Sunday, February 4, 2018

Crossdressing in Japanese

Since crossdressing in anime happens way too often, a post specifically about the words for crossdressing in Japanese.

Josou 女装

Let's start with josou 女装, since josou is the most common crossdressing case. The word josou means "crossdresssing," specifically, men crossdressing, guys wearing female clothes, guys dressing up like girls, etc.

In anime, this normally happens for no good reason. Some manga have dedicated chapters and chapters to constructing the mishap that leads to a male character to unwillingly crossdress in a grand plan to appease their crossdressing-hungry fanbase

In some, not any better, cases, characters are crossdressing right from the start, sometimes just because they wanted attention, which lead to a lot of drama discussion in forums over the fact she was actually a girl. Not to mention that one famous case of a boy who was raised like a girl so that's why he dresses like a girl.

It's well-known the crossdressing scenario is moe for a good number of anime fans. But for everyone else it's as jarring as a narrator screaming "LOOK! THIS CHARACTER!!! HE IS.... CROSS... DRESSSSSIINNNGGG!!! LOOK AT HIM! LOOK AT HIS FEMALE CLOTHES!! LOOK AT OTHER GUYS HITTING ON HIM BECAUSE THEY THINK HE IS A GIRL EVERY FUCKING TIME!" And it always seem to drag on for longer than it should.

Crossdressing Ciel Phantomhive シエル・ファントムハイヴ from anime Black Butler, Kuroshitsuji 黒執事

(then again, I'm sure bathing scenes with girls in hot springs, etc. are equally disconcerting for some people.)

From the meaning of the kanji of josou 女装, which you can find words like onna 女, "woman," and ishou 衣装, "attire," you could guess the word refers to "female clothing" or "women's garments" or something like that, but that's not how the word is normally used.

The term josou refers specifically to the act of men wearing female clothes, crossdressing. The word josou does not refer to the clothes themselves. And josou is even a suru verb, so that wouldn't make much sense either. For example:
  • josou 女装
    Crossdressing. (Guy) dressing like a girl.
  • josou suru 女装する
    (For a guy) to crossdress.
  • josou shita 女装した
    (For a guy) to have crossdressed.
  • josou saserareta 女装させられた
    (For a guy) to have been made crossdress (by the rich ojou-sama he serves as a butler, maybe).

To refer to the clothes themselves, the words would be:
  • onna no fuku 女の服
    Women's clothes.
  • josei no fuku 女性の服
    josei-fuku 女性服
    Female clothes.
  • joseiyou no fuku 女性用の服
    Clothes for women's use.
  • onnamono 女物
    "Women's things." Anything made for a woman to wear. Includes wristwatches, etc.
  • onnamono no fuku 女物の服
    "Clothes that are women's things." Clothes made for a woman to wear.

Of course, just because the word josou exists doesn't mean josou is used when someone is josou'ing. Some other synonym phrases are:
  • josei-fuku wo kiru 女性服を着る
    To wear women's clothes.
    (note: when the object is lower-body clothing, skirt, underwear, footwear, etc., the verb haku 履く, "to put on," is used instead)
  • josei no kakkou wo suru 女性の格好をする
    To make one's appearance female.

Characters (and people) who crossdress are sometimes referred to as:
  • josou danshi 女装男子
    josou dansei 女装男性
    Crossdressing guys, men, etc..
  • josou kyara 女装キャラ
    Crossdressing character.

In BL / yaoi, when deciding seme and uke roles, crossdressing characters are generally assumed to be uke 受け as they fit the "woman" role better, and the label josou seme 女装攻め exists for the unusual crossdressing seme.

Since there have been dozens of anime with high-school festivals that had to choose a maid café as class attraction which ended up resulting boys dressing up as maids for fujoshi fanservice episode and there's literally even an anime about a "Boy Maid" called Shounen Meido 少年メイド:
  • josou meido 女装メイド
    Crossdressing maid.

And since we're here anyway, some terms you're unlikely to see in anime, but are related:
  • josoko 女装子 (I repeat: josoko じょそこ)
    josouka 女装家
    josousha 女装者
    Crossdresser. (by hobby or by profession)
  • AG (ei-jii エイ・ジー)
    ootogainefiria オートガイネフィリア
    jiko-joseika-seiai 自己女性化性愛
    Autogynephilia. (male crossdressing fetish)
    (literally "self-female-ization-sexual-attraction")
  • A面 (eemen エー・メン)
    Side-A (in music).
    The crossdressing side of a josoko,
  • B面 (biimen ビー・メン)
    The non-crossdressing side of a josoko.
    (example: his B-side is a shop clerk, when he's not crossdressing, he is a shop clerk.)

Note that while some people may say the fine art of crossdressing doesn't refer merely to wearing female clothes, and requires a degree of acting, looks, etc, this is completely irrelevant here as the word josou is literally about the mere act of wearing female clothes.

This is pretty obvious but, a crossdressing character doesn't necessarily look like a girl, even while crossdressing. A character who has made a ridiculous, failed attempt at crossdressing still has technically crossdressed, so the word josou still applies the same way it would in English. A male character which looks like a girl would be called otokonoko 男の娘 instead.

Physically turning into a girl doesn't mean crossdressing either, that'd be nyotaika 女体化.

Dansou 男装

Since the word josou 女装 is written with the kanji for "woman," it obviously can't apply to both genders crossdressing. It applies only to wearing "female clothes," and women wearing female clothes is just women wearing clothes. That's why its counterpart, dansou, also exists.

The word dansou 男装, literally "male clothes," written with the kanji for the word "man," otoko 男, refers to the act of women wearing "male clothes," or girls dressing like guys, etc.

Crossdressing Ayuzawa Misaki 鮎沢 美咲 from anime Kaichou wa Maid-sama! 会長はメイド様!

The word dansou works exactly the same way as josou 女装. To say "(for a girl) to crossdress," you say dansou suru 男装する, a girl who likes to crossdress is dansouko 男装子, and so on. Basically the same thing.

Likewise, dansou doesn't mean the girl actually ends up looking like a guy. A girl who looks like a guy is an onnanoko 雄んなの子. And physically turning into a guy is not dansou, that would be nantaika 男体化.

Iseisou 異性装

So the term josou 女装 is for crossdressing with female clothing, and dansou 男装 for crossdressing with male clothing, but what if want to just say "crossdressing" regardless of gender? Then there's the word iseisou 異性装.

The word iseisou 異性装 is exactly like josou and dansou, but in its case the clothes are isei's. And isei 異性 means "different gender," (this is the same i 異 as isekai 異世界, by the way). So iseisou means literally "(the act of wearing) different gender clothes."

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