Stop Hating the Women ~ Outside the Margins with Sue Brown

Join Prism Book Alliance® as Sue Brown goes Outside the Margins today.


Two issues have bugged me recently, both from Facebooks posts, and they’re kind of connected so I’m going to roll them up into one blog post.

It could be summed up in one phrase. The author decides what to write.

Not the reader, not the reviewer, and not the publisher.

It doesn’t mean to say the publisher should publish books they don’t want to, or that readers should read books they don’t like, or that reviewers have to give five stars to every book. But the person putting in the work is the author.

Who decides on the plot? Who writes the characters? Who spends hours writing the story? The author does.

What bothers me is the sense of entitlement some (not all) readers seem to have about certain elements of our stories. Like including women in the story. You know, the other 50% of the world’s population. We write about a central relationship of two men, yet some (not all) readers seem to think a woman shouldn’t dare to tread in the book.

So no…

    • mothers,
    • sisters,
    • aunties,
    • ex-girlfriends (because you know, some men are bisexuals),
    • ex-wives (see above and some got married because of family/society pressures),
    • any other reason a woman just might be in breathing distance.

You might be one of those people that think a love-story between two men should exclude all traces of she and her. Maybe a lesbian romance should exclude all traces of he and him. Let’s just keep our heroes excluded from the rest of the world. Let’s not give them any background at all.

I’m going to admit that what makes me really annoyed is the “EWWWWWW!” whenever anything related to women appears in a book.

Dear women readers… why are you EWWWWWWing about your own sex? Suddenly female genitalia makes you feel sick? Do you look down and shriek “Oh no! Boobs and vagina! Take them away!” How can you be open to the idea of a relationship between two men and suddenly hate your own sex? A woman character isn’t suddenly going to run through the M/M book and declare a Happy Ever After with one of guys. Strangely enough it wouldn’t be an M/M.

Look, the authors know that they’re writing about two (or multiples thereof) of men. Seriously, they’re not stupid. Some choose to include women, some don’t. We all write our own thing.

And that comes to my other point. I’ll make it quick. Don’t tell me not to play in your sandpit. Women have been excluded far too long from genres because a few dudes decide it’s their exclusive domain. The only exception I can think of is romance where men have come up against the same barriers. If I want to write X, Y and Z, I’m going to write, with women, with unicorns – it’s my choice as an author.

Okay, now it’s your turn. How do you feel about what I’ve said? You can let rip.

~Sue Brown


Title: Summer’s Song
Author: Sue Brown
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 08/25/2015
Cover Artist: Meredith Russell
Genre: M/M Romance, Young Adult


Jesse longs for the bell signaling the end of the school year. For Jesse, the summer vacation means leaving the bullies behind, and making the long journey to stay with his aunts and meet up with his best friends, Suzie and Kevin. This year is no different, until Jesse meets Neal, who flirts and laughs as he serves Jesse ice-cream. Jesse is flattered until one of his friends turns on him and suddenly his summer vacation doesn’t seem like the escape it’s always been. Can Neal’s gentle attention help Jesse feel better again?


Summer’s Song on Goodreads
Self Published
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks

About Sue Brown

Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn’t following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot and has got expert at ignoring the orders.

Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favourite television series. The kissing was hot and tender and Sue wanted to write about this men. She may be late to the party, but she’s made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

Sue’s internet links

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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47 thoughts on “Stop Hating the Women ~ Outside the Margins with Sue Brown

  1. Oh Boy could I let rip on this one Sue! I write m/m and I try to write realistic m/m, much of it based on my own experiences. I may choose to run with the boys but my life is full of women, always has been, always will be and is so much the better for it. In porn movies the film makers can only afford to pay the guys who are going to produce the money shots. That’s why there are no extras and no background stories to populate. In a novel we expect to find a rich background and well rounded characters. I don’t see how that can happen without the odd real life lady popping up!
    I don’t do prejudice so I’m afraid if you are a misogynist then you will not like my stories and your money would be better spent on a subscription to one of the many porn channels available. My readers seem to be a good mix of men and women. They don’t tell me what to write or not write, they just want to know when the next one is coming and I love them for it!

    • Oh all of that and more, Tim! We aren’t writing one-dimensional books and I don’t know why an author would want to restrict themselves that way, or why readers would want that and think it’s okay.

  2. I totally agree with you Sue, in fact I cut my teeth on M/F romance and still like that sub-genre as well. Write what you want, I will be there reading it, because YOU write enjoyable books that have all of the elements I look for in a story such as a certain amount of realism and lots of depth.

    • I haven’t read M/F for *cough* thirty years, but the ones that stick in my memory had primary and secondary characters that leapt off the pages. That’s what we want to read. That’s what I’d expect from M/M, whatever gender the characters are.

  3. First of all. I agree 100% with you Sue. Last time I checked Mpreg was still contained to the realm of fiction so everyone has at least one woman in their lives, even if only for a moment. And come on, who can hate the spunky grandma’s of the world? Mine passed away last year at 92 years of age. She lived through the depression, WWII, desegregation and taught me more about love and accepting people for who they are than anyone else I know!

    Don’t hate me, but I can kind of see the other side of the coin too. Not everyone has had a good experience with the women in their lives. Some of us are conflicted. I’m gender fluid and am just learning to accept that about myself. Your comment about looking down at yourself and wanting those bits to go away hit awfully close to home… sometimes I love being a woman but I’ll admit, I’ve had those days. Sometimes it is really hard for me to read stories where things go right, families are accepting, mine isn’t, and those happy endings… just writing about it now brings tears to my eyes.

    Is my reaction the authors fault? Absolutely not. Should I take it out on the book just because its fictional characters have the kind of life I can only dream of? No way. Do I have to put a book down sometimes because it happens to hit closer to home than usual that day? Yeah, that’s happened more than once.

    I’ve lived through more than my share of shit and I’ve got a lot of baggage. Sometimes books are my escape and sometimes they make me ache for the kind of life I’ll never have. I’ve gotten way off track here, but my point is this.

    A reader is only going to be able enjoy the things in life they are open minded enough to accept. If something is not your cup of tea go find something that is. There are am awful lot of people in this world so news flash haters , it doesn’t revolve around you! I do the best I can to focus on all the lovely people out there who see the world as it really is and accept it. You can’t fix stupid, no matter how hard you try.

    • I’d love to be able to give your comment the response it deserves because there are so many elements to it. One thing particularly stands out is that we tend to write very binary characters. We don’t explore gender fluidness (is that right?) and all the experience that brings with it. I wish we did. Have you found books that get into your headspace as well as the ones that give you a chance to escape?

  4. Great post. I’m a reader and find no problem with woman in the MM books I read. This may open another rant but it gets on my nerves when readers take an author to task for the way the plot or characters flow in a book. I can’t write myself out of a paper bag, so who am I to tell you how your story/characters develop.

  5. Thanks for the great post! As a reader, I prefer it when there are all different types of characters in a book, including women. What I don’t like is when a female character is in the book just to serve as a one-dimensional plot device.

      • The red-headed best girlfriend who knows better than our hero who he should fall in love with and what he should do in any given moment. That and bitchy ex-wife are my least favorite female characters.

        But there really should be some females in there. The books where all the friends and family are male and usually just gay males are non-realistic in the slightest and ridiculous at the worst. There should be balance in these things. =)

    • Real life is full of different characters. That’s what makes it so fun. Leaving them out seems like leaving the world out of your book.

  6. I agree whole heartedly. Gay people do not exist in a vacuum. There are predominant women in our lives, mother’s, sisters, ex lovers…..get over it.
    Get Over It

    As an author I agree on the sandpit comment. Noone should tell people what to write. However, don’t get upset when something written comes off bad and gets critiqued. And authors don’t just write, they read, and when I see ‘gay’ or ‘vet’ or ‘Ptsd’ being used as something that’s offensively put out there as a means to an end, sorry, thanks but no.

    Telling someone they’re wrong for displaying x,y, and z in an offensive manner is not sexist. Don’t dive behind a gender and claim persecution when the first shot was fired by the author. If its fair to write what you want its also fair to be criticized by someone for what you write.

    In that, is where true equality lies.

    • I wouldn’t criticise anyone for critiquing a/my/anyone’s book, especially if they had a valid point to make. I’ve followed your comments recently. If you say women shouldn’t write it because they are not gay/vets/have no experience of PTSD, then I would have an issue as blatantly all are untrue. However criticising an unrealistic portrayal of X, Y, and Z is not the same. That is how we learn and develop. We get it wrong as authors, then we learn and not fuck up again.

  7. Great post and a lot of good points. It’s just unrealistic (not saying a book has to be realistic…just look at sci-fi and fantasy) not to have both genders in a story. It’s easy enough for any reader just to skip over parts they don’t like. Stories would be pretty linear and boring if they all followed the same formula. It’s nice to have diversity and little unexpected twist and turns when it come to seeing character relationships.

  8. That’s my complaint as well. I love reading M/M, but the ones that frustrate me are the ones where it seems only men live in the town and most, if not all, are gay. What? Where is that town? And why aren’t there women there interacting and passing by? Did Gayville kick out even the lesbians? I like M/M, but women don’t disappear just because men are all gay men are attracted to. Good point also about the bisexual men and women.

    • That made me think of Cattle Valley (Carol Lynne) where, yes it was for gay men, but women and families lived there. I think we forget bisexual men in M/M. I’m waving their flag.

  9. Side Note: if you do feel like your breasts or vagina don’y belong to you or are sickened/disgusted by them think about whether you might be a trans man.

    Obviously not all trans men feel like they don’t own/are sickened by their bodies but a good number of people who feel like this are trans men.

    • If they were trans men I’d be more understanding. But women who are just projecting for the genre I do not get.

  10. Well said, Sue. I got a recent review that said the reader loved the story, but why do women have to pop up in gay romance. Judge the book I wrote, not the one you wish I wrote. Big hugs to you for saying this.

    • I really don’t get it, Brita. We don’t live in a vacuum of one sex. Good point to mention that we get judged on the book they wish we’d written.

  11. I have strong feelings about women in fiction, so I was really happy to see this post!

    A lot depends on the sort of story you’re writing, of course, but there are a few more categories I’d like to add. What about friends or frenemies? Work colleagues? Bosses? Neighbours?

  12. This resonates with me like you can’t believe. I have seen the ‘ewwww women!’ and the ‘gag, het sex’ rants so many times, first in fanfiction and now in reviews of my stories and the stories of others (and yes it does seem to always be women leaving these comments). I will never understand it. I have seen many times, especially in promo chats and the like when someone asks ‘what would you like to see me do next’ or ‘what do you never want to see in m/m/ again’ there is always at least one person who says ‘no women.’

    Well the hell with that. It is not realistic that a gay man has zero women in his life. They have mothers, sisters, coworkers, former lovers (or current if they are bisexual and poly) etc. Some of these women will be supportive, others less so. That is how the world works. No one is in a little single gender bubble all day every day. I have included strong and supportive women in almost all of my stories and plan to keep doing it. I am always happy to see other authors doing the same.

    And I’m not sure what is worse their insistence on having no women or their insistence that if there is a woman in the story she is as vile and villainous as can be.

    Thank you for this.

    • Exactly! Why is it women leaving these comments? That’s what I really don’t understand. I remember reading a comment saying “No one’s here for the women.” Uh, why would you assume that?

  13. Let me throw out this daring thought. With the Goodreads culture of readers only, this isn’t for authors, the villianous treatment of authors who dare speak out is not only condoned but encouraged. This emboldens the commenters to up their game and play Monday morning quarterback with every book. While I agree that authors shouldn’t engage trolls, and honest discussion about, for instance, women in gay romance in any and all the many capacities, is well worth having. Maybe have this discussion on Goodreads or some other open forum and invite authors of gay romance, as well as readers, to join in. Perhaps by getting the many great thoughts expressed here before that audience, “they” will “get it.”

  14. Ohh, women in m/m fiction… A topic dear to my heart. I also wrote a post about it when I was visiting The Novel Approach a few months ago (it’s here: if you want to take a look).
    My post was more about the treatment of women in the books, not about them appearing there in the first place, but I agree with what you wrote here. Our characters don’t exist in vacuum. They have lives – families, friends, acquaintances, enemies, etc. – and those lives include women. I don’t understand how you can go “ewww” on the entire gender on principle alone.

  15. Women in M/M fiction has been a sore point for me for years. When I was in the fanfic arena I wrote a ridiculously long story where I gave one of the heroes a girlfriend for a portion of the story. Good grief – you should have seen the emails I got. Since it was a story written in parts I ended up removing her from the story, much to my annoyance, just to save on the complaints. Even now I occasionally get an email from a reader complaining about the character’s inclusion in the story.

    I took it as a lesson not to include women in stories, or at least not have them romantically involved with one of the men, ever again.

    I look at it this way, many of those readers who complain they want realistic stories, actually don’t want anything of the sort.

  16. True. There are some elements in this genre that just want the gay porn and not the story around it. They want the spotlight to be on the men all the time.

    Which is stupid. Someone once told me: “it doesn’t make a good movie/book unless there is a female character in it”

    Though I have to say, I’m starting to hate how authors either write the beard, the fag hag, the bitch or the villain as female. Quite often the female role in m/m is stereotyped.

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