Sporadic Sequential
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Not Gay But Willing To Learn

If ever there were a debate I should stay out of, it's this one: As a straight male who didn't care for the one yaoi title he tried (Fake Vol. 1), I have absolutely no personal stake in this issue. But I did want to comment that it's odd to see female comic fans attempting to tell another group (here, gay men who read yaoi (or "Boy's Love" or "ChangePurse" or whatever the correct term is) manga but have concerns with the way gay characters are depicted or the books are marketed) to shut up with their complaints about the work because it's not intended for them. The general tone of hostility from some of the female fans in this situation reminds me of how some male fans grow very, very upset whenever female readers bring up complaints about sexism in superhero comics. In both cases, the response to the complaints basically amounts to "Go away and leave us alone! This was never meant for you in the first place!!" rather than an effort to understand why the complaints came about.

All of which I find very strange. Granted, this is probably hopelessly naive and idealistic on my part, but I don't get why fans don't welcome the opportunity to learn how others with different experiences and perspectives view their favorite works. Why try to shut out another viewpoint from being expressed? If you disagree with it, there's nothing that says you have to change your opinion, so you're free to continue enjoying the work as you always did. As far as I can tell, the defensiveness stems from fear that there might be some truth to the criticism being expressed, and that if one comes to agree with such criticism, one's original enjoyment of the work will be diminished. But if the complaints are valid, perhaps the work in question doesn't deserve as much esteem as it once enjoyed.

* I'm wondering if some of the disconnect in the case of the yaoi controversy comes from the Japanese practice of categorizing work according to the intended audience (shojo, shonen, etc.) whereas in the West work is more likely grouped by subject matter. So, from the Western perspective, yaoi is "gay porn" (subject matter) but from the Japanese perspective it's "porn for women" (the original intended audience).