What is Uke and Seme?
Uke and seme are Japanese terms for male on male relationships with seme having the more dominant personality and having the more submissive personality.
The terms “uke” and “seme” became popular and part of urban lingo because of its exposure on “yaoi” types of anime and several manga comic books. “Yaoi” in Japanese refers to fictional stories that depict homosexual relationships between males. It is also called “Boys’ Love” and is commonly written by females. The “Yaoi” writings originally started out as a parody to popular anime or manga series characters and the term “yaoi” became synonymous with stories on idealized type of male on male relationships with one character portrayed as the “seme” or the “attacker” and the other character portrayed as the “uke” or the “receiver”.
Aside from the term “seme and uke’s” popularity on Yaoi anime series, these terms were said to originate from Japanese martial arts. Other than the term’s reference to male homosexual relationships, “uke” and “seme” actually refers to the gay couple’s sexual position. Based on Japanese slang or urban lingo, the “uke” is the receiving partner in anal sex, while the “seme” is the attacking partner. These terms are then correlated with samurai and their companions, with English translations as ‘tops” or “bottoms”. This literally means the “seme” is “tops”, referring to its dominant demeanor and sexual position, and “uke” being the “bottoms”, referring to its submissive character and position during sex.
In most yaoi writings and/or manga series, the “seme” character is idealized and stereotyped as the typical macho male with strong physical features. This character is usually the one who is taller and older to signify its more dominant trait. And to add to its more masculine looks, the “seme” has short hair, smaller eyes and a stronger chin. The “uke” on the other hand is a little more feminine in terms of features. They are usually shorter, smaller in built, bigger eyes, and are portrayed as the weaker partner.
Not all in Japan is happy though of the gay stereotypes portrayed by the “seme” and “uke” characters on yaoi writings and several manga series. Many disagree that male on male relationships in Japan do not necessarily follow the typical dominant-submissive, tops-bottoms, or seme-uke type of relationship.