Who Reads MM Romantic Fiction?
Who Reads MM Romantic Fiction?
- by Tim Youngblood
Literature has relished predominance in the envisagement and complexity of emotion, and fascinations that occupy sexual relationships. One could even consider it a part of literary culture and social science. However, this literary tradition has largely been overlooked by social scientists who fail to remove their own cultural biases from their work. Literary knowledge has been ousted by an exceedingly large focus on scholarly content, often dismissing contemporary as easily digestible smut reading. Yet, when we take a well written depiction of a sexual relationship, it can provide us with invaluable insight into the impetus and mental outlook of ordinary people. These novels hold serviceable value in empirical and theoretical knowledge.
Gay romantic literature has been around for ages, it has been discernible and highly criticized since the 1960s in the United States. The genre of literature has been expressed in various forms whether it be drama, fiction, biography, or even poetry. Typically, LGBT fiction will delve into topics of orientation and identity in addition to class, religion, and gender. What has failed to be realized, is the fact that this literature has indeed changed the cultural mindset by facilitating creative and critical processes that reflect the intricacies of the lives and personal relationships within sexual orientation. This desire to learn about the intricacies of romantic relationships is illustrated by the demographics that read these novels.
Many would expect MM romance to be read mostly by gay men. This survey done by Jessica Freely in 2013 shows that romantic curiosity tends to favor the unknown.
MM Romantic Fiction has been marginalized by academia
The term “homoerotic” tends to have a strong misconception behind it, typically being associated with homosexuality. Merriam-Webster does a disservice by simply lumping homoerotic as a synonym for homosexual, a term that originated in the 19th century and was basically forced on the community by social scientists trying to quantify sexuality. The two terms are interconnected, but vary on a few key points. Whereas homoeroticism refers to the sexual attraction of persons of the same sex, homosexuality refers to a defined state of sexual orientation. Sadly, homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association until 1987. These forceful social scientists would probably be surprised to know that most readers of MM romantic fiction are in fact women who identify as straight, and that the fiction they read is not reflected by how they identify in terms of gender and sexuality.
Thinking that people want to read about demographics that relate to them is not the case in MM romantic fiction.
There also tends to be an obscure association of homoeroticism within various cultures, specifically designated towards misconceptions of content. What the majority of people think of when they hear of literature containing homoerotic content is caused by a misunderstanding of the genre in itself. It is read in the same way that we consider erotic literature, comprising factual and fictional accounts of human sexual relationships. What is misunderstood is not the writing style, but a lack of knowledge of what writers choose to include in their own content. Eroticism in general will encompass and feature sexual fantasies, themes such as orgies, prostitution, taboo, and fetishes. These are all things that we might see or read within any type of erotica, but MM erotica differs in that even things that would be relatively tame in the realm of MF erotica are taboo due to homophobia in society. The modern MM romantic fiction scene has been full of robust accounts of fact and fiction. While elaborating on sexual fantasy, we also see dramatic roles encompassing hardships experienced by these characters, adding depth and character to modern works.
Now, who reads or enjoys art within the MM erotic genre? It is quite challenging to place a demographic behind it because there are so many people who read this genre of fiction for many different reasons. Both straight men and women who enjoy the stimulation, members of the LGBT community associating with the hardships of society, and audiences from foreign countries seeking insight into the LGBT culture in the US. They all read these works for different reasons. There is a lot more to the genre than the average person would presume, it is growing more popular as it becomes more understood, and the audience grows with the writers. In this case, MM romantic fiction and its readers are books that should not be read by their cover.