Do Heterosexual Men Dream of Homosexual Men?: History, Culture, and Community in Japan

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This chapter examines heterosexual male readership of Boys Love (BL) in Japan. It draws heavily from Yoshimoto Taimatsu's study, Interviewing Fudanshi (Fudanshi ni kiku)—fudanshi (rotten men) being the term used to refer to heterosexual male readers—and extends his analysis of the discursive queerness reflected in heterosexual male readings of male homosexual narratives such as BL. Although it might be assumed that it is primarily gay men who are interested in these homoerotic narratives, as the chapter points out, gay men have had a sometimes problematic relationship with BL. As early as 1992, a “yaoi debate” (yaoi ronsō) emerged in feminist media wherein some gay spokesmen criticized women writers for appropriating and misrepresenting gay relationships and desire. The chapter also describes how the fudanshi demonstrate a subconscious psychological male desire for self-feminization through male readers' identification with those images of seemingly gay men that were originally designed by and for women.

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Popular literature online is often misconstrued as being cliché-ridden and formulaic, and has thus not attained as much critical attention as ‘serious’ literature. I propound that popular literature published in China’s cyberspace deserves more attention and hermeneutic scrutiny, and I place an emphasis on danmei (耽美) fiction that features male-male romantic and/or erotic relationships and is predominantly published on a female-oriented website called Jinjiang Literature City. In this research, I investigate an online danmei novel entitled Tianguan ci fu (天官赐福) that concerns a homosexual romance against a background of ‘immortality cultivation’ (xiuxian 修仙 or xiuzhen 修真), which had been maintaining the highest ranking on readers’ voting list since its release on Jinjiang Literature City in 2017. I postulate that Tianguan ci fu does not deploy clichéd plots pertaining to quasi-heterosexual relationships, which frequently occur in danmei fiction. Apart from conveying the theme of love, the narrative concerns the complexity of human nature via an array of characters possessing multifaceted personality traits. More significantly, with a setting of mortal and immortal realms, the narrative entails religious ideologies, especially the indigenous Daoist ascension, mortality-immorality polarity and yin-yang integration. Furthermore, ethic-religious Confucian precepts such as benevolence and filial piety are also demonstrated, along with the Sinicised Buddhist creeds of reincarnation and retribution, which embodies the amalgamation of (sub)religions as a preponderant ideal of ‘the unity of Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism’ (san jiao he yi 三教合一). Therefore, analysing this exemplary online novel can shed light on (a)theistic attitudes adopted by creators and consumers of Internet danmei literature.
In Japan, there is a group of women who are notoriously known as “rotten women” because of their fantasies that perceive male homosocial relationships as homoromantic or homosexual. These transformative homoerotic fantasies are central to Boys Love culture. These “rotten women” or fujoshi engage with Japanese popular media using Boys Love literacies that challenge normative notions of male intimacy. In this paper, I examine Boys Love literacies, which bear intertextual and potentially queer qualities, and the impact these have on readers. I interrogate how an audience, immersed in heteronormative Japanese media, learn these non-normative literacies that I am positioning as a set of new literacies. I analyse Boys Love literacies embedded in fanworks, particularly women’s fan comics, and highlight how these serve as pedagogical tools in understanding the logics of these nuanced literacies. I argue that these comics serve as critical affective mediums that impart the queer and intertextual characteristics of Boys Love culture that challenge heteronormative engagements with Japanese popular media. This paper highlights a kind of cultural literacy production and dissemination that operate on a grassroots level and is produced by young actors who actively explore the queer potential of Japanese media.
Queer comics have played an important role in LGBTQ activism in the United States and Japan. Despite oppressive censorship laws, both countries have long and unique traditions of queer comics as a form of artistic expression. The aim of this chapter is to trace the genealogy of queer comics in the context of LGBTQ media and activism in the United States and Japan since the 1950s to the present day. The chapter considers the differences in terminology in the two countries and demonstrates how queer comics function as practical communication that is historically specific and produced under particular social, economic, and political conditions.
This chapter focuses on male engagement with shōjo (for girls) manga and shōjo (girl) characters in manga and anime in Japan since the 1970s. It is well-known that shōjo manga underwent a renaissance in the 1970s, when female artists began to experiment with speculative fiction, poetics, the grammar of comics, depictions of psychological conflict and sexuality. What is less known is that men were also attracted to works by these artists in the 1970s. The existence, let alone motivation, of male shōjo fans seems sketchy at best, and is often dismissed broadly in terms of the “Japanese Lolita complex.” Based on personal and published interviews, this chapter raises the possibility of “male” shōjo fans seeking an alternative to hegemonic forms of masculinity and media.
This review provides a summation of previous and ongoing trends related to the study of yaoi manga fandom that focuses its attention on yaoi manga fandom. Following in the tradition of cultural studies, the paper examines the production and reception of media texts as they are related to the everyday lives of the consumers. For this reason, the core of this review does not examine the text in isolation. In addition, I incorporate a set of literature that, whilst not frequently referenced in yaoi studies, does allow us to consider interdisciplinary research inclusive of film studies, queer theory, psychoanalysis, and bisexuality studies. I have highlighted a range of literature based on its relevance to the following two questions. (1) What approaches have already been employed in yaoi fandom research? (2) Which approaches should be re-examined today and in what ways? For the first, I summarise key themes in yaoi fandom studies. The second question acts as a reaction to the first. Specifically, I contend that as yaoi studies continue we can, and perhaps should, incorporate wider theories and methodologies that help to better understand the diverse fandom that surrounds this genre.
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This article deals with questions about the performative power of cultural products that travel the world. The Japanese manga genre Boys' Love and Yaoi has gained a broad readership outside of Japan during recent decades. This has cultivated an image of Japan as sexually radical and 'as more than Japan', something which has produced alternative subject positions and practises regarding gender and sexuality among Swedish Boys' Love/Yaoi followers. With the help of the concept hyperreality and elaborations on materiality within feminist theories, this article discusses: Which images of Japan and Sweden are produced as manga Boys' Love/Yaoi - as cultural products - travel from Japan to Sweden? Which subject positions and forms of desires emerge? In order to understand how cultural products create new subjectivities, images and desires, we also ask: What can a sharper focus on materiality and the agency of matter add to the understanding of the concept of hyperreality and the construction of new realities? We argue that embodied experiences of certain subject positions and desires challenge the idea of the hyperreal as a surface phenomenon. Further, the article shows how the image of "Japan" is often coloured by the desires that West cultivates about the 'other'. © 2009-2017 Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research.
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