Chances are, if you hang out in the LGBT romance community, you’ve heard all about the controversial blog post that JesseWave posted on her review website yesterday. If you haven’t read it, her post has been taken down now. What it essentially boiled down to was an angry screed in which she accused authors of disrespecting their audiences by writing m/f in any m/m romance book.
I’m a big defender of the freedom of speech and the freedom of expression, even to the point where I will defend people’s right to speech that I don’t like. I think that to properly defend speech, you have to defend all speech and expression (but not physical violence, which is not a protected form of expression).
I wouldn’t have cared if Wave had simply said she didn’t care for m/f and wouldn’t accept it on her site. It’s her site, and I can exercise my right not to read it if I don’t want to.
Earlier this year she told me she wasn’t interested in reading my book Rainy Days because she assumed (incorrectly) there was on page m/f sex, but I got over that. Again, Reviews by Jessewave is her site, and it’s her right to read and review whatever the hell she likes.
What made me angry was that she told authors they were disrespecting readers by writing m/f scenes. Wave decided that because she doesn’t like to see such scenes that she had to stand up and tell the world not to write them because she’s bothered by on-page lady-parts. As if she spoke for the whole world and its needs from fiction.
I’m getting ticked off lately by a lot of this, and it’s not just in writing space but all over the Internet; people who are offended by certain creative expression and want it to go away. It’s a kind of censorship of shame – label something as sexist, racist or icky and hope the creator cans their project and makes something you would like instead. I don’t agree with any of it. I think that writers, artists, video game designers and all types of creative people need to make THEIR vision, not a watered down, neutered version of their creation because someone’s offended by a sexy woman character, or on-page lady parts, or something outside of their comfort zone. Creators should create for themselves first and foremost. It’s the only way that the act of creation remains honest and true to the human experience. Sometimes that means writing about rape, or torture, or other unpleasant acts.
Fiction SHOULD challenge us. It should make us think outside the box and break down the walls of our comfort zones. It should be able to evoke every emotion from desire to disgust. You have the right to love it or hate it as you please. Shout your hatred from the rooftops should you wish. You have that right.
Just don’t tell me what not to write. Don’t tell creators what not to create. If you have positive input on things you’d like to see, then mention it. Tell the world what you want from your creative mediums. Tell the world you think women are under-represented in video games and you’d love to see more female protagonists. Tell authors you’d love to see more diversity in fiction. I would love to see more positive articles on what people love, instead of people attacking the things they hate. I’m tired of anger and rage against the things that I love, creative mediums that have given me a lot of hope and comfort over the years just because someone stands up and claims to speak for everyone. Nobody can speak for everyone. We’re individuals with our own needs and expectations.
Don’t expect writers and creators to write-on-demand. Don’t try to censor works because they fall outside your comfort zone. Challenge yourself instead to read/write/play outside your genre and see the world from a whole new angle. Sometimes it might make you uncomfortable, but that’s okay.
That’s what art is supposed to do.