Chapter

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

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Abstract

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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Article
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.
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