Hey, everybody! It’s mailbag day!
A reply I got to my New Years post has been on my mind lately. It goes like this:
Tom Reilly writes:
I know many men are sexually excited by lesbian erotica. I’d be surprised if many women are turned on by mm fiction. Am I wrong?
Yeah, Tom, you’re absolutely incorrect. Among women who consume erotica or pornography – of which there are many, just ask E.L. James – plenty are totally into that. I mean, it makes sense even in the context of your post. Some straight men like girl on girl, so why wouldn’t the same hold sway for some straight women? I mean, if you like this
doesn’t it stand to reason that you might, sometimes, like twice as much of it? Some women – and some men, I don’t at all doubt – don’t need to insert themselves into their sexual fantasies. Some just like to ‘watch,’ and I think that’s where a lot of interest in the two-sex-objects-for-the-price-of-one school of pornography comes from. At least for me. I’ve never been a big consumer of media that requires me to replace the main character with myself and I don’t think porn should be any different.
I’ve heard that this absence of reader-insertion (or more muted form of it, depending) enables m/m writers to develop both characters in an erotic romance more fully. If neither of them expressly has to stand in for your readers you’re free to give them as much personality, as many flaws and opinions, as you like. You’re supposed to project your own desires and traits onto Bella Swan, and because of this she’s a little… flat. That expectation isn’t as prevalent when the principle characters are both men. This varies wildly from story to story in my experience, but it’s worth mentioning.
At its most basic, though, I think it’s still on a similar level as some straight men being into lesbian porn. You get twice the amount of sexy for the same price, you get to sit back and watch the sexy be sexy, and it doesn’t get a lot more complicated than that. A lot of men have been brought up with the belief that women can’t appreciate anything on a base level like that, and that does a disservice to everyone. It puts in place expectations neither side of the misconception can meet, and sets us up for interpersonal failure by obfuscating an entire facet of one side’s motivations. Women have sex drives and will ogle your booty, and not just while they’re ovulating. Men have emotions and form affectionate attachments, and not just as a ploy to get into a lady’s pants. It’s just that there’s societal pressure in place to feel shame at those parts of themselves and swing far to the other side of the scale to make up for it.
So in short: Tom, you’re absolutely wrong and assumptions like this aren’t helpful. I really appreciate your comment and how it made me reflect on the trends I like in my erotica, and I hope you have a fine year full of learning cool new things.