Representations of sexuality in Japanese lesbian bars

Motoko Odani

PhD student, Graduate School of Sociology, Kwansei Gakuin University


This research is about the people in lesbian bars in Japan, focusing  on the representations of sexuality. People in Japanese lesbian bars use the term “seku”, which is unique to their world, instead of “lesbian” to express themselves. Seku is an abbreviated word of sexuality, and it is a kind of secret language. People in Japanese lesbian bars use seku in two ways. First, when they do self-introduction, they often use this term to express themselves as like bōi-neko, femu-tachi, chūsei -riba and so on, which in other words are symbolic categorization of representing their sexuality. Second, the term works as a function in establishing a relationship between people in lesbian bars. They are supposed to be in a couple by combinations of seku for example, either together femu-tachi or bōi-riba. In the field of sociology, “lesbian” has widely been explained by two representations; “lezu” and “yuri”. However, these are not the self-perception of lesbian but the image through mass media. In this paper, my aim is to explain how people in lesbian bars in Japan represent themselves based on their sexuality, and to explore the variety and fluidity of sexuality.