Saturday, September 17, 2016

Why Yaoi: Reason 2

Yaoi characters do tend to take on roles but those roles
are divided up by personality rather than by sex. One
character will often be steadier than the other as Ryo is here.
In the high-school-based manga Flower of Life by Fumi Yoshinaga, a pedantic manga-reading male student explains to his peers why girls like yaoi. When they see a male character taking on the "submissive" role, they feel emboldened. By identifying with the uke character, they see the intimate relationship as one of equals.

It is not entirely clear whether Yoshinaga agrees with her pedantic, lecturing high school student; after all, she has the listening students roll their eyes and get on with things. 

I postulate that many girl and women readers, like myself, read yaoi precisely because it takes gender roles off the table. One can read about a domineering relationship or about two men trying to figure out how to share chores without being forced to form a "proper opinion" or to ponder, "Should a woman do that?" Speaking as a woman, I get tired to being told that I'm supposed to want a political voice or children or a career or . . . whatever the "proper" desire is this era.

(The occasional "wife" comments in yaoi do raise some eyebrows. I'll discuss these in a later post.)

One of my favorite aspects of What Did You Eat? is
the frank discussion of chores. In prior relationships,
Shiro did all the cooking and cleaning; with Kenji,
the chores are shared.
The lack of pushy gender roles is one reason I can never be entirely snippy about those readers who like yaoi series with androgynous boys. For all I know, they turned to yaoi because they got tired of being told that they shouldn't be reading romance novels where girly girls get looked after by manly men. Yaoi is an escape not only from confining conservative roles but from pressuring progressive ones.

Unfortunately, some reviewers are less tolerant. A positive review of an androgynous boy series was castigated for its backwardness by another reviewer. I was appalled. This is yaoi fantasy! Keep your degrading politically correct opinions to yourself!

Overall, Amazon comments on yaoi are comparatively free of this sort of "political" reading. Those types of reviewers can go off and read trendy modern rebellious fiction if they want. Being angry at life isn't the point of yaoi--

As I will address in a future post.

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