Every single time someone makes a post about how all m/m is fetishizing and anyone who writes it is a cesspool of internalized misogyny I just have to laugh. There are definitely some problematic aspects of m/m slash and definitely some people who do (some admittedly) fetishize m/m relationships. If you do the stuff on this list, you should probably check yourself. Hard.
Do you tell everyone that you hope your children are gay men so you can ship them with their friends?
Do you ignore and/or vilify the lady characters?
Do you ignore the men of color because you think only white men are attractive and interesting?
Do you ship two attractive white dudes, and only two attractive white dudes, in everything?
Have you ever asked who the woman is in a relationship between two men? Do you designate a male character the “woman” in the relationship? This is not okay because the whole like, point of a relationship between two gay dudes is that we are, you know, dudes.
Do you call gay men in relationships that are not part of the yaoi subgenre “seme” and “uke”? On that note, do you make a huge deal out of stuff like “Who tops?” This is a really silly thing to do! Some gay men who have anal have a preference one way or another, some don’t. Sexual preferences are not always dictated by personality traits, either! Some men who paint their nails prefer to top, and some lumberjacks prefer to bottom.
Do you put anal sex on a pedestal as the only kind of “real” sex two men can have? A lot of gay men don’t even have anal sex.
Do you think that “true love” is between two men because ladies are gross?
If there is a feminine male character who shows canon interest in women, have you decided that he has to be gay?
Do you say that you are a “gay man in a woman’s body”? Please stop saying that. Queer trans* men are, you know, literally gay men trapped in women’s bodies, and they have to face a pretty fair amount of adversity for that! Claiming to be a gay man in a woman’s body because you like to read and write about gay men is trivializing that. Please don’t do it.
Do you see a picture of two gay men walking down the street and freak out about it? I mean, like, we do that. We do stuff! We’re people. We do things like walk down the street and eat food. There’s no reason to make a huge deal out of that!
If you answered no to these questions, then I am pretty sure you don’t need to check yourself. I don’t think anyone with a lick of sense is going to argue that there is a lot of misogyny in fandom, internalized or otherwise. But occasionally enjoying m/m is not an infallible indicator of internalized misogyny.
A lot of people who enjoy m/m and f/f are, you know, queer people. Queer men, queer women, queer non-binary folks. It is not fetishizing for queer folks to want to read and write about queer people. Whenever this argument comes up, we are always the ones left out. It is always a strongly worded letter to the Evil Fangirls.
It is entirely possible for a lady, queer or otherwise, to write respectful fanfiction about gay men that normalizes gay relationships. This actually like, happens a lot. While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being shallow as long as your version of shallow doesn’t exclude marginalized groups, I am pretty sick of seeing ladies who like m/m in any aspect being repeatedly dismissed as a bunch of screaming and woman hating fangirls unable to think critically about material. What was that about misogyny again?
When I say I ship something, I don’t care about the happily ever after. I don’t care about romantic comedies or princess movies with a seamless love arc and a fairytale ending. That isn’t what I’m in it for.
I’m not a sucker for love stories. I’m a sucker for character stories.
I want to read a story in which the characters don’t fit perfectly. Where they complement each other when they’re happy but tear themselves apart in desperate situations. Where their relationship is healthy but not always, equal but not always, happy but not always.
I want to see characters suffer because that’s how I know they’re real.
I don’t ship to be happy. I ship to feel real. I ship because I love relationship dynamics, not relationships themselves. That’s why I don’t just have otps. I have brotps and dream teams and favorite family dynamics and favorite characters alone.
I ship because I like to see how a given character will respond to another given character in any given situation. I like to see how they mesh together, how their personalities match and mismatch, how they push and pull at each other and then come together or fall apart.
I don’t ship for the what of the situation. I ship for the how and the why. Don’t give me characters waywardly thrown together for the perfect puzzle-piece ending. Give me the two people who would seemingly never fit. Make it work. I don’t want fireworks or fairytales. I want realism. Passion and lack thereof. Heat and coldness and love and hate.
Don’t give me love. Give me character. Don’t just tell me. Convince me.
When I do book signings, most of my line is made up of young girls with their mothers, teen girls alone, and mother friend groups. But there’s usually at least one boy with a stack of my books. This boy is anywhere from 8-19, he’s carrying a worn stack of the Books of Bayern, and he’s excited and unashamed to be a fan of those books. As I talk to him, 95% of the time I learn this fact: he is home schooled.
There’s something that happens to our boys in school. Maybe it’s because they’re around so many other boys, and the pressure to be a boy is high. They’re looking around at each other, trying to figure out what it means to be a boy—and often their conclusion is to be “not a girl.” Whatever a girl is, they must be the opposite. So a book written by a girl? With a girl on the cover? Not something a boy should be caught reading.
But something else happens in school too. Without even meaning to perhaps, the adults in the boy’s life are nudging the boy away from “girl” books to “boy” books. When I go on tour and do school visits, sometimes the school will take the girls out of class for my assembly and not invite the boys. I talk about reading and how to fall in love with reading. I talk about storytelling and how to start your own story. I talk about things that aren’t gender-exclusive. But because I’m a girl and there are girls on my covers, often I’m deemed a girl-only author. I wonder, when a boy author goes to those schools with their books with boys on the covers, are the girls left behind? I want to question this practice. Even if no boy ever really would like one of my books, by not inviting them, we’re reinforcing the wrong and often-damaging notion that there’s girls-only stuff and you aren’t allowed to like it.
I hear from teachers that when they read Princess Academy in class (by far the most girlie-sounding of all my books) that the boys initially protest but in the end like it as much as the girls, or as one teacher told me recently, “the boys were even bigger fans than the girls.”
Another staple in my signing line is the family. The mom and daughters get their books signed, and the mom confides in me, “My son reads your books on the sly” or “My son loves your books too but he’s embarrassed to admit it.” Why are they embarrassed? Because we’ve made them that way. We’ve told them in subtle ways that, in order to be a real boy, to be manly, they can’t like anything girls like.
Though sometimes those instructions aren’t subtle at all. Recently at a signing, a family had all my books. The mom had me sign one of them for each of her children. A 10-year-old boy lurked in the back. I’d signed some for all the daughters and there were more books, so I asked the boy, “Would you like me to sign one to you?” The mom said, “Yeah, Isaac, do you want her to put your name in a girl book?” and the sisters all giggled.
“I had a stalker while filming a movie in Spain last year. She stood outside of my apartment every day for weeks - all day every day. I was so bored and lonely that I went out and had dinner with her. I just complained about everything in my life and she never came back. People get bored of me in, like, two minutes.”—Robert Pattinson (via rpattztalks)