"An American woman wearing a Chinese dress is not cultural appropriation"

Comments

1

There's always people out there looking around for something to be outraged about.

2

Woke Olympic’s 2018!

3

"The word "baizuo" is, according to political scientist Zhang Chenchen, a Chinese word that ridicules Western "Liberal elites". The term has also been used to refer to perceived double standards of the Western media, such as the alleged bias on reporting about Islamist attacks in Xinjiang.

Zhang Chenchen further defined the word "baizuo" with the definition "People who only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment" and “have no sense of real problems in the real world”; they are hypocritical humanitarians who advocate for peace and equality only to “satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority”; they are “obsessed with political correctness” to the extent that they “tolerate backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism”; they believe in the welfare state that “benefits only the idle and the free riders”; they are the “ignorant and arrogant westerners” who “pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baizuo

4

@Teddy

I see you're trying out a new tactic.

Instead of giving us your opinions, you're going to post someone else's opinion, and when someone challenges it you can claim that you don't support that opinion, you simply posted it.

The morning news was attempt number one, and this is attempt number two, unless I missed a few somewhere.

Do you think this is going to work out for you as a long-term strategy?
How do you think it's been going so far?

I guess it's all good, as long as you're enjoying yourself. 😉

5

Theo- you're more than welcome to move to China, where no one complains about the environment and they're all very aware of what the "real problems" are.
I'm sure the leader for life over there will be delighted to quote you on twitter and beyond.
We should have a leader for life in here too, fuck those whiny librals.

6

Dan

Straight women writing gay-themed fanfiction it's kind of like straight men's fascination with "lesbian" porn.
It's not supposed to be authentic, it's supposed to be erotic from a straight woman's perspective.

7

I've met a lot of Chinese folks over the years, and they are generally very eager to share their culture with anyone who will look and listen. That someone would consider borrowing an aspect of their culture offensive to them is surely baffling. Appropriation? I'm pretty sure most would consider this circumstance to be a success in their sharing of culture.

8

Everyone put down your tools. You are appropriating culture created by Australopithecus garhi in East Africa about 2.5 million years ago, you arrogant culture thieves.

9

The neverending struggling against PC terror continues.

10

Thanks Adam, was going to say the same thing.

I think Dan meant it as an example of the absurdity of obsessing over cultural appropriation, but I wasn't really sure.

11

@10

I think you're right. In fact now that you mention it, I think he might have said something about it in the past.
I think it had to do with Yaoi (?) Manga, but it was awhile ago and I can't really remember.

12

I just learned of this whole thing an hour ago. This is one of those things that wouldn't be an issue, but for our connected world and everyone's race to be the first outraged, and the most outraged.

13

@11 - You might be thinking about Mr. V's particular aversion to mlm fanfiction. He's railed about it a few times in the comments. I'm not recalling where Dan has mentioned it before, if he ever has.

14

@4

We might even call that strategy "plausible Denali-bility".

15

Seriously Dan, of all the items flashing at the moment , you pick this one.
A Chinese woman I read in one of the incessant news flashed had no issue with it until this nicely shaped young woman, mocked Chinese women by bowing down.
It's different to us, how your yr ends few months into a yr and all these prom stories getting shared on US news pages.

16

sanguisuga @ 11 I don’t recall Mr. V’s particular aversion, but I recall some assumed-female commenters mentioning the subject, as well as male/male porn made for straight women.

17

The cheongsam was beautiful, the bowing was stupid and racist. It's quite amazing how humans can lose all common sense, decency and intelligence when they get together in a pack! These kids are well set-up to pledge with fraternities/sororities next year, and to get in the middle of some ultra-stupid hazing incident that will have them back in the news as "an awful warning!"

18

I don't know about male/male porn made for women, but in one of those discussions, we did talk about how some such as Cocky Boys (and others but the people at that company acknowledge it) is popular among women- at least the subset of women that like gay porn. But I assume Dan here is talking about the Tumblr slash stuff mostly which is definitely erotica created and consumed mostly by women that depicts gay sex and gay relationships in a way that those women fantasize them to be. I don't think anyone is pretending there's an authenticity to this, though I might be wrong- we did have that weird letter from the woman who was fetishizing gay couples and wanted to go to bathhouses and find a pair for herself.

19

Apologies for the capital letters; for some reason, my computer has been unable to use the controls any more that use the greater than/less than keys.

[I'm sure they appreciate gay men and all the gay sex we're having all the gay time and all us gays sure do appreciate all you straight lady fans of gay sex.]

Mr Savage, kindly speak for you yourself and the (other?) gynocentric gays only. And there are very few ladies among that group (I require at least as much of a Lady as Mr Darcy does of an Accomplished Woman); I would set as the baseline for consideration for that distinction at appreciating that gays gaying is good for non-gays too, and that we are not some form of performance art designed for their benefit and arousal.

This is one of those things that is only seen as "okay" because WOMEN's doing things that aren't nice for anybody to do is "Smashing Patriarchy" and "Empowerment". Now I could let the whole genre go as just worthy of an LMB if it weren't for the way that some women have begun to declare that gays have NO BUSINESS writing M/M fiction, as the genre BELONGS TO WOMEN, and the way some women think they have a right to start telling gays they have to be just like the "gays" in female-penned MM fiction, because those are the kind of "gays" those women like better. My examples were all from mainstream women's forums that claimed they were being "pro-gay" and not the radical ones that have openly celebrated anti-gay actions.

I don't, though, call the phenomenon cultural appropriation. When badly done, I call it trespassing. Those women who can produce insightful novels

Now, I'd cheerfully bake Ms Hopkins or Ms Cute or Ms Ods or perhaps one or two other women among the assembled company a batch of madeleines, as a sign of appreciation for their getting that the primary purpose in life of gays is NOT to Serve Women. One of my bridge players gave me a real madeleine pan twenty years ago, and I have a charming receipt for them, although I have not done any serious baking in close to fifteen years.

I hope I have not been terribly severe, but I had a ghastly bridge game today with one player ten minutes late and another half an hour. I think those who know me well will attest that this is relatively mild.

20

Oh, the unfinished sentence should be, "Those women who can produce insightful novels about or heavily involving gay men are welcome visitors.

21

Except that they aren't for you or for men at all, Venn. If they stray into gay spaces or try to enforce their fantasies on the real world, I could see your problem. But they are women-made fantasies that are consumed by women. It has nothing to do with you. Any arguments you make against this are those of cultural appropriation exactly. It's problematic from the point of view of the person being mis-represented or the person whose identity is being fetishized to be fodder for another's consumption. This is as true for gay men as it is for Chinese people, etc. If it bothers you, fine, but don't pretend you are being bothered by trespassing rather than being bothered by cultural appropriation. A lot of people think cultural appropriation is a load of bullshit until it bothers them personally. Then somehow it's a real thing- worthy of outrage.

The truth is that other people's fantasies and subcultures will always be problematic. You can choose to be upset about it or not.

22

(force not enforce but you know what I mean)

23

BTW perhaps I'm clueless here, but I'd love to see an actual example of women writing slash fiction saying that gay men should not write gay erotica. I bet if that exists at all, it's an incredibly small freak minority.

24

When anyone calls it a "waste of energy" because a lot of people tweeted about something, what do they think they would have been doing if they hadn't been tweeting about that? Maybe somehow devoting those thumb twitches to building 0.0000000001% of a house for Habitat for Humanity?

They would have tweeted about some other stupid shit. The Pope's shoes or Justin Bieber or, when there's literally nothing to tweet about, cats.

Anyway, regardless of what you think about this, a lot of people giving thought to what is or is not cultural appropriation is time well spent. Any controversy that doesn't end with a guy driving a truck into a crowd of pedestrians is what passes for a win, according to my drastically lowered standards of 2018.

25

EL- re gay male porn catering to women-
In one discussion a year or two ago a woman, possibly yourself, mentioned how important it is for her to see post/pre action interviews with cast members, assuring viewers they do what they do because they like it.
Some gay men, I think Ricardo was one of them, said those interviews must be catering to potentially guilty-feeling female viewers.

26

CMD- I think I did say that, but not for those reasons. I like to see it because I can't suspend the disbelief enough to enjoy porn that pretends to be a part of a narrative (hello plumber!) and I prefer porn that is honest about what it's doing (now we are going to watch these two sexy guys fuck for the camera!). Someone- I don't remember who- did suggest that part of the reason this resonates with women is because it assures us about consent, that everyone involved is enjoying themselves. I had not thought of this before that conversation (I think it's just more likely that women find it harder to believe that the female actresses in straight porn are having fun since the fantasy is from a male POV), but I thought that explanation was very interesting and I admit that it is likely to have some influence on why I like porn like that. I also like this in straight porn- for example I enjoy watching videos of amateurs and I especially recommend the forum MLNP (though I haven't visited it in many months so it might've changed?) for similar reasons- it's just regular people who are into sex doing it for the camera. It's possible that the consent issue plays into this, and I admit that this might influence me in some way that I'm not aware of- upon reflection that's probably true. But it is not my conscious stated reasons for enjoying those post/pre action interviews. To me, they make the fantasy seem more believable.

27

BTW I recently watched some pretty hardcore gagging on cock straight porn thing that did have a pre/post interview and even still it just seemed pretty unappealing to me. I don't remember that conversation entirely, but unless my rationale has changed (it might have) I'm pretty sure the reason I like gay porn is two fold: one I really like to look at dudes, being a straight woman, and two it's easier to suspend disbelief since I don't imagine what it's like for the woman (a woman not being there) and get taken out of the scene.

That said, I don't really like porn made for women either as it tends to center on the woman's pleasure which is pretty wrong-headed to me- I'm a straight woman and I want to see men get off, why would I want to watch a woman? I'm sure the straight porn I might like exists if I bothered to look for it, but really I want to see a man melt and believe it's real - not a woman pretend to either be SO SURPRISED at the cock or else so vixenish or whatever. So amateur porn is fine, but really if you want to watch a man just melt with a good fucking, there isn't much alternative to gay porn or else just doing it yourself. And I think this is part of the appeal of slash fiction- if you really read it, aside from the sex, a lot of it focuses on male vulnerability- that seems to be what's rocking these women's socks. But yes, zooming back out, I don't want to see narratives and fantasies- I don't believe them, they look stupid- and I don't want to see a woman pretending to be oh so overwhelmed by a man nor treated like a piece of meat. Cocky Boys really plays up the kissing too (and probably the consent aspect)- it's often sweeter than it is dirty and since they are well-aware they have a huge female audience (their producers say as much) I can't believe this is coincidental. That this might bother gay men, I don't know. Porn bothers women all the time so I don't really GAF. There's plenty out there for men, gay or straight, that I think they shouldn't complain.

28

Really... So The Stranger is going to bury its head in the sand and pretend that the absolute shit show at Sawant's rally yesterday, and the general storm brewing around the Head Tax, isn't a thing???

Fuck... I remember when, agree with it or not, The Stranger was something "more" than the Seattle Weekly because it at least talked about things that happened. Shame on you. You've actually made me miss the ECB days..... I guess this place really is just an entertainment mag now.

29

@4: Neither of the posts you reference were opinions. One was a statistic from the UN, and the other is the definition of a Chinese term.

30

Dan's gonna get flack for the women writing gay "erotica" but he's right.
Maybe it's improved but the stuff I came across in the past has led me to rules about such work
If it's written by a woman--pass.
If the author just uses initials --pass.
Supernatural? i.e. werewolf/vampire--pass.
One of the characters is strangely attracted to a female character--double pass.
If there's over-empasis on emotions/feelings? "Devin wondered if he's ever find that one person to make him whole"--ick--pass.

31

As if men haven't been writing for ever about women and how they experience life. Shoes on the other foot and suddenly there's a problem?

32

"a lot of it focuses on male vulnerability-" Exactly.

I have written millions of words of m/m fanfiction slash. I know I have some gay male readers - or at least they have self-identified as such. If people don't like reading it, then, ya know, keep scrolling. Or check for other stories. The genre I'm in (fanfiction) - It's published for free. It's tagged thoroughly (because that's how we find one another's stuff). The odds of stumbling across it unintentionally are pretty damn low and easy to fix with a few checked boxes on your search filter.

So if someone is finding m/m fanfic and being offended by it - what the fuck is wrong with you? That's like coming into my house, going in my bedroom, searching my drawers, and being offended at the seven dildos I own. So what? I am not "appropriating" men's penises by enjoying a good dildo-ing from time to time any more than I'm appropriating gay male culture in my fanfic. I have no intention of accurately replicating gay male culture in my Star Wars fic. Part of the attraction of fanfic, for me and as I've seen articulated by other writers and readers, is that you get to pick and choose which societal conventions are kept and which are discarded. Right down to the 'men get pregnant in this story!' or 'all the characters are origami figures fighting a fire demon!' or 'she's actually a shape-shifted lizard creature crash-landed in the 90s, trying to make sense of everything!' or other equally implausible premises.

To call it appropriation is missing the point, like telling kids they aren't allowed to play with their own toys because they might use them in a make-believe scenario that wasn't explicitly intended by the manufacturer.

33

I wish people would actually think about what things mean before they throw buzzwords out. The other day I was called a racist (on Twitter, of all places) for referring to Melania and Ivana trump as "Eurotrash". "Euro" is not a race. I readily acknowledge that it is a regional slur, but it was a definite sidenote to my main insult to trump that he can't get American women to sleep with him (which is not exactly true. He did get Marla to sleep with him, and he evidentially can get other American women to sleep with him in exchange for money).

And then this morning a friend of mine was railing on Facebook about "Liberal insanity and political correctness" in regards to the Boy Scouts changing their name and accepting girls. That decision had nothing to do with either liberalism or "political correctness". The Boy Scout organization is dying. No one wants to be a Boy Scout anymore because it's so creepy (pedophile leaders, too much Christian dogma, etc). It's like saying that Sears is going out of business because of liberal insanity and political correctness, when it's just that no one shops at Sears anymore.

It's the same with this issue of the dress. The world is built on "cultural appropriation". Healthy cultural appropriation - like a teenage girl from Utah wearing a qipao - helps break down barriers between people. If everyone weren't always so busy looking for something to be offended and angry about, they would realize that.

Sometimes a dress is just a dress.

34

@32 - Are you on AO3?

35

"Everyone"? Catalina, please don't draw any comparison between few what? Thousand? A few thousand people tweeting about a prom dress, and the President of the United States rallying a white mob to bully the (hardly reluctant) NFL to destroy the careers of black players who didn't do the politically correct thing during the national anthem.

We have a regime that is testing our judicial branch for any weakness, and rolling over legitimate law enforcement. They want to enforce their political correctness at the cost of people's livelihoods and lives. They are funneling shared resources -- millions of dollars -- away from regions that are politically incorrect and towards regions and ethnic groups that echo the government's politically correct words and actions.

Meanwhile, the left is hanging back from joining the Boy Scouts and saying white girls shouldn't necessarily wear Chinese ethnic clothing for fun. "Everyone" isn't always looking for something to be offended by. Some liberals are bitching and gossiping, while the establishment right is trying to institute a tyranny built around a loony personality cult (and Jeebus). The two are not equivalent.

We never recognize right wing P.C. enforcement. When the administration let millions suffer die by channelling health care resources towards those whose superficial details of their personal lives happened to be P.C., and away from those who were politically incorrect merely because they had same-sex partners? We laughed at trivial P.C. policing of whether someone said Mrs. or Ms. while the state's P.C. enforcers were crushing people's lives. Trans people wear politically incorrect clothing and use politically incorrect pronouns for themselves, and are defined as deviant, mentally ill, and dangerous. Nobody even questioned this until about five minutes ago. It never occurred to anyone call transphobes "P.C. police". Or the military persecuting people with Afro hairstyles as "P.C. run amok." When the right does it, it never occurs to anyone to recognize politically correct sacred cows.

The double standard is astounding.

36

Gamebird @32: Great points. I'm a straight woman who doesn't care for fanfic of any kind--but I couldn't agree with you more. If someone doesn't like it, they don't have to read it. Given that a lot of slash/fanfic as I understand it, has to do with fictional characters, it strikes me that unless you're actually Captain Kirk or Spock, you can't say that your experience is being appropriated.

37

@25: "Some gay men, I think Ricardo was one of them, said those interviews must be catering to potentially guilty-feeling female viewers."

Or the partners of the persons who buy the content.

38

@Catalina, From what I understand, you can't exist on Twitter without being called a racist and/or a Nazi pretty regularly, and this is confounded by the fact that there really are racists and Nazis on Twitter. I don't have a Twitter account but this is how it seems! Agree with you though!

@Gamebird, yes exactly. And what Lava said @31 too. I don't personally read fanfic though I know enough about it b/c I follow some of the fandoms that the fic plays in. What I find amusing is how often men pooh- pooh away any concerns women have about the way they are represented in genres that are overwhelmingly created (note: almost all of them) and yet when a group of women write their own fiction and share it with one another for free online, some men get annoyed by their representation. As you said, you'd have to seek it out.

As for the argument that some of these attitudes do spill over into the real world, if that happens, then it's shitty of those individual women. But please tell me how a man can be concerned about this while simultaneously claiming that the representation of women in porn, video games, movies, etc are all perfectly fine and have no bearing on the real world since everyone understands the difference between fantasy and reality, etc. Either it's OK or it's not- and if you think it's not, then you have to deal with the nuance of what you are going to do about it? Ban porn? Make it illegal for women to write fictional gay male characters?

But again, I think Dan was being tongue-in-cheek and he really doesn't think this is a big deal.

39

There's a line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation. It's not always easy to see distinctly.

There's some really obvious stuff like when a fashion show includes barely-dressed models wearing Native ceremonial headdresses, but most of the rest of "appropriation" is tricky to unravel.

Does the appropriator always have to be white and Western for it to be an act of appropriation? Or does the person doing the appropriating have to show a certain respect for the origins of whatever they're wearing or doing or eating or singing or saying? Is it the fact that the origin of whatever isn't being acknowledged and credited?

Can non-Pacific Islanders learn hula? My white, Jewish friend moved to Hawaii when his kids were young, and his non-Hawaiian, white, Jewish daughter became a really good hula dancer and now performs at luaus for tourists; what do you call that (besides hokey)?

What about white people playing jazz? I once had a student who was angry at that, which she saw as appropriation of a black musical form. But once that form is out in the world, must it be only limited to people who come from the same ethnic group (or religion or race or nationality or . . .) to make it? Should the world really have been deprived of Bix Beiderbecke and Dave Brubeck?

I've eaten really good bagels in North America made by Koreans. Does anyone have a problem with that? I'm Jewish, and my people come from Eastern Europe--I'm a part of the group that brought the bagel to America. I met a Vietnamese women--an American resident--who told me that when she first came to the US, she discovered the bagel and thinks of it as the quintessential American food. And by now it probably is. Why is that a problem.

I agree with whoever it was upthread who said that appropriation seems silly and trivial until it concerns you and your heritage, and I guess that's true, but unless something is done disrespectfully or with malice or someone else tries to take the credit for the initial creation of something, I prefer to think of it as cultural appreciation.
We live in an increasingly global society.

40

@Teddy 29

I'll take that as a yes.

That only answers the first question, so I'll ask the second question again.
Do you think this new tactic is going to work?

You seem to be having fun with it, and that's all that really matters. 😁

41

@39 Yes, I think the problem is that people seem to think that acknowledging that there is a problem with something means you have to solve it. It is true that appropriation and fetishization and objectification (all different things, but it feels similar when it's done to a identity with which you identify) are problematic. I feel like people start tripping over themselves when they try to deny it's a thing or that it is valid that it bothers some people.

The way women are represented in porn bothers me. The way gay men are represented in female fan fic bothers Venn. A sports team calling itself Red Skins bothers Native Americans. Then there are wider issues that seem sillier to me- I'm sure someone is bothered by Koreans making bagels. In Texas a few years ago, there was a big deal over this white guy that opened an extremely popular BBQ joint in downtown Austin, using recipes and serving styles he learned from the black community but now it's hip and even celebs wait for hours to eat there. Etc.

I think Americans in general just need to get more used to the idea that culture is problematic and you can be bothered by something without thinking you need to go out and get all outraged about it. Where's the line? I think cultural norms tell us, and it's not always about the extent to which people get hurt. I think we can make a very good case that violence against women in porn and video games contributes to misogyny in a way that is harmful to women in society. Or that black face performances are far too offensive and carry too much a history of white supremacy and racial violence for people to accept it any longer. And yet, are we going to ban porn? Judge everyone who watches it? Blame real world misogynistic violence on it? Of course not, even though some try to do that. Likewise a Korean can cook a bagel without being an antisemite and white people in yoga pants can place their hands together and say "Namaste" to one another as if it's got some deep meaning beyond "hello" before they do exercises, and I'm going to roll my eyes but I'm not going to get outraged. I think Americans think they need to fix every problem- I mean some things we need to just accept that they are problems that exist in the world and choose to how behave in response. The world is "problematic". You can talk to people about these things so that they are able to reflect on it without getting outraged or trying to ban the thing. It only becomes a problem when people mix up their representations with their real life experience of other people.

42

@41: EmmaLiz, I couldn't agree more.
I think the examples you used are interesting and are fairly nuanced; and all rather different from each other in important ways.

You said: "The way women are represented in porn bothers me. The way gay men are represented in female fan fic bothers Venn. A sports team calling itself Red Skins bothers Native Americans. Then there are wider issues that seem sillier to me- I'm sure someone is bothered by Koreans making bagels. In Texas a few years ago, there was a big deal over this white guy that opened an extremely popular BBQ joint in downtown Austin, using recipes and serving styles he learned from the black community but now it's hip and even celebs wait for hours to eat there. Etc."

So: the way women are represented in porn bothers me, too, but I don't think of it as an act of appropriation. I get why you can consider it appropriation, but I consider it more an act of fantasy and imagination. That porn is generally not made for women; the audience for it is overwhelmingly straight and male. So the makers are fulfilling a fantasy, not so much taking something like women's sexuality and claiming it as their own while robbing it of its significance and neither acknowledging its origins nor paying respectful homage. I get angry because I think a lot of people watching porn get the message that that is how women like to be treated, must be treated, are supposed to be treated.* And I think a lot of women don't want to be treated that way but think that they are supposed to like it and at least to put up with it. Which makes me as sad as it makes me angry.

The way gay men are represented in female fan fic bothers Mr. Ven, but is that "appropriation?" This one is ambiguous to me. He can say that it is unrealistic, and he can say that he wishes straight women would stay out of gay culture (even though I don't think slash/fan fic is written for a gay or male audience at all), insofar as they're attempting to represent it in some way. But they're not really appropriating anything, in my view. If I were a gay man, I think I'd be giving it the psychic eye-roll, much as you do the white wannabes and their "namastes"

But the Redskins is another matter altogether. It isn't true appropriation, either, as no Native peoples have ever called themselves or others that. Instead, it's a bigoted slur invented by white people of European descent. It's offensive without being appropriation, though any of the symbols associated with all of the teams that have taken Native peoples as their mascots ("Braves," etc.) seem like examples of appropriation to me.

And then there's the food example: the bbq place in Texas you cited, the bagels, I mentioned; I'm sure there's more. Somewhere, there's a white man of European descent making sushi. I think most of us are okay with this (if not initially, at least over time) as we reap the benefits. I used to feel a bit huffy about the bagels that the goyim made--and the idea of a cinnamon-raisin bagel, or worse, a chocolate-chip bagel made my lip curl with equal parts disgust and judgmental amusement. But now, I find that although I don't want to eat those things, they no longer seem quite like the atrocities they once did to me. I find myself thinking, "to each their own," giving a small inward psychic eye roll, and moving on with my day. And if I had actually liked the taste of a cinnamon-raisin bagel, I could probably be persuaded to think of them not as cultural appropriations, but rather as cultural additions, if not even improvements, pretty quickly!

*All the usual disclaimers of "not all--" apply, not the least of which is that I am lumping all porn together into a particular kind of porn.

43

Also, very interesting to be having this discussion on Cinco de Mayo.

44

Can a curious person who doesn't care for star wars get a link to what local experts regard as a decent m/m fanfiction slash story?

45

@44 - That can be a complicated ask. If you aren't into SW, then what fandom are you familiar with or would like to explore? If you are into SW, then what ship do you prefer? Older slash like Skysolo, or newer pairings like StormPilot & Kylux?

46

@44 I think a lot of the issue with an outsider (to a fandom) reading fanfic will be that you're coming into it without knowing any of the existing relationships. You also can't say for certain whether something is written by a woman unless you know the person.

My sole fandom (that I also write in) is Dragon Age. The issue there that makes it separate from something like, say, Star Wars (or Harry Potter or Star Trek or Supernatural) is that DA is an RPG with romances, including gay romances. I write my own character and his actual gay romance, with a gay character (who was written by a gay man!), that I played out in the game. There is a decent helping of angst, but that is also reflected with the character in the game. So in that way I consider it different from fabricating Kirk/Spock or Harry/Draco (or whatever other pairing). I have no interest in reading that sort of slash pairing.

I only read two fic authors, who both happen to be men; one of these doesn't write sex scenes. One of these guys is a friend of mine and has given my own writing a passing grade, so I take that as a positive, but it's all based on personal taste. Just because that one gay man thinks my stuff is okay, doesn't then mean that some other one will.

There are a lot of factors that go into making a "good" fic. If you just want smut, there is stuff out there, but IMO the best kind explores a relationship. Sex is part of a relationship, but it's not the only part. While the relationship plays out in the game, it can't show all of the mundane behind-the-scenes things (there is a larger Save the World plot), which is what I aim to do in my own fic writing.

47

There is a value in preventing disrespect of a culture, but it shouldn't bleed into what is, effectively, racial/ethnic separatism, e.g., "a white girl morally should not wear a Chinese dress. Everyone of a particular race/ethnicity has to stay in their own corner."

48

Dude. Korean people make the best bagels. (At least top 10.)

49

I think people are misunderstanding Venn. He would do the psychic eye roll at women writing gay fiction for each other, but it passes into appropriation when they tell gay men in real life that they shouldn't be writing gay erotica because it isn't what women like, or expect real gay men to be like the men in the fiction. So it is, at least in part, the same reason Ms. Cute is bothered by porn. He could let it go with his LMB if only it didn't cross into the real world and affect actual people. If nothing else, taking advantage of cultural exchange and then booting the original group out is just plain rude.

50

The issue is that Asian Americans have apparently decided to respond to all the social injustice they faced (and still face) in America by appropriating the identities and culture of everyone around them. First it was deciding to ID as "Asian Americans" - even though they actually meant "Far-East-Asian-Americans" - and screw everyone else from Asia.*

Next, they decided that they were going to stop anyone in the West from doing anything with "Asian" culture - and screw what the Asians think about it. So while China just wants to drop some dumb pandering blockbuster movies over here, and South Korea really wants to expand its K-pop into that sweet USA market, and Japan's desperately trying to keep its centuries-old Kimono industry alive by promoting it internationally, Asian Americans are like: "screw you guys - no selling to the USA!" Meanwhile, Asia's sitting there going "we want their fucking money, now kindly stop cockblocking all our cultural exports!"

Apart from being kinda a dick move, it's a strategy that's bound to fail, because Asian Americans don't actually own the things they're trying to control: 'Asia' is a bigger area than what "Asian-Americans" want it to be, and the original "Asian" countries still get the final say on how they export their culture.

You gotta feel for the Indians: first their name gets ganked for the Native Americans, then "Asian" gets swiped for the East-Asians.

51

@34 - Yes, under the same alias/username as here.

52

@44 Go to www.archiveofourown.org
Hit Search.
Hit Edit your Search.
Scroll down to Categories. Put a checkmark in "M/M".
Scroll up to Rating and pick ... probably Explicit if that's what you're looking for.
Above Rating is Fandom. Pick something you've watched on TV or in theaters so you're familiar with the characters involved.
Scroll up from there and put a checkmark in "Complete"
Pick Language (English, I would assume, but some fandoms have lots of stories in other languages)
Maybe you want to pick only short stories for a first time. Under Word Count, put "<5000" or something like that. I wouldn't suggest less than 1000 words, because there's not much room to develop a situation in so few words.

The above should give you a list of works to choose from. There will be the fic title and author, then warnings (if any) in bold so you know what you're getting into, tags that help you refine what you're getting into, and a very short description of the story.

Note that any two character names divided by a / is a romantic pairing. "Finn/Rose" is the Star Wars character Finn in a romantic relationship with Rose. They may or may not have sex in the story, or maybe they're just a background couple that's mentioned or interacts with the main couple or characters. But since some people don't 'believe in' or wish to read anything at all that puts character A and B together, the site uses this tagging system so those who want to avoid stories with A/B can do so. Or seek out those stories if that's their thing.

53

Wow, thanks Gamebird for the guide to the newbie. I'm not a fan of fan fic, but I've been a fan of what you write here, so I'll check it out. Is there anything of yours you'd recommend as a gateway story (or the story you're most proud of)?

54

@49: "I think people are misunderstanding Venn. He would do the psychic eye roll at women writing gay fiction for each other, but it passes into appropriation when they tell gay men in real life that they shouldn't be writing gay erotica because it isn't what women like, or expect real gay men to be like the men in the fiction."

My god--if that's what Mr. Ven is really having happen to him, no wonder he's upset beyond LMB-level. That is whole-other-level obnoxious. Of course he should be upset in that case.

55

@48 (Hawkeye Pierce): They do! Way, way better than those puffy, fluffy, oversized monstrosities they make over at Noah's Bagels.

56

Gamebird, I'm trying, but I'm stumped when it comes to the section called "fandom.' I hoped there would be pairings or characters or something to choose from, but I'm supposed to fill in my own. I don't even have any idea of what some fandoms are. Could you toss out a few so I can choose? Do you have to like sci fi or Star Wars or Star Trek to make this work?

57

@56 Fandom would be the name of the main work of fiction: Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Sherlock, etc. A trekkie is in the Star Trek fandom. The fandom I write in would be Dragon Age: Inquisition, as that's the name of the video game.

It might be better for you to simply browse the fandom section to get an idea of what's available, rather than putting something in. You can do that on the front page, or through the bar at the top by clicking on Fandoms and then whichever category you want (video games, tv shows, etc).

There is something for pretty much everyone. There are over 900 works for the Pride and Prejudice fandom. If you start typing in something, it will give you suggestions to fill in from what's available. You can leave it at that, or add your gender pairing, rating, and so on to narrow it down. After that, you can sort by number of kudos (likes), comments, or bookmarks to see what's popular (not that popularity is a measure of quality).

To answer your question, you can just select the m/m pairing, hit explicit rating, and you will get over 40k results for that. The very first fic with that search is for the X-Files fandom. But it does "work" better if you read something you have an interest in or knowledge about.

58

@51 - Thx! My psued is the same there as it is here if you're interested. I mostly write for BBC Sherlock (but no Johnlock) and also have over 1M words to my name.

Nocute @56 - You don't necessarily have to 'like' scifi, but it does help if you're somewhat familiar with the base material. So you could search for Star Trek or Hannibal or The Hobbit. What shows/movies/books do you enjoy? Search Pride & Prejudice or NCIS or Harry Potter. There's something out there for just about everything, and it's not all male slash. There are plenty of het pairings and femslash too.

And although I've only been doing this for a few years, never have I ever seen anyone trying to push actual gay men out of the fanfic community. I'm not going to deny anyone's personal experiences, but I'm finding that difficult to believe.

59

@58 I'm not that experienced with the fanfic community, but I do know that it's an issue in real-world publishing. There's a sort of terrible Catch-22 for gay male authors, especially if they write gay relationships. The fact is that straight women are the primary consumers for this -- that audience makes the publisher more money on that genre. Because of this, publishers can be less friendly to gay male authors writing gay relationships, because they might not appeal to women and bring in that money. In that case, it's all about the money and a business calculation to get more.

If more gay men were interested in reading/buying that type of fiction (I'm not saying none are, just considerably less than women) then it wouldn't be an issue. But then of course there is the problem that some gay men are naturally turned off reading it at all because it's written by a woman for women to consume. Someone who wants to read gay relationships, either written by men or in a realistic way, has to put forth more effort to find it than someone else who just wants some m/m fluff.

What creeps me out are the female authors that are deceptive about it, by using initials or even a male pseudonym. You're a woman that gets off on m/m and writes it for a living. Fine. But be honest about it. Not having that honesty makes it more difficult for readers that want to find fiction written by men.

60

Perhaps that's it. I know nothing of publishing. All of my experience is just in writing fanfic and sharing it for free. As for gay men writing gay porn, nifty.org is the place to be from what I've heard.

61

To add to 59... I once read a lengthy post by a gay male fic writer who was offering tips to female writers regarding sex. As part of the introduction, he stated that, as a gay man that likes to read this stuff, he knows that without so many women writing it, there would be far less for him to consume as a reader and fan of the genre he himself writes in. He was happy there were those women authors out there, creating this stuff... but here are some sex tips to make it better.

There is no real solution other than to get more gay men to produce and consume this content so there is more for everyone to enjoy.

62

So I've spent the last 2 hours or so poking around in the site Gamebird linked to. No kidding, there's a fandom for everything: I typed "Arrested Development" on a lark, and something came up. Gamebird, I searched your name and found some of your stories. I'll search sanguisuga too.
I am curious though, if those of you who write fan fic would mind answering some questions.

Are you more drawn by the fandom or the writing? That is, do you consider yourself to be primarily a writer or a member of a community of fans? Do you write anything with original characters? I assume that this began because of your love for a certain book or movie or tv show and the characters in it. So it makes sense that you want to give them your own stories. But have you ever been upset by someone else's vision of the relationship between characters or different plot ideas?

I write erotica, but it would never occur to me to write stories set in someone else's world--and clearly, these stories are elaborate and about far more than sex. If you wouldn't mind, those of you who read or read and write fan fic or belong to fandoms, I'd love to know more about your relationship with the world of fandoms.

63

Nightscrawl, the problem with that is the assumption that the women who consume this have any interest whatsoever in reading about what gay sex is really like. I'm sure there are markets for real gay male erotica- and I'm sure there are gay men producing and consuming that- and because the world is a diverse place, there are probably women who want that too. But the fanfic type of slash fiction is not at all interested in what gay sex is actually like. It is not a problem that needs a "real solution" when women create something for women to consume that is not what men want or find realistic. They are writing about how women enjoy fantasizing about how gay men have sex. They aren't trying to accurately describe it. I agree that there will be more erotica produced for a wider market if more different kinds of people get involved in producing different kinds. Please note that this is EXACTLY the conversation we are having about porn- if more women would consume it, more porn would be made that portrays sex the way women fantasize about it. I think there's gender preferences in the medium, and while all of that is true, it's striking that men can't make this leap until it is about them. What if I volunteered to tell all the straight porn houses how women really had sex. Do you think they'd suddenly have an ah-ha! moment and start depicting realistic straight sex in their porn? Do you think the mostly male audience that consumes that porn would change their fantasies? It's the same thing with women and gay erotica, it's just that men suddenly see themselves being portrayed from another's point of view (something that happens to women constantly but not to men that much) and some of them are disturbed by this.

I can't recommend any good slash or erotica- I think it's all pretty bad. But that's just because it's not my cup of tea.

@49 I agree and said as much. Women have been saying as much about porn and video games for decades. But Venn didn't just stop at the psychic eye roll and condemnation of real world bad behavior, he said he calls it trespassing if they are not writing insightful novels and that he believes their consumptions of their fantasies are because they want to smash the patriarchy- not that women could just have sexual fantasies that portray men in a way they don't see themselves. It must be a deliberate smashing of patriarchy? Then he said these same women tell men not to write gay erotica, which if that's true that's really shitty, but is that a thing? It would surprise me, but the world is a surprising place.

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@nocute, there's an interesting podcast that is sort of about this phenomenon. It's a story of one woman's personal experience with it, so I wouldn't want to generalize. I've thought about it a lot in this thread because at one point she says something like "we like to imagine men having sex with each other the way women have sex with each other" and the interviewer presses her to elaborate a little. It's interesting, and a good story. The podcast episode is called "The Boys Will Work It Out" and it's about a woman that writes Lord of the Rings slash fiction, and she talks about how they moved from an interest in writing about the genre into slash fiction, etc. It gave me an insight into a slice of that world w/o having to read the Tumblr stuff. Since you are an author, you might find it even more insightful.

65

http://loveandradio.org/2017/07/the-boys-will-work-it-out/
Here's the link to the podcast episode.

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@EmmaLiz: thanks, I'll check out the podcast (I'm a podcast junkie, anyway). I have read erotica that was supposed to be gay, but it was more like this:
Best Gay Erotica of the Year, Volume 3 (A Cleis Anthology), edited by Rob Rosen, published by Cleis Press.

I'm not a gay man, but I think the stories are, if not written for gay men, at least written by gay men (or some of them, anyway; T.R. Verten appears to be both a woman and a slash fan fic writer; whereas Louis Flint Ceci is a gay male writer who has published poetry and short stories.).

I find all well-written literary erotica to be arousing, whether the characters are gay, straight, or bi, and whether the sex is vanilla or kinky. The exception to that (and these days, it's a big one) is that I want the stories to be realistic--and by "realistic" I mean that the characters are human: no extra terrestrials, no vampires or shapeshifters. The "authenticity" of the stories (that is, whether the author is of the same gender and orientation as the protagonist or narrator or all the characters) is irrelevant to me. But I don't know how I'd feel if I thought someone from the majority was coopting my minority position (actually, I have some experience with that in a different realm, and I find it more funny than anything else).

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@62 - I've been writing since I was in middle school, and really got into it in high school. It was original as far as I was aware, but I was interested in mostly typical teenagery kinds of things. Vampires, mostly - hence my pseudonym. I'd write the occasional fantasy about whatever band I was listening to at the time - Bulletboys really revved me up for some reason and I still have an entire notebook dedicated to those adventures laying around somewhere...

But then in my early 20s I became involved with a rather toxic relationship, and I just lost that part of myself. I was with this person for about five years, and just became less and less myself, and I just couldn't connect with the writer within for love or money. After that ended it took me a while to start feeling myself again and even though I tried, I still couldn't get into that headspace. And then I watched BBC Sherlock, and there was something about it that made me search out more online, and that's when I stumbled across the concept of fanfic.

Now, I had already written fanfic, as I mentioned before - Bulletboys, Vampire Hunter D, a little Forever Knight - but I didn't know that it was a thing. I found Archive of Our Own, I read a bit of Sherlock fanfic, said to myself, "I can do better than this", and then bloody well set out to prove it. That first year I posted over 500k. It was all there inside me, I just needed a trigger. Still not sure exactly what it was about Sherlock in particular that did it for me, but I haven't ventured too far afield from it just yet. And even though I'm playing in that world and with some of the characters, I've introduced some of my own characters as well and they've been fairly well-received by my readers. I would like to expand my horizons and maybe look into getting published at some point, but I'm not in a place in my life right now where I can dedicate myself to that kind of time commitment.

68

Fanfic experts – how about a link to a specific story that you like, based on plot and writing skills, that a novice can relate to regardless of the show behind it?

69

@68 - I'll link you to two of my faves - if we even can link any more.

"Recette du Jour", by odamaki - https://archiveofourown.org/works/7099396/chapters/16131601

"Evening Ride", by LapisLazuli - https://archiveofourown.org/works/1042843

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@63 The women writers who commented in response to that gay writer's tips were pretty appreciative and it was an all-around positive comment thread with various questions and answers. If people can't handle that sort of discussion then frankly they shouldn't put their work out there to be looked at. I didn't for a very long time and kept it for myself to read. It wasn't until recently that a (male) friend encouraged me to post it.

I look at it in the same way that women -- and rightly so -- criticize a male author's writing of women. I think we should all strive to be better creators and improve. Sure, Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt adventure novels are aimed at men, but that doesn't mean he can't strive to have female characters that are somewhat realistic, or at least not ALL perfect models who are brilliant at every task that they set their minds to; that is it's own special brand of sexism, even if the writer thinks it's complimentary to depict women in such a way.

In the end, I think it boils down to the attitude of the creators as to whether they would accept such criticism. I know from my own writing that I do like to have some realism as well. Now, that's not to say it's hyper-realistic. Movie scenes with heterosexual pairings aren't 100% realistic either because it's a movie; it's fantasy, and things are cleaner for that medium. I think similar thought can be given to gay sex, while still having it be mostly realistic. Perhaps I, and those women in that comment thread, are in the minority. I don't know. I personally loathe the idea that gay men feel fetishized by straight women and there is a component of guilt for me in that, which is why I do try to write in the way I do (while still keeping true to myself, my style, and my characters regarding emotions, etc).

@62 "Are you more drawn by the fandom or the writing? That is, do you consider yourself to be primarily a writer or a member of a community of fans? Do you write anything with original characters? I assume that this began because of your love for a certain book or movie or tv show and the characters in it. So it makes sense that you want to give them your own stories. But have you ever been upset by someone else's vision of the relationship between characters or different plot ideas?"

I'm drawn to the fandom. I like a certain setting and the characters in it. Knowing the characters, it's interesting to see them react in different situations. And of course whatever medium only has so much content, so fic is a way to see /more/ of a setting or character. As I mentioned previously, the fic I write is for an RPG video game. In that game, you create your own character and roleplay as him or her; there are romances with NPCs (non-player characters) in the game. But the game can't show everything. I like using fic to flesh out my character outside the confines of the game and also to expand on the relationship.

I consider myself to be primarily a part of the fandom. I would not be writing if not for love of my game character, his partner, and the relationship that the game allows me to have.

There are certain things I dislike from other authors, but "upset"? No. If I dislike something, or a pairing, I just don't read it and move on. If the NPC character isn't portrayed in the way I think he should be, I will stop reading. I think it's wasted energy to get too bothered by that sort of thing.

"I write erotica, but it would never occur to me to write stories set in someone else's world--and clearly, these stories are elaborate and about far more than sex. If you wouldn't mind, those of you who read or read and write fan fic or belong to fandoms, I'd love to know more about your relationship with the world of fandoms."

I can only speak for myself, but I don't read slash pairings. "Shipping" is unappealing to me. It seems fake to throw couples together because I think they're hot together, or they're good friends, or they looked at each other once, or whatever other thing. I think there is value in having male /friendship/ like Kirk/Spock or Frodo/Sam or Gimli/Legolas and don't think that means those characters have to be romantically involved.

The only other gay romance I've read (actual novel, not fic) -- The House at Lobster Cove -- is historical fiction based on real people and relationships. There is no depicted sex, so I can't call it erotica.

71

@ NoCute and Nightscrawl- yes I want to clarify that in some cases I think we are talking about two different things. You are talking of erotica (which I'm sure has various subgenres and audiences, markets, writers, etc) and Gamebird and I are talking about fan fic, particularly slash fic which is very frequently homoerotic made by women for women and usually displays zero interest on portraying gay male sex accurately- nor do the writers intend/believe it does. Though of course I'm sure men create and consume it too. This is the shipping that Nightscrawl refers to and dismisses at the end- I didn't realize you were not including this in your earlier descriptions of gay men giving advice to women authors as that sort of shipping slash fanfic is exactly what I was referring too. Women who write/consume Spock/Kirk erotica could hardly be bothered by what gay sex or gay relationships are really like. It's not about that.

CMD, I'm sorry but I've never read even a paragraph of fanfic or erotic that I could recommend to anyone else or that I even wanted to continue reading myself.

72

In my own case, it's the lack of ability to suspend disbelief that makes me not enjoy fan fic- it's the same thing that makes me not like role play and why I like my porn to be straight up honest that it's porn (no stories about teachers or plumbers, etc). Just to clarify that this is not a comment on the various writers' abilities, and whatever rocks others' socks, great.

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@71 " I'm sorry but I've never read even a paragraph of fanfic"

This kind of disqualifies you from commenting on it. You don't read or write it, yet you're presuming to talk authoritatively on what readers and writers of fanfic want? You're making pretty blanket statements about fanfic when you say things like, "Women who write/consume Spock/Kirk erotica could hardly be bothered by what gay sex or gay relationships are really like. It's not about that." That's just not true for all of them. Some, sure, I'll agree to that, but not ALL.

Also, I'd venture to say that the gay relationships in, for example, Star Trek, which is supposed to be a utopia without discrimination (however shabbily Star Trek has handled homosexuality in general), would inherently be different from anything in real life. Presumably, a gay pairing in the ST universe wouldn't have to worry about coming out, or switching pronouns, or any of that bullshit. We also don't know what "gay culture" would be like in that universe, assuming there would be one, or if it eventually died out as they came to be broadly accepted by society. The same goes for any other fantasy or sci-fi universe that is disconnected from our own.

Once you move away from the culture aspect of it, you then get into how men are with each other, which will vary, even in real life, between people. For Kirk/Spock, as long as one of them is not uncharacteristically feminized, and the writer gets Spock's behavior down with regard to suppressing emotion, there is certainly a way to do that so it can be appealing to both female /and male/ readers. Now, whether gay guys even care about that pairing is another matter entirely. I know one guy that is pretty invested in Finn/Poe from Star Wars and is involved in that fandom.

I guess I didn't make myself clear about the guy who was giving advice. It was a general post to female writers /of fanfic/, which includes slash and shipping, about how to write gay sex scenes. That advice can and should also be used by female writers of general gay erotica. Gay sex is gay sex, whether it's with shipped characters or original ones. Some female writers of m/m fanfic care about (more or less) accurate depiction, and some don't. The /fanfic writers/ in that comment thread were appreciative of that advice. Fanfic writers are not a monolithic group. I'd say that some of this also depends on the fandom and the pairing, as they will attract different types of girls or women with variance to age, nerdiness, etc.

My other remarks about not liking shipping wasn't connected to that, but a general statement about my own preference. I write fanfic and I read fanfic. It's a very narrow fandom, but it's still fanfic. I don't read or write general erotica.

As far as suspending disbelief, it really depends. A writer, depending on the pairing, can operate within the bounds of canon. Let's say there is Buffy/Spike fanfic from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That is an established canonical pairing. In that case, the writer would just be expanding on the relationship shown in the show. Unless the characters are written badly (that is, out of character), there is no suspension of disbelief required.

Not all fanfic is the same. Some fanfic only seeks to operate in a universe and doesn't bother with portraying the canonical characters outside of support. For example, a person might write Harry Potter fanfic with mostly original characters. Perhaps it includes events from the books, as witnessed by the original character, or makes use of the teachers at the school (Snape, et al.). Some pretty scary shit happened in the Wizarding World in the last three books, so that could be shown from a completely different POV. That is also fanfic, but doesn't require suspending disbelief since that is not going against canon.

Some fanfic is alternate universe (AU), that is, taking characters and putting them in a "what if" scenario. "What if" Harry Potter was actually the illegitimate child of Lily Potter and Severus Snape? If you have Snape as the main POV character, you could have /all sorts/ of interesting stuff. Again, no suspension of disbelief there as AU fics are clearly stated to be AU and that the writer is playing around with whatever story idea. There are also crossover fics that combine fandoms (this would be an extension of AU).

None of this is to talk you into liking or consuming fanfic, but to say that you're operating on a very narrow idea of what fanfic is and what it can be.

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Nightscrawl, as I said, I'm a part of several of those fandoms myself. The slash fiction that I know most about is Doctor Who slash and Final Fantasy X- both fandoms I share with a niece as a sort of bonding thing (but not the slash fiction part). You can't exist in those spaces for long without stumbling across the slash fic- what I've come across and what people have shared with me, nope it's not for me. Others love it, fine.

I don't like what I've tried to read, and I said this in my first post on the matter, then again two other times so I don't think I'm pretending any authority on anything other than what I've experienced as a member of the fandoms which include plenty of women who are into this stuff both in my own real life and on Tumblr- and they are not accurately trying to represent gay sex. (I'm sure there are some who are- as I've said over and over again, it's a wide field) They aren't even necessarily trying to represent human sex in the fandoms (as you point out), and almost all of it (that I have come across though never finished as I don't like it) focuses on the vulnerability of the characters- all those pent up emotions, trust/betrayal, and submission. It could very well be that over years and years of experience in these fandoms that it's only a coincidence that every woman fanfic writer I've met and every slash story I've come across has these features in common, but I'd say it's far more likely that it is a type.

Suspension of disbelief has to do with how well the audience/participant can turn off their minds and become absorbed in the story/role- it has nothing to do with canon or what universe it's in or how believable those things are in real life and everything to do with the craftsmanship of the story and the particulars of the person consuming it. I have to be able to lose myself in the story instead of constantly being reminded that I'm reading fan fic in nearly every sentence. I've never found a single piece of fan fic (erotic or otherwise) that I could get through more than a few paragraphs without being constantly aware that I'm reading something amateur- the writing, plotting, tropes all distract me. I'd sincerely like to enjoy it and I've tried a lot of it. Though I've basically given up by now. I think the truth is that I just have a harder time with that sort of suspension of disbelief, maybe I'm too jaded- as I said I'm not good at role play either (I mean in sex, in tabletop games I'm great) and the silly narratives in some porn are very unsexy to me as well.

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@62 - My apologies for the lateness of reply.

"Are you more drawn by the fandom or the writing? That is, do you consider yourself to be primarily a writer or a member of a community of fans?"
I saw myself originally (10 years ago, when I started doing this) as part of a community of fans sharing works back and forth with one another. People would ask for a certain type of story (a 'prompt' - a certain situation) and I'd write a short story based on that premise. But the more I've written, the more I see myself as an unpaid writer who uses other people's characters. I don't ask people for ideas or interact much in the larger fandom. I write for my own pleasure and while I adore compliments as much as anyone else, I'm going to keep writing without them. Though if I get negative reviews, maybe I'll just write and not publish.

"Do you write anything with original characters?"
Yes. For stories that have only original characters - not much and I've never published anything. For stories set in other fandoms, I frequently create original characters to fill various roles in the story not provided by existing characters. These original characters are never the main focus of the story or the main love interest.

"But have you ever been upset by someone else's vision of the relationship between characters or different plot ideas?"
There are many things I don't read because I don't like them or they don't interest me. High school and coffee shop settings, stories where the characters are children (I'm not talking about sexual stories, although a kid-sex story would put me off even more, I just mean innocent kid adventure type stories), age dynamics, ice skating settings, flower shop settings, there's a whole genre of odd niche settings for stories that I'm not into because they bore me. I prefer settings that fit the universe of the fandom (ie, Harry Potter characters in Star Wars doesn't do it for me; I don't care for most crossover stuff). There is nothing wrong with any of this stuff, though. I just don't care to read it.

As far as plot ideas and how people see characters - I avoid stories (if I can) where well-intentioned characters are portrayed as evil. That hurts my heart and bothers me. As far as that goes, I try to avoid stories where the villains are evil for no point. I like villains understandable and human. The central antagonistic force in the stories I like is generally misunderstandings, conflicting needs, desire/attraction, surviving difficult situations, healing from past trauma, etc.

I disagree strongly and am triggered by certain portrayals of abuse. So I tread carefully when that's a feature of a story. But if a story is well-written and the characters fit with my understanding of human nature and the personality of the character as I've seen in the show, then I'm pretty okay with whatever. Including abuse, if it strikes me as realistic and there is a satisfying conclusion (character escapes, heals, villain is overthrown). I hate tragedies and sad endings. I don't read fanfic for the downers. I read it for the uplifting stories and insight on human nature.

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https://archiveofourown.org/works/14318214
"Dead Men Tell No Tales"

I wrote this recently. It's 15,000 words, self-contained and complete. There is no sex, although the two central characters (Poe Dameron and Armitage Hux) do eventually share a kiss. It is set in Star Wars, after the events of The Last Jedi. A little time has passed after the last movie. The bad guys activated an unstable abandoned prototype weapon; the good guys attacked them; there was a huge explosion. The story follows the point of view of one of the victims of that explosion, Poe Dameron. It tracks his journey to survive, understand what happened and why he was rescued by one of his enemies, and get back to his friends.

I thought I did a lot of good things here with moving the action along, plot, good dialogue, world-building, etc. From the point of view of writing - this is probably one of my better stories. Whether you'd like the hurt/comfort enemies-to-lovers angle? I dunno. That's up to you.

77

I used to translate manga into English. This included some yaoi which is porn (or love stories with sex scenes) featuring gay men written by women. I would say some of the authors/artists tried to be realistic. Most of them didn’t. But all of it seemed like the fantasies, romantic and sexual, of (mostly young) women. In my view, everyone is free to fantasize about what they want, and write it down, draw pictures of it, and make some kind of art out if it, if they want. Fantasies don’t have to be realistic or even possible. And it’s not my business or anyone else’s to point out that this would never happen in real life. My guess is, the women writing and reading gay erotica, fan fiction, and yaoi already know it’s not what actual gay men do, but their fantasies are what they are, and they know some people will like them and other people will find them offensive or distasteful.

This is only a problem when people confuse fantasy with reality. If you’re a seventy year old man who fantasizes about having sex with twenty year old women, that’s fine. But if you start expecting that to happen in real life, and get angry or aggressive when twenty year old women aren’t responding to your advances as you imagined, then there’s an issue. Likewise, if the women writing these works are expecting real gay men to act out their fantasies for them, and behave angrily and aggressively when gay men refuse, then there’s an issue. But, my guess is, in the majority of cases, these female authors/artists, like most male authors/artists, know the difference between fantasy and reality.

Any time you express something personal, like a sexual fantasy, through writing or visual art some people are bound to be offended. That’s why art can be offensive. And it should be. If we were only allowed to express the things about ourselves that are socially acceptable in ways that are not offensive to anyone, then this would be a stifling, boring, and disconnected world.

And it is about the artist, not the subject. If this were done to mock or ridicule gay men - and when it’s poorly done, which a lot of fan fiction and self published works are, I can see how someone might jump to that conclusion - it would be offensive. But my impression is, it’s more about expressing something about oneself that can’t be said within the constraints of a male/female relationship, or even perhaps the constraints of being a woman.

78

The online mm romance community (readers, reviewers, writers and publishers of mm romance and erotic romance) is notoriously volatile. It seems like there’s always a scandal or kerfuffle going down. I read mm romance (as well as mf, ff and queer romance and some queer fiction) but I try to stay out of the fights.

Many of the ongoing fights revolve around who “gets” to read mm and who “gets” to write it (as well as what “counts” as mm). There have been fights about women authors using male personas, reviewers getting mad about female genitalia showing up in mm with trans or bi male protags, cis women saying patronizing things about why they write mm romance, lots of accusations and counter-accusations of exploitation, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, misogyny etc, plus some really some ugly fights outing trans authors. They used to play out over lots of angry blog posts, now they mostly play out over Twitter and tumblr (which I blessely don’t follow).

So I absolutely believe that Mr Venn read a mainstream seeming blog post saying that mm romance is meant for women not men. In fact I think there’s Twitter drama going on now about the co-founder of a small digital publisher of mm / lgbtq+ romance - a queer, cis woman - supposedly saying that mm romance is for women, not gay men. But she says she was just calling out sexism in mm romance? (And I don’t care enough to thoroughly research it).

I’m not sure how widespread that belief is. It’s hard to judge because of how angry everyone gets. My experience as a queer cis female identitified romance reader is that there are women authors and readers who sincerely try to be respectful visitors and not trespassers. And there’s a bunch of mm out there that is completely removed from the reality of what it’s like to be a gay man and some stuff that I think is also exploitive. And some mm fans get really defensive when that’s pointed out.

For those interested, here’s one of my favorite posts about women in mm by a queer male mm author (who also writes queer romance and queer fiction)

http://www.quicunquevult.com/the-rest-is-drag

79

The classic article, tips on writing gay sex mentioned above, is written by Minotaur, here: http://www.squidge.org/minotaur/classic/eroc.html

Two excellent mm fanfics (short stories with real plots) that anyone can read to get a taste of well-written stuff without having to know the fandom (Saiyuki, in this case):

https://archiveofourown.org/works/2019414/chapters/4379805 - Parallel Lines
(A massacre in a waterfront warehouse provides a shot in the arm to one of Stephen Gonsalves' pet cold cases, and sends him and rookie cop Guhar Irani off on a new tangent entirely.)

https://archiveofourown.org/works/113586/chapters/158310 - Blind Course
(Rip van Etten is determined to usurp Sterling Rich's place as the world's best pro rally driver. But when his dream is threatened, will he fight for it to the end?)

I've been reading and writing mm fanfic for decades (and lurking here for several years), and there's some terrific fanfic out there. And like anything else, there's some real crap too. I think most people know that 50 Shades of Gray was originally Twilight fanfic; I'd rate it as leaning towards crap. I'm aware of a good half dozen known, published writers who either started out with fanfic or are still writing it alongside their published work.

80

Catalina Vel-DuRay @33

"The other day I was called a racist (on Twitter, of all places) for referring to Melania and Ivana trump as "Eurotrash". "Euro" is not a race. I readily acknowledge that it is a regional slur, but it was a definite sidenote to my main insult to trump that he can't get American women to sleep with him (which is not exactly true. He did get Marla to sleep with him, and he evidentially can get other American women to sleep with him in exchange for money)"

While I agree with you that, in general, "Eurotrash" is more of a low-level regional slur, and nothing to get worked up about, the context in which you used it does seem rather offensive/racist. I think that your comment (from the description above) plays into harmful stereotypes about Eastern European women as cheap hookers, gold-diggers, internet brides, etc. who are either completely unscrupulous/ money-grubbing, or dirt poor/ brainwashed by the patriarchy. Especially if you then set up a (false) dichotomy where (more politically-aware, liberated and/or financially independent?) American women wouldn't sleep with a repulsive piece of shit like Trump, but Eastern European women would.

Which is a shame, because it sounds like your objective was to mock/insult Trump, but it got sidelined by the "Eurotrash" jibe. I think it's easy enough to make the same point without throwing Eastern European women under the bus, though. And while Eastern Europeans are indeed "not a race", we certainly can, and do, experience racism (or harmful cultural stereotyping, if you like, let's not argue over semantics).

81

Wow Lost Margarita, thanks for the clarification. I did not know that Eurotrash had that connotation. I thought it just referred to really rich Europeans who travel abroad partying and being snobby about who they hang out with only that they are obnoxious and tasteless. Like, the European versions of Paris Hilton / Kardashian scene only with macho guys too.

82

EmmaLiz @81, huh, I never heard "Eurotrash" being used to refer specifically to rich European elite, but according to some Urban Dictionary definitions it can mean that, so the term probably has slightly different connotations in different parts of the world. In the UK, it's more of a general low-level pejorative for continental and Eastern Europeans, with vague connotations of "tacky in a European way", sort of like "Yank" has vague connotations of "tacky/obnoxious in an American way". On its own, I don't think it's particularly offensive - I wouldn't be offended if someone called me "Eurotrash" in the context of some good-natured regional ribbing.

But if the comment was more along the lines of "haha, no wonder Trump has to pick up Eurotrash like Melania and Ivana, no self-respecting American woman would fuck him!" (I'm extrapolating from Catalina's description, could be wrong), then I think it is kind of offensive/racist, or at least can understandably be interpreted as such. Maybe it would be less so, if Melania and Ivana were from France and Germany, rather than Slovenia and Czech Republic? Dunno. But as it is, it doesn't sit well with me.

83

Yes I'm thinking your understanding is correct- similar to white trash but for europeans. And yes, classist and sometimes when it has a certain connotations shaming women too. I just never knew that, and I've been misusing the slur it seems. I don't know where I got my connotation from- I think it was the ridiculous fashion- I picture macho guys with expensive sun glasses and track suits spending big wads of cash at international music fests- I might have all my stereotypes mixed up. In anywise, I'll avoid it in the future so thanks.

84

No, "Eurotrash" refers to elitist snob sometimes-wannabes who might be from Europe, but are often enough from North America and perhaps other places, like obscenely wealthy Middle Eastern countries, who spend all their time in Europe, and name-dropping like mad in a constant effort to be winning invisible status points.

(*You weren't skiing; you were skiing in Gstaad.
*"Isn't Wills' and Kate's new baby just adorbs! What? You haven't been over yet?
Oh, no, this was just a little get-together, hardly anyone was there. Not a big deal."
*Just returned from Biarritz--it's gotten so crowded, I really don't think I'll keep going.
*Have you tried sky-diving while inhaling fortified oxygen? OMG!
* See you at Cannes for the festival!
etc.).

You have to be wealthy or successfully be able to pull off the illusion of being wealthy or be trying to attach yourself to someone wealthy to qualify.

"White Trash" refers to people who chew tobacco, live in trailer parks, cook up meth out back, and marry their cousins.

Despite their both having the word "trash" in their names, the two couldn't be more different.

I've never heard the Eastern European-slur connotation, but undoubtedly, since where there are obscenely rich people and people who are trying to pretend to be obscenely rich, there are also people who are trying to seduce and marry some of that money or otherwise con it, and there's no reason that Eastern Europe should be any more lacking in veniality than anyplace else, and blessed with as high a proportion ob beautiful, yet poor-but-enterprising young women as any place else.

I don't think Catalina was being racist.

85

Well now I'm triply confused. That was more my original understanding though maybe it does change connotations regionally- I believe Lost Margarita is multicultural and of Russian descent (if I understand/remember from our last conversation). For myself, I'll just avoid it from now on and go with "tacky elitist snob" which is more to the point anyhoo.

86

Nocutename @84, if "Eurotrash" - in this context - isn't referring to any country of origin, but only to a certain kind of douchey jetsetting culture, and North Americans can be Eurotrash too, then I don't see how Catalina's Trump joke makes any sense (Trump has to get Eurotrash women because American women won't sleep with him - again, that's what I gleaned from her comment, haven't seen the original tweet, so could be off base). "Eurotrash women" and "American women" - in this context - are clearly constructed as two separate, non-overlapping categories. That juxtaposition only makes sense if "Eurotrash women" actually means "tacky European women", not "tacky women of any origin who jet set and name drop a lot".

Although, tbh, I'm seeing this against the background of so much anti-Melania internet venom, where her Eastern European background gets brought up time and time again to insinuate "gold-diggin' whore, amirite?". And then if someone says that it's racist, the speaker pulls out the "Slovenian is not a race" card. Which - regardless of Melania's personal qualities and ethics - is not cool, IMO. So I might just be getting a bit twitchy here.