Investigating heteronormative masculinity on a Japanese gay dating site

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A Japanese gay dating site (Not the one I will be discussing in this presentation!)

I will be giving a presentation entitled Investigating the valorisation of heteronormative masculinity on a Japanese gay dating site at the University of Melbourne as part of the workshop on Language and Global Media. Details for the event may be found here.

The presentation draws upon material from my forthcoming article Constructing identities on a Japanese gay dating site: Hunkiness, cuteness and the desire for heteronormative masculinity, which will come out in the Journal of Language and Sexuality in early 2017. Here is the abstract for my presentation:

Situated as part of a larger project investigating the discursive and visual representations of masculinity throughout the Japanese gay media landscape, this paper interrogates the linguistic representational strategies employed by users of a Japanese gay dating Bulletin Board System (BBS). By analysing 200 posts from this BBS, I explore how users strategically deploy language to construct desirable identities and “sell themselves” online (Whitty, 2007). Drawing upon both quantitative and qualitative analysis, I demonstrate that users of the BBS creatively and strategically manipulate language to construct highly nuanced yet specific discourses of the Self and the desired Other (Milani, 2013).

Through a discursive analysis of the strategies users employ to construct their own identities, and the identities of their desired partners, I argue that identity categories marked as heteronormatively masculine and sawayaka (cool/hunky) are privileged as more desirable than feminine and kawaii (cute) identities. Through this analysis, I also suggest that users of this particular forum appear to valorise heteronormative masculinity, indexing its “hegemonic” status (Connell, 1995) by explicitly linking being sawayaka and otokorashii (masculine/manly) to notions of normality (futsū). Furthermore, I argue that being kawaii is considered undesirable due to its perception as transgressing normative masculine gendered traits, further constructing heteronormative masculinity as ideal. I conclude by reflecting on the globalising development of a “homonormative” (Duggan, 2002) desire for norms of masculinity tied to neoliberal models of heterosexual love and intimacy. I reflect upon the historical legacy of American discourses of the desirability of white, middle-class masculinity in Japan’s gay media, taking the Japanese gay dating BBS under examination as a site to explore the development of a Japanese understanding of a gay masculinity which takes heteronormativity as its starting point.

The PPT for the presentation will be uploaded to my academia page at a later date!.

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