elsenet i was linked to victoria brownworth's article in the lambda literary blog
let me first say that i read brownworth's article and thought it was abysmally bad, so bad that it totally obscured its own central concern. that's a crying shame. it's also a shame that there was no enlightenment had from the other side in the comments, for the most part. it was typical defensive derailment, complete with the usual bingo excuses, as paul g bens showed so poignantly. but, having observed such discussions before, commenters would have derailed the thread anyway, even if victoria had done her research instead of putting more falsehood than truth out there about m/m, and being rude to everyone who disagreed with her. they wouldn't have listened even if she had been well-informed and courteous. but they should listen, because the central concern is important.
the central concern is that m/m AS A GENRE fetishizes gay relationships for the titillation of heterosexual women, and that this is detrimental to actual gay people.
i believe that concern is warranted.
i read a lot of m/m, and by "a lot" i mean around 1500 stories a year. i do not just read based on reviews; i pick a large number of books at random. disclaimer: i know that there are some actual male writers behind some of the pseudonyms (as well as lesbians and bisexual men and women and trans folk), and i know that some actual gay men read m/m and enjoy it. end disclaimer.
but the vast majority is born from slash fiction and yaoi, is written by straight women, and is read by straight women. and yes, yaoi is much worse when it comes to faulty information and fetishization -- but that doesn't mean m/m escapes the accusation. some of m/m's best selling authors are its worst offenders. and IMO the majority of the genre is at least mildly offensive to actual gay persons.
i also know that m/m is empowering for many women and genderqueers (i won't go into why here, but it's fascinating. and way cool. some of the analysis in fandom way surpasses anything i've seen come out of gender studies.).
but i've also read many comments from fangirls that show they get a lot of misinformation from m/m, and that they thoroughly objectify the men in m/m. if an author writes badly informed fiction, some people will swallow that crap with gusto, and will think they now know something about gay people and their sexuality, their relationships. and they will be wrong. that's not empowering anyone; it damages.
writers who're defensive when confronted with the accusation that they're appropriating and objectifying, are not being asked to "get out" of writing about gay relationships. however, if they don't get it right, if they are lazy, if they write formula, then they better be prepared for scathing criticism from gay people whom they offend with that dreck. it is totally possible to write authentic gay fiction as a non-gay writer; there are many talented m/m authors who're taking their craft seriously. the problem is not THAT women write it, it's HOW they write it.
the entitled whining from some m/m authors in the comments to brownworth's article was painful to watch, and it didn't impress me one bit. yup, it can be hard to look at one's own work with a critical eye, even if one writes "just fiction". but one doesn't get to trample all over an already oppressed group with impunity "just for fun". because fiction is never "just fiction". fiction has power, fiction teaches, fiction influences people. and if, as an author, you appropriate a facsimile of people's lives in order to gain personal profit from what happens to also be their pain, they have every right to tell you that you're an arse who makes their lives harder.
an author is not directly responsible what people do with the information they convey. but the author is culpable. i suggest to take that seriously, even if one just writes plot-what-plot stories -- getting it right matters to those whose lives one borrows in order to have a bit of fun.