Friday, January 8, 2010

A Tyrant In BL

There's a manga series called "The Tyrant Who Fell In Love". It is apparently very popular. It is yaoi.

I have a problem with it.

The conceit of the series

a) assumes there can be no such thing as a strong affinity or even love of a person that does not necessitate sex.

b) thus meaning that asexuals do not exist in this universe

c) and setting things up to make rape excusable and a sign of true and desperate caring

I finally stopped trying to figure out the manga when I realized there was never going to be any attention paid to such concepts as co-dependency and misplaced guilt on the part of the violation victim/survivor.

Further, the set up of; "I'm not gay, I only put up with these actions from you! Only you!" Does not read like a great love confession to me or a statement of someone unconsciously in love - but rather the statement of someone not in a position to deny a request due to some particular need they have for an individual or some protection they need from that individual.

And it even further disturbs me that there are those who would say I'm not taking cultural norms into consideration - because I cannot believe that Japan is supposed to be a place that's all about non-consensual and dubious consensual sex. Reading about women getting drunk at frat parties and ending up having sexual relations with guys there, doesn't automatically equal American culture as one where it's ok for women to have sex if they're drunk first.

That said, I do recognize that it seems to be a Japanese manga and hentai trope for someone to get themselves into trouble by giving into blackmail which then pushes them to do things they would not ordinarily do and which is usually far more embarrassing than the original blackmail material. I recognize this as a possible concept of 'Face' that I can never truly understand, having not grown up with it.

I've said before I have confusion over the concept of love at first sight in Manga. And now, I add to my ponderings; What are current Manga readers picking up and learning about relationships and sex; What are the manganka exploring when they present scenarios as/of force(d/ful) seduction?*

I'm not assuming all Manga readers are children or teenagers by the way. It is perfectly valid to me to wonder what adults are picking up and unconsciously, or subconsciously adding to their concept of how the world is when it comes to relationships, boundaries, consent, love and rape.

And after all, the manganka (and other creators) are adults.

My ponderings also aren't gay relationships vs straight - but ponderings about what physical strength and the ability to emotionally manipulate mean in the context of relationship dynamics and, relationship hierarchies.

Who tends to have the power to make things go their way? Who ends up being dragged along? There's a storm of questions I could pose about what this exploration might mean socially as a facet of conversation happening in Japan, about roles.

But the thing that I ponder most, is having seen one individual state 'I've read so much BL featuring this trope, that I don't think it's rape anymore' - I can't help wondering how many people have reached that place, and if they even realize they've come to accept, at some level, that Rape Is Love.


* Forceful Seduction:

There seems, at least in the manga and BL I've read, and if I think about it, some UF, to no longer be a difference between confidence (assertiveness) and aggression. This lack of difference is best exemplified in what I've read manga readers describing as forceful seduction - which I just read as rape.

The concept of a confident and charming, debonair seducer who knows how attractive they are and tease the individual of their desire in order to get said individual to admit to wanting them; has been seriously lost. The concept of someone who doesn't have to use physical or psychological power to attract partners or merely sate their sexual wants BECAUSE THEY HAVE PRESENCE - is gone. Woosh, like a candle blown out.

Assertiveness and confidence have gone and been replaced with aggressiveness and demands.

Once upon a time 'the bad boy' was bad because he didn't pretend he didn't feel desire, just to go along with the polite fiction of supposedly civilized individuals. And he was perhaps further bad because he chased after what he wanted; saw what he wanted as distinct from what could or would be handed to him.

And he had patience. Infinite patience.

Granted some of that portrayal came from relationship dynamics where women were treated like childen who didn't know what they really wanted. But there was an expectation that someday they WOULD KNOW and get the chance to make their own choice.

What I'm seeing a lot of, especially in BL are situations where someone-A wants someone-B ; someone-A is stronger, has more influence and power, and/or is willing to manipulate the feelings currently growing in someon-B in order to have instant gratification.

So there's rape, followed by 'You were going to love me anyway, I just sped up the process'. And this is portrayed as ROMANTIC!

Around November of last year, I had thought there was perhaps too fine a line between assertiveness and agressiveness when it comes to seduction. And that the ability to acurately portray that in dialogue and art might swing back and forth. But I've had time to realize that's not really true. The distinction is not in where assertiveness crosses a line, which can be fuzzy in real life far less in fiction; but that want now demands instant gratification.

A month, a week, a year, two years, five, ten - the story starts at the end of a long period wherein someone-A has done NOTHING but moon and whine, sigh and sit. And suddenly they decide to do something, but after waiting so long they leap into attaining instant gratification and things go as follows:

I was a useless piece of lint and did nothing about my growing attraction to you because I was a coward. Now that I realize I have the opportunity to get you alone/get you drunk/get you to notice me, I MUST HAVE MY WAY WITH YOU - TADAH RAPE!

In 'The Tyrant Who Fell In Love' it's a little bit worse in that this long standing crush and torch holding and self caused yearning pain is portrayed as something both admirable and noble as well as pathetic enough to require some kind of drug assistance to get things moving along.

"Oh you poor noble dear, loving and being silent. Here, have a date rape drug."

And then despite claims of knowing use of the drug is wrong, when circumstances set up an opportunity, the actions taken by someone-A are all about -their- instant gratification; their desires, their wants. Apparently not violating someone against their will goes out the window if a penis is throbbing.

I'm not really liking the simplification of desire going on; that there are people who want and people who fulfill that wanting.

[Comments On. For Real This Time. /Smack Hammer Waiting ]

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. Not only because I agree with you that the quality of seduction in fiction is, as you say, being lost but because I've been trying to work out the main qualities of the "bad boy" character. I just couldn't get it quite right.

    It was the patience that I wasn't playing up enough. The infinite patience.

    Thanks once again.