Boys' love, yaoi, and the dojinshi in which they are found are potent sign in Barthes' Empire of Signs. They are also a sign of disputed power in the realm of art education and youth visual culture. They are signs of the larger global visual culture of youth which art educators and youth both share and do not share. If pedagogy is the sharing of power by students and teachers--and we think it should be--then shouldn't forms of visual culture studied in school should be a topic for negotiation among educational authorities, teachers, and students? Indeed, we believe that this is one of the most important issues for students and teachers in countries throughout the world to negotiate and resolve. The problematic, subversive, forbidden, and unsanctioned yaoi will probably not be permitted inside the art classroom. Might it be the case, however, that the less problematic forms of visual culture created by youth might stand in for the unacceptable types? If boys' love provides the means for females to explore gender roles, then perhaps sanctioned forms of visual culture might provide the vehicle through which students could practice reading signs in the unsanctioned forms of youth culture which exist beyond schools.
Herein lies the problem. Dojinshi and its yoai and boys' love components flourish because they are subversive, beyond control, and because they stand in opposition to conventional societal norms. To put these forms of youth visual culture in schools would probably rob teens of the pleasures that surround their creation and consumption: when we require students to do and make what they themselves have elected to do on their own becomes no longer their own. Moreover, when the subversive is sanctioned it loses its social transformative functions. Surely, schools should not be in the business of assisting students to create dojinshi. They don't need help.
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Manga artist Takemia, whose influence on M/M has been profound has provided a subtle analysis of gender relationships explored in yaoi and boys' love (personal communication, January 22, 2003). She explained that having boys play the roles of both males and females provides a way for exploring relationships between love and sex.