Premarital Sex Manga Analysis

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Ranked 101st out of 145 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2015 global gender equality rankings, Japan comes in “much lower than many emerging economies and developing countries”. This can be attributed to the ingrained concepts of gender roles in Japan; the “good wife, wise mother” (ryōsai kenbo) ideology continues to confine Japanese women “to an existence within the boundaries of the home” today. Within this framework, female sexuality is rendered solely for the purpose of reproduction within the institution of marriage. However, tension exists between real women and the entrenched norm. In this paper, fandoms - particularly that of amateur Boys’ Love (also known as ‘BL’ and ‘yaoi’) manga and Takarazuka performances – and how they…show more content…
The main difference between these two genres of female-oriented manga, however, lies in the degree of realism portrayed. While ladies’ comics do represent women “actively pursuing their own sexual pleasure, taking the initiative in sexual experimentation and otherwise negotiating heterosexual relationships in a world of gender inequalities”, they do not remove the gender binary of the real world as BL comics do. Of course, given that the Japanese society “still values sexual inexperience in females”, ladies’ comics’ depiction of female sexual desire and adventurousness can be considered subversive. Yet, its characters and settings prevent radical change and continue to perpetuate the existing gender order precisely because they are rooted in the real world. BL manga, on the other hand, grants female readers the power to look at men without fear of being looked-at – freeing themselves as objects of male sexual desire. Additionally, by taking over what was traditionally the ‘male’ gaze, the male-female power dynamics are reversed and redefined by new parameters other than gender. The worlds constructed in BL manga, by virtue of being more fantastical than those of ladies’ comics, therefore provide a greater degree of subversion due to its disregard for…show more content…
By imbuing the ‘male’ body with feminine beauty and sensibilities, the “bishōnen can be read as a figure of resistance: both to the notion that biology is destiny and to the correlation between biology and gender role”. Through its problematizing of social concepts such as ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’, as well as the gender binary itself, the foundations upon which the patriarchal society is built on are questioned. In addition, the androgyny of bishōnen characters also allow female readers to see them “not just as ideal lovers or partners, but in a sense as their ideal selves”. The BL manga thus, in its depiction of feminine boys, allow women to “picture [themselves] as separate from the sexist roles assigned to [them] by the family system” and indulge in the fantasy of loving a man “as an equal, free of predefined gender
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