The Nature of Her Dissent: Paradoxical
In his later writings, Foucault clarified his notion of power and its attendant freedom in a more positive way.
a power relationship can only be articulated on the basis of two elements that are each indispensable if it is really to be a power relationship: that “the other” (the one over whom power is exercised) be thoroughly recognized and maintained to the very end as a person who acts; and that, faced with a relationship of power, a whole field of responses, reactions, results, and possible interventions open up.21
In a strange way, yaoi does highlight this. The use of masculine bodies to promote and reinforce heteronormativity is a genius move by Japanese women. At first glance this seems to be counter-productive to the feminist project. However, in a rigidly patriarchal society like Japan, the sheer existence of a venue where women can articulate their deepest sexual desires and fantasies is amazing as it is. Although steeped and embedded in complicated power-relations, marked by liberal and capitalist economy on the one hand and Confucian, family- focused cultural values on the other hand, Japanese women manage to carve out for themselves a discursive space for self-expression. That the manner with which they “emancipate” themselves in a nonviolent way, speaks of the nature of their dissent: discursive, playful, and powerful because it changes the manner of discourse on what constitutes subjectivity.
However, several issues are raised by this form of resistance or dissent. We have seen in our analysis of the representation of women in manga, anime and eroges how the hypersexuality of female bodies is perpetuated in popular images. Furthermore, it is not entirely correct that yaoi’s gender-bending/destabilizing/transgressing premise is good news. By adopting masculinist body image, yaoi glosses over differences in bodies. The double movement in yaoi reveals that the practice of self-constitution operates within the very same network of power that defines and limits it.