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Asta’s Annotation: MM Fiction and the Female Gaze

Asta's Annotations

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!

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Asta’s Annotations is a monthly column in which author and editor Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J. Markus) discusses the world of publishing, offering tips and tricks to help budding authors submit the best possible manuscript.
Asta Idonea was born in England, but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.
Asta launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!
As a day job, Asta works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theater, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel; all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing. She is never found too far from her much-loved library/music room.

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