|See also:||seme, uke, Height Rule, slash, BL, shounen ai, doujinshi, yuri|
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Yaoi is a term used by Western anime and manga fans to refer to explicit male homoerotic works, generally created by women and for female readership, either canonical or fan-created. The Japanese usage of yaoi and related terms differs considerably.
It is an acronym of "yama nashi, ochi nashi, imi nashi: no mountain (ie peak; climax), no point, no meaning" and in its original meaning similar to PWP, i.e., sex is the be-all and end-all of the story.
However, the term has grown to be a loose catch-all for m/m stories, even though some fans distinguish between yaoi and shounen ai according to the degree of sexual explicitness (which is categorized as lemon and lime.)
Yaoi has conventions and aesthetics that are sometimes quite different from those in fandoms for Western sources. There is a greater emphasis placed on sexual roles: a seme is the active penetrative partner in anal sex, and the uke is the receptive partner. These denote not only their preferred sexual activity, but are often used to map personality traits, and their role in the relationship. The fandom may place correspondingly greater weight on the importance of a relationship being conceived of in terms of an active and passive partner: for instance, pairing names in yaoi fiction are expected to convey not only who is involved, but what role they play. Another way of differentiating yaoi from other types of slash media is that it is marketed as female-oriented media, while the term slash doesn't define an audience, but rather just a term to define fan-made media involving male/male content.
Female fans of BL (yaoi) are known as fujoshi, aka "rotten girl", which make up a majority of the BL fan base.
Yaoi is usually used in fandoms for Japanese sources, such as anime and manga. However, when anime fans cross over into fandoms for Western sources, notably Harry Potter, they may apply yaoi conventions and aesthetics to the new source.
The term is more or less unrelated to the phrase "my thoughts on yaoi."
Japan - The main contemporary catchall term in Japanese is 'BL' (for "Boys Love"). See the BL article for a more thorough discussion of Japanese terminology. Fans with a significant degree of exposure to Japanese often follow Japanese usage regardless of the local usages listed below.
North America - 'Yaoi' is used for m/m fanfic, anime, manga, and general themes. 'Shounen ai' may be used for less explicit fanfic (and other things?).
Germany / Australia / (Italy?) / (?)