A Phoenix From the Ashes

By Erica Friedman

A phoenix has long been a symbol of rebirth and joy in Asia. A symbol entirely inappropriate for an essay on Japanese animation and lesbianism – or so it would seem at first sight. However, as old a symbol as the phoenix is, there is an equally old tradition of an oppressed people taking the words and images used to oppress them and making it their own. Thus this article is about a phoenix of a sort – the reclaiming of images of exploitation and lust by the people they are used against.

About now you’re probably rolling your eyes and groaning miserably, aren’t you? “Oh, god, the lesbian’s getting on her moral high horse and is going to bore us to death with socio-political polemic.” Come on, admit it – that’s what you were thinking, weren’t you? Well, actually I was planning on talking about lesbian sex…but I had you fooled, didn’t I?

Okay, so there I am, watching Sailor Moon for the first time, the DiC dub titled “Cruise Blues” and I thought, “oh my gods, do they *realize* what this sounds like?” (1) I don’t know what DiC was thinking, but when I later watched Sailor Moon S, and Street Fighter II, I learned rather quickly that there was no doubt whatsoever that the Japanese animators knew exactly what they were doing.

I also realized that there were two wildly divergent paths I could choose as an anime and manga fan. I could take offense at the fanservice (2), insisting that it was a symptom of the low regard in which women are held in Japan (and generally)…or I could embrace it; use it as a path for my own and possibly others’ enjoyment. I chose the second option, jogging in that direction headlong and right into the world of shoujoai and yuri fanfic. In fact, what I did was begin to write anime lesbian porn.

Why did I choose that particular method of reeducating the masses, you may wonder? It was a simple reason, really – I did what others only speak of. I wrote what I knew. As you all know, I’m an internationally known lesbian porn star, and have made love to and had sex with literally hundreds of women, gay and straight. No, not really. You *are* gullible, aren’t you? I wrote lesbian hentai fanfic because 1) I’m a lesbian and wanted to read decent hentai fanfic and; 2) Most of the lesbian anime porn out there sucked. A lot of it sucked because it was written by adolescents fanboys who only had an inkling of what various body parts are for, and essentially the same grasp of parts of speech, and some of it sucked because it was porn first, lesbian second, and only remotely connected to the series from which it purported to be.

That was the beginning of the Fanfic Revolution. I knew that if Sturgeon’s law (3) held – and I see no reason not to believe in its validity – that there must be, along with the great majority of dreck out there in hentailand (4), a small percentage of people who could, as I like to say, write their way out of paper bags. And there are. I’m proud to say that the FR has grown, in both scope and number, so that our focus is now broader than just hentai, but I don’t think we’ve compromised our basic principles, that is, that fanfic doesn’t have to suck.

But it wasn’t enough! Just having an appreciative audience for my shoujoai and yuri stories just. wasn’t. enough. After a slight bout of mild homophobia I experienced at a convention, I realized that too darn many of the lesbians out there in anime and the real world just weren’t strident enough. Lesbian chic was last year’s Time magazine cover, and we needed something to rally around. When I think of hanging out with other lesbians I find myself confronted with a choice – there are the majority, a seemingly endless sea of psychotic, sexless and fun-hating, political chant-shrieking women, or the small minority who happily discuss “hot lesbo sex.” I knew where I wanted to be. Plus I wanted to meet cute chicks. And so, AniLesboCon was born.

Which brings us here – to this essay. For I am she who says that hot lesbo sex, i.e. yuri, is *not* just by guys for guys, (or desperate straight girls who think it might be fun to go gay for a bit.) I say that some of us lesbians really, genuinely enjoy hot lesbo sex, T&A and other traditions of fanservice and yuri, as well as the more typically shoujo gender-bending cool girl stereotype. In fact, not only do I think that the lesbians should embrace the very portrayals that traditionally exploited us as man-hating and violent – I think we should *encourage* these stereotypes, all the while smoking our cigars and stroking our femme love slaves’ hair suggestively. In other words, I think that we should stop taking ourselves so damn seriously. In creating AniLesboCon, I hope to provide hunky, cute and fascinating animated role models for young women looking for media representations of themselves. Even more, I hope to build up a large base of fangirls for myself to go along with my coterie of young, male, sycophants and yes-men. I like to think that I’m an equal opportunity despot.

AniLesboCon, and my own writing, is a celebration of not only girls in love or lust, but also a celebration of humanity. From the highs of first love, to the lows of a partner’s death and all the emotions in between, anime and manga give lesbians plenty of role models and relevant situations, some of which we can be genuinely thankful for and some of which are just too damn hysterically stereotypical not to love. Whether it’s cheesy, plotless hot yuri sex, or complex emotional shoujoai relationships, anime and manga have a lot for us lesbians (and all you straight folks, too,) to enjoy. And ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.



  1. The “Cruise Blues” episode of Sailor Moon has the memorable line spoken by Rei to Ami, after Ami’s observation that they were the only women on board without boyfriends, “We don’t need boys – we can have alot of fun together without them.” This was after an scene that explicated the love/hate relationship forming between Rei and Usagi, another member of the team. Rei had invited Ami on the love cruise specifically to inflame Usagi’s jealousy. Street Fighter II has intricate scenes of male homosexual courting and imagery, in addition to evil henchmen with the names “Sodom” and “Gomorrah.”
  2. Fanservice is the phrase used to describe egregious and random breast and panty shots, as well as other marginalized sexual images
  3. 90% of writing is crap, or something to that effect. Sturgeon generously leaves 10%, whereas I’m inclined to edge the number up to a much lower percentage.
  4. Hentai means “perverted” in Japanese and is commonly used to describe stories with explicit sexual content.

If you’d like to discuss yuri, shoujoai, post-modern lesbian feminism or anything else, please feel free to join us at the Yuricon Mailing List


One Response

  1. Kouta says:

    my, this was refreshing to read. As a guy whos read one to many things from women (both lesbian and straight) who think that fanservice is demeaning and is by guys for guys. I find it very nice to read something from the more chill and accepting side of the spectrum. gay, straight, or other, people should be able to enjoy both the body aswell as the mind.

    great read, aswell as very enjoyable. keep doing what your doing. there needs to be more vocal women like you.

Leave a Reply