Fujoshi

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Synonyms: 腐女子, fujo, funü
See also: otaku, yaoi, slasher, himejoshi, himedanshi, fudanshi
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Fujoshi (腐女子, lit. "spoiled girl") is a reclaimed Japanese term for female fans who enjoy any media works or fanworks with romantic relationships between men.

Fujoshi enjoy imagining what it would be like if male characters from manga and anime, and occasionally real-life male performers as well, loved each other. The label encompasses fans of the boys' love, yaoi, and sometimes bara genres, whether in manga, anime, novels, video games, or fanworks. The term "fujoshi" is a homophonous pun on fujoshi (婦女子), a term for respectable women, created by replacing the character 婦 (pronounced fu), meaning married woman or lady, with the character 腐 (also pronounced fu), meaning fermented or spoiled. The name was coined by mass media, but was reclaimed by yaoi fans. The term refers to how women are spoiled for marriage because they imagine homosexual relationships between male characters in stories that do not include homosexual themes.

Older fujoshi use various terms to refer to themselves, including kifujin (貴腐人, "noble spoiled woman"), a pun on a homophonous word meaning "fine lady", and ochōfujin (汚超腐人), which sounds similar to a phrase meaning "Madame Butterfly", possibly taken from a character nicknamed Ochōfujin (お蝶夫人) in the 1972 manga series Ace o Nerae! by Sumika Yamamoto. These labels were coined in the same self-deprecating spirit as fujoshi, but were also reclaimed.

According to a 2005 issue of "Eureka", in recent times fujoshi can refer to female otaku in general, although it cautions that not all yaoi fans are otaku, as there are some more casual readers. As fujoshi is the best-known term, it is often used by the Japanese media and by people outside of the otaku subculture to refer to female otaku as a group, regardless of whether they are fans of BL. This usage may be considered offensive by female otaku who are not fans of BL.

Men who, like fujoshi, enjoy imagining relationships between characters in fictional works when that relationship is not part of the author's intent may be called fudanshi (腐男子, "spoiled boy") or fukei (腐兄, "spoiled older brother"), both of which are puns of similar construction to fujoshi. Fudanshi and fukei are not always used to mean "fans of BL", although the terms are most often used in that sense, and if a male himself claims to be a fudanshi or fukei, it's almost certainly the case. The term "fujin" (腐人, "spoiled person") also exists as a gender-neutral version and is used by some nonbinary fans.

The kanji "Fu" (腐) is often used as a prefix in fanwork titles on sites such as Pixiv to clearly mark works that contain male-male relationships.

The term "himejoshi" (姫女子, "princess girl") are used for the female fans of the yuri genre, and "himedanshi" (姫男子, "princess boy") for male fans of yuri.[1][2]

A portion of fans view fujoshi as an inherently homophobic subculture that is guilty of fetishizing male-male relationships[3], and cite the "rotten" etymology of the word as support for their opinion.[4][5] Other fans rebut this point by saying that fujoshi is just any female slash fan, and does not inherently mean they are homophobic[6], and that "getting off on fictional gay sexual relationships is not fetishization".[7] This is the subject of much discourse on discussion platforms such as Tumblr. Anti-fujoshis are also usually anti-yaoi and anti-shippers.

Etymology

It must be noted that despite the "rotten" translation which has a negative connotation in English, the kanji "Fu" (腐) does not share the same negative connotation. Tumblr user rottenboysclub says:

Fujoshi only means “rotten girl” if you google-translate it. In other words, I consider it somewhat of a mistranslation as the ‘fu’ character doesn’t actually carry connotations of bad behaviour like the word “rotten” does in English. The fu character is also used in tofu - directly translated it means “fermented bean”. So I think fujoshi is probably better translated as “fermentation girl” and the reason it was termed as such has more to do with the fact that (when it was originally used to refer to slash fangirls) these women would “ferment” / change the “product to be consumed” (anime series), so that it would be unpalatable for the cishet male viewer, by making two or more male characters in love with one another. In other words, it’s a food pun.[8]

The abbreviation "fujo" may have a more derogatory connotation.

Further Reading

References

  1. Pixiv Encyclopedia page for "姫女子"
  2. Danbooru wiki for "Himejoshi"
  3. An Open Letter To Fujoshis: One Gay Boi’s Rant. (Archived version)
  4. downwithddlg: fujoshi literally means “rotten woman”. why are you labeling yourselves like that when you could just say homophobe it’s not that hard lol
  5. Like do fujoshis even know what that term translates to? It means “rotten girl”., Jan 20, 2018
  6. Twitter thread by Miyu, 10 Oct 2018. Archived version
  7. https://allshipsareok.tumblr.com/post/168993021820/fujoshis-are-fetishizing-gay-relationships
  8. Nov 29, 2018 post