What is Fujin?
Fujin is a term that refers to individuals who enjoy any media or works depicting romantic relationships between men. It is a version of the more well-known terms of fujoshi or fudanshi and is mostly used as a gender-neutral term. Nowadays, you can see many non-binary fans of the Boys’ Love genre preferring to use this more inclusive term instead.
Fujin (腐人) similar to its sibling term fujoshi (腐女子) and fudanshi (腐男子), is written using the kanji 腐, which originally was used to mean “decay” or “spoilage” (the same meaning as in the word 腐敗 which is read as fuhai). This kanji usage was originally meant to describe “degenerative people”—mostly women—who enjoy works depicting romantic/sexual relationships between men. Later on, it was reclaimed and turned into a pun on words related to food: the 腐 kanji in this context has a nuance of “fermentation” instead. The other kanji in fujin is 人, which simply means “person,” used in the intention of making the word more gender-neutral.
The term fujin we are currently familiar with is not widely used and did not originate in Japan. Back in the mid-1970s, many older fans of works involving romantic relationships between men would call themselves 貴腐人 (kifujin, literally means noble spoiled person), which is a wordplay from 貴婦人(kifujin, which means a woman of a noble standing) instead fujoshi. This is because they feel they should not be called a girl anymore, while fujoshi inherently refers to younger women (女子, read as “joshi”).
I’ve never heard FUJIN, instead I’ve head KIFUJIN貴腐人 meaning a proud long term fujoshi.
— アユ・ヤマネ🌿 (@ayu_ymn) May 21, 2019
It is not yet known if it had indeed taken the inspiration of the old usage of kifujin on Japan. However, the use of the “腐” kanji is certainly similar. The term fujin we are familiar with emerged in recent years following fans’ awareness of gender-related concepts and issues. Its invention is intended to be a gender-neutral equivalent of the inherently gendered terms of fujoshi and fudanshi, and it is generally used by non-binary fans to refer to themselves in the culture of Boys’ Love readers outside of Japan.
Fujin: Modern Usage
The use of the term fujin is quite straight-forward, as it currently serves its function as a gender-neutral word option for fans of Boys’ Love genre who would prefer to use neither of the gendered term fujoshi or fudanshi. While it is a fairly new term, its usage is slowly gaining popularity in the Boys’ Love genre culture outside of Japan. You can see fujin used alongside fujoshi and fudanshi now in discussions regarding fans of this genre.
This term does not yet seem to make its way to Japanese Boys’ Love genre culture. Or, if it indeed has, then it is still very rarely used in the gender-neutral context it is currently being familiarized with outside Japan. When someone uses the term fujin in Japanese in the context of Boys’ Love culture, it is more likely that they are using it in the sense of kifujin, that is, they enjoy contents involving romance between men, but they are no longer girls who can call themselves fujoshi.
Do you refer to yourself as a “fujin”? Last year, we asked our readers if they refer to themselves as such and the results were interesting. You can read a summary of the responses here.
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.
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