We hear a lot about the male gaze in the arts, but what about the female gaze, especially when it comes to MM fiction?
It is no secret that women make up a high percentage of gay romance writers and readers. I, myself, number among them. The question I thought I’d raise today is what influence this prevalence of women has upon the genre. Does it even affect it at all?
Putting aside my own writing and wearing my editor hat, I would say I notice very little difference between male and female in terms of the types of stories and the characters. If anything, the only place I maybe see a discrepancy is in sex scenes, where male authors are sometimes a little more earthy and visceral, while women writers tend to be more romantic, even in graphic, erotic moments. Notice, however, that I say ‘sometimes’, for this is by no means across the board and can go either way.
I also think female interest in MM fiction has helped drive its growth in recent years. It is not the only factor of course—greater acceptance of those identifying as LGBT and the rise of digital publishing also play extremely important roles—but it does contribute since it adds to the demand for works which might otherwise have sold only to a small group. A strong readership base is required to support a higher level of publications within any given genre, and in MM fiction, I believe the power of the female gaze should not be underestimated in terms of driving sales and bringing such works into a more mainstream market. It seems to me that this will only grow as MM romance (and indeed all LGBT fiction) achieves greater visibility and general acceptance.
What do other Queer Sci-Fiers think? How would you describe the role of the female gaze in MM fiction? Do you think it affects the story and character types authors pen? Or do you not believe it’s there at all? This is a potentially explosive topic, given that some gay authors do not approve of women writing MM, so please be respectful and keep any comments civil and impersonal. Thanks!