Corporate sales, creator identity, and audience heterogeneity lead yuri to an awkward place in terms of genre identity. Is yuri the schoolgirl romance created by men for a male audience who consider love between girls pure, or is it the girl’s romance that has roots in S literature for a female audience who fondly remember their days admiring upperclassmen at all-girls schools? Or is it for lesbians, whose stories are nominally acknowledged in narratives of self-awareness of love for a member of the same sex or feelings of being different, without any use of the word lesbian? The heterogeneity of creator and audience causes difficulty in both definition and scholarship. Who gets to define yuri?
Friedman, Erica. 2017. “On Defining Yuri.” In “Queer Female Fandom,” edited by Julie Levin Russo and Eve Ng, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 24.
This piece looks at the history of and the different influences on yuri – the Japanese genre depicting love and relationships between women. Friedman’s main point is that the creators, publishers, and audiences for yuri are hugely diverse and frequently have diverging interests, resulting in a genre (or possibly collection of genres) that is difficult to pin down. Some works are aimed women (queer and/or straight), some are aimed at straight men, some depict love between women without touching on lesbian and queer identities, some are by lesbian creators, though many are not. The paper is relatively short and covers a lot of ground – I’d love to see a longer piece elaborating on some of the aspects this only hints at.