In Defense of the M/M Romance

Can we talk about M/M romance for a second? I’ve been reviewing a lot of this type of erotica, mostly because there seems to be a lot of it around, and for someone who reads as much as I do, it’s an almost near-constant supply. I, personally, hate the term, but if we’re being honest, the only thing I like more then Ms is watching and/or reading about them having tons of high-tension sex with other Ms. I try to act like I’m a gay romance and erotica connoisseur, but it’s time to come clean: I’m a smut slut and I don’t care who knows it.

There are some elements that characterize this particular corner of the genre. The authors tend to have a strong base in fan fiction, and are typically women, but not always. The main characters are usually dudes over six foot four with gray or hazel eyes or ambiguous ethnic origins. Unlike gay erotica, main characters aren’t necessarily gay, but through a strange series of events, find themselves dick-deep in another dude of similar orientation. Typically, this leads to a realization that they were gay, just too butch to notice it. Tough guys and broken boys (sometimes both in one!) populate the landscape to varying degrees, and without fail, somebody at some point will have a breakdown or a breakthrough that results in the release of his inner teenage girl. This tends to result in uncharacteristic bouncing, pouncing, and other words and gestures used almost exclusively by high school and middle school ladies. The word “mode” becomes a modifier for any other word, thereby making it a distressingly upbeat adverb/adjective conglom (killmode; stealthmode; sleepmode). In the end, the guy always gets his guy, often under insane circumstances; usually someone is terribly injured and needs to be cared for. Declarations of true love and devotion ensue.

All told, these books aren’t any more unrealistic than the hard-boiled noir detective stories and rough-living, fast-talking spy thrillers we all read as kids. Instead of everybody being and sounding like an ink-stained, cigar chomping, basement-office typewriter jockey, they come off like the starry-eyed, codependent sociopaths this culture churns out of beauty magazines, tampax ads, and public school gym classes by the millions. Girls who sit in their step-father’s dens, chewing their nails and wishing they were seven feet tall with massive, impaling cocks and army ranger tattoos. Longing to be the type of people who could fuck a man, shoot a man, and save a man all before noon on a Tuesday. Who, instead, stay awake until dawn making worlds where they are important. Where love is safe and available, and lovers aren’t vulnerable except in the emotional ways, AKA the ways they already understand. Their sex scenes and fight scenes are impeccable, and their relationship arcs all seem to come from some rejected script from the Pound Puppies cartoon.

And I love them. Because I know them. We raise our girls like hatchery fish, all crammed together, just waiting to be eaten. Of course they’re better at descriptions of torture than they are at the concept of romantic agency. So if a book is bad. If it completely lost touch with reality, I tend to forgive it. Because what promise does reality hold for women who, with a few deft keystrokes could be the very Gods they’re taught their whole lives to fear? Men who they know will one day, somehow ruin them.