Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why I Don't Write Yaoi

'Lo Peoples,

My dating life distracted me a bit even before Holiday season got into full swing. Just in time for New Years Resolutions, I'm back. Her Tangh-i-ness has remembered what she had been doing before hormones became involved.

First, I give props to Tobias Buckell whose blog post on Dreads inspired me to climb back onto my soapbox again. Here is the original post. He is revealing his ardent thoughts on respect for a culture not his own.

Enjoy. Read his novel series where dreadlocked and Caribbean-inspired heros figure prominently.

Cultural misappropriation is a real and disrespectful phenomenon. I could start ranting about the Black contribution to Rock and Roll, but that'll get me off topic. Today, I'm talking about that particular, guy-on-guy action which originated in Japan: Yaoi. Slash fiction, of the Kirk and Spock, or Aragorn and Legolas variety, is a close American relation.

The Yaoi genre remains the reason I still collect graphic novels and DVDs to this day. Many of my other comics and manga sit crated in my basement. I've been falling in love with drawn people since back in the days of Speed Racer. (No. We did not sully our memories with the questionable movie adaptation. Even Christina Ricci's welcome presence couldn't move us. Thank you.)

Yaoi is a Japanese exploration of male/male relationships with a feminine sensibility. Without the seme pursuing the uke the plot doesn't advance, although there are stories where the uke is rather forward. I don't agree with the current marketing wisdom to include all works created by women with the same male/male relationships under Yaoi as an umbrella term. It doesn't work. Yaoi is a specific outgrowth of the social and ethnic culture it spawned from. It focuses on same-sex relationships in ways many women would appreciate on both sides of the Pacific.

Just because I am often writing about guys making love and romantic pursuing other guys (or women pursuing women), doesn't put me in the Yaoi or Yuri category. People who love Yaoi and Yuri may find a lot to their liking in my work, but I'm not following the Yaoi genre rules.

I guess I'm also launching into this speech because of that old saw about marketability and defining one's audience. I happen to be a Person of Color, and as one, I'm very sensitive to the idea of removing something from it's cultural context and completely obliterating any sense of acknowledgment of that something's origin.

Yeah, I read a lot of Yaoi. I bow down to Sensei-gata: Mika Sadhiro, Ayano Yamane, Miya Ousaka, Moto Hagio, Yuuka Nitta, Kazuma Kodaka, Kai Nanase, Kiriko Higashizato, Kasuza Takashima, Megumu Minami, Yuzuha Ougi, Yayoi Neko, You Higuri, Hirotaka Kisaragi and Duo Brand. What these Sensei-gata do is wonderful.

I like to think they steep their stories in the same broth that my own stories simmer within. We are just different flavors of a particularly human experience.


Her Tangh-i-Ness