I’m gonna level with you. I fell down a rabbit hole of watching dudes who seem super angry about “feminism” and how it’s destroying everything good like video games and anime. I feel a little defensive now. It’s my own fault, no one forced me to watch. And to be fair, I have also been watching some other dudes who are just as passionate in saying that’s not true.
Both these points of view made me think a bit and I guess I just wanted to get some of these thoughts out. They’re gonna get a bit messy and I’m probably not going to make any actual points. Feel free to skip this post. I usually get it out of my system and move on fairly quickly.
For those of you who may not know I am a girl and also I do think equal rights across genders is important so that apparently makes me a feminist. I have no problem with the label. I am also an anime fan who doesn’t particularly believe there’s much need for the medium to drastically change with regard to these issues. I wrote this a long time ago. There’s room for improvement but that’s true on a lot of fronts in pretty much all media.
In fact, I am an old school anime fan who has enjoyed the medium for years and I hadn’t even thought of the possibility of anime being particularly sexist in any way at all…. until I finally became aware of anime fans. Man, some of them do not like women.
We can argue about the sexualization an objectification of female characters in anime, and I occasionally do, however it would be unfair to pretend men don’t also get the same treatment in anime more and more these days. And I also don’t think either of those are particularly bad in a fictional context. However, the way the community around anime acts and reacts is another issue. We’re no longer talking about purely theoretical people.
I do believe the public at large, and even certain fans, broadly overstate the inherent “sexism” of anime as a medium. I also think that if you go too far in forceably trying to make every piece of entertainment inclusive you can do more harm than good. Varied characters and representation is great but not when it’s forced. (Sidenote, Eizouken has a pretty diverse cast and no one really talks about it much. That’s wonderful. It shows n was integrated well into the story. I like representation like that.)
However, to pretend there is no room for improvement either in the medium or in the community seems short sighted to me. I’m not saying I have the answers or anything. Exactly “how” to improve is a question for someone smarter than me. My gut feeling though is that we could learn to listen to each other a bit better. And by we, I do mean me.
I’m going to tell you a little anecdote. I was listening to someone talk about an anime character they said they really liked. And they started to go on about how great this characters boobs were. In fact they started to refer to the character only as a set of breasts and it made me feel odd so I tuned it out. I just assumed that they either didn’t care about any other aspects of the character or the writers hadn’t created any and that just wasn’t interesting to me. I also felt a little bad for the character.
And that’s not exactly fair. The character doesn’t exist or care what this person referred to them as. There is zero harm done to anyone in this situation. Moreover, my own bias is based on the times I have been reduced to vary parts and how uncomfortable that made me feel is what I projected on the situation. But that doesn’t have anything to do with it. This person didn’t know about that and wasn’t trying to make me uncomfortable and I shouldn’t project my experiences on completely unrelated situations. It really doesn’t serve any purpose.
Not to mention that like I said I sort of tuned out the rest. Maybe if I had bothered asking a few questions I would have found out that this was in fact a superbly developed deeply complex and layered character and my discussion companion did appreciate all those aspects along with the great boobies.
And I also like great boobs too. Everyone does! It’s a thing….
So really this situation is on me. Not that there really was a situation per see but any negative impressions I may have gotten were completely self imposed. I have to work on that. And maybe I’m not the only one.
The flip side though, is that I was a bit afraid to actually say that I don’t really like when people refer to characters only by body part as a compliment. And I could have explained my crazy and the reasons behind it like I just did. Yet somehow I felt it wasn’t the right approach.
I’ve seen too many of these conversations spiral out of control. I didn’t want to be immediately accused of being a prude or of not understanding that it’s an inherent part of anime and being immediately dismissed which would have given me actual cause to be bummed. I also didn’t want the other person to feel bad or attacked because as I said, they didn’t do anything wrong in any way.
Despite my self depreciating style, I’m neither shy nor lacking in self-assurance. It’s not like me hold my tongue in any situation. So I know there’s something that’s been instilled in our community around topics of feminism and sexism. Just like you’re not supposed to talk politics with your family, I picked up the vibe that I’m not suppose to talk gender issues with my anime friends. For the record I do talk about these issues with non anime friends and we often disagree on both sides. I have militant feminist friends who consider me part of the problem and friends who think feminism is a plight on the world and also consider me part of the problem… But we’re still friends and we can talk about issues we disagree on. I haven’t observed the same in our community and to me, that’s the point where we could use some improvement.
Because I honestly see these topics turn to anger or preaching and condemnation before anyone has the chance to even make a single point and it gets exhausting. I know there are a lot of people who probably have interesting takes that keep them to themselves because they just don’t want to deal with backlash. I don’t blame them. But we might be missing out on something great.
All this said, I have gotten it out of my system now…