Day 5 of Niji Nights – The Culture behind Yaoi

Happy Day 5 of Niji Nights! For the past two rainbow-speckled nights, we brought you some of our favorite boys love and girls love couples. And today…well today is not as fun. No, today I’m going to be doing a deep dive. And that deep dive is going to be into the realm of none other than the cultures behind yaoi. Because yes, this is Luna writing this post, and while I haven’t fully divulged you all yet, I have mentioned that I do have quite the history with BL and yaoi. I’ve seen it at the best of times and I’ve seen it at the worst of times. So now, I just want to rant a little bit about all I have seen.

the culture behind yaoi
niji nights
otaku thursday
ten count

yaoi manga

So, in case you missed our previous post on the difference between yaoi and BL, I’d like you to start there. This post is only going to be important because it helps define what exactly yaoi is (though I’m sure a wikipedia search would have the same effect). But to sum it up in less words, yaoi is like fanfiction in a way. It’s generally written by women for the female eye, and it takes a lot of risks that you can’t do with a fem/masc couple without it seeming seedy or dodgy. Or at least–that’s what yaoi has been in the past. You see, yaoi, and in turn boys love, used to be the cause of huge controversy. Hell, it was for a very long time and to this day sort of still is. But when it first came on the scene, there was issue with the idea of women writing for women–writing things that only they would want to see. After all, it was revolutionary and often featured what we know of it today–beautiful boys and someties hot, dirty sexual scenes of both sweetness, and oftentimes violence. This is what got BL and Yaoi in trouble in th 90’s, and to be honest what still somewhat gets it flack todays. Because just because it should and does celebrate gay male x male couples…when yaoi was first spreading large and wide…the gay community of Japan did not see it as a positive thing. In fact, yaoi was accused of as fetishizing gay relationships and people, creating aesthetics around what it meant to be gay, and creating sometimes negative stereotypes of the community as a whole. Which. Okay–let’s take a step back and think about that. Yes. Some fans of yaoi are guilty of those things–but not all fans are. I’ve seen all kinds yaoi lovers–and I’d say at least 80 if not 90 percent of them don’t honestly view it as a reflection of gay values. Especially not violent or extremist yaoi titles. But I can’t deny that at any given time, 10-20 percent of those yaoi lovers unfortunately do use it as a way to fetishize gay men and sometimes take their love of the genre too far. Because I tell you–fandoms can be toxic, and unfortunately that includes the yaoi fandom.

Dakaichi manga
yaoi

So, I often find myself wondering–can anything good come from something that is accused of as being harmful to the gay community? And actually yes I think a lot of good can come from it. I’m not a gay man–don’t mistake me for one. I can’t say I speak from a place of any kind of authority. But I do think that even though some might accuse it of fetishization, it also can become an outlet for kink culture–which, just so we’re all aware, isn’t a bad thing. It’s like…there’s always a place for someone to go for bdsm content if that’s what their into, so even some ‘messed’ up yaoi can serve a purpose that way. Just remember as a yaoi fan–that’s not the end all to end all. It’s not a stereotype to be believed and applied to reality always. I also think in even more positive light, yaoi, having been accused of terrible things before, has caused a paradigm shift within yaoi and fanfiction authors. Where once the typical yaoi manga consisted of heavy sexual content with little to no plot or true character development, there’s has been a culture shift within the world of yaoi to be more focused on the emotional values of relationships. More often we’re seeing what can be described as more realistic male x male relationships within yaoi with emotional investment as high as the sex drive if not higher. In turn, we’ve seen a lot more BL anime and BL couples in anime that are inserted into stories in a casual way. Which honestly…could be really good for the real gay community as a whole–to have a spectrum of media representing them from real feeling love stories and characters to even the perhaps more kinky and unrealistic yaoi. A world awaits. And perhaps…maybe just maybe it can even spark some social change. Because as Star mentioned in her post on marriage in Japan--for a country that produces so much gay content–it still hasn’t legalized gay marriage.

twittering birds never fly 
manga
yaoi

Now, there’s only one more thing I want to speak to on the topic of the cutlure behind yaoi. And that’s the fandom as a whole. The yaoi fandom is one of the most passionate fandoms I’ve literally ever seen and been a part of. So like any strong fandom, and as Shrek would say, it’s got layers. For better or worse yaoi fans love yaoi to an extreme. They’ve often got a bad rep for this–after all, they ship and they ship hard. Anything from characters to real people. Which y’know, isn’t completely a bad thing–until sometimes it is. Until fans get so toxic that they push their own canons onto the rest of the world. Because remember, even though we love yaoi–when it started, it was part of the fanfiction canon. And fanfiction is still where it truly thrives.


Wow this was a bit of a messy post…but that’s what you get when you have so much to say but only 40 minutes before it technically wouldn’t be posted on the day it was meant to come out. Oh well. I hope this was somewhat enjoyable of a rant–and I would love to hear others thoughts on the culture behind yaoi. And like I say every time I mention yaoi–maybe one day I will divulge my whole history of being in this fandom. Anyway, pros and cons, yaoi is still a thing and always will be. I hope you enjoyed today’s Niji Night and I hope you tune back in for tomorrow’s post as well!

Stay weebtastic,

xoxo

Luna


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