Sometimes I see people say that they like M/M fiction because they’re tired of the clichés of M/F fiction and the unequal relationship between the hero and heroine. They say they prefer the equality of the relationship between two men.
Hang on a second…
Okay, the dynamic is definitely different. But are they really equal? I think that’s a bit of a crock. They can be equal of course, if that’s the dynamic the writer wants to write. In Higher Ground I deliberately made Adam and Zach equals in most things. That was part of the story, that they became a team rather than a leader and a follower. But the assumption that because the characters are both men they are automatically equals doesn’t make sense to me.
Two men can still have many power inequalities to negotiate. They could be down to class, social position, money, education, race, rank, intelligence, physical strength or age. The complex interplay of all these factors is what makes the relationship between two characters interesting for me to read or write. How they work around them, how they bypass them sometimes.
Like in Stowaway, Raine is very much the authority figure over Kit, and he’s older. But Kit is more confident in many ways, and doesn’t let Raine boss him around. Sean and Alex in Ganymede Tilt are equals in ambition, in intelligence and drive. But Alex is from a wealthy background, is more highly educated. Unlike Adam and Zach whose equality makes them form a team, Alex and Sean have a power struggle instead, trying to negotiate their way around the similarities and differences between them.