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In the late 1970s, shōjo magazines devoted to the new genre began to appear; and, in the 1990s, the wasei-eigo term boys' love or BL was invented for the genre, which replaced earlier terms such as tanbi, shōnen ai and juné in Japanese usage.
In Japan, the term yaoi continues to refer mainly to parody dōjinshi; among Western fans, however, yaoi is used as a generic term for female-oriented manga, anime, dating sims, novels and fan fiction works featuring idealized gay male relationships.
Anal sex is a prevalent theme in yaoi, as nearly all stories feature it in some way.
Akiko Mizoguchi describes its application to male-male stories as "misleading", but notes "it was the most commonly used term in the early 1990s." and were replete with "philosophical and abstract musings".The tachi partner is conceptualized as the member of the relationship who pursues the more passive partner, the latter of whom is referred to as the neko.Seme and uke is similar but not identical to tachi and neko because the former refers primarily to sexual roles, whereas the latter describes personality.The use of yaoi to denote those works with explicit scenes sometimes clashes with use of the word to describe the genre as a whole, creating confusion between Japanese and Western writers or between Western fans who insist on proper usage of the Japanese terms and those who use the Westernized versions.Yaoi can also be used by Western fans as a label for anime or manga-based slash fiction.
Although not the same, a yaoi construct similar to seme and uke is the concept of tachi and neko.