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Yaoi Manga comics break sexual taboos for young Swiss

Japanese mangas depicting love stories between men – written, drawn, and read by girls – have been popular in Japan for more than twenty years. Now ‘yaoi’, which has become its own literary genre, is also attracting fans among Swiss teenage girls and igniting dialogue about sexuality in the process.

In Lausanne, the Tanigama bookstore, which specialises in mangas and other Japanese animation, devotes an entire shelf to yaoi. The section is mostly visited by young girls. While the books depict homosexual relationships between men, yaoi is not popular among homosexuals.

In fact, yaoi is designed by women for women. Female readers originally turned to yaoi out of frustration with mangas targeted at their demographic, such as shojo, which portrayed women as submissive.

Opening a dialogue

Swiss public television RTS met young female fans of the genre, such as 13-year-old Lucille, who explains why she likes yaoi. “I find them cute. They teach you to have an open mind and that you can’t choose for others.”

Her mother Mona finds that the books can help open a dialogue about sexuality and gender. “There may be young people who are questioning their sexual orientation. They may find it reassuring that even in mangas we are talking about it in a serious way, without ridiculing."

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