The Double Standards of Sexual Attraction
1. In some media that I grew up with, whenever a homosexual male is introduced he is codified as flamboyant, having no interest in homosexual sex save for boasting about it, not even a strong bond with men. Ironically, straight male characters are usually depicted as having stronger friendships and ties to other blokes. Think about The Flash and Kid Flash (or his African American, but still male, friend), Batman and Robin, Drake and Josh, ad infinitum. Think about it: some fathers advise their sons not to be gay and their daughters not to be around men (because that would make them horny, which could explain the attraction for lipstick lesbians after being so around with other men for a long time and the straight fangirl attraction to male homoeroticism). Conversely speaking, the supposed homoeroticism in anime and manga popular with slash fandom like Saiyuki would accurately be described as male homosociality where it is defined by violent or domineering masculinity, having no interest in women save for sex (because having sex with men is a barrier to male homosociality, like being friends with broads) and an emphasis on male friendships. Topics stereotypically associated with male friendship is berating other lads, having sex with and berating women, sports, drinking and the like. The four protagonists actually live up to this: fighting with other men (and occassionally beating youkai broads to death), drinking (two characters), having sex with women (a handful of blokes in the Saiyuki world do this) and being indifferent to women, especially in the most dire situations. Only very few male characters care about the women and sadly there are so few women characters in Saiyuki and scant emphasis on them, thereby it fits the description of what male homosociality is like neatly. Male homoeroticism proper, say the comic book works of cartoonist Patrick Fillion, is too hardcore even by bishounen standards in anime fandom. If you know what I mean, the Patrick Fillion lads are endowed with large, obvious (packages) moreso than the Saiyuki blokes who may bear their chests but not their packages or bare arses. To add insult to injury, the Saiyuki women still show more skin than the blokes do and only very few fangirls complain about it because Saiyuki has a lot of straight fangirls. If my theory or opinion is right, this could explain the absolute lack of gay Saiyuki fans (I am thinking about gay and bisexual lads in particular) maybe because superhero stories involving a plain looking bloke who could change himself into an arse-kicking muscle mary in body paint or tights and hangs out with similar looking men is sexier and more relatable than a bunch of bad-mannered, abused but pretty-faced gobshites of men.
(Because of male homosociality, gay lads have a harder time coming out with their crushes on men, their female friends than are straight women with gay or lesbian friends, thereby they save face in front of their dads in a hyprocritically masculine planet.) Conversely speaking, many sectors of the comic book or any industry historically has more men employed than women, while homosexual expression in men is still frowned upon, but it's only recent (when outside of isolated communities that demand more women in an industry, especially in the realm of practical crafts) that more women are employed in it. Maybe it's due to a stigma by some conservative parents as said before, that women are too weak to do this and may make men horny. If sociologists and scholars on male homosociality are right, this could explain why when lads grow up in a strongly masculine and masculine backgrounds, they end up sexually harassing women and the worst case scenario is gang rape. Hence the persistence of boys' clubs that insist that women and homosexual men are gross, women less gross because they are conditionedto reserve bonds with women for sex (as what some people insist, especially on the side of saving one's virginity until marriage). Again in general, many violent gangs are based heavily on male homosociality so that's why female gangs are rare but not new (the fabled Amazons in Greek myth are an example of an exaggerated ancient account of a group of female warriors, remember).
On a side note, that is based on my experience that there are more straight female fans of Saiyuki and Weiss Kreuz than there are gay fans at least on the Internet. There are gay fans but it's not well documented in the case of superhero comics. There are more LGBT people who are into superheroes because LGBT individuals are more likely to save face than straight fangirls of yaoi anime do or aren't aware of it until now, hence the desire to be a spandex-clad hero. That's basically both my perspective as an embarassed bisexual lass who thinks that curvy heroines in leotards and stockings are better looking than angsty, gobshites of men. And I respect these said heroines that I've been into for the past few weeks like the photokinetic Monica Rambeau (my favourite and her most recognisable costume is her white leotard and black pantyhose) and the screaming Black Canary, who actually has black hair and is infamous for appearing in a black leotard and fishnet stockings in battle. A proudly fat dyke named Rachel (Comethime) is a talented artist and like myself, likes superheroes better than nasty boys. I used to like that type of anime but moved on and now I find myself criticising it more than straight fangirls do.
2. As stated before, some straight men like lipstick lesbians and sexy vixens but when it comes to real world butch lesbians and most women in general, while personal preferences may apply but due to homosocialisation some men don't know what to and approach women in general (as in learning how to look beyond the tits and arses, the nasty menstrual cycles). An anecdote by a Zoompist reviewer stated that one male reader criticised a comic book about lesbian women and their lives (that's Dykes to Watch Out For, and their lives mean not just their sex lives) because there are so few males or more accurately that male readers can't approach comic books about queer women, for queer women and by queer women because many, if not most men, have difficulty relating to women and therefore queer women beyond stereotypes. That the aesthetics of queer women don't always match up with straight male expectations. For example the lesbians in Dykes to Watch Out For actually look like the lesbians and straight chicks you see on the streets and in your parents' houses, behave like them and aren't a harem for the token male, full of sweet young lasses (the manga Negima is infamous for that). In general, when some straight men make a story about lipstick lesbians (they choose lipstick lesbians over butches and plain garden variety dykes like myself because it's more conventionally sexier), the characters are either idealised women, act exactly like the lads (in the case of female robots in Ghost in the Shell, the female robots don't even menstruate which could be a harder, but more interesting possiblity by philosophical and robotic standards) and there's a bigger emphasis on their sex actions and less on their given psychology as women, their social lives with each other and their social history with their more conservative parents. For the record, more people paid attention to the lipstick lesbian Batwoman (who used to be asexual and annoying in the older comics) than to the grittier female Question. The Question is a masked man in a longcoat and is now a masked Hispanic dyke in a longcoat so macho, plain or androgynous looking dykes have no appeal to the public. Hence, though the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For is well-acclaimed for being one of the few comics outside of manga that are about women, for women by women (the others being Cathy and Birds of Prey, the latter a comic book where Black Canary appears there) but not so much publicised because unlike the popular TV programmes that feature lipstick lesbians, DTWOF has a strong lesbian and womanly atmosphere, lesbianism is there but it has more to do with the lesbian women being humans and their lesbian womanhood is very true as straight womanhood is. Dykes to Watch Out For is the polar opposite of any harem anime, where there is so few fanservice for immature men, are clearly adult women who talk to their girlfriends and soul sisters that barely has anything to do with men.
This is pretty much based on a queer female perspective. Lipstick lesbians are just factory made women, they're sexy but not that fun to write about and draw because they have to look like this and that. Lesbians in cinema and television (when outside of nonfictional programmes) are uniformly "sexy". There is too much emphasis on them having sex, less on the psychology and sociology of lesbianism. Being glamourous matters more than being closeted save for your thoughts and your friends who know your secrets very well or being picked on by straight lads for being more macho than they are. There is also very little emphasis on making a more diverse emphasis of what lesbian/queer female sexuality is like. We've got lipstick lesbians, femmes, very normally socialised dykes who know that they are queer but not than open about it and not that loud about it (thus fit in straight people societies quite well), butch dykes, nerdy dykes, bad dykes and whatever dyke you throw it that isn't factory made lesbianism. For the record, dykes tend to be more tolerant of aberrant bodies than straight women do. I think that's very true because I've been researching about albinism, dwarfism and conjoined twins so that's not a stretch. That's empowerment when you get tired of exaggerated female bodies. This is a detail that most men forget about when making stories about gay women. While I don't seem to be a very feminine person (crushing on women is not considered womanly by my family's standards) but I'm not a masculine person and I'm very critical of the construction of straight masculinity with regards to rigid socialisation (you have more straight guys boasting about being in an all male world than gay guys do). Again this is another detail straight men forget about when thinking about stories involving lesbians, especially their familial upbringing that influences the way queer daughters are socialised.
Straight Feminist Fangirls of Anime are Strange Animals (by LGBT women's standards)
I find feminist fangirls of anime strange beasts. I didn't mean to discriminate their tastes but to be honest I thought that I didn't get them for that strange fact that they criticise some superhero comics for being sexist (which is justified) but are the same individuals liking particular anime that are pretty misogynistic. Take Saiyuki and Weiss Kreuz, there are nearly inexistent rants about the portrayal of womenfolk. Womenfolk in Saiyuki (and to a degree many yaoi works, which there are some yaoi works that intelligently study the nature of male homosexuality) have little or no presence other than getting saved, being under the men's shadows and bearing roughly the same amount of skin as superheroines do. No straight fangirl ranted about why is one of the manga's main villains or villainesses is somebody's mother. I can't explain it psychoanalytically whether if this is another way of seeing womanhood as evil, disgusting and abject save for titilliation. Maybe because the cartoonist, Minekura Kazuya, didn't grow up in an environment full of positive and present female figures especially in her generation and didn't know what to do with female characters other than cause shock and horror. Female characters are pretty inexistent in her works, unlike say Takeuchi Naoko and Takahashi Rumiko who not only regularly featured women characters and also care about them. Hence, that's why much of her protagonists are inevitably macho men and no straight fangirl got mad at that odd fact. Could it be that I am forcing their wills to like something else and/or that they didn't grow up in a strongly womanly environment, hence that's why they got into feminism quite recently.
Not all works that failed the Bechdel test (as in whether if women actually appeared) are outrightly misogynistic but in works cherised by some fangirls, that they are notoriously politically incorrect (there may be one positive Native American character in Saiyuki but absolutely no disabled characters that are there as characters) and in general, very questionable. You can't always expect people to be perfect but I feel like that their beliefs are inconsistent with their preferences, thanks of a heap of immature fanservice. Of course, I like seeing nice bodies in body paint and tights that fit like body paint but I tend to go for personalities and social interactions over body parts. The same goes for these women that I am talking about. But I do not get them well despite how many times you or they explain it to me. I don't think it has anything to with empowerment but with a degree of sexual repression. If the repression theory is right, those that have come in terms with their sexualities like myself are less prone to fetishes and the least likely to do slash stories (and stalk people) while people who have been raised in a somewhat repressive environment as what one ex-Mormon feminist told me, are the ones discriminating people, complaining about objectification and/or inclined to objectify individuals. So maybe (if) I'm right, these are the women who spend their day ranting about how oppressive straight men are and delight in sexual titilliation themselves. This could explain why these women who grew up reading such literature, superhero comics in particular have a very ambivalent attitude to women, grow up delighting in titilliation through yaoi favourites like Saiyuki. Another note though I find such male homoeroticism sexy but I don't feel like writing about it at all, I do think about it sometimes but I don't focus on it much. Maybe I'm becoming more confident about myself than they do.
In short, much of female slash fandom is based on being raised in a somewhat repressive environment or having been used to such media in particular. Just like what one individual wrote on this man's essay on a particular superheroine being problematic that his/her pseudo-psychoanalytical theory is that there are men who really want to do a male superhero but can't because of socialisation so they go on having fetishes about transgendered versions of these characters (if the phallic mother theory by Sigmund Freud is right). If that were extrapolated, female fans of any kind have been repressed or at least curious, exploring what possibilites their minds allow them to do so with their crushes and there we have slash fiction. It could easily explain the appeal of such manga like Saiyuki being more misogynistic than Sailor Moon, among slash writers because of repression, they have difficulty identifying with women characters and that there are so few female characters so we have slash fiction. Well, slashing male characters for a straight female audience matters to a straight female audience. Most fans of these bishounen anime tend to be straight women because LGBT people (in my case, being bi) readily lose interest in them hence you've got way less gay fans of Saiyuki. Gay guys would like to read Saiyuki but care less about those men because their lives are too obvious.
*Patrick Fillion has so far even more scantily clad young men (Naked Justice wears only a mask and gloves) and sexually explicit scenes involving men than Minekura does.