BL Manga, BL Webcomics and Harmful Tropes

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BL Manga, BL Webcomics and Harmful Tropes

Postby dorowot » April 13th, 2018, 1:11 am

I've been binging A LOT of BL Manga/Manhwa and Webcomics over the past 4 months and I've been thinking recently about whether there are less harmful tropes and more subversive elements in Webcomics on sites like here that feature queer male relationships than in the BL manga of Japan. Even without reading BL manga, it's obvious that a lot of BL webcomics are heavily influenced by BL manga and borrow elements from it (including using the term BL instead of Gay or LGBT), and a lot of problematic tropes are still reproduced like rape. But I feel like there are a lot more versatile couples, characters that feel like actual guys, and reliance on the uke-seme formula(like both gender and who tops and bottoms) in BL webcomics made by non-Japanese creators than in BL manga I've read. Not saying a lot of BL and Yaoi cliches aren't present in a lot of BL webcomics, they ARE, just not the extent as where those tropes originated from!

Do you think there are less harmful tropes in the Webcomics on here or Tapastic than in BL manga? Or does a lot of the same toxicity gets repeated on here too?

Re: BL Manga, BL Webcomics and Harmful Tropes

Postby AltCat » April 13th, 2018, 8:02 am

Just by considering about 96% of the covers here seem to follow the formula of a personal-space-imposing character clasping the wrist of a queasy looking one. I'd say no.
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Re: BL Manga, BL Webcomics and Harmful Tropes

Postby eishiya » April 13th, 2018, 9:19 am

I agree with your assessment. There is more diversity, but it's still drowning in a sea of tropey stuff, though at least there's less (unaddressed) abuse.
Something to consider is that many authors who set out to avoid the toxic BL tropes often don't mark their comics as BL, because BL is so strongly associated with those tropes. When you want to read about fetishized gay boys in a relationship that only becomes "real" after they have sex, you want BL. If you want human male characters who develop a relationship, then you're looking for gay romance. This parallels the situation in Japan, where geikomi is what you seek if you want to read about gay men acting like gay men (though geikomi has its share of pure porn as well).
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Re: BL Manga, BL Webcomics and Harmful Tropes

Postby MK_Wizard » April 13th, 2018, 9:44 am

I having nothing against a fantasy, but I don't like oversaturation of any genre. Diversity is a precious thing especially in the arts. Plus, I don't feel comfortable using stereotypes for anything. I prefer to make characters act natural and not let things like race, gender or in this case, orientation predetermine personalities or what kind of love life the character will have. I think it's important to show that same gender relationships deal with many of the same issues as opposite ones do and they do don't always have fairy tale endings. Nobody should settle for someone who treats them bad and abusive relationships of all kinds need to be made aware and taken seriously. If all love is precious, all of it should be treated as such and not just given away to someone who treats you like a doormat or worse yet, a punching bag. Lastly, not everything about a character who's gay is about them being gay. They need to be able to stand on their own two feet without a man or woman. They need to be interesting and fleshed out not just be the guy/girl who's gay.
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Re: BL Manga, BL Webcomics and Harmful Tropes

Postby StanleyComics » April 13th, 2018, 12:23 pm

There are some comics with some less harmful tropes in here, I do believe so. For instance, I follow a comic, which has a more realistic view of a homosexual relationship, where there's an absence of insta-love, rape themes, unrealistic depictions, such as presenting a toxic relationship as natural and desirable. It takes place in a university setting, so it has a pretty western feel to it. But it's also kind of like a high school drama. There are still some annoying tropes, of course, but the story seems a step or two more relatable than most trope-filled BL manga comics. That's only one example of such a comic on here (I don't know if it's okay for me to reveal the title though, since I don't know if this free promo on my end is permitted on this thread or not). Of course, a lot of comics here that have BL themes use these tropes one way or another, but there are lots of comics here, which depict a romantic LGBT story. Of course, there's always going to be a problematic aspect, usually something that brings the drama, but there's no escaping that, I fear. But there are probably comics here, that use these tropes, but twist them in a way that make them more of a conflict device, rather than something to romanticize over. Like if one of the guys or girls is being too pushy or borderline abusive, it could be shown as a negative, which hinders their relationship in a way, and is a problem that needs resolving through the story. Or the relationship just doesn't work out in the end.
Personally, for my story, I'm using elements of a gay relationship, but I plan on taking it a different rout, where the characters don't necessarily fall in love and live happily ever after, rather their relationship is a plot device to bring conflict into the main story, which is not about the romance at all.
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Re: BL Manga, BL Webcomics and Harmful Tropes

Postby kayotics » April 13th, 2018, 10:05 pm

I have complex feelings on the issue of negative tropes in BL. I don't personally read a TON of it myself, but part of that is because I'm queer and find it frustrating to read comics that completely fetishize gay relationships. Specifically gay male relationships.

You're not alone in thinking that there's a lot of unaddressed abuse in BL comics. I have a few friends and former classmates of mine who actively make BL (one of them is usually on the front page of this site, actually), and they also find that frustrating, but use BL as a means to try and change bad tropes within the genre. They avoid abusive sexual relationships, OR they talk about abuse in a very frank and open way that dissects why a relationship is abusive. I couldn't tell you how widespread that movement is, though, since I don't actively read BL and I'm not familiar with what some other BL authors do.

I think it's also worth saying that BL is not really made for lgbtq people. It seems a lot of the people who try to dissect some of those negative tropes are lgbtq+ themselves and want to see something that isn't so harmful. But as a general rule, I'd argue that BL is directed toward women and generally created by women.

There's things that I like and that I don't like about BL as a genre. For one, I'm not a huge fan of the community around it, because I don't love seeing the fangirling around a gay relationship. There's still a lot of hate that comes with being gay, something I have to live with and deal with in my everyday life living as a queer person. But there's good things too. I know a lot of people from my age range didn't discover that they were gay themselves except through seeing gay relationships in webcomics or in fanfiction. I think there's a lot of undue negativity around BL, which might stem from homophobia or from sexism toward a female fanbase. I'm not saying the genre is perfect (clearly it's not), but I think a lot of the criticism stems from hate rather than actual problems with the tropes within it. Webcomics communities are really saturated with BL, but considering that it's much harder to find any gay representation in published comics, maybe that saturation is a reasonable retaliation to physical publishing.

I'm also not a gay man, so I can't speak to that specific experience. I know I have a few gay male friends who find BL really troubling and are really tired of seeing the fetishization of gay relationships in fiction.
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Re: BL Manga, BL Webcomics and Harmful Tropes

Postby mitchellbravo » April 14th, 2018, 1:20 pm

eishiya wrote: (though geikomi has its share of pure porn as well).

Please tell me this is a Japanization* of "gay comics" !!!!

*I forget the term for when a phrase is just the English phrase with Japanese phonemes
oly: we draw stories about imaginary people
Do not feet infants to honey under one year of age.
me: Posh, Baby, Sporty, and Scary Ham
robybang: Together they're Spiced Ham
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