The Rape Trope In Yaoi – A Very Personal Post

This post is going to be highly personal, a bit dark maybe and talk a lot about rape.

Rape. It’s a very common trope in yaoi. Overused one might argue. An easy way into a relationship between two men, where one is the weaker, insecure person and the other is a dominant, confident asshole. Yes, I would say that in most cases the dominant one is an asshole. After all, he rapes, tries to rape or sexually assaults the submissive counterpart. No decent human being does that to the person they are in love with. Especially not when they have just met and are madly in love.

It’s convenient [for the creator] to start off a relationship with one man forcing himself onto his love interest. In yaoi it’s always physical, in real life more likely by words. But, this isn’t real life, right? Because it’s so adorable how those first forceful tries Misaki has to endure from Akihiko turns into some sort of romance. I say some sort because Misaki doesn’t seem to like his life with Akihiko too much for a very long time but he is still by his side for years. Junjo Romantica is still ongoing as far as I know and Misaki is still by Akihiko’s side. They are a couple and Misaki is still protesting when his lover makes advances because that’s part of his character. I don’t doubt that he actually loves Akihiko. So, maybe it was just a game from the beginning?

What does the mangaka want us to feel when they come up with the rape/-attempt? Should we feel sorry for the uke? Are we supposed to feel like we are the seme, in control of the weaker one? Should we just look at it as part of the game? One can of course chose what to feel, no feelings are wrong. When I saw my first anime with the rape trope I felt disgusted. Why? was my first thought. It was so obvious that the boy wanted the man but still, the man was forcing himself onto the boy. It was Junjou Romantica and again, Misaki and Akihiko.

I have become numb to the trope by now, having read probably too much lewd manga and seen more or less all the yaoi anime there is to see. I look past the beginning and enjoy the middle and the end instead. I really don’t like the rape trope leading up to a romantic relationship between two people. I do enjoy the rape trope though.

Rape. It’s a common element in yaoi. Not always as a way into a loving relationship but as something that is regularly occurring in a couple’s life. I love to indulge in dark, psychological stories where the weaker character is sexually, physically and mentally abused. Where they are raped and beaten, and their mind is being manipulated and bent.

A relationship rarely starts with a rape or sexual harassment. It’s more likely that it starts with sweet words and a single red rose. A dinner at a nice restaurant and an ice cream at Mc Donalds. It really isn’t anything revolutionary, what I am writing here. I think everyone know this is how it works. It would be better if it worked like in yaoi. Then you would know and could run before it was too late.

It sneaks up on you. One word, one sneer, one glance. One word becomes two. Words soon becomes sentences… “You are not sexy.” I was lying with my head in his knee, on a train to his hometown 600 km from my home, when he said that. We had been together for a few months. “But you are beautiful.” It wasn’t a compliment, it was his way of making me even more insecure than I already was. He had already broken up with me twice and then assured me when he came back how lucky I was that he actually wanted me back and that I should be grateful. That happened several times during our 2,5 years together. But that train ride was the beginning of his diminishing words to me. Always sweet words with the opposite meaning.

I moved those 600 km for his sake a few months later. I left everything for him. I have no friends from back then. I wasn’t allowed. No one was good enough, only he was. He made sure he was all I had. And now and then he left me and made a huge deal about it when he came back. Set up rules for how we were to continue. Made sure I knew the sacrifices he did to be with me.

Rape. What is the definition of rape? In Sweden a spouse could rape their partner and it wouldn’t count as rape up until they changed the laws in 1965. When you look around the rest of the world you realise that there are countries where a rape isn’t a crime if it is your husband who is committing the rape. In Singapore it’s okey to rape your wife unless she’s under 13 or lives in another location. In India you have to be older than 15 to be able to be legally raped by your husband. In Tunisia you get away with rape if you marry your victim. Source

“You should report him to the police.” What should I report? “He raped you.” Sure, whatever. No, it’s not whatever of course but that is the response I would have gotten from people because, hey, he’s your lover. “Give him some slack, let him have some fun in bed.”

So, what is the definition of rape? A no is a no. Even your partner should respect that. Mine didn’t. In the end I didn’t even say no, I just laid there and let him do his thing. Is it rape? You might not think so but I assure you that it hurt, both mentally and physically. Every day for 2,5 years, except those days he had dumped me and left me on the street, he forced himself on me, with or without threats or sweet words. Threats are easier to handle, sweet words break you down, slowly and unbearably. Threats you want to escape, they give you fuel to find courage to leave. Sweet words give you hope that everything will be okey. It won’t, he will do the same thing the next day too. And the next. And the next.

Why do you like the rape trope? I don’t only like the trope, I like rape play too. Oh dear, did you just go there? Yeah, I did. A rape victim who likes to read about rape, watch rape and write about rape. It’s not uncommon really. I have been turning every little stone about my life with this guy at the psychiatrists. 10 years of my life I have spent on the couch at different kinds of therapists. My life has been thoroughly examined in all ways and shapes possible. Not only because of this dude, I am after all bipolar, but a part of my mental health has to do with him. Anxiety and insomnia have been a big part of my life and the first five years after I left him was nothing but a turmoil of disturbed feelings and nightmares. I’ve always had anxiety but it increased a thousand-fold after that relationship.

Living in an abusive relationship where words have greater power than the fist and where you don’t know if you have a home or not from one day to the other does things to your mind. I preferred his hand but he didn’t like it too much. He was a journalist and he was much better with twisting words than with hitting people. Also, he realized that I was better with coping with violence than with words. Oh, the cruel world.

Rape. Or rather consuming imaginary rape is a way for me to cope with what I have been through. It’s not me inserting myself in one of the roles and taking control, which is a popular theory among people who have very little experience themselves. No, it’s something else. It’s not easy to explain feelings and experiences but I see the victim, I see the act and I, and this is gonna sound disturbing, enjoy to see the suffering and pain they go through. I don’t wish anyone to be in my situation but in the imaginary world I am allowed to feel like this without being a freak. To see people sustain what I did. I don’t want to be the only one this happened to and I am not when I read this manga and watch this kind of anime. I don’t feel alone anymore. There is someone like me.

And this is why I don’t like the rape trope that leads up to a romantic relationship. There is nothing romantic about being raped or sexually abused.

Featured images: Gosan no Heart by Ogawa Chise, Junjou Romantica by Nakamura Shungiku, In These Words by TogaQ

35 thoughts on “The Rape Trope In Yaoi – A Very Personal Post

  1. This was just so… Brave of you to share!

    First of all, that guys is an a-hole and I hope there is a special place in hell, or that karma hits him hard one day, depends on what you believe. When it comes for you to stay with me for 2,5 years even though your relationship was like this… Probably, there will be people out there that won’t understand it, but I completely see why. Never happened to myself (thank god), but it is just normal for a spouse to feel insecure and not be able to get out of a relationship that is like that. It takes a lot of time for you to feel that you are good enough to deserve better. Because, yeah of course you are good enough, but one thing is to someone see that, other completely different is to have this feeling yourself!

    When it comes the matter of you liking to watch rapey scenes in entertainment, that don’t surprise me a bit. I’m no psychologist, but I do know that this is the way of our brains to cope with really traumatizing things. That’s why, even thought, I’m not a fond of the genre as I discussed before, I’m completely forward with having that kind of content. Contrary to the general belief, those kind of shows don’t make people have thoughts of raping, or child molesting (thinking in the age trope), in fact it goes completely the other way. It is a safe way for people to cope with those urges, or even to cope with traumatic experiences they had before. So, in the end I think it does better than worse.

    Again, thank you for this post! It must have been really hard to write and made you live some things that you would prefer to stay closed, but I hope this helped you, as also help someone who may have experienced the same thing as you (or is experiencing at the moment!).

    This is literally the bravest post I’ve seen in WordPress!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. First of all, I’m sorry to hear about your trauma. Never should have fucking happened. I know it probably wasn’t easy to open up about it. This is a post that I cannot begin to express to you how much I can relate to.

    I was married for a long time, and I spent almost ten years being raped by my husband. Growing up in an Asian community and culture like I did, I was always taught that this is an “obligation” for a wife to “endure” for her husband. That a person having sex with their spouse, whether they want to or not, is never rape because it’s your job as the partner to have sex. It wasn’t until I began therapy during the last year or so of my marriage that I began to recognise what was really happening to me, and it wasn’t until after we divorced and I left his presence that I was finally able to admit what was going on. Denial was my friend prior to that.

    It’s because of my experience that I don’t read yaoi, and it’s a trait that is common in some yuri manga as well. I never understood why rape and unhealthy abusive relationships are so damn popular in these two genres, and unfortunately, is the reason that I don’t read from them that often. However…

    You mentioned that you read, watch, and are into this trait. As you mentioned, it’s quite popular in victims of rape. I noticed that I tend to draw more towards books or films that have a focus or inclusion of rape. Even though it triggers me, I cannot help but read it or watch it. I used to be very uncomfortable and even disgusted by this until I spoke to my psychiatrist about it. They said that with victims, and depending on the level of rape they underwent, a deep-rooted fascination for rape begins to grown within them. Most of the time it’s in an effort to understand what rape is and why it happened to them. That curiosity and interest is always related to understanding the why, and if there was anyway to avoid it. Another reason is that the victim begins to think that since they were raped, 1) they deserved it or asked for it on some level, and/or 2) that is all that they deserve (to be raped and abused in a relationship), and their brain can’t accept a healthy, equal sexual relationship afterwards. Reading about it, or watching it, helps validate these feelings that victims already have.

    Your post is an excellent one and is something that isn’t talked about very much in the way that you opened up and spoke up about it. It definitely makes you think about and confront some stuff that you may not want to, or realised you should.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you. I am sorry to hear that you have gone through the same. No one should ever have to go through something like this. It saddens me to think that it is common in certain cultures that the way of thinking still exist that it is a man’s right to have sex with his spouse.

      I don’t read yuri, for the same reason you don’t read yaoi probably. I think it is hard to see a girl getting abused. It’s too close to myself. A man is easier to distance myself from. I want the rape but I don’t want it too close. I don’t know if it makes any sense. I tried to watch Citrus but I didn’t even get past the scene with the two girls in the school yard. I also read books and watch movies/tv-series. It’s a little like a moth is drawn to a lightbulb. I don’t really want to watch real people, albeit being fictional, getting raped but somewhere I intently watch when it happens. It makes sense what your therapist said. Especially the part about understanding why and how. What’s hard to realize is that there is no answer to it. And that’s where my yaoi comes in. I at least have that feeling of not being alone. The weak one in those pictures haven’t done anything wrong either but he is still getting raped. I didn’t start to read and watch yaoi until many years after I left my ex and I think that has made a big difference in how I consume it. If I had read it then I might not have read it today. Then it might have been to triggering.

      Thank you for sharing a very personal part of your life. It means a lot to know that I am not alone. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. As everyone has already said, it’s very brave of you to talk about such an experience. It’s never easy talking about trauma. I know that for me, I never could talk about it until recently because it made that experience all the more real instead of something that just stays in the dark parts of my heart and mind. It’s always comforting to know that you’re not alone with your struggles or pain, as well as sad to see it happen to others who never, ever deserve such horrifying treatment. I’m always here if you ever want someone to talk to. ♥

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you, and I’m here. ❤ Well, I left this guy 17 years ago so I have had a lot of time to process what happened. There are plenty of fiction written to get through the events. But the first five or so years I could only speak to my therapist about it and even then it was hard. I left things out, I lied, and denied. I can't have been easy being my therapist back then. I think it was my husband who helped me the most to start to open up to my therapist actually. My husband though has just got bits and pieces and it is just recently he got the whole picture. We have been married for over 12 years now. So it has taken a lot of time to get here.

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  3. I saw on twitter that you were initially hesitant to write this post, and I just really wanted to thank you for writing it. It’s honestly such an incredible and brave post. I won’t say much else, just wanted to pass on how inspired I am.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I wish there were words in the English language to describe how I felt reading this. I cried ugly tears reading this. You have such an amazing talent with words and your story touched my heart. It’s so wonderful seeing others I can relate to out here in the anime community.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I can’t say that I am happy you can’t relate because no one should ever have to go through this but I am happy if this post has helped you in any way. This was my main purpose with writing it. I am so sorry you have been through this too. ❤️

      Like

  5. Your openness is always amazing to me. Thank you for sharing and I can say I understand in a small way. I will never fully understand because I am not you. I guess that is simple.
    I’m so happy that you are not in that relationship anymore and it really makes be burn with anger than anyone would have to go through that.
    Thank you again for always being so open and brave and there is so much power in the things you are sharing with others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading. ❤ I don't know if I am brave but I want to share of my experiences because there might be more people out there who are in the same situation that I was in. And this post has shown me that many are/was. Which has made me a bit sad really. No one should ever have to live a life like this.

      I was a bit afraid that I would make people uncomfortable when I decided to talk about my mental health and what I have been going through, not only this post but previous posts too, but I have come to realise that I think it is necessary to share. I do believe that people need to hear this too even if we are in a rather happy and shiny community. It seems like many people here actually suffers from some kind of mental health problem. If I can show only one person that there are more out there that are like them or not even that but have problems of their own and how their life are then I think that is good. Not everyone can but I can because I am very clear in how my brain works and I have processed my life and what's happened. So I really should even if it makes some people uncomfortable. right?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You are so incredibly open and honest and so raw.

    Can I just say…I’m speechless. I thought I was twisted for liking the rape trope in yaoi, so I could never bring myself to talk about liking the genre until I met others with similar tastes. I thought something was wrong with me, but after reading this, after reading your experience. Something just clicked in me.

    It’s hard to not get emotional about this because, your ex was so much like mine. I never likened it to an abusive relationship before, but the more years pass between then and now, I realize how terrible my ex was. He was manipulative and emotionally abusive. My ex did the exact same things as yours, he’d leave me and break me with words that tore me apart. He’d come back to me with the most romantic gestures, “It’s always you. It’s only you. It has to be you.” But he’d set rules too. When we could talk, when we could see each other. Our fighting was constant, he always hung up on me before I could even say a thing. So naturally, I called and called to only be ignored. He changed his phone number and I could never call back. He’d have to call me. When we were broken up we’d still talk, he’d talk about his current gf, and I’d be okay with it. We were friends, right? I was so delusional. He kept me because I’d always take him back despite all this shit he’d do, and he’d twist it to make it seem like he only had eyes for me. With every passing girl he brought in our tumultuous relationship over the course of 5 years, it would never work out with said girl because 1. my presence as his best friend made them hate me. 2. he couldn’t be without me, because at the end of the day I was ‘the one.’ But whenever said girl gave him an ultimatum, I was the one abandoned. And i STILL took him back after they’d break up. Sex held our relationship together, but I also went on a semi-destructive path after our final break-up; but thats a story for another day.

    Can you imagine, our final break-up was when he told me was done messing around with other girls. That he wanted to put a ring on me, and just live the rest of our lives together. I declined because 1. I was too young (22) and 2. I was still in school with a bright future ahead of me. We had the biggest fall out over it, it took me forever to recover from that fight and our relationship.

    I never knew the fear of ‘rape’ until years later with someone new, and I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t ‘rape’. But no really means no. No matter what. No matter what kind of play or circumstance or context, once a girl says no, it’s no. I felt so powerless in that moment, like I had asked for it.

    Thank you for sharing something so raw, and giving me the courage to also tell my own story. I’m glad we’re both out of these relationships, and importantly, you are not alone. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. ❤ So many similarities, all the way down to the ring. We got engaged though but it all ended when he thought we should have a baby. I said stop and I'm glad I did. Imagine me being tied to him with a child until they were grown up. Even if I wasnt together with him always be forced to be reminded of him. He bought me a cat at one point to show me how much he loved me after one of our break ups when he had cheated on me. Or bought is an exaggeration, he intended for it to be free but it costed like 10 dollars or something like that. Too expensive in his eyes. Well, anyway, that cat was so annoying he thought that he one day started to search for an apartment without telling me. I discovered it because he had advertised for it in the newspaper and that page was missing. Then he told me he couldn't stand the kitten because she was kind of wild and often bit him and clawed him. Wonder why? So, that was the beginning to the end of our relationship. I think he moved out and then a few weeks went by before I told him it was over. He didn't even close the apartment door before he called the girl he cheated with me on. So, a cat he bought saved me. I was on the verge of ending myself if that hadn't happened. The cat lived for 16 years and I cherished every moment with her. She never liked men.

      I'm glad you aren't in that relationship any longer either. No one should ever have to meet a guy like that and live like that. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Okay….after staring at the blinking cursor for a few long minutes in trying to come up with some words on this post, I think I am ready.
    I know you don’t like people telling you that you are brave for writing a post like this, but for one time I am going to ignore that and say it anyway: (please don’t be mad 🙈🙈) You are very brave! I was already very much in awe of you, and the way you write, but this post just took it to a whole new level and then some.
    I’m not going to write some mushy comment on how I feel sorry that this happened to you (of course I am…in fact I’m feeling two things right now, utter and complete anger at the guy that did this to you, and true and utter sadness that this happened to you in the first place), because it’s not something that I could even remotely understand or even relate to (especially not as I am a guy myself).
    What I am going to say is the fact that you are able to write about it in this way: only goes to show how strong a person you are (even though you might think otherwise). I have known you for quite a few months now, and in that time I have gotten to know you as one of the most surprising, entertaining, kind and funniest people I have ever had the pleasure to call my friend. And I am just very, very happy that I have met you.
    So…you are different, and the things you like, even though I might never truly understand or even like them, I respect.As you said yourself…it’s not unheard of, in fact it’s something I have seen happen before. The most important thing to remember though is this: Even though it will never fade, and will probably leave it’s scars for the rest of your life: the power he once held over you is pretty much gone now. And he is a complete and utter moron to mentally and physically abuse such a wonderful soul as yourself. If I were able to: I would punch him in the face, and probably more than once. Guys like that disgust me, and make me ashamed of being a guy.
    On a more personal note from me : you said ” Everyone knows how this works” Well…I do, kind of, but I except for one date many, many years ago I never really experienced it. Which I guess is a discussion for a another time.
    All I hope is that all the fear and anxiety will eventually fade for you….I know one thing though: keep writing posts like this, and your blog will explode through the blogosphere. And also….this weird guy in this small country called Holland is your friend for life 😊

    Like

  8. I’ll admit after reading this… I was stunned for a few seconds.made me forget how crappy I feel from this currently virus I’m getting over. You know brave is brave to me, writing such a post as this. It takes such a lot to write something like this, dear Lina. I have nothing but the utmost respect, being so honest, no woman should have to go through such an experience. I am happy for you that you have someone beside you now that makes you happy and supports you Lina. You are a brave person and as hard reading this post was at points, it was mov

    Like

  9. Even after having read your post I’m not quite sure why you’d want to expose yourself to rape/sexual assault in media when you’ve experienced that yourself. I have never been sexually assaulted, a aside from one time when a stranger tried and failed to grab my chest in passing, but I watched my mum get physically abused by her partner when I was a child and I still can’t watch a man hurt a woman without getting incredibly upset. Having said that, your post was an extremely helpful reminder that not everybody processes stuff the same way as I do. That might sound super obvious, but I obviously needed reminding, so thank-you! I might not like the prevalence of rape/sexual assault in yaoi/yuri, and I dont find it titillating in the slightest, but I respect you for finding a relatively healthy way to process what you went through. It’s leagues better than stuffing your emotions into your fists or turning to alcohol/drugs, which many people who are abused, including my mum, do. I also respect you for being honest. It’s obviously helped a great many people who have read this post. I sincerely hope that you are in a better place these days.

    Like

  10. I’m honestly speechless. I’m not really sure what to say and my heart ached reading this post. A thousand apologies couldn’t fix what you went through but I’m going to say it anyway! I’m so so sorry for what happened to you and I hope that man pays greatly for everything he did to you one way or another. I feel such rage thinking about what he did. I think you are extremely brave and I admire your strength in being able to post such a personal thing. I can never truly understand your pain but I can try my hardest to. You are truly an incredible human being and thank you for sharing your experience with us all in order to get a better understanding of yourself and these kinds of horrific acts and how it affects the victims. You and your way with words are incredible ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. ❤️ You have no idea how much it means to hear you say this.

      There was a time when I wished all the worst on him but somehow as time has moved on I just pity him. And I feel sorry for his wife. I sure hope he has had a change of behavior since back then. For her sake. Well, I hope she’s happy, that’s what’s most important. Him I don’t care about.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem ❤ You're openness and honesty is admirable!

        I know what you mean as I would probably have done the same in your shoes. I think time does help heal things even if only a little bit and I pity him as well. I truly hope his wife is ok and I agree I hope she is happy as well as safe. No one deserves such treatment!

        Like

  11. I knew there was a reason I kinda left reading yaoi for awhile and it was so obvious but you hit the nail on the head why. I’ve always been unsettled by this persistent troupe but I’m glad that this is an outlet for you. I really appreciate you putting these things into words and sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I shared this post on Twitter back when you first posted it but I never got a chance to actually comment on it directly until now (sorry about that, things have been insanely busy)

    But I have the time now.

    I’d like to start by commending you on your bravery in sharing such a traumatic story with all of us. I’m fortunate in the sense that I’ve never been through such an ordeal as rape, so I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to share such an event online. So well done for having the strength to do so.

    You’ve done a great job explaining why you like the rape trope, and how it serves as a method to overcome your trauma. For anyone to call you “fucked up” for liking the trope after going through it yourself in real life is unjust and very unfair. I’ve always been a believer that fictional stuff has no real bearing on reality for the most part, and the things we like don’t necessarily reflect us in the real world.

    As you know, I like dark stuff. I love ultra violent stories with depressing themes and fucked up characters and I listen to super edgy music about murder, sex and all other kinds of similar things. And that’s not even getting into fetish stuff, which I won’t share here out of fear of being flamed, but they’re all likely to be considered “fucked up”.

    The point is, I get where you’re coming from with this. As someone who suffered from depression, anxiety and low self esteem, consuming depressing media was a way for me to cope with it because I’d look at it and be all “Hey, I’m not alone” or “Wow someone has it worse than me in this story”.

    Obviously it doesn’t compare, but I can relate!

    Very brave post. I’m glad you had the courage to write this.

    Like

  13. Well, first I will say that there’s a definite difference between rape and domination. I like that you defined rape, because there are… Well, in my opinion, perfectly healthy relationships that can enjoy some serious dom/sub play, as long as you are on the same page, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, rape is very different. There is no choice, there is no safe. If someone is coming out of a situation feeling used, feeling like they didn’t enjoy what happened, then that is rape.

    Like

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