Art is Resistance – Yuri Manga, Politics and Okazu in 2017

January 1st, 2017


 

 
 
 

 
  

 
 

I’ve been trying to find a way to discuss 2017 here on Okazu without writing a purely political post. Every single time I have attempted to do so, I’ve ended up deleting it. In some cases because I have become too angry at the things I feel have to write. Sometimes I’ve self-censored to not offend people who tune in here for news about comics and manga.

But today I was reminded by Notes From The Resistance that language is – and always has been – a weapon. And likewise, comics have always been political acts, acts of rebellion and protest and defiance and propaganda. And LGBTQ comics have, likewise, always been the voice of people largely silenced by mainstream media.

I’ve made a few promises to myself in the last month. I’ve committed to working only on and with genuinely diverse books and publishers. I’ve committed to listening to and speaking with voices I haven’t formerly opened up to. 

I re-read this post on defending democracy about twice a week and hope you will too. Unfortunately for all of us, the checks and balances we presumed we had in the government are gone and a liberal democracy has no real defense against that.

So what does this have to do with Yuri manga? I’ll be doing a talk – my first of several – in January 2017, on the way fans pushed for and created spaces for LGBTQ stories in manga. When I return home I am joining a march to protest the inauguration of a patsy for a foreign government as President of the United States, a man who has hand-picked a Cabinet that will dismantle the last 150 years of American progress…and I encourage you to protest, as well. There are marches all over the US being planned. If you care at all about anyone who is a non-white, non-Christian, non-male, you will make your voice heard that this is not acceptable.

Despite the pressure by straight men to keep Yuri manga in a space of fetishized infantilism, Yuri manga is and always has been, stories of women in love with other women. Yuri manga is lesbian. Yuri manga is our story. I commit to continuing to speak for and about women who love other women, to demand Yuri from creators and publishers that represent the stories of women who love other women. 

My primary goal for 2017 on Okazu is getting to the point where we can pay our guest writers and get their voices out there and heard by as many people as possible.  Your subscriptions on our Patreon will help achieve this goal!

I commit to keeping Okazu radical and outspoken and for those of us who care that women who love women deserve a place for ourselves at the table of social and political discourse and representation in entertainment on our own terms.

And I think it’s only fair to warn you, my dear readers, that I’m not planning on stopping using words and pictures to speak up against the wall of injustice I can see being built already. 

A lot of you have been with me for years and I appreciate that more than I can ever express. I hope you’ll stay with me in the year to come. I think it’s going to get harder before it gets better, so keeping Okazu and the Yuri community here for all of us is important to me. 

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Art is resistance. Tell your stories, draw your stories, sing your stories and support artists who tell those stories for you. 

Come here to Okazu to share your stories and tell other people where to find those stories, too. We all need them. Making sure our stories get out is an act of resistance we can all share. Make 2017 the year you back diverse causes, creatives and creations in your entertainment, consumer and business behaviors.

Happy New Year to all to all of you. Here’s to great art in 2017

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14 Responses

  1. Julia says:

    Tsk… Made me cancel my Patreon pledge!

    …and renew it right away with a higher amount. ;P

    (just to add that I indeed had to cancel and recreate, but that is less to do with the intent, and more with the fact that I killed the old email address by mistake, so sorry if that adds a bit of confusion to the setup)

  2. Stacy L says:

    Bravo, Erica.

    From my towering fortress of straight white cis male privilege I will keep trying to be a good ally, realise it’s not my turn to talk and shut up and listen to the shamefully absent voices elided from the rotting corpse that passes for mainstream discourse.

    Now everyone be quiet because a Straight White Man is talking (heavy sarcasm): For me 2016 was a breakthrough year in awareness by focusing on art made by women. I saw 150 films directed by women, more than all previous years combined. And it was really quite easy to do (I would have watched that number of films anyway). There was no extra effort required to do that except being aware of and passionate about supporting movies made by women. It doesn’t even have to disrupt your daily routine to provide support for radical and outspoken artists.

    It’s okay if I never see another movie about straight white dudes again, because I’ve already seen 10,000 of those (NO exaggeration). That story has been told. Can everyone else have a turn, please?

    My favourite point in that defending democracy list was: “Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.”

  3. Jin says:

    Well, this Mike Pence Vice president-elect of the US, his type of people, from what I understand, made me think of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. I would hope time and the level of popularity of anime and manga and western comics would discourage trying to turn up the intensity with that old Bush law, which seemed to also infect other nations, but I do not know. Supporting such things as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund would be a timely plan now perhaps.

  4. Zefiris says:

    I’m not US-American, but an Euro, but I certainly see nothing wrong with you shifting your blog slightly like this :)

    After all, your stance on yuri here’s quite close to mine. As is your stance on art. It has a reason a lot of straight guys are so *angry* about any sort of presence of us GLBT folk in media. Still frightening em, for whatever reason.

    So, in short, go you. That’s all I wanted to say (after all, that’s all I, a random reader person, can really say or do. All RL activism I do is firmly in Euroland, after all)

  5. onlysaneone says:

    Thanks to the emboldening insanity of the right wing and the alt right, I have grown more and more sympathetic to the ideas of the the left. I have always been left leaning but some ideas from people further left than me – which I had previously disagreed with and dismissed – now look a lot more reasonable to me. Interesting time.

    • I have spent my life hearing the old saying that as people grow older and have more to lose they become more conservative. It goes against my experience completely. All the liberals I know, having worked hard and finally gained a measure of stability are far more likely to ant to pay it forward than ever. Apparently that old saying only went for people who were conservative in the first place. My liberal friends and I are now radical liberals.

      • Mariko says:

        Late to the comments here, but I wanted to say my experience mirrors yours. My parents, who were always conservative, have become ultra right wing as they age. I spend ever more time investing in my understanding of and empathy with others and the ways I can give back.

        There but for the grace of anime would I go as well, no exaggeration. I grew up a dutiful son who accepted all his parents prejudices and dogma without question. But college begat depression, depression begat escapism, escapism found shoujo anime, which brought me a diverse group of friends, experiments with identity and a year abroad that together changed my perspective irrevocably for the better. (My parents insist, however, that at 36 I am “too young to know better” and will come around one day. XD)

        • I sympathize. My parents were always liberal, but Mom’s getting more and more along with me. ^_^ I still get people telling me that it’s natural to become conservative as I age. Dude, I’m 51 years old. If it hasn’t happened by now…

    • All times are interesting times. ^_^

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