What’s a futanari and why should you care?

futapost06

Prina the Dungeoneering Princess, from Rebis Dungeon

I’ve written several erotica stories starring futanari characters, genuine futanari too, fitting the hentai definition. They are also exclusively Japanese, at least so far. Characters of other nationalities of course can be futanari, but to me the concept, the idea is so closely linked to the Japanese hentai from which it derives, that when I sat down to write a futanari story, it felt natural to me to set it in science fiction Japan where futanari could become a reality.

And I used science fiction to make futanari “real”, because futanari are not real. They only exist in fiction, in stories that suspend disbelief in some way. That’s what I want to clarify in this post: what a futanari is, why it should not be used interchangeably with transgender, transsexual, newhalf, kahoey or similar terms, and why it shouldn’t (if one stays faithful to the source) be considered offensive. Futanari is a concept closely related to transgender issues but ultimately is tangential to it, because it is not reflective of real world experience and is not intended to be.

The word futanari in Japanese (ふたなり) means ‘dual form’ or ‘two kinds’ and Wikipedia has a decent if short description of the historical origins of the term. Put simply, in modern Japanese hentai a futanari is a type of fictional female character with the body of a woman and the genitals of both a woman and a man.

Its older, historical usage still exists outside of hentai, and there it is similar to Western myths such as the legend of Hermaphroditus, but that’s beyond the scope of this discussion because I am talking about how the word futanari is perceived and used in the West–and in the West, the word ‘futanari’ comes to us directly from hentai.

Another important point: futanari are obviously hermaphroditic by the broad dictionary definition and the word will sometimes be translated into English or Romance languages as hermaphrodite, but we are not talking about medically (real world) intersexed people either.

Futapost01

Nakajima Kanomi from Yui Toshiki’s Hot Tails

The hentai futanari is interesting. She is normally attractive (she is always described as a “she”), usually human but not necessarily: she can be a catgirl, a kitsune, an elf, or any number of other fantasy beings, but usually she’s otherwise normal. That’s not to say a futanari can’t be a magician or she can’t be created by magic or science fiction, but there’s a normalcy to them that is part of the playful fun. You never know in the world of hentai if the beautiful schoolgirl has something extra up her skirt. It’s a fantasy.

What defines a futanari is a fully functional male penis in addition to her female vagina. She may or may not have a scrotum. If she does, she is a “full package futanari.” Her penis may or may not always be present–sometimes it grows out of her body, above or even out of her vagina only when she becomes excited. The futanari is erotic, interesting, fun, different, and probably taps into a–usually but not exclusively male–fascination with the female form to which a male member is attached. Sometimes characters without vaginas are still presented as futanari or referred to as futanari.

Futanari are a staple genre of Japanese hentai, along with yuri, yaoi, the famous tentacles, pantsu, meganekko (girls with glasses), ha-daisuki (toothcare fetish!), and dozens of others that range from realistic to the horribly specific to wildly exaggerated to utterly disturbing. The sea of erotica coming out of Japan is broad and it is deep, as many know.

Like a lot of people, my first exposure to the futanari was in Toshiki Yui’s Hot Tails, one of the first erotic manga to be published and printed in the West. In this series, we have classic futanari–schoolgirls who have ‘unusual problems with their bodies’ because they happen to have penises in addition to vaginas. They are versatile and are considered desirable partners for sex, especially threesomes. In one scene, we see two futanari having sex with each other–each places their penis inside the other’s vagina (somehow) and they end up with a remarkable orgasm–four sets of genitals having simultaneous orgasms with each other. Now that’s bonding.

futapost02

Transcendent futanari dual orgasm go!

When a futanari has an orgasm with her male and female parts at the same time, it’s (assumed) to be better than anything we mere mortals with our single set of genitals could ever experience. They have a weird transcendence to them that’s alluring, at least to me.

In Hot Tails, when a character named Kanomi experiences her first simultaneous orgasm, she says, “Today I learned what it means to be a woman–and to be a man. I felt things no one else could ever feel.”

In another scene, she goes on strike because everyone wants to have sex with her (on TV Tropes, this is called ‘Everybody Wants the Hermaphrodite‘). So she holds out until her penis freaks out, starts talking, then somehow has sex with her own vagina. As you can see, these are light-hearted, kinky, not particularly realistic erotic fantasies.

But that’s all it is, an erotic fantasy. Futanari do not exist. Their fantastic bodies are purely fictional, the same way a catgirl or a lycanthropic shape-shifter is purely fictional. Because they are a fantasy, they are also a “safe” way for some people–generally males–to explore sexual feelings about penises without you know, being labeled gay or bisexual. We can’t have that!

Anyway, the existence of futanari shouldn’t be considered offensive to transpeople, transwomen in particular, because if you understand the original Japanese word and concept you can see it isn’t meant as an insult, it doesn’t come out of the porn industry or some slang term for sex workers.

If someone is taking the word futanari and using it in a derogatory manner, then yes they are being transphobic, and ignorant, and they’re also misappropriating Japanese culture. And anybody who feels strongly that the word ‘futanari’ or the concept of futanari is transphobic is not understanding its origin and usage, or simply doesn’t care. I would consider that a form of cultural appropriation too, whereas writing, drawing or animating Japanese hentai-inspired futanari is within the tradition.

futapost03

Mariandel from Ixion Saga DT

So a major point here is that the word ‘futanari’ shouldn’t be synonymous with an actual M2F transgender, since magical futanari bodies have nothing to do with genuine transgender experience.

In fact, the Japanese language distinguishes between fantasy and reality here, referring to M2F transgendered individuals as newhalf (ニューハーフ) or nyūhāfu. Even an anime character like Mariandel in Ixion Saga DT isn’t a futanari, she’s deliberately described as and portrayed as a newhalf (mostly in a positive way, but sometimes for laughs).

It makes no sense to refer to a M2F transgender as a futanari–it makes about as much sense as calling a lesbian a catgirl or referring to genuine flesh-and-blood bisexuals as shapeshifters or goblins or something. It’s odd.

So everyone, please don’t be upset at the poor, fun-loving Futanari, because they aren’t real–they aren’t any more real than satyrs, nymphs, mermaids and other erotic figures of myth and fantasy.

Now there is hentai that (somewhat confusingly and contrary to the definitions we’ve just established) features female characters with penises who lack vaginas. Some of these are described explicitly as newhalves and direct references to transsexual operations, implants and hormones will be described and even fetishized–for example, as in much of the work of the erotic artist The Amanoja9.

But other times they will be treated exactly as futanari–women who somehow have penises. Sometimes this happens through magic, a potion, or some science fiction experiment. Other times, it’s left completely unexplained and ignored.

futapost05

Newhalf hentai from the Amanoja9

So now that we are clear about what a futanari should be and where it came from–including that last curveball–we can look at what the word ‘futanari’ has become and where it is going in written Western erotica, which sometimes gets the usage wrong, unlike erotic illustrators who seem more likely to get the difference.

In Western, written erotica, particularly on Amazon, Smashwords, and other outlets, futanari is becoming synonymous with transsexual or transgender or the largely discarded term ‘shemale.’

You can find it misused and misapplied to actual M2F transgendered women–or at least someone who has magically been transformed into an M2F analog. A simple search for ‘futanari’ on Amazon Kindle will show you that. But almost always, these ‘futa’ or ‘futanari’ do not have vaginas, their genitalia are not hermaphroditic.

I would not call this usage of futanari wrong strictly speaking, as it fits into the looser hentai sense of the word of a genetic woman who somehow has a penis, but it’s not particularly accurate; it’s easier to understand futanari when they’re clearly defined as such. This dilemma afflicts outlets for hentai–for example the image board Gelboruu has a moderator’s ruling that if the woman has a penis but no vagina she’s classified as a newhalf. If she has both, she’s a futanari.At some point it’s like counting how many angels can dance on the pin of a head–it becomes a meaningless discussion.

I’ve even seen genuine transgendered people on Facebook, forums, and elsewhere actually self-identify as ‘futa’ or ‘futanari’ too. It’s not a term I would use, but if they’re comfortable with it, more power to them. It’s not that faithful to the original Japanese concept, however.

futapost04

Scenes from SFK4: Futanari Kingdom at galaxypink.com

Instead of belaboring the point, I’m going to quote the graphic artist Galaxy Pink here, a creator who has worked in the 3D CGI futanari genre for a long time and has given these issues considerable thought–more than I have, over a lot longer period of time.

In an interview with Affect 3D, she’s asked: “Futa, dick girls, she males or transsexuals? What term do you prefer and why?”

Actually I usually say “futanari” and sometimes dickgirls in parentheses as a translation. “Futa” sounds a little too rough-around-the-edges for me. “Futanari” means “dual form” in Japanese, and it pretty much only refers to these fictional beings I include in my work.

Transsexuals on the other hand, are actual people, who are born with bodies associated with one gender, and minds associated with another. “Shemale” is almost always a derogatory or at best objectifying term for trans women, and I never use it.

Being trans is a life of pain, confusion, and the risk of violence and discrimination for most of them, and I wouldn’t want to fetishize or make light of that situation. Some of my best friends, and lovers, have been trans, and they’re wonderful, interesting, brave, strong, beautiful people.

So there you go.

Now does this mean don’t use the word futanari for your characters unless they are hermaphroditic Japanese sexual superheroes? No. But do think about who your characters are before you label them. The labels you use are absorbed by your readers and passed around the culture at large. I’d hate for the original meaning of futanari to become lost and turned into a derogatory term for transpeople instead.

The lives of genuine transgendered people are not easy. They face discrimination, violence, and real danger. Their families and communities can often turn against them, and police might hassle them on the assumption that they are sex workers, particularly transwomen of color. And transwomen from underprivileged communities sometimes are sex workers, either by choice or economic necessity. They should not be insulted and described in terms that originate from pornographic Japanese comic books.

In erotica, it’s important for the author to keep a firm line between fantasy and reality when constructing characters and storylines, even if part of the fantasy is to blur those lines. That’s why when I write in the different sub-genres of LGBT erotica, I adhere to either realistic or fantastic definitions, depending on the subgenre I’m writing in:

futa_choice_v01_400x638Futanari: fantastic stories starring characters who have healthy, fully functioning organs of both  men and women. Using super-science, any ordinary man or woman can be made into a futanari! The futanari has superhuman sexual prowess and can experience both male and female orgasms. Almost everyone finds her desirable. She’s like a comic book character, with superhuman sexual abilities. She is not real! So far I’ve written several stories in this genre: Futa Pop, Futa Choice, and Project Futanarion–the last of which somewhat confusingly has a subtype of futanari called ‘newhalf editions’ who don’t have vaginas. But they’re still not transgenders, they’re created by a supermagic process (and yes, that’s a misuse of the term newhalf, a violation of my own guidelines. I didn’t say this was easy!). Update: I’ve also written some fantasy books starring futanari elves, like Futa Elf Switch, where magic accounts for their hermaphroditism

Transgender/transsexual: In my stunningly unpopular erotica short Candy’s Halloween, two of the characters are explicitly M2F transgender. While the story doesn’t go into their M2F issues because it’s sex positive erotica not very deep, they are never magically transformed or ridiculously endowed. At some point before they arrived in the dorms, both Kelly and Candy decided to transition into women and are living as such in the dorms.

FromTtoTSissy: I use this as a broad term for submissive cross-dresser or transvestite fiction, because so far, all my cd/tv stories like From Thomas to Therese have involved some aspect of submission. I didn’t even cover TV/CD at all in the above discussion because while it’s related, it’s outside of the transgender experience. Crossdressers are physically still males–even when they use female pronouns. In the case of the sissy, the use of female pronouns and names is directly related to the experience of feminization: putting on makeup, wearing female clothes, walking and talking in the traditional female gender role. Update: Felix Conrad makes a strong case that in fact, is part of the transgender experience. And I agree.

Lesbian: Most people know this means a woman-to-woman relationship; for example I wrote a (purely sexual) erotica called Princess With a Firm Hand that is–surprise, surprise–all about spanking. Sometimes though I’ll use the word to refer to a trans-to-trans relationship like Kelly and Candy’s because the vast majority of readers have no idea what a ‘transbian’ relationship is.

futapost07

My Two Wings

Transbian: a relationship between two transgendered individuals, or a transperson who only dates other transpeople. Somewhat confusingly, this can take three separate forms: M2F/F2M, M2F/M2F, or F2M/F2M. You can see why that would not work too well in marketing erotica. Almost nobody would have any idea what you mean.

Finally, if you are curious about the erotic manga discussed in this article but don’t want to read anything too graphic or extreme, I recommend Yui Toshiki’s Boku no-Futatsu no Tsubasa (My Two Wings). The cover is at the right. It’s not very graphic at all and actually sweet and well-written.

Anyway, feel free to comment or disagree–just be civil if you do. Thanks!

_______________________________________________

If you’d like to read some hentai-inspired futanari erotica by me (shameless plug), please enjoy these following books. ALL of these books are available under Kindle Unlimited too, so if you have a monthly subscription from Amazon, they are absolutely free!

COVER Futa Show v01_200x320Futa Show: Ken is a contestant on Futa Deny Challenge, Japan’s kinkiest game show!

He’s pushed to the edge by beautiful, bouncy futanari bodies. Teasing. Denial. Oddly specific fetishes.

How can he resist? But he must not give in if he wants to win—because if he loses, he’ll be transformed into a futanari—forever!

 

futa_pop_200xFuta Pop: Hikaru wants to be a pop star but when his first album bombs it’s all over—or is it?

His music label offers him a second chance—if he’s willing to transform into Japan’s first futanari Jpop idol!

This 12,000-word erotic epic follows his transformation into a full-package futanari!

 

futa_choice_v02_200xFuta Choice: Life is tough in Neo-Tokyo. Haruto is a decent guy but he’s broke, living in a sleeping tube and willing to try anything.

One day he sees an ad for Project Futanarion—an amazing program that transforms ordinary people into beautiful, desirable full-package futanaris and joins them to married couples!

project_futanarion_v01_S200Project Futanarion: Can the introduction of Futanarions—lusty young women with surprising sets of genitals—reverse Japan’s population decline?

The inventor is a full package-futanari herself, and she’s developed a miraculous plan to save Japan…by turning people into amazingly fertile, virile and desirable full-package futanaris!

 

FUTA_BUNDLE_200x320FUTA BUNDLE : Get all four Futa Series novelettes—Futa Show, Futa Pop, Futa Choice and Project Futanarion—for the price of only two! That is more futanaris than anyone can handle!

Futa Bundle delivers more than 50,000 words of Japanese panty-packing action that no one can resist! ツ

 

2 thoughts on “What’s a futanari and why should you care?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s