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Amazon Pulls Yaoi From the Kindle

Inside of a dog it's too dark to read

Ove at CBR, long-time manga reporter Brigid Alverson informs us that Amazon is pulling Yaoi titles from its Kindle offerings. (Some NSFW images in link.) Digital Manga Publishing and Animate U.S.A. have had several of their titles pulled from the Kindle store (especially a problem for Animate U.S.A, which only publishes exclusively on the Kindle in the U.S.). And it looks like more could be on the way.

The problem–surprise, surprise–is that not only is Amazon practicing censorship, it’s applying double standards to queer and het erotica.

Alverson writes:

All the reviews I checked described [censored Yaoi title The Color of Love] as more sweet than sexy, which raises the question: If this story had been about a man and a woman, would it have been removed from the store?

A quick search suggests that the answer is “no.” Titles currently available on Kindle include Christmas Creampie, a graphic novel in which “horny Whoreville hussies show a frustrated dildo shop owner the true meaning of Christmas,” and Little Lorna in Resort Sports (I’m not even going to link to this one), in which Little Lorna, who is spunky, sexy, but “not too bright,” goes on vacation to Mexico with her Uncle Bob; “nudity, spanking, and sexy humor” result.

So apparently a sweet love story between two men is unacceptable, but an orgy in a dildo shop is OK.

Is it 2009? This stunt seems identical to#amazonfail, in which Amazon removed all search result listings of a random and bizarre assortment of titles considered to have “adult content,” which was predominantly queer-focused but also included 1984 and The Color Purple. While Amazon claimed that the PR disaster was the result of “a glitch,” the firm never actually apologized, and in fact many people pointed out that the “glitch” had been occurring on a routine basis since February of that year, and that certain titles never actually resurfaced on Amazon’s search listings.

You know, I’m just going to bullet point the things that are wrong with this.

  • Censoring explicit queer subject matter while refusing to censor explicit straight material is homophobia, pure and simple. Doing it repeatedly over the years, despite repeated public protest, suggests an institutionalized bias on Amazon’s part against queer literature, and even more offensively, against queer readers.
  • It is exceedingly dangerous for any company with as much market share as Amazon has to maintain such arbitrary and confusing standards of censorship. This is the same company that only last year was defending its commitment to remaining censorship free while publishing books celebrating paedophilia. (Yes, seriously.)
  • Just like any other genre, Yaoi contains a wide variety of subject matter and content, not all of which is explicit. This isn’t the first time Amazon has judged a book by its cover (and many of the covers of the censored titles are inoffensive), but come on. This is getting old.
  • While Yaoi manga and Boys Love doujinshi are a niche market, they’re an extremely popular niche market. The primary demographic of this particular erotica market, however, is young women. That’s right: yaoi manga is most commonly consumed voraciously by girls. And while both men and women read het erotica, straight men have traditionally been the publishers and the audience for the much wider market for straight lit porn.There is something very disturbing about censoring erotic literature that is most often written by women, for women, while allowing all those other more male-centered titles to remain. One might even say it reeks of girl-shaming.But Amazon would never be that hypocritical, would they? –
  • Oh, wait.

    (via Comic Book Resources.)

    Aja Romano blogs regularly at Bookshop.

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