Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan

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University of California Press, May 15, 1997 - Social Science - 317 pages
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Tokugawa Japan ranks with ancient Athens as a society that not only tolerated, but celebrated, male homosexual behavior. Few scholars have seriously studied the subject, and until now none have satisfactorily explained the origins of the tradition or elucidated how its conventions reflected class structure and gender roles. Gary P. Leupp fills the gap with a dynamic examination of the origins and nature of the tradition. Based on a wealth of literary and historical documentation, this study places Tokugawa homosexuality in a global context, exploring its implications for contemporary debates on the historical construction of sexual desire.

Combing through popular fiction, law codes, religious works, medical treatises, biographical material, and artistic treatments, Leupp traces the origins of pre-Tokugawa homosexual traditions among monks and samurai, then describes the emergence of homosexual practices among commoners in Tokugawa cities. He argues that it was "nurture" rather than "nature" that accounted for such conspicuous male/male sexuality and that bisexuality was more prevalent than homosexuality. Detailed, thorough, and very readable, this study is the first in English or Japanese to address so comprehensively one of the most complex and intriguing aspects of Japanese history.
 

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Contents

The PreTokugawa Homosexual Tradition
11
MaleMale Sex at Court
22
Monastic Homosexuality
27
The Influence of Feudalism
47
The Influence of Monastic Pederasty
51
The Character of PreTokugawa Nanshoku
55
The Commercialization of Nanshoku
58
Homosexuality and Bourgeois Culture
78
Nanshoku and the Law
156
Nanshoku and Violence
164
Nanshoku and the Construction of Gender
171
The Fascination with Androgyny
172
The Acceptance of Male Sexual Passivity
178
Womens Roles and the Insertees Role
182
Womens Iro
187
The Taboo Against MaleMale Fellation
191

Tokugawa Homosexual Culture
94
The Prevalence of Bisexuality
95
The ActivePassive Dichotomy
109
The Object of Desire
122
Egalitarian Homosexual Relationships
137
Social Status and Sexual Roles
142
Social Tolerance
145
Acceptance and Criticism
146
Nanshoku and Heterosexual Romance
194
Conclusions and Speculations
198
A Boors Tale
205
List of Characters
219
Notes
227
Bibliography
279
Index
303
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About the author (1997)

Gary P. Leupp is Associate Professor of History at Tufts University and the author of Servants, Shophands, and Laborers in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan (1992).

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