In the furore of the last week, some issues arose which were accused of obfuscating the central problem. THIS POST IS NOT ABOUT THE ORIGINAL ISSUE!
One of the issues was the age-old thorn of women writing in the male/male genre. Many times, I have come across the usual complaint from men that women should not be playing in their bedroom. In the discussions this week, it was a little more specific. In an authors’ forum, I discovered that male readers will discriminate on the basis of how an author chooses their pseudonym. In one instance, all women and androgynous names are immediately rejected. Another blog calmly said they rejected all stories written by women because women didn’t have a clue about gay men, all their stories were too voyeuristic, the men always cried etc.
Now, apart from the fact that these readers are missing some amazing books, why does this bother me? After all, I have readers. I have male and female readers, and I thank them for it. Why does it bother me that some men discriminate so blithely on the basis of gender? After all, that’s hardly new, is it?
Before you sigh, and think Oh God, another feminist diatribe, nope, well not a long one.
I know that I am not a) a male, b) gay, and c) living in America.
I put the third one in because although homophobia is just as rife in the UK, our laws are national and we are not subject to extreme religious intolerance affecting our schools, health care and benefits. We have the postcode lottery of the NHS, but that’s a whole different story.
So let me say that I have never had to deal with discovering I am gay during my adolescence, deal with coming out to my family and friends in the vulnerable teen years (I did it thirty years later), cope with the homophobia rife in a divisive school system, the religious intolerance, being discriminated against for healthcare and pension benefits, and being beaten up just for being who I am etc.
I want to say that up front , and I thank God for it. Coming out later in life has its own issues, and I’m still partly in the closet. Not as far back as Narnia, but certainly not in the light of day.
The fact is, as a woman, I understand discrimination in a way men never will. At this point I can see some men throwing their coffee at the screen. Just wait one moment.
I’m going to ignore the thorny issue of women in the third world. As a woman, I expect less pay during my working life, to have restricted career prospects, to lose ‘control’ of my body during pregnancy, to live in a world where feminine is perceived as weak, whereas masculine is strong and where rape has only just started to be taken seriously. Need I go on?
I am a writer. To understand beyond IKEA sex, I’ve spent a long time talking to gay men (and women) to research my genre. I ask lots of questions and keep learning as I go along. I read articles, I read books by gay men, and I do my best not to fuck it up too often. But the fact is, I’m not a gay man, therefore people won't read my stories because I don't have a dick.
We are lucky in the West. We can choose what to read and which authors float our boat. I read many books in many genres, and I avoid some authors because I know that I dislike their style. But I don't choose to discriminate against men because they may not know what it is like to be a woman. What bothers me is that the very people who are discriminated by who they choose to love (and fuck), practice discrimination on the basis on a lack of a dick.It isn't being bigoted against heterosexuals, but being bigoted against women.
It shouldn’t bother me, but it does.