Japanese Queer Identity Construction : An Exploration of Same-Sex Desire in Postwar Japan
The author explores the historical and contemporary connotations of same-sex attraction and queer identity in Japan, focusing particularly on the effects of same-sex love in popular culture on the construction of identity. She takes issue with previous attempts to define Japan's queer culture by using Western constructions of sexuality and identity. It is important to examine how Western ideas of sexuality have influenced Japanese culture, but it is a dangerous oversimplification to assume that those ideas hold the same meaning in both cultures. The author attempts to remain sensitive to the cultural context of queer identity construction, recognizing that the use of the word queer itself may be considered problematic. The term queer is used throughout this paper not in an attempt to claim that the word holds an identical meaning to the subjects whose behaviors are discussed, but rather as a convenient umbrella term referring to any non-heterosexual identity or expression of desire. Additionally, past scholarship has tended to focus on male-male relationships while only briefly touching on lesbian and other female-oriented queer culture. Unfortunately, due to that trend, the author faced severe limitations in terms of describing the experiences of queer women, instead, turning attention to women's contributions to the current popular culture ideology of queer sexualities. Through creation and consumption of queer media, Japanese women have been significant contributors to the prevailing ideas of sexuality and identity in popular culture, though these ideas are not necessarily reflective of reality. Another focus of this paper is on what has allowed these types of stories to grow in popularity and how they affect (and in turn are affected by) contemporary queer culture and identity construction in Japan.