Monday, June 11, 2012

Different Categorizations of Guy-on-Guy: What Do They Mean?

Today I'm gonna be talking about a few different terms that are often, but not always, synonymous.

On this blog, I talk about a variety of things related to gay men, from webcomics to art to books (and, in the future, yaoi). While you're likely familiar with some of these, you might not know them all!

Yaoi is a comic drawn in Japanese style, with the intended audience being women. Similiarly, bara is also a comic drawn in Japanese style, but because the target audience is gay men, the men are muscular or heavy-set, whereas in yaoi the men are slender and androgynous.

Yaoi is often criticized. Much like m/m, yaoi is known for its melodrama and its overwhelming use of masculine seme and feminine uke characters, in which one character is a hyper-dominant man who always tops, and the other is a passive boy who always bottoms. Yaoi - again, like m/m - often uses rape tropes.

Similarly, m/m ("male/male") is generally intended for, and written by, women. M/m shares a lot of traits with yaoi. Instead of what you'd find in real life - a gay relationship in which two guys are more or less equals, often switching off sexual roles or abandoning them altogether - m/m usually features a top/bottom relationship where the top always tops and the bottoms always bottoms. While m/m authors strive to abandon these stereotypes and create more realistic relationships for their characters, these tropes remain consistent in the genre.

Critic of m/m and yaoi often describe these effeminate bishounen as "girls with dicks".

If I call something "gay" on this blog, it often means the thing in question (be it art, fiction, or both) features a more realistic guy-on-guy relationship, and will appeal to both women and gay men.

Slash, meanwhile, is the same as m/m. The only difference is that, typically, m/m describes an original work, while slash describes a fan creation.

Sometimes these terms intersect. Something can be both m/m and gay. Or something can be both yaoi and m/m. It happens. They're not exact terms.

For example: a yaoi fan would easily enjoy The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal. The art style is similar to yaoi (though far more realistic) and it's created by a woman. However, it's definitely what I'd call a gay webcomic, rather than a yaoi webcomic, due to how the characters interact and the focus on issues such as homophobia and acceptance.

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