Queer Affective Literacies: Examining "Rotten" Women's Literacies in Japan

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In Japan, there is a group of women who are notoriously known as “rotten women” because of their fantasies that perceive male homosocial relationships as homoromantic or homosexual. These transformative homoerotic fantasies are central to Boys Love culture. These “rotten women” or fujoshi engage with Japanese popular media using Boys Love literacies that challenge normative notions of male intimacy. In this paper, I examine Boys Love literacies, which bear intertextual and potentially queer qualities, and the impact these have on readers. I interrogate how an audience, immersed in heteronormative Japanese media, learn these non-normative literacies that I am positioning as a set of new literacies. I analyse Boys Love literacies embedded in fanworks, particularly women’s fan comics, and highlight how these serve as pedagogical tools in understanding the logics of these nuanced literacies. I argue that these comics serve as critical affective mediums that impart the queer and intertextual characteristics of Boys Love culture that challenge heteronormative engagements with Japanese popular media. This paper highlights a kind of cultural literacy production and dissemination that operate on a grassroots level and is produced by young actors who actively explore the queer potential of Japanese media.