Bangkok post : Jan 29, 2008 Girls who like boys who like boys
= Girls who like boys who like boys =
On November 30, 2007, police raided several comic book shops in Siam Square and arrested the owners for selling material depicting male homosexual relationships and sexual acts. Newspapers noted that, according to the police, the comics had been imported from Japan and Taiwan and translated into Thai, and that the majority of the readers are young women. The sale of these comics has subsequently been banned in Thailand.
Since then, much controversy has been raging on Thai Internet forums, with people taking stands on both sides of the issue, some defending the action and others condemning it. Those in support charge that young adults need to be protected from such material, while those on the other side claim that it is infringing the rights of young people to express themselves and to explore their sexuality.
Setting aside the issue of censorship, what might have surprised most people is the fact that the market for this material is mostly young women and teenage girls. Maybe the question most people have in mind is: "Why do straight girls like to look at and read stories about boys loving boys?"
"It's pure fantasy," a 21-year-old fan of the comics explains with sparkling eyes. "For me, boy/girl love stories are really boring and predictable. Besides, reading about two perfect-looking boys is just superb." Another fan shares her sentiments: "I first started reading these books back in high school when I found out that my best friend was gay. After that, I wanted to know more about gay relationships and the comics really helped me to understand it better."
Fans of the books call themselves "Y-girls", and the term has been adopted by the public to refer to women who celebrate male/male relationships.
When you first hear the term Y-girl, what might come to mind is that it has something to do with genetics, and that these women might have an extra Y chromosome. That might sound like a logical explanation but the origin of the word is a very different story.
According to Yanathorn Jiararattanakul, who did her graduate research in human sexuality at Chulalongkorn University, these young women are mostly the "girl next door" type who happen to worship male homosexual relationships. The term Y-girl originated from the original name of the genre, she explains.
"Y stands for yaoi, a manga genre originally from Japan in which the love between two male characters is celebrated. The creators of this genre are almost entirely women and the books are intended for female readers," says Yanathorn.
"It's manga by women, for women," she says.
The term yaoi is made up from three Japanese words - yamanashi (no climax), ochinashi (no punchline) and iminashi (no meaning). The word yaoi was first used to refer to manga by amateur artists that parodied other popular comics by replacing heterosexual relationships with homosexual relationships, says Yanathorn, explaining the background to yaoi.
"In my research I found that yaoi is widely admired by its audience for the combination of a good narrative and eye-catching artwork. The use of male/male relationships as the foundation for the stories has been taken from traditional Japanese culture. Japanese noh musical dramas, traditional kabuki theatre and Shinto religious teachings are all important in trying to understand the influences from which yaoi originated," says Yanathorn.
"In the beginning, yaoi cultivated an image of being a kind of postmodern manga, but later this was overtaken by an exaggeration of the sexual aspects," she adds.
Although the term yaoi was coined in Japan, Japanese readers prefer the term "Boys' Love" or "BL", and yaoi is now mostly used by non-Japanese fans.
With similar cultural backgrounds, it is not surprising that many Asian countries are finding that BL is becoming popular among young women across the region. South Korean, Taiwanese and Thai women are definitely not holding back and are joining their Japanese sisters in droves. In fact, it seems that the passion for androgynous men is spreading all over the world - one of the biggest yaoi communities can be found in the US.
In Thailand, Y-girls prefer to keep a low profile. This is understandable in the light of the actions taken by authorities. They mostly keep to themselves in private online communities, while by contrast Y-girls in the US hold monthly conventions, and even go as far as creating yaoi based on popular sitcoms such as Friends, and the Harry Potter movies. Imagine Joey and Chandler or when Harry meets Draco.
During the early 2000s, growing demand and flourishing female manga readership persuaded a few US publishers to start publishing translated yaoi. In 2005, Vanessa E. Jones from the Boston Globe reported that the annual Anime Boston convention hosted two panel discussion on yaoi, reflecting the growing popularity of yaoi among an emerging female manga readership. In 2006, SF Weekly reported on YAOI CON 6, an annual gathering of yaoi fans held in San Francisco. Crowds of women were dressed up as characters from their favourite manga.
Yaoipress.com, an online community and yaoi publisher, provides a monthly list of conventions across the US, which proves that yaoi is not just a passing fad, but is here to stay.
In some places the controversial content of yaoi might keep Y-girls from being too vocal about their obsession, especially in Asia, but this has not prevented yaoi from influencing other aspects of popular culture, such as the typical audience at a boy band concert. Another type of Y-girl has emerged. Instead of wishing to become a girlfriend of their favourite boy band singer, this Y-girl would instead prefer to see her favourite singers fall in love with each other.
"They look so cute together," says a 20-year-old fan of TVXQ, a boy band from Korea. The band consists of five boyish members with sparkling eyes and voices to match. They were recently voted the most desirable band among Thai fans, especially Thai Y-girls.
There are even Web forums where fans of the band can share their fantasies with each other.
"It's just my personal fantasy to dream about two of the boys becoming secret lovers. There are many others who share this fantasy," opines a dedicated TVXQ fan with a big smile on her face.
Y-girls have also posted many video clips on the popular video sharing site YouTube. The clips usually show images of their favourite "imaginary" couples in various poses.
A local example of this phenomena are the Academy Fantasia 4 winner, Nat Sakdatorn, and the runner up, Wantongchai "Tol" Intarawat. They melted many Y-girl hearts with their display of brotherly love during the making of the show.
For these fans it is not about insinuations about their sexual orientation.
"We don't mean to 'out' them or anything like that," one of the fans explains. "They might not even be gay. It's just that they look so adorable together. We just love to see them together. Maybe in our fantasies we want them to be lovers, but we know that's just a dream. At the end of the day we are just fans who care a lot about them."
Observing Y-girls through the eyes of feminism, Mark McLeland, a post-doctoral fellow of the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies at the University of Queensland, has written a number of papers on yaoi, says that it is interesting to compare the emergence of Y-girls to the feminist movement and its condemnation of the objectifying of woman as sexual objects. Y-girls have turned this on its head, objectifying the male body.
Yaoi has become a recognised subculture among girls and young women around the globe. This has led to a new paradigm where male/male relationships are not only accepted, but appreciated to the same extent as heterosexual relationships were previously.
Earlier this month, Thailand held its first conference on sexuality, to raise awareness of gender diversity issues. Numerous research papers were presented, acknowledging the "unspeakable" gender issues and trying to promote better understanding of them.
"I am 'Y' but I am also a girl. I can tell the real world from fantasy. But when I'm in my fantasy world, I want that world to be mine. I want to be free," says one Y-girl.
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Edit by Elta_kung - 30 ม.ค.51 เวลา 01:04:52 น. wording
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