In October, the futekiya team published our second Community Survey about how readers use and view of the terms “fujoshi,” “fudanshi,” and “fujin.” While some respondents were confused by what we meant when we said “fujoshi,” “fudanshi,” and “fujin,” we understand that there are various connotations and meanings both in and outside Japan concerning these terms.
In Japan, these terms have a particular meaning and history (we will go into this in another article). For this survey, our goal was to understand how readers outside of Japan regard the terms. To start a respectful conversation about BL culture outside of Japan, we welcomed written responses to certain questions. We have included some of these submissions in this report.
Where do you currently reside?
Over one week, we received 374 responses from 42 different countries. Our team categorized the countries in the chart below by United Nations geographic divisions. The majority 52.1% of our respondents reside in Northern America (including Hawaii and excluding Puerto Rico) followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (including Puerto Rico) with 11.8%, with Western Asia making up 0.5% of the respondents’ residence.
What is your age?
The number of responses for the 18-24 and 25-30 age brackets was similar at 40.6% and 39.3% respectively. Readers between 31-40 years of age made up 17.4% of the respondents with the figure dropping to 2.4% for the 41-50 age range. Those over 51-60 and over 60 years of age accounted for less than 1% of readers.
Do you read Boys’ Love manga (also known as yaoi)?
We asked respondents whether they read Boys’ Love manga. In total, 99% does or used to read. While the majority of 89.6% answered “Yes” and 1.1% “Occasionally,” 8.3% responded that they used to.
The remaining 1% of respondents stated that they do not read Boys’ Love manga.
Do you use the term “fujoshi” “fudanshi” and/or “fujin” to describe yourself?
In this survey, we did not define the terms “fujoshi,” “fudanshi,” and “fujin,” as there are different meanings and implications based on language and region. This question asks whether the respondent uses one or more of these terms to describe themself. 55.6% of responses said “Yes” while 29.7% were “No.”
Some respondents said “No” because these terms have a negative image and is used as a pejorative. Some mentioned similar issues while simultaneously understanding that the terms were “reclaimed.” However, Japanese fans reclaimed these terms, and so being a non-Japanese person, using these terms to identify themselves would feel like an act of appropriation, as highlighted by respondents.
In addition, due to the complex connotations, history, and ambiguity of the terms, 2.4% of respondents replied that they would use the terms to describe themselves depending on the context.
Do you like the term “fujoshi” “fudanshi” and/or “fujin”?
This question asked respondents about their sentiment regarding the three terms “fujoshi,” “fudanshi,” and/or “fujin,” regardless of whether they identified with them or not. 63.6% of respondents replied “Yes,” while 16.6% said “No,” and 9.6% were indifferent. Close to a total of 9% were somewhere in between with 4.3% responding that it depends on the context and 4.5% saying they had mixed feelings.
Many of those that stated that it depends on the context mentioned that they were supportive of the use of the terms so long as they were not utilized with negative intent. Similarly, there were mixed feelings due to certain factors.
For example, some respondents mentioned how the terms were used derogatorily and others did not agree with the literal translations as the “fu” (腐) in the three terms translates to “rotten.” We received some responses stating that as a non-Japanese person, they feel mixed emotions using these Japanese-audience-oriented terms to refer to themselves.
Do you use the term “fujoshi” “fudanshi” and/or “fujin” to describe others that read Boys’ Love (BL) manga?
55.1% of respondents said that they use the terms “fujoshi,” “fudanshi,” and/or “fujin” to describe others. 11.8% replied that it depends on the other person, and if they refer to themselves or want to be referred to as such, the respondent would use them. 1.1% of respondents said they only use the terms to address the general, rather than to describe an individual. At the same time, some voiced that they only use the words to address an individual because using them to refer to the general may bring with it an inaccurate or negative connotation.
Do you think it is important that there is a term like “fujoshi” “fudanshi” and/or “fujin” to signify readers of BL manga?
This question aims to investigate whether terms like “fujoshi,” “fudanshi,” and “fujin” are even seen as necessary to refer to readers of BL manga. A majority at 55.9% responded “Yes,” while 37.7% said “No,” and 2.7% were neutral. 1.6% said it is important or useful as a shorthand, meaning that it is easier to have words like “fujoshi” “fudanshi” and “fujin” to call a group or person who likes BL manga.
The 1.6% in “Other” include opinions that could not be categorized into the other answers. For example, although the presence of a word to address a group does no harm itself, setting a word to signify a group provides a name for oppressors to utilize as well. Additionally, the current connotations of these three terms have veered from indicating “fans of BL” to “someone who fetishizes gay men.” Therefore, calling for new, inclusive terms.
What do you think?
What do you think of these responses? How do you define “fujoshi” “fudanshi” and “fujin”? Should there be other words to signify fans of BL? Those who want to elaborate on their response or those who did not get the chance to fill out the survey, let us know what you think on Twitter!
We will be back soon with another Community Survey. In the meantime, be sure to swing by the futekiya Library if you want to read BL manga and support artists!
About futekiya: BL manga subscription
In 2018, futekiya began as a Boys’ Love manga news and culture website operated by FANTASISTA, INC., a CG/VR production studio based in Tokyo, Japan. futekiya transformed into a budding global distributor of officially licensed BL manga in 2019.
futekiya launched as an online subscription service for officially licensed BL manga on July 8, 2019. Determined to connect fans around the world with English-translated BL legally and conveniently, futekiya empowers readers to support creators and the manga industry.
Readers who subscribe to futekiya and pay a flat monthly fee of $6.99 will have access to our expanding library of English-language manga. To subscribe, please go to read.futekiya.com and create an account. More information is in our guide.