There was this brouhaha around gay characters in YA.
Do you know what my first reaction to it was? “Where are the lesbians.” And not the “we have a couple of supporting lesbian characters who don’t even get an on-page kiss until we realized we should act like we are super-good allies; time to tick checkboxes, friend!” crap.
I’ve made comments in the past that suggested I thought there was an equivalency between the exploitation of female homosexuality in porn for men and fetishisation of male homosexuality in slash fanfic and M/M erotica. I didn’t actually think there was an exact equivalency, but in retrospect I realize more and more that it was a fucking stupid thing to even imply. There is, obviously, no equivalency and it’s not remotely the same–there’s the factor of misogyny and a hundred different things that sensible people realize contribute to the harmfulness of exploitative by-men-for-men lesbian porn* in a way that isn’t at all like what slash fanfic and M/M, however vacuous and badly written, do.
*This isn’t saying that no woman anywhere enjoys such porn, nor that they should be judged for enjoying it (and certainly if they do, it’s not wrought with the same problems as male enjoyment: I’m not getting into the idea of women objectifying women, which gets thrown around now and again, because that is not the point). I’m condemning men. The ones responsible for the mainstay of supply and demand.
Lesbian visibility is pretty bloody terrible in the fiction I enjoy, or even fiction I don’t. So the schtick of those graduated-from-HP-fanfic YA writers, who are ever so lauded for their beautiful wonderful inclusivity? It’s nine times out of ten about hot, hot gay boys. Hot, hot gay boy angst. You’d be lucky if one of the girls in the background… somewhere… likes other girls… somewhere… honest.
The only lesbian YA I can think of is Malinda Lo, whom I’ve never seen recommended and squee’d and fannishly defended the way Sarah Rees Brennan or whoever wrote Havemercy is. The titles that apparently feature major lesbian characters named here? I’ve never heard of most of them. This isn’t an indictment on their quality–The Dark Wife is self-published but, again, we are talking YA so it’s not likely to be any worse than the pro stuff. So it’s telling that I know of Brennan and Cassandra “Plagiaristic Hack” Clare and Havemercy in spite of that, simply by seeing them talked about, tweeted about, and whatnot a terrible lot and celebrated for their wonderful inclusivity of male homosexuality: to the point that someone who doesn’t read YA, and disdains it, has heard about them in those terms and contexts.
Posted by acrackedmoon on December 12, 2011