Tuesday, November 8, 2011

End the panty police on gender patrol

I’m disturbed, no… I’m appalled… at what I see happening all over the internet in the M/M community. Reader groups, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, authors and readers alike.

What are you doing?

This latest firestorm regarding gender in the genre is unbelievable to me. I know that this is nothing new, but it’s the first I’ve actually witnessed first hand and I can’t believe what I’m seeing.

Is he a she? Is she a he? I have a better question. Why does it matter? Why is it anyone’s right, author or reader, to know the answer to the question?

Are we really doing panty checks before buying books? Am I really supposed to give a flying fuck if AJ Llewellyn sits to pee? Or if Josh Lanyon stands? Who has a penis, who doesn't? And who flippin cares? Are they writing books with it? If they are, I might care because that would be damn impressive.

This is utterly riduclous. Not to mention shameful.

What about the female authors? How do I know they are really female? Shouldn’t we be checking their panties as well? *gasp* What if they really have a penis hiding in there? What about the trans writers? What are you going to classify them as? And who decides the validity of their claim?

What a bunch of bullshit this all is.

Why is this even an issue? I don’t understand. I’ve seen the words deception and exploitation thrown around. How about the word hypocrite? Every author out there is using a pseudo. If they aren't, they should be. There’s a lot of whack jobs out there, authors, readers alike, hell, the general public as a whole is packed plumb full of nutjobs. A pseudo should be used. As far as pseudo matching gender, I have a hard time understanding… if you use a female pen name and you’re a woman, or male pen name and are a man, you are more righteous …why? You’re still hiding behind a false name. Who you show me online is NOT all of the "real" you. And what about pictures? A lot of authors don’t use faces, a lot use book covers for profile pics…hmm… I don’t think they really look like that. Let’s lynch ‘em!

Hypocrites.

I don’t get it. When I buy a book, I am owed only one thing by that author. A good book. I want my monies worth for the book I bought. I’m not owed answers on their gender. I’m not owed details on their sexual orientation. I’m not owed a head shot, info on who their sleeping with, details of their real lives, where they work, grew up, kids names, nothing. I am owed $10 bucks worth of good fucking book. That is all.

I’m seeing witch hunts all over. I’m seeing authors defend themselves by trying to “prove” they aren’t “misleading” anyone. It makes me sad and it pisses me off. Here’s an idea. Instead of being the panty police on gender patrol, why doesn’t the M/M community come together to further itself instead of trying to bully each other, name call and “out” authors. Why don’t authors just write their books, and readers just read them, come together and make the community flourish and grow.

/rant

Dear authors, male, female, gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, trans*, or visitors from fucking mars, please just continue to write me the books you write. Please don't let the fuckwits get you down. Hold your heads up high, all of you... and make good book.
All my love,
Amara

Dear those who want to have a panty policing gender patrol party, an author's name, life, gender, sexual orientation and all the rest is... nunya.
Nunya fukkin' business.
Sincerely,
Amara

Fuckwittery running amuck. Enough already.
The end.

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13 comments:

sue laybourn said...

All I can say is, 'Amen'. I couldn't have put it better myself.

This is the first time I've seen anything like it, a blazing torch brigade at its worst. I can't believe how bent out of shape and hateful people are being about someone's personal choices.

Unbelievable.

Blaine D. Arden said...

Amen!

why doesn’t the M/M community come together to further itself instead

We really should!
Well said.

tracykitn said...

I think of the "author" persona a lot as an actor, anyway (especially when I know they're writing under a pseudonym, and I pretty much assume 99% of them *are*).

Under that descriptor, does that mean I can get mad that Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal were portraying gay men when they're really straight? Or that Sara Gilbert's character on The Big Bang Theory is a straight physicist, when Sara herself is neither?

The way we choose to present ourselves to the world is really our own business, whether we're authors or readers or just average people. I think we only have the right to get offended by misrepresentation when it's something that affects our *personal* relationship or our lives -- like a politician showing rank hypocrisy that affects the way he or she supports (or doesn't) the issues focused on in campaigning, or if I found out my husband or father was a serial killer or a bigamist.

Otherwise, the *author* is just a name on the cover of a book. The people I'm getting to know online, who I discovered because of that name on the book? Well, the name is secondary. They're on whatever friends list because I like the things they say/do outside of the writing, and that really has nothing to do with sex or gender.

Amara Devonte said...

@sue: It's a first time for me too. And I grow more disturbed by the day. The things I've read today, after being all pissed off and posting this, have saddened me in ways I don't even know how to express yet.

@Blaine: And yet...

Rhianon Etzweiler said...

I don't have much to add to what's been said here except... I just hope it doesn't get this ugly when Black comes out next month. *laughs*

It's been a very long time since I understood why people put so much weight on labels and definitions. Be they gender or sexuality or ethnicity or anything else. Those labels don't define a person, don't make them more or less. All they do is make it easier for someone else to judge and classify... and hate.

Ann Somerville said...

I guess you consider me part of the panty patrol.

Well, I don't actually care what gender an author is. I don't like people using an assumed identity to give themselves false authority in areas where they have no experience - like gay male sex, like coming out as gay, like condom use between biological males.

I sympathise completely with people who are gender queer / transgender. I know they have a tough row to hoe, I know they suffer abuse and threats and loathing even from GLB people. I don't even have a huge problem with someone using a male name when they identify as female BUT the implication that somehow that makes them 'better' writers or more authoritative really pisses me off.

However appropriation of an oppressed minority's identity to make money is disgusting. It's disgusting when straight white men pretend to be lesbian bloggers in Damascus, or black women, or when an Australian woman pretends to have experiences of the Balkan war, etc. I don't want men pretending to be women and telling them how to have sex or look after babies.

When gay people look for authentic accounts of their own lives and experiences, they shouldn't be served fake material. When gay teens look to books which offer them real accounts, they definitely shouldn't be getting stuff written by straight people that's not identified as such.

It really bothers me that you see this about gender, when it's about ethics. No one should claim the experiences and pain of anyone else as their own, without clearly indicating that they *are* doing that. And in too many cases, the deceit goes unnoticed and the readers are sold lies.

Amara Devonte said...

Hi Anne.

Actually, I don’t recall mentioning you were part of anything. I do however find it interesting that you saw yourself in my rant.

I am not really ranting about the current mess right now. I’m not on my soap box about defending or condemning the author at the center of all of this mess. Very little of this revelation was news to me. I don’t follow the author, so I’m unfamiliar with the articles that keep being called into question, but the rest was no big news flash for me.

I’m ranting about where I’m afraid it is going, or was going 2 days ago. Since then I’m even more disturbed and more concerned than I was when I wrote this post. I don’t disagree that there are ethical problems. I do disagree that this isn’t about gender. And I'm not at all sure how the two have been intertwined.

I respect the right, of you, AJ, and any other author out there to present themselves as they see fit. What concerns me is that this is bleeding over into discussions of how all authors need to correctly identify who they are, based on their gender identification and/or sexual orientation to their readers to avoid "deceit". That, is what I have a problem with. And that is where, for me, this brings into it gender, gender perceptions and who decides what qualifies as deceit.

Ann Somerville said...

"I do however find it interesting that you saw yourself in my rant."

Since other people have accusing me of panty sniffing over this, and I found your post following a twitter discussion you were having with a friend of a friend over the Llewellyn discussion, it seem a logical assumption.

I'm confused - you say you're not ranting about 'the current mess' but then say you're ranting about where this current mess is going. in any event, my comments relate specifically to 'the current mess'.

"I do disagree that this isn’t about gender."

All I can say that as for as I'm concerned, it's not. It's about abusing people's trust and manipulating their emotions with fake stories about gay bashing and the like, as well as the other issues raised about bullying.

I agree however that the reactions regarding Llewellyn's statement that he is transgender have been very troubling, and very hurtful to other trans and genderqueer people. I think that many people, including myself, need to educate themselves better about gender fluidity, and why some people feel more comfortable using gender descriptors different to the one forced on them at birth.

Unfortunately, the Llewellyn case is a hard one, and hard cases make bad law, as they say. They also are very bad at illuminating issues that need serious discussion. Especially as the author in this case is quite deliberately obfuscating to deny their own guilt over their manipulative behaviour.

Amara Devonte said...

"I'm confused - you say you're not ranting about 'the current mess' but then say you're ranting about where this current mess is going."

What I mean by that is that I'm not ranting about AJ or the mess created by all of this as it specifically relates to him. I have far more concern over the fall out and how it's going to affect the other authors in the genre than I do about AJ Llewellyn. What's done is done in that regard. My opinion of AJ I hold to myself, and were formed long before any of this. Besides, there is enough going on about the entire AJ thing, for me to jump in at this point just seems pointless.

"I do disagree that this isn’t about gender."

All I can say that as for as I'm concerned, it's not. It's about abusing people's trust and manipulating their emotions with fake stories about gay bashing and the like, as well as the other issues raised about bullying.


I think the "this" we are talking about are different things.

I agree however that the reactions regarding Llewellyn's statement that he is transgender have been very troubling, and very hurtful to other trans and genderqueer people. I think that many people, including myself, need to educate themselves better about gender fluidity, and why some people feel more comfortable using gender descriptors different to the one forced on them at birth.

This... we could not agree on more. And I myself have much to learn as well. I don’t have all the answers when it comes to gender fluidity, but I do know, and see, that this is hurting people and I’m very troubled over it.

Unfortunately, the Llewellyn case is a hard one, and hard cases make bad law, as they say. They also are very bad at illuminating issues that need serious discussion.

Agreed. The Llewellyn case is a very hard one. And the fact that hard cases make bad law... is exactly what I'm worried about. I see people wanting to make sure the feelings of betrayal they have don't happen again. I can understand that. But I also see them wanting solve this by saying things like ALL authors NEED to inform them ACCURATELY as to who they REALLY are in regard to gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

That is where I go OMG NO. That knee jerk reaction can't be the solution when people are perceiving gender soooo differently. On so many levels that concerns me. That is only the answer if gender is black or white, which it is not. It is very very much not.

That is where my “panty policing” outburst came from in the first place and my seeing things as relating to gender. With the lack of understanding of gender and it’s fluidity… the damage that can be done by trying to determine who fits what preconcieved notion of gender and orientation and “outing” authors, no matter who they are, is very troubling to me.

Ann Somerville said...

" But I also see them wanting solve this by saying things like ALL authors NEED to inform them ACCURATELY as to who they REALLY are in regard to gender identity and/or sexual orientation."

To me, there's a very simple solution. Don't make claims that aren't true. That doesn't mean an author has to tell all. Rather the opposite. "Prefers not to state" is a perfectly good option for gender, sexuality, the whole thing - *when* an answer is even required, which it usually isn't. Use a ambiguous pen name, and don't say in your bio you're a gay man, a black woman, a Ukranian, etc, if you're not.

A lot of the mess Llewellyn got himself into was in the elaborations, the fake anecdotes, the advice based on false experience etc. If he'd just used 'AJ Llewellyn' as a pen name, no one would have blinked. But no, he had to go and claim to be in love with DJ Manly (who also seems to be a biological woman), and the rest of it. That's also the case with other authors - they get carried away with their own fabrications. That's when the issue of betrayal of trust comes into play.

Not lying has to be the start. But that doesn't mean that you need to give out your PIN or state your sexuality - especially when you're still sorting things out.

Amara Devonte said...

To me, there's a very simple solution. Don't make claims that aren't true.

There in lies my problem. You are deciding what is true in that statement.

"Prefers not to state" is a perfectly good option for gender, sexuality, the whole thing - *when* an answer is even required, which it usually isn't. Use a ambiguous pen name, and don't say in your bio you're a gay man

And you are setting forth the rules in which trans* authors need to present themselves.

It is grossly unfair to do that.

Which is why I still say, misunderstanding of gender and it's fluidity is the biggest problem here.

And I don't necessarily mean to direct this all at you, but you happen to be the one here commenting. I'm seeing the same being said all over. This statement..

who also seems to be a biological woman

only backs up what I'm trying to say. A transman, born a biological woman, is a man. I don't know DJ Manly, so please understand, I'm not saying anything about DJ, nor AJ, I'm only speaking in terms of transgender/genderqueer.

It's not right to ask, or demand, anyone to "come out" or to "out" them. It's just not.

What's I see happening is not that authors are going to "come out" and do this. What I see happening is that the M/M community is going to LOSE very good authors because of this. I can't say I blame them a single bit.

That will be a sad day.

Ann Somerville said...

"And you are setting forth the rules in which trans* authors need to present themselves. "

I think the implied 'when you're not' went missing from my statement. It was intended to be understood as "don't claim to be a gay man *when you're not*".

A trans man who is gay, is a gay man. I made that very point on the thread on DA.

But no one should make statements which they believe to be false - like a straight woman claiming to be a gay man - when they're not. That's appropriative and unethical. [cont.]

Amara Devonte said...

t's pretty safe to say you and I will not agree on anything here. Not that I really thought we would.

That last comment was... enlightening. I've never removed comments before, or closed comments on any of my blogs, but it is my blog and I'm sure this will not please you but I'm doing it now. Sorry Anne. You're not coming over on MY blog bringing more authors into it and starting with your name calling. You have your own blog for that.

It's been fun. Hope the day is good to you.

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