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The Evolution of BL as “Playing with Gender”

The Evolution of BL as “Playing with Gender”

Viewing the Genesis and Development of BL from a Contemporary Perspective

(p.76) The Evolution of BL as “Playing with Gender”
Boys Love Manga and Beyond
Fujimoto YukariJoanne Quimby
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter demonstrates how yaoi and Boys Love (BL) developed as an entertaining space where women can “play with gender,” and the constraints of oppressive female gender roles can be removed. A central feature of yaoi which affirms this is the semeuke rule, that is, the norms whereby characters in a relationship are determined to be the seme—the “attacker,” that is, the dominant and insertive sexual partner—and the uke—the “receiver,” that is, the passive and receptive sexual partner. Yaoi and BL flourishes then as accumulations of experiments carried out in shōjo manga—experiments in transgressing every possible border of sexual difference and in creating worlds of diverse polymorphic perversion. Additionally, the chapter argues through yaoi and BL, the women's appropriation of male characters is an example of girls' agency in imagining sexual scenarios, including sadomasochism and rape, that have traditionally been considered the reserve of male sexual fantasy.

Keywords:   yaoi, BL, gender roles, seme–uke, dominant, passive, receptive, sexual partner, shojo manga, sexual fantasy

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