Our recent quickfire editorial on citrus and straight male viewers of yuri received some excellent feedback, which made us rethink some of the sweeping points made. No matter how yuri manga or anime is marketed or flirts with sex, there’s no margin for presuming that only straight guys will enjoy the eroticism.
The concerns about perverse scenes expressed in the aforementioned piece, ‘Sweetness and citrus: the mystery of yuri’s male audience‘, came from personal discomfort about my own queer experiences not being reflected. But there are many other yuri fans, queer or otherwise, whose enjoyment of yuri should not be disregarded for the sake of one viewer’s disapproval. In our discussion on Twitter, user Mai argued that “There’s no distinction between ‘Yuri aimed at straight males’ or ‘Yuri aimed at gay females’”. True enough, if the desires of gay women are erased in discussions of yuri content, it is equally as problematic as the retail-based presumption that lesbian love affairs will make the straight dudes empty their wallets.
Indeed, however citrus is being received by male viewers, Saburouta’s manga was originally published in Yurihime, a magazine with a readership in a pronounced female majority. Melanie’s response reflects the openness of many yuri fangirls to share their enjoyment with male readers, opening doors to empowering and respectful discussion of sexuality. “I’m happy if guys enjoy citrus as well”, she said, “but I don’t think it’s aimed at a male audience”.
Mai concurred that citrus “is enjoyed more by girls than boys”, its drama and romance demarcating it as a shoujo property. But she made a point I agree with wholeheartedly; men should feel free to enjoy shoujo stories, and explore romance in a space away from social expectations. As hot and heavy as it gets, citrus balances sex with intimacy and emotional connections which make it reassuring and rewarding, acknowledging that Mei is carrying the trauma of abuse, and needs the love of her stepsister Yuzu to overcome the damage done.
More than that, it’s an oversight to say that smut is reserved for the enjoyment of heterosexual men, and that seeking rough love and torrid affairs are ‘hardwired’ in their nature. As OtakuGamerGirl stated, “I hate that stereotype that only guys like yuri, especially the more aggressive type like citrus, because it’s not true and it’s unfair to straight males and gay females alike. Straight males are not the only ones who like a little smut.”
As a lady who loves a little ecchi herself, I can only tip my hat and defer to this reasoning. citrus may not be my cup of tea, but it remains an important means of queer otaku women seeing themselves reflected in a medium they love. It’s a simple wish, and one all deserve granted.