|Bizarro Lord (akai_senshi) wrote,|
@ 2008-02-16 12:48:00
|Current music:||Stone temple Pilots, "Plush"|
OMG THOUGHTS ON YAOI
Some Thoughts/Theorizing on Yaoi
You may think that this is another permutation of an Internet meme, or someone being angry with so many yaoi fangirls running around. Well, you’d be wrong.
I am simply going to consider some possibilities as to its popularity- or the eternal question raised by so many academic papers, “Why are Japanese girls’ comics so full of boys boinking?” (No, I’m serious. That was the title of one of the papers.) Also, I will point out some inconsistencies in American girls’ perceptions of yaoi versus real-life gay men and gay male culture that may be of interest.
Hagio Moto, one of the artists who started boy’s love back in the 1970’s, fully admits that her first BL manga, The Heart of Thomas, came about because she couldn’t fit her plot and thematics into an all-girls’ school/lesbian situation. As a matter of fact, Japanese novels and stories about lesbian romance between schoolgirls- known as “Class S” relationships- aimed at women were commonplace as early as after World War I. Yaoi only started in the 1970’s, as stated earlier. Because yaoi is a substitute for lesbianism/began as a substitute for lesbianism, the boys involved are supernaturally thin, lanky, and pretty, a practice that keeps on going to this day. The only difference, it seems, between BL and GL is the power a girl may experience identifying with a boy in a BL manga, in a very patriarchal culture like Japan.
Ironically, many Western fans of BL who are attracted to the bishounen and the buttsex do not know that most BL artists also do GL- in other words, they are as likely to show up in Yuri Shimai/Hime as in Be x Boy Gold. Examples of this are the work of Zaou Taishi/Tsuda Mikiyo, Eiki Eiki, Hoshino Lily, and, believe it or not, Minekura Kazuya. This reaches all the way back to Hagio Moto and Takemiya Keiko’s work (and, to a lesser extent, Ikeda Riyoko's) in the ‘70’s. Because of this lack of knowledge, or perhaps because of American culture’s rigidity of “sexual orientation” roles, there are many American BL fans who make a face or loudly proclaim, “EWW, lesbians!” when confronted with a GL title. Also, in Western culture, lesbian love/sex stories are usually seen as the domain of straight men, and straight women may feel as if they are being degraded by GL manga. This is a cultural misunderstanding; both male/male and female/female-oriented manga in Japan have a mainly female audience, whereas comics for men usually have a mainly heterosexual set-up. (Note: There are many exceptions to this rule; note all the straight shoujo romance comics and the GL comics marketed in Dengeki Daioh to male otaku, as well as gay men’s bara manga, which contains men that are neither pretty nor waiflike. This may be because of increased Westernization in social mores in recent times. But in general, homosexual fantasy is seen in Japan as something women do or have.)
Also, I am of the opinion that Western consumption of yaoi/BL does not decrease homophobia. Because of the cultural misunderstanding between Japan and the US, there are a lot of BL fans who are fooled into thinking that BL is actually about boys, and Japanese boys at that, who may be then racialized by the American reader as always sticking to the bishounen type because they are Asian. Also, I have seen cases in which gay men in real life are marginalized by yaoi fans: if I had a nickel for every time a middle-aged, portly gay couple who have beards and body hair have been chased down by a crazy fangirl with a copy of Gravitation in her hand, screaming “FAGGOTS!” at them, I would be a very rich man. I also think this is a BIG cultural misunderstanding, as a lot of Western fans don’t get that yaoi is “just pretend” and has nothing to do AT ALL with gay men on either side of the Pacific. However, I know that a lot of lesbian and bisexual women love and appreciate yaoi for what it is: drag. In Western gay-culture terms, yaoi to a woman-loving-woman may be like having two drag kings on stage making out to “If I Were Gay”. (Come to think of it, this may be why, as a gay man, I love GL so much- the ones written by and for men come off as drag queens! LOL) Also, live-action BL porn (it exists, trust me) does not use ANY male actors. All the “guys” are what would be termed in Takarazuka otokoyaku, women who play male roles onstage- except, to be more porn-y, their chests are bound down and they both wear strap-ons to get it on.
I hope you will consider the above essay the next time you read BL, especially if you are one of the Western fangirls who thinks lesbianism is disgusting, and that real-life gay men all look like twinks. I hope I have made you reconsider your opinions, after learning where yaoi comes from. And to those who were originally sane yaoi fans- I guess you learned something today. I hope it doesn’t make you appreciate guy-on-guy action any less. It should give you something to chew on, either way.