- JunCture : 超域的日本文化研究 (ISSN:18844766)
- vol.9, pp.74-87, 2018-03-23
This paper discusses discourses regarding lesbianism in the Taisho period and proposes a new position where the borderline within the dichotomous structure of female heterosexuality / homosexuality does not only involve sexuality but is also entangled with gender, identity, and body image. In the 1910s, sexology became more prevalent in Japanese discourse. Psychopathia Sexualis, written by Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing, is the foundation of sexology in Japan. Sawada Junjiro and Habuto Eiji wrote Hentai seiyokuron (Sexual Pervsion Theory) based on Krafft-Ebing’s book and emphasized that female homosexuals were more mentally oriented and more gender transgressive. Thus, female homosexual discourse diverged from an essentialist understanding of sexuality and created its own discursive space, connecting female homosexuality with the image of masculine women. The “same-sex love” scandal took place in 1920 when sexuality became a more popular topic. In the reporting of this news, we can see how the schema in which homosexual women being equated with masculine women had already been confirmed by the media under the influence of sexology. Homosexuality no longer described homosexual actions, but homosexual persons, and was also connected with their personalities. On the other hand, the intimate relationships among young female students converged from “ome” (written as “men and women” or “manly woman”) to “S,” which means sisterhood, due to the influence of sexology. Yoshiya Nobuko’s Hanamonogatari (Flower Tales) series is a representative work of the Taisho period about the pseudo-love story between shojos. Shirayuri is a story that closely resembles the “same-sex love” scandal. The representation of “S” in this story is told from the perspective of female eroticism, even though the characters are feminine and are enclosed in the gender role of “good wife, wise mother.” The romantic friendship of young female students did not produce a narrative of homosexuality but played the role of provoking romanticism and sentimental emotions. Thus, in the Taisho period, intimate relationships among young female students are divided into two directions: pathological female homosexuality and feminine romantic friendship.