Monday, September 20, 2010

Girls love Boys' Love - Why Women are Loving Homoerotic Manga

In starting the week off with a reasonably light-hearted topic, I wanted to explore a bizarre phenomenon referred to as ‘boys’ love’, or yaoi. In Taiwan and various other parts of East Asia, tens of thousands of young women today are passionately engaged in the consumption and production of Japanese boys’ love manga; comic-book tales of romance and eroticism between boys and young men. Women indulge in these narratives of homoerotic intimacy between handsome young men, eagerly swapping comic books, scribbling up fan fiction and even re-enacting their favourite stories. Typical yaoi stories consist of awkward, sexual awakenings between childhood friends, erotic intimacy between stepbrothers and affectionate encounters between teacher and student, and usually end in two beautiful young men passionately engaging in desperate and enthusiastic love making. The comics are almost exclusively created by women for a primarily female audience, satisfying an apparent craving that very few were aware existed. Themes of homoeroticism are unsurprisingly provocative to the cultural conservative, but even to the open-minded it can be rather confronting, as a good number of yaoi manga explores themes of rape, incest and bestiality (not to mention, the boys are usually illustrated to look very, very young). However, unlike the lolicon phenomenon which also has a prominent place in Japanese culture, many academics and cultural observers have been quick to recognise the benefits that come with women’s fascination with homoerotic comic books.

Boys’ love manga is believed to allow female readers to break out of the submissive roles traditionally played by girls. Napier expresses the standard interpretation academics hold concerning this issue, stating that yaoi is a way for young women and girls to explore sexuality without it being too intimately connected to them. For a long time, the ‘male gaze’ has dictated how women are portrayed in the media, typically positioning young women as the objects of desire for male protagonists and audiences. Yaoi, with the absence of female characters, allows readers to select which male character to identify with, rather than feeling forced into one role, which would typically be the submissive and desired, rather than the desiring. This essentially challenges the problems surrounding male-dominant media representations of sex and sexuality, acknowledging the sexual desiring consciousness of women and considering them as being more than objects of male lust.

See also: Chasing Lolita – Sexualisation of the Child


  1. I've often wondered if women enjoy male gay porn. I guess in a restrictive enough society, any taboo will find an audience.

  2. i dont think this is taboo. alot of women find gay porn sexy, just like men find lesbian porn sexy

  3. Do the women fantasize about being one of the boys or about being caught up in a melee with both of them? The latter makes more sense to me.

  4. Interesting post, interesting comments. I think the gist of it falls less along wanting to be a part of it (3some) and more along the lines what is written in the post. Porn is awful, not because it's sex, but because it's boring [for women in general] for lack of better term. A guy is doing unrealistic, and often quite uncomfortable looking, things (stereotypical male fantasies played out on screen) while girl/girls lie there and make terrible fake noises pretending to enjoy it. The boys' love tends to lean much more toward erotica, and the enjoyment is clear in both partners.

  5. Can't see any big problem with this. Great if women find this entertaining, and it works for them. It's comparable to the popularity of lesbian porn among men, I think, a nice fantasy >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  6. I've always found straight sex boring. ;)

  7. I had a friend who confessed that two men kissing "did it for her" and before reading this article I thought it was just some quirk of hers but it seems it's more widespread! I completely agree with cold as heaven, that it is comparable to lesbian porn for men and if it's going to empower the sexuality of women, then that's great!

  8. There are a number of porn producers who are women who create porn FOR women. I've seen some and it's pretty erotic and nicely done.

  9. Wait. Are we talking about kids and adults having sex? If we are, that's just wrong. I'm confused by the pic, is that a woman and a man? Boy and man? Woman and girl? I can't tell.

    Thanks for another thought provoking and informative post.

  10. Porn for women?, sure why not!
    But as a male I find the idea of two men, especially a man and a child, very creepy and weird.
    So long as I'm not expected to actually watch any of it....

  11. Hey guys thanks for stopping by :) The characters are usually teenagers and young men, but often appear younger. Also, readers tend to be teenage girls and young women.

  12. Wow, really? That's amazing.

    I've never found boys loving boys interesting because it's just not my thing but I guess in a restrictive society, as Will said, any taboo will be latched onto as a way of breaking that restriction.

    One thing I did notice in the picture you posted is that one of the boys is actually very feminine looking, with long hair and delicate features. I would have thought it was a woman if your post title hadn't clued me in.


  13. Very Interesting. Alot of strange "fetishes" come out of Japan.

  14. Somehow you seem able to make this sound beneficial to young women. I hope it doesn't catch on with young guys because it just sounds distasteful.

  15. very, very interesting!!

    Hope you're doing good, Val! Take care!

  16. I don't know what to say about this. While I would never condemn love/sex between men I personally cannot wrap my brain around the attraction. That said, if women find this arousing then why not? Men certainly have had the monopoly on erotica.

  17. I must tell you, as a passive-partner woman:
    A submissive DESIRES the dominant TO FUCK THEM
    Waiting and wanting, "Pick me! I'm yours," the puppy in the window.
    If the submissive DOESN'T DESIRE the dominant to fuck them, it is RAPE. A CRIME.
    It is natural and healthy to be a passive woman.
    But if your virile, handsome man is fucking you and you DON'T want it, it is simply cruel.
    Remember, don't use stock phrases. Get out in the real world, talk to people, fuck lots of men, and you will see that...

  18. Please, do not read or watch "porn".
    Not as instruction, not as stimulus.
    It is all useless.
    It is simply too big an industry, and male-dominated.
    No "erotica" either.
    That artsy-fartsy pretentious French bullshit you can do without.
    Fucking is not art. It's like eating.
    You can have a caviar lobster mornay...
    But when you're starving you can eat stale bread.

    Americans are obsessed with fucking. Their "culture" is soaked with it. They hate it and love it at the same time. Don't be like them. They are confused and unhealthy. Sex shouldn't matter as much as it does. It should not be a source for crimes. Are there food-crimes, shelter-crimes? No... It should be private and fun and nice. It should have nothing to do with politics. Politics aren't joyful and loving.

    Don't be scared of men. Don't run away from them and become a lesbian. That's not how you were born.

  19. I don't think you people realize that this isn't so much of a taboo as you seem to think. Male homo-erotica is actually very common among teenage girls. Fanfictions are usually written by girls about two guys. One Direction? Galleries and galleries of erotica about them. Ask a random group of about 5 teenage girls if they know anyone who reads fanfiction and I'll guess 3 would at least say yes if not themselves. This is not just the US. Reading about a dominant and submissive male is nice. There is no unequal balance based on sexism. As a 17 year old girl, I find myself relating more to the strong and self-assured characters than the quiet and reserved ones, although I enjoy reading about them. It's not just porn, either. Usually there are heavy story-lines that make you want them to get together in the most vanilla way possible as a way to get closer to one another. (Theres also the kink stuff aforementioned like student/teacher but I don't find myself reading that)