So, the above is an anonymous feedback I got in an exit survey recently, and I'd really like to have a conversation about it. It's a discussion I've been avoiding because these topics are delicate and I'm fairly sure I'll stumble over something. But, this is something I've been accused of before, and have thought about often, so I wanted to address it.
For context, due to some backend things I won't share, this response was most likely about doodle day prompts and my list of won't draws, which I'll copypaste here: "I will NOT draw: het, NSFW f/f, incest, or underage. I will also probably not draw trans NSFW because it's a delicate topic and not one I feel equipped to handle."
First, getting this out of the way: when it comes to nsfw content I don't think any creator should have to draw things they're not comfortable with drawing just to prove they're not fetishizing. Most nsfw artwork contains some kind of fetishizing, since it's an aspect of sexuality, and it's only a bad thing when a person is reduced only to their fetishistic worth. I won't say I'm not fetishizing some things, because yeah, I like men, I like seeing men together, though I like to think that the romantic aspects of the relationships and the effort I put into respecting characterization elevates some of my work into more than just fetish. But that's an aside. I don't want to argue with people who have this perception of my work, because I don't entirely disagree with them.
I'm not generally interested in f/f, particularly in nsfw, but I don't dislike it. There is side character f/f in a lot of my works. The Dirt Crown is going to have some main character f/f. But I'm not interested in drawing nsfw of them for the most part because, honestly, I see enough naked sexualized women in mainstream media and I'm not interested in it. I prefer to draw naked sexualized men because I don't see that elsewhere, and it makes them vulnerable and human in a way that I don't usually see in media, and that's what appeals to me. You can dig into that psychology if you'd like.
Transmen in m/m are a complicated subject for me. I'm not disinterested in them. But I also know this is something that I don't know a lot about, and which deeply affects people. And researching it thoroughly for the explicit purpose of drawing porn feels like it's ACTUALLY fetishistic. And the odds that I would fuck up are high, because that always happens when you're learning something new. The last thing I'd want is to end up hurting trans people with my depictions.
The tricky part of this conversation is, when I started this patreon, my baseline motto was that it was so I could draw the things that I wanted to draw. While choosing doodle prompts, I keep that in mind, that no matter what, I don't HAVE to draw things that I'm uncomfortable with, or which don't inspire me, or which I think I won't be able to do justice to.
But, there is also a conversation to be had about whether artists should draw things that might not necessarily be their bag in order to be more inclusive and diverse. I do agree with that, though I think the conversation should be directed more at mainstream media than it is on smalltime artists who are already trying. And then at the end of the day, we're talking about romance comics and smut, and while I definitely think inclusion has a place EVERYWHERE, putting the pressure on indie illustrated porn feels weird to me. (And when I say this, it's not about just me; I've seen this criticism all over the internet for the past few years.)
I don't know. I've been working my way toward including more things at my own pace. Omegaverse and alien/monster anatomy has been a way to explore alternative types of bodies without having to tread as carefully about getting representation right, but maybe that's an insensitive approach, and maybe my pace is too slow.
If anyone has thoughts about this, I'd love to hear them. Also, please don't argue with other patrons who are sharing their thoughts, even if you disagree. I'd like it if everyone felt comfortable sharing their opinions without fear of provoking a discussion they didn't sign up for.
If this patron ever returns, please know that this isn't a callout or attempt to argue. I just wanted to explain my thinking in this and see if other folks feel the same way.
Thank you :)