I’ve been doing a lot of research and writing around the subject of MMF romances lately (you may have noticed). It’s pushed me a lot further out into the world of MMF than usual — I normally focus in tightly on my own MMF romances and the romances by other authors that I read for professional interest. But I’ve been exploring all sorts of fringe territory and extreme borders and it has been interesting…and distressing.
The distressing side of it, of course, is because of the negative perceptions around MMF romances. Naturally, the uneducated consider MMF romances to be porn, or just erotica with a pretty cover, or “erotica for women”. I’ve even heard the term (brace yourself) “Female fuck books” used to describe not just menage romances, but erotic romance in general.
MMF romances in particular are wildly misunderstood by nearly everyone who doesn’t read and love them (and by some people who don’t read them and still decry them…possibly these people review the contents by divine inspiration).
They don’t get how two men can be sexually active together in bed and still fall in love with the woman.
Basically, they’re tripping over the gay/bi/hetro classification thing.
Many, many people try to stick labels on men and women. “He’s gay. She’s bi. He’s heterosexual.” When it comes to MMF romances, they come unglued. “Well, are the heroes gay or bi? They have to bi, right?” Either answer belittles the heroes in their eyes, because a romance heroes is supposed to be ruggedly heterosexual in a woman’s romance.
The truth is, no one is only one thing or another.
The Kinsey Scale, also called the Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale, was first developed in the 1950s, in an attempt to chart male sexual orientation. Please note the key word in the title: Scale.
The researchers discovered, way back in the 50s, that orientation isn’t a black and white matter, even for females, as the scale was quickly adapted for women, too. People are not exclusively homosexual or exclusively heterosexual. The scale is a sliding one, with exclusivity at either end, and a wide range of bisexuality in between. A person can find themselves anywhere on that scale. And a critical point: Where you fit on that scale can change at any time.
|1||Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual|
|2||Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual|
|4||Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual|
|5||Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual|
These are just stop marks along the scale. An individual could fit anywhere in between the stops, and change from month to year, as well.
The point I’m trying to make here is that trying to slap a label on the heroes in MMF romances ends up being a self-defeating exercise in frustration. The heroes in MMF romances could be anything, and you stand a good chance of being wrong in your guess. They are what they are for the story to work, and if the romance makes you sigh at the end, and the sex is hot enough to suit your tastes, does it matter what the heroes’ Kinsey rating is?
You’ll find it much more comfortable and fun if you forget about Kinsey scales and classifications altogether. Stop trying to label anyone as anything and enjoy sensuality in whatever form it comes. If it feels good, it’s good. Period. Enjoy your romance reading and stop feeling guilty about it. Acknowledge human nature instead of worrying about classifications and tags that don’t really mean anything.
This article first appeared as a blog post in 2009.
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