some truly great romances hidden in the MM genre—again, as if this is a problem exclusive to MM. As if there aren’t hundreds of trashy, sex-fuelled straight eroticas in the world. And, to put it plainly, I think it’s disgusting when gay men take their years of pent up frustration and toss it at our allies, because they know that’s the only way they’ll get heard. After all, if you’re a gay man telling a straight woman how gay men be, then they can’t clap back, am I right? /Sarcasm 

And to all the women that were impacted by this, I would like to apologize on behalf of my people—except, I don’t speak for them, I only speak for myself, because the only “authenticity” I can offer you is my own. Guess why? Because we’re all different. Which kind of makes the whole “authenticity” argument redundant, don’t you think? After all, Hans might not be able to relate to these sexually-charged men, but I could’ve five years ago. Hell, give me two days’ notice and a glass of sangria, and I’ll relate to them all night. 

But in all seriousness, I don’t think you need to defend yourself for liking the MM genre, for whatever reason it is you like it. I also don’t think you need to defend yourself for writing it, whether you’re striving for “authenticity” or offering readers a sexual fantasy. There’s no shame in getting off on two guys, and there’s no shame in being emotionally invested in the broader scope of LGBT issues. Personally, I only care that you—
  1. Are buying the books you’re reading to support the genre and authors
  2. Want equal rights for LGBT people
The rest of what you get from the MM genre is your business. Not mine. Not his. Yours.  
P.S. Simon vs the Homo Sapians Agenda was written by a white woman. Suck it. 

25 comments:

  1. I love everything you wrote in this article, Craig! You are always the champion for what is right! Thank you!

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  2. Bravo Craig. You're my favourite new super hero.

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  3. This kind of logic is hard to argue with, and an enjoyable presentation too! Thank you for being such a gentleman and making so much sense.

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  4. Thank you, from a writer, reader, and an ally.

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  5. Brilliant Craig! You're spot on! Thank you from a reader and an ally!!

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  6. Thanks for this article, Craig!

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  7. gods Craig! I shared this with my husband, his response was that when your right, you write! Keep it up!

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  8. It appears the voice of reason is especially eloquent today. I wasn't going to leave a comment anywhere during this particular bust up, but I make an exception for you, Craig. Those were great words, very well spoken.

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  9. As ever Craig, you're right on the nail with all of this excellently thought out piece.

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  10. Craig, you seriously rock. Big hugs

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  11. A truly wonderful post, thank you for the laughs and for focusing on this in the community.

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  12. Craig, thank you. What this guy has to complain about I’m not really sure. His books seem to sell well. He’s well travelled , successful has a husband and son and pets and lives on a small island off the west coast of Sweden.
    This sentence I find extremely ironic considering the posts accredited to him “ However, the deep passion for a better world, for love and tolerance are a red thread throughout both his creative and non-fictional work. “
    It’s difficult to compare that sentence to the vituperative attacks on Piper Scott and see them coming from the same person. Piper deserves an apology.

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  13. I love this. Thank you for writing it.

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  14. Thank you for writing this! I couldn't have said it better, or nicer, myself!

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  15. I'm not familiar with Mr. Hirschi's work. But I am familiar with pain. And I believe this kind of anger is fueled by the kind of pain that gets triggered again and again and a person can feel helpless to ever stop it. I have no criticism at all of his position.

    That said, I believe the most dangerous thing to any human being is another human being. The more we separate ourselves from one another, the more we say that some other group is not "self" the easier it is to destroy those people. So I'm never a fan of separation. In any form. Which means the wrestler who earned the college scholarship for being so good at his sport should not be denied his scholarship because he uttered a gay slur. Because we don't want a young gay man denied a scholarship because he marched in a Gay Pride parade.

    That said, there are all kinds of readers looking for all kinds of stories and all kinds of writers to fill those needs. I never in my life thought I'd write MM BDSM. Ever. When I started the book that became the beginning of my MM series, I didn't know the character was going to end up with another man until he did. I'd had that story planned for weeks as femdom.

    When I found myself writing it, I quit several times because - I mean - wait - what the ever-livin' fuck?!! But sometimes a topic and a character and a story just insist on existing. Here's the thing, because God forbid I should have just said this in a few words - we do have the same kinds of experiences. Power dynamics are power dynamics. Love and struggle and hate and ugliness are shared things. Somehow, out of the slushpile that is indie romance or mm/mf erotica or whatever can come wholeness instead of division. Acceptance instead of suspicion.

    You ever look at a rainbow close-up? There is no telling where one color leaves off and another begins. There are no edges. Yes, some of the books and topics seem frivolous in the face of he horrors visited on so many people. But it's possible for that to serve something of much more weight and moment than a shifter fantasy seems like it can.

    As for me, Hunter Dane and Camden Snow are great gifts to me and my respect for them and the way they are presented is so great it sometimes paralyzes me. I will write them until they leave me or I die. I will write them because it honors me to do so.

    I'm a writer. Nothing is off limits. With all due respect to those who believe differently.


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  16. Applauding quietly from my corner of England xx

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  17. Thank you for your superb words. The gist of what you said is exactly what I was trying to express when I replied to another author who wrote essentially the same type of response to the hoopla. I am a reader who loves the fiction of mm romance and I recognize it as fiction. The paranormal and science fiction can take me even further away from my daily life and that can be even more enjoyable. My guess is that writers of old time Western fiction have not jumped into a time machine so they can write authentically about what really happened then (sarcasm). Besides who would want the realism of the smells of that period? I encourage any of those who were hurt or disillusioned by the previous week's broohaha to try to let it go (I know it's hard when you feel you've been devalued) and stay with us. There are too many wonderful writers who are on my auto-buy list and I don't want any of you to drift away, please!

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  18. Well said, I'm so glad that there are people who can put into words what I am thinking far more eloquently than I could manage. HUGS

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