Incredibly drawn out ruminations and highly subjective digressions over manga naughty bits below the cut. How can it be boring if it is about sex and pr0n?
“I’ll save you the trouble of reading the full list but it generally boiled down to “rub her clitoris while kissing her and touching her breasts,” to the point where I was saying this phrase like a robot, but whenever I try to channel a robot, I sound like a Dalek. I encourage you to imagine this.”
–Pumpkin Spice Sex Tips from Hell, by LM, The Lobster Dance 2015/10/23 (blog)
THANK YOU! I did, I feel vaguely uneasy, but curiously interested. It opened a whole new world for me. Whenever I feel stick-in-the-mud I go read some of the posts at The Lobster Dance.
Un refresco san egal!
“Exterminnnnnn.. No! Wai-ait!”
“Rub her cli-to-ris whiiiiile kis-sing her and tou-ching her bre-asts!”
So, now that I have a Love Dalek shivaree echoing in my head whenever I consider a fumbling, mechanical manga sex scene that involves at least one woman, nagging questions surrounding disenchantment and re-enchantment of the real world tug at me. I can understand that something as commodified and commercially debased as Cosmo would screw up “28 Mind-Blowing Lesbian Sex Tips”, though I wish the writer had offered a few examples of woman-exclusive fail to go with the weak as heck heterosexually pitched “Fall dating tips“. I was later able to track down a further review and from the excerpts provided gained a slightly better idea of what kind of lukewarm mess the article was,
[http://www.bustle.com/articles/33979-cosmos-28-mind-blowing-lesbian-sex-tips-what-do-gay-women-think-of-these-bedroom-suggestions] as well as why it was notable.
A numbered list of instructional sex techniques and/or positions functions as the ultimate reductive abstraction of pornography, while avoiding its stigma and honest work. Erotica or other libidinized narratives could be positioned on the other extreme of a scale, at least one measured by complexity. The numbered list’s reductive character contains its own inadvertent humor across the full range of human sexualities, even extending to fantastic imaginings of the same. Early western taxonomies of yaoi sex scenes were equally simplistic. [http://web.archive.org/web/20081222062411/http://ggymeta.wordpress.com/that-japanese-bl-sex-scene-page/] As for yuri couplings, the Love Daleks pretty well have it as long as the play stays away from toys and kinked extremes.
How much can you tell about a culture, or a sub-culture by its pr0n. Must all pr0n struggle against shoddy? Must shoddy pr0n inexorably dis-enchant reality? Were the post and/or pop Lacanians completely wrong and out to lunch on the importance of libidnized narratives, or did they put too much emphasis on something that was built to do something else?
Do the pr0nish bits (oops libidinized narratives) consumed by the fandom follow tastes or do they influence taste? Are they a vehicle for understanding, or do they reinforce prejudice? Do they bias towards the reinforcement of sub-optimal outlooks?
Consider the problem of the relation of the fandom to its enthusiasms:
“OTAKU AS QUEER?
If so, I much prefer this female Otaku to male one. Or, putting my preference aside, I cannot help thinking here about one word that suits this homo-sexual aspect of female Otaku: “queer.” In order to develop this association of ideas, it’s useful to quote another small remark by Okada. He says: “The reason why there is no movement of gay culture in Japan is the existence of the Otaku culture.” I must add an immediate note to this remark since there are some gay cultures in Japan too; especially in Tokyo. But, as Okada has suggested, there is no integral gay movement as in New York.
Okada’s observation is right since it’s an observation, but from a critical point of view, we should raise a question: Is Otaku a “substitute” – or even a “sublimation” – of the absence of gay culture? I don’t think so. In my opinion, it’s rather an “oppression.”
If so, I’d like to substitute the long-awaited word “queer” for the word “gay.” The original sense of the word “queer” is “to be strange,” but, as you know, it has transformed its meaning as to include homo-sexual implications and has gotten nowadays even the status of disciplinary term to criticize various cultural standards that oppress the minority’s way of life. From this point of view, a kind of female Otaku can probably be called queer, even if they are not fully but partially homo-sexual.
Or rather, if male Otaku is the only Otaku as Karasawa observes concerning Azuma’s book, we should, instead of allowing it to be simply “not queer,” put on it a seal of “seemingly-queer-but-with-no-queerness-as-its-essence.”
–Otaku Culture and Its Discontents: A Record of Talk Delivered at “The Colloquium in Visual and Cultural Studies” by Takahiro Ueda, （October 17, 2007, University of Rochester）
Brushing aside my usual annoyance with the deployment of the term, the “queer”-ness of all non-“old testament approved only for procreation” couplings that show up in the pages of manga might not, for example, translate into radical destroy the heteropatriarchy pansexual polymorphous perversity in real life, or even leave the otaku or fujoshi more prepared to cope with intimacies of any kind, including radical ones.
This doubt has been expressed before:
“What seems different about otaku for Saito is that this formerly relatively private or even secret (if also widespread) practice has in the past few decades become an increasingly mass-mediated social role with an unprecedented amount of public visibility. Saito denies that the female partners of his (perverse) straight male otaku are in any sense “substitutes” for the heroines of anime that the otaku may (also?) adore and desire, and opines, “My personal impression is that marriage to another otaku of the opposite sex tends to be seen as the perfect ending to life as an otaku”. Vincent defends Saito from the charge of heteronormativity by arguing that while “Saito may describe the real-life sexuality of the otaku he knows as tending toward the heterosexual and the vanilla, . . . he never prescribes that it be so”. For Vincent, what gives Saito’s work its considerable interest to queer theorists is its theoretical tendency neither to privilege nor pathologize the otaku’s enjoyment of “the reality-producing charge [that] . . . the beautiful fighting girl sparks across the gap between” his outward performance of sexual “normality” and his sustained commitment to both his perverse imaginary pleasures and the media- saturated collective context that enables and sustains these pleasures.”
–Otaku for Queer Theory And Media Theory by Michael Moon
A review of Beautiful Fighting Girl by Saito Tamaki, translated by J. Keith Vincent and Dawn Lawson.
So all the naughty bits in Japanese and diaspora fandom make for a glass that barely has any content, or is at least slowly filling, or contains the wrong liquid anyway. Simulated quasi-queer? Uncanny shadow pervy? Usotsuki open-minded?
Even an a stick-in-the-mud guy like me can, upon some introduction to the online fandom, marvel at the energy and the passion and fun that the slash fan/ fujoshi (diaspora variant) deploy and enjoy from the process of pairing cartoon characters. That these idealistic efforts mirror larger impulses and desiderata in romance-in-general is just plain neat as all heck.
When fans pair live-action characters and even real-life celebrities, a wisp of discomfort brushes my old heteropatriarchal soul, but hey, actors and celebs took the shilling and make a whole lot more than I do, so go wild. Pair them with everything.
As I examine my reactions to such fun, it is like a simple elegant Rorschach test for my battered soul. First reaction: “Whatever”, but my preferences run towards ideas of “authenticity” and “free choice” because if we are going to do fiction, we might as well make it somewhat aspirational. Second: I would hope that they move to avoid blowback; the Yaoi Ronso concerns and the far less likely danger of “Ogiue’s Sin”. We must also wonder how all such efforts either question gender and sexuality conventions or are absorbed into their maintenance.
The policing of sexuality roles, is not just enforced by males who go “predator” and look to vent violence on anyone they consider “fair” game. The policing of sexuality and gender roles is also maintained by women, including those in the “chorus”; even if some in the chorus have mixed motives. Since women have always had to negotiate these roles, the female who imagines desire between males brings a mixed outlook to a desolate landscape. Viewing it as just one more facet of male madness and gender-programmed misbehaviour available as grist for the libidinization mill suggests both radical deconstruction and fatalistic collusion at the same time.
As well, if the particular slash fan/ fujoshi or any other fantasist has heavier issues to work out with their pairings, that’s their deal. Dreams remain sacred, “all fantasies or none”, but at the same time It is difficult to cheer when squick is waved in front of one’s face. Finally, while the public safety standards in advanced liberal democracies are imperfect approximations, they generally have reasons and like electrical codes, disasters behind them. I defer to these attempts at harm reduction.
Even at this limited starting point, a general view of the issues surrounding popular romantic pornography V2, even limited to Contemporary Japanese Visual Culture and its discontents begins to bog down in a “define the universe, be specific” swamp.
Lets see what past attempts have dug up.
A 2006 essay that discusses western slash works by Catherine Driscoll
attempts to negotiate the libidinization of western fan romantic fiction across the competing demands of pr0n (displays realistic-effect bodies, does one thing well with tissues) and romantic fiction (fosters female homosocials while elaborating ideas of “romance”). CJVC hews close to and feeds off tendencies within Japanese fan communities and therefore the questions raised in analysing western fan slash erotics may be retooled to look (or gaze) upon Japanese artifacts, especially those within a strongly fan-mediated sub-genre.
“It is easier to rethink romance when its similarities to pornography, understood as having a much more serious relation to the sex/gender system, are kept in view. The inseparability of sex and gender in practice is one of the things that romance genres make obsessively visible, and one of the ways in which romance is itself pornographic. Romance is always seeking to display the imperative bind between sex and gender without, perhaps, naming it such. The imperative to visibility in porn is also embedded in the themes of revelation and discovery that shape a romance narrative, always exposing the truth of feelings, desires and character, and always manipulating the audience’s desire to know what they already know. Porn may relay on a far more efficient system of representation with, as Ferguson suggests, no hidden resources of meaning (2004, 11), but both romance and porn consume the question of sexed and gendered relationships more for its epistemological context than its content.”
–One True Pairing: The Romance of Pornography and the Pornography of Romance”, by Catherine Driscoll: Chapter 2 of “Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays” Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse, Editors (2006) (Summary http://karenhellekson.com/?page_id=38)
That said, while the intersection between romance and pr0n might suggest the possibility of an evolving, hybrid form, with women-created efforts leading the way, the fact remains that too much romanticized porn is still either laughably bad, extremely weird or perfunctorily banal.
It might be harder to exorcise those Love Daleks than I first thought.
The obvious question after “surely there is more to X than that!” and “real X don’t do that” is: “Ok, where are examples of what real X does?” Or even better; “If not all X is vile, where is the X that is sweet, aspirational, romantic and more than perfunctory?”
It is as if the baseline of human intimacy has been farmed out to classical economists. “Assume a loving couple“. Cut to waves crashing on the shore.
“Don’t want chicken, don’t want steak,
I want a food that I know is fake.
I want SPAM, spam, better than Ham.
SPAM, spam, better than Ham!”
– Spam Jam, K. Johnson
I find it difficult to summon from memory many instances of idealised “vanilla” male-female sex scenes that I could point out as “sweet, touching, tender, mushy happy romantic CHEESE that play out over a significant number of pages. Plenty of fast, perfunctory “insert placeholder for romantic sex here, done, romance consummated” move on… A few where buddy boy ends too fast and his lady love is disappointed, mountains of fetishry, but nothing I could point to and say: “marathon romantic sex scene, oh my goodness, they really like each other a lot!”
Is my manhood in danger if I would be reassured by the existence of any such? Not that I need pointers, but hey, if it caught on, it could be interesting to see what other folks think of such a project. Just sayin…
So far, if I want some of that, I have to go looking for nice V2 monogamous romantic yuri. I don’t mind twice the good-looking female characters. The illusion that women might get the romance thing down better than my poor brain can manage is fine too. You take your illusions where you can find them.
As I do not browse the rotten stacks, I might be completely ignorant and miss mountains of analogous stuff over in their fantasy lands. I have mostly seen example panels of the over-the-top and/or fetishy and/or “whoahh human bodies can’t do that” excess. And of course a few chaste vanilla BL-ish reluctant androgynes making longing eyes at each other through wispy streaks of fog and light.
I have seen exactly one example of plausible mutually tender male-male intimacy in a manga and it ended up being dramatically sad. No improbable seme reaming improbable uke, lots of clinging tight to one another and one of the characters at first looked so indeterminate that it took a while to clue in that it was two guys. The mangaka was going for empathy plus butt-hurt-free intense physicality and succeeded in a novel, fetish-free way. I found myself wishing two imaginary characters the best.
And then I wondered how I had been so “fooled”.
At very least, the screaming homophobic (emphasis: phobic) voice in my head, the one left over from my youth was stilled for an instant. Oh! Well, if that’s all there is to it, Godspeed you two, and courage. Wait; they’re just fictional squiggly-lines…
Fine then: here’s to the ideal that everyone can find someone to hold and be held by.
I can cheer for that.
There are advantages to having a stable baseline within the stock catalog of forms. They can be re-used and adapted as well as being dragged out for ceremonial occasions.
I’m sure the “nice stuff” hides out there somewhere but the question remains: why is there so much shoddy and or hurried and or weird stuff piled on top of it? Is it just easier to do extreme and shoddy stuff?
Residual puritanism? (residual militaristic quasi-shintoism plus imported early 20th C european psychologizing approaches to sexualities?) Must erotic depiction carry the stench of the forbidden, the dangerous, the hurried and the ill-advised? Does it fail to get the blood flowing unless it is dangerous? shameful? frenzied? Is it all there to serve as titillation and cautionary example? Doesn’t this just perpetuate the endless disenchantment of everyday life as well as the tedious procession of “othering”? Or does it serve to validate the lowest possible levels of real-world interaction, with anything beyond as ridiculous “don’t try this at home” “weird stuff you saw on some porn video”?
Hate the whole fujoshi/ yaoi/ BL context in the Genshiken? Take heart! If Madarame declines romance with the bundle of contradictions that is Hato, it will be because the Hatos can’t give up on the formulaic aspects of hir fen-created and meditated fantasies. In other words, the scary scary BL/yaoi weird pr0n is what’s gonna end up saving Mada’s, duhhh, urm… innocence.
Mada might have steeled himself to ‘try” exploring what happens if he hangs out with a pretty boy in a skirt, but he will recoil at the inauthenticity, and the physical unpleasantries of acting out Hato’s Hato-ized fujoshi fantasy schmex pictures. Buzz-kill. Sorry kiddo, ya wrecked the mood.
Hato’s fantasies are (written as) overwhelmingly visual. Hato draws some of these and aspires to draw more, The image stock and the sub-genre specific “usual” progression of male-male sex, as well as the emphasis on extremely symbolic yet impractical modes of intimacy exert a powerful grip on the Hato imagination. (as written, standing in proxy for, etc.) The symbolism of the acts, how they have become “floating signifiers” have become more important than the physicality of the acts themselves.
As tangential example, consider the incidences of “tribbing”/ tribadism in yuri. Some real women might just possibly get it to do something, but generally it is a ridiculous made-up activity that became a convention that provided symbolic congruences with heterosexual play and pleased the male-gaze audience. Yaoi that privileges the symbolic importance of rapey rapey butt-sex indulges in similar symbolic violences upon the intimate real. Fortunately the Japanese gutter-press hoax fad of eye-ball licking never caught on. [http://www.cnet.com/news/blind-spot-how-a-hoax-about-eye-licking-went-global/]
Madarame has a head-full of images too. These were originally stocked with loli moe femaloids. Recently some of the charas have been replaced with unreal mythical boy-girls. These look much like the loli moe femaloids, except the chests are even flatter and there is a surprise in the pantsu. They are also posited within their imaginary sphere to really, really know what guys like and they are on a mission from the gods of otokonoko games (who may or may not be underemployed BL artists) to prove this point. Lolis generally don’t do that.
Both fools’ mental landscapes also feature plenty of flare effects, mosaics, blurrings and piles of black censor strips. Something must be left to the imagination.
Hato Kenjiro’s fascination with the BL and yaoi image back catalogue was initially not meant to serve as a direct guide for real-world romance. Hato back in mostly guy-mind days was written as assuring himself that he was just trying to figure out why those damn pictures worked so well on some part of him. He then split that part off. I’ve gone on about this way too much already, time to jump over “containment field’, “virtual-lesbian-fujoshi” and “fujoshi world field exploration module” and get to the present mess: Hato worked hard to almost-process BL yaoi pictures in Hato-simulated-girl mode. (and we should not forget that artist-Hato, the most important hidden Hato for Hato’s god-creator, wants to process them too) Now the pictures threaten something else and if that something else can be called “gay”, it is an odd form of “gay” indeed. It has the bodies, but they dance all wrong while the wrong music plays.
“Previous BL research has often concluded that BL works are mostly produced by and for women; thus, the BL genre is assumed to represent an unbroken continuum with what Alice Jarden calls “gynesis.” However, the dialectical relationship between women and gay men can be seen as early as 1992, in the so-called Yaoi Ronsō (Yaoi Dispute). In this controversy, women were critically accused of “plundering” gay images. Nevertheless, an analysis of Yaoi Ronsō shows that it constructed and reinforced a simplistic opposition between women and “gay” men; consequently, it typified heterosexual men as “invisible” participants in BL. In this paper, I will suggest that there may also have been many heterosexual male BL readers (fudanshi, “rotten men”). If so, this would entail a discursive queerness of heterosexual male readings of male homosexual narratives such as BL. Considering the specific Japanese socio/cultural context surrounding the BL genre, I will attempt to unveil the specific motifs, narratives and aesthetics in BL which may attract some heterosexual male readers and enable them to consume BL stories. This paper will thus illustrate a psychological (subconscious) male desire for self-feminization, aligned with a temptation felt by many men to negate the construction of a strong, “masculine” ego. Specifically, fudanshi readers’ strong attachment to BL shōnen (boys) may be associated with the idealization of shōnen identity which is promoted by certain Japanese modernist male writers. In the form shōnen images, these writers wish to project their resistance against national attempts to Westernize and “masculinize” modern Japan. Similarly, fudanshi may project their inclination to feminize the self onto BL shōnen characters, in order to speak against the contemporary social situation, in which a Japanese man is only valued in terms of his socially constructed male identity.”
–“Do Heterosexual Men Dream of Homosexual Men?: BL Fudanshi (‘rotten men’) and the Discourse of Male Feminization”
Kazumi Nagaike, Oita University http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x1spg
I am dubious. Once I get around the verdamnt paywalls and fully digest this thing I might be able to better understand Dr. Nagaike’s arguments. For now, this sounds like a retread of “Herbivore Men” pop-psych journalism tatted up with aca-speak and footnotes. Or Dr. Nagaike is a secret big-time Genshiken fan and her constructed holodeck fudanshi looks mighty familiar. I wonder how many IRL fudanshi did she manage to shake out of the trees to interview? Can we check the survey questions for bias and loading? Gay male fudanshi I can believe may occur in the wild, perhaps as some individual project to map straight girl ideas against real-world practice. Het male fudanshi, while a speck on some future far horizon are a lot harder to imagine today.
The essay also, for all its academic cant of queering poses a paradox of gender essentialism upon sexualities and genders, with that ol debbil the “psychological (subconscious) male desire for self-feminization“. Does this mean that these mythical heterosexual fudanshi suddenly develop an interest as well in other traditional Japanese female-gendered interests? Only if their project is one of simulating the female, as crossplay or variant on older traditional practices, can the effort be even mistakenly described as feminization; though it is closer to simulation, even selective appropriation.
And what of the radical impulse behind the “rotten” of the rotten tribes of women, to play with imagined male-male sex, seize phallic agency and libidinous pleasure and thereby taint, spoil and overturn their femininity?
Unless these fudanshi are emergent trans-women, they remain guys engaging in fujoshi consumption and exchange as a guy-brain activity. If we then wish to avoid reactively gendering their subjectivity, it becomes merely an activity among many, done in this case by a male human. Perhaps, like the idealised lesbian fujoshi they have amazing self-control, are not participating in the collective to troll for hook-up opportunities and are instead soaking in the heady atmosphere of a female homosocial dedicated to exploring a general project of female erotic and romantic narrative, performed with fictional male-ish looking but woman-driven (or improved with woman concerns male stereotype behaving) bodies.
Feel a headache coming on yet?
Initially I thought the Hato character had been so written, as a crude analogue to the lesbian fujoshi. Hato’s kami-sama has since improved his creation. Something female-made still interests Hato, but if it is “performed”, the performance will be Hato-ized. Hato is far too obsessed to do any less. The project is more of an invasion than a becoming. In the same way, reading yuri pr0n doesn’t make me a virtual lesbian, even if I stick to V2 lesbian created and/or approved yuri. I remain an individual who is a guy, who likes to look at nekkid lady pictures. If the material was not made for my gaze, it matters little as I will appropriate it for my straight guy needs.
If what is being appropriated by the mythical heterosexual feminized fudanshi is not the man-sex, but the enveloping romance, he may possibly escape the paradox. Perhaps he urgently desires to write romance fiction, even for fujoshi and is on some form of mad research mission? Men are very big on romance, we are incurable romantics; we just traditionally lack eloquence and expressive conventions when we consider our lovers, and reserve our romantic expressions for vague abstractions involving heroism, death, war, ideologies, tribes, nation states and machines.
Fujoshi narratives revel in our romantic incoherence, not in our lack of romantic urges.
I have some nifty one hour plus Chris Hedges lectures you can listen to, if you doubt this. A man can learn to adopt a more personal romantic presentation but many women find it disquieting to have it directed at them from an unexpected source.
As for the gay male fudanshi, Yaoi Ronso was right. Time for another dose of extreme mesomorphic pain giving and pain bearing S+M bara, so as to situate authentic male-male desire as far away from anything that looks “weak” and “effeminate” as possible. The result for the women is the maintenance of a typically Japanese female isolationist homosocial. The walls surrounding the fujoshi village must remain unbreached. No “intact” boys allowed. Give this one to Yoshitake, it will help focus her fanfiction. Buy a copy for Kaminaga. No wait, she secretly helped check the proofs.
To suggest that any deviation from limited and absolute specs of drone-dom, thugdom or jockdom entail an absolute loss of “masculine” agency, as well as the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time is sophistry. If we define manhood as a constant battle between life-shortening wage-slavery and scared petulant violent entitled childish narcissism or “losing” and turning into a ultra-passive gender-diffuse herbivore male we have already lost everything. We are deep in gender-role hysteria land or a puff piece in the social pages of the Yomiuri Shinbum. Solution to this lamentable decline in Japanese manliness? Revoke Article 9 of the Constitution and bring back mandatory military service.
“The feminization of men and the masculinization of women and the neutered gender that results is a modernistic tendency that makes it impossible for the individual, the society, or the nation to achieve great progress. Accordingly, since the manliness of man and the femininity of woman must forever be preserved, it is imperative that we not allow the rise of neutered people who defy nature’s grace.”
– General Ugaki Kazushige [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazushige_Ugaki]
A full analysis of this new Nagaike work is in order; perhaps slammed against a review of the Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu anime, since the latter is a fine historical tale of stolen patrimony, tradition, friendship and rivalry between two almost brother apprentices, written by a BL mangaka who has sworn not to do any overt BL this time. Only a few more episodes to go. Sounds like it could work. Time to scrape the grey corners of the intertubes for a way around those paywalls, snag a copy and grind on the entire essay.
For women, yaoi rockem sockem robots were built to do things that females and female bodies couldn’t do, due to physical and highly gendered hierarchical social limitations. It is not just borrowing the pickup truck for a spin across the golf course greens, It is borrowing the shonen lead character truck, plus the shonen lead’s rival four-wheeler and crashing them into each other on the playing field during the highschool sports festival. Up next, a fun crash in the boardroom office!
Otokonoko fetishry similarly displaces the libido from “ooops getting too underage” female-looking characters to something a lot more abstract and thereby pedo-predator-guilt-free and offers a substitution of sin for evil that leaves the enthusiast slightly ahead in the exchange. As imaginary sex-demons, the otokonoko is designed to be able to look after its own interests. It could get more unrealistically displaced, but not much…
My little step-sister who is really an ageless deathless gender diffuse boy-ish farm-animal-loid with robot enhancements, a lewd imagination, cannibalistic impulses and a severe brother complex can’t be that cute!
And that doesn’t even throw any Futa (male and female sex organs possessing female appearance fantasy hermaphrodite) characters into the pot.
This also begs the further question. Does the taste for fantastic narratives in general and in the case of the consumers of Contemporary Japanese Visual Culture artifacts in particular, lead towards a risk of “porn addiction”? Dr. Saito Tamaki (as above) and the rest of the “hack the spew” theory brigade would beg to differ. They argue that the overload danger is already out there and everyone risks drowning in it. Becoming a connoisseur of the range of material and how it pushes our buttons is a survival strategy. We are then free to pick and choose what we like and moderate our appetites. A smorgasbord should not inevitably lead to a burst gut or catatonic withdrawal.
It would be nice though if some of the entrees were edible.
As capitalism know no sexuality – only immediate effectiveness, one has to wonder how much knee-jerk “bigotry” is abetted in a poorly expressed feeling of being overwhelmed by marketing droids, rather than the absolute feeling that one’s particular expression (and the security and privilege of place it once afforded) is under attack.
A solution, at least the one offered by Kio Shimoku in his works and interviews lies in the charming and troublesome allure of other real people; as people and not as fantastic “other”. Unfortunately “hell is other people” and the most dangerous “other” in the otaku/fujoshi bestiary is not the fan of canibal-sheep-droid-robo-shota over at that table far off down the aisle at comiket. (unless he or she inexplicably causes one’s heart to go doki doki at first sight) The real, really scary other is the riajuu. And they own the house.
This fear of the mundane imposes a subtle toll. The fantastic always lurks in the shadows, waiting for a chance to slip in and re-enchant the great dead grey sucking miasma of real life. All fiction shares this flaw but a taste for the fantastic jacks the effect. A taste for the libidinised fantastic puts it through the roof. Even in the most over-normal simulations of “the normal” conjured up for comfort and the illusion of acceptance, the magic will not go away or politely shut the fuck up. When normalcy is depicted some parts are played up while others are glossed over and hurried through. Then the ghost of your dead grade school friend starts pestering you until you let off fireworks and cry a lot. Too much else is deemed boring, unimportant; not even soothing enough to create the iyashi mood. Along the way the solid, the mundane yet important details evaporate, melt into air.
Why all the weird? And why is the “normative” stuff, indeed most vanilla intimacy whatever the bodies, mostly run as rushed, mechanical and ultimately disillusioned/ disenchanted?
Because I don’t read that much shoujo manga, I probably miss lots of miss big-eyes finally landing prince charming. Guy-gaze titles seldom take a lot of time under the sheets and when they do, over-emphasise “agency”. Or run amok with the fetish catalog. I have to browse the yuri stacks to find anything that resembles happy mutually engaged warm fuzzies with represented female flesh and even then, there is plenty of nasty that has to be shovelled out-of-the-way.
Across the avenue, the rotten girls might have it better. A guy like me can guess that somehow all those comiket dojins function as an amateur gift-economy group-mind-consciousness for developing and elaborating on “what fujoshi-folk really like”, whereas us guy readers are more likely to just browse the commercial offerings on the 18+ shelves or creep around on the interwebs all night. We do less fanfic and doujins. This is a measurable fact.
At this point, one also has to remember that only a small minority of women-folk go through the trouble of joining their “open-source” movement, just as only a small minority of laptop users mess with linux. Most of everybody takes Campbell’s and likes it. In both cases however, vanguard enthusiasms make up for numbers in terms of overall influence.
As well, one must absolutely avoid the error of conflating the fandom with the limiting faults of the genre’s conventions. Unless one declares that only rich powerful dudes deserve to create any stories, or at least hold absolute veto power over the range of permissible narratives, one is forced to admit that the slash and parallel fujoshi project can only expand the absolute range and number of stories available to the entire human experience.
As do all other expressions by previously silenced communities.
We as good Star Fleet-ish late modernist humanoids are all richer thereby. We would be fools to condemn the entire project. Some or most of it might not be to our individual tastes. Some of it might be so out there that public safety issues demand suppression. We may even fear that dictates of the market will operate as a zero-sum game and that their crap will displace and take over all the pride of place that currently favors our crap (hence gamergate), but this is paranoia and childish narcissism. “I hate you Mommy-Daddy, you like Susie better!”
Fujoshi desire and its markets did not destroy Akihabra; instead it incited retail turnover a few kilometers away and became Maiden Road. The absolute amount and range of fannish weirdness in Tokyo was thus expanded by exp 2.x. Profit! Along the way, the stigma that accreted around otaku enthusiasm was somewhat overwritten by fan purchasing power and since the female fan/fen also went into (and could go into) binge mode, the effect was multiplied and change hastened.
But Nooooooooo… We perhaps wanted all the girls to save their money, fawn over our guy-ish enthusiasms and blankly buy upskirt figurines for all of us in the guy-archy? Or just you? The rest of the time they can sit around in their girl-pens and discuss how to look pretty for us, so as to distract us from our video games. (Oops! Lookie like I found a flaw in the Genshiken’s Saki and her early construction) Did I mention blind stupid screaming-infant level narcissism yet? No one expects the roots of prejudice or even residual distaste to be fair or rational. Look at the American GOP primary. But enlightened self-interest dictates that we work to stop fooling ourselves so easily.
History stalls without electricians
I am a conductor.
I have gripped live wires in my fist
And felt currents pulse in my fibres
–“1921: An Order to the Red Army near Rostov”
(Stalin’s Carnival) by Steven Heighton
Years ago I attended a long scholarly art-history presentation on the 1960’s shift of western guy pr0n magazines from police blotter photo realistic styles to airbrushed fantastic creations. (Yes, that art degree was a lot of fun) One of the points of the lecture was that when the conventions of the genre changed, they lurched almost all at once and then settled into a new “normal” that was both more intense and more removed from reality. The only thing it left out was an examination of the technical changes in photo retouching and printing that undoubtedly abetted the shift. This leaves me to wonder about the waves of pr0n de jour in CJVC, but that might be too much for today. At least it points the way to the need to look under the hood of the pr0n-mobile as well as that genre paradigm shifts are possible, if not common.
The bad sex scene is legendary in western literature too, so faults of formulaic presentation are in no way restricted to manga and CJVC. However, manga and other aspects of CJVC are thought to be prone to a cultural preference for established forms. Part of their power and ubiquity lies in the robust range of conventions within the genres. The feedstock encourages serial reproduction and elaboration, especially on an amateur level. The stories, the tropes, what is simplistically considered as the “database” of characters, the typologies of their interactions and character behaviour are all off-the-shelf, yet they are enough of them so that no one entertains crippling doubts about originality or plagiarism. The whole CJVC “cloud” is a “public domain” playset. Just plant your ass and learn how to sketch, or start writing fic on your blog. Or your smart phone. The internal Japanese market is huge. If the work is a gift between fans it can spread around the world. practice your moves over and over, repeat the Kata until you get better at it. Assemble the handy bits lying around and hot damn if it don’t look almost like a “real” product!
The “meta” of the conventions within a genre are a blessing as well as a curse. The cookie cutter bits that make it easy to start off and get to a certain level of proficiency also somewhat discourage radical innovation.
One could even advance the argument that the tradition of valuing the “cloud” of conventions surrounding Japanese pr0n is far more historically entrenched and developed than any other culture on the planet. Japan has been drawing and publishing oodles of naughty pictures for a wide audience, for a very long time. There were more libraries in 1700’s Edo than in all of Europe. Guess what made up the bulk of the reading material? We euro-ethnic types were barbarians back then. Also; we thought baths would kill us.
I now own a massive (four tankobons thick) expensive show catalog from a groundbreaking retrospective exhibition of Shunga that ran at a Tokyo museum last winter. [http://www.spoon-tamago.com/2015/09/21/shunga-japanese-erotic-art-from-the-1600s-1800s/] also [http://tokyoapartmentinc.com/blog/tokyo_culture_guide/150925591.html]
I took in the show during my last trip to Japan. It too points to limits and drawbacks in the history of such genres. The problems of narrow artistic convention pop up in page after page after page; the same positions and scenes are elaborated over and over and over again. Yup, she must be enjoying herself, her toes are curled! Of course, the depicted intimacy is invariably male-agency biased. Only by adding octopi and other sea-life could a brilliant artist (and/or his collaborating wife [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_Hokusai]) introduce a few fanciful ideas. Crowd scenes and same-sex cameos spice up the offerings. Shunga was meant to serve an educational function. It usually came with ribald story texts to add value to the pictures.
Here’s what struck me as odd about the show: almost all the pictures could already be found in libraries or on the net. Everyone in Japan knew the stuff existed and could easily seek it out if they so cared. Unfortunately it was considered to be embarrassing and in bad taste, something not really suitable for polite conversation. Sound familiar? Tattered 200 year-old bound copies of famous works, in effect 1800’s era pr0n tankobons could be scavenged from used booksellers for very reasonable prices until recently. Only the ‘privileging’ of having a foreign-owned collection assembled, shown at a world-famous foreign museum and then returned to tour a venerable Tokyo museum momentarily re-legitimised the genre. That’s what art galleries and museums do. Stuff in here is important, please pay attention.
Back to fannish enthusiasms and manga pr0n.
What of happy pairs being respectful and tender to each other? These can be assumed to have more real-life influence than crowd scene rape fantasies with hardware and rubber animal costumes. How do these fail to enchant?
Steps 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Uuugggggnnnnnnn! Roll over, have a smoke.
Fave example of this for het manga sex; every pas-de-deux in Futari Ecchi. Minus smoking. To hammer home the point, the male lead suffers from recurring problems with premature ejaculation.
No wonder us guys are looking at V1 exploitative “rezbian rebu” yuri pr0n. We are desperate for new ideas.
Steps 1, 2, 3, 4. AAiiiiyeeeeeee! Roll over. Switch positions repeat.
What you say?
“The Sound… Of the Gion Shoja Temple Bell Tolls the impermanence of all…”
“Rub her cli-to-ris whiiiiile kis-sing her and tou-ching her bre-asts!”
Then there is the reported BL/ yaoi progression. Start with a clench, then frenzied kissu… 3, 4, 5,5,5,5 Yamete! Yamate! Ungggggghhh!
Ok, a bit out there for us straight dudes, but still sandlot softball. Whack. Run the bases, Home!
Remember the Cosmo lesbian sex tips critique that started off the essay? All the sexy scenarios in the world can’t spice up something barely more complex than scratching one’s ass.
If the conventions of the genre are rigged to depict warm fuzzies as boring, the urge to substitute drama for intimacy always lurks in the wings. Years ago, when I was just getting into anime and manga, I spent a lot of time and trouble as well as hard-earned cash to track down my own copy of “The Wings of Honnêamise“. I heard it had some awesome sci-fi-ish rocket launch scenes in it. So why does astronaut boy fall head over heels for religious nut-girl? Ok… No accounting for… holy shit! Where did that gratuitous rape come from? Gehhhh! Thanks for Bambi-killing the mood, fuckwads! Yeah, I can see exactly how this increased the dramatic tension in the story, complete with little paint-by-number markers all over every subsequent scene. And marionette strings. Plus you got to cheap out and get the intimacy out-of-the-way fast. Fuck You Producers, Fuck You all and the horse you rode into town on. “I kill you, Vorga. I kill you filthy!”
“Heave to, heave to, cried Henry Martin
and bring yourself under my lee
For I have turned robber over all the salt sea
To maintain my brothers and me…”
–The Ballad of Henry Martin, (traditional)
Perhaps I digress.
Let’s try some nice yuri examples. Contrast Hanjuku Joshi to Shoujo Sect. Sect has more narrative arc and angst but the skin gets hurried and repetitive. The mangaka has to introduce angst-y dramatics to stretch out the action. The ‘half-poached younguns” are far better at being direct with their desires, even as they work it out slowly. Hanjuku also manages the neat trick of ensuring monogamous fidelity while doubling the absolute volume of skin by jumping back and forth between the main couple and the beta couple, the jaded bad-girl sempai (slowly reformed by love) and her teacher-lover. Both couples do just a tiny bit more than the Love Dalek refrain; even that small concession makes the effort stand out. Oh wow! a collarbone got nibbled! My brain melted from the novelty.
Come to think of it, collar-bones, the back of necks, ear-nibbles and finger chewing all make occasional, rushed appearances. We have an entire Kama Sutra going on here. I was ill-informed. I can end this essay here. Never mind…
Time to grind through some of the limiting biases of convention and form.
First problem; the solitary vice.
A pr0nish product may be exchanged and discussed among fannish socials but it is not used, as shunga was for education or even foreplay. It is mostly appreciated in solitary circumstances and as such favors stories that push buttons fast and hard. Do the job and clean up. It is a lot easier to favor narratives that have one active character imposing whatever on another passive character. A does, B reacts. Add fetishisms and paraphilias for increased effect and crank to 11. Fantasies are imposed, even if they are imposed by and onto imaginary others. While there is no absolute prohibition on a long slow mutually engaged build-up, the “utility” bias discriminates against the complexity of such story lines. This is not exclusively a male-gaze bias either. See K. Nagaike 2012, etc.
Driscoll however (above) points out the conflicting pull of aspects of pornography and romance within western slash-fic, but argues that in a genre that fuses romance and eroticism, especially as a woman-authored genre, earlier distinctions become hopelessly muddled. The only thing that elevates the exercise is either the mediating society of the fans themselves or the emphasis on the elaboration of “romance” or at least emotive trappings within the smut.
Second problem: Next month 32 pages!
How much tender, slow and mutually satisfying warm fuzzies can a mangaka stuff into 16 pages? 24 pages? A thick doujin for Comiket? A mangaka who draws intertwined nekkid humans can be expected to really like drawing their particular fave buff humanoids, but it is still hard work. Mangakas must also take care to ensure pacing and story progression within their scenarios. Stretching a fuck scene out for 64 pages might be too much to ask of sensei. Where and how does the author get inventive? How long to detour to nibbling here before jamming a finger there? Are the happy critters allowed to laugh, disentangle and decide that -that- position ain’t working and then move on to trying something else? Can they mess up, fart and laugh about it? Are they ever going to climax and doze off?
Text fic is a bit less subject to the limits of pages and panel layout but it takes a high level of writing chops to stretch out a sex scene for hundreds and thousands of words. When the alternative is a short intense by-the-numbers run-through, the bias is maintained.
Third problem: Will the fans approve?
Good luck finding the “Lots of happy vanilla sex” tag.
Fourth problem: The watchers at the gate.
Perhaps there is plenty of fan-fic and doujin work hiding out there and exchanged as artifact in a gift economy that spins out and explores modes of intimacy in ways that breaks the Love Dalek wham-bam-thanks-whoever double-time march of pr0n sex. Next step: try to get it past an editor. Researchers in the field have noted that when cash is on the line in Japanese (and probably all over the world) publishing, the product better bloody well fit in the pipeline. Yuri has sex like this. BL sex has to have a seme and a uke. Yaoi adds more X, drops the time-wasting Y. Romantic het stuff does it like this. Kinky het stuff does that. Gay guy stuff has its own genre limits. This magazine only prints this. Sorry, but we know best how to pay our printing bills – our call!
“Editors of commercial comic books strictly adhere to capitalist principles rather
than to moral or aesthetic ones. Simply, this is a world where “Anything that
has followers (consumers) goes.” Therefore, the works of those female comic
artists who have survived in this genre reflect their collaboration with contemporary female readers. (Ueno, Hatsujõ sõchi , 126).”
— per A. Mizoguchi, 2003
Add to this the shocking fact that the publishers, the editor’s bosses even the editors themselves are probably not rabid fans of the particular genre they work in. They just ended up being rotated into their posts. Under such conditions, a product has to look almost exactly like previous products. The feedstock is judged by superficial markers.
Then there is the Senior Pornographic Mangaka’s Council of Standards, [完全にこの全体を構成します] a shadowy industry association formed decades ago to self-regulate the profession, ensure that male sexual organs are always depicted as cones of light and that female genitalia are tastefully obscured by black strips or blurring . Rumour has it that they also enforce the allowable sequences of foreplay depicted in various sex acts, set standards for the genres, encourage apprenticeship programs and approve the passing on of a mangaka’s name to their groomed successors. Ok, I made them up, but would anyone be surprised if it turned out that they exist? (LATER: per Orbaugh 2003, a publisher’s association does exist and it works hard to enforce enough of a standards regime to prevent federal legislation and defuse local attempts to ban certain genres/ depictions.)
Fifth problem: Unintended effects and demand in-elasticity in the perv market.
Laws and regulations have unintended consequences. A court in Tokyo has just ruled that digitally altered images can be child pornography and have put one vile creep in jail for a year. But the courts can’t touch works featuring representations of extreme (and extremely hazardous) paraphilias under certain conditions. Some of these manage the kind of long, slow, mutual (or fantasy thereof) progression of intimacy that vanilla expressions are denied in manga. With underage characters too, just to poke the law’s nose. If the story is all squicky kink and never never gets around to any conventional “sex” whatsoever, it slips through the net. This is troublesome.
Following on the analysis of the good folks at Neojaponisme we can also posit that freaky pervy niche product buyers will keep shelling out for their precious, precious even if the global economy tanks and we all have to go back to barter with sacks of turnips. Boring conventional normative product sinks no such hooks into its readership and if the readership cuts back on their purchases, so what? Plenty more where that came from, until there isn’t. Extreme niche stuff has a better chance at commercial survival during uncertain economic times.
We have a “death spiral” condition in the making.
Sixth problem: A second kind of roneryness
The “hentai” effect has other problems associated with it; these go wayyyyyy back to prehistoric greek graybeards staking out extreme rhetorical positions against all narrative fictions because these inevitably distorted “true” human experience. Moving right along, one can see the Genshiken’s Kio Shimoku having a lot of fun with this distortion field. Fantasies not only plot out what could or should happen; they are a security blanket against the howling void of infinite possibility (most of which risk failure) that reality offers.
No point on harping on this too much, but the weirder the detritus in our brainboxes, the more confused our expectations and the more absolute chance for massive disappointment when confronted with a real live autonomous person who we would like to really like. It is not only a matter of not getting what we’d like, they way we’d like it but shutting up the incessant nagging internal voice for what we know we won’t get, while trying to figure out how to navigate the uncertain real, while that other person over there is going through the same grind. WATAMOTE‘s Kuroki is one of the best exemplars of this effect, stretched to the limits of comic despair. She knows her personality and outlook are toxic and self-defeating, but dammit they are HER and she cannot let go of them or change them, lest she evaporate.
Perhaps everything really was a lot easier when the absolute amount and range of pr0n in the world was more limited.
Back in the 1930’s naughty Japanese stories were folded into sensational True Crime tabloid magazines. Poverty and the freedom from demands of maintaining a proper reputation were considered a sufficient spur for wild passion:
“About 2 a.m. on the morning of May 18, 1936, as Ishida was asleep, Abe wrapped her sash twice around his neck and strangled him to death. She later told police, “After I had killed Ishida I felt totally at ease, as though a heavy burden had been lifted from my shoulders, and I felt a sense of clarity.” After lying with Ishida’s body for a few hours, she next severed his genitalia with the kitchen knife, wrapped them in a magazine cover, and kept them until her arrest three days later. With the blood she wrote Sada, Kichi Futari-kiri (“Sada, Kichi together”) on Ishida’s left thigh, and on a bed sheet. She then carved 定 (“Sada”, the character for her name) into his left arm. After putting on Ishida’s underwear, she left the inn at about 8 a.m., telling the staff not to disturb Ishida.”
Before the kinky stuff went south, the couple had managed a marathon two week bout of lovemaking:
“On April 23, 1936 Abe and Ishida met for a pre-arranged sexual encounter at a teahouse, or machi ai —the contemporary equivalent of a love hotel —in the Shibuya neighborhood. Planning only for a short ‘fling’, the couple instead remained in bed for four days. On the night of April 27, 1936, they moved to another teahouse in the distant neighborhood of Futako Tamagawa where they continued to drink and have sex, occasionally with the accompaniment of a geisha’s singing, and would continue even as maids entered the room to serve sake. They next moved to the Ogu neighborhood, and Ishida did not actually return to his restaurant until the morning of May 8, 1936, after an absence of about two weeks. Of Ishida, Abe later said, “It is hard to say exactly what was so good about Ishida. But it was impossible to say anything bad about his looks, his attitude, his skill as a lover, the way he expressed his feelings. I had never met such a sexy man.”
Pre-war writings, such as The Psychological Diagnosis of Abe Sada (1937) depict Abe as an example of the dangers of unbridled female sexuality and as a threat to the patriarchal system. In the postwar era, she was treated as a critic of totalitarianism, and a symbol of freedom from oppressive political ideologies. Abe became a popular subject in literature of both high and low quality. The buraiha writer Oda Sakunosuke wrote two stories based on Abe, and a June 1949 article noted that Abe had recently tried to clear her name after it had been used in a “mountain” of erotic books.”
I bring this up if only to prove that the idea of prolonged intimacy is in no way alien to Japanese erotic lore.
I am not heading towards “ban all pr0n that isn’t wholesome” territory, which is the last place I want to go, if only because it is a fool’s errand. Yet there are still more limitations hiding in the forms that need to teased out.
Seventh problem: What’s the frequency Kenneth?
Formal aspects of niche fantasy narratives serve as a wall around a community and as shibboleth to the faithful. Along the way some of the features end up reading like bugs to outsiders. Tough! Consider the rigid semeXuke convention in BL. When the gay guy in a web “ask a gay guy anything” video is asked which is more popular, being a top or a bottom, he responds that the question is wrong. What is valued is versatility. The questioner persists: “Does this mean doing reversals?” The respondent corrects him: “versatility as in adaptability, straight folks go on too much about tops and bottoms.”
It takes a few moments for the wood gears in my brain to go ker-thunk. For the rotten girls, the semeXuke division might be static once imposed but it is imposed outside of the absolute determinism of gender. As women, women always get the woman’s role, current weird superhero movies aside. The rotten tribe also takes great joy in frustrating and overturning conventional expectations of power and hierarchy among males. In their view, “equal” chance and “equal” agency, as well as differing modes of expression are afforded to their puppets. This to them makes the dice toss far fairer and more wonderous than real life. Whether this comes across to annoyed fanboy bystanders is of little concern to the faithful.
It doesn’t matter that rotten/slash fic may spend twenty chapters building up to a dramatic reversal of roles. It is those roles, as blunt allegory for gender determinism that are important.
“The majority of the stories produced in this popularized and mainstream “boys’ love” genre contain tropes such as (1) rape as an expression of love; (2) one or both of the protagonists maintaining that they are straight even after they are homosexually involved; (3) the top/bottom roles in sex corresponding to the masculine/feminine appearance of the protagonists; (4) the roles never reversing; and (5) sex always involving anal intercourse, as I have shown in detail elsewhere. These tropes have become staples, I argue, in order to achieve “heterosexual romance” narratives for heterosexual female readers across the bodies of two male (same-sex) protagonists, and in order to present their romance as an “impossible”- and therefore a “precious”- one.”
–A. Mizoguchi 2003
When parts of the male fandom, the “fuckboys” as they are characterised in some quarters of tumblr-space, get their backs up about Madarame crossing over to “the dark side”, what exactly constituted the substance, the imagery of this “dark”? Is it the guy with another guy or the fujoshi fakee-gay that throws them?
Fans are generally open-minded; we value our personal autonomies and freedoms, as in the freedom to chose and consume our own fave recreation reading, viewing and game materials. On the surface, Madarame hasn’t arbitrarily been force-written into an inversion of his sexual preferences. His chara has not started wearing Village People outfits and hanging out at bars in the Ni-chome. Neither has Hato, chan or kun. Mada is hardly bishie and Hato, when a quiet Nadeshiko no Genshiken, is by no means a girly-boy fatale. Nor have they started looking lecherously at other folks’ tushes, or even necks. How sweet; they save all their furtive glances for each other. On the surface, whatever is going on looks like two embarrassed virgin guys, one of which who might be working through some personal issues of gender fluidity wondering about each other. It’s a free fantasy country, right? Blink and one misses a further high romantic cue.
As compensation for the outre physicalities of desire the fujoshi tribal laws decree one last condition: the absolute primacy of the One True Pairing, the epitome of a fated, destined, inevitable, exclusive, unswerving “its only you” match-up. Kio Shimoku is having sneaky fun here as well because he has constructed a unique prize for Madarame indeed. Madarame may in the future chance to run into all manner of interesting women, but there will be only one smitten dojin-drawing crossdressing pretty girly-boy fujoshi that will forever carry a torch for him. From prince of losers to one-up on even Makoto Kousaka.
Alt-Yajima might get the settled down somewhat yuri, mostly het later version, but that creature is far more jaded, even if hir went out for cosmetic surgery. And what’s with the “My Manager” thing there? Uncool, unless it is Alt-Yajima that insists.
If in the years to come you should recall,
When faint in heart or fallen on hungry days,
Or full of griefs and little if at all
From them distracted by delights or praise;
When failing powers or good opinion lost
Have bowed your neck, should you recall to mind
How of all men I honoured you the most,
Holding your noblest among mortal-kind:
Might not my love — although the curving blade
From whose wide mowing none may hope to hide,
Me long ago below the frosts had laid —
Restore you somewhat to your former pride?
Indeed I think this memory, even then,
Must raise you high among the run of men.
–Fatal Interview, sonnet LI – Millay
The back catalogue of high romantic melodrama has much to add to mere skin.
We are in the midst of a clash of parallel, asymmetric pornographies. The male variant seems to place more emphasis on transgression and immediate gratification.
Even some of the most “fuck” of the fuckboys, the denizens of 4chan’s /a board are comfortable with some fantasies of m-m intimacy, at least as material for ribald humor that tests the boundaries of their tastes for masturbation imagery. One more time: [https://heartsoffuriousfancies.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/i-could-take-care-of-that-for-me/]
>It’s not gay if they look like girls.
>It’s a girl penis. Plain and simple. Nothin’ gay about that.
>We haven’t derailed into discussing thermodynamics or convincing another Anon to have a threeway with a bunch of senior citizens. We’re getting there.
>How can you tell she loves you if she doesn’t have a raging foot long erection?
>So now that we’ve established that it’s okay as long as they look like girls, can someone recommend me some really good doujin?
>I never got the point of having this argument. Can’t you just fap to what you want? This is /a/, no one is going to give a shit if you’re gay or not.
>You still feel bad afterwards though. Also, it’s not gay if you wouldn’t do it in real life.
>Apparently your fetishes and what you wank it off to has to be labeled straight or gay.
>It’s because it disinters the repressed sexual urges you have for your mother.
>Oh fuck, no wonder. Thanks, Sigmund!
>Look it’s not gay to fap to girls with dicks, alright. You’re just fantasising about something feminine that has a little bit extra, nothing wrong there. It’s massively homo to think about sucking and getting fucked by said dicks though, and I’m way past that point already.
>But you’re still attracted to girls in real life, right? Right?
>Hey, anons. When it’s wearing a dress, it’s a girl.
>I want to fuck Rui’s boypussy!
>You want to fuck a tranny? gross!
>I think he’s cuter like that. No homo.
>It’s still gross but boypussies and dicks are way more pure than pussypussies.
>Where the fuck do you think you are? How do you accidentally stumble into /a/?
>It’s too late for me Anon, save yourself now.
>I can’t choose between yuri and girly boys, it’s too difficult.
>I bet you fags look at the tags before you fap.
>lol that’s such a profound statement I’m tempted to screencap your post for future re-posting.
>Girls can have penises, idiot. That’s how the manga makers draw them. It would be gay otherwise but it’s not. Female body + dick = female!
>Besides, feminine dicks are the best kinds of dicks.
>Get out of here you twink!
>Traps have never been /y/, and /a/ has been gay for traps since before it was /a/.
>Degenerate you can’t even make your sexuality public without being hated.
>I like being hated.
>Do you read trap material because you want to fuck traps, or because you want to be the trap?
>This really is the best birthday ever. It’s not actually my birthday.
Ahem, I only put this up again because it is funny as all heck in a rude-but-hiding-profound-truths way and to demonstrate that fuckboy desires are a lot more diffuse, at least with regard to fap fodder, than one might first assume. The infamous ugly “No Homo” is sometimes a clumsy stab at a self-mocking, ironic questioning of limits. The frisson of doubt is always lurking in the expression.
Dissatisfaction, testing limits and boundaries, measuring and teasing apart one’s preferences and fears to find the kernel of what really bugs or scares or titillates one about this or the other thing is a normal human procedure. To simplify it down to an absolute loss of self is dangerously self-defeating. The greater fear, that there was not much self at the core to protect; the hysterical need to protect the shreds from the void, always lies in wait.
Note as well that the project of retreading some of the conventions of the BL and yaoi genres into more male-accessible fantasies, via the better-than-real-girls magic crossdressing girly-boy (otokonoko; problematic translation – “trap”) genre, while incomplete and still not sufficiently articulated to currently support a monthly publishing schedule has nonetheless managed a noteworthy run in CJVC.
The 4chan anons are most assuredly not discussing real world transfolk. The fantasy involves the same characters that are referenced in Mada’s games. They are magic sex-devil charas that do feminine better than real girls, do sex better than real girls and will ruin the guy main character for anyone or anything, female or male, once they have worked their wiles. They are extremely accommodating of all manner of kinks, and yuppers, they will even get knocked up, marry you and keep you happily exhausted ever after, if you want to run that route within the game. One thing never mentioned however in the discourse of the jousou game femaloid is any elaborated dynamics of a “relationship”.
So Madarame’s main complaint stems from Hato insistence that he occasionally end up as a BL- script approved “bottom”. That sounds reasonable as fears go. But what annoys more; the Yamete! or the pantomime horse? Madarame’s vague ideas of “trying it” can be convincingly written as tentative and explorative, especially if Hato were to retain one or two token articles of female clothing. Butt-play remains optional. Otaku are biased towards mild clothing fetishes. Mada would probably get hot and bothered at a parking cone as long as it had a pair of striped pantsu stretched over it. The problem lies somewhere off 90 degrees from the point midway between girl clothing in disarray and the bucket of lube lotion.
Readers of risqué manga have programmed themselves to get hot and bothered about all manner of unreal if not ridiculous fantasies. The consumption thereof strongly biases towards the validation of the right to individual tastes. However there is something more than just two nekkid dudes in the scripts and charas of fujoshi BL and yaoi schmex that sets off extreme loathing in guys. I might have to accept the suggestion that the flip-side of yaoi and BL is not yuri, but Moe. (cf – Jye N’s 2014 Winter Comiket Report!, January 2nd, 2015 http://okazu.yuricon.com/2015/01/02/event-jye-ns-2014-winter-comiket-report/)
Measured with the “abject shyte that repels-me-o-meter“, segments of the male fandom look with the same loathing at bonking BL bishies (and their over the top emotional antics, if they care to look that far) as the female fandom looks at busty, big-eyed, underaged-looking, over- sexed, moe-blob femaloids who mumble “wincest” lines. Both are similarly, fantastically abstracted from the base material and similar violences of the letter are imposed to create them.
Have another helping of goose sauce.
The “dark side” may be little more than annoyance at the severe case of late onset chuunibyou that involves Hato assuming the lead role in an over-the-top girl-written BL tale and trying to drag Mada into it. It is funny when a pretty fujoshi girl looks a the boy she wants with a head full of BL chuuni. “Oh my, I could date him if I wear a guy’s high school uniform and put a paper bag over my head” Horn-dawg guy replies: “whatever, gimme some sugar!” Why is it less acceptable when it involves two guys with one wearing a skirt? (Dummkopf: because it is two guys!) Besides the “Real gay guys wouldn’t do that!” effect, could a wisp of the “trap” libel be resurfacing? Is it so unfair for one guy to try to use clumsy feminine-ish wiles on another guy? You would think that guy #2 would laugh his head off at the attempt. Ooooh lookie; an independent re-discovery of “camp”. But Hato-as-chan won’t even do camp.
Hato is too earnest. Hato’s perhaps-inadvertent wiles slip under the radar. Does the continuum even acknowledge that they are doing them? Hato-chan is not an Okama or high-camp drag queen in training. She won’t play the gender-blur card either, (although personally I think that Hato could do severe damage to legions of boys and girls if they ever tried the cross-bi-fauxen route, but ahem, leave that aside for now, at least until Ohno goes off on an Ouran tear.) Is it that Hato’s fujoshi chuuni is stuck in the supposedly female-ish relationship-narrative bias, while guy delusions favor accessories, costume markers and more direct appeals to satisfaction? Time to pull out the bag of cat ears. None of this gives Mada any clues as to how to drag the girly-boy out of a fiendish girl-spun chuuni trance, or avoid being dragged into it.
Must we then condemn in their entirety, the projects of BL and yaoi and male-gaze ideas of fantasy sexuality that involve Moe-moe femaloids? Odd and problematic as they are, they each speak to a longing in the hearts of their fans. Both genres risk IRL spillover problems and both fields, as well-articulated genres are stuck in their respective, formalistic ruts.
Eighth problem: “asymmetry” and subjectivity strategies.
As above, it has long been a truism in the analysis of the difference between the libidinal economies of guy pr0n and girl pr0n that women emphasise or bias towards the interpersonal dynamics of the pairings. Guys are supposed to be more interested in the visuals of the bodies banging together and suggestive accessories. This “asymmetry” is a gross simplification, but at least indicates that these are points of departure, not absolute end-points. When the fujoshi goes looking for hawt schmex scenes, an interpersonal dynamic, the entirety of a narrative genre is coded into the signified tropes of the character types. It’s not just two anonymous dudes, one reaming the other. The younger less-groomed one is reaming the older well-groomed executive glasses-wearing one. The class markers of the charas and the formulaic “transaction” speak volumes. Houston, we have a man-love Lady Chatterley story. A conventional inversion of class, status and power markers. An entire stack of doujinshi tales and scripts are cued up and can be processed for enjoyment, much as the club crowd enjoys the familiarity and the context of a 4- bar loop sample that a DJ drops into a droning EDM mix.
As well as hierarchy inversions, common shounen-ish conventions of the rivalry-friendship dynamic, serious vs irresponsible, neat vs sloppy, outgoing vs repressed buddy dynamics are quoted and then spiced up with something extra. If more is needed, one or both can go crazy with lust, turn into a predator and/or develop a strange taste for kinks. And if those fail to interest, there is always (geh!) hurt-comfort.
Guy stuff has its markers for character archetypes and story tropes too, One can easily guess the dialogue between the twin-tailed tsundere and the harem lead boy, but there is a further developing strategy in the boys’-own “turn and face the strange” tales. Numerous insightful correspondents have noted that for stories that involve sexual fluidity and gender play, a common approach emphasises the highly subjective personal reaction of the protagonist to sudden magical non-normative situations that happen within their established socials; including those that drag desire and intimacy into the mix.
A typical male-gaze gender-bender tale will not be so much a matter of “whoa! girl was/is a dude”, but rather, “my best friend from grade school has had plot-magic circumstance applied and is now a… etc.” followed by: “How the effing heck do I react to this?.”
“The rules of society say that I should be reacting like so, the stories I have read and the games I have played suggest that the following could happen. If this was a whatever sim game, how would I clear this route without a bad ending? What makes a good ending in this game?”
Guys can process interpersonal dynamics too, and there are plenty of conventions as to how to lay out the field markers to make it easy for us. This works for het wish fulfilment tales too, viz; the entire harem genre. Note that such a story-telling strategy is a lot more personal than politicised categories of sexual preference and/or gender expression and/or one’s expected reaction to them. This trick bypasses all these concerns in favor of the individualised, highly subjective “Holy Shit! I woke up this morning and…”
I may be wrong here, but I am at a loss to find many female-gaze stories that go through so much trouble. Coping with direct, somewhat realistic challenges, sure thing. OMG I think I have a crush on… The chain of events may even lead to the fantastic, but Alice doesn’t fall down the rabbit hole that much any more.
At least such imaginative exercises might give some young reader pause or even comfort should their own IRL situation take a dramatic turn, before they start thinking about jumping in front of a train. Finally, the bulk of Japanese narratives of love that cannot-normally-be no longer inexorably lead to despair and self-destruction. We in the west used to do this too; recall the Painless the Dentist scene in the original MASH movie. A case of exhaustion-related ED; dude thinks he’s turned gay and seeks to self-terminate. Gay Panic Haw Haw. How droll. Bonus sexy nurse at end of therapy.
Step one; find out which of the transfer students is Loki and make that rat bastard fix things. Awww crap, too much trouble… Step two, pause and think things through. At the least the subjectivity offers the young and the gormless some practice at imagining empathy towards others. Tentative, clumsy attempts at harm reduction are a start.
Much better than another stupid essentialist Japanese double love suicide. Or fridging the girl-couple. Unfortunately both approaches muddy the waters and provide far more story dramatics than simple intimacy. Ah for the halcyon days of Sada Abe.
Like? Yuppers! Let’s hole up in the sex shack for two weeks!
If only things hadn’t got dramatic. They idiot couple probably read some 1930’s True Crime magazine pr0n and got ideas in their thick heads.
Meanwhile back at the Genshiken, Madarame is now looking for which of the girls is Loki. That was easy.
Lets step back and try another approach.
An expanded epistemology for the re-enchantment project;
If we can fill YouTube with handy useful car-repair videos, why can’t someone fill comic books with some handy-dandy ‘deal with stuff in general’ tips, beyond sports- grinder don’t give up, keep practicing stories. Some pro-tips towards not doing obvious fuck ups during time spent with that special someone would be nifty.
Is there any place in CJVC for stories like that? It is a testament to the powers of Kio Shimoku that Spotted Flower has ended up in Rakuen Le Paradis. Ok, so what if it’s a Josei mag. I hear that it has some new Zetsubo Sensei cameos in it too and lots of adult-ish V2 yuri.
A respected senior blogger always praises Le Paradis when it comes out but never mentions Spotted Flower. Great sadness washes over me at these times. I can barely restrain myself from acting like a pest on that blog’s comment section when the reviews are posted. Lately I have taken to meditating under an ice-cold waterfall to strengthen my resolve, but the empty space in my heart persists…
Shit! Where was I again?
There are strong congruences between posting a youtube video on how you fixed the window motor on your 2005 Dodge minivan and spending a week of evenings writing Harry Potter slash. I am sure of this but I can’t exactly frame the argument why, at this time. Audrey Lemon is a start, but I need more.
The answer lies somewhere in the value of secondary production; what enthusiasts have said about the value of fanfiction is perhaps closer to the nut of the problem than anyone first realised. The ridiculous-at-first-glance range of fic highlights the range of needs that can only be dealt with by sitting night after night in front of a screen re-working odd, highly personal little stories. Surprise! Other people out there in the ether read them and find them moving, or not. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I will get around to writing up the field report on my attempts, eventually.
As for getting my fix of pseudo-realistic, respectful romantic skin, I must continue trolling the yuri stacks until some mangaka figures out how to de-shoujo shoujo fare, de-kink and push to the side %80 of the drama in Josei fare or wait until Futari Ecchi decides to get serious and do an eight chapter run on how a happy married couple can have a slow, considerate, fun afternoon. Not really looking for tips; it would just make me feel better to know that something like that was out there. Maybe Futari Ecchi needs to get some pointers from Morishima Akiko? Dammit, she’s too busy with the incomprehensible bear thing.
Rendou Kurosaki’s After School Play had promising moments until it took a detour into a year of old-school rpg playing instead of making out. Actually a lot more of anything by Rendou Kurosaki would be most excellent, but there seems to be a blockage in the leecher pipeline, so I burn.
I went back and refreshed my memory as to how the happy couple finally resolved their longing in Usotsuki Lily (sp) and was a bit disappointed on this reading. It read rushed. It came out of left field. It was also very dream-sequency wispy and ethereal, as Margaret Magazine is no place for a three chapter slow comfortable screw.
Dammit, need more input! Perhaps if I toss out some parameters.
Can we rebuild the idea of well-depicted mundane romance? One might care to favor, even start demanding stories and story “meta”, conventions, tropes, etc. that emphasise… I don’t know, just throwing some ideas out here…
1)…Representations that take it slow and feature two folks having fun trying to figure it out. That includes extended “making out” and foreplay. For those publications and works that can, working out conventions that allow a five chapter or longer afternoon of whooopie could be a groundbreaking innovation. Raid the yuri stacks for ideas for a start.
Manga already seems to have oodles of ways of handling funnus interruptus: three to ten chapter court-and-spark, want to, shouldn’t, bystanders intruding, misunderstandings, chicken out, pass out, phone rings, flock of seagulls in the onsen room, not tonight dammit(!) and zombie attacks are already well established devices. Kind of unfair that the sex ends up almost as afterthought when the happy couple finally get around to it.
Perhaps this has resonance for the Japanese audience, given how hard it is to find free time and privacy in modern urban settings.
2)…Both parties need to open their stupid pie holes and communicate. No shutting down allowed. Invite Nisio Isin and Studio SHAFT to help with pointers and/or binge on the Monogatari franchise. The dialogue is almost as good as sex of which we do not get, in those things anyway. The pacing tricks are useful as well. Swipe all of it.
3)…If silly Lenny Cohen songs can manage to privilege a coupling, then there is absolutely no reason why the creative classes of Japan cannot pull off the trick. Sustained reverence please. not just starburst-y eyes and floral panels on page 3. The beloved might be the beloved but nobody owes anyone else nothing unless they so care to at that moment in time. If they do, it really is magic time and demands respect. Take off thy shoes from off of thy feet, for you stand on holy ground.
This is fromage 101. Gothicky goo does fascinated build-up well but then cuts to the waves pounding on the surf.
4) Representations of intimacy that do not pay obeisance to the above better have a damn good reason for the lapse.
5) I’m serious.
6) No character should fuck categories, they make love to the person they are with. They are supposed to be really, really interested in each other. Does that suggest anything? Please demonstrate. Anything else is fapping with some other being more or less in close proximity.
7) It is called intimacy for a reason. Safe play and affirmative consent needs to be tastefully depicted. Depiction is mandatory. Personal hygiene is a form of consideration for the beloved as well as a sign of self-esteem. Depiction is mandatory. And for Great Ghu’s sake, the happy critters should be shown to have brushed their teeth and flossed because yes, everyone’s mouth smells like road-kill to someone else when swapping spit. This last representative convention if adopted might alone turn around the bleak demographic statistics in Japan in a matter of a few years. Tic-tacs won’t cut it. Japanese kids are taught elaborate dental hygiene routines, a booster shot won’t be that hard to slip in. It could even end up a flag, like Keiko taking a shower that night. (Yes, that was a flag.)
8) Everybody has to start sometime, but why does age and experience equal the death of romance? The fetishization of “pure”, especially when bundled with youth and consent issues is one of the creepiest pathology sacks in Japanese fantasy land. Nothing but fear and self-hatred lie behind it. It enables too many related fail scripts. A counterforce is urgently needed. Age gap trickery is not enough.
Hippy-dippy happy granola snide remarks aside, we could characterise the above as all leaning towards more “adult” stories. However if we want adult somethings, best to spell out the details of what we want. We are long past the point when we can just grumble ‘adult’ or “grow up”. And even these simple suggestions beg the question: would these be too much to ask? Would they be impossible to deploy, given the limits of the forms?
“Goddammit! Try to make a 64 page slow sweet screw dojin and no one can finish it! Their eyes glaze over after page 20, they put it down and wander off in a trance. Some fall asleep or walk into door jams. Others complain of migraines. Friends have told me that they can’t figure out how to fap to it. Everyone hates the toothbrushing scene – I mean, if SHAFT could pull off a wincest one..
Awww… forget it!”
In the meantime, back to checking out more josei titles to see if they can do anything that doesn’t reek of “shoot self in foot, reload, switch feet.”
The project of improving the range of representations of intimacies in general also holds the promise of isolating what is planned and considered necessary within one story as opposed to what lazily persists due to biases and limits in the form.
Let’s imagine that Rakuen Le Paradis somehow starts moving towards a Ladies and Gentlemen readership. One would expect an entire range of mature sexualities to show up in its pages, because it is going for the old Yellow Silk demographic. Perhaps some of it would feature -lets hazard a guess here- a harried single 28-year-old office worker guy’s tips on how not to screw up dating office ladies, something like Train Man without the 2chan bullshit and the uber-rich fantasy babe. Feel free to mine the Japanese- Rule-of-7 blog [http://japaneseruleof7.com/what-japanese-girls-want/] if you need a gaijin sidekick character, (very funny blog, sometimes a bit jarring, but on balance a good read)
Never, never sing the “Grandma in the toilet” song.
What happens when the male readership buys the magazine for the straight office guy’s adventures and stumbles upon a matured-up BL-ish tale?
Do whatever BL-ish intimacies portrayed get noted as nothing more than an incremental addition to the greater sum of all portrayed human intimacies? Or do they fall prey to already-extant structural limits, laziness, built-to-fail shortcuts and then further heap upon these superstitions and toxicities? How much of the nasty in the nasty schmex is lazy accident and convention because that’s the only way we can write ’em and how much of it is by design?
Testosterone levels falling! Warning! Warning!
Emergency manly hole-digging song auto-starting!
I feel my power returning. Urrrrrrggghhhh!
Now how the fuck do I get out of this hole?
There is no reason why a diffuse woman-centric genre like BL should have to be abject to any adult male reader unless it goes out of its way to be completely abject to everyone, to cultivate malicious affect for the sake of creating maliciousness. Probably not that interesting, but not abject. And certainly not “feminizing”.
That it is fearful and abject to too many het guys indicates more how social roles and desires are “policed”, and not just by other men. It takes a village to keep a good frenzied “gay panic” going and to use it to beat up on anyone who stops acting like you think they should and in a way that no longer serves what you believe to be your interests. This is aspiring to the slave overseers role, though in practice you only make the rank of the overseer’s barking guard dog.
The analysis of the problem seems to recreate the problem, rather than offer solutions. The problem is real; its condition offers the possibilities of understanding, progress and advancement. We advance by taking the pieces apart bit by bit in order to turn them about in our hands as the light plays upon their surfaces and edges.
In the meantime further speculations about our current Genshiken puzzle can be synthesised against the grain of the above flailing. Let’s pose a new question about Hato’s situation: what if the BL rotten fantasies that he (and let’s make Hato fully “he” for this operation) cannot jettison are in some weird double-thinky way, the most guy-ish part of his fascination with the genre? What if he has made them his own, in his own original way; in effect seeing the promethean fujoshi wager and re-doubling it with luciferian pride? Are they not the part that contains the most agency, the most violent do-it-to/ imposition upon the other and upon the entirety of the symbolic order? Is not even the romance posited as frenzy? As proof of this, Hato will not give up HatoMada, either as direct physical agency (Yamete!) or as forcing simulation upon the affection, and of offering the play by play to the collective; even at the risk of losing all of it. The desires may wear a dress, but they don’t read passive or “feminine”. Neither are they conventionally “gay”. You have exactly what is on the label, a guy doing rotten and driven to do it more “guy” and at the same time, more “rotten” than girls could ever do. This is not a boy who wants to be a girl. Hato’s nadeshiko can never give up “her” rotten. It animates a corpse that aspires to be a god. A larger project of wholesale symbolic destruction is envisioned and is being worked towards. This is the wind from a burning Hato.
I suspect it will be written as involving older brother and Kaminaga.
Please, step back from Madarame… Jigoku Fujoshi!
“Nooooooo! Pull… the… string!”
Once again, the game’s afoot!