Earlier this week Chris Mautner linked an article about a prefecture in Japan flagging woman’s manga magazines (out of 9 on the list) as “harmful”. This prompted a post on Melissa’s personal blog about the reaction to fanfiction on the Internet, and how the same mindset might be on display:
I always wondered what the PROBLEM was. Okay, granted, copyright violation. But that sort of issue is hardly JUST limited to slash. And certainly, there were mainstream stuff that was as bad or exploitative. And there was certainly equally graphic pornographic fanfiction that wasn’t slash.
Gradually I started to realize that the problem was less some sort of “preserve the purity of the work” idea and more that well, adult fanfiction in general tends to be written by both men and women, but slash fanfiction largely is written by and for women. This is not to say some men don’t read and write slash themselves, but the genre is still, I think, very female dominated.
In the end, despite the genders of the subjects of the stories, slash was and is a genre geared toward the sexual gratification of women. And some people (both men and women), I suspect, find this a threatening prospect.
I wonder if that’s at the root of this condemnation of josei manga as well. The articles haven’t been explicit about the content of the manga. I’ve personally never read them, and for all I know they are the most appalling pieces of work ever to see print.
But personally, I suspect they’re, at worst, on the same level as the aforementioned phonebook manga I saw the salariman reading. I suspect that the ratio of “offensive” and “harmful” comics, even applying the standards of Japanese culture rather than American, comes about at a much more balanced ratio than 2:1.