That’s quite the title. I’ve been working hard on my titles and no I still haven’t come up with anything better that Nowlsume.
It’s March 12 right now. In a recent Owls chat it was hinted that April’s topic would be masculinity and I hope that wasn’t a joke. I’m not often there so there may be some stuff that goes over my head. topics are usually put up on the last day of the previous month. If they do change their minds I’m going to rewrite this post I really like the topic. Fingers crossed, April’s owls theme is:
4th Monthly Topic: “Masculinity”
Last month, we explored the meanings behind the terms, “feminine” and “feminism.” This month the OWLS bloggers will explore the concept of masculinity. We each have our own definition of what it means to be masculine and we will explore our definitions using “masculine” characters from various pop culture fandoms. We will discuss how these characters are “masculine” or show signs of a masculine persona. We will also share our personal stories about the amazing men that supported us in our lives as well as sharing some of our experiences growing up as a man or knowing men who struggled with the masculine identity.
- JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures
- My Love Story
Oh pfiou! I know I said I would rewrite it, but I’m lazy you guys!
Before we start though, I’d like to take a little look back to last month. In that same Owls conversation, it was revealed that several of our bloggin’ men were interested and eager to write about the subject of femininity but didn’t feel entirely comfortable to do so. As if they lacked the proper perspective or authority on the subject. These are smart, sensitive men who regularly share their thoughts on paper (on screens). Their contribution would have been interesting. I was pretty sad at this turn of events. Sure, it’s a big step forward from simply not caring but still. As you know I’m a big supporter of conversations. How else are we going to understand each other if we don’t talk. (Not scream, insult, or cry but actually talk). And I do understand that conversations devolve quickly but they’re always worth the risk. So gentlemen, please let us all know what’s on your minds. Just don’t stop listening in the process.
Ok mini preachy rant over. Oh and to all those that were nervous but posted anyways. Good on you. So far all the posts have been delightful.
Speaking of last month’s topic (I’m almost done I promise) quite a few bloggers used the femininity prompt as a jump off point into feminism and imposed femininity. It’s a good conversation and anime certainly offers a whole lot of examples to work with. But what about imposed masculinity. I’ve already talked about the pressures men seemingly put on each other to fit a certain mould (the comments are where the real gold is) but what about when women’s specific preferences and vision is imposed on them.
The josei market is one of the smallest anime demographics but it is steadily growing, especially with the international success of the medium. As such, we are seeing more and more CBDCT, reverse harems and general pretty boy dramas aimed at mostly female audiences. And although I may have said that the stereotypical anime male protagonist is surprisingly varied and nuanced, the archetypal anime male fantasies are just a small handful of walking tropes.
Most otomes, reverse harems or cute boy shows meant to titillate women in the audience the same way more shows have done for men for years, tend to have the same basic characters. The bad boy with a tragic past and a heart of gold, the fun loving best friend type, the quiet weirdo, the mildly sadistic golden boy and the tsundere prince. There, I’ve just described 98 % of all reverse harems ever.
When the boys are supposed to be marketed to women, they suddenly become much simpler. They also tend to be a sort of generic perfection. You know, they’re all good at sports, smart, sensitive (at least deep down) and of course traditionally attractive. There’s no particular insistence on strength, I mean they’re all just generally athletic and chiseled, and of course they all have some pain we need to help them heal from. The thing is, I’ve looked it up and these characters usually tend to be created by other men or male dominated studios. They’re a representation of what men think women want. Women are most commonly responsible for the character designs and these tend towards elaborate costumes, androgynous features and a lot of accessories.
Another hero trait that comes up in general anime a lot but seems to disappear in these character types is determination! Well of course that’s because our heroine needs to be there to blindly support them or else she’d honestly be pretty useless.
But what about male characters marketed towards women and created by women. You guessed it: Natsume. Natsume Yuujinchou is a shoujo manga helmed by a female Mangaka. The character of Natsume Takashi is meant to be attractive to girls and endearing to women. That is not the only purpose of the character but there’s no denying that both in design and in personality, these were considered. This is supposed to be a slightly idealized version of masculinity from a female perspective.
So what is Natsume like? Well we still have the tortured past. We are suckers for suffering aren’t we…. But otherwise he’s more nor less the same as all the other characters. There’s a stubbornness about him and a certain sense of rebellion that comes up now and then. But mostly, there’s this deep rooted sense of responsibility. Men put so much on their shoulders. They always feel like they have to protect everyone and solve everything for themselves. We love them for it, but we wish they would let us help.
This tendency towards isolation, assumption and taking on everyone’s burdens is a trait reflected to various degrees on just about every male character of the series. Both women and female Yokai are shown as more willing to share their lots of at least more carefree. You’ll worries and talks to her husband or to Natsume but they don’t talk back. They try to do it all. Sometimes they can, otherwise not.
I get that. There’s this sort of social bias that men need to take care of things. Not take care of women as if they were children (although in some circles that’s still the case but don’t get me started). Just that it’s somehow unseemly for them to put their problems on the women in their lives even if they are always happy to help when it’s the other way around.
You want to hear a secret. Don’t tell anyone. I ve been lucky in having been able to live very comfortably without ever having to rely on anyone at all. I enjoy fighting my own battles. I think women are amazing and capable. I know I can problem solve better than most people around me. When I get scared, really scared, it makes me feel better to have a guy around. Not necessarily around but you know, not too far… Stupid right? I’m not basing this on anything to all. It’s just some type of inherent masculinity magic that exists only in my mind.
It’s that same sort of ineffable admiration I see in Natsume. As a lady looking in from the outside I would like to say. Guys, you don’t need to fix everything. We can take care of ourselves. In fact you should let us take care of you, we’re really good at it. You don’t have to be superheroes. Thank you so much for trying though. We may not always show it, we do appreciate it. But you see the thing is, to us, you’re already heroes.
Did you read Naja’s post on Monday? You should! And don’t forget to check out Takuto on the 13th, because Takuto can really write. Honestly it doesn’t matter what he writes about, it’s always great! And this time it happens to be about Run with the Wind, so you really have to read it.