Girls who love boys' love: Japanese homoerotic manga as trans-national Taiwan culture
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|Title:||Girls who love boys' love: Japanese homoerotic manga as trans-national Taiwan culture|
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Girls who love boys' love: Japanese homoerotic manga as trans-national Taiwan culture is a 2012 paper by Fran Martin published in the journal Inter-Asia Cultural Studies.
Based on interviews with 30 female readers of BL ('boys' love') manga conducted in Taipei in 2005, this paper analyses the BL scene in Taiwan from the perspective of its social utility as a discursive arena enabling women collectively to think through transforming social ideologies around gender and sexuality. This form of participatory pop culture is most interesting, I argue, not because of any unilateral subversiveness vis-à-vis culturally dominant understandings of (feminine) gender or (homo)sexuality—although it does often contest such dominant understandings. Rather, it is important in providing a space for the collective articulation of young women's in-process thinking on these questions. The paper also engages with the Japaneseness of the genre as consumed in Taiwan in order to consider the imaginative function that its perceived cultural 'otherness' performs.
The pleasurable imaginative activity of 'slashing' or pairing-up existing male characters is known among Taiwanese fans as peidui ('matching couples').
Fujimoto speculates that the unpopularity of GL with girls, as compared to BL, may be connected with the relative familiarity of the subject matter, hence its unamenability to pleasurable fantasy. This was borne out somewhat by my discussions with the Taiwanese interviewees. Cf Nakamura and Matsuo on why female Takarazuka fans have trouble forming close identification with female-feminine stars/roles on stage, as distinct from their identificatory bond with the female masculinity of Takarazuka performers; Akatsuka applies a similar logic to male femininity in BL comics.
However, making this observation is not the same as concluding that BL always only functions as a fantasy genre. Rather, fantasy constitutes one modality of engagement available to some readers of some texts. It exists alongside the other modes noted above, which include somewhat more realist engagements vis-à-vis social issues of homosexuality and homophobia, and vis-à-vis Japan as a more specific imagined geography.