There’s an preoccupation with men when it comes to yuri. That much is evident if one notes one particularly common term.
The aforementioned phrase would be the “male gaze,” which is frequently used to criticize shows featuring sexualized female characters, yuri or not.
At first glance, the phrase appears to only refer to erotic depictions of girls through particular camera angles and focus shots in an attempt to visually appeal to heterosexual male viewers.
However, the male gaze also represents objectification of women since female characters are seemingly reduced to being little more than voiced and animated centerfold models. Their personalities, motivations, and other decidedly less physical distinctions are momentarily given less priority to meet the quota of panty shots and the like.
Yuri anime as well as titles which are likened to yuri are also accused of pandering to the male gaze. But detractors might fail to consider that some creators behind anime series or original source materials are actually female, as with the directors. By claiming that a show revolves around the male gaze, one in turn is attempting to discredit the efforts of female creators and directors who are explicitly not men.
Perhaps dissenters might concede on that point, but they would then point out that such series still do include suggestive camera pans and shots and that the creators and/or directors are still accommodating to the male gaze, female or not.
That is indeed a fair point to make. In doing so, however, these naysayers are assuming that the target demographic of yuri titles are predominantly heterosexual males. There is certainly a male audience when it comes to yuri and such moments may appeal to such viewers. Be that as it may, there are also a significant amount of female viewers who enjoy yuri anime. Furthermore, a considerable portion of female yuri anime fans actually enjoy the on-screen fanservice and consider such scenes to be titillating.
Of course, there are female yuri fans who are notably uncomfortable with overly intrusive and objectifying depictions of female characters, but there are also male yuri fans who share similar sentiments. So to dismiss what’s shown on the screen as pandering to male viewers is to actually deny the probability that female yuri fans can appreciate said moments altogether and to falsely assert that all male yuri fans universally enjoy aforementioned scenes. Such a statement comes across as both exclusionary and presumptuous as a result.
With that being said, the fact remains there are a sizable amount of yuri shows which do include scenes that can be described as objectifying. Without spreading misinformation due to lacking hard numbers, a flimsy statement that could be considered to qualify as whataboutism is all that can be offered in response.
Essentially, there are many, many series of many different genres which feature moments that can qualify as being objectifying. At this rate, this is a trend that could almost be considered an unavoidable evil due to its prevalence in numbers. With that being said, there are series which can tastefully convey sexuality and/or intimacy without being overly forward. Those are the type of shows more series should strive to imitate, according to the author of this particular article. However, this is clearly easier said than done.
As a final reminder, please remember to exercise thought and care whenever using the term, “male gaze,” as it makes assumptions on a target demographic’s orientation and gender. Minding nuance may be prove to be comparatively more cumbersome when it comes to discussion, but to do otherwise might make for disingenuous and shallow conversation which would be a shame.
Thank you for reading.