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The female and male gaze and gay erotic art
August 3, 2006 11:41 PM   Subscribe

Yaoi is a form of Japanese erotica "written by women for women readers", focusing on aspects of male-to-male relationships which otherwise tend "to make real gay men snicker." Still, gay men can and do create a wide range of erotic art within and across the yaoi genre.
posted by Blazecock Pileon (61 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
eponysterical
posted by bigmusic at 12:02 AM on August 4, 2006


Penny Arcade
posted by Voivod at 12:12 AM on August 4, 2006


Don't forget y!Gallery. ;)
posted by taursir at 12:41 AM on August 4, 2006


Interesting topic and post. Thanks Blazecock Pileon.

A paper by Wim Lunsing from Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context : Yaoi Ronsō:
Discussing Depictions of Male Homosexuality in Japanese Girls' Comics, Gay Comics and Gay Pornography. With a few image examples.
posted by nickyskye at 1:30 AM on August 4, 2006


I was under the impression that everyone snickered at Anime.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 2:35 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Wicked, thank you! Buying yaoi used to be a nightmare; boysonboysonfilm is so bookmarked now.
posted by headspace at 2:47 AM on August 4, 2006


Huh. Where's all the fandom folk when you need them.
posted by divabat at 2:53 AM on August 4, 2006


So it's basically slash-fic without a mainstream fandom to nick the characters from? Sounds interesting.
posted by talitha_kumi at 3:37 AM on August 4, 2006


I had a friend who was obsessed by Yaoi my soph year of college. She forced me to watch a very strange video with "invisible ghost cocks." It was porn, but with invisible penises that ejaculated.

W
T
F
posted by ®@ at 3:49 AM on August 4, 2006


Question: what is the appeal for women in watching gay men? Is it similar to the interest men have in lesbian sex? Help me on this, please.
posted by Postroad at 4:28 AM on August 4, 2006


Don't be such an uptight American. Yeesh!
posted by Atreides at 4:31 AM on August 4, 2006


Volvod i was going to post that myself.
posted by MrLint at 4:45 AM on August 4, 2006


Y'know, I'm as gay as the next butt-spelunker, but yaoi is just atrocious.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:02 AM on August 4, 2006


butt-spelunker? I thought the prefferred nomenclature was 'dork-snorkeler?'

As for yaoi, if nothing else, it's interesting to get a window into how some people think.
posted by jonmc at 6:05 AM on August 4, 2006


We good ol' Americans generally call this yow-eee stuff slash and the general knowledge of male biology is just about as bad.

(first link just a definition, second may not be worksafe)
posted by Karmakaze at 6:10 AM on August 4, 2006


Postroad: Question: what is the appeal for women in watching gay men? Is it similar to the interest men have in lesbian sex? Help me on this, please.

Well, most lesbians I know argue that straight men are not really interested in lesbian sex. They just want to see two women so horny that they have sex with each other until a man comes in.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:24 AM on August 4, 2006


Not exactly, KJS, it's more like we want to watch naked women doing sex stuff without the distraction of a penis, and yes, we also want to insert ourselves into the action.
posted by jonmc at 6:29 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


For anyone interested, Yuri is the lesbian equivelent of Yaoi- which can be written both for men and women readers.
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:35 AM on August 4, 2006


*equivalent
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:36 AM on August 4, 2006


Yaoi, and slash culture, is pretty much female objectifcation of men. In both, the men tend to be emotional, there's lots of romance and angst, and throughout the women writing it are bending their fantasy men to do their will.
posted by Hildegarde at 6:47 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


I've sometimes wondered about why the writers of slash fiction (mostly Trek slash, because that's the first slashfic I came across accidentally) went for MM pairings rather than FF. I came to the woolly kind of conclusion that it's somehow involved in power relationships and social freedoms. In "polite" society, female promiscuity is frowned upon, wheras men are "just sowing their wild oats" and suchlike. So if you have a fiction genre where casual rampant sex is all the rage, then it's a lot easier to imagine men in the protagonists' roles than women, because you get the positive associations of promiscuity without the sluttish ones. In a situation where the female reader is nervous or shy about her sexual freedom, then it's somehow safer to imagine it happening with characters who have the social freedoms she lacks rather than to imagine a female character (by proxy, herself) having to get through the social baggage before getting down to enjoying the sex.

So the characters in the slash stories aren't really 'men' at all. They're fictionalised representations of the erotic alteregos that the readers would like to have, but given male pronouns to make them feel safer. The reader chooses whichever of the couple she identifies with, and then puts herself into the imagined scene. And because women are turned on by emotions, romance and angst, the 'men' in the stories experience them in spades.
posted by talitha_kumi at 7:18 AM on August 4, 2006


I second the objectification of men. There's certainly a lot of physical objectification, but yaoi is mostly emotional objectification. The characters are as emotional and angsty and open and crying and whatnot as the writer and reader wants them to be--the exact opposite of what a man is stereotypically supposed to act like. You see passionate men in all their passionate, fantasy glory. They are to female fans what '80s action movie heroines are to male fans--a fantasy ideal.

But why not have them have sex with women? That starts imposing gender roles on the participants. Whether or not the writer chooses to follow them, in the reader's mind they're there. However, with a same-sex pairing the gender roles are fluid, and while there's still often a dominant and subordinate personality, both partners are culturally free to engage in whatever emotional outbursts they choose to.

I think it also ties into a cultural fetishization of gay men--cute li'l buggers who dress up funny, talk outrageously, and make fantastic martinis! Oh Jack, you are so droll!
posted by schroedinger at 7:25 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Well, most lesbians I know argue that straight men are not really interested in lesbian sex. They just want to see two women so horny that they have sex with each other until a man comes in.

This is not true (or at least not universally true). I don't believe lesbians are in the best position to make this determination.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:30 AM on August 4, 2006


I know a girl that really, really wants me to read some Picard and Q slash. Creeps me right the hell out. Since Picard's supposed to be all asexual and Q's... well, a god. Just makes no freaking sense in my head.

@@: The "invisible ghost penises" were probably just censorship. The Japanese have some odd laws concerning how genitalia is allowed to be shown. Sometimes they're just pixelated, sometimes they're glowing swords of light or something equally idiotic. But, it can be unintentionally hilarious too. :D
posted by Talanvor at 7:35 AM on August 4, 2006


Picard/Q. I could get into that ship.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:37 AM on August 4, 2006


They're fictionalised representations of the erotic alteregos that the readers would like to have, but given male pronouns to make them feel safer. The reader chooses whichever of the couple she identifies with, and then puts herself into the imagined scene. And because women are turned on by emotions, romance and angst, the 'men' in the stories experience them in spades.

Do you make these same judgements about published fiction too? If a man writes about a woman in a not-entirely-consentual sexual scene with a man, is he really acting out his own homoerotic rape fantasies? Sometimes people who write stories do it because it's appealing, interesting, engaging, and/or hot to them and their friends. Not everyone is into the self-projection. Not all fanfiction is Mary Sue fanfiction.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:42 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


I know a girl that really, really wants me to read some Picard and Q slash.

Next step, Fred Sanford & Grady slash. There was a lotta smothered passion in that relationship if you ask me.
posted by jonmc at 7:48 AM on August 4, 2006


Next step, Fred Sanford & Grady slash.

Good goobity goob!
posted by Prospero at 7:55 AM on August 4, 2006


Here come the big one!
posted by jonmc at 7:58 AM on August 4, 2006


I'm coming Elizabeth, I'm coming!
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:15 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


You big dummies.
posted by jonmc at 8:20 AM on August 4, 2006


Hildegarde, I'm assuming that all of the authors write the stories because they're "appealing, interesting, engaging, and/or hot to them and their friends". I was trying to work out *why* these things are "appealing, interesting, engaging, and/or hot to them and their friends". I'm not trying to snark on people from an ivory tower. I went through a phase for a couple of years where I thoroughly enjoyed reading slashfic, but didn't know why on earth I found stories about gay men so fascinating. The phase ended not when I ran out of interest, but when I ran out of stories.
posted by talitha_kumi at 8:23 AM on August 4, 2006


I've sometimes wondered about why the writers of slash fiction (mostly Trek slash, because that's the first slashfic I came across accidentally) went for MM pairings rather than FF.
It also has to do with the fact that if you want to identify with a main character in a series, you're pretty much stuck with male characters. In the original Star Trek -- who were the girls supposed to identify with? Uhura, who never left the bridge? Nurse Chapel, who never did anything?

When all the characters who actually get to do anything are male, then you wind up running your first person fantasies through male characters.

There's plenty of femmeslash for Xena: Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Firefly (for a few examples off the top of my head) because those series had female characters in them that were interesting enough to write about. Go over to Stargate, on the other hand, and we're back to m/m relationships because there aren't enough female characters to make pairs of!
posted by Karmakaze at 8:26 AM on August 4, 2006


Pardonyou?, it has also been my experience that guys don't want to see a butch-butch go at it or a butch-femme go at it (the most common pairings in lesbian couples), they want two femmes who don't mind the dude watching, and preferably joining in.
posted by schroedinger at 8:42 AM on August 4, 2006


Next step, Joe and Eddie Grundie slash!

TAKE THAT YOU US CENTRIC SLASH READING MALE OBJECTIFYING SKATBOARD RIDING PRIUS DRIVING SCUM BAGS.
posted by public at 8:46 AM on August 4, 2006


Next step, Fred Sanford & Grady slash.

Sheesh, I only horrified people with a completely hypothetical suggestion of A-list Blogger slashfic. I am humbled by your superior depravity, jonmc.
posted by mkhall at 8:46 AM on August 4, 2006


That should of said Grundy. Not Grundie. Failure.
posted by public at 8:46 AM on August 4, 2006


I have some friends who practice Shotokan karate.
Natural stance or the beginning position is called “yoi” and it seems to be pronounced similarly.
Which will be worth a snicker next time I visit their dojo. Buncha sweaty guys in white pajamas. Yeah.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:48 AM on August 4, 2006


But what are your thoughts on yaoi?
posted by meghanagain at 8:49 AM on August 4, 2006


meghanagain, that's an interesting link. You might find the link in nickyskye's comment interesting, too:

In 1992, Satō Masaki, a gay activist/civil servant/drag queen, harshly attacked yaoi—using the term in a personifying manner: he attacked women who draw and read yaoi—with the phrase: 'yaoi nan tte shinde shimaeba ii' [that yaoi may die]. He did this in the minikomishi [small-scale non-commercial magazine] Choisir, a feminist magazine devoted to the discussion of female sexuality by women. He felt that his human rights as a gay man were harmed by women drawing and enjoying yaoi manga. He compared them to the 'dirty old men' [hentai jijii] who watch pornography including women engaging in sexual activities with each other. In addition, he accused yaoi of creating and having a skewed image of gay men as beautiful and handsome and regarding gay men who do not fit that image and tend to 'hide in the dark' as 'garbage' [gomi]. In addition, he attacked them for creating the 'gay boom', a media wave of interest in gay issues sparked by women's magazine Crea, which, according to him, did nothing for gay men at large
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:53 AM on August 4, 2006


god i hate japan
posted by keswick at 9:08 AM on August 4, 2006


it hates you too, kezzie
posted by MikeKD at 9:11 AM on August 4, 2006


MikeKD I think keswick mistyped -
“God: I hate Japan”
‘Cause the Japanese (being mostly Buddist or Shinto) don’t care much for God. Plus they make fun of Santa Claus’crucifixion.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:36 AM on August 4, 2006


And they make us post links that don’t work.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:38 AM on August 4, 2006


Question: what is the appeal for women in watching gay men? Is it similar to the interest men have in lesbian sex?

Yes and no.

It's not the same answer for every woman. Some read and write it for the same reason, because they get off on the sexual aspect. Some though, because they're exploring their own sexuality through the two men. Some just like assigning emotional actions to men that they wish they saw in the men around them.

But yeah, women can get turned on by two men together the same way a man can get off on two women. That shouldn't be so surprising.

A lot of the fandom folk here did the whole slash discussion already. You can find it here, in the comments of course.

You can also read more about the history of slash here.

Happy reading.
posted by FunkyHelix at 9:45 AM on August 4, 2006


Or the previous discussion is here:
http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/49724

Left off a number in the link
posted by FunkyHelix at 9:48 AM on August 4, 2006


And to make a complete mess of this, the post I actually meant to link to is this one: http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/32972
posted by FunkyHelix at 9:51 AM on August 4, 2006


Ahem. Get your tickets now. No, I'm not a fan, but I find it fascinating in the same way that an anime about baking bread can be so damned entertaining.

Yaoi also introduced me to the term hoyay for which I am strangely grateful.
posted by Loser at 10:29 AM on August 4, 2006


So the characters in the slash stories aren't really 'men' at all. They're fictionalised representations of the erotic alteregos that the readers would like to have, but given male pronouns to make them feel safer. The reader chooses whichever of the couple she identifies with, and then puts herself into the imagined scene. And because women are turned on by emotions, romance and angst, the 'men' in the stories experience them in spades.

Yes, but there's also something going on here with the erasure of the female body from women's sexual fantasies that is less benign.
posted by jokeefe at 11:49 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yes, but there's also something going on here with the erasure of the female body from women's sexual fantasies that is less benign. It's not the erasure of the female body from women's sexual fantasies so much as it's the erasure of female roles from much of the medua source material. The sexual fantasy bit is kind of a secondary side effect.

It's kind of the way that the objectification of women found in porn is less a problem with porn than it is with the way women are objectified in the vast majority of media. 'Porn' just happens to be a visible subset of 'media'.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:35 PM on August 4, 2006


Can't we just further reduce things and declare that, "watching pretty people have sex is HOT"?

Why does it need to be any more complex than that?
posted by InnocentBystander at 4:06 PM on August 4, 2006


innocentbystander, um...because it is.
actually, it's all the complexity and contradiction and pure batshit insanity inherent in some of the most simple mom and pop procreation sex situations that makes it so damn interesting. least to me.
posted by es_de_bah at 5:08 PM on August 4, 2006


innocentbystander, um...because it is.

Sure, but that doesn't mean that this discussion is terribly useful, either. What I see in this thread is a lot of labels, generalizations, and attempts to create a coherent semantic representation of sexuality. Personally I'm of the opinion that human sexuality is so complex and so innate that little short of picking a human brain apart one neuron at a time for analysis is going to have anything truly insightful to impart.
posted by Ryvar at 6:29 PM on August 4, 2006


johnmc: Not exactly, KJS, it's more like we want to watch naked women doing sex stuff without the distraction of a penis, and yes, we also want to insert ourselves into the action.

It's the nature of the "sex stuff" and how its framed that the debate comes in. Just as yaoi is a heterosexual women's ideal fetish of a fantasy about gay male relationships; most "girl-on-girl" porn is a heterosexual man's ideal fetish of a fantasy about lesbian relationships.

pardonyou?: This is not true (or at least not universally true). I don't believe lesbians are in the best position to make this determination.

What, lesbians are not in the best position to determine whether pornography made for heterosexual men realistically portrays lesbian sex? My point is that gay men are raising the same criticisms of yaoi that many lesbians (including some generally supportive of porn) have been raising about girl-on-girl scenes mainstream porn: it is unrealistic, and appears to have more to do with heterosexual male fantasies than actual lesbian sex.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:07 PM on August 4, 2006


Smedleyman writes "Natural stance or the beginning position is called “yoi” and it seems to be pronounced similarly."

Well, to the extent that "bar" and "bear" are pronounced similarly.
posted by Bugbread at 10:12 PM on August 4, 2006


KirkJobSluder writes "What, lesbians are not in the best position to determine whether pornography made for heterosexual men realistically portrays lesbian sex?"

No, they're not in the best position to determine why het men like to watch portrayals of lesbian sex. In the same way, if lesbians liked watching hetero sex videos, a heterosexual man would be in a better position than a lesbian to determine the realism of a portrayal of heterosexual sex, but the het man would not be in a good position to state why lesbians want to watch portrayals of hetero sex.

So for a lesbian to say "That video is unrealistic" makes sense. For a lesbian to say "Straight guys like seeing these videos because of XYZ" doesn't make much sense.
posted by Bugbread at 10:18 PM on August 4, 2006


Point taken, and should have worded that better.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:32 PM on August 4, 2006


For a lesbian to say "Straight guys like seeing these videos because of XYZ" doesn't make much sense.

I couldn't disagree more. My lesbian friends have told me they tire of being looked at by men as purely sexual objects in public spaces, and so I can see why a lesbian would be uniquely qualified at interpreting straight men's desires to consume girl-on-girl porn — if only because straight men often put lesbians into their fantasies for the precise reason mentioned here. It's no secret why this stuff is popular with straight men.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:51 AM on August 5, 2006


Blazecock Pileon writes "It's no secret why this stuff is popular with straight men."

No, it isn't. It's pretty well known that it's because a lot of men like to watch women having sex without seeing cocks or going "nice ass" only to have the camera pull out and show that it's a guy's ass. It's not because they just want to see two women so horny that they have sex with each other until a man comes in. As you say, this is no secret, so if lesbians really think the latter, they appear to be wasting their unique qualifications.
posted by Bugbread at 6:19 PM on August 5, 2006


?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:30 PM on August 5, 2006


So that's what yaoi is.
posted by etoile at 12:43 PM on August 7, 2006


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