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Updating “yaoi” and “shounen ai” genres to “BL”

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Post #778769
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2:44 am, Jul 24 2020
Posts: 4


Firstly, I would like to thank the staff of Baka-Updates Manga, as a long time user and a fresh forum poster. They have truly done an amazing job archiving hundreds of manga, categorizing and tagging them appropriately, giving many of us an irreplaceable tool in looking for our next favorite read for many years now.

That being said, I do believe some genre names on the site are somewhat outdated and could probably use an update - specifically “yaoi” and “shounen ai”.

For a long time, “yaoi” was used to mean either “BL (in general)” or “nsfw BL” specifically, while “shounen ai” meant “sfw BL”. However, these terms were never utilized in Japan in similar ways and carry vastly different meanings. “Yaoi” was usually used in reference to doujinshi, meaning “Plot? What Plot?” or the doujin equivalent of crackfics - sometimes sexual but not always. Meanwhile, “shounen ai” is not an accurate translation of “Boys Love” but actually contains implications of pederasty and pedophilia (“love for/between young boys”). “Shounen ai” also refers to “a specific genre of ‘70s comics featuring two young boys, dealing with lots of angst, rape, and coming of age wrt sexuality, usually with a very tragic ending/bury your gays trope.” [I really recommend checking out this post, it’s very informative in terms of BL history https://rottenboysclub.dreamwidth.org/1664.html ]

Now that more people are realizing that these terms are no longer used in Japan (and even during their prime, were used to mean vastly different things) and may cause us to receive strange glances from Japanese otaku on international platforms such as Twitter, we would like to request an update of these antiquated terms.

Our suggestion is to replace the genres of “yaoi” and “shounen ai” on the site with simply “BL” or “Boys Love” and to indicate the presence of nsfw (aka how “yaoi” was previously used) with the addition of the “smut” or “adult” genre (whichever is the standard).

We understand that this is asking a lot of the site admins, but to add a few arguments why this would be a valuable change:

This division into “yaoi” and “shounen ai” has inevitably caused a stigma around nsfw BL works, due to the assumption that sexual portrayals of m/m are inherently problematic. This caused people to propagate the myth that “yaoi is oversexualized and fetishistic, while shounen ai is pure and wholesome” - separating the genre into “icky yaoi and good shounen ai”, inevitably further stigmatizing the portrayals of intercourse between men in manga.

But there is another issue - one of clarity.

To this day, some people utilize “yaoi” meaning “BL as a whole” while others use it to mean “nsfw BL specifically”, causing confusion and sometimes even hostility, from people who think that nsfw BL works are inherently harmful or problematic - “BL” doesn’t carry the unfortunate history and connotations that “yaoi” does.

As Baka-Updates Manga is an important resource in the lives of many manga fans all over the world, we believe that this change could have real impact on the perception of BL in the community as a whole, and we humbly ask for your consideration.

Post #778774 - Reply to (#778769) by shipperinjapan
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5:20 am, Jul 24 2020
Posts: 981


Quote from shipperinjapan
contains implications of pederasty and pedophilia

It's fictional, who cares?

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Post #778775
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幸運
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5:28 am, Jul 24 2020
Posts: 27


Good suggestion! Picking what to read next is a bit of a pain when I have to search for yaoi and then search for shonen ai. I would also suggest that this change is made for shoujo ai/yuri and GL.

Post #778783 - Reply to (#778774) by Transdude1996
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1:36 pm, Jul 24 2020
Posts: 4


The problem is that it's essentially false advertising because that's not what manga tagged as "shounen ai" nowadays usually contain. It's an inaccurate term that also has implications that some ppl may not like. I'm not here to debate the morality of pederasty or pedophilia in fiction, that's off-topic, I'm just explaining how the term doesn't mean what people think it means.

Post #778784 - Reply to (#778775) by kuroipon
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1:43 pm, Jul 24 2020
Posts: 4


Yes, convenience is also a good argument!

And yes, shoujo-ai is actually a western invention, made to be the lesbian equivalent of shounen-ai, again carrying similar "loli" implications. And as far as I'm aware, this term was never actually used in Japan, not even in a different meaning.

But in the case of yuri, I would recommend just replacing the genre of "shoujo ai" with "yuri". GL is... a marketing term in Japan, while "yuri" is the name the writers and fans of the genre chose themselves, so it would be most appropriate to use the term they've been using for the past few decades.

Here's a good article about the importance of the term "yuri": https://www.animefeminist.com/history-why-call-yuri/

Post #778785
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Seinen is RIGHT
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1:50 pm, Jul 24 2020
Posts: 2114


From wiki with 3 sources:
"The terms yaoi and shōnen-ai are sometimes used by Western fans to differentiate between two variants of the genre. In this case, yaoi is used to describe titles that primarily feature sexually explicit themes and sex scenes, while shōnen-ai is used to describe titles that focus primarily on romance and omit explicit sexual content, although sexual acts may be implied."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaoi#Sh%C5%8Dnen-ai
As it says, one is the upgrade of the other and both are used to this day in from of marketing material or other sites. And not just in the US. Comic shops and libraries also have "Yaoi" sections. As the wiki link proves. And here is Amazon.de using Yaoi as it´s own section: https://www.amazon.de/gp/bestsellers/digital-text/8513223 031/ref=pd_zg_hrsr_digital-text
Good luck canceling a bestselling Amazon section. Yaoi manga is mainstream in Germany. Source: I Am a German librarian. Yuri is fairly niche, as goes for the rest of the world.

Smut doesn´t exist as that term in Japan. MU doesn´t have Kodomo as a demographic despite it absolutely being real as it has little effect on the world of scanlation. This site doesn´t use Doujinshi in the way it needs to be used. And what about Bara? I can go on.
All of this is fine. MU isn´t a Japanese site and doesn´t have a Japanese userbase. Like at all.

I am not saying that you are fully of the mark but there are no good ways to solve this. And what would you do with manga like Banana Fish which isn´t Shounen Ai and even locked down without that genre? The 4 gay tags are also used as genres and not just demographics. Merging both into one would cause even more confusion for those. Sticking with the (billion-dollar company approved) devils you know is not only the path of least resistance but will also cause less chaos.

PS: Which reality is it where Japanese citizens interact with the rest of the world on Twitter?
And why are you suggesting that using Adult or Smut (lol) with a tag named BL would be less harmful to... who? Back to the drawing board on that one, I think.

Edit: Japan is quite famous for being abysmal when it comes to English or foreign language skills. That´s why the scene is by and large missing native langue translators.
https://www.mitsue.co.jp/english/global_ux/blog/201709/14 _1700.html
https://howwidelyspoken.com/how-widely-spoken-english-jap an/
They don't even chart but that is due to a lack of data (note how high Germany scores):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Englis h-speaking_population

Last edited by residentgrigo at 2:30 pm, Jul 24

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Post #778788 - Reply to (#778784) by shipperinjapan
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2:30 pm, Jul 24 2020
Posts: 981


Quote from shipperinjapan
And yes, shoujo-ai is actually a western invention, made to be the lesbian equivalent of shounen-ai, again carrying similar "loli" implications.

No, it's not. I can argue very little on how shounen-ai is handled as I haven't read any dedicated gay series (Sans trap hentai), but shoujo-ai has lesbian undertones meanwhile sporting zero straight-up carpetmuncher action.

Quote from shipperinjapan
Here's a good article about the importance of the term "yuri": https://www.animefeminist.com

You're source is a tabloid that spergs about how "People cannot lie", tries to classify an established fetish as offensive, and is actively insistent upon subverting Japanese media?

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Post #778789
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Seinen is RIGHT
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2:33 pm, Jul 24 2020
Posts: 2114


@shipperinjapan Please do us a favor and ignore He Who Must Not Be Named. Yikes/10.
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Amazon.com also has that section. Yaoi & LGBT Manga: https://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/302952011/ref =pd_zg_hrsr_books
Its a mess but there is no Yuri section on Amazon.de either. Those go under romance manga there. As I said, niche genre is niche. Amazon.com instead created a huge mess. Eh.
Germany did it better. Insert German efficiency joke [here].

Last edited by residentgrigo at 2:43 pm, Jul 24

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Post #778791 - Reply to (#778785) by residentgrigo
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6:43 pm, Jul 24 2020
Posts: 4


Yes, the misuse of the terms yaoi and shounen ai in the west goes so deep that they've become the official names of genres used by publishers, I am aware of this. I'm Polish, and it's the same back in Poland. However, if something's going to change, I think MU is the best place to start.

Yes, I am also aware that Japan doesn't label things as "smut", however we do need some differentiation between works which are Safe For Work and those which aren't - smut is that word. And sure, I support the change of "bara" to "geicomi" but I want to go one step at a time. BL is definitely the most popular of the BL/yuri/geicomi trio.

I think there is a good way to solve this - the one I outlined. If "smut" is the wrong word, then by all means, use "nsfw" which is a widely understood term. Or 18+. Or "mature". Anything works. As for Banana Fish - currently it's not labelled as any of the "gay genres" anyway - only as shoujo. Whether BF is BL has been a point of debate probably for as long as it's been out and at this point it's a taboo topic in the Japanese fandom because people can never agree.

I also think using "yaoi" and "shounen ai" as genre indicators can be more misleading than helpful. Take Given - a BL that most readers would probably want to classify as shounen ai. But here, it's labelled as a yaoi, because even if sex is just a tiny aspect of the manga, it's still there. "Yaoi" is a loaded term, whereas something like "nsfw" is neutral and only informs the reader "hey, this might not be appropriate for ppl under 18".

PS: When her manga was being published in France under the label "yaoi", Azuma Kaya said she feels like she's being transported 20 years back in time. I think she deleted that tweet but in a reply she explains that she feels like it's an old term (in a good way, but yeah) https://twitter.com/azuma_kaya/status/1166796824427941888

And I do think it would be less harmful because it doesn't have the connotations that "yaoi" has. "Smut" has its own connotations and I don't know that it's ideal, but it is, if nothing else, different from yaoi. But anyway, the nsfw tag is just meant to indicate to people whether they're old enough to read it, or if they should or shouldn't read it in public etc.

And like I outlined in the original post, BL improves clarity, since "yaoi" can mean "any BL" or "smutty BL specifically", depending on the person which is confusing.

Post #779577
Member

8:12 pm, Aug 18 2020
Posts: 25


Changing it now will result in more confusion

I generally don't care but it feels incredibly uncessary. Alot of people on discord server use the term shonen ai for sfw BL because its such a common term


Post #779581 - Reply to (#779577) by Shellshock
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9:30 pm, Aug 18 2020
Posts: 1


Quote from Shellshock
Changing it now will result in more confusion

I generally don't care but it feels incredibly uncessary. Alot of people on discord server use the term shonen ai for sfw BL because its such a common term

But when I am talking on Twitter, please understand, people are saying "yaoi fetishizes gay men and Shounen ai is actually good representation"
I personally haven't used the term shounen ai for 5 years now unless I was telling people how to read genre on antiquated sites like this one.

It frustrates me to no end that I have to search each one individually. And these aren't even terms used in Japan. These terms are only used on out of date sites like this that keep siting tradition of being wrong to keep stuff the same.

Having to constantly double talk instructions about what is and isn't is annoying. People have fights over if something is shounen ai or yaoi. And I am like it is all BL. All of it. Some is rated T, some is rated M, and some are PWP

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