Review/Summary (7 - Carole Veldman-Genz): Women and Erotic Fiction, ed. Kristen Phillips

By Laura Vivanco on Saturday, 26 December, 2015

Carole Veldman-Genz's "focus is on a particular strand of erotic romance fiction for women published by market leader Ellora's Cave under the copyrighted term romantica" (134), namely their

male-male (m/m) and male-male-female ménage (m/m/f) romantica, not only because they are popular subcategories, but also because they point markedly to the contradictions and conflicts in current thought on sexuality, gender, corporeality, pleasure and agency. So far, little attention has been paid to the ways in which the homoerotic male-male encounter in women's popular erotic fiction triggers female sensuality and elicits female pleasure. In its precise aim, this article investigates male homo- and bisexuality as fantasy tropes for women. (135)

Veldman-Genz argues that:

gay content in romantica often results in the depiction of "feminized" or romanticized gay sex. In m/m and m/m/f romantica, readers are invited to endorse the emotional and sexual intimacy between male characters, and male-male sex is often scripted in terms of both nurture and sexual adventure. [...] Framed by a female gaze, these are intimate and romantic erotic encounters in which gay men excite by virtue of their caring and nurturing abilities as much as their virility and hyper-masculinity.

This gender-blending of "masculine" and "feminine" traits is an indication of how the gay/bisexual male body has been offered up for heterosexual female reading in romantica and how gay sex has been romanticized and made "female-friendly" in these texts. (144-45)

I find this argument troubling because, despite the use of inverted commas, there does seem to be an implication here that men and women have different "traits" and that therefore real gay and bisexual men (i.e. men outwith the "romanticized" world of romantica) would not have sexual relationships which include "nurture" and "emotional [...] intimacy".

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Veldman-Genz, Carole. "Selling Gay Sex to Women: The Romance of M/M and M/M/F Romantica". Women and Erotic Fiction: Critical Essays on Genres, Markets and Readers. Ed. Kristen Phillips. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland 2015. 133-149.