[info]duskpeterson wrote
on August 22nd, 2010 at 09:55 pm

So, it's another round of "Look at those weird girls writing gay stories"

M/M Fiction News has the round-up here. Have your antacid pills ready.

Gehayi has posted the best response that I've read.

My own thoughts:

1) I understand why journalists are obsessing over the fact that women are reading gay male fiction. It's a hook. Every article needs a hook to draw the reader in. However--

2) It's a very old hook. I've been keeping track of articles on slash and m/m fiction for eight years, and I can safely say that out of the dozens of articles I've read, I've never read an article on slash or m/m that didn't make the writers' gender and sexual orientation the central topic.

There's nothing wrong with tried-and-true formulas (I say, patting my prison stories fondly), but if you're going to write about something that two zillion other writers have already written about, how about saying something new on the topic? Something besides, "Gee whiz, straight women are writing about gay men having sex, and I know that you folks reading this will think that's weird and creepy"?

3) Please, please, please don't tell your readers that every reader and writer (or every female-bodied reader and writer) of m/m and slash is a straight, cisgendered woman. Especially if you then print quotations from your interviewees saying that they aren't straight, cisgendered women. That will just result in your readers making fun of you.

4) I understand that some GLBTQ folk have serious concerns about appropriation by straight women writing about gay men. I think it's important for them to voice their concerns. (Though, before they make any comments on the topic, they really ought to look at this post.) But it's possible to provide one's view on appropriation without making vast generalizations about an entire genre and making personal attacks.

I write all this as a pre-confession. I am (among other things) a journalist. Last fall, I wrote an article about writers of original slash and m/m fiction that will appear in an upcoming issue of Leather Times. And its hook is that women are writing about gay men.

I'd like to think that I've approached that topic in a somewhat different fashion than most past writers on this subject. And I'd like to point out that most of the article is about the writings, not about the writers' genders and sexual orientations. (In several cases, I don't know the gender and/or sexual orientation of the author I mention.)

But I do feel a certain amount of sympathy for some (I emphasize "some") journalists who are writing on this topic. They're feeling excited, for the same reason I felt excited back in 2002, when I first discovered yaoi and slash - because they never before realized that large numbers of women read and write gay fiction. They want to squee about this to other people. And they think that their readers will be bewildered and squicked (this is a bad assumption to make, by the way), so they bend over backwards to say, "Yes, I thought this was icky too, but look what neat stuff I found out!"

In the process, alas, many of them lose sight of their journalistic sense and say silly things like, "Gay romance was invented by slash writers."

But didn't a lot of us say silly things in our first few weeks in slashdom or in the m/m fiction world? (Or, for that matter, the gayfic world.) Hopefully, if we're polite enough in pointing out their horrible mistakes, some of these journalists (I emphasize "some" again) won't make the same mistakes in the future. And we'll all come across to the journalists' readers as cool, patient, remarkably self-restrained people who perform well under pressure.

(Also, though it's sad to say, even bad press sells books.)
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