Cruising for a brainy buddy to bring to bed? Longing to satiate sexual curiosity? Look no further. Mark McLelland’s Male Homosexuality in Modern Japan: Cultural Myth and Social Realities is here to indulge those nursing an neglected academic addiction .
While Boy’s Love may seem to be all fun, games, smut, and sex, the genre and those consuming and producing it have increasingly become a highly contested object of study across multiple disciplines. Dwelling on the nature and representations of Japanese male homosexuality, Mark McLelland writes extensively on Boy’s Love manga, situating it within Japan’s cultural perceptions of gender and sexuality. Easily accessible to those unfamiliar with the social sciences, McLelland provides a superb introduction to Japanese social conventions and a intriguing view into the intimate experience of Japanese men desiring other men. For the fearless fujoshi, chapter entitled “Love Between ‘Beautiful Boys’ in Women’s Comics” and “Gay Men as Women’s Best Friends and Ideal Marriage Partners” deserve attention. Though Boy’s Love manga offers us seductive scenarios, we need to remember we objectify individuals when reading these types of manga. Though this objectification is not inherently negative, we need to be conscientious of those being represented in Boy’s Love manga and how such representation fail to capture reality.
The discrepancy between fantasy and reality may spoil how we experience Boy’s Love. However, our objectification threatens to bleed into reality, possessing the potential to negatively impact an already misunderstood and at times marginalized population. Understanding the social implications of what we consume will enlighten us why we consume it. This why, while highly personal and potentially sensitive, helps defines our wider surroundings, the larger social framework where our existence thrives, withers, or merely carries on. Though these ideas are rather heavy for what is to become a comforting reading list for lonely fujoshi and fudanshi on Valentine’s Day, this time of contemplation presents an ideal period for self exploration. McLelland’s work questions and prods us. Nonetheless, these prods are gentle, and for the single fujoshi and fudanshi, amount to soft caresses to climatic enlightenment.