日本語版はこちらYaoi Manga and Other Sexualized Depictions of Men
Throughout the Edo period (1615–1868), erotic artwork often discussed nanshoku (literally “male love”) relationships between an adult male and a wakashū (a biological male between the ages of 12 and 19). Many historians now prefer to view wakashū as a third gender, but until recently, nanshoku relationships were considered to be an early manifestation of homosexuality (Japanese: dōseiai ). During the early 20th century, anthropologist Iwata Jun’ichi (1900–1945) conducted extensive research on this topic, the results of which were published as Reflections on Love Between Men in Our Country (Honchō Nanshoku Kō, 1930–1931) and Catalogue of Nanshoku Texts (Nanshoku bunken shoshi, 1973).
Discussions of homosexuality in the 20th century, needless to say, were not merely restricted to academic discussions of history. In 1971, Barazoku, the first commercially distributed, monthly magazine for Japanese gay men, began publication, followed three years later by Sabu, a more explicit magazine about gay culture that included discussions of BDSM (bondage, domination, and sadomasochism). Works of manga about male homoerotic love appeared in the 1970s as well, and since then, their popularity has skyrocketed.
The most commercially successful manga about gay men, ironically, are largely produced by female artists and specifically target a heterosexual, female audience. Originally known as yaoi manga or shōnen-ai (literally, “boys’ love”) manga, and more recently described as BL (acronym for “boys’ love”) manga, this genre enjoys a readership of well over 500,000. Cultural historian Mark McLelland explains:
In Japanese society, where gender roles have been rigidly fixed, popular culture aimed at women provides a safe space in which the normally nonnegotiable regimen of gender can be subverted and overturned. It is no surprise, then, that women, whose sexuality can be seriously restrained by its association in the popular imagination with either the sex trade or motherhood, should find these fantasies so attractive and be so involved in both their production and consumption.
-Mark McLelland, Male Homosexuality in Modern Japan: Cultural Myths and Social Realities, 2000
Also on display here are sexualized depictions of presumably heterosexual men produced for a female audience as well as homoerotic depictions of men intended for a gay, male readership.