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Suggested Immediate Viewing:

LINKS:

History and Definitions

(For a detailed history of each term see articles listed under 'Resources')

  • Definition of Fudanshi (Japan): (腐男子)

    • Fundanshi in Mandarin: Funan

    • Fudanshi in Thai: Hnum-wai ("Yaoi Boys")

    • "A man who likes comics depicting male homosexual love (usually targeted to [a female audience])"​ (Source).

      • "The word "fudanshi" [is thought to have] originated in 2002 on PINK Channel 's 801 board " (Source)

 

  • Definition of Fujin: A more recent option for gender-neutral/non-binary fans of BL.

  • Definition of Boy's Love: (ボーイズラブ) "Abbreviated 'BL' "comics or novels about male homosexuality, targeted at young women" "Boys’ Love (hereafter BL) is one of the most popular terms used to describe male/male romantic fiction technically aimed for female readers. However, the actual audience includes various gender and sexual identities. The word BL was born in 1990s Japan and reached international fans in the 2000s..."

  • Definition of Yaoi: (やおい)

    • In Japan, people know what the term is and its history but don't use it regularly anymore. The term yaoi was a self-deprecating acronym fan comic artists used to categorize their works as being fanworks made for the purpose of pairing existing male characters sexually. It was not a term used for original works or a category of manga separate from BL specifically. Content that many in English fandom view as yaoi are actually technically BL, and BL includes content with graphic sex, they are not separate genres/categories (that are what the age ratings on BL media are for). (See the video on BL history above as well as many other articles below that elaborate on the history of yaoi as a term)

    • In English fandom: "Yaoi is, simply put, a genre of manga and novels that depicts stories about same-sex relationships between men, usually aimed towards female audiences. It is often used interchangeably with Boys’ Love (BL) nowadays. However, yaoi does have its own history and usage that slightly differs from BL...Nowadays, many people simply take yaoi to refer to a genre of male homosexual stories that heavily focuses only on sex depictions."

  • Danmei (耽美): "Danmei is one of the terms used to describe male/male romantic fiction written in Chinese for Chinese readers. Non-Chinese fans have regularly used the word for the past few years due to the increasing popularity of danmei fiction outside the Chinese-speaking community... initially adopted from the Japanese word “tanbi,” written with the same character as the Chinese one. Tanbi can be translated as “aesthetic” or “the pursuit of aesthetic.” When used in the context of Japanese BL-related media around the 1980-90s, tanbi can be interpreted as work, according to James Welker, “fusing beauty, romance, and eroticism along with at least a dash of decadence.”... the background, time setting, description, character’s relationship, or well, the whole universe of the work must be beautiful."

    • Danmei in Vietnamese: đam mỹ

    • See more articles on Danmei by Chinese authors in 'Resources':

      • Cathy Yue Wang. 2020. "Officially Sanctioned Adaptation and Affective Fan Resistance: The Transmedia Convergence of the Online Drama Guardian in China". Series. International Journal of Tv Serial Narratives. 2: 45-58.

      • Chaoyang Trap (2022) "Pornography in China: desiring the potato queens + erotic-cultural imperialism + porn stars as teachers + smut hooliganism" Chaoyang Trap. https://chaoyang.substack.com/p/porn-in-the-prc?s=r

      • Chaoyang Trap (2022) "Slash fiction in China post AO3" Chaoyang Trap. https://chaoyang.substack.com/p/jokerfied-fandom?s=r

      • Chang, Jiang, and Hao Tian. 2021. "Girl power in boy love: Yaoi, online female counterculture, and digital feminism in China". Feminist Media Studies. 21 (4): 604-620.

      • Chou, Dienfang. (2010). "Exploring the meaning of Yaoi in Taiwan for female readers: From the perspective of gender." Intercultural Communication Studies, 19, 78-90. https://www-s3-live.kent.edu/s3fs-root/s3fs-public/file/06DienfangChou.pdf

      • Lin, Ting. 2021. "Nisu, or I Want My Male Idol to Be My Female Lover." Chaoyang Trap. https://chaoyangtrap.house/male-idol-female-lover/

      • Liu, Congyao, and Peer H. Moore-Jansen. 2017. "Beyond the text: a study of online communication within slash community in China." http://hdl.handle.net/10057/14477.

      • Madill, A., Zhao, Y. Female-Oriented Male-Male Erotica: Comparison of the Engaged Anglophone Demographic and That of the Greater China Area. Sexuality & Culture 25, 562–583 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-020-09783-9

      • Wang, Erika Ningxin & Ge, Liang (2022) Fan Conflicts and State Power in China: Internalised Heteronormativity, Censorship Sensibilities, and Fandom Police, Asian Studies Review, DOI: 10.1080/10357823.2022.2112655

      • Yang, Ling, and Yanrui Xu. 2016. “Danmei, Xianqing, and the Making of a Queer Online Public Sphere in China.” Communication and the Public 1, no. 2, June, 2016: 251–56. https://doi.org/10.1177/2057047316648661.

      • Yanrui Xu & Ling Yang (2013) "Forbidden love: incest, generational conflict, and the erotics of power in Chinese BL fiction." Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 4:1, 30-43, DOI: 10.1080/21504857.2013.771378

      • Yang, Ling. Xu, Yanrui. (2022). "Between BL and Slash Danmei Fiction, Transcultural Mediation,
        and Changing Gender Norms in Contemporary China"
        Queer Transfigurations.

      • Zhang, Albee. (2018) "Writer of Erotic Novels in China Is Jailed for Producing Gay Pornography" https://cn.nytimes.com/china/20181120/tianyi-china-erotic-novels-prison/dual/.

      • Zhao, Jamie J. (2022) "Queer Chinese Media and Pop Culture." Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication. Oxford University Press. https://www.academia.edu/70329278/Queer_Chinese_Media_and_Pop_Culture

      • Zhao, Jin.(2022). "Danmei, a genre of Chinese erotic fiction, goes global" SupChina. https://supchina.com/2022/02/24/danmei-a-genre-of-chinese-erotic-fiction-goes-global/.

      • Zhang, Chunyu. (2016).  "Loving boys twice as much: Chinese women’s paradoxical fandom of “Boys’ Love” fiction." Women's Studies in Communication 39.3 (2016): 249-267.

      • (https://futekiya.com/what-is-danmei/)

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MISCONCEPTIONS

The following misconceptions are being perpetuated in Anglophone fan spaces

See 'Geikomi/Bara' page for further discussion

  • Things to Think About:

    • What frequently occurs when critical discussions of BL surface is making unequal comparisons to justify certain criticisms.

      • Most people who criticize BL media compare the most extreme, dark BL to the most 'wholesome' SFW Western examples. They do not compare media specifically made for teens to other teen media, or pieces meant to be biographical and realistic to other biographical pieces set in realism.

        • Example: In reverse terms, it would be like comparing Sasaki and Miyano to Hannibal, or Interview with a Vampire to argue about and disparage the morality of Queer learning Western content

      • Many such critics will frequently compare such media, treating them as if they are the same thing. Such critics however do not engage with NSFW Western media to a significant enough degree to make any legitimate comparisons. There is a central focus on NSFW BL meant to be fantasy, with no such criticisms being extended to Western kink, fetish or pornographic media.

      • Source: (From Site Author)

    • Below excerpt via @asideoftrashpl1

      • "Honestly, I'm uncomfortable when westerners try to have takes about how East Asian media "feminises gay men" because they often take western masculine ideals as the standard for what "real men" are like, which often ends up in unintended insinuations that Asian men aren't "real men". When people question "why are the men all pale and hairless and slender" it ignores the fact that men in straight Chinese shows are ALSO pale, hairless, and slender because that's what beauty standards for men are like in the country that the show was produced in. In a fandom server, I was once talking fashion headcanons with another Chinese person, and someone interjected to call us out on "feminising gay men because REAL men don't dress like THAT" — THAT meaning pastel colours and oversized sweaters. I had to inform them that men DO dress like "THAT" in East Asia. It's part of the East Asian fashion trend. Look at K-pop and C-pop idols. Look how they dress. Look at their builds, their faces, and the way they present, because they represent dominant male beauty ideals in Asia. And those beauty ideals trickle down into the way REAL men in East Asia, everyday non-celebrity men, dress and style themselves. So when westerners take these traits that are incongruent with western ideals of hypermasculinity and say "REAL men don't look like that", they end up insinuating that East Asian men aren't real men, which is all kinds of uncomfortable. Does that mean that there isn't A SINGLE PIECE OF EAST ASIAN MEDIA that presents a hyperfeminized bottom? That's definitely not the case, but my point is that westerners should exercise some caution before wading into the matter. That goes not just for insinuating that CREATORS of East Asian media are feminising gay men. It also goes for insinuating that FANDOMS surrounding East Asian media are feminizing gay men."
  • "Fujoshi means rotten woman and Fudanshi is a rotten man who exploits Lesbian pairings!"

    • Can be thought of similarly to fans of Slash Fiction. Fujoshi were coined as such by men for their "rotten" interests, i.e. queer relationships. It was the fact that women were interested in queer relationships and sexual topics that they were seen as abnormal and unfit for marriage by traditionalists. “Fujoshi is probably better translated as ‘fermentation girl’ and the reason it was termed as such has more to do with the fact that…these women would ‘ferment’ and change the ‘product to be consumed’ (anime series), so that it would be unpalatable for the (cisgender heterosexual) male viewer” (Rotten Boys Club, 2018). Fujoshi were seen as women ruining the sanctity of heterosexual men's interests. The term was eventually reclaimed and is now used by female fans of BL. While not all may refer to themselves as fujoshi, female fans of BL are by definition fujoshi given their interest in male/male relationships.

      • "In a country where patriarchal family values persist, fujoshi are criticized for pursuing yaoi and are described as rotten because they are attracted to fantasies of sex that is not productive of children" (Galbraith, 2011)

      • "Kirsty Kawano notes that “....by labeling themselves “fujoshi,” BL fans prevent others from sticking a different label on them. With this subversive term, they voluntarily cut themselves off from the demands of the world of men, with “rotten” making it clear that they are no longer fit for male consumption” (Kawano). By establishing themselves as abject, they take away the authority from others to label them. Furthermore, through BL they are able to claim autonomy in a male-dominated society through their consumption and enjoyment of the genre." (Tatang)

    • Fudanshi are male fans of BL but anti-fujoshi/fudanshi most times don't even understand the labels they're criticizing. Many anti-fudanshi believe them to be the exact opposite of fujoshi "men who fetishize relationships between women" when in reality they are simply male fans of BL.

    • Fujoshi and fudanshi are also singular and plural. Using the terms 'Fujoshis' or 'Fudanshis' is gramatically incorrent, and often how anti-fujoshi discuss these terms.

    • "One of the earliest approaches taken by researchers was to focus on the idiosyncrasies and deviance of women who like male-male romance works, rather than to consider a connection with the participating fans' own sexuality. One is probably that although establishing themselves as deviant beings called fujoshi allows fans to craft an identity that sets them apart from others, it also affords outsiders a means of justifying their repression." (Suzuki)

  • "Cisgender Heterosexual Women Are The Only Producers and Consumers of BL"

    • BL authors and fans come in all different shapes and sizes. Trans men and cisgender men both read and produce BL media. Based on multiple surveys of queer BL fans the majority of fans, male or female, fall on the bisexual spectrum.

      • In relation to Trans Men:

        • "Some readers have told me they enjoy the stories because they present an idealized masculine world. Some speak of despising femininity, and even of wishing they had been born male, rather than female. For most such women, yaoi and boys' love allow them to indulge in the fantasy of loving a man as a man, or, to rephrase it, as an equal, free of predefined gender expectations. In [his] book Yaoi Genron (1998) [title: やおい 幻論 : 〈やおい〉 から 見えた もの], Sakakibara Shihomi, [him]self a popular yaoi-style novelist, describes [him]self as a gay man in a woman's body (a "female-to-male gay" transsexual). [He] suggests that this condition may be quite common among fans of this genre and may in fact be the reason for its existence." (Thorn, 2003)

        • (Excerpt From a Japanese trans man) "Even though more than twenty years have passed, I still like yaoi (there was a time when I seriously worried that I had begun to think that I was a man because I had been reading too much yaoi-ha ha)" (McLelland, 2007 'Queer Voices From Japan')

      • "Yaoi has an extensive readership among girls questioning their sexuality and among lesbian women in Japan. Feminist commentators such as Ueno Chizuko have noted that ‘These beautiful boys are “the idealized self-image” of girls, and they are neither male nor female. They belong to a “third sex”’. Hence Mizoguchi concludes that the characters are ‘meant to act as agents for the readers of these stories’; in other words, they are ‘the alter egos of young women’. It is the indeterminate nature of these fantasy characters that makes them amenable to diverse appropriations by women with a range of sexual orientations. To this extent, then, yaoi characters cannot be understood as ‘children’ nor should they necessarily be read as ‘male’ or even ‘homosexual’; they represent instead a third gender that has little to do with the activities of actual male homosexuals or depictions of real children. Nagaike stresses the ‘multiple, shifting, and synchronic process of identification experienced by female readers during the act of reading yaoi manga’. The process of identification involved in the production and consumption of yaoi is thus obviously very complex, differs according to the sexual orientation of the reader, and different factors" (McLelland, 2006)

      • 睦巳夏生 Mutsumi Natsuo: "It took me a really long time to realize that I am butch, non-binary, and that I love butch. I actually realized this when I was 5 years old, but I sealed this myself. I didn't see anyone else around me who was like me, and I didn't see anyone else in comics or anime. Yuri (GL) has been around for a long time, but I never felt it was about me when I read it. So to tell the truth, I still rarely read it. I do read them for study. Rather, I felt that BL and gay comics were closer to me." (https://twitter.com/720gou/status/1593063077947543552)

      • "What we actually found out was… depending on what volume was in question, fully up to 50% of our reader engagement was male. On average, it’s about 15 to 20%, and that to me was really startling, because I would not have anticipated that at all." (TCAF 2015)

      • Interview with Gengoroh Tagame (prominent gay author in Japan): "When I look at gay art in comics as a critic, I get really anxious about that division precisely because the simplistic way of dividing it is that BL represents more romance, narratives, thinner body types, more effeminate characters. And then so-called “gay manga” would be just more diesel, big guys and more hardcore sex, etc. But what happens when the creator is a woman doing more hardcore work? Is that considered gay? Is it BL just because she’s female? Is it about the audience, or is it about the creators? So those are definitely things I think about a lot as a critic. Furthermore, going back to the gender of creators, that’s problematic as well because sometimes BL creators– and I’m speaking just from personal acquaintance with some of these creators– may be biologically female or identify on the page as heterosexual women, but sometimes they’re actually lesbian or transgender. And then sometimes it’s the case that a woman will draw sort of muscle-y characters and then take on male pen names for publication in gay media. Which is also very… not problematic, but just raises questions, just how do we start to categorize? There are anecdotes from the editors of gay magazines who see these submissions, see a male pen name and assume that they’re men, write to (the artist), want to meet, when they meet, it’s a shock! (laughs)."

        • "Anne Ishii: Tagame-sensei is not specifying whether that’s like a bad shock or a good shock but of course, the fact that there’s that schism between what people are expecting and what the reality is, is really interesting…"

  • "All Gay Men Hate BL and Yaoi"

    • There are gay male authors of BL, and some even publish their works under female pen names. Many male fans of BL in Japan and abroad have cited BL as providing them with alternative positive depictions of masculinity, helping them to accept themselves.

      • "BL can be seen as more of a feminist phenomenon than an expression of real world gay male identity but that's not to discount the genres importance to gay men." (Massive)

      • “Fudanshi (“Rotten Boys”) in Asia: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Male Readings of BL and Concepts of Masculinity” Interviews with Fudanshi in Asia (Nagaike): "BL enables fudanshi to sublimate the inherent psychological conflicts created by socially enforced masculine ideals through their identification with narratives and characters originally produced by and for women." (Nagaike) The following are quotes from interviews with gay Asian men:

        • “BL was salvation for me. And I think that it would work out this way for a lot of men in contemporary Japan.”

        • “BL/yaoi was a tool that my generation (I was born in 1970) could use to liberate ourselves from the tough life of living as men.”

        • “A competitive principle such as ‘men have to win’ affects men’s psyches quite effectively. I felt so burdened by such ideas. I was really saved by June and yaoi, which offered me a new perspective on accepting passive men.”

        • “I started getting the idea that men can enjoy specific texts, like yaoi, that were originally constructed by and for women, in order to live with less stress and psychological pressure.”

        • “I should say that, in contemporary Japan, BL is the only manga medium which provides the reader with genuine love stories. BL makes me feel most romantically excited.”

        • “I love reading BL because the stories are pure and show that romantic love between men is possible” (B.).

        • “I read BL stories because their plots are really interesting. Besides the quality of the art, the plots are actually understandable and interesting, regardless of the genre. Compared to yuri (female-female eroticism), there is a stronger emotional bond portrayed in these BL stories”
        • “I like BL because it gives me a sense of romance and porn simultaneously”

        • “My favorite BL works are ones which combine romance and action”

        • “The main reason that I read BL is that BL provides me with inspiration for my fantasies about myself and the boy I used to like. (He usually plays the seme role). I don’t think that, by reading BL, I aim at denying the very idea of masculinity or want to escape from acting according to that idea. All I want is to acknowledge my unrealized childhood love.”

        • “When I was in the first year of junior high school, a female friend introduced me to BL. I was astonished and thought: ‘I never dreamed that such a beautiful world exists!’”

        • “I feel a bit hesitant to say this, but I became a crazy fan of BL. I can simply say that I love BL. However, having read BL for a while, I’ve begun to wonder what my sexual orientation is. Before reading BL, I was never attracted to both women and men”

      • (Shojo comics:) "Sato even claims that by reading well-written "girls" comics" that depicted homosexual male characters, he had overcome the sense of guilt for being a homosexual that many gay men seemed to internalize. He writes, "To me, the misfortune does not lie in the fact that I can only love men. Rather, my misfortune lies in the fact that being a man loving a man is not accepted by the society. In other words, it is the sense of being 'excluded' that brings me the sense of misfortune. My despair about this sense is deep, but still, I never came to hate my desire itself. This is all thanks to the 'girls' comics. "' (Mizoguchi)

      • (2022) Queer Transfigurations: (On the Psychology, Physicality, and Communication Strategies of Male Fans of BL in East Asia A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Men’s Desires to “Become” Fudanshi Kazumi Nagaike):

        • "One of my South Korean fudanshi interview subjects lamented South Koreans’ homophobia:

          • “South Korea is surely super-conservative in terms of the acceptance of homosexuality, compared with other countries. I’m sad to say that South Koreans’ views of sexuality are quite narrow-minded.”

        • The following comment made by a South Korean fujoshi can be taken as a good basis for further exploration of fudanshi in South Korea:

          • The reason that male fans of BL in South Korea are basically invisible is that machismo and patriarchy are so influential in this society. Machismo and patriarchy in Korea will never accept male homosexuality, and many Korean males are still very homophobic. Even though there are lots of male fans of various subcultures (e.g., anime and manga), I don’t think these men could ever accept male homosexuality. (“Hyunwoo”)

        • The following comments made by South Korean fudanshi clearly throw light on the existence of a queer mindset within a South Korean culture otherwise characterized by hegemonic masculinity and homophobia. BL manga foreground the ways in which South Korean fudanshi question the value and validity of heteronormativity:

          • —When I was in the first year of junior high school, a female friend introduced me to BL. I was astonished and thought: “I never dreamed that such a beautiful world could exist.” (“Jiwon”)

          • —I feel a bit hesitant to say this, but I became a crazy fan of BL. I can simply say that I love BL. However, having read BL for a while, I’ve begun to wonder what my sexual orientation is. Before reading BL, I was never attracted to both women and men. (“Youngchul”)

          • —When my friend found out that I read BL, he asked if I was gay. I wonder why it’s OK for women to read GL, while men who read BL get picked on. (“Jungho”)" (pp. 251-252).

  • "BL is Bad Representation and inherently Anti-LGBTQ+"

    • An Excerpt of an Interview from Masaki C. Matsumoto's Blog (Link):

      • "Many countries have begun to become involved in the representation of queer relationships through the BL (Boy Love) industry. Do you believe this brings more of a positive representation to queer relationships?"

        • The genre has evolved so much in the last two decades. When I started consuming BL back in late 1990’s, BL was only starting to gain popularity or even recognition from the public. There was not much critical discourse around BL and, as far as I recall, many BL mangas were just a bunch of sexual imagery. I loved BL novels, though. Now, critical discourses have since shaped the current state of the genre, where discussions are very active on issues like (mis)representation, romanticization, and who get’s to write about whom. I think BL is the most vigorously contested genre among all, perhaps because of misogynous ideas about women writing about men, and now is the forefront of debates over representation. With the development of BL as a literary genre, we now have a huge number of good BL mangas, novels, and animes, and I do think that the more BL the world is exposed to, the better people will understand nuanced complexities of what it means to be in a same-sex male-male relationship

      • "Do you think the BL industry has enabled for consumers to romanticise toxic and abusive queer relationships?

        • Representation does not happen in a vacuum. I think we, the general public, had different, quite outdated notions of what counts as toxic or abusive relationships, say, 10, 20, 30 years ago. As social awareness grew after the Internet, especially in the past social media era, we have very quickly updated our ideas about power dynamics of relationships. Representation always falls behind but keeps following people’s ideas. And BL, I think, is the most responsive to such social and cultural updates. Heterosexual pornography (including manga, anime, etc.), I think, is the least responsive.

      • "Do you think romanticising queer relationships are harmful towards LGBTQIA+ individuals?"

        • LGBTQA+ individuals do romanticize queer relationships, so I guess I have nothing against romanticizing haha. But on a more serious note, I think the word “romanticize” needs to be firmly defined in order for romanticization to be problematized. And while that’s a very important discussion to have, I do think that any of the problems associated with representation such as romanticization, eroticization, under-sexualization, etc. etc. will become completely harmless when we eradicate real-life dangers and life difficulties of queer individuals and their communities, because, then, we can just laugh about misrepresentation and “weird” ways of consumption.

      • "In your own opinion, do you think those who romanticise queer relationships are feeding into the harmful representation of the LGBTQIA+ community?"

        • Again, I think it’s important that we define terms like “romanticize” and “harmful.” For example, gay and bisexual men, alongside straight men, lesbian women, etc., grow up in this homophobic society just the same. They grow up internalizing homophobic ideas. And we all know that sometimes, we desire what we ought not to desire, or at least we can say that our desires are constantly informed by society and cultures that surround us. So, for instance, if we someday successfully eradicate homophobia and the taboo associated with it, gay and bisexual men and their desires will never be the same. Some gay and bisexual men, I’d say, might not find gay sex as attractive or sexy as they do today because for them, their desires were the result of romanticization of prohibition. So, singling out BL consumers, for example, to blame for romanticizing male-male relationships and thus creating harms, in my opinion, is very, very off. We as existences are all creation of society and creators of society, no matter our genders or sexualities. Of course, however, critiquing a specific TV series, movie, manga, anime, etc. is important work.

      • "What do you think can be done to bring more positive representations of healthy queer relationships in the media?"

        • I think that it is when people see not only “healthy” queer relationships but also “unhealthy” queer relationships and do not feel the urge to attribute whatever they find bad, disgusting, atrocious, etc. to queerness, that we can finally say that queer relationships have fully entered the general public’s cultural consciousness as part of human diversity. I don’t think that white-washing queer representation to make it look good and respectable is the only path we must take. It is precisely for that reason that I see hope in BL where the nuances and complexities of male-male relationships are most depicted. And I hope there will be more creators producing content in similar ways about lesbian relationships, trans-cis relationships, trans-trans relationships, queerplatonic relationships, aromantic relationships, queer friendships, and queer communities.

        • (Interview End)

  • Many anti-BL and anti-fujoshi critics share the opinion that only cisgender gay men should be writing about gay male characters. The problem with this is that the gay male experience is not universal. Gei Komi or "Bara" (The outdated term still used by Anglo fans) comics made "by gay men for gay men" largely focus on a hyper-masculine perspective and contain more overt sexual elements. Fumi Miyabi, a Gei Komi mangaka even states, “the manga has to be erotic, and it can’t not include sexuality… they’re just not meant for more vanilla content” (Massive - 189).

  • "Throughout interviews, Junho, Yoichi, Haruma, and Shōtaro argued that the depictions of masculinity in geikomi were "extreme" (kageki) and further understood this extremeness as highly desirable. This was an opinion shared by other young gay men I met during fieldwork: they viewed geikomi positively (even if they did not necessarily consume it) because it conformed to their preconceived notion that desirable gay masculinity is both "hard" and "violent," (Baudinette).

  • Many gay men who do dislike BL do so due to it's association with women and effeminate men:

    • "It is unsurprising that a number of the young gay men with whom I conversed in Ni-chōme's bars possessed a particularly negative attitude toward BL since they saw it as an example of the young women's popular culture that had cursed contemporary Japan with soft masculinity. Whereas regular BL consumers, such as fans like Haruma and Shōtarō, were willing to accept BL as a form of gay media because of their affective attachment to the genre, young gay men who admitted during interviews that they did not engage with BL tended to dismiss it as inauthentic given its status as young women's media. Of particular concern to these men was their belief that BL reinforced Japanese society's tendency to view same-sex attracted men as effeminate. One young man explained to me that "BL is a nonsense created from prejudice read by silly school girls." (Regimes of Desire - Baudinette).

    • "young gay men seemed to be unconsciously drawing upon a common sentiment that emerged in Japan after the collapse of the bubble economy and the subsequent neo-liberalization of society that criticizes the supposed feminization of contemporary Japanese culture." (Regimes of Desire - Baudinette).

    • "For many of the men with whom I spoke, Japanese masculinity was becoming soft; they saw an increasing focus away from hard masculinity since such gendered performances were supposedly no longer popular among young women. That is... viewed as a curse that was somehow weakening or diluting contemporary Japanese masculinity. Most of my interlocutors viewed the bishōnen's rise in Japan negatively and positioned Ni-chōme as an important space of resistance where hard masculinity remained prominent and respected." (Regimes of Desire - Baudinette)

  • Many gay men's comics focus on erotic fantasies and improbable situations, containing graphic content and "harmful" tropes critics disparage BL for sometimes harboring despite it being the tamer and romantically associated genre. BL is an entire category of literature and has every kind of narrative imaginable, including domestic couples, found family, and overcoming struggles with anti-LGBTQ+ prejudice.

    • “The characters in BL are an object of affection by both the author and the readers. One part of being a BL author is imagining ‘how would a same-sex couple deal with not being able to have children? Would they come out to the people around them?’, and so on. The author must imagine how they could live happily within Japanese society by imagining themselves in the character’s situation. The result of this are works that depict the characters in a world without discrimination and where gay people can live happily.” (Harada)

    • “Some women also linked readership of BL comics and novels with their generation’s more or less liberal attitudes toward male homosexuality, either citing BL as a catalyst for the liberalization of their thinking or, vice versa, citing generational change as the reason they are relatively receptive to homosexual-themed materials in the first place.” (Martin)

    • “In the yaoi ronsō women who depicted and looked at men having sex with men were criticised for discriminating against gay men. However, compared to gay manga drawn by gay men for gay men, BL manga cannot be said to be more abusive. In both gay and BL manga, the men depicted are not necessarily gay as in having a gay identity. Thus, the reason why BL manga were criticised by a gay man cannot only lie in their depictions of gay men since, in that case, gay manga should equally have been the focus of critique. Satō feels uneasy about women watching what he regards as depictions of gay men—he wants such depictions to have limited access. He wants depictions of homosexuality to remain in a closet, viewed only by an inner circle of gay men. However, limiting the audience to those who regard themselves as gay men inevitably limits the opportunities for young and possibly isolated gay men to find gay characters with whom to identify, which is a reason why it can be seen as fortunate that BL manga are popular and easily available.” (Lunsing)

    • "BL is political. He noted that BL was initially not meant to be used politically; it has been created as a means of liberating women from the confines of restrictive patriarchal norms by allowing them some control over their gender and sexuality. Regardless of the intention in its creation, there have been several BL-inspired political movements. Professor Welker quoted prominent BL scholar Akiko Mizoguchi, who argues that “BL is a progressive force for good.” (Welker)

 

  • "Heterosexual Women Are Fetishizing Gay Men and Harming Them In Real Life"

    • One of the most common arguments against BL is that it harms gay men in real life. The argument is that BL itself causes women to view gay men as fantasy objects and not as real people. This argument however, also largely relies on the narrative that only straight cisgender women like BL, and therefore any queer fans who participate in its creation or consumption are part of that damaging system. Arguments get messy because some anti-BL fans think all BL and Yaoi are bad, but some anti-fujoshi claim to be fine with BL but hate fujoshi which they instead assign as a label for female fans with behaviors they don't like, similar to the term "rabid fangirls" used to be employed but with a more sinister and sexualized meaning. Often times their complaints apply to teen girls who tend to be more enthuseastic about their interests and overstep personal boundaries. Most female BL fans however, do not act this way. Additionally, lack of societal LGBTQIA+ education and resources is a prime factor for such misteppings of boundaries. Anyone can be guilty of behaving invasively or asking invasive questions about demographics they don't fully understand, not just BL fans. As shown previously, BL has been invaluable to many queer men's development as well as enjoyment.

      • “Above all, it’s a matter of whether they have consideration or not. The insensitive type... worship the idea of “lofty, pure love” and try to force this ideal upon real gay men. The second are the considerate type who care about not harming real gay people with their fantasies." (Harada -interview with gay Japanese men-)

      • “Among older generations, there are many who react negatively to BL, calling it “feminine” and going so far as to deem it abnormal. On the other hand, there are readers of the younger generation called ‘fudanshi gei’ (lit. gay rotten men)...“Now, there are a lot of high quality works.” (Harada -interview with gay Japanese men-)

      • “I like manga, so I read BL regularly… The stories were heart-wrenching and I could sympathize with them. Now, there are a lot of high quality manga, and the differences between BL and young adult manga seem to be disappearing... In order for these characters (whom the author and readers identify with) to live happily, there is a desire for the characters to be depicted in a way that overcomes the hate and prejudice towards homosexuality (that exists in real life). So even though BL is just romantic entertainment, the signs of society’s evolving attitude towards homosexuality is being reflected in the stories." (Harada -interview with gay Japanese men-)

      • "journalist Sugiura Yumiko repeatedly assures her readers that fujoshi , the “rotten girls” who create and consume BL manga, are not poorly groomed antisocial misfits. “The majority of fujoshi ,” Sugiura writes, “are adult women. They live in the real world, where things like ‘true love’ don’t exist. These women fall in love and get married in the real world, where society necessitates compromise. When they get tired, they take a break in a fantasy world, and then they go back to reality.” According to Sugiura, although fujoshi occasionally immerse themselves in fantasy, or delusion (mōsō), they are far from delusional (mōsōteki); for them, the world of BL is a break from reality (genjitsu), not the sort of separate reality (riariti) that attractive shōjo characters provide for male fans of the anime and manga media mix." (Hemmann)

misconceptions

RESOURCES

BOOKS

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AVAILABLE ONLINE

*(Need Help Accessing Articles? Google 'Sci-Hub'!)

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  6. Baudinette, T. "Lovesick, The Series: adapting Japanese ‘Boys Love’ to Thailand and the creation of a new genre of queer media". South East Asia Research

  7. (2022) ''Is this Fetishization?' With Special Guest: Dr. Thomas Baudinette' - The Yaoi Shelf Season 3, Ep.12

  8. Bellamy-Walker, Tat, "Not Manly Enough: Femmephobia’s Stinging Impact on the Transmasculine Community" (2019). CUNY Academic Works.

  9. Benecchi, E. & Wang, E. (2021). "Fandom: Historicized Fandom and the Conversation between East and West Perspectives." 10.1515/9783110740202-016.

    • Sections: 'Fandom From a Chinese Perspective: From Fans to Fensi and Beyond,' 'Debunking the Novelty of Digital Fan Productivity West to East'

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  11. Box, Bobby. 2021. "Why Straight Women Watch Gay Porn." InsideHook, April 13, 2021.

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  13. Cathy Yue Wang. 2020. "Officially Sanctioned Adaptation and Affective Fan Resistance: The Transmedia Convergence of the Online Drama Guardian in China". Series. International Journal of Tv Serial Narratives. 2: 45-58.

  14. Chaoyang Trap (2022) "Pornography in China: desiring the potato queens + erotic-cultural imperialism + porn stars as teachers + smut hooliganism" Chaoyang Trap. https://chaoyang.substack.com/p/porn-in-the-prc?s=r

    • "In this episode, we’re talking about pornography and desire in China. We discuss why porn matters, how sexualities are constructed, and where these conversations unfold."

  15. Chaoyang Trap (2022) "Slash fiction in China post AO3" Chaoyang Trap. https://chaoyang.substack.com/p/jokerfied-fandom?s=r

    • "Slash, fan-fic, ships and danmei erotica aren’t marginal phenomena on the Chinese web. They’re the frontlines of how we live with algorithmic censors, bend platforms to our will, and build worlds within worlds online:"

  16. Chang, Jiang, and Hao Tian. 2021. "Girl power in boy love: Yaoi, online female counterculture, and digital feminism in China". Feminist Media Studies. 21 (4): 604-620.

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    • Novitskaya, Alexandra. Otaku sexualities in Japan (pp. 1177-1180)

  19. Chil Chil. 2020. Survey of Yuri-loving BL fans [Chiru Chiru Reporter's summer independent research Vol.2] / 近くて遠い沼"百合"について聞いてみた!!百合好きBLファンの実態調査【ちるちる記者夏の自由研究Vol.2】.” Chil Chil BL News. August 8, 2020.

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    • (this is one site, be sure to branch out and examine other educationally published sources

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  22. Fanasca, Marta. 2019. “Crossdressing Dansō: Negotiating between Stereotypical Femininity and Self-expression in Patriarchal Japan.” Girlhood Studies. 2019 ; Vol. 12, No. 1. pp. 33-48. https://doi.org/10.3167/ghs.2019.120105.

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    • "From Wednesday, May 19th to Tuesday, May 25th, 2021, 500 men and women from teens to 50s nationwide who answered "I am a fujoshi / fudanshi" (valid responses: 500)"

    • PDF Download (English)

  28. Galbraith, Patrick. (2011). "Fujoshi: Fantasy Play and Transgressive Intimacy among “Rotten Girls” in Contemporary Japan." Signs. 37. 211-232. 10.1086/660182.)

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