Asian BL Symposium Abstracts

Saturday, July 1

Local BL Texts, Local BL Fandoms 9:40-11:50

From Shōjo Manga to Yaoi in Indonesia
—Kania Arini SUKOTJO (National University of Singapore) (bio)

The entrance of the boys love (BL) genre, locally called yaoi, into Indonesia was triggered by the spread of translated Japanese manga into the country. The first translated manga, a shōjo manga titled Candy Candy, introduced narratives about emotional bonds and spiritual love. The popularity of the manga encouraged translations of other shōjo manga, which further popularized shōjo narratives. Despite the absence of translated yaoi manga in Indonesia, Indonesian publishers did not censor the translation of manga narratives wherein two supporting male characters show a strong emotional bond that implied more than a platonic relationship. Furthermore, the internet provides access to scanlated yaoi manga and dōjinshi in both English and Indonesian. While yaoi content is not commercially published and distributed for public consumption, Japanese and English translated yaoi manga can still be purchased in Indonesia’s Japanese bookstores, such as Kinokuniya. Privately organized comic events also allow Indonesian artists to distribute their own yaoi content. Similar to their Japanese counterparts, Indonesian yaoi consumers are part of a subculture, and even though publication and fan activities related to yaoi are very discreet, they still exist and have continued to grow.

This paper discusses the acceptance and visibility of yaoi content in Indonesia, looking particularly at how translated shōjo manga and access to yaoi manga and dōjinshi via the internet has led to the increasing presence of the yaoi genre in the country.

Japanese Boys Love Manga Fandom in Thailand: An Overview
—Poowin BUNYAVEJCHEWIN (Thammasat University, Rangsit Campus, Thailand) (bio)

Originally developed in Japan, boys love (BL) media is now a global commodity, but little is known about its fans in many countries. BL media reached Thailand in the early 1990s in the form of manga, which is still the major form of BL media in the country. This paper explores the development, current state, and market situation and issues of kartoon-wai (Y[aoi] comics), that is, Japanese BL manga translated and sold in Thailand, and examines Thai BL fans’ practices and activities, from the reduction of scanlations to the creation of original BL doujin (fan-created media). The paper also investigates the nature and appeal of BL manga in the country based on a 2014–2015 online Thai-language survey of 672 BL fans. The survey results show that women, largely heterosexual, make up the majority of BL readers in Thailand, although a number of men, mostly non-heterosexual, also read BL manga. Survey respondents’ preferences for BL works were interrelated and overlapping; however, they could be classified as follows: the presence in the work of (a) something that evokes of “fin” (a powerful emotional response) in readers; (b) no female protagonists; (c) romantic ideals; (d) graphic depictions of sexual scenes; and (e) non-heteronormative space. Although the focus and sociocultural context of this paper are on BL manga as it is received in Thailand, the results of this preliminary study provide a snapshot of BL that can to a certain degree illuminate the profile of BL fans in other Asian countries.

Taiwanese BL Fandom Online: A Case Study of the BL Board on PTT
—Feichi CHIANG (Academia Sinica, Taiwan) (bio)

This paper offers a picture of the online BL fandom in Taiwan using the BL board on PTT (Pítítí Shíyè Fāng), the most popular terminal-based bulletin board system (BBS) in Taiwan, as a case study.

Whether BL fandom is resistant toward patriarchal values, which is debatable, I would argue that it always depends on the people who make up the fandom. However, in recent studies, our knowledge about this fandom comes mostly from knowledge about of individual fans, which is pieced together to form an image of the fandom. In other words, our knowledge of the BL fandom is fragmentary and fragmented. If we want to have a comprehensive understanding of BL fandom in Taiwan, in addition to examining individual experiences, the experiences of the communityas a whole should also be examined.

To that end, this paper draws on data I collected from over one thousand users’ self-introductory information on the BL board on PTT. I provide an overview of BL readers including the age they entered BL fandom, the length of time they have participated in the fandom, and who or what introduced them to the fandom, and so forth. These data show us most BL fans entered the fandom when they were minors, and were introduced to BL by their sisters (mostly the elder sisters), classmates, and book rental stores. I also collected data that concern gay issues. The data show that although as individuals most of BL fans support the LGBT rights movement and LGBT rights, they are very resistant to supporting gay rights issues as “fǔnǚ” (Taiwanese for fujoshi, that is, female BL fans), which make me question the purported rebellious attributes of BL fans.

Desi Desu: Sex, Sexuality, and BL Consumption in Urban India
—Lakshmi MENON (HHMSPB NSS College for Women, Trivandrum, India) (bio)

There are many challenges to the study of boys love (BL) manga in India, both in terms of readership and active participation in production. The first is the fact that despite having a rich cultural history with regard to the representation of sexuality, present-day India is witnessing an increasingly conservative society. Homosexuality, falling under what the Indian Penal code deems unnatural sexual acts under the infamous Section 377, remains criminalized. Further, it is a country where the mere idea of women discussing matters of sexuality, much less homoerotica, is highly stigmatized.

This context forms the backdrop of my study of readers and producers of BL in India, based on four cities—Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Kochi. The study seeks to examine how BL readers negotiate the challenges of consuming and producing BL in India. It further explores how their ethnic, as well as socio-economic backgrounds play into their identities as fans of BL, in which respect the fact that most readers are located in metropolitan cities becomes all the more significant. This paper addresses, on one hand, how the exposure to and consumption of BL has helped them negotiate their own attitudes towards sex and sexuality, and on the other, how the aforementioned identities has played into the texts that they produce?

Conflict and Contention within and beyond BL Fandoms 13:20–15:00

“Send Them to Mars!” The Eve of Trans-Localism and Radical Online Erotica in Hong Kong
—Katrien JACOBS (Chinese University of Hong Kong) (bio)
—Holly Lixian HOU (Chinese University of Hong Kong) (bio)

This paper analyzes civil rights activism in Hong Kong around online boys love (BL) materials as queer and sexually explicit media. As part of a larger movement for civil rights and tolerant online community standards, Hong Kong BL fans have circulated sex-themed media on the Facebook pages Funuiology, BoysLoveOnly, and Danmei Camp while defending a conflicting desire for political localism and cross-border fluidity. The paper outlines how some of these Facebook communities participated in umbrella activism while others banned political debate during the large-scale anti-China protests. It also shows how mainstream fans turned “trans-localist” or focused on an escapist cross-border solidarity as suggested in the slogan of Danmei Camp “BL rules everything and gayness unifies the world”. Finally, the paper relates civil rights activism to BL fandom’s ability to operate between different social media sites, showing how they move sexually explicit media between highly censorious networks (e.g. Facebook and Weibo) and sex-tolerant networks (Tumblr and Twitter) while maintaining physical “small corner” chemistries for safely trading their “meat pics.”

Boys Love Is a Battlefield: Recent Conflicts within the South Korean Otaku/Fujoshi Community
—Hyojin KIM (Seoul National University, South Korea) (bio)

As demonstrated by the “Gamergate” problem, there is deep-rooted misogyny in otaku/geek culture. This is certainly the case in Korea, which shares with Japanese otaku culture gender segregation based on Confucianism. There has long been a mutual antipathy in Korea between odeokku (otaku) and hujoshi (Korean fujoshi, i.e., fans of homoerotic “boys love,” or BL, media), the former of which objectifies women and the latter, gay men.

Recently this antipathy has taken a concrete and threatening form, exemplified by male odeokku groups’ reporting sexually explicit amateur BL manga, especially fanzines (dong’in’ji), to the police, and hindering fanzine events via complaints to the venues. This movement against pornographic BL content has been led by small contingents of the broad Korean odeokku/hujoshi community, which illustrates extreme hostility against such content by amateur authors, even while mainstream society demonstrates little interest in this issue.

What has caused this situation? Why do some odeokku and hujoshi show hostility against some amateur BL contents and events, while BL is now legally published and distributed as one part of Korean fan subculture? In this paper, I explore recent circumstances involving BL as a women's genre in Korea and the internal conflicts within Korean odeokku/hujoshi community by tracing the trajectory of the Korean BL fan community and their relationship with the otaku community and mainstream society. This will offer a clue toward understanding how BL and hujoshi practices have been a battlefield where deep-rooted misogyny and feminism have been facing off since the emergence of BL in Korea.

Repression or Revolution? On the Taiwanese fǔnǚ Community’s Reactions to the Same-Sex Marriage Legalization Movement
—Peiti WANG (National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan) (bio)

Legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan has been discussed since the turn of the twenty-first century, and related bills are now pending in the Legislative Yuan. This issue has nearly torn Taiwanese society into two oppositional camps: proponents of same-sex marriage, who believe in gender equality and diversity; and opponents, who hold conservative views toward both. As producers and consumers of male same-sex romance media, fǔnǚ (Chinese for fujoshi), enjoy consuming fantasies about male-male couples by definition. The question is whether fǔnǚ support same-sex marriage in reality? Based on an online survey conducted in December 2016 and participant observation within the fǔnǚ community in Taiwan, I have found that the vast majority (more than 90 percent) of Taiwanese fǔnǚ support the legalization of same-sex marriage. There is no doubt that the concepts of gender equity and diversity are widely accepted among Taiwanese fǔnǚ. I argue that fǔnǚ’s current beliefs about gender equality and diversity is indebted to the gender equality education and LGBT rights activism in the past few decades.

Furthermore, there have recently been fervent debates in the fujoshi community about whether or not the community should publicly support same-sex marriage—under the banner of “fǔnǚ.” Among other things, some fǔnǚ are concerned that the gay community does not like to see fǔnǚ consume media about their gay men’s romantic and sex lives and that fǔnǚ should stay inconspicuous because their fantasies (about sex and male homosexuality) face social disapproval. Such concerns result in “self-imposed regulation” (zìzhǔ guì zhì), a term borrowed in Taiwan from Japanese fujoshi. Other fǔnǚ gladly declare their fǔnǚ identity, talk about sex in public, and support same-sex marriage in public rallies.

By examining these debates, in this paper I attempt to depict the detail current state of Taiwanese fǔnǚ and show how the concepts of gender equality and gender diversity have affected the fǔnǚ community.

BL in Cross-Cultural Circulation 15:20–17:00

Between BL and Slash: Danmei Fiction, Transcultural Mediation, and Changing Gender Norms in Contemporary China
—Yanrui XU (Ningbo Institute of Technology, Zhejiang University, China) (bio)
—Ling YANG (Xiamen University, China) (bio)

Developing independently in the 1970s, Japanese boys love (BL) and Euro-American slash fiction both focus on the romantic or sexual relationships between male characters and mainly attract women readers. While there has been growing research on the two genres in the English-speaking and Japanese-speaking worlds, few studies have considered them side by side, as if they share no connection. Yet the fact is that elements of both genres have intersected and converged in original Chinese danmei fiction and significantly impacted the course of its development. Heavily influenced by Japanese BL during the period of its formation in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Chinese danmei fiction used to be filled with the combination of strong seme (sexually top) and weak uke (bottom) characters, fantasy rape scenes, and a language style that imitated translated Japanese BL novels. The global popularity of media franchises like Harry Potter and Avengers in the past decade has introduced Chinese danmei fans to Western slash fanfic (fan-created fiction). Inspired by the worldviews and tropes of slash, recent danmei fiction has displayed some interesting new trends and new understandings of gendered relationships. One key difference between slash and BL is that the former does not assign the fixed seme and uke roles to the male couple, hence reflecting more accurately the sexual fluidity in the lives of real gay men. Western slash fanfic in general has also shown greater concern for gender equality and more guilt-free openness in sexual depiction than Japanese BL.

This paper examines Chinese danmei fans’ transcultural mediation between BL and slash, particularly how they perceive the differences between the two genres in relation to changing gender norms in contemporary China. We argue that the gradual decline of the influence of BL and the rising interest in slash in Chinese danmei fandom signals a higher degree of acceptance of nontraditional gender roles and sexuality among younger generations of Chinese women. 

The “Engaged Spectator” and the Dissolution of the Structured, Reticent Homophobic Silence in East Asia: On Taiwan’s Printing of Online BL Fictions from Mainland China
—Xi LIN (Fudan University, China) (bio)

BL fiction, circulating from Japan to mainland China, has taken new forms, including a genre called “hugongwen” (narratives about two “tops” together) that builds an alternative conception of masculinity. This masculinity differs from the mainstream, traditional, and hegemonic version of masculinity in that it is not premised on a binarism requiring a weak, opposite sex to stand in stark contrast with “masculine” qualities. Using Kirin, a popular BL novel in the Internet space of mainland China, in this paper I will discuss how this particular genre, by laying bare the social web of discrimination, taboo, and phobia on this topic, can create an “engaged” spectatorship among its readership. Due to the media and the print censorship code in mainland China, such BL novels (especially those with explicit descriptions of sexual practices) are impossible to publish. Taiwan, with its tolerant social atmosphere and relaxed media regulatory environment, steps in to print these works. It thus can be seen that Chinese hugongwen is travelling beyond China’s borders, not necessarily because fans overseas are seeking it out, but rather because of the very conditions within China that render it difficult to get published at all. As a result, Taiwan-based printers emerge to become the publishers-cum-distributers of Chinese BL texts produced by mainland writers, including hugongwen works. From Taiwan, these printed books are further circulated to other Sinophone communities, either the Chinese diaspora in North America or Europe, or the Chinese-speaking population in Southeast Asia. Although this circulation may seem to be heavily infrastructure-bent and materially-interpreted, it does have certain cultural-symbolic implications, in the sense that it provides a window for readers outside mainland China to peep into the (possible) reality facing the LGBTQ sphere in this country. While various barriers circumscribe this circulation of hugongwen and other Chinese BL, arguably it can function as the first step toward building a homophile version of international solidarism, starting from the Sinophone sphere.

Glocalizing Boys Love Dōjinshi in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Australia
—Kristine Michelle SANTOS (University of Wollongong, Australia) (bio)

The increasing global access to Japanese culture has been shaping youth cultures and practices in Southeast Asia and Australia. Various Japanese fan practices, such as cosplay, a portmanteau of costume and play, have been widely embraced by young fans of anime and manga in the region. Recent developments in digital and online technologies have also made it easier for fans to produce fan works, and to an extent, self-published magazines known in Japanese as dōjinshi. These dōjinshi are highly associated with fan works, that range from essays to short stories and comics, that creatively critique popular anime and manga. Dōjinshi has also been a platform for young artists in Japan to experiment with original narratives. Boys love (BL) dōjinshi, in particular, has been a platform for young artists to explore and play with gender and sexuality. Young creatives in Southeast Asia and Australia have also embraced this practice by producing their own BL stories, also known locally as yaoi zines or comics.

This paper examines three BL artists from the Philippines, Malaysia, and Australia who have embraced this practice of self-publishing boys love stories in their respective countries. These artists confront various local challenges in producing their yaoi comics, which include religious cultures, censorship laws, and conservative fan spaces. Their works reflect their constant negotiations with these challenges, creating nuanced local versions of boys love. Through the yaoi zines of these artists, this paper argues the increasing glocalisation of BL culture in Southeast Asia and Australia seeks to find and create safe spaces within local youth cultures. 

Sunday, July 2

Reading BL Fantasies, Re-Reading LGBT Lives 9:40–11:25

Aspirational Readings of Boys Love: BL as a “Resource of Hope” for Temporary Chinese Gay Migrants in Japan
—Thomas BAUDINETTE (Macquarie University, Australia) (bio)

This presentation investigates how consuming boys love (BL) influences Chinese gay men’s decisions to travel to Japan in search of romance, becoming a “resource of hope” that allows them to cope with discrimination within both China and Japan. The Chinese gay men’s “aspirational reading” of Japanese BL texts is situated in opposition to their consumption of “Western” queer media, informing their understandings of themselves as explicitly “Asian” queer individuals. In particular, rather than discourses situated within “Western” LGBT identity politics, it is BL-specific understandings of same-sex desire that the informants deploy to make sense of their identities as gay men. Within the Chinese informants’ self-narratives, BL has thus come to represent an emancipatory trope which allows them to challenge the heteronormative understandings of sexuality which structure contemporary Chinese society. Important to this aspirational reading is the informants’ belief that Japan is more progressive towards homosexuality than China, with their reading of BL directly influencing their decisions to visit Japan in search of romance. However, upon visiting Japan and facing discrimination within queer spaces due to their Chinese nationality, the informants’ aspirational reading of BL takes on a new meaning, coming to represent a “resource of hope” which provides them with the tools to navigate their disillusionment with the Japanese gay male subculture. In discussing how BL is drawn upon as a “resource of hope” by Chinese gay men, I conclude by reflecting on how the transnational character of BL fandom represents an internationalization of one emancipatory Japanese discourse of queerness.

Projecting Dissonant Passion: How Identity Negotiation among Indonesian BL Fans Shapes Their Perception of LGBT Issues
—Gita Pramudita Prameswari (Sophia University, Japan) (bio)

In late 2015, the Indonesian public was shaken by a heated debate over LGBT rights, which escalated into the emergence of a movement of conservatives seeking to criminalize same-sex sexual acts through the Constitutional Court. Although a 2013 survey showed 93 percent of Indonesians agreed that homosexuals should not be accepted, boys love (BL) fans in religious Indonesia continue to flourish, even slowly coming out from their safe closet. However, there has been a discussion among fans about the possibility that BL might not necessarily represent gay men in real life but rather the alter-ego of the reader. Relatedly, even though a significant number of BL fans do support LGBT rights, enjoying BL genre does not automatically mean support of the LGBT movement. In Indonesia, where religion occupies a major part of people’s identities, fujoshi guilt about enjoying things that are considered taboo or sinful is indeed apparent among BL fans. However, a recent study of BL fans indicated that the presence of such guilt depends on how much each identity—that of a BL fan and that of a religious individual—dominates and interplays within the self. Therefore, fans who are comfortable with their conflicting identities also exist.

Through in-depth interviews, this paper intends to shed light on Indonesian BL fans’ identity negotiations vis-à-vis their fujoshi guilt and how it shapes their views about the LGBT community. The main hypothesis is that “fujoshi commuters,” or BL fans who separates their religious identity with their fujoshi self, might have a tendency to become more passive or unsupportive towards LGBT issues; “fujoshi integrators,” or fans who accept both identities as two identities that co-exist within themselves, might be more acceptant of and supportive toward the LGBT community. 

Thai Boys Give Good Love: Y-Couple Fandom in Thailand
—KANG Byung’chu Dredge (University of California San Diego) (bio)

In Thai, the term for a romantic partner is fan (แฟน: faen), a relexification of the English word “fan,” a person devoted to a celebrity. Thais have also refashioned the kawaii-ness of khu-wai, or “Y couples” (taking the y from the Japanese term yaoi) to create local “boys love” (BL) celebrities. The genre, most recently used by women and gay men in Thailand to imaginatively reinterpret male intimacies as homoerotic and craft fictive couples among K-pop boy band members, has subsequently been applied to Thai K-pop cover dancers and young gay men more broadly. Since 2012, khu-wai practices have evolved to include “real life” photos and videos. Young cute boy couples themselves and their fans post Facebook pics and YouTube videos of the couple in everyday life (e.g. shopping at malls, eating at restaurants, riding the Skytrain) and in intimate moments. Popular couples become minor celebrities, are interviewed on television and radio shows, promote beauty products, maintain fan clubs with fan meets, and are welcomed home at the airport by groupies. Through practices derived from BL fandom, real gay couples are thus made into idols, reversing khu-jin (imagined couple) practices of pairing ostensibly heterosexual stars into fictive gay couples. I argue that Thais are creating a non-threatening queer system of celebrity and fandom, blurring the boundaries of reality and fantasy, reliant on the Internet, and increasingly being consumed abroad in China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and South America. These recent developments index increasing Thai acceptance of public homoeroticism, participation in cosmopolitan pop-cultural flows, and represent modern “Asianness.”

BL and Local Masculinities13:00–15:10

Straight Men, Gay Buddies: The Chinese BL Boom and Its Impact on Male Homosociality
—Wei WEI (East China Normal University, China) (bio)

One impact of boys love (BL) culture over recent decades, as documented by current scholarship, is transforming images of masculinities in Japanese society more widely. This paper continues this approach, but situates itself in a different context of contemporary urban China. Focusing on a recent buzzword ji-you (gay buddy), originally derived from a Cantonese term with strong homophobic and derogatory connotation, this paper unfolds how the meaning of this slur for homosexual men has been transformed to indicate intimate relationships between heterosexually-identified young men. Among others, the mainstreaming of BL subculture, imported from Japan, is identified as an important factor accounting for such rhetorical shifts. Drawing data from both media coverage and qualitative interviews with young people, the paper delineates the “BL boom,” i.e. the growing representation and imagination in Chinese popular culture of male–male intimacy and eroticism, which has greatly shaped public awareness and understanding of (male) homosexuality. The other side of the same coin, however, lies in the increasing anxieties towards homosexuality among straight men. Accordingly, ji-you discourse emerges as a rhetorical tactic to address their anxieties. Not only can it accommodate traditionally acceptable homosocial behaviors between men, but also distinguish it from “real” homosexuality. Therefore, the unexpected prevalence of ji-you and other related homosexually-themed discourses do not necessarily translate into social acceptance of homosexuality, but rather serve to consolidate increasingly contested heteromasculinities in contemporary Chinese society.

Yaoi and BL Couplings: Filipino Fans Envisioning an Alternative Model of Intimacy
Tricia Abigail Santos FERMIN (Independent scholar, Japan) (bio)

Much of the attraction and attention that surround scholarship on subcultures comes from the re-imaginations of current social landscapes that these groups seem to offer. James C. Scott (1990) explains that subcultures produce “hidden transcripts,” which are discourses that not only contain negative social commentary of subordinate social groups but also alternative worlds and social structures they imagine. In this paper, I will show how the playful texts and fan activities of the yaoi and BL subculture in the Philippines can be considered as a disguised art of resistance through its symbolic inversions and re-imaginations of the current gender order.

Data was gathered from fifty key informant interviews and participant observation involving Filipino fan activities over a five-year period, 2008–2013. I will analyze the ways fans related these activities to their hopes or desires for their own relationships, and argue that these young women envision and suggest a rather detailed model of intimacy that challenges the gender inequality, essentialism, and moral conservatism that greatly impact the ways love relationships are typically conceptualized, built, and maintained their the Philippines. In particular, Filipino fans expressed dissatisfaction towards the emotional distance, machismo, and homophobia that characterizes hegemonic masculinity in the Philippines, which affect the way intimate heterosexual relationships are conducted. As a result, they become attracted to yaoi and BL’s androgynous worldview and the emphasis these narratives place on appreciating a person’s individuality, rather than how much one is able to live up to the supposed desirable traits of one’s gender. For these fans, yaoi and BL couples are the embodiment of perfect relationships, serving as symbols for all of the positive changes that can be made possible if people were to do away with constraining gender construct: equity, balance, and a better sense of self-fulfillment in intimate relationships.

Masculinity Myths among Singaporean Fudanshi
—Aerin LAI (Ochanomizu University, Japan) (bio)

This research paper seeks to understand how fudanshi—men who read BL—in Singapore make sense of their own sexuality vis-à-vis their consumption of boys love (BL). In addition, this paper seeks to position the consumption of BL by these fudanshi within the context of the ambiguity and arbitrariness of the state’s stance towards homosexuality and the consumption of homosexual narratives. Through qualitative interviews conducted between March 2015 and October 2016 with five fudanshi, this paper aims to shed light on the different strategies in which my interlocutors were taking up at the time in order to legitimize their consumption and negate any threat which consuming BL poses to their sexuality. While different strategies were taken up by my interlocutors, depending on their sexual identification, all of them engaged in “other-ing” in one form or another. Unlike existing subcultural studies which have argued for the accumulation of subcultural capital in order to make claims to one’s authenticity and membership within the subculture, my interlocutors engaged in “inauthentic claims” as a way to distance themselves from the threat of the fudanshi label. Those who identified themselves as homosexual also used some form of othering against non-homosexual fudanshi. I then argue that these heterosexual fudanshi turn to feminizing gender-ambiguous characters, or emphasizing on non-sexualized aspects of their consumption such as story plots, serves to reaffirm their hetero-masculinity. Any sexual arousal experienced can be conceived of as a bodily transgression, and a moment of rupture in the heteronormative discourse.

On The Psychology, Physicality, and Communication Strategies of Fudanshi:
A Cross-Cultural Analysis of East Asian Men’s Desires and Hopes to “Become” Fudanshi
Kazumi NAGAIKE (Oita University, Japan) (bio)

Previous critical analyses of BL have primarily explored this popular genre of male homosexual fantasies in relation to the presumed heterosexual orientation and desires of Japanese women. I have previously explored how and why self-identified heterosexual Japanese men become involved in this (seemingly) female-dominated popular genre (Nagaike 2015). This presentation attempts to unveil both the psychological/sexual orientation of fudanshi (rotten boys), as well as their physicality (e.g. genital arousal, masturbation, physical relationships with others), in relation to the consumption of BL narratives. I will thus explore the characteristics of fudanshi in several Asian countries (e.g. “mainland” China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan), in order to demonstrate how male desires to consume BL present idiosyncratic (and/or regional) differences within specific socio/cultural/political contexts. In this regard, the reliability of such hypotheses as (self-identified heterosexual) fudanshi feel tempted to subvert or negate the construction of a strong, masculine ego and (self-identified homosexual) fudanshi relate BL to their political strategies as members of sexual minorities will be examined. An analysis of the reading practices of fudanshi may also contribute to the critical discussion concerning the ways in which such aspects of male psychology and physicality relate to the components of men’s “real” lives, as well as to prevalent social constructions of sexuality. This cross-cultural analysis of fudanshi will be further enhanced by an examination of the ways in which fujoshi (rotten girls) communicate with fudanshi, as well as by a consideration of how fujoshi in Asian countries respond to the desire of fudanshi to access (and appropriate) space within a specifically female-oriented cultural sphere. My analysis in this presentation is primarily based on ethnographic field research performed by conducting interviews with self-identified fudanshi; this analysis therefore includes the unfiltered voices of Asian fudanshi and fujoshi.

This symposium—which will be conducted in English, without Japanese interpretation—is free and open the to public. Preregistration is not required but strongly encouraged (by Monday, June 26) to assist us with preparation.

Details may be found at the following links:

Please direct inquiries to the symposium organizer, James Welker (お問い合わせはジェームズ・ウェルカーまで):