Sunday, January 27, 2008

Well, At Least He Didn't Delete Everything Before I Could Copy It.

"I'm all for dreams. For my own part, I quest for a day when someone's dreams aren't considered an overt oppression of someone else in the real world."

--Me

It may even still be up.

Bless 'im, LurkerWithout tries to engage; he's made replies on my own blog twice so far this year, and both times in a manner you could describe as antagonistic, or at the very least, sarcastic. I'll assume he doesn't sympathize with my viewpoint, if he even understands what my viewpoint is.

You might think, by reading the last comment he made on my blog as well as the above link to his own blog, that he truly doesn't understand my position, you know, by the way he says he can't figure out what my point is. Depending on your outlook, you could chalk that up to me failing to properly explain things, but you could also just as easily say he's using a fork to eat his soup.

Upon discovering the post he made on his own LiveJournal, I started talking to Nenena in the comments section (as well as Zhinxy), but I recently went back to find the thread frozen. I'm not sure what the reason for that is; I could speculate a bit but who cares. Pity, because I thought I was making my points well. I'm also kind of fond of the moment where LurkerWithout tries to get cute with me and tell me what someone on my own blog said to me, but more to the point I think it's worthwhile to preserve one of my replies to Nenena, just in case you, too, gentle reader, had trouble following what I was getting at with my other post.

For context's sake, in case you can't be bothered to click: in posts previous, Nenena has informed me that I don't have much claim to tell gay men to not be offended by something, because I'm not myself gay, and that in cases of offense, it's the opinions of the depicted group that matters most. She's also said that recently there have been protests of yaoi comics by gay men (in contrast to my own impression that they were mostly indifferent to it, and also in contrast to Dryope's comment saying she knew gay men who enjoyed yaoi).

This is how I replied (following bolded text is verbatim quotes from Nenena's post):

It's not straight men that are depicted as unrealistically effeminate in yaoi.

My impression of yaoi (which, granted, isn't at all extensive) is that there are actually very few straight men depicted at all, if ever. So far, any straight male characters I've seen are ciphers and scenery, like a guy who runs a grocery store, or a relative of a main character. They aren't the object of the fantasy, they're just there to prop the fantasy up a bit. If one could point to any random yaoi comic and find a truly prominent character that wasn't gay and also not prettified, then I might give the gay/not-gay differentiation more weight.

But by the reasoning you're giving, if, say, there were a slew of more gratuitous cheesecake covers and comics of the new Batwoman, then straight women would have less ground to protest upon, unless they got the go-ahead from actual lesbians. If lesbians actually did approve of Gratuitous Batwoman, straight women couldn't complain much, since the character is a lesbian, and thus the depiction isn't actually any kind of affront to them or their sexuality.

It depends on your willingness to LISTEN TO the members of the group that you're attempting to ally yourself with.

UGH.

Too many people use the phrase "listen to" when they actually mean things like "defer to" or "obey". It is quite possible to listen to someone and still not agree with their reasoning...

Anyway, if gay men are indeed protesting yaoi, then that only bolsters the whole point of bringing it up.

For one thing, it reinforces my contention that yaoi is primarily "for" women (although one commenter on my own blog said some gay men do read the stuff), and as such, even though it depicts gay activity, the main purpose of it is to titillate *heterosexual* women, just as some guys might find lesbians making out to be arousing.

It has been my impression that there's quite a few fangirls out there that get upset by, say, bodypainted Wonder Woman on Playboy, but at the same time they'll openly lust over some yaoi porn (or even gay subtext in mainstream comics) without seeing any inconsistency in that position. Regardless of the sexual preference of the characters depicted, if one example objectifies women, the other objectifies men, and to be consistent, one should either condemn both equally or let both pass.

If you (meaning anyone out there) do indeed treat both instances equally, then whether or not I agree with your stance, I'll respect your opinion more than if you condemn one but give the other a pass. That inconsistency, to me, reduces the weight of your words, and gives me the impression of an unthinking following of dogma and obedience to the outrage of others over any personal, deeply-felt belief in the inherent wrongness of one thing or another.

If Nenena intended to reply, that was preempted by the freezing of that comments thread.

I think I should point out that none of what I say is intended to actually condemn yaoi comics or any other kind of comics, nor do I think it's wrong for women to have fantasies about yaoi. If they do have such fantasies, though, I think it's only fair to keep that in mind when speaking out against male fantasies. And as I said to Zhinxy on that thread:

But lines can still be crossed. Being Pro Pr0n doesn't mean never having to say that it's sexist.

Sure, that's fair enough. I just think some people are willing to bend where they draw that line when it's something they like on the basis of just that they like it, not because of any inherent merit or lack thereof to whatever it is they're bending their standards for.

And then there's the question of what different people think is the proper method for dealing with things that do cross those lines...

UPDATE/ADDITIONAL, 1-29:

Something's been nagging at me ever since Nenena corrected me about what she said, and I think I've finally figured it out. She says:
Correction: I said that you didn't have much claim to tell gay men to not be offended by something, because you're not gay.
If you believe that, fine... though I think that suggestion loses validity in certain situations. If an offended group is offended by something ridiculous, I don't think it's inappropriate to say "I think that you and your group are getting worked up over nothing". There just have to be reasonable limiters to where someone's outrage must be heeded.

But that aside, what's had me scratching my head is that I don't believe anything I've written so far about yaoi and its problematic nature as regards feminist protests has suggested that gay men should not be outraged by it.

Sure, it's been my impression that gay men in general are not concerned about it, and I went on at length about how I myself, as a man, did not consider to unrealistic male depictions in yaoi to be "co-opting" my male sexuality, but I don't see where I up and said, "and any of you gay guys having a fit over this, well, you shouldn't".

I am a little interested about the inputs I've received about whether gay men do get offended by yaoi: While Nenena points out instances of protest by gay men, Dryope says she knows gay men who read and enjoy it, and in light of Nenena's claims that the depicted group's opinion trumps that of those not depicted, I have to wonder which is the majority view, pro-yaoi-gays or anti-yaoi-gays?

Wouldn't it be amusing if gays were more or less split down the middle on the issue? With no clear majority opinion, which side holds precedence? Who would "gay allies" listen to...?

Ah well.

14 comments:

Nenena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nenena said...

Nenena has informed me that I don't have much claim to be outraged by depictions of gay men since I'm not myself gay

Correction: I said that you didn't have much claim to tell gay men to not be offended by something, because you're not gay. And by "something" I mean "depictions of gay men." That's a really important difference. Just so that we get the context correct! ;)

Sorry for the delete and repost, but I'm a stickler for catching my own typos.

Anon, A Mouse said...

All right, I stand corrected and edited.

Nenena said...

Thank you.

Dryope said...

^_^; Clarification: I swap yaoi titles with my male friends who are gay or bi. I thought that was apparent in my last post! But I guess I wasn't clear. I know exactly two straight guys who will read BL if it is fluff or high romance.

There may in fact be gay men who protest yaoi! And it is true that yaoi is targeted towards females and largely written by us. But in my experience there are always gay men at the yaoi showings and panels at the local conventions (err, so I haven't counted or anything but it always seems to be a fairly even gender split, too.)

It's also true that it isn't at all realistic and the boys are overly pretty but to be fair the heterosexual male love interests in normal shoujo manga are usually rather effeminately pretty, too. I suppose it's something that as an avid manga reader I'm so used to that it never crossed my mind that this depiction might offend anyone. ._.;

I've only recently started reading the (non-manga) comics blogs and I guess I was sort of surprised to realize there was any controversy over the subject and that it was considered something gay men didn't read because ever since I got into the yaoi fandom I've known guys who were into it, too. ^_^; When I was in high school even more of the guys in the anime club read yaoi than the girls did. I suppose that's probably an anomaly, though.

Anyway, I'm not saying there aren't gay men who are outraged by yaoi. My experience is with my little manga reading community and is mostly localized. But, you know, as a yaoi fangirl I figured I was at least sort of qualified to comment? Yep.

LurkerWithout said...

Actually I froze the thread because really long threads get difficult to read with the style set-up I have.

After
a
while
they
all
start
to
look
like
this...

Very annoying to read. If you people want to keep debating or arguing or whatever feel free to start a new comment thread...

And thanks for the link. It feeds my attention whoring nature. ME ME ME!!!

Anon, A Mouse said...

LurkerWithout:

I see. In that case, you might consider adding a quick note to the thread when you do that, just so people aren't left scratching their heads wondering why.

Scott (The Mad Thinker) Anderson said...

It depends on your willingness to LISTEN TO the members of the group that you're attempting to ally yourself with.

UGH.

Too many people use the phrase "listen to" when they actually mean things like "defer to" or "obey". It is quite possible to listen to someone and still not agree with their reasoning...


Plus there is no uniformity of thought among those groups. We know we are told there isn't a hive mind among women or feminists. Lots of people from both of those groups were fine with the Playboy cover. So if we listen to both groups, what do we decide?

I know that you can't get gay men to agree on anything. Often they don't even agree with themselves. They will complain on one hand that a gay character is too stereotypically gay, but on the other hand complain that a gay character is straight acting to keep from bothering the straight boys.

I often get the opinion that some readers read and begin with the question "How are they screwing us now?" but I think the question -- at most -- should be "Are they screwing us now?"

And "I don't care what you think" is often a perfectly viable answer to "Why aren't you listening to me?" I don't want anyone else telling me what should and shouldn't be in my sexual fantasies. As long as everyone involved in creating them and buying them can give and has given consent, as long as their are no substantive real world problems created by my fantasy material, it's fine. I don't want straight guys telling me what should be in my fantasy material even if they find it terribly objectionable, and I will respect their choices.

Yann said...

Well, the argument that's being going on here interested me enough to write some old rubbish on it, but I fear that clogging up your comments box with it would be rude, so I've stuck it up at my own site (also, I'm incredibly vain and love to artificially draw people to my own blog). Anyway, if you're at all curious as to what some weirdo who's never commented on your blog before has to say, I've stuck it up over here.

I'm afraid it's not entirely in your favour.

(Oh, and of course I forgot that Lurker had frozen his comments section, because I'm an idiot, so can't post it up at his site. It's not entirely in his favour either...)

Nenena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nenena said...

RE: Mouse's addendum and Scott's comment

Actually, that's basically my point - that there is a plurality of opinions about yaoi among gay men (and other interested parties). My objection to Mouse's post is that his argument is based entirely on "gay men are okay with yaoi," with the necessary extrapolation that "gay men should be okay with yaoi" or else the Catwoman comparison has no point. Whereas a quick Google search would reveal that there are many gay voices that would disagree with Mouse, and to ignore their existence in his post makes his argument look shoddy.

Mouse, if I understand correctly, your original argument is: "I am not upset by yaoi, therefore wimmins should not be upset by sexist depictions of catwoman." In order for that argument to hold any water, you have to acknowledge that you're speaking in "shouldn'ts" that you're attempting to apply to other people: Your last four paragraphs = therefore, gay men should not object to yaoi. Your Catwoman comparison = therefore, nobody should be upset about Catwoman. That's where your shouldn'ts are coming from. If you weren't forwarding the argument that yaoi (and sexist Catwoman renderings) shouldn't be considered offensive, then what exactly was the point of your post?

(I know, I am lame for continually making typos.)

Anon, A Mouse said...

Yann:

I read your piece, and actually, I don't find much fault with it. (I'd have posted a reply there if it didn't mean signing up to Yahoo 360, which seems to have some issues with my system.) Even if it isn't "in my favor", I don't think it is particularly against me. In fact, if someone wants to argue that mainstream superhero comics are some kid-friendly haven that should let everyone know well ahead of time that they're gonna show a bunch of gore and boobies, well, okay, but I think that is a separate issue altogether than, say, "Catwoman's gratuitous cleavage is an insult to all womankind".

Nenena:

Granted, if someone reads what I wrote and finds it to be reasonable and correct, then it would follow that any gay man who agrees with my reasoning, and applies it to his own situation, should not find yaoi offensive.

Furthermore, if a woman who likes yaoi but protests against blatant cheesecake and the like in mainstream comics reads what I wrote and finds it to be reasonable and correct, she may have to re-examine either her need to protest the objectification of women in comics or her tacit approval of objectification of men in yaoi.

I think there's still a big difference between implying these things and outright saying "thou shalt not", though. If you want to extrapolate what I wrote to saying directly that gays shouldn't find yaoi offensive, then you would, I hope, concede that by that kind of standard there's a veritable litany of writings coming from the other direction, women attempting to tell men what they should/should not enjoy or find sexy or any number of other similar things.

"Mouse, if I understand correctly, your original argument is: "I am not upset by yaoi, therefore wimmins should not be upset by sexist depictions of catwoman.""

That's not really my argument, unless you strip it down to the most basic, simplistic level.

My argument is twofold:

(1) Many women find yaoi acceptable. To be consistent, those women ought not object too much to depictions of females in comics, as there are certain similarities in the way men are depicted as objects of lust in yaoi and the way women are depicted as objects of lust in other comics.

(2) The objectification in yaoi is mostly a creation by and for women, and thus has very little to do with male sexuality, even though it depicts men (and to expand on that, I'll go so far as to say that applies to both gay and straight men). If that is true (a point you may certainly debate), then in a similar fashion, depictions of women created by men for men have actually very little to do with female sexuality. If THAT is true, then it becomes difficult to claim that, as an example, Catwoman "co-opts" and subverts female sexuality in some fashion. As a male fantasy, any similarity between Catwoman and real female sexuality is incidental.

My inclusion of my own personal thoughts on yaoi are included not as an essential part of the argument, but as a reflection (or even demonstration) of the reasoning I've used, applied to my own real-life philosophy.

My philosophy causes me to not be bothered by yaoi; my not being bothered by yaoi does not drive my philosophy.

Yann said...

"I'd have posted a reply there if it didn't mean signing up to Yahoo 360, which seems to have some issues with my system."

Aye, it's a bit iffy. I just like it because the format makes my background purdy. I'm just a little shallow.

You're right that it isn't really 'against' you - or t'other argument. It's just that I noticed that a lot of the debate seemed to be coming from misunderstandings/missed connections between arguments (as so often is the case, particularly online) that I felt the need to comment. That and the fact that my studies have picked up again, which naturally leads to an increase in my procrastination.

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