Is MM Romance Cultural Appropriation?
-By Mary Grace (Not related to Aria)
M/M romance novels that have been written by women, for women have been considered by some cultural appropriation or fetishization of a sexual relationship between two men, but it isn’t. It’s a fantasy.
There are a thousand and one reasons women love M/M romance novels. They explore relationships without a competing element (no other ladies), they explore a relationship of equals, and for straight women, it means that all of the characters in the story can be sexualized. We sure didn’t read Twilight because Bella was an interesting character, we read it for the super-hot vampire-werewolf action!
“Bella is my favorite character” - Said no one... ever...
What Romance Novels Do For Women
Romance novels offer women an escape into a world filled with romance, adventure, and the opportunity to quench a thirst for a plethora of fantasies. Whether you want to know what it’d be like as a monk-hermit high in the mountains with a group of your best friends care taking for an ancient stone temple or if it’s about reintegrating love back into your life. Whether it’s the lack of female characters that allows women to completely escape into the sexual fantasy, or just a lack of pressure that the mental distance gay romance offers; MM romance novels are an escape into a new world for many women.
Why it Isn’t Really About Gay Men
While MM fantasies do include relationships between two men, it’s rare that they accurately depict a relationship. While this could be harmful if those romance novels spread inaccurate information (like that dinosaur cloning wouldn’t get you immediately eaten by a T-Rex, or that condoms shouldn’t be worn) that is not the norm, and when it is stated, it is clearly in a fantasy setting.
When looking at a typical MF romance novel, there is a regular character formula, with the female character being a blank slate that could be anyone, but that often leads to a vapid, empty character, devoid of deep thought. Evolving that blank slate character means isolating some readers from the experience; whereas a relationship between two men evolves in a way where a woman can imagine herself with one or both of the characters. Much like lesbian porn, where it’s not about those women being actual lesbians, in a loving committed relationship, having relations after a magic evening. But rather the idea that either of those women would be open to the viewer joining in and a distinctive lack of gender competition in the scene.
MM romance novels aren’t about championing the gay community, or fetishizing a real relationship between. It’s about lust, romance, and relationships that involve two people of the gender that you are attracted to.
Does MM Romances’ Fantasy Status Make it OK?
Fantasy has a pass, it’s the backwash from our society. While we could spend this time picking through why some women like MM romance, or why it’s not about gay men, or why it might be kind of about gay men, that time would be wasted. All fiction draws elements from real life, but that doesn’t make them all statements about society.
Fantasy novels and movies are a way for people to read and watch what they want to, at the scary end of fantasy there are murder romance novels, and at the soft end of fantasy, there’s dragons and love. It’s all okay to think about, to want, to love, to read, and write about. Because that’s what you like, and you can’t change that.