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Yaoi/yuri vs. other western media on gay/lesbian portrayals


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JesuOtaku
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:43 pm Reply with quote
You know, I actually despise yaoi and yuri for reasons unrelated to whether they portray homosexuality as right or wrong. I know that yaoi is aimed at straight women. I know yuri is aimed at straight men. I know both of these genres are prone to horrible writing, unrealistic characters, and portraying impossible and unhealthy relationships like flowery goodness to pacify its audience's weird subconscious urges. It's doing the same thing that porn does on a physical level, except on a spiritual level, if that makes ANY sense at all. It's the EXACT same reason, really, that I hate moe. It's unrealistic and it treats the viewers like escapist morons. (Escapism is fine so long as people regard it as escapism. When they start talking about it being an inspiring romance with great themes and characters, that's when I get hacked off. Too many yaoi fans treat real homosexuals like the RIDICULOUS characters they read about.)

In case that above paragraph made no sense, let me point out some eerie tropes of yaoi: extreme age difference, love spurned by rebellion or fear rather than regard for the other person, extreme obsession with sex foremost and my (least) favorite: there's always a rape scene. But the offended party accepts and forgives it. Just...ugh! It's insulting to gloss all that over and make it positive and flowery by twisting the characters into cardboard contrivances to fit the whole silly vision. -.-' I don't approve of these things in heterosexual shoujo romance either, but at least that's only sometimes. Show me a yaoi that isn't like what I described above...Anime dazed

My point is that I think gay/lesbian focused media like yaoi and yuri are just as insulting to the gay community as something mocking them.

I've heard Simoun is a huge exception to this, and I also enjoyed Revoutionary Girl Utena, though, so I guess it depends? My personal favorite portrayal of same-sex affection is in Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo, anyway, which is not even about a homosexual romance, but portrays Peppo and ESPECIALLY Franz with respect and with realism. (I find it a little funny, actually. For those that read the book and hated what they did to Franz' character, keep in mind that Eugenie was originally a lesbian and left Albert sort of stranded. I like the series' changes to Eugenie and Franz a LOT better considering Albert is the lead.)
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sailorsarah08



Joined: 30 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:15 pm Reply with quote
Bringing two new words into context here. Shojo-ai and shouen-ai. I like those. Those are good. The mean girls love and boys love respectively. Generally they focus more on the actual relationship and less on sex. While yaoi and yuri are porn with (a little) plot.

Quote:
and my (least) favorite: there's always a rape scene.


I do have to ask what is up with that. It is really kinda distubring. It's not warned or hinted at, just out of nowhere someone gets raped. Rolling Eyes It's not just yaoi either it's in yuri too.

Kannazuki no Miko had potential and then spoiler[ out of nowhere Himeko gets molested by Chikane! Which I could have dealt with, but then Himeko goes running back and leaves Souma out in the cold.] There goes my rant on that.

Revolutionary Girl Utena was really something special IMO.


Last edited by sailorsarah08 on Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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poonk



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:15 pm Reply with quote
Dark Paladin X wrote:
But still, yaoi and yuri is really hard to come by in the U.S.
I'm not sure I believe this, or at least not as a blanket statement for the entire country. Is this your impression from sampling your local brick & mortar stores, perhaps? Because there is really quite a lot of English-language BL available from many online vendors (yuri not so much, but only because not a lot seems to get published).

Quote:
And like Key said, not all yaoi and yuri are highly pornographic in nature and often portray homosexuals more casually than western entertainment.
I do agree with this, though. In much yaoi manga (which is all I'm qualified to comment on) there usually isn't much concern expressed about how others would view the couple if they "came out," and if there is, it's barely touched upon & soon resolved.* But-- being "portrayed casually" by a niche genre within a niche medium probably isn't a very complete picture of how the culture views homosexuality. I can only comment on how it (or anything else) seems to be presented by the media I consume; I can't say anything about the actual culture as a whole, since I've never lived there and/or studied it, etc. I will leave that to someone more knowledgeable, but I'll be interested to read any comments.

*There's sometimes some minor fretting by character(s) but it's often quickly forgotten and it lacks the gravity of the situation a real person could face-- such as an unsupportive family, gay-bashing, etc. But that's probably because these titles are meant to be entertaining romances, not hard-hitting social commentary.
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darkchibi07



Joined: 15 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:54 pm Reply with quote
Uhhh, just to clarify on the gender audience for yuri, it can be aimed at both males and female audiences. Of course that depends on where it gets published at and thus the subject matter of the plot. For instance, there's a reason why there's a Yuri Hime and a Yuri Hime S imprint; one's aimed for girls while the other is aimed for guys. And I've discovered a few yuri light novels published on the same shoujo label as the other shoujo light novels.

poonk wrote:
Dark Paladin X wrote:
But still, yaoi and yuri is really hard to come by in the U.S.
I'm not sure I believe this, or at least not as a blanket statement for the entire country. Is this your impression from sampling your local brick & mortar stores, perhaps? Because there is really quite a lot of English-language BL available from many online vendors (yuri not so much, but only because not a lot seems to get published).


For yuri, we got the anime part covered quite well (this year especially which surprised me totally; hopefully R1 companies will take a nod towards those titles). And there's a sizable amount of yuri manga being published in Japan right now; it's just starting to gain some momentum.
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PetrifiedJello



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:11 pm Reply with quote
JesuOtaku wrote:
It's the EXACT same reason, really, that I hate moe. It's unrealistic and it treats the viewers like escapist morons.

I've not read/watched any yaoi/yuri stuff, so I can't really relate, but your moe comment struck me as interesting.

Only because it's exactly why I watch it. I don't believe it treats me like a moron, for without it, there really wouldn't be any escapism for me. Personal preference, for sure, but I do get why people are upset when it seems everything caters to it. Let me have my cake for a while. It'll pass soon enough.

But on topic, I'm not sure if all Japanese are as open as one may think. I'm sure the homophobic attitude isn't felt by everyone there, but at the same time, some artists do ensure they get their point across.

For example, in watching The Slayers, the commercial break images often showed two characters together. But when it was Gourry and Zelgadis, the music seemed to twinge and a glass-breaking effect was added.

To me, that was a clear message of "Ew. No way!" I've also seen other references in which a homosexual attraction (especially male/male) is regarded with a phobic response.

I have to side with abunai that locale has a significant part in this. With that, I'll throw in my two cents: the phobic locale can be obliterated and I wouldn't consider it a loss to the human race at all.

Thus, yaoi/yuri shouldn't be regarded for its sexuality as much as it should for its entertainment value, regardless how unrealistic it is.
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rinmackie



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:18 pm Reply with quote
Regarding homosexuality in Japan, it's not considered a sin but it is considered abnormal. So far as acceptance, Japan is either about on par with the U.S. or even less accepting, depending on who you ask. Traditionally, homosexuality was tolerated, but not encouraged. There was no gay marriage and I doubt people flaunted it in public. While I don't think they were any laws against it, you were expected to be discreet.

I read in one of my yaoi manga, that some gay couples adopt their partner since marriage isn't allowed. This comes from the tradition of a family adopting a son-in-law if they had no male heirs. As for yaoi, it is mainly for straight females; there is a genre for gay men which I think is called bara. As for the popularity of yaoi/ yuri; it's considered escapist fantasy so no one takes it seriously.
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HyugaHinata



Joined: 25 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:29 pm Reply with quote
abunai wrote:
Dark Paladin X wrote:
since United States is more socially conservative than Japan

I hate to be the one to continually quibble, but I doubt you could say that the US is more socially conservative than Japan. I think you mean sexually conservative, and even then, I am not sure I would agree with you.


Well, the US is more socially conservative re: health care (bloody stereotypical Republican senators), but not as far as free speech goes - shota and loli are legal, after all.

abunai wrote:
And yes, I believe the most significant audience for yaoi is straight females, and the most significant audience for yuri is straight males. I have no specific data to base this on, though, just hearsay and gut feeling. I'd love to see some hard data, if anyone has a reference.

- abunai


There was an anecdotal study conducted by RACS on yaoi consumers based on their orders. They used a relatively small sample size, so another, larger and more statistically valid study would be very interesting too.

http://animecornerstore.blogspot.com/​search?​q=​yaoi

Bob Brown wrote:
As a follow up to my recent post about our top search terms, specialK was wondering about the demographic split for Yaoi titles - recently the word is the 4th most searched for term on our site - even more than 'hentai'. We've always had a general feeling that the audience for Yaoi is mostly female, but we've never done any kind of formal analysis on it and specialK's comment raised my curiosity, so we pulled the data for the last 200 orders that contained at least 1 'Yaoi' or boy love manga item and did some database sorts.




First, we simply counted the number of female vs. male names (obviously there will be some margin of error as some are more ambiguous than others), and we found that buyers were:

67% Female
33% Male

Then, using the same name data we sorted the list in terms of Shonen Ai vs. Yaoi titles. Around the office we refer to these titles two different ways: titles for audiences 13 and up is classified as 'Shonen Ai' (boy love), and for 18+ only audiences as 'Yaoi' (explicit content). Here's how that turned out:

Shonen Ai

79% Female
21% Male

Yaoi:

56% Female
44% Male

(Customers that ordered both Shonen Ai and Yaoi on the same order were counted in both categories.)

So you can see that the audience changes a bit when we break the titles out by age rating, with guys buying more of the explicit titles while the gals are favoring the romantic stories that leave more to the imagination. Of course these stats are not scientific, and the data would be more accurate if we choose a larger sample, say 1,000 or even 10,000 orders, or if we had included DVD data, or sorted the list better - but we just didn't want to stay up all night trying to figure out if 'Jordan' or 'Taylor' is a guy or gal.

In the end, I really don't think it matters much anyway.... Smile


Further study needs to be done on who they bought the yaoi for - themselves, or someone else.
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poonk



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:35 pm Reply with quote
HyugaHinata wrote:
There was an anecdotal study conducted by RACS on yaoi consumers based on their orders. They used a relatively small sample size, so another, larger and more statistically valid study would be very interesting too.
The gender poll in the aarinfantasy forum currently breaks down to 74% female, 22% male, and 4% "other." But that only covers the ~2000 respondents out of ~190,500 members (28,000 active), so who knows how accurate it is. (Is that a big enough sample for that many people?) Well, all this is neither here nor there really, just a minor curiosity.

Bob Brown wrote:
So you can see that the audience changes a bit when we break the titles out by age rating, with guys buying more of the explicit titles while the gals are favoring the romantic stories that leave more to the imagination.
I'm not sure that it can be said that gals necessarily "favor" the more chaste "shounen-ai" fare, as they're obviously still consuming over half of the hard stuff (said the gal with the Viewfinder ava Wink ). It would be more informative if we were told the number of 13+ titles vs. 18+ titles (I'll bet there are significantly more 18+ titles, just based on my personal experience).

P.S. Apologies if I'm getting too far off-topic.
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HyugaHinata



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:48 pm Reply with quote
poonk wrote:
HyugaHinata wrote:
There was an anecdotal study conducted by RACS on yaoi consumers based on their orders. They used a relatively small sample size, so another, larger and more statistically valid study would be very interesting too.
The gender poll in the aarinfantasy forum currently breaks down to 74% female, 22% male, and 4% "other." But that only covers the ~2000 respondents out of ~190,500 members (28,000 active), so who knows how accurate it is. (Is that a big enough sample for that many people?) Well, all this is neither here nor there really, just a minor curiosity.

Bob Brown wrote:
So you can see that the audience changes a bit when we break the titles out by age rating, with guys buying more of the explicit titles while the gals are favoring the romantic stories that leave more to the imagination.
I'm not sure that it can be said that gals necessarily "favor" the more chaste "shounen-ai" fare, as they're obviously still consuming over half of the hard stuff (said the gal with the Viewfinder ava Wink ). It would be more informative if we were told the number of 13+ titles vs. 18+ titles (I'll bet there are significantly more 18+ titles, just based on my personal experience).

P.S. Apologies if I'm getting too far off-topic.


Well yeah, those are all pertinent points and avenues for future study - if anyone's interested in actually funding a study that covers enough aspects to be interesting and accurate. It doesn't have to be an all-encompassing study - that'd have to seek out questions about fetishes etc.

As for the OP, I'd have to say that LBGT's are accepted more in Japan than in more religious countries such as the US and Australia. The lack of scriptural condemnation is one thing, and the lack of lynchings are another.
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DuskyPredator
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:30 am Reply with quote
I guess it is shown in a more positive light. Their are a few that try to specificly put attention on characters where it may not be expected, like Maria Holic and a bit of Kodomo no Jikan. One I have been watching lately is called Kanamemo, and shows the themes in a yuri couple that is shown in a way that the two realy care about each other, but there also is the scary yuri lolicon. Though there is kind of find that scarey muscular transvestite, who though is meant to shock is still fairly accepted by everyone.
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Zin5ki



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:50 am Reply with quote
poonk wrote:
But that's probably because these titles are meant to be entertaining romances, not hard-hitting social commentary.

The point you raise is of notable importance. A great deal of romantic anime, homosexual in content or otherwise, is purposefully unrealistic to this end. Certain 'parameters' of typical trials and tribulations, be they social norms, day-to-day problems or character behaviour, may be adjusted or indeed omitted if of notable benefit to the prospective audience's entertainment.
As JesuOtaku writes, the unnatural results of such an approach can be criticised in relation to natural expectations and practices, demonstrating how the ability to differentiate between the two is, as always, a requirement of healthy fandom.
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SalarymanJoe



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 11:14 am Reply with quote
poonk wrote:
But that's probably because these titles are meant to be entertaining romances, not hard-hitting social commentary.


I know you intended this as a footnote but I wish you would have at least left the text normal size because of all of the excellent posts thus far, this one so concisely drives home the most important point. (And thanks to Zin5ki for quoting it so I didn't miss it.)

Dark Paladin X wrote:
NOTE: Yes, there is some bias here, this is basically my opinion in regards to yaoi and yuri. You are entitled to express you own opinions here, but please do not troll or make threatening/insulting comments (mostly because we're dealing with a very sensitive topic here.

I think that yuri/yaoi portrays gays and lesbian in a more positive light than many western media and entertainment. I'm not saying that ALL yaoi and yuri are like that, as I do acknowledge that there are some that reinforce negative stereotypes. And besides, I really don't like how many western media portrayed gays/lesbians in a very negative way (i.e. South Park and Drawn Together, although I stopped watching those for a very long time). Besides, Japan happens to be more liberal than United States when it comes to dealing with gay/lesbian matters.

Personally, I haven't read or watched any yaoi and yuri, but the closest thing I watched that had some homosexual themes (albeit not pornographic) was Kyo Kara Maoh! (spoiler[where the main character end up having a relationship with another character of the same gender by accident)]. I couldn't find any good yaoi and yuri manga or anime (that are not heavily pornographic) anyways.


The only point of contention that I have is comparing media to mainstream society, where in Japan there is a very large disconnect, particularly in the area of portrayals of homosexuality.

Media such as anime and manga may give the idea of a society more tolerant of homosexuals but the reality is that this is a niche area aimed generally at heterosexual fantasy with an emphasis on shallow beauty/aesthetics rather than what could be considered a realistic portrayal of the homosexual experience. More specific examples have been cited, so I don't feel the need to repeat them. However, actual homosexuals face a fair bit of discrimination. I'm no cultural expert but while I don't think it is of the nature of "God hates fags" response that we see in some sections of the US (thanks, abunai for realizing that we're not all like that), it is still seen as a social peculiarity, maybe bordering on unnatural. And that's aside from the comedic stereotypes, like Hard Gay.

abunai wrote:
Dark Paladin X wrote:
Of course, since United States is more socially conservative than Japan, getting hands on yaoi/yuri anime or manga is quite hard.


I hate to be the one to continually quibble, but I doubt you could say that the US is more socially conservative than Japan. I think you mean sexually conservative, and even then, I am not sure I would agree with you.


I think that Japan is honestly, a lot like the US, in terms of sexual repression. I think the difference is that Japanese society, as a whole, is a lot more individually repressive comparatively.

In regards to obtaining yaoi/yuri manga in the States, don't they sell them at bookshops like Barnes & Noble or Borders? I know they can be purchased off of the 'Net. All in all, I don't think it is actually that hard to get it in the States, especially a State like mine. In Japan, it's pretty similar; you can find entire floors of "Ladies Doujinshi" in places like Toranoana (which is primarily yaoi from my experience) and I am sure that the yuri stuff is hiding somewhere else in the store but you probably cannot pick it up off the magazine racks at the convenience store.

abunai wrote:
And yes, I believe the most significant audience for yaoi is straight females, and the most significant audience for yuri is straight males. I have no specific data to base this on, though, just hearsay and gut feeling. I'd love to see some hard data, if anyone has a reference.


Probably the best reference would be sales figures from places like Mandarake and Toranoana's "Ladies Doujinshi" sections. (Well, other than the figures posted earlier in this thread.)
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sailorsarah08



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:56 pm Reply with quote
Yaoi and yuri in my experiance are pretty easy to come buy. I got 1-6 or Loveless at Barnes and Noble in store. First Love Sisters and Strawberry Panic! light novels at a Borders in store. They are always in stock. I'd buy one and come back a week later and they would have a replacement. I got Kashimashi, Loveless, and Simoun at Best Buy in store. I don't think it a lack of the titles, I think it's more of a title camoflauge. They sneak them in whith everything else and a lot of yaoi/yuri titles just get lost next to the sparkle of something else.
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bahamut623



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:34 pm Reply with quote
I don't know if I'd say it's a positive or negative light. In most cases where I've seen a gay character in anime, it rarely feels genuine.
I can't say I've seen many yaoi or yuri anime. I think I've seen ones more along the lines of shonen/shojo-ai where things are suggested.
Anyway to explain what I said above, whenever I see a gay character in anime, or some sort of gay scenario in anime (whether it be implied or out in the open), I say it doesn't feel genuine because it usually feels like there's some sort of ulterior motive, which is to, on some level, titillate fans. In Kyo Kara Maoh!, for example, homosexuality, implied or otherwise, is used to make fangirls *squee*, and likewise in something like Mai Otome(bad example), the "onee-sama" type of relationships get a rise out of the fanboys, who'll then buy suggestively posed figures. It just feels like a form of fanservice. If it's not used for fanservice, it's also used for cheap laughs.
An example of where it does feel genuine would be in something like Paradise Kiss, where there's bisexual characters, and a transgender character. It's one aspect of the characters, and it doesn't feel like it's for the purpose of titillation (I'd use a less strong word, but I can't quite think of one).

I'm not saying it applies to all yaoi/yuri. I'm sure there are some that portray these characters in a realistic way...but I just haven't seen them, or at least none come to mind at the moment.
BTW, Gravitation made me cringe.

As for the the portrayal in American media...it's horrible, usually opting for the stereotypical limp-wristed and fabulous portrayal. Rolling Eyes
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Sword Magess



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:47 pm Reply with quote
bahamut623 wrote:
As for the the portrayal in American media...it's horrible, usually opting for the stereotypical limp-wristed and fabulous portrayal. Rolling Eyes

This has more to do with the goal of the portrayal rather than the society. The examples to which you refer are likely instances where the source is attempting to get a laugh out of the audience by portraying another character's discomfort with the homosexual character. This is, of course, much more believable if the homosexual is fabulous as opposed to a normal person who on occasion shows pictures of his boyfriend/husband/partner. The same phenomenon can be seen in anime, where if a homosexual character is there to make others uncomfortable, he would be fabulous, as can be seen in Bobby of Macross Frontier and Levin of Tekkaman Blade. As this kind of goal does not generally apply to yaoi or yuri titles, where the homosexuality is usually serious business, the characters are not fabulous.
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