Do a survey: Gender Identity among Overseas Fans of Queer Japanese Media

March 2022: Here is a survey that may be of interest to some readers of this blog:

UPDATE: Prof Welker reports good response, mentioned he plans to keep the survey open at least through March 13, 2022. Will note here when the survey closes.
UPDATE MORE: March 23 and no word that the study has closed. There was a report of over 600 respondents on March 12, so goin’ good!.


Questionnaire on Gender Identity among Overseas Fans of Queer Japanese Media

This questionnaire is part of study by me, James Welker, on the gender identities of fans of boys love/BL (also called yaoi), yuri, trans, and other gender-bending manga, anime, light novels, etc. from Japan or inspired by these genres in Japan. The focus of this study is on fans who are not Japanese (based on their self-definition).

This is a *preliminary* questionnaire. It may be followed by other questionnaires or surveys.

***To participate, you must be at least 18 years old.***

To participate, please be someone who
(1) is at least 18 years old; AND
(2) identifies as trans, non-binary, genderqueer, agender, gender fluid, or other non-cis gender category; AND
(3) consumes and/or creates BL/yaoi, yuri, trans, and/or other gender-bending manga, anime, light novels, etc. from Japan or inspired by these genres in Japan; AND
(4) is not Japanese (identity, not legal nationality).

Your participation in this questionnaire is completely voluntary.
 
Professor Welker is a well-respected sensei, researcher and writer on gender stuff in Japanese popular fiction genres (see Bibliography). I am hoping that he will make the survey findings accessible when finished. There are not many studies of “outlander” fans of Japanese popular culture that deal with gender stuff available; the last often-cited one dates from almost 15 years ago.

So high time.

Starts at a Google Doc page, so you may wish to be logged into your favorite
Google account in advance:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScUyytBKDUpYViU2U6Ym1voeWo1ZqwLPUASOgEU8BVHXu1V7g/viewform

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In other news, I hope everyone is hanging in there.
 
I -may- come up with something with enough theory moe to blog on sooner or later.
Or I may turn this blog into yet another review mill and endlessly extol the praises
of Super Cub and Yuru Camp.
 
Blog is simply having a relax, not even on hiatus.

ASIDE: WordeePress’s Block Editor is evil evil evil and you have to perform
inelegant contortions to get something close to the old editor back. HATRED!
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.

LATER: Surprisingly enough, I just found mention of a -recent- BL-in-Japan readership 
survey in, of all places the English version of RocketNews(!) They also provided a link to a more detailed summary at https://xbusiness.jp/post/174 (in Japanese, Google Translate works):
“The reality and outlook of the boys love market”, Xbusiness Japan, 2017/03/31:
 
“According to a consumer survey conducted by Yano Research Institute in September 2016, it is estimated that there are about 740,000 consumers in Japan who identify themselves as “BL nerds.” According to the questionnaire results, the distribution of “BL otaku” ages is 15-19 years old: 20.0 (22.6)%, 20s: 36.5 (36.8)%, 30s: 9.4 (11.3%), 40s: 17.6 (14.2%). ), 50s: 8.2 (6.6)%, 60s: 8.2 (8.5)%, which is a market driven by teens and 20s. What is noteworthy is that the number of people in their 40s has increased by 3.4 points from the previous year.
 
The male-female ratio was male: female = 30.6 (17.9)%: 69.4 (82.1)%, which was a feature of this market, but the male ratio is growing rapidly to 12.7 points.
The word “fujoshi”, which refers to women who love BL, is becoming more common, but the word “fudanshi”, which refers to men who love BL, is also being used in some cases. This survey also revealed that the fan base is also on the rise. In addition, the “otaku history” newly added as a survey item from this year is as follows. It peaks at less than one year and tends to decrease as the years go by.”
— Ibid, per Google Translate.

SoraNews post; “Survey claims that 30 percent of boys’ love fans in Japan are men” by Casey Baseel, SoraNews, May 10, 2019
https://soranews24.com/2019/05/10/survey-claims-that-30-percent-of-boys-love-fans-in-japan-are-men/
 
It’s also worth pointing out that one year before the survey showing 30.6 percent of the boys’ love fans were men, Yano performed an identical survey in which only 17.9 percent of boys’ love fans were male, though some may call even that figure surprisingly high. Unfortunately, while the study has recently been attracting renewed attention online in Japan, the 30.6-percent-male survey itself was conducted in 2016, and Yano doesn’t appear to have performed the study again since then, so maybe it’s something they should thin about adding to the company’s annual study on the state of the otaku community and economy.”
 
Recall that the most accessible “study” of Japanese Fu-danshi for the Japanese researcher was done by a fan back in 2008 and 2009 and published at Comiket! 
It estimated male BL readership, in Japan at somewhere around %10 of the total, with %20 of these self-reporting as straight or asexual.
 
From the Bibliography section of this blog:

““Fudanshi ni kiku” [Talking with fudanshi] by Yoshimoto, Taimatsu. 2008.
Self-published. http://www.picnic.to/~taimatsu/common/milk/milk_postal_taimatsu.htm.
The 2009 follow-up study lists Tagame Gengoroh as co-author.
http://doujinshi.mugimugi.org/book/396607/
More: http://d.hatena.ne.jp/taimatsu_torch/
See also: http://picnic.to/~taimatsu/index.htm
For both studies, sample sizes ran to 100-110 respondents.”
 
See also the cross-over readership findings in Verena Maser’s 2013 doctoral thesis:
“Beautiful and Innocent; Female Same-Sex Intimacy in the Japanese Yuri Genre”
PhD Dissertation by Verena Maser . 27.9.2013 Universität Trier
http://ubt.opus.hbz-nrw.de/volltexte/2015/944/pdf/Maser_Beautiful_and_Innocent.pdf
 
POINT IS…. Big Japanese publishing companies have a damn good idea of who is reading what, but they treat that data like latinum.  Tons of theorizing as to who is reading what gets guesstimated on by the rest of fandom and academia with very little access to hard data, often before venturing on to why. 
 
Add to this that the BL genre has evolved furiously over the last five decades and there is gonna be confusion (or as Dr. A. Mizoguchi has eloquently put it, “contested spaces”).
 
We can still situate -most- Japanese BL as an off-shoot of the greater shoujo tradition, with more emphasis placed on romantic themes and interpersonal dynamics within the narrative but the “female-gaze” at +%90 in Japan might well be part of history. 

Incidentally for outlanders, the previous big study I heard of was spun up out of a European-emphasis web-survey in the mid 2000’s with findings featured on a now dead/ never-archived web site and in:
Boy’s Love Manga: Essays on the Sexual Ambiguity and Cross-Cultural Fandom of the Genre“, edited by Antonia Levi, Mark McHarry and Dru Pagliasotti (2010), which focused overwhelmingly (often to the point of annoyance) on outlander/ diaspora BL fans.
 
TL;DR: 50/50 split among outlanders, overwhelming majority of the guys “queer”
This split tracks well – for that time period- with off-hand comments by staff of English publishers of translated Japanese BL works at convention panels. (Aoki, passim)
(Anyone interested can find the full book on Archive.org, unless it has been ganked)

Feel free to start a Tumblr/ Instagram/ TikTok convo over “real BL”.
If you hear of any other surveys with useful data, please leave a comment.
 

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