Friday, May 4, 2012

Women Maintain Gay Stereotyping

Image credit
I'm continuing the topic of female m/m authors. You can read the first part here and the second part here. This is the final part.

You want to hear something funny? When women do write unemotional guys who are driven by testosterone, like "men are supposed to be written", they get reviews saying that the reader couldn't connect with the characters emotionally. You know why they couldn't? People expect emotions in romance books.

The people who down-talk female m/m authors who write men with emotions, don’t seem to consider the genre. There are "rules" to every genre, though these rules can be bent all sorts out of shape. However, once you stray too far, you've ventured into a different genre (or no genre at all). This is why most of the male m/m authors I've read also write guys with emotions: they're writing in the genre and know what the reader expects (or maybe they’re just writing realistic men?). You can’t, for example, write in the romance genre if there’s no romance in the story. Furthermore, you can’t have a romance with no feelings involved – that isn't romance! There are different ways to displaying the romance and feelings, but it won’t be a romance if there aren't strong emotions behind it.

Comparing the books I've read by male and female m/m authors, I can't say there’s a whole lot of differences in the gay male characters. Very often, I don’t see a difference at all. Some say that there’s a big difference in the sex scenes, and I’m not going to refute that, but is a sex scene written by a woman any worse than the ones written by a man? I’d say that in most cases they’re not.

I've often heard people say that female m/m authors maintain gay stereotyping. Writing gay men with emotions doesn't make stereotypes out of gay men. Like I stated in my first post, all men have emotions. Furthermore, men, gay and straight, are as different as they are many. Most of the books I've read have such vast range of characters that I rarely see the same character twice. I wonder what sort of books these people have been reading for them to claim that gay men are subjects of constant stereotyping in books written by women. Very old books? Side characters in non LGBT books? I don't see it in the more recent gay fiction books. I don’t know, maybe I've just been lucky.

Or maybe these people see a flamboyant character in a book and think back to all the TV stereotypes through these past years. Yes, there are TV stereotypes of gay men (as nicely pointed out in the US version of Queer As Folk), however, I don’t see a single “gay type” that appears more in m/m books than other “types” (well, apart from the physical builds, but that’s another topic altogether and has to do with the genre as well). From what I've experienced, the characters are very diverse, and even when I do find flamboyant characters in books, each of them is unique and much deeper than the TV types. Not to mention that just because certain, for example, flamboyant men have become stereotypes, we must be careful not to make them into taboos. There are, after all, flamboyant men out there in the real world and they shouldn't be made to feel bad about being who they are.

Here are links to my other posts in this series of posts:
Men are Not Emotional
Women Can't Write Realistic Men


  1. I agree Erica! I think we need to form our opinions instead of listening to others. I see it all the time and I'm thinking 'Did you even read the freaking book?'.

    It's tiresome and I'm not one for really bothering with others. I read what I want whether it breaks the 'rules' that this genre is supposed to maintain. Pffft

  2. Love that pic of Kazaky, just had to throw it out there.

  3. Fantastic Erica. Truly, you seem to take what's in my head and write it out so well. Thank you for your insight. It's spot on, yet again. <3

    1. Thanks Bella. Glad it made sense. It took a bit of sculpturing and ended up in three posts, heh.

  4. Great article(s)! As Bella said, spot on.

    Sash's Secrets / The Book Bunnies

  5. Hi,Erica,

    The dirty truth is - real men DO have emotions! Not just gay men, either! The people who claim that male characters should be stoic, taciturn Marlboro men are in my opinion the ones who are guilty of stereotyping.

    That being said, your point is also well taken. Romance is about love. No love, no romance. Period. And erotic romance is about love with sex.

    Excellent blog.


    1. Yup, men definitely have emotions. It's unrealistic and unfair to claim they don't.