Why are there no women ukes?

The Chicks on Anime Roundtable picks an interesting topic this week: The submissive man is a staple of yaoi manga, but what about submissive women?

The Same Hat guys offer a preview of the latest issue of their zine, Electric Ant #2.

Today is the last day to enter to win a copy of Jiro Taniguchi’s A Distant Neighborhood from Precocious Curmudgeon blogger David Welsh.

News from Japan: Bessatsu Young Magazine is going from bimonthly to monthly, with the new name Monthly Young Magazine, and they wound up five serials in the last issue under the old format.

Reviews: Melinda Beasi, Danielle Leigh, and Michelle Smith post the latest entry in The NANA Project, their review of vols. 5 and 6 of Nana. EvilOmar checks in with some brief reviews of recent manga at About Heroes. Yoshinori Natsume is starting a sequel to Togari in Monthly Comic Flapper.

Tiamat’s Disciple on vol. 2 of 13th Boy (Tiamat’s Manga Reviews)
Tiamat’s Disciple on vols. 1-3 of Cain (Tiamat’s Manga Reviews)
Danielle Leigh on vol. 3 of Cirque du Freak (Comics Should Be Good!)
Connie on vol. 3 of Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (Slightly Biased Manga)
Connie on vol. 13 of Monster (Slightly Biased Manga)
Emily on Ougon Kamen (Emily’s Random Shoujo Manga Page)
Erica Friedman on vol. 1 of Shitsurakeun (Okazu)
Lori Henderson on vol. 1 of Tale of an Unknown Country (Comics Village)

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  1. Dave White says:

    Is it wrong that the first thing that popped into my head after reading your headline was,”But almost all the ukulele players I know are women”?

  2. No women ukes? Are they kidding? What about characters like Nana H or Hot Gimmick’s Hatsumi?

  3. I found the “Chicks on Anime” roundtable fascinating. At least I feel better knowing I am not alone in my confusion about the sexual politics and meanings behind BL and yaoi. What I mean is, there are a lot of issues going on there.

    I am not so sure it in 2009 it is safe to define Japan as a “patriarchal society” and the US as a “non-patriarchal society” in such simple terms. The theory that female Japanese readers read yaoi and BL in response to male oppression would mean that readership would go down as equality goes up, but I don’t think that seems to be the case. Just a thought.

  4. I think the Chicks on Anime roundtable offers up a lot of interesting points, but I did find it a bit slanted — in that all of the tropes present in yaoi and BL have been (and often still are) present in other female audience titles, especially in category romance novels and in erotica. As a friend of mine has frequently said, yaoi and BL read a lot like romance novels from the 1970s and 80s — so women’s fantasies have not evolved all that far, it’s more that they’ve never been witnessed as blatantly in mainstream culture before. My 2 cents.

  5. Simon Jones says:

    The problem I have with the roundtable is that they’re trying very hard to inject complexity into genre tropes that arose out of functionality more than anything else. If two guys are getting it on… well, someone’s going to have to take it, and it’s not going to be the “manly” guy the female readers are supposed to fawn over. The authors use archetype to make it immediately obvious to the reader. That’s what makes genre fiction what it is.

    I’m not really against deeper examinations into genres like yaoi or ero, I just see no need to logically justify any of their particular elements. Why is yaoi popular with straight women, and rape such a common theme? Well, why do some guys prefer redheads over blondes? These things aren’t controlled by morality or reason; they’re primal, emotional urges. They should remain shrouded in mystery, and they should evoke some guilt… that’s what makes them fun, escapist fantasies. If the net has shown us anything, it’s that the creative breadth of human sexuality is boundless. That doesn’t need to be justified, just celebrated.

  6. Sarah: I had a similar response, but then I realized that I don’t read yaoi or straight BL for the most part, and decided that I was probably mis-characterizing what exactly constituted an uke. Because my naive understanding of the term doesn’t make it easily distinguished from a straightforward tsundere with masculine genitalia.