Thursday, October 18, 2007

Yaoi fangirls: Where's the girl love?

Go to any anime convention around the U.S. and tell a group of teenage girls you're giving out free yaoi (pronounced yow-wee) and reach into your bag. I dare you. You'll be lucky if you get out of there with all of your arms and legs intact.

Yaoi is a form of manga popular with teenage girls and young women. The premise: men who love men, usually in all-male worlds like male boarding schools. At Megacon last year, I spent over a half hour in line waiting for an ATM, listening to the young girls behind me gush about all of the yaoi they bought while a random father stood with them, oblivious.

Instead of breathlessly waiting for their newest superheroine comic to come in the mail, these girls wait breathlessly so they can drool over two boys with girlish figures and gentle souls kissing. Why are girls today willing to voraciously attack romances where the women are cut out or consist of stock characters?

My theory is this: the U.S. has made the love between two individuals (homosexual males) so naughty girls feel a rush when they read yaoi. The pictures are pretty, and the storylines are usually intriguing and deal with distinct personalities when it comes to the main characters. It's not like much of the American romance market, where stories are driven by "romance despite" plots, like "Genevieve fell in love with Gray Hawk despite the fact he was the savage who kidnapped her" or "Elizabeth fell in love with Ahmed despite the fact he was the sheik who kidnapped her" or "Ruby had a baby and lived in a shack in a little mining town, but the rich mine owner fell in love with her despite all her problems."

To crazed fangirls, their boy lovers become real people. They follow each new installment as it comes out then go home to their computers, where they write their own fanfic and comics.

It's also akin to all of the women who held Queer as Folk parties when it was on Showtime. The Michael (nice guy who just wants to make everyone happy) and Brian (narcissistic ass who just cares about himself) dynamic can be found over and over again in yaoi manga.

If we could somehow harness the power of the fangirls' excitement as they read their manga, we would no longer have to worry about any kind of oil crisis now or in the future.

3 comments:

Susan said...

From what I've read, a lot of it also has to do with the fact that female characters tend to be written in a crappy way, and that female sexuality is still treated as a bad thing. And, of course, most girls are, for the most part, not all that interested in other girls in a sexual manner.

So, yaoi offers gals a chance to get their kicks watching attractive fellas being romantic without feeling off-put by a female character, whether because of stereotypes or (as one person said), because the female is generally unrealistically pretty, which most gals are not.

Wendy Withers said...

I have seen some great anime and manga with girl characters come out since I got into the movement. The biggest, most interesting character that comes to mind is Laine, where she slowly came out of her shell and had to discover who and what she really was throughout the series. I'm going to have to find lots of female manga, comics, and anime that are awesome and post them on here.

Anonymous said...

I heard about a study that says girls can identify with male characters while boys have a harder time with female characters. I do know I love manga and I do order some yaoi stuff. I liked Eerie Queerie till the last book, and Fake is a favorite. As for "regular" manga I can't say enough how much I like Wallflower. Great female character and story.
As an aside, I did read a book about manga and it said that women started writing Yaoi in the beginning so that they could have the "feminine" type character be able to do anything... and not be limited by gender.