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  • Sophie Russell

Super-Duper Gay Romance

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

Last week, I brought up the question: Why gay romance?


In my FAQs, I gave a short answer, but I thought I would get into the nitty gritty of why I choose to read and write gay romance. I will note a couple things: first, I’m speaking purely from my experience and perspective. Other authors will have their list of reasons, and I don’t speak for them. Second, I’m sharing my opinions and experiences. If I say something you don’t like or you disagree with, that’s okay. This isn’t about being right or wrong, this is about matters of taste. Third, I’m open to answer questions you may have. Join my Facebook group, Sophiesticates (I’ll explain that name in another blog post), and feel free to ask. As long as you are inquiring to learn, you can ask me pretty much anything.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s dish.


I mentioned last post that I’m graysexual. What that means to me is that I seldom feel sexual attraction. When I do, I don’t necessarily need an emotional attachment, and that’s what distinguishes graysexual from demisexual, in my experience. I’ve been truly sexually attracted to perhaps five people in my life—I find that frustrating, because I’m horny as hell and perverted as all get out—but a slim majority of those people have been men.

Overall, I find a variety of people aesthetically attractive, but the idea of two—or more—men together is the most pleasing—narrowly beating out two women together—and it’s the closest I come to experiencing sexual attraction on the regular. Throw in a bit of kink, and I’m practically there!

Basically, I mimic the feelings of sexual attraction by reading and writing gay romance. It fulfills something inside me that nothing else quite does. While reading, I can briefly inhabit the mind of the character, and feel what they feel, including some level of sexual attraction. While writing, the characters are a part of me, and I can revisit that any time, but the sexual attraction they feel for each other—while apparent to me—I don’t feel quite completely, but it’s enough to satisfy me.

Now, you may be asking, why not female-female or male-female combinations? There’s a short answer and a long answer to that question. In an unexpected move, I’m giving the long answer first.

The long answer:

I’ve already explained how I find male-male combinations the most appealing. Female-female is a very close second, then solo male or female—but writing or reading a romance with one MC isn’t something I want to tackle—and then male-female.

At this point, you might be thinking, “Well, what’s wrong with women?” The answer is: absolutely nothing. I’m thinking about this in terms of media and content of that media.


Let’s consider porn: there’s gay porn, lesbian porn, solo masturbation porn, and straight porn—this is one of the most basic ways porn can be differentiated. It is of note that, for convenience, I am completely ignoring intersex porn, trans porn, internet rule 34, and all other subdivisions of porn. The reason will be clear in a moment.


Historically, porn has not been made or marketed with women in mind. Straight porn, solo female porn, and lesbian porn have been made and marketed toward straight men. Gay porn and solo male porn have been made and marketed toward gay men. We can argue that things are changing—and I would agree that things are changing rather slowly—however, the system supporting this is still in place. Look at Pornhub—not literally, unless you want to right now, but I encourage you to finish reading this first—there’s Pornhub regular and Gay Pornhub: that’s the system in place. It is of note that intersex porn, trans porn, etc. can be made and marketed toward either straight or gay men, but again, women are left out of the equation, generally speaking.

That’s just looking at one system for brevity’s sake, but so many—i.e. most—systems in our myriad of cultures across the globe do this: they ignore women’s needs, wants, desires, and input. Women end up underserved, misrepresented, and misunderstood in best case scenarios. This happens system-wide, and it gets funneled to us through our media. Again, Pornhub and the porn within Pornhub is a good example of this.

The system—i.e. Pornhub, continuing the analogy—underserves, misrepresents and misunderstands women in the creation, marketing, and delivery of its media—i.e. the porn. So, we have what I consider to be female analogues: usually idealized, fetishized, unrealistic portrayals of women for men.

**Now, a couple things before we proceed. First, I’m not going after Pornhub or porn in general—I like porn way too much to do that. I’m just using them in this analogy, because it’s fitting and a good representation of a larger topic. Second, I’m in no way saying that the only analogues are female. I think we can all agree that different races of women, men, nonbinary, intersex, and trans persons are underserved, misrepresented, and misunderstood which leads them to be idealized, fetishized, and unrealistically portrayed. I’m not trying to ignore those topics, but it goes a bit beyond the scope of what I’m getting at, here. That’s not to say they are less important or less valid, but I’m trying to keep this post reasonable in length, and I’m in no way qualified to tackle some of those topics.**


Where were we? Ah, yes: The system underserves, misrepresents, and misunderstands women in creation of its media, leading to idealized, fetishized, and unrealistically portrayed analogues. This happens, because women weren’t involved in making the system. Even when women participate in making media within the system—i.e. when a woman produces a porn on Pornhub—it needs to conform to the system’s standards, generally speaking. In other words, a female masturbator makes her own videos for Pornhub for money—good for her, sex work is work and should be respected. In making her content, to receive support, get paid, and be a lucrative producer, she is thinking of the pleasure of her viewer, not her own pleasure. She is performing for the male viewer, not the female viewer. She is acting for the male watcher and not herself. That’s not to say she doesn’t enjoy it, but if she were masturbating for her own pleasure or for a female viewer, things would probably go a little differently. So, even though she—a woman—is creating the media, she acts as a female analogue.

**Just another side note, hopefully briefer than the last one. I’m not making a commentary of the goodness or badness of the analogue. Any media uses analogues to convey a message. Actors act, performers perform, singers sing, etc. Actors are not their characters, performers are not their roles, and singers aren’t singing everything they ever have to say. Analogues are useful for communicating, whether it be pleasure, story, talent, or song.**

In acting as a female analogue, she is participating in the system—Pornhub. She also relies on the system to pay her, she relies on the other participants in the system to watch her videos, etc. But this is a system that misrepresents, underserves, and misunderstands her. THAT is where the issues lie.

These systems, like Pornhub, feed all of us media, which we happily glom. Because women were not party to making the systems and must participate in the systems to make and receive media, we have a situation where women are underserved, misrepresented, and misunderstood throughout basically all the systems. What that leads to is people equating female analogues for actual females, and then females are expected to match their idealized, fetishized, and unrealistically portrayed counterparts. If they don’t, they are rejected by the system and its participants.

In short, if the female masturbator filmed herself masturbating solely for her pleasure, that video wouldn’t garner nearly as much attention or earn her the money she needs to live as a video where she dirty talks, touches herself in a visually pleasing, but ineffective way. But that’s just the Pornhub example. In real life, it causes a lot of danger to women everywhere, because men—and in some cases other women—see us as the analogue, but not as the complex human beings that we are. What results is a lack of appreciation, respect, and empathy toward women, which frequently leads to violence.

**Now that we’ve reached this point, you’re probably saying, “I know the short answer, now.” And if you don’t that’s okay. We’ve gone through the terribly long answer. So, the short answer: the system we’re talking about is the patriarchy, and the result is sexism. You might be saying, “Well, why didn’t you say so to begin with?!?!” I have several good reasons for taking the long way around: First, there are a lot of people that hear “patriarchy” and “sexism” and shut down. I don’t blame them, in some cases. These are big topics, and they are daunting. Second, I wanted to demonstrate these big, daunting topics in a manageable way. Third, to needle you guys a bit, because it’s fun for me.**

So, to return to the main point, I don’t write about women in romance, because of sexism. That sounds so much less impactful than all of the above.

Here’s the deal: I don’t want to create female analogues for media that perpetuate an idealized, fetishized, and unrealistic image of women; I don’t want to create media that has the baggage of sexism, and when portraying women, that baggage is damn near inescapable; and I don’t want to consume sexist media.

In writing and reading super-duper gay romances, I can avoid that. I found that it leaves me more room to explore the characters, their motivations, different tropes, different plots, different dynamics, different kinks, etc. without the inherent baggage. If I were to write a BDSM relationship where the Dom and sub are both men, I can explore more play, more scenes, and more dynamics than I can if I were writing about a man and a woman, because a female-male relationship has an inherent imbalance of power, because of our culture.

I like the freedom of exploration, and I like allowing the characters to speak. I find that freedom in writing super-duper gay stuff. I can explore what love means by taking an unconventional approach, and I can take my readers with me. My stories become more human and less a statement on society.

Also, there’s a huge call for alpha male characters in female-male romance, and they tend to be assholes. I call them alpha-holes, and I’m not the only one who does. I think we need to do better for women and men than to create and read characters like that. There are a bunch of authors who avoid that super well, and I applaud them. As a new, self-published author, I want my energy to go toward crafting amazing stories with dynamic characters, not in avoiding creating alpha-holes.

There’s also lesbian fiction out there that is created for women, and I have several story ideas to add to that. I will create lesbian fiction—in fact my first series will likely have a novella with lesbian MCs—but for now, I’m getting my legs under me as a writer. When I feel more comfortable in that, I can tackle the female angle.

Almost two-thousand words later, we’ve come to the end of this particular blog. For now. I have a feeling that people will ask questions—if they even read this—and I might need to revisit this to clarify points or correct or amend what I’ve said as I learn and change more.

I hope, for all our sakes, that this is the longest blog I will write. If not, I apologize in advance.

Until next time, friends.

À bientôt!

Soph


#sexismsucks #fuckthepatriarchy #gayromance #mmromance

**Okay, an amendment came earlier than I expected. While scrolling through Facebook, I came across something that Kyleen Neuhold shared on her group’s page. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention and/or link it, because it’s a good—and briefer—overview of what I just said. Here’s the link, and a big thanks to Kyleen for sharing and mardie186 for writing.**

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