New study suggests female paraphilias ‘hide in plain sight’

Interest in male-male sexuality appears to be a common but overlooked paraphilia among women, according to new research published in Archives of Sexual Behavior. The study examined boy love, a genre of erotic fiction typically created by women and depicting romantic relationships between men. The genre also known as yeah in Japan and thank you in China, has enjoyed growing popularity since the 1980s.

“I’m a fan of Boy Love/yeah. As an academic psychologist, I am also very interested in human behavior and experience,” says study author Anna Madill, Professor at the University of Leeds and leader of the Resilience project. “I was puzzled by my penchant for male-on-male erotica – particularly that created by and for women – and fortunately, my education has given me the research expertise to investigate issues surrounding boy love.yeah professionally.”

“My co-author Yao Zhao did her PhD on the topic yeah/thank you in China under my guidance and introduced me to the topic of cultural differences. The juxtaposition of the English-speaking and Chinese-speaking worlds has been incredibly interesting in advancing understanding of women’s erotic writing.”

For their study, the researchers asked 1,922 Chinese-speaking and 1,715 English-speaking participants what kind of boy love/yeah Content that they particularly liked. BDSM-related content emerged as the main attraction among both Chinese- and English-speaking participants, followed by animalistic content (e.g., humanoid beings with animal characteristics).

The findings provide evidence that “our current understanding of what might be considered more unusual sexual interests tends to overlook those of women,” Madill told PsyPost. “This may be because women with unusual sexual interests are more likely than men to retain them as fantasies rather than act on them, and thus have not garnered much public attention.”

“A major uncommon sexual interest for women is male-male eroticism, and this has influenced mainstream entertainment as television and online series that involve a sexually influenced central male friendship can attract large female audiences,” she added .

The researchers also found that content related to rape and underage sex was quite popular. “There are major reservations about the legal and ethical implications of Boy Love/yeah/thank you‘ Madill said. “For example, some online materials may be illegal in some jurisdictions, and even if they’re not illegal, there are ethical issues surrounding content that could romanticize things like questionable sexual consent.”

“We need to better understand whether, and if so how, women might benefit from exploring sexual interactions through the medium of male-male fantasy eroticism, for example, in order to process their own fears with relative confidence. More generally, young women are the fastest growing group of pornography consumers and it is important to understand the reasons and implications of this.”

Previous research has shown that it is common for women to view gay pornography. But Madill and Yao noted that little is known about paraphilic interests among women. The vast majority of research has examined men’s atypical sexual interests.

“Yao and I are really grateful to everyone yeah Fans who took our surveys,” said Madill, who is still collecting data with the English and Chinese versions of the questionnaire. “This is the largest data set of its kind and really allows us to better understand this community. For example, an interesting cultural difference is that boy love seems to be a popular niche interest in the English-speaking world, while among young Chinese it’s a broader but more casual and passing interest.”

The study “Are female paraphilias hiding in plain sight? Risqué Male–Male Erotica for Women in Sinophone and Anglophone Regions,” was released on November 22, 2021.

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