Q:Hi! I'm sorry, but I've always been confused about what fetishization is when it comes to m/m and why it gets thrown around so much when women write I've asked other people, but always got answers that kept me confused. Could you help me out?
Fetishization is basically when you dehumanize someone “other” from you specifically for your sexual pleasure. Say, if you look at your History teacher who is an East Asian woman and you can’t keep yourself from thinking of her as a sexual object (because she’s “submissive” or “petite” or whatever other sexual stereotypes people believe about Asian women) when you should be looking at her as a person and a professional. Or maybe you have a fetish for trans women, or fat women, or black men. You can’t see them outside of a sexual context and sexualize them against their will. You don’t look at them as people. You don’t respect their boundaries. When they don’t conform to your sexual desires—the fat woman doesn’t want you reblogging pictures of her in her wedding dress to jerk off to, or the Asian woman refuses to be submissive and giggly and instead demands your respect, or the trans woman refuses to tell you about her genitals—then you become hostile and even violent because that person “betrayed” you and refused to be the sexual object you are trying to force them to be.
When we’re talking about M/M specifically, we’re talking about treating gay or queer men as sexual objects in much the same way. Your neighbour is a gay man and you need to riddle out whether he’s a top or a bottom. Your son is gay and you treat him like he’s a character in your favourite queerbaiting tv show. A gay man who doesn’t sexually please you—because he’s a POC or he’s fat or disabled or he just plain doesn’t want to be nice to you—is a person you want nothing to do with, because he has nothing to offer you sexually. With gay people, you see their sexuality first and their individuality second, or last, or never at all.
Now, not everybody is going to agree with me on this, but I think fetishization requires a certain amount of privilege between the parties: a white person dehumanizing and sexualizing a black person, a cis person dehumanizing and sexualizing a trans person, a man dehumanizing and sexualizing a woman, a straight person dehumanizing and sexualizing a queer one.
So is M/M written by women fetishistic? It certainly can be, especially when it’s produced/consumed by straight people. However, I’m very much not okay with blanket condemning it as such, especially when we’re talking about queer authors/readers. I take it on a case by case basis. Some books or authors or individuals, you get the sense that they only care about queer issues insofar as the queer people involved give them sexual pleasure—for example, someone who reads M/M but doesn’t support marriage equality or otherwise opposes LGBT issues politically, or someone who writes M/M but is dismissive or oppressive of anyone who isn’t a sexy cis gay man, ie they don’t have a care in the world for POC LGBT, or for trans people, or for queer women. Only the gay men they sexually fantasize about.
So basically: does the text/person treat queer people as objects? Do they dehumanize them? Do they put their sexual desires first when it comes to dealing with LGBT issues and people? Do they treat gay sex as something uniquely titillating specifically because it’s “exotic” and “other” or somehow superior to m/f or f/f sex for no discernible reason? Are they dismissive or hostile toward any queer person who doesn’t agree to or play along with their sexual fantasy or their expectations for how they should act? To me, this would all be signs that you are dealing with a fetishistic person or text.
Any other queer people wanna weigh in on this?
*standing ovation for this post*
Absolutely it’s best to take it on a case-by-case basis.
I think the OP was talking about fiction, at least it looks to me like they were talking mostly about women writers who write m/m fiction whey they asked why fetishization gets thrown around so much when women write.
I don’t care who wrote something that has a character I can relate to in it, and finally FINALLY has some positive representation of someone like me. I don’t need the writer to BE exactly like me in order to write those characters. Straight cis men have always written almost everything, and we don’t demand that they shouldn’t be allowed to write about any characters but straight cis men.
The reason why fetishization “gets thrown around so much when women write” as the OP asked, is because of misogyny plain and simple.
Men have been filling their fictional worlds with every kind of character there is forever, and cis men have always gotten published and advertised and critically acclaimed so much more than writers of other genders that it’s ridiculous. Men have written far more harmful fetishizing crap than anyone else.
Yet where are the cries of “men shouldn’t write lesbian characters!!!!!” Or “men are just fetishizing women when they try to write about any female character!” But as a group, cis men absolutely do far more harm in the real world with their depictions of characters of other genders than any other group of writers you could possibly group together to criticize, as people so very much LOVE to do with women writers.
Men are allowed to write any characters. They’re judged on an individual basis, based on their actual work. That’s because men are considered individual humans and not a group that needs to be marginalized and controlled, like women. When women write, they are fair game to be attacked just for being female and having no right to write about anything other than what society approves for them and then devalues simply by calling it “by and for women.”
I think even on Tumblr, people jump to judge and criticize and shame women who write fan fiction in ways that they would NEVER do to a man writing fan fiction, because they’re so used to giving a straight cis male writer tons of leeway for being judged on the merit of his actual individual work no matter if he were writing any characters of any gender or sexual orientation.
Women are just regularly lumped all together and told that “women can’t do ____” and we’re so used to it that we unfairly blanket-judge all women who write fan fiction and we fall right into what we’re socialized to do, which is to attack women and tell them that they can’t do something just because they are women.
We’re so used to it that we see nothing wrong in telling all women that there will be something inherently wrong with them trying to write m/m fan fiction, without giving the individual writers the chance to prove their ability to understand those characters and write them well, the way we ALWAYS give that chance to men no matter what stories or characters they want to write.
So yeah, I think it’s misogyny that’s behind the fact that cries of fetishization get thrown around so much when women write.Wow, this is a great post and really explains what’s wrong with the waysome people do m/m and why it’s not necessarily a blanket problem that’s automatically going to happen every time someone who is not literally a gay or bisexual cis man writes about a gay or bisexual cis man.
In fact, eons ago when my spouse and I were in slash fandom, there was LOTS of fetishisting bullying from the straight fans. I was excoriated for talking about marriage equality where all they wanted to do was read about buttsex. They made it a very unfriendly environment for two young queer people, and in some ways it helped create our marriage as it drove us together.
I agree with everyone — please let this be a case by case basis so you can harshly condemn those who are doing all the wrong things teacupnosaucer mentioned, without saying that no woman could ever write about two men falling in love without it automatically going down this path. Or misgendering trans men who write m/m, which I’m ashamed to say happened in my old fandom in a really fucking gross way.
love both of these responses! thank you for weighing in :)
Depression is stupid and not a thing that makes me a better writer. One time I went a whole year without writing and I stayed in bed and drank. Fuck your Bukowskisms. I want sunlight and love and running down some street I’ve never been on where it’s warm and cool at the same time and I’m smiling. I want nothing to ever be bad again — and I don’t mean that I want a life free of conflict, I mean that I want a life free of meaningless conflict. Not being able to will oneself to take a shower or leave the house is meaningless. There is nothing to be gained, no lesson to be learned from that kind of life. My heart is stale, my prose is stale. Give me fire if you want to hurt me. Give me something I can taste. There’s nothing romantic or mysterious about where I am. There’s nothing here worth holding onto.
I am sick and tired of the way we critique misogyny in fandom.
Why is it always “shame fanwork creators (overwhelmingly young women and queer ppl) for not including enough female characters” and never “question the fact that we’ve created a media culture where canonical female characters are by and large so boring that no one wants to create fanworks based on them?” (Not to mention the fact that any person who dares to include an original female character in a fic will have the deadly accusation of “Mary Sue” leveled at them, even if they’ve written the most well-rounded character in the world)
Why do we talk about the danger of fetishization when straight women are writing about male/male pairings, and never think about the fact that slash is often being written by young women who have been socialized to be so ashamed of their sexuality that their own fantasies never include people of their own gender?
Why are we placing the burden for destroying problematic tropes about sexuality and romance exclusively on this tiny, relatively powerless subculture made up of relatively powerless people who are creating media exclusively for their own enjoyment, and not on the gigantic megacorporations that are profiting off the romanticization of abusive, unhealthy, destructive relationships, an attitude fans are only repeating?
Why do defenses of fic always turn to “it’s not all gay porn !!!1!!!!111” as an argument? What’s wrong with people creating erotica that they can enjoy, when almost no one is making mainstream porn for the audience that reads fic, when people can explore potentially problematic or even dangerous kinks/desires without actual performers having to participate in making video porn, when the “gay porn” side of fandom can lead to some of the most wonderfully freeing discussions about sexuality possible in our society?
Say I write a fanfiction. The only female character complies to the problematic sassy/helpful best friend trope, mostly because the story revolves around two main male characters (well-developed in canon, with lots of canon jokes about how much they love each other, and played by male actors I find extremely attractive) getting together and having a fair amount of extremely explicit sex. This fic is read by, oh, 200 people, all of whom are already familiar with the conventions of fandom. How does that compare to the literal millions of people who watched, for example, the first Hobbit movie, which contained (as I recall) no women or queer characters at all, and had an audience full of all kinds of people, likely including little girls who are looking up on screen and learning that their stories aren’t seen as worth telling?
I’m not saying fandom tropes aren’t harmful, I’m just saying we should look at the scope of the damage done by them as opposed to, oh, every other kind of media ever, and then think about why we’ve chosen to shit all over the not-for-profit hobbies of young women and queer people.
Quietly [Kel] found a midwife-healer traveling with the progress and purchased the charm against pregnancy. It hung around her neck on a fine gold chain, tucked under her clothes. If she and Cleon got carried away without interruptions, she would be prepared.
As they rode north, the progress dictated their time alone. This meant that she and Cleon returned to kisses and an occasional embrace. Kel wore the charm anyway, as a declaration that she could decide some things for herself.
Tamora Pierce, Protector of the Small
can we just all take a moment to appreciate this:
this is really wonderfully cool not just because Pierce openly and unabashedly talks about birth control in a young adult novel written primarily for an audience of young women. Pierce also inserts a passage in which her character starts to come to terms with her own sexual agency, and the birth control is important for her not really because of its instrumental role—Cleon’s basically out of the picture after Squire and not once in the four books does Kel actually get past kissing someone—but because it’s a sign of her power over her body and her choices.
like wow, Tamora
Q:What do you mean by that woody Allen post and the comment under it?
Well it’s pretty straightforward. Woody Allen’s comment is dismissing the “college-girl mentality” that “romanticizes” Sylvia Plath’s life/work, which is ironic because much of Plath’s writing was a result of the misogynistic world in which she lived where women’s intellectual and emotional attitudes were frequently dismissed as trivial. Plath’s work is important to young women because she addresses many issues that, unfortunately, still speak to them today, and learning about Plath and reading her writing has contributed to many a feminist awakening in relatively young readers. So Allen is perpetuating the misogynistic dismissal of young female attitudes by dismissing “college-girl” interest in her poetry as romanticization of her suicide.
However, what the post excellently points out as being most ironic is the fact that while female interest in the likes of Plath is often trivialized as a morbid whimsy, the writings of countless misogynistic creeps is romanticized by “college-boy mentality.” Misogynistic writers, indeed including the likes of Hemingway, Bukowski, Kerouac, etc., are taught in high schools and universities as Serious Literature and appreciation of their work is encouraged. Writers in other fields, notably including Woody Allen, are embraced by pop culture as Icons. Allen is indeed what the post calls an “irremediable creep” who is not only misogynistic but a pedophile, and yet his films are constantly celebrated as Art and he himself is seen as a cultural icon while his victim is publicly dismissed in the media as either being out of her mind or attention-hungry. He and the aforementioned writers and countless others like them are then idolized by countless young men who then go on to perpetuate the general misogynistic attitude, and mainstream culture never mocks them for it.
(For anyone wondering, the post to which I’m alluding is this one.)
mehehe Ingrid has this tagged with “#this is perfect #if you love allen (and hemingdouche) we have no time for you nor your penis” so I obviously need to reblog it again.
Commentary to the Sylvia Plath post and it’s excellent.
woody allen, the irredeemable creep whose obvious misogyny was misinterpreted as creative genius by the college-boy mentality.
#gosh i wonder why sylvia plath’s poetry is important to young women when we’re bombarded with so much misogynistic literature written by ~the greats~ of the 20th century #if you want to talk about highly romanticized and overrated writers we can talk about bukowski hemingway kerouac ginsberg and so on #who were not only basic writers but were also vile people irl #i don’t understand how people can idolize pedophiles and wife beaters and then mock people who like plath? ~fionaapples
Can I just say how important Tamora Pierce’s books are? I can’t say too much about Alanna’s, Kel’s, or Daine’s series at the moment because I haven’t read them in forever, but the Circle of Magic series? So so so so important, especially with representation!! If you look at the kids and their teachers, half of them are PoC (Lark, Briar, Daja, Frostpine). Lark has asthma, many of the characters have suffered from nightmares/PTSD (I believe it is Briar who has PTSD in the Circle Opens quartet? Don’t quote me. I’m rereading Circle Opens next!). And I’m pretty sure Niko has slight OCD? (Or perhaps germophobia? Actually, this seems more likely.)
I haven’t read this series in years, and now that I’m rereading it as an adult with much more comprehension about the problems of the real world and lack of representation in media, I’m re-realizing how fantastic Tamora’s writing is. Heck, one of the characters is a [SPOILERS] canon lesbian in one of the standalone books!! And her relationship is not the center of the plot! (Though someone does try to exploit her sexual orientation to get something from her… dick.)
I have a lot of feeling’s about Tamora’s writing okay.
Douglas Adams is the best when it comes to describe characters
they need to teach classes on Douglas Adams analogies okay
“He leant tensely against the corridor wall and frowned like a man trying to unbend a corkscrew by telekinesis.”
"Stones, then rocks, then boulders which pranced past him like clumsy puppies, only much, much bigger, much, much harder and heavier, and almost infinitely more likely to kill you if they fell on you.”
"He gazed keenly into the distance and looked as if he would quite like the wind to blow his hair back dramatically at that point, but the wind was busy fooling around with some leaves a little way off.”
"It looked only partly like a spaceship with guidance fins, rocket engines and escape hatches and so on, and a great deal like a small upended Italian bistro.”
"If it was an emotion, it was a totally emotionless one. It was hatred, implacable hatred. It was cold, not like ice is cold, but like a wall is cold. It was impersonal, not as a randomly flung fist in a crowd is impersonal, but like a computer-issued parking summons is impersonal. And it was deadly - again, not like a bullet or a knife is deadly, but like a brick wall across a motorway is deadly.”
You forgot the best one though-
"The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t."