Taboo: A social or religious custom prohibiting or forbidding discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.
The issue has shown its ugly ol' face again--the tired argument that women can't or shouldn't write male/male fiction. And, again, authors are up in arms about it.
And well they should be. Up in arms, that is. It's a silly notion, figuring that anybody who wants to write should not or can not write what they please. If the interest is there, nobody should be able to dictate what anybody writes. More importantly, if the passion is there for a subject or a genre, then it's not even a question of just wanting to write it. It's a matter, for an author, that they must write it.
Unless you're one of those unfortunates like me who has trillions of characters bumping elbows in your head, it's hard to understand that drive---the drive to write what's in that silly ol' head, no matter what it is.
So, for the record, I'm here to shout that I, too, think it's ridiculous to pigeonhole talent into genres. We write what's in our noggins, whether we're men or women.
History would be a teencie bit altered if that concept---the one where certain sexes should only do certain things---hadn't been ignored through the years. Many famous dames who did things that, until their time, only men had done wouldn't be icons in the history of the world. That alone ought to open one's eyes to the fact that you can't put passion and talent into one little box. Cannot be done. Should not be done.
That being said...
As a writer, I've experienced another kind of prohibition of sorts when it comes to genres.
No, I've never had anyone tell me that I wasn't qualified to write in the m/m genre. I've seen those who have claimed it so, but it's never personally been directed at me. Not to my face, anyway.
What I have encountered was just the opposite.
The stigma of a woman who writes m/m who also likes to write hetero romance.
That's an area of the fiction world that kind of gets brushed under the old carpet. But it is real, and it's just as silly as the outlandish claim that women ought to keep their literary noses out of writing about gay men.
I've had it from both sides. Those who try to convince me that, because I like to write hetero fiction, I'm only in m/m for money. Not true. Oh, so not true. Let me tell you, kiddos. If I were in this writing gig for money? Well, I'd have had to quit long ago.
The other side: I'm somehow disloyal to my genre (m/m) because I venture over into the 'other' side---the hetero side of romance.
Oh, hell, I've met the most comical reactions when I post photos----beautiful photos---of men and women on my Facebook page. Men and women together, that is. I've had some cruel comments about them. I've had to delete some of them, they were so critical and judgmental. One said, in reference to a photo of a young couple embracing, Next thing you know, they'll want to be getting married. I knew where the person was coming from. And I could not blame him for his aggravation as to the freedom that straight couples have as opposed to the struggle for same sex couples to do the same. I seek and fight for equality in marriage as well.
I've been told by many authors who write both genres that they've received a lot of flack for it. For daring to write both.
So are we who write supposed to snuff out parts of our creative minds and hearts just to stick to one genre? Because somehow it means we're traitors to a genre to feel the same passion for another genre?
If so, why? I've yet to hear a valid answer to that question.
What I found really strange was some feedback from women authors of m/m to photos of straight couples. One even said, ewwwww. A straight women looking at a photo of another straight women---who happened to be with a man---and being disgusted. One straight married gal---married to a man---said Ugh! Girlie parts!
And before you tell me that photos of same sex couples is taboo in many romance groups, I'll be quick to tell you that I think that is wrong, too.
My bottom line is this: love really is love, no matter a gender. It's a really glorious thing, no matter who it is. No matter the gender.
But that's not my issue in this post.
My concern in this post is that aura of taboo that seems to surround women who want to write both genres. It's rigid. It's judgmental. It's wrong.
And my biggest concern is this: that this rigidity, this rabid devotion to a genre, can be dangerous.
Because, for me, one of the most beautiful things about this genre (m/m) is the chance to expose the rest of the world to something that's been hidden far too long. The more of us who write it, the more readers will find it. It is a quickly growing genre, which is wonderful. That means the love between two men can be shared with more and more readers. Embraced.
But my fear? That this extreme intolerance for some of us to go outside the borders to also write hetero romance could so easily turn a beautiful, passionate, powerful genre into a sort of cult-like thing. Because the reaction I have gotten---the denunciations of my hetero photos and mentions of hetero couples in my writing---is almost cult-like. It's a little frightening.
It's hollering about equality yet stomping it out in the next breath. Equality means for everyone. Equality is a bigger battle for many than for others. I'll be the first to say that I don't realize how good I have it, my freedom to marry. My freedom to have children, to adopt, to do many things that are taken for granted by straight couples. But I also have to acknowledge that tolerance, still, is not designated for some only. It is for everyone.
The genres I am driven to write (notice I said driven, not have chosen) aren't causes for me. I don't write m/m as a cause. Even though I hope it aids in a voice for equality, my writing is driven strictly from passion.
And I will say that the writing of this genre is a gift to me because it has given me a rare insight that I wish the rest of the world could see. Insight into the beauty and nature of love between same sexes. I'm happy I was inspired to write it. It's opened my eyes, it's been a joyful experience, this finding peace in the passion between men.
Inspired. Inspired. Inspired.
That is the whole thing for me, in a lovely nutshell.
My writing is inspired. Whether it's good or not is another thing. It is, at least, inspired. It's just meant to be.
So how can anyone out there dare to try and snuff out the beautiful flame of anyone's inspiration? Anyone's?
Is there anyone out there who should be able to condemn another for inspiration? And if a writer is inspired to write about love---m/m love, hetero love, love between two women---it's not up for discussion.
Because let me tell you something. There's bad writing in all genres. In mainstream, too. But whether it's good or bad or whether the author really gets their subject, has nothing to do with the gender of the writer. Nobody ever looked at the classics authors and said they didn't get it from both sides of their characters, men or women. Nothing's changed over the years. Anybody can write about anybody as long as they are inspired and they really are in the hearts and souls of all their characters.
Because it's the hearts and the souls of the characters that are the stories.
Plain and simple: if an author is not inspired, if they cannot get into the hearts and souls of their characters, then they should not be writing. Then a reader can complain all they want because that is what it's all about anyway. If the deepest guts of a character are present, then that writer knows their stuff. They know the souls they're writing about.
And if you go into the reading of a book with preconceived notions in your head about which gender wrote the damn thing, then you're reading for all the wrong reasons anyway.
Read a dictionary or encyclopedia instead. Just facts there, nothing to judge.
Serina Hartwell said, If you're struggling to fit me into a box...then build a bigger box!
I've said all that to say this: don't put so many stigmas on genres, on who writes what. If we want to be who we are and write men with women and men with men or women with women? Please. Open your minds. Let us do it.