all 66 comments

[–]greenish 52 insightful - 2 fun52 insightful - 1 fun53 insightful - 2 fun -  (7 children)

I think slash (yaoi, m/m fan fiction) seriously fucked up my sexuality.

I started reading fanfic in my teens, when the internet was young. I was having a really hard time at school because I was suffering from serious mental illness due to abuse that no one knew about. This caused me to 'maladaptively daydream' a lot and dissociate from my body/present circumstances.

There were certain male characters I projected onto, because they shared some issues with me, in a metaphorical way, or acted out their anger at injustice. Never female characters, because being female didn't feel safe, and therefore wasn't an escape.

I stumbled across slash fanfic for these male characters, and was hooked. It was the 'foeyay' sort - in other words shipping them with their enemies. The relationship dynamics were crucial - they started off hating each other but were forced to work together against something more threatening, and so developed an appreciation for each other, discovered that there had been some preconceptions that were wrong, and ended up falling for each other. In other words the righting of injustices, misunderstood characters who were thought badly of finally being understood and offered love and acceptance, you know, emotional resolution. Magnetic stuff, to poor little outcast me at the time.

The male character I projected onto was usually shipped with a much higher status and more socially approved of male character. I guess I was vicariously seeking male approval, but didn't believe that I, as a girl, could ever achieve it, because I believed that no man would ever see or treat me as an equal. This was my "if I was male I could unlock this affection and respect between equals that I'm sure is available, but not to me" fantasy. Then - and this was the point, not any sort of attraction to men - I would be safe and protected and respected and admired, just as my favourite characters came to be.

I didn't want to read about sex involving a woman, because it felt like porn. Objectifying and degrading. It made me intensely uncomfortable. Fanfic involving M/F pairings often had romance novel type scenarios in them, and I was intensely put off by any whiff of male dominance towards a woman, or the female character actually being attracted to that. The presence of a female character in an erotic context instantly made me feel forced to identify with her perspective, and she would always be thinking and doing things that I never would, and found really alienating.

I got more and more into slash, and I kind of didn't develop a sexuality outside of that. I think there's a window of time where your sexuality develops, and I spent mine avoiding it by feeding myself virtual junk food specifically designed to create boundaries between my real, female body and my experience of sexuality.

In slash world, there is no misogyny, because women are periphery and barely exist. There is no shit and pain in anal sex. There are no STDs or pregnancy scares. Anatomy and sensation can work however you want.

It's written by women, for women. This was so important to me, as I thought I was exploring sexuality in a safe, risk free environment. I almost believed it was a feminist act - reclaiming the narrative of sexuality from men and objectifying them for a change. No actual men needed to be present, we could represent them as we wanted them to be, as we wished they were, have them treat the characters we identified with as we wished they would behave and feel towards us, and they weren't involved. Much better, safer and more satisfying than interacting with real men.

The discourse has more recently been about whether it's ethical for (presumably) straight women to appropriate gay men's experiences, but at the time we understood it to have nothing to do with real men or real attraction between men at all. It was all women using male vessels to express our desires that could not be met because we were women in this society.

Ultimately I think I wished to be loved by a man the way a woman stereotypically loves another woman, not the way a man stereotypically loves another man, but without the physicality of being female, because that's all wrapped up with embodiment, shame, and danger.

I did want to experience romance, passion, sensuality, acceptance, compassion, being cared for, etc... but I didn't want to be in my body, which had been violated and was vulnerable. I wanted to experience these things in a 'safe' body, and coming from another 'safe' body, not somebody else so horrifically vulnerable like myself.

That was the draw of slash, for me. The result was that it drew me deeper and deeper into dissociation from my body and mental illness. My sexuality never developed in a real world context and was stuck in the fictional, which is kind of like a fetish I guess. I have since stopped reading it, but it was really hard, like weaning off an addiction, and even years later theres just a hole where my sexuality should be.

[–]throwawayanylogic 18 insightful - 1 fun18 insightful - 0 fun19 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

I'm so sorry you had this experience, but yours is definitely why I do not like seeing teens so involved in fandom and especially reading/writing/taking part in the adult fandom spaces of yaoi, m/m fic and art, etc. I wrote in another thread here that I'm an old fandom dinosaur, back from the days where access to fannish m/m fic and art - and also m/f explicit stuff - was VERY tightly controlled. You couldn't buy such fanzines or art at a convention or via the mail without showing a copy of your driver's license/other ID to prove you were over 18 or 21. Publishers were VERY concerned about getting in legal trouble for potentially "distributing pornography to minors". Anyone found to be underage was kicked off slash mailing lists, or not approved for membership to protected web archives.

In contrast, today? Everything is just OUT THERE online for all to see and read on tumblr, the big fic archives, twitter, etc (and if anything, teenagers yell at older fen that we should go away, that fandom is just for young people.) To me it's much like how porn can be so damaging to young minds by warping expectations of real life relationships and sex. Instead of learning to cope with the changes and challenges one goes through during puberty and the teen years, kids are escaping into fandom, projecting on characters (who aren't always or necessarily good role models), and deciding that if they "identify" with a male character that means they must be trans. It's very disturbing and sad to me.

[–]onemoredaydream 6 insightful - 1 fun6 insightful - 0 fun7 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

It's really common for middle schoolers (!!!) to be writing and consuming pornographic fic, and to also be fully fluent in the descriptive language of BDSM (knowing words for specific dynamics, etc). I think the first pornographic fic I read, I found when I was 12. As I posted elsewhere in thread, I got a habit very quickly, and would read pornographic fanfic every day, often for hours. This lasted until I was about 15 and forced myself to get some hobbies!

[–]Nona_Biba 14 insightful - 1 fun14 insightful - 0 fun15 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

It was all women using male vessels to express our desires that could not be met because we were women in this society.

Agreed completely!

[–][deleted] 12 insightful - 1 fun12 insightful - 0 fun13 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Wow, your post has given me a lot to think about. I too grew up as a slash obsessed fangirl. Everything you've written resonates with me in ways I had never thought about.

The m/f relationships I saw in media, video games, and anime were not relatable. The female characters had no depth, they were written by men to be vacant cheerleaders for the male protagonists. For most of my life my concept of sexuality was as a non-participant, reading about companionship between fictional male characters. I identified as asexual for a long time.

I think there's a window of time where your sexuality develops, and I spent mine avoiding it by feeding myself virtual junk food specifically designed to create boundaries between my real, female body and my experience of sexuality.

I have wondered this exact thought before! I wonder if I'm messed up permanently.

I still don't quite understand myself. I don't fetishize real life gay men. I've never 'shipped' real living humans. It's strictly fictional characters, and I don't think they're characters I particularly identify with - I just like the dynamic they have with other characters.

Getting into my first relationship helped develop my sexuality a bit- I now have real life experience to draw from. I'm almost thirty, I'm married, have a house and full time job, but I know I'm still 'not quite right'. I'm still drawn to slash, usually slow burn fanfics that feature a tender and passionate relationship. Maybe because it's safe and loving and everyone is more or less equal, and I don't have to feel confronted with the displeasure that is being a woman in a romantic/sexual context.

You seem to have reflected a lot on this so I love to hear more of your thoughts! I'm still trying to figure myself out.

[–]radtionalfem 11 insightful - 1 fun11 insightful - 0 fun12 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I'm a 30-year-old who consumed massive amounts of slashfic from about age 12 to 25, and you perfectly described my experience and how my sexuality failed to develop (due to severe depression and suicidal self-loathing). It was NEVER about fantasizing about being a man or involved with a man, but indulging in romantic fantasies without the taint of misogyny or heterosexual power dynamics, or being forced to imagine myself in the situation I was reading about. I did not want to think about my body, or how I would react if a man touched me, or how I would feel if penetrated by a man. I still don't enjoy fiction about heterosexual romances because I can't tolerate the slightest hint of misogyny, male gaze, or a man coercing or hurting a woman, and because thinking about my body in a sexual context makes me feel sick.

Despite that, I could read femslash. I could easily separate myself from the story because there was no expectation that I would ever have sex with another woman, and so I didn't project that act onto my own body as I did when reading about heterosexual sex. A weird manifestation of comphet.

Fictional gay relationships feel like a relationship between equals, without all the cultural and biological baggage - they're just people who love each other, instead of a Man and a Woman. That is so very appealing to young women who are scared of everything related to heterosexuality. Personally, I sometimes wonder if I'm a repressed, sex-repulsed lesbian who spent years sublimating my weak desires through parasocial relationships with feminine gay men.

[–]onemoredaydream 3 insightful - 1 fun3 insightful - 0 fun4 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

This is an amazingly insightful comment and it mirrors my own experiences with slash fiction in my teenage years! You have a level of self-awareness that I do not, and I found myself actually nodding along as I read your analysis.

Thankfully I made myself stop reading addictively when I was 15 or 16 (after a solid 2 years of straight-up, 3 hours a day of reading slash porn addiction) and it seems like my sexuality recovered once I was no longer fantasizing about odd scenarios all the time. I was also very into adversarial relationship dynamics, and reading about characters that hated each other but wanted to fuck each other and then often did, led me to having VERY poor understandings of what consent and communication looked like.

[–]RevengeOfTheCis 51 insightful - 2 fun51 insightful - 1 fun52 insightful - 2 fun -  (13 children)

Hello, fellow geek! I have been in fandom communities longer than you have been alive, and your perceptions are 100% CORRECT.

This phenomenon has been brewing in fandom for years. The first TIF I ever met was exactly the type you describe: obsessed with yaoi to the point of it being a lifestyle, and she claimed to be a gay man but she only dated other TIFs.

Just as you said, being attracted to the men in yaoi is not the same as being attracted to or being a real man. 99% of those stories are written by women and 99% of that art is drawn by women, those fictional characters' personalities are all created by women, they are literally romantic fantasies created by the imagination of women. It isn't gay men those girls are attracted to, it's the imagination of women. As you said, they're lesbians with extra steps!

One thing that is a bit different in my experience than yours is you said you've seen TIFs hide their love of yaoi so they aren't exposed as women. I have actually seen the opposite! In my experience, young girls come out as TIFs so they are ALLOWED to like yaoi. If they say they like yaoi as girls, they are accused of being fetishizers, sick perverted fujoshi, etc., but if they say they like yaoi but they are TIFs, then suddenly it's ok because they're also "gay men" so they can't be accused of fetishizing gay men. Basically identifying as a TIF works as armor to protect themselves from bullying by the fiction police.

Anyway, I greatly enjoyed your post and I am very impressed you've observed all this at such a young age. It took me years longer than you, lol!

[–]gencritcurious[S] 21 insightful - 2 fun21 insightful - 1 fun22 insightful - 2 fun -  (10 children)

its crazy to hear that this is a common experience! I would say the reason for the tifs i interacted with hiding their fetish the was that being a fujoshi was seen as the ultimate cancellable crime, and any association with that was deemed wrong... so hiding it was basically a distancing tactic. And because everyone only talked about it in dms/private, it was seen as something that no one did. I also think that there was definitely an air of “well its ok if i do this in private because im a REAL gay man and i cant ~fetishize~ myself”, but basically all of them were doing it simultaneously, even if no one would point out the elephant in the room

[–]RevengeOfTheCis 19 insightful - 7 fun19 insightful - 6 fun20 insightful - 7 fun -  (9 children)

OHHH, I see! So even TIFs aren't allowed to read yaoi anymore because it was written by a fujoshi and they're guilty by association? But the TIFs are allowed to create their own original yaoi fiction/art, since they are "gay men" and not fujoshi? (As long as they don't call it "yaoi" and they're sure to tag it "Fujoshi DON'T INTERACT" lol?)

[–]gencritcurious[S] 21 insightful - 6 fun21 insightful - 5 fun22 insightful - 6 fun -  (1 child)

yup, basically! a lot of the fanart would be boys making out and stuff, but as long as theres a good ole “fujoshi dni” tag on there, theyre good to go!

[–]Anna_Nym 4 insightful - 2 fun4 insightful - 1 fun5 insightful - 2 fun -  (6 children)

I used to be in fandom a long time ago, and this is making me feel old. I am scared to Google. What is a "fujoshi"?

[–]Nona_Biba 6 insightful - 1 fun6 insightful - 0 fun7 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

a woman who likes anime or manga that is "boys love"

[–]RevengeOfTheCis 5 insightful - 1 fun5 insightful - 0 fun6 insightful - 1 fun -  (4 children)

It's just the word for a girl who likes yaoi/anime BL. Like how fans of anime are called "otaku".

[–]Anna_Nym 8 insightful - 1 fun8 insightful - 0 fun9 insightful - 1 fun -  (3 children)

So is saying "fujoshi don't interact" basically saying that only self-identified gay men are supposed to read/respond to the fiction/art?

This is all so strange to me because back in my days of fandom, slashfic was known to be predominantly by and for straight women. (Femslash was much less popular in all fandoms, and generally seemed to have predominantly lesbian fans. Which makes sense.)

But it was also common to think of straight women's slashfic as a healing tool for exactly the reasons described elsewhere in this thread. No one was stigmatized for it and really, no one could be stigmatized for it because the amount of actual gay men involved in slashfic was negligible.

[–]RevengeOfTheCis 8 insightful - 2 fun8 insightful - 1 fun9 insightful - 2 fun -  (2 children)

Yes, you are exactly correct. "Fujoshi don't interact" is basically a "no girls allowed" sign used by OTHER girls (who "identify" as boys).

And yes, back in my day, everyone knew slash fic was generally by and for women, too. This change to only allow TIFs (and "cis" gay or bi people, but NO straight people) to enjoy slash fiction has only happened within the last 5 years or so.

It has gotten so bad that I have heard of young girls pretending to be TIFs online just to not be bullied out of fandoms.

[–]Anna_Nym 7 insightful - 1 fun7 insightful - 0 fun8 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

This is so sad. :(

[–]RevengeOfTheCis 10 insightful - 1 fun10 insightful - 0 fun11 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

It IS sad, and making it worse is how these TIFs claim that enjoying the most vanilla gay romance story somehow "fetishizes" gay men, and yet they have no IDEA what horribly disgusting content TIMs look at with other men. And what's hilarious is those TIMs stay in the male spaces where they all jerk off to pedo loli lesbian hentai together and none of the transbian TIMs say SHIT to all the men they're jerking off with. Hell, if anything, they're paying them money to commission even more vile content. While the TIFs are cyberbullying other girls for drawings of characters KISSING. It's ridiculous and insane.

[–][deleted] 12 insightful - 8 fun12 insightful - 7 fun13 insightful - 8 fun -  (0 children)

the fiction police

How did we get to this point when something like that exists?

Maybe we should start 'Fujoshi PRIDE'...

[–]tea4two 14 insightful - 1 fun14 insightful - 0 fun15 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I wanted to second your post. I was also active in fandom spaces since before OP was born and it was indeed already a thing.

The girls affected were of two kinds: lesbians who were struggling with their identity and straight girls who had very little romantic/sexual experience. In both case, their transitions were coping mechanisms inspired by the allure of fiction which featured two fully fledged human beings (men) in passionate relationships, that could be sexual outside of social expectations (the policing of female sexuality).

Most of these girls found "gay male" relationships with other girls, some even producing "gay male" porn of themselves (It went pretty far). On the bright side, years later, they all seem to have accepted their womanhood, although a few have facial hair and teenage boy voices to show for it.

I blame this on the fact that those derivative works (fanfiction) pulled from a sexist tradition and culture. When male characters are (relatively) fully resolved and complex human beings who exist outside of their relationships to female characters and female characters... are not... it's really hard for consumers of the fiction to identify with female characters or to even see being female as desirable.

Moreover, for young people interested about sex and looking for porn, the options were in general (1) degrading objectifying porn created for men, (2) prudish barely suggested heterosexual sex behind sparkles and flowers or (3) gay male porn written by women showcasing idealized relationships and hot sex.

No wonder so many girls thought they needed to opt out of womanhood.

I think what needs to happen is a breakdown of "man" as the universal experience that women are asked to identify with and the writing of interesting female characters. This lack is exemplified by the number of "fem" fanfiction, where male characters are being made female because female fans of a source material don't have access to actual interesting female characters to write about.

Normally I'd just say we need to do better, but, unfortunately, in the context of anime, it's a particularly complex issue as it's not only caused by our own Western neuroses about womanhood but also by the effects of Japanese patriarchal culture.

[–]RoundFork 24 insightful - 2 fun24 insightful - 1 fun25 insightful - 2 fun -  (2 children)

Same here, but about a decade older maybe. Had a group of female friends, ALL yaoi fangirls(including me). None of us identify as a man then or now, ‘cuz those were just porn, not real life, it IS a fetish, and self-insert fanfiction is GREATLY looked down upon (kids call it “kin” now?).

Come on, as fun as the drama in bl could be, the characters are all very, very stupid when you think about their actions for 5 seconds... how could anyone identify with that?!

Is genderbender no longer popular, btw? The wish-fulfillment trope of “ta-da, I had to hide my identity but I was a girl all along! Proved all you misogynists wrong!” Mulan, whom they’re forcefully transing.

[–]RevengeOfTheCis 26 insightful - 2 fun26 insightful - 1 fun27 insightful - 2 fun -  (0 children)

"Genderbender" is transphobic now, lol. Now they trans characters, instead. Sometimes an entire fandom will trans the same character, even when the character is not trans in the source material, and if you refuse to go along with the transing, you're bullied out of the fandom. (Grell Sutcliffe from Black Butler, Hanji Zoe from Attack on Titan, the entire cast of Steven Universe, etc.)

[–]pirilampo 19 insightful - 1 fun19 insightful - 0 fun20 insightful - 1 fun -  (2 children)

If I were a decade younger that might've been me. As a teenager, I used to say half jokingly that I was a gay dude trapped in a woman's body (cringe) and I liked shipping male anime characters (I tried getting into yaoi manga but I thought they were mostly poorly written and badly drawn lol). I felt very inadequate because I wasn't feminine enough, I was awkwardly tall and flat-chested and didn't menstruate until I was nearly 15. Boys my age were mostly jerks so I was very conflicted because I was straight, but I ~wasn't like the other girls~. I was scared of growing up and I didn't really have any healthy references of straight relationships... To sum it up, I was basically afraid of being mistreated by men, so I thought gay relationships were better because men were equal to each other. I obviously grew out of it but I actually feel sorry for young weeaboo TIFS... They're using gender identity as an escape mechanism because growing up as a woman is really fucking hard.

[–][deleted] 9 insightful - 1 fun9 insightful - 0 fun10 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

I was basically afraid of being mistreated by men, so I thought gay relationships were better because men were equal to each other

Many of their fears would be solved if that demographic got into femdom...

[–]thotcontagi0n 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

You know, I've honestly wondered if that's another phenomenon that leads women to slash-type stuff. There often seems to be such a focus on the power dynamics and so on. It's like there's a desire to see men as sexually vulnerable, but a cultural mental block against imagining that could happen with a female partner.

[–]jjdub7Gay Male Guest Commentator 18 insightful - 1 fun18 insightful - 0 fun19 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Personally, this whole phenomenon only annoys me when the participants take it out of the realm of fiction and make a spectacle out of real-life guys (whether actually gay or imagined-gay).

[–]rolypoly 18 insightful - 1 fun18 insightful - 0 fun19 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I'm a lesbian who used to be a fujoshi. I was obsessed with yaoi in middle school and high school and can definitely relate to wanting to be part of the pretty fantasy or whatever XD I haven't watched or read anything like that in a while, but Dramatical Murder is still pretty close to my heart. I think if I had hear of all that gender crap around them I might've ended up a TIF too. It's really weird how enjoying yaoi can lead to that! It took until this year for me to hear about other people's experiences with it.

[–]venecia 11 insightful - 3 fun11 insightful - 2 fun12 insightful - 3 fun -  (0 children)

Oh lord, I remember this thing from a long time ago. Like, Livejournal days. There was a prominent user who was like this (yaoi fangirl) and went on some kind of American talk show (those daytime ones that are super dramatic) to talk about how it feels to be a gay man in their soul. I never cringed so hard. it was a good 12 years ago or something.

Not at all surprised that the de-facto Livejournal replacement that in Tumblr magnified this foolishness by a million!

[–]Binah17 11 insightful - 1 fun11 insightful - 0 fun12 insightful - 1 fun -  (14 children)

I had no idea women were literally transing because of yaoi lol I've been a yaoi fan for years but I also enjoy romance in general (between men and women or women and women). sigh I love anime still but sometimes I think it was a mistake lol Some people clearly can't handle it.

[–]just_lesbian_things 8 insightful - 3 fun8 insightful - 2 fun9 insightful - 3 fun -  (13 children)

People transition because they want to. Let them take responsibility for their own choices. This is like saying white American boys shoot up schools because of video games. If Japanese cartoons make you want to pump yourself full of artificial hormones, then frankly, the problem is with you.

[–]slushpilot 9 insightful - 1 fun9 insightful - 0 fun10 insightful - 1 fun -  (12 children)

It really does sound like a flipside kind of "pornsickness" though.

Saying the problem is not in the drug but only in you is really oversimplifying.

[–]just_lesbian_things 8 insightful - 1 fun8 insightful - 0 fun9 insightful - 1 fun -  (11 children)

Anime is more than gay porn. It's essentially Japanese cartoons, though some would say it covers all Asian cartoons. There's as much, if not more variation in topics compared to western animation. Pokemon is an anime. Saying "anime is a mistake" is like saying cartoons are a mistake. At some point, people need to take responsibility for their own choices.

I'm a little tired of white anglophones blaming an entire medium of eastern storytelling just because some white teenagers are using it as an excuse to act out or whatever. This misconception is on the level of ridiculous older asians saying that homosexuality is western corruption. People need to get a grip. Anime didn't make white kids trans, and Hollywood movies didn't make me gay. Correlation isn't causation.

[–]slushpilot 7 insightful - 1 fun7 insightful - 0 fun8 insightful - 1 fun -  (10 children)

You said "let them take responsibility for their own choices"...

My point is that young people can easily develop unhealthy obsessions with media—especially unrealistic sexual/pornographic media—and I don't think it's wrong to point out the dangers of that. Mainly, I don't think you can simply blame children for falling headlong into these fantasies.

I'm not speaking against anime & manga in general, or even erotic art. But I really don't think teenagers should be consuming so much fantasy about relationships & sex at the exclusion of figuring out actual real-life relationships for themselves.

You're probably right that most people outside of Japan don't necessarily know about the variety of themes discussed in graphic media there. And that's part of the problem too: allowing unchecked, uncritical consumption of all of it it by children, without really understanding that some of it might be inappropriate for their age.

[–]YoutiaoLover 6 insightful - 1 fun6 insightful - 0 fun7 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

I agree with you. It's like saying: we all know knives can be dangerous so when children--who weren't warned about the danger--stab themselves with a knife, they are responsible for hurting themselves. Most of the time, children are victims and ended up this way because adults around them failed to supervise and teach them to separate reality and fiction.

My nephews and nieces watched YouTube since they were babies. At the age of 7 they go browsing the internet without supervision, watching and reading any content they want. Their parents and other adults are downplaying the dangers lurking in internet because "They're kids!" "Internet isn't as dangerous as you think." "What? Do you think MY kid is going to access porn or something? lol."🤦🤦🤦

Unfortunately parents like that are EVERYWHERE now. They're failing their children and I can't help but think that this generation is fucked.

[–][deleted] 3 insightful - 1 fun3 insightful - 0 fun4 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

That's my niece too. Years ago when she was that age I tried to warn her parents but got eye rolls.

[–]just_lesbian_things 5 insightful - 1 fun5 insightful - 0 fun6 insightful - 1 fun -  (7 children)

But I really don't think teenagers should be consuming so much fantasy about relationships & sex at the exclusion of figuring out actual real-life relationships for themselves.

Teenagers aren't children. There has always been fantasies about relationships and sex in media. And before media was as accessible as it is today, "teenagers" were getting married and starting families. The age people started having sex is going up, but mostly that's not seen as a bad thing. It's true that gen X and baby boomers had sex earlier on average, but whether that's good or bad is up for debate.

Moreover, the teenagers solely exploring sexual themes online are usually the ones who weren't able to find real life relationships anyway, speaking as someone who was one of those teenagers. The alternative wasn't me going out and meeting other teenaged lesbians, the alternative was nothing at all. I was the only lesbian I knew growing up and I was smart enough to hide it from my parents.

I was probably more exposed to sexual themes than het teenagers on account of how predatory people can be towards lesbians. I've ran into couples seeking threesomes in lesbian spaces since I was 14 or 15. Nevertheless, I think online was, in many ways, safer than real life. I was largely able to set the pace for what I felt comfortable seeing. If I didn't like something, I closed the window. If I didn't like certain words, I stopped reading. There's a choice. If there wasn't, most of my friends and I would be trans, considering we all grew up in the same way.

most people outside of Japan don't necessarily know about the variety of themes discussed in graphic media there. And that's part of the problem too: allowing unchecked, uncritical consumption of all of it it by children, without really understanding that some of it might be inappropriate for their age.

Nah, most people within the east Asian sphere know about the variety of themes and stories in anime. Most westerners who don't understand assume it's violence or porn.

[–]jet199 5 insightful - 1 fun5 insightful - 0 fun6 insightful - 1 fun -  (6 children)

"Teenagers aren't children."

What do you mean here?

A teenager is a pretty modern invention.

Certainly in law they are children.

Biologically the brain doesn't fully mature until we are 25. At 16 a person still has many childlike ways of thinking (they actually see the world differently) which adults don't have.

How does being a teenager mean they are safe to view porn when a child isn't?

[–][deleted] 8 insightful - 1 fun8 insightful - 0 fun9 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

My TIF niece isn't even a teenager yet and it got to her before she was even twelve.

I do a lot of adolescent health and they are definitely children.

[–]just_lesbian_things 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (4 children)

Teenager is a pretty modern invention. For most of human history, people handled adult responsibilities just fine at 16. In Germany, 16 year olds can drink and have sex. In USA, they can drive and join the army (with their parents' consent). Depending on your view on porn, some would argue that there isn't a "safe" age to view porn. But I'd certainly say there's a difference between a 16 year old, one who is legally allowed to have sex, viewing porn, as opposed to, say, a 6 year old, or even a 9 year old.

[–]slushpilot 5 insightful - 1 fun5 insightful - 0 fun6 insightful - 1 fun -  (3 children)

In most of human history girls were married off shortly after menarch. Great baseline to aspire to there.

[–]just_lesbian_things 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (2 children)

False equivalence. "Teenagers" being expected to and capable of handling adult responsibilities for most of human history does not mean we should marry girls off just after menarche.

[–]oofreesouloo 9 insightful - 4 fun9 insightful - 3 fun10 insightful - 4 fun -  (8 children)

It's so weird personally for me, as a lesbian, to enjoy yaoi. I don't want to watch two men getting off thanks 🤣 I think people are really crazy nowadays huh?

[–]gencritcurious[S] 20 insightful - 1 fun20 insightful - 0 fun21 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

i think part of it is they dont really resemble actual males, and its more of the idea of homosexual romance? for me, i occasionally read bL bc its where i can find relatable gay stories (theres very few good lesbian stories unfortunately). and if you add in the fact that these were mostly young people with little to no s3xual experience, the first exposure to p0rnographic content leaves a lasting impact, even if irl males would disgust them... but i do agree, people are crazy these days 😂

[–]throwawayanylogic 18 insightful - 1 fun18 insightful - 0 fun19 insightful - 1 fun -  (5 children)

Slash and yaoi have been around for decades -- and I know a lot of old school (like, got into it in the 70s and 80s) slash fen who are/were lesbians. Many of whom pointedly don't like f/f fanfiction/fandom!

From some of them I've been told that it was because of the complete disconnection from their own physicality/experiences that slash & yaoi allowed them to enjoy the m/m romantic stories, and erotica. Anything that involved female bodies like their own, either f/f or m/f erotica, made it too hard to fall into the fantasy ("my body doesn't react like that"/"why don't I get multiple orgasms easily"/etc etc.) Also, at least early on in Western media fandoms like say Star Trek or Starsky & Hutch, there just weren't female characters who were as interesting to them to explore, nor relationships so intense, as the ones between the men in these "buddy cop" or other situations. So getting into slash fandom gave them a chance to explore gay issues and relationships that both had some emotional distance to their personal lives and bodies, but also was a way to even find like minded people (via the old convention circuit, fanzines, etc.)

I got into slash fandom in the 90s myself (I'm a bi woman, and it actually helped me figure out my own sexuality by what and who I found desirous) and still dabble in it a bit, but mostly just with my friends from those "old days". Tumblr fandom is a trashfire of wokeness and teenagers thinking they know it all (when most of them are virgins and quite a few seem to have a fear of sexuality instilled in them from conservative upbringing, now leading them to believe they are asexual/demisexual/greysexual/whateverthefucksexual-actually-doesn't-involve-having-sex) and fandom policing. And yes, TIFs are everywhere in both Western media and yaoi fandom these days. I stay in my quiet corner and try not to say much at all.

[–][deleted] 12 insightful - 1 fun12 insightful - 0 fun13 insightful - 1 fun -  (4 children)

I've been told that it was because of the complete disconnection from their own physicality/experiences that slash & yaoi allowed them to enjoy the m/m romantic stories, and erotica.

This is exactly its origin and function among (mostly straight female) readers in Japan, and the intent of the female mangaka who first created the genre. It lifted the readership out of the pervasive male gaze and gave them a space to explore erotica away from the daily expectations of Japanese gender roles, which are still far more traditional than in the west. Japanese Manga created by gay men for gay men has its own unique tropes.

From everyone's posts here, it looks like yaoi renders a very different experience in less gender-restrictive cultures . . . and the fandom rules are completely out of my purview. (I also remember old school con-circulated slash too, btw.)

(edit for clarity)

[–]throwawayanylogic 17 insightful - 1 fun17 insightful - 0 fun18 insightful - 1 fun -  (3 children)

This is exactly its origin and function among (mostly straight female) readers in Japan, and the intent of the female mangaka who first created the genre. It lifted the readership out of the pervasive male gaze and gave them a space to explore erotica away from the daily expectations of Japanese gender roles, which are still far more traditional than in the west.

Yes, and I think that was a lot of what appealled to me about slash fandom when I first discovered it and got into it (again, this was in the 90s, right around the transition period between it all being zine circulated and starting to appear in heavily moderated, membership-limited email lists and websites.) I was in my mid-20s and had a lot of insecurities and questions about my own sexuality...some bad experiences with men had made me lose all sexual desire for them and I thought I might be gay, but was having a hard time finding women I connected with on a sexual and emotional level as well.

In reading slash, I was able to reframe how I looked at the male body - looking at it from a female gaze instead of a male gaze. I could work out some of my own issues and questions by writing with that disconnect of writing from a "male" character's POV. And, it also introduced me to, at the time, a really wonderful community of women who were creative, intelligent, and (largely) open to those of different sexualities and just, well, generally outsiders or those who felt like they were. (I ended up realizing and accepting I was bisexual and while I won't say it was all due to fandom, my time with people in that community definitely helped me explore and accept my sexuality.)

I never cared for yaoi or got into Japanese fandom because I didn't like how it seemed to push m/m relationships into overtly stereotypical weepy-uke/strong-and-stoice seme roles. (Not to say some slash wasn't guilty of the same thing, but it wasn't necessarily a "mandate" of the genre to do so.)

Anyway, I just have seen the shift in really the last 10 years to increasing "wokeness" in fandom, a push away from it being accepted as a safe space for women to explore fantasies and sexual ideas to a place where one can only do so if you are doing it in an approved fashion. "Genderbending fic" is now offensive to trans individuals. There's either not enough representation of characters of color, or white fans are not supposed to attempt to write POC characters because we can't properly do so correctly. In one corner of fandom you have "antis" calling out people who write about two adult characters who happen to have, say, a 5-year age gap as "abusive", and in another you have fans decrying their "right" to write what's basically childporn. And as this post started out, more and more of the teen girls who are in it have taken their interests in yaoi and slash to the point of deciding they are, in fact, gay men and transitioning to be more like their favorite characters.

In the old fandom days, older women in the community would "mentor" younger fen into the ways, customs and etiquette of fandom. Now, teenagers and twenty somethings are quick to call any of us older women "creepy" or "pedos" if we interact with them at all on Tumblr or elsewhere, and that we need to leave them alone and get out of fandom because "it's meant for young people only."

I don't know what to really say or do about it, beyond sitting in my cranky fannish dinosaur corner with my old friends bitching about these young kids we want to kick off our lawns.

[–][deleted] 9 insightful - 1 fun9 insightful - 0 fun10 insightful - 1 fun -  (2 children)

Wow, so "wokeness" has poisoned all this too, and with a graphic artform that didn't even originate in the west. Figures. (It sounds like we've had very similar experiences btw!) That's sad to hear, a real kind of disruption -- I mean, so many female mangaka (like CLAMP) got their professional starts as fan-artists of other mangaka, including what would come to be known as yaoi.

I hear you about seme/uke, there is pretty tight scripting (especially now that it's selling so well globally). I've found a good alternative to be text novelists like Haruki Murakami, who freely explore the many facets of adult sexuality minus the manga tropes.

[–]throwawayanylogic 7 insightful - 1 fun7 insightful - 0 fun8 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

Wow, so "wokeness" has poisoned all this too, and with a graphic artform that didn't even originate in the west.

FWIW, I am fairly sure (from research myself and friends who were pretty active fannish "historians") that western media slash fandom (focused on written fanfic primarily, secondarily art and then vidding) developed fairly separately from Japanese yaoi/manga/anime m/m fandom. Slash pretty much can trace back concretely to Kirk/Spock in the early 1970s and developed out of the general science fiction book fandom & convention circuit, and I can't say there was much overlap with yaoi fandom, tropes and sources until perhaps the 80s/early 90s? (Some of my friends who date back to the early K/S days mention getting into From Eroica With Love, because of the Led Zeppelin connection/inspiration.) I think the separate development is also why there is some conflict (or at least there used to be) in the fans of each because a lot of my slash fen friends would bristle at those tightly scripted seme/uke roles in yaoi (but then turn around and write m/m fanfic that wasn't that much different, the "top/bottom wars" that would rage in some fandoms, etc.) Sort of how I remember Xena f/f fandom developing in a very "feral" way separate from establish fandom circuits, developing their own unique styles and community "rules"...DK, for a while I was very fascinated by the history of these communities, where they overlapped and how they sometimes sprung up on their own, before everything was so interconnected by social media/web 2.0 sites.

[–][deleted] 3 insightful - 1 fun3 insightful - 0 fun4 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

There's definitely an organic pattern to the development, Japanese and western. Re-reading some of the posts here, the phrase "Barbara Cartland Refugees" popped into my head . . . the first slash in the ST:TOS days was probably created by an emerging generation of women who just could not with the old formulaic romances and bodice rippers. It almost feels like its lineage should be more detective noir or something, at least for the edge and intrigue and tension.

[–]DifferentAirGC 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)


[–]Ossidiana 8 insightful - 1 fun8 insightful - 0 fun9 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Cut them some slack. They're 13-17 years old. They're not adults, and should not be treated as such. Which is why it's absolutely crazy and vile to allow trans teraphy for teens and kids.

[–]just_lesbian_things 7 insightful - 1 fun7 insightful - 0 fun8 insightful - 1 fun -  (2 children)

I'm a lesbian too and I've also had my brush with different fandoms. I've never liked the yaoi or BL content, though, as I preferred yuri and GL (or, "femslash", as it was known back in the day). May I ask why you or other "wlw" TIFs you mentioned didn't get into the lesbian stuff? I mean, I generally followed canon pairings, but when I didn't, female characters were always more interesting to me, so I would prefer their ships. It seems counterintuitive to me to prefer yaoi or BL if you're a lesbian.

[–]gencritcurious[S] 8 insightful - 1 fun8 insightful - 0 fun9 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

Hmm, I would say that there was just a general lack of passion for the femslash ships? Often girl characters would be tossed aside to lesbian ships so they wouldnt "get in the way" of the slash ships. I enjoyed a lot of the femslash stuff, but there was just wayyyy less content on it, and it was always"softgirl kiss on the cheek" stuff, while the mm ships got these long in depth essays + way more romanticization. The ironic thing was that mm relationships were portrayed basically how irl lesbians act... also, I wouldnt be surprised if a lot of these tifs were bi/straight girls who originally thought themselves to be lesbian, and in order to keep the "gay energy" after discovering their attraction to men, they converted to bi/gay men if you know what i mean... to go from gay girl to straight girl would be seen as boring in these circles.

[–]just_lesbian_things 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I would say that there was just a general lack of passion for the femslash ships?

Haha, ouch.

I'm kind of curious as to what you're watching now. Are you watching shounen stuff? Seinen? Shoujo? I don't watch anime anymore, but I read manga occasionally. I mainly stick to Yuri, so there's almost no male characters.

Even in western animation, there's a lot of F/F content in the past few years. The dominant ship in legend of Korra is F/F after that finale. Two of the top three ships in Overwatch is F/F. And iirc, steven universe, adventure time, and she ra all have prominent F/F ships. Regardless of the canon interactions, I think their respective fandoms have put a lot of effort into fleshing out those relationships.

Often girl characters would be tossed aside to lesbian ships so they wouldnt "get in the way" of the slash ships

Ah, yeah, I think I've seen that. You can usually spot a slash writer because they try to pair the spares. Most F/F writers write men like background characters. In some Yuri mangas, male characters don't even have faces.

also, I wouldnt be surprised if a lot of these tifs were bi/straight girls who originally thought themselves to be lesbian

Yeah, I get that. I'm just not understanding why lesbians would even like BL.

[–]RestingWitchface 7 insightful - 1 fun7 insightful - 0 fun8 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I was into yaoi was a teen (well over a decade ago). At that age, I preferred these fantasy feminine men well over any actual men, which I believe is quite common in teenage girls as it's a safe zone in which to explore sexuality. I'm also autistic and was a complete tomboy at that age, so I may well have been tempted to identify as trans if that had been a thing back then (thank goodness it wasn't). As an adult, I have tended to date more masculine kind of men and my current fiance is super masculine. I think it's something a lot of (straight) girls grow out of.

[–]courage2courage 7 insightful - 1 fun7 insightful - 0 fun8 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I had a lesbian-identifying friend who went from a lesbian to a “enby gay trans man” because of yaoi...

Yeah, the "enby gay trans man" I know writes MM. Way to erase your entire concept of self by piling on the woke words.

I have a lot of feelings about this topic, because I devoured slashfic for well over a decade. Not really yaoi, because even back then I realised it was so rigid - big brunette semes and small blond ukes. The same cookie-cutter, rapey non-story. But growing up, my slash-goggles were fastened securely to my face and Livejournal was my home.

Where I read for enjoyment and angst and romance and, ultimately, the stories, at some point other girls seemed to read it and think they had to become those characters, become male to be happy and live the life they want. The only life they've ever thought about living because they're young and addicted to reading about cute guys getting it on.

No judgement. I was, too.

The thing is, I believed most boys my age were morons. But it was refreshing to read about messed-up, mixed-up boys with their own inner demons and turmoils, who were sensitive and brave and vulnerable and deep like teenaged me (plus hot - always, always hot ofc). Qualities given to them because the vast majority of MM is written by women. They're female romantic fantasies and the femaleness of it was the thing that chimed within me. It's appealing to see boys written through the lens of a woman, through the woman's gaze, and I wonder how often the readers who think they need to deny their womanhood actually take into consideration the female writer instead of the male characters?

(Unless it's to flame her for taking a hiatus and thereby putting a brake on the reader's porny self-indulgence.)

I lost interest in slash when, I guess, I grew up and my brain fully developed. When I interacted with guys and realised the reality of them and the fantasy of slash are very different beasts. Whenever I (rarely) check into AO3 nowadays, I find it incredibly binary: tops and bottoms and ABO and trans headcanons and so, so many plot-what-plots.

I don't recognise this version of fandom so I've noped out of all of it.

It was a significant chunk of my life. But something seems to have happened by the time I was mostly out of fandom, to convince female readers that they need to start identifying as trans and enbies, and I'm gonna blame this social contagion on the rise of Tumblr.

Hypothesis -

Middle-aged TIMs trans because of autogynephilia. Teenaged TIFs trans becaue of slash and yaoi.

It's all porn. Porn is the reason.

[–]gencritcurious[S] 6 insightful - 1 fun6 insightful - 0 fun7 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

When I wrote this post, I was observing a phenomenon that i saw specifically in the anime fan community, but i’m sure this extends beyond that and falls under the broader phenomenon of straight girls being obsessed with gay male media(fanfiction, slash, etc). As an asian girl, i dont think that anime is inherently trying to indoctrinate young women into becoming “gay” tifs, but the way its consumed has most definitely influenced the trans craze, at least in the west. Its a combination of escapism, fantasy, and idealized pornography(theres going to be porn content in fandoms everywhere) that influences these specific kinds of tras, but the media itself is not to blame. This is a discussion about how unhealthy consumption of media by vulnerable girls can lead to trans identity, not about how the media(anime) is inherently bad(i dont fw media conspiracy theories for the most part)

[–]OrneryStruggle 5 insightful - 1 fun5 insightful - 0 fun6 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

Does anyone remember mpreg? When I was a teen a lot of my friends in school who grew up to be trans men/enbies were really into mpreg fictions and stories. At the time I was completely baffled that the "mpreg" genre even existed but now looking back it's obvious that m/m fanfictions and comics weren't really about or for men at all and that's why the male characters got pregnant in so many of the popular stories.

[–]RedditVihaaLesboja 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Mpreg as a genre has pretty much morphed into just a part of the Alpha/Beta/Omega stuff (and it's also been declared transphobic)

[–]NDG 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I’ve liked slash and m/m fiction since the early 2000s, but I never got into most yaoi because the hyper-feminine guys seemed so unrealistic to me. I never got into Tumblr, either. I don’t go for most m/f fiction because it tends to be way too into gender roles, or else the author overdoes how the woman is a Strong Female Character and Just As Good As A Man. F/f seems to often have a political slant that I find off-putting in a romance.

Back in the 2000s, people might do cosplay as male characters, but girls didn’t think liking those characters or liking slash meant they were trans men. I wonder how much of this can be attributed to Tumblr.

[–][deleted] 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

I keep saying this: I think there is a shit ton of animation/cartoons being pushed on kids in order to indoctrinate them. Maybe anime from Japan has more complex motivations, but who knows. Is transitioning gaining popularity there?

[–][deleted] 3 insightful - 1 fun3 insightful - 0 fun4 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Nope -- being out and lesbian/gay is still very new there. The high tide of the trans craze seems to be UK, North America, and (I think?) Australia.