This thesis investigates the representation of asexual individuals in the works of Murata Sayaka, Kawakami Mieko, and Kamatani Yuki, all of whom are contemporary Japanese writers that portray near–suffocating social environments in their depictions of modern-day Japan. Their texts illustrate the augmented demands Japanese society places upon a cross-section of asexual and neurodivergent individuals. Despite the thematic and character–related similarities in their works, I argue that each author presents a unique interpretation of how these asexual individuals interact with—and try to integrate into—wider Japanese society and mainstream culture. Murata's texts demonstrate an unapologetically radical separatism by invoking an idealized queer utopia free from constraining notions of heteronormative sexuality present in Japanese society. In contrast, Kawakami's text suggests a more subtle—yet still subversive—integration of asexuality into society, one where asexual individuals strive for the same rights and privileges as all other citizens but still struggle to obtain acceptance or genuine equality. Kamatani's text, on the other hand, strikes a balance between these notions. Our Dreams at Dusk offers a utopic space for asexual and other queer individuals but does not go as far as suggesting a radical separatism like Murata's texts. Analyzing these texts alongside such seminal Queer Theory texts like Adrienne Rich's "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence," Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closet, Jack Halberstam's In a Queer Time and Place, and José Esteban Muñoz's Cruising Utopia uncovers the hidden sexualities buried within the texts: Not all asexual characters in the texts are explicitly labeled as such, yet they still occupy closeted lifestyles. This innovative examination of the existence of queer spaces within these works demonstrates the increasing prevalence of the presentation of asexual identities in Japan, allowing for the broader discussion of the invisible queer members of Japanese society.
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Bishop, Louise Kane
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
English; Literary, Cultural and Textual Studies
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Colecio, Nicholas, "Compulsory Conformity in Modern Japanese Culture: An Exploration of Asexuality in the works of Murata Sayaka, Kawakami Mieko, and Kamatani Yuki" (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 990.