I’m okay with girly parts…
Art is subjective. Literature falls into the category of art as do all it’s subsequent genres. What I like is not necessarily what you will like. That’s okay. I actually find that preferable. The world would be an incredibly boring place if we all liked the same thing. Recently, a well known review site stated it’s preference for books that are in the m/m genre to have no sex with women on the page at all. I respect this preference. I read mostly m/m books. I prefer them to m/f books despite that fact I do also read m/f books and various other combinations of m’s and f’s. That’s just me. This well known review site also stated they would only review books that had no sex acts with females described on the page. No sex with women at all in the books they review. If there is a stance about books about lesbians I haven’t read it. Sorry. I’m guessing that would be a resounding no, though. I have no problem with that stance whatsoever. If it’s your blog or review site you’re free to run it as you wish. I would be very offended if someone forced me to read a book I disliked and would never presume to do it to someone else.
The tempest overtook the teapot when the review site also stated any presence at all of a sex act between a man and a woman on the page of an m/m book is “disrespectful” to the readers. Umm, what? I am compelled to say the only person who can safely speak for me is me. I am an m/m reader who is not at all repulsed by female sexuality. Do I prefer to read it? No. Is it inherently disgusting and should be avoided at all costs? No, and to say so it blatant misogyny. Okay, the review site didn’t stop there, it got even more unrealistic. There was a demand that books with on the page sex with women have a content warning. Apparently, the mere presence of on the page girly sex is so damaging some people are completely unable to wade into a book for fear they may read about it? Seriously!? Holy reader entitlement, Batman! Or blogger entitlement. Whatever. You get my point.
Human sexuality is fluid. Bisexuality exists. It’s actually been proven to exist in real scientific studies. No joke. It’s not just a stop on the way to gay. For some people the title of bisexual may well be a stop on the way to gay and any experiences a man may have with a woman at that time of his life is a part of his story. I read stories about people who fall in love with each other. If a man had sex with a woman along the way to falling in love with another man that is part of his story. I’m in it for the story, not the sex and the specific parts involved in it. Sex with a woman may well be a needed part of the plot or essential to define a character and his motivations. Limiting authors to plot devices and character development techniques someone happens to prefer is not only narrow minded it’s a detriment to the entire genre. I haven’t even touched on the possibility of a trans character. That’s just adding more worms to the can.
There are many things in life I don’t like. I don’t expect the world to bow to my whims and shield me from them. I would love to never again hear Arabic language disco music. I don’t expect my neighbors to have warnings on their front doors. My displeasure at something they enjoy is mine and mine alone. Most importantly, I may also find a song I happen to love. Books with warnings, be they for vaginal sex or anal sex, may prevent someone from reading a book that will change their life. Would I have read my first m/m book if it had a warning? Warnings are there to prevent harm. Please, let’s not confuse personal dislike with harm.
Thanks Andy for what is, as always, a concise and forthright blog post. I agree with everything you say, with a personal comment to add ….. as you know, as everyone knows, I am not a fan of girly bits in my books BUT I would never not cover a book on this site merely because of my particular stand point. If an “f” in a book is part of a story arc I fully expect an author to run with it – that is their right, it is their vision, it is their bloody book and I have no problems putting a review up (even if I don’t read the book myself 😛 ) Does that make me a hypocrite? I don’t see it that way, although some might. I know my inflexible stance is seen by some as silly – but it is what it is. What I do not do, nor will do so, is force my opinion on a site where I have reviewers who may want to read books that I don’t choose to. Life is varied. Tastes are varied. Taste the rainbow, baby! ♥ ~ Barb