04 July 2013

On Being Disrespectful

I usually stay in my own little corner of the internet, interacting with friends on Twitter and Facebook and sometimes even Tumblr. But every so often I see something that makes me blood boil. I may vent about it on Twitter, or text a few close friends in an effort to preserve my online image. But I can't keep quiet about this. The "this" in question being the Reviews By Jessewave post that made several social networks blow up last night. Or, at least, my portion of them.

As Heidi Cullinan said in her brilliant post on the subject, Wave as well as other reviewers (not to mention readers) are free to read and review anything they like. I don't have a problem with that. I'm in no position to judge anyone for their preferences. My issue comes in when you (however inadvertently) insult me as an author, the genre that I write in (which you claim to love) as well as readers of said genre.

My name is Brien Michaels. And I write m/m romance. And sometimes my men may have sex with women. And always because it serves the story. Anyone who's read Can't Make You Love Me knows that not only does Dylan have sex with a female, but he has sex with three. Because he's struggling with his sexuality and is trying so hard to convince himself that he isn't attracted to his best friend that he beds these women so he can prove to himself that he's still straight. It's not fair to the women, by any means and don't think I'm making excuses for his behavior, but the fact remains: the sex was necessary for the story. I won't shy away from writing the best story I can, the story my readers deserve, just because someone feels like certain scenes shouldn't be there. I would be doing them a disservice if I did anything else.

Wave claims that we are disrespecting the readers of the genre by including "het sex" in our books. I know that some readers don't like "girly bits" in their m/m, but I wonder if they actually feel disrespected. I also wonder, at this point, if Wave can call herself a true fan/reader of the genre if she's only looking at one aspect of it. The ultimate pairing is m/m, we know this. But in any real-world relationship, there are going to be bumps along the way. There are going to be men attracted to men as well as women. There are going to be men who may not have necessarily been born as men. There may even be men who don't realize that they want to be with a man until much later in life. We owe it to the readers to write those stories just as much as the stories about the men who meet a guy in a bar, blow him the bathroom and fall in love with him before they walk out the front door. Readers complain about situations in the books being unrealistic...so why should we not be allowed to write realistic ones? She disrespects us as authors by implying, or outright saying, anything differently. We should be able to write what we write without fear of bashing just because a dick may go into a pussy instead of an asshole.

People keep making reference to Wave's various "phobias", be it trans*, bi, or whatever. But these are not phobias. She is not scared. She is something else altogether.

I would never dream of disrespecting my readers. I love my readers. Sometimes, I love them more than I love my boyfriend. Even when they hate what I write, I still love them. Because they took the time out of their day to sit down and read something that I wrote and felt so passionately about it that they either sent me an email or took further time to write a review. As I said earlier, I feel as though I would be disrespecting them by not giving them the full story. They deserve nothing less. Heidi Belleau posted an open letter to Wave stating many of the same things that I've restated here, but it is worth a read, because she says some things better than I ever could.

It just boggles my mind that in 2013 when we have to put up with so much hatred from the outside world, when we're fighting so hard for equality that we must put up with this from people who claim to support us. Us being members of the GLBT community and their supporters. It's insane. And people like Wave...they're as bad as the people who are out and out trying to persecute us.

But they're okay with their bigotry. So I guess they expect us to be, too.