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in a web of glass, pinned to the edges of vision

Japanese gender perceptions are all fucked up.

I'd forgotten how often we saw Magritte

mucha mosaic

Japanese gender perceptions are all fucked up.

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mucha mosaic
I present this post to the MDN WaiWai as evidence.

The WaiWai folks tend to translate as literally as possible- which is why we see a transgendered person referred to as homosexual and coming out of the closet. In Japan, they don't seem to quite socially grasp that there're men who fancy men who are also not men who wish they were women. I don't know why the hell this is. Other examples are: a dragqueen doing her nails on an advert, and the text of the advert is 'when I can be pried out of the gay district, I go to Funland'. As the brilliant Eddie Izzard teaches us- 'there's a bit of a separation between gay men and transvestites, and I think the gay men would agree with that'. Where did they learn this perception? Does it come from the fact that female roles in kabuki are played by onnagata (actors specifically trained to emulate women)? Does it come from the application of European dualistic sexuality notions overtop the rather heftily bisexual historical Japanese culture? I don't know. But it amazes me.

Anyways. Just keep your eyes open for Japanese perception of gender and sexuality being fucked up.
  • You're saying that they don't understand that there are homosexuals who aren't transgendered. This seems way the fuck on the far side of freaky, given the closer-than-buddy-cop relations between samurai, who certainly couldn't be confused in any way with onnagata.

    I think the problem in the article you cited is exactly the opposite: they don't understand that there are transgendered people who aren't homosexual.
  • I think part of the problem might be that 'literal translations' can be a bit misleading because there isn't cultural translations behind them. The evolution of Japanese sexuality isn't something I know much about, but I'd venture to say that very few (if any) things in this world are truly 'borrowed' from another culture, including sex and gender systems.

    Yes, European sexual notions may have influenced Japanese notions, but I find it hard to believe that they weren't contested, challenged, and changed on numerous levels. Taking this into account, I'd question whether the true question here is how a label (such as gay) can be applied to vastly different individuals. Instead, I think the question could be how the labels, categories, and notions of gender and sexuality themselves are different from those in others times and places?

    Regardless, I tend to think that social groups like 'gay' are HUGELY contextual specific and can't be 'imported' and 'exported' cleanly between groups, so looking into how those labels fit into larger historical, social, and political frames can provide lots of answers.
    • Earlier reading on the topic of gay men in modern Japan supplies:
      transgendered folks (or transvestite folks) are both literally named 'new type'; that is, they're a person who used to be another sort of person. Those who are 'new type' are lumped in socially with those who like members of the same sex. Nobody seems to think this is strange, in Japan, which only makes it stranger to me that people who dress as the opposite gender are somehow socially equivalent to people who want to sleep with the same gender.
      The concept of straight and gay only dates back to the late 1800s, before that time, we have many examples in fiction or literature of love between men being simply another form of love. You don't marry a man, of course, you have a responsibility to your family to produce offspring. But you certainly might have a male lover, and nobody would think of it any differently than if you were seeing a woman on the side. This is documented as far back as 1000 AD, and as recently as the 1870s. After the American frontier-opening, the Japanese started on their habitual behavior with foreign material that's forced on them.
      Japan has a long history of encountering other cultures that they get smushed or troubled by, and then integrating portions of those cultures into their own culture- producing a uniquely Japanese interpretation of the foreign influence. Given that they've only been diddling around with european-style dualistic sexuality the last 150 years, they're probably still getting the hang of it.
      Maybe we'll be fortunate and get taught a thing or two about this, for a change.
  • Interesting that "new type" means what it does, given the name of one of the popular anime magazines!
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