Writing Across the Gender Boundary: SAMLA Women's Studies PanelThe closing date for proposals is 1 March 2007 and further details are available here.
Throughout literary history writers have explored the perspectives of genders other than their own. This panel will explore works by both male and female writers who choose to cross the gender boundary in their writing and the effects of such border crossings. Writers might be viewed as crossing gender boundaries when they construct first person narratives of genders other than their own or when they focus on the experiences or worldview of another gender through third person perspectives or on the stage. Gender crossings can also be diversely defined as shifting from male to female or female to male, as well as explorations of queer, heterosexual, or trans genders from writers who might identify otherwise.
Sarah posted a while ago about the fact that 'male/male erotica (or m/m/f) is certainly the growth industry in the online erotica publishing houses' and she suggested that the reason why straight women might 'be attracted to gay male romance and/or gay male sex' is
Because, if, as I argue in my article, romances are actually about watching the hero figure out and confess his feelings, if they're about watching him move from the "masculine economy of use" to the "feminine economy of exchange," then watching TWO men have to figure it out for and with each other is more than twice as wonderful as watching one man figure it out for and with a womanI recently came across some of Jules Jones' work. Jules Jones is a woman, according to the biography at the Romance Wiki, and she writes 'science fiction and erotic romance, mostly with m/m themes. Much of her work is cross-genre, being science fiction or fantasy with a strong romance element'. These particular stories are really erotica rather than erotic romance, because they're too short to show the full development of a relationship, but they hint at further possibilities. They're also very explicit, so anyone likely to be offended or upset by explicit descriptions of gay sex shouldn't click on the links.
Lord and Master is a short story about the boss/secretary relationship, except there's a twist, because usually the secretary isn't male. The differences are stated by the narrator:
Yes, I'm a man, fulfilling the functions normally fulfilled by a woman. I sit here, looking decorative, smiling nicely at people who treat me like dirt because I'm only a secretary. It's worth it, because I fulfill all the traditional functions of that secretary, including that one. And let me tell you, I enjoy working for a man who has the balls to install a pretty little thing as his personal assistant and tell the world to think of it what they may. And I really enjoy working for a man who has the power to get away with it. And I'm better off than my female counterparts down the hall, because I don't harbor dreams of my boss marrying me [...]. He can't, not unless the laws change.The boss is an alpha male, as is one of the characters discussed in Sarah's post: 'He's alpha male, with an aura of casual, unselfconscious power. He's king of the hill, and he knows it, and he doesn't feel the need to make an issue of it, make everyone else acknowledge it. He just is.' And yet, in line with Sarah's observation, there's a shift from 'the "masculine economy of use"'. The secretary and boss are, despite the poignant reference to the lack of a possibility of the most traditional sort of HEA, not immune from heading towards 'the "feminine economy of exchange"': the secretary can't help but wonder how his boss feels about him: 'But there's one thing I don't know, have never asked. Does he think about me when he's at home, lying in his bed?'. The question isn't answered in this story, but it may well be in Jules Jones' forthcoming novel with the same title.
In One Size Fits All the characters tentatively move towards emotional intimacy. It reminds me of something I said a while ago, having read some short erotic romance stories online: 'In the erotic romances acceptance of, and enthusiastic participation in, the other's fantasies is an indication not just of sexual broadmindedness and physical compatibility, but of emotional connection and trust.' Again, this is a story which contains explicit descriptions of gay sex, but the ending is 'optimistic', so it's closer to romance than the previous short story.
It begins when
Gavin checked the corridor one last time, and, satisfied that it was clear, slipped inside the bedroom. It would never do if Hugh caught him — Hugh had a strong sense of privacy, to the point of preferring to go to Gavin's place rather than his own. But since he'd given Gavin a key, and agreed to meet here tonight . . .I don't want to spoil the story, but that 'key' isn't just a necessary tool to open a door: it also functions metaphorically as a key to greater emotional intimacy. It raises questions about Hugh's feelings and intentions in giving Gavin the key. Is Gavin looking at things Hugh would rather he didn't see? Or is Hugh hoping that Gavin will explore, so that Hugh doesn't have to put his desires and needs into words?