Publication Details

McLelland, MJ, The World of Yaoi: The Internet, Censorship and the Global “Boys’ Love” Fandom, The Australian Feminist Law Journal, 23, 2005, 61-77. Journal information available here.


This paper looks at the recent explosion of cultural concern over child sexual abuse and child pornography, particularly as it relates to the trading of such images via the internet. It is noted that legislation originally enacted to prohibit the sexualized representation of actual children has recently been extended to include fictional representations and in Australia includes text as well as graphics. Taking the online global fandom dedicated to ‘boys’ love’ (also known as yaoi) as an example, I argue that legislation prohibiting fictional accounts of ‘child’ sex-abuse is ill-conceived and potentially damaging to human rights and freedom of expression. I show how present legislation which collapses boys’ love materials into the category ‘child-abuse publications’ is blind to the complexities of desire and sexual identification and inadvertently criminalizes a large international fandom of women and girls who create and trade in images of ‘boys’ love,’ thus reinforcing sexist and heterosexist structures in the wider society and once again silencing the voices of non-conformist women.