In Part 4, I mentioned the sex-negativity inherent in the statement that women authors and readers of m/m are voyeurs, fetishizing and objectifying gay men for our own sexual gratification.
A lot of women of my association have had one particular response to that statement, and since I've embarked on this series, I've heard it quite a bit: So what?
I think it's a pretty reasonable question. Why is that men can look at women, gay men can look at men, drag queens can present stereotypical portrayals of women, and straight men can watch women pretend to get it on with each other, but a woman reading a work of fiction with men falling in love and having sex together is a moral reprobate of the first order?
Well, we've already been over the whole thing about how women are not entitled to their own sexuality in our society, so that's part of it. And of course, many people certainly object to lesbian porn for straight men. In fact, that's another comparison that's often made with m/m as a shaming tactic.
But here's the thing: if in fact you believe that sexually objectifying anyone is wrong, why would you focus your ire on li'l ole m/m? For the love of Mike, we don't even use real people! Why aren't the objectification objectors going after all that fake lesbian porn for straight men? Or any porn for straight men, for that matter? Personally, and this may be uncharitable, but, I think it's because m/m looks like an easier target.
Some branches of the feminist movement have been trying to put a stop to het porn since the seventies, and they haven't had much luck with it. And our culture is filled with images of women which, while they may not be outright porn, are certainly objectifying. As a woman who, through no fault of my own, cannot hope to meet the ridiculous physical standards of beauty that still count as the gold standard of feminine value, I get pretty sick of it myself.
I sometimes hear people say things like, well, by objectifying men you're just giving men permission to continue objectifying women. This makes me laugh. As far as I've ever seen, men are not waiting for my permission or anyone else's. I don't see het porn for men or the ubiquitous airbrushed supermodel going anywhere any time soon.
Beyond that, I personally don't think objectification is necessarily, in and of itself, sexist. As noted, I have a few things to say about unrealistic beauty standards that I do in fact think are misogynist, but, just looking at someone and fantasizing about them sexually -- actually, I think that's okay. What's sexist is the imbalance in who gets to objectify who.
My pals over at Erotica Cover Watch are all over this, fighting tirelessly to prove to the world that men make great sex objects. I think m/m can be part of that movement too.
I wonder what a world with gawking parity across genders and sexual orientations would look like?