Article by: Curry Zawa Kaoru
Using my sophisticated powers of deduction, I guessed that this tag refers to homosexual relationships between women (yuri) where both women are members of the workforce.
To discover if my belief is correct, we need to venture into the treacherous Amazon forest (aka, the pixiv Encyclopedia).
As shocking as it may seem, "working woman yuri" is defined as "works that depict members of the workforce in a lesbian relationship."
In other words, it's exactly what's written on the tin.
First, before we discuss "working woman yuri" I'd like to talk a bit about plain old yuri.
As stated before, works that feature a lesbian relationship are called yuri, but that definition is pretty broad. Not only depictions of lesbian sex, or even true homosexual attraction, but also passionate friendships between women can be referred to as yuri.
What between men would be called a "bromance" also falls in the category of yuri when it's between two women.
This is also sometimes called things like "soft yuri".
When our favorite pairing so much as appears in the same panel together, there's a tendency to fantasize that "they're dating", or "they're totally having sex." But, if there's even just a yuri-ish feeling between two women, you can already go ahead and call that yuri.
Of course, just like for BL, deciding that a non-canon couple is definitely a true yuri pairing is the cause of many an internet battle, but in the end, deciding what actually constitutes yuri is up to each individual person.
Rather than an open field, how about a public bath?
You may find it presumptuous, but if I, a lowly novice, may put forward the image that comes to my mind when I think of yuri, it would have to be school girl yuri. In school uniforms would be preferable.
The two girls are standing on the school roof with a gorgeous blue sky behind them, or even better, hiding in an abandoned classroom at twilight, where they exchange a sweet, secret kiss. That, for me, is yuri in its strongest form.
"It's 2019, you know," I hear you complaining.
Sure, that kind of yuri does exist, and continues in its unwavering popularity, but "working woman yuri" is far from this idealized fantasy.
For underaged yuri couples, there always seems to be a couple of fields of grass around made exclusively for them to frolic in, but older yuri couples tend not to run around in fields.
If they've got the time for that, it'd be better to go home early and get some sleep. They've got to get up early for work, after all.
For those yuri couples, I'd like to recommend somewhere more relaxing, like a public bath.
For working woman yuri couples, since both members are full-fledged members of society, they can't just concern themselves with love. They have trouble at work, stress about the future, the pressure to get married, the effects of getting older and a whole long list of other things to worry about. The fantastical elements are played down in favor of the unmistakable stench of real life.
On the other hand, in the working woman yuri works that lack that depiction of the daily grind, you start doubting whether these ladies are even employed at all and the work loses that special charm.
If student-aged yuri is a macaroon, then working woman yuri is deep-fried cartilage, and that's working woman yuri's greatest strength.
The power of working woman yuri's setting
This isn't limited to yuri, but the "Even though their personalities and social standing are totally different, a love blossoms between them..." trope is a staple of any works about love.
In reality, a relationship between people like that would probably not start at all or just end with them thinking "what a jerk" before moving on. But for romantic works, "opposing personalities" equals "destiny."
In school-girl yuri, you can also find the "good student and rebel" dynamic, but for working woman yuri you can add in their position in society as well as bigger age differences.
Also, cohabitation is common in working woman yuri.
In BL, there's an undeniable reputation that "cohabitation" just means "constant sex party," but this isn't necessarily the case for working woman yuri. It's common in for these works to depict an occasionally flirtatious but ultimately pretty average life together. It may not be erotic, but it's endearing in its simplicity.
In that way, when compared to BL or hetero works, there isn't as much importance placed on eroticism.
Less than 10% of the working woman yuri tag is R-18.
Of course, there are people who like the erotic aspects of working woman yuri, but that's up to personal taste.
In that way, though yuri may not surpass BL in popularity, answering the question "What is yuri?" is open to a much wider range of interpretations than BL.
Especially because they're women, especially because they're adults
When you hear the word yuri, you may think that one of the characters involved has to play the masculine role and be dressed in boyish clothes, like everyone's beloved Sailor Uranus, or even a bearded woman like Suzan Antonko. But that image isn't necessarily accurate.
There are times when one member of the pair is androgenous, but there are many cases of both women being very feminine, with neither taking on the role of a man. The love depicted is one that could only exist between two women.
Also, after reading quite a lot of working woman yuri, you discover that alcohol can be a powerful weapon
Because both women are of the legal age to drink, you can develop endlessly entertaining stories where the overwhelming force of alcohol heats up the relationship and triggers uncontrollable carnal desire.
These kinds of storylines are difficult to replicate with an underage couple and are more commonly found in working woman yuri stories.
You may only find school girl uniforms in school girl yuri, but working woman yuri has special features all it's own.
If you want to enjoy some saltier yuri, check out the "working woman yuri" tag on pixiv.
- Curry Zawa Kaoru
- Born in 1982. Unemployed. Her works include Kremlin (Kodansha), Makeru Gijutsu (Kodansha), and Busu no Honkai (Ohta Publishing). Her hobby is egosearching.