Anime fans get ready!
I mentioned this in my post The Future of GrimmGirl but the time is finally here. I have been noticing a lot of bloggers tackling the issue of whether or not anime characters demean women. This is certainly a loaded topic but honestly it was just a matter of time before I jumped into the ring.
To start this post off I want to be 100% honest with my perspective. I consider myself through and through a FEMINIST. A lot of people seem to shy away from this term but I don’t. I think the majority of people who shy away from the term don’t have a clear understanding of what a feminist is.
For this topic I think it is very important that we are all on the same page about what a feminist is because there are a lot of misconceptions about what a feminist is.
By definition a feminist is somebody who supports feminism.
Webster defines feminism as, “The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”
Nowhere in that definition does it say that a feminist is a man-hater. Anyone that says that a feminist hates men is not a feminist and does not have an understanding of what feminism means. A feminist simply wants EQUALITY to men in political, social, and economic realms.
So a little background on myself, I read a lot of content on feminism. It is an incredible important topic and my background influences how I look at women and men in the media. It’s important to me that you understand my perspective going into this topic isn’t taken lightly. The portrayal of women and men in the media is something I read and learn about extensively.
My thoughts on the subject are constantly evolving but I recognize that my background is going to influence how I view women and men in anime and which situations I find demeaning and why. I personal think that this is a good thing.
So with that out of the way I think it is time to tackle this issue head on. Do I think that women are demeaned in anime? Yes, sometimes they certainly are. Do I think men are demeaned in anime? Yes, sometimes they certainly are. Here’s the thing though. This isn’t an anime problem solely this is a social problem.
Whenever I read topics on demeaning characters I almost always come across three problems with whatever I’m reading.
The first problem I come across is that the topic is almost ALWAYS related to fan service, the second problem deals with what the female character is wearing, and my third problem is that whether or not males are being demeaned is RARELY addressed. So let’s talk about these things first.
The first thing I want to address is again the definition of this word.
“Fanservice or service cut is material in a work of fiction or in fictional series which is intentionally added to please the audience. The term originated in anime and manga fandoms but has been used in other mediums.” –Google Definition
I notice a lot of writers tend to use fan service as an example of the plight of women in anime. Examples include unnecessary panty shots, jiggly boobs bouncing all over the place, and of course the lead male character accidentally falling into said girls breasts.
The argument is that these poor female characters are being exploited for a bunch of pervy male fantasies. How dare these men draw women’s panties, big bouncy breasts, and show the male characters falling head first into said boobies!
Whelp… I’m about to tell you right now that fan service IS NOT when I find women, or men for that matter demeaned in anime.
Listen up people cause I’m about to hit you with some knowledge.
Women wear panties.
Guess what else?
Sometimes they show.
It happens in real life and you know what sometimes when they show people see them.
I’m about to take this one step further readers because guess what else?
Sometimes when they see them they’re a little aroused. It happens.
Same goes for bouncy boobs and while I can’t say I’ve ever had a guy land face first into my boobs I can say that I have accidentally sat on a guy’s hand before and therefore he touched my butt.
I can hear the muttering happening already, “Are you saying these situations aren’t demeaning because they can happen in real life?”
That’s not why they’re not demeaning. I’m merely setting you up for my main point. My main point is that after this happens in an anime, after the male character sees the panty shot, notices the bouncing boobs, or falls face first into her breast what does he do next?
Does he try to take a picture of her panties to show his friends later? No.
Does he shout out to her as she’s running, “Hey nice tits! I like mine big and bouncy!” No.
Does he hold the girl down after falling on her and try to reach his hand up her shirt? No.
What does he normally do? He normally blushes and looks away and if she noticed him he apologizes on the chance that he made her uncomfortable.
Now this is important because guess what males and females of the anime viewing world. This is how we should all act in these types of situations. Whether you are male or female there has been a time in your life when you have been checking someone out that you’re attracted to.
That is nothing to be ashamed of, that being said you should make it a point not to make that person uncomfortable with your looks or your words and if you do you should apologize period. It’s not cool to make anyone feel uncomfortable.
If the male character did any of the above things like trying to snap a picture I would find that demeaning.
Now I’m not saying fanservice can’t be annoying, I’m saying that defining all fanservice as demeaning to women isn’t actually true.
I find this complaint so ANNOYING and completely hypocritical. Let me tell you right now as a society we have GOT TO STOP JUDGING WOMEN BASED ON THEIR CLOTHING. I don’t care if she’s animated, fictional, or the chick sitting next to you.
Knock it off.
The length of her skirt does not determine a women’s worth as a character or as a person.
Trust me. My IQ, feelings, personality, morals, ethics, and beliefs are not defined each day by whether or not I decide to show cleavage.
The fact that we constantly use what our female characters worth on the show is by what her outfit is, is really the demeaning thing because it reinforces the idea that a women is only as good as the modesty she portrays.
What a bunch of bullshit.
Need an example? I can’t count the number of times I’ve had people complain about Ezra’s wardrobe in Fairy Tale.
“She’s a good character but once again she’s being exploited by her creators. Look at those outfits she wears. You wouldn’t fight in those outfits… Talk about the writer acting out his sex fantasies… I’m so sick of strong females being reduced big breasted bimbos.”
CUE HUGE EYE ROLL
Ummm… I’m sorry but how did she all of a sudden get reduced to a bimbo?
Did she all of a sudden stop becoming one of the strongest members of Fairy Tale when she changed from her normal outfit to her flight armor?
Did she suddenly stop caring about her friends and abandon them?
Did she start attacking people weaker than her in order to get the things she wanted?
As I recall she ended up kicking her foes ass and saving the day as usual. Once again proving that what a women wears in no way effects how she should be approached or viewed as a person or character.
In fact how do the other characters react to her requip magic? By being impressed by her fighting skills. That’s right there’s a hot chick with revealing clothing parading around and the other characters aren’t constantly commenting on her cleavage. They’re more concerned about how well she’s doing her job. I wish our society could be as mature.
To bring this hypocrisy home I would like to draw your attention to Natsu and Gray. Guess how many times I’ve heard anyone comment on Natsu’s lack of shirt or Gray’s lack of clothes in general.
Why? I’ll tell you why, because men wearing revealing clothing has never been once been used to judge their worth. A man fighting without his shirt is fine, a women fighting in a bikini top is unnatural. The message being that women’s bodies are unnatural and therefore need to be covered up.
If you are comfortable with Gray and Natsu’s outfits than you should be comfortable with Erza’s outfits as well. That’s equality.
Men in Anime
With everything that I have been discussing at this point you are probably wondering what I do find demeaning in anime. I mean at the beginning of this post I did say that I have seen women demeaned in anime. I also said I’ve seen men demeaned in anime.
So if it’s not fan service or clothing that I find demeaning than what is it?
What I find demeaning is actually closely related to the lack of discussion about what I find demeaning about men in anime. For this reason I’m putting this all in one category.
What I find demeaning in anime is what I find demeaning in all media.
The support of Rape Culture.
I’ve written about rape culture before but never in conjunction with anime. For those of you who are unaware rape culture is when society blames women for sexual assault and normalizes male sexual violence.
When anime (or media in general) write stories that either blame women for a sexual assault or normalize male sexual violence it is demeaning to both of us. Sadly these instances take place in our anime and even more terrifying many times we don’t even recognize it.
You all may remember my review Seven Deadly Sins… I Hate It, which actually happens to be a prime example of an anime upholding rape culture and therefore demeaning both women and men.
An example from the show would be when Elizabeth first comes into Milodas’s bar. She passes out at the bar counter and Milodas takes her upstairs to his room while she’s unconscious and then proceeds to sexually assault her by grabbing her breasts while she is still unconscious. The show also continues to blame Elizabeth for her sexual assaults by not “reacting” correctly to Milodas advances instead of blaming Milodas himself for his actions.
This is an example of rape culture.
The writer took a situation that is actually very serious and normalized it in the media. A man grabbing an unconscious women’s breasts is not normal, funny, or something that should be tolerated.
This demeans men because let me ask you this male readers. Are you the type of person that would assault a woman while she was unconscious? I hope not. However images like this enforce the idea to the women watching that men are exactly like that.
Something that men need to start understanding is that women are taught from an early age that men can’t be trusted when it comes to sex.
To put it in perspective let me hit you with a fact. By the age of 18 one in four women will have been sexually assaulted. That’s just by the age of 18. Also this is women in general. Your statistics go up given social economic status and race.
We are constantly on the lookout for situations that can get us raped. Why? Because along with being taught that we must be vigilant or we will be raped it’s also made very clear to us that if we are raped it is mostly our fault, not that of the person who assaulted us.
Think I’m exaggerating? Next time a rape case is reported in your area check out the comment section and see how many people ask what the victim was wearing or whether or not she was drunk. Neither of these things should matter but we have all grown up in a society where we have become more comfortable blaming the victim then the perpetrator.
So when this idea is enforced in the media it makes me really upset. Whether it’s anime, manga, or a tv show if rape culture is being upheld I find it demeaning on both parties. When we normalize male sexual violence in our anime we reinforce the idea that all men are sexually violent and that this is normal.
As a male reader do you feel that you’re sexually violent? That this is normal for you? I doubt you do but that is how men can be depicted in anime, manga, and the media and that’s demeaning.
As a female reader do you feel that sexual violence is the fault of the victim? I doubt you do but that is how women can be depicted in anime, manga, and the media and that’s demeaning.
I believe that many times people are so focused on fan service and character outfits that we lose focus on what really demeans all of us. Situations in anime shows where sexual violence by men is normalized and female victims are blamed for assaults.
We need to be more vigilant for these types of situations when viewing anime and manga because these are the instances that demean women and men in anime. When we are able to notice these moments we are able to combat our own biases and more ethical choices when it comes to the products we support.
When we don’t use our money to support products that uphold rape culture and site that as our reasoning we send a clear message to the creators of these shows. The message is that we do not support characters that demean men and women by normalizing sexual violence by men or victim blaming people who have been sexually assaulted.
This was a long post but I hope it has given everyone a lot of things to consider while watching and reading anime and manga. I really do think it is important that as consumers we are vigilante about where we are seeing rape culture being upheld in our society and anime and manga is no exception.
I am hoping that I have articulated my point within my post but if you have any questions or comments please be sure to voice them in the comment section below.
I would also like to take this time to remind everyone that while discussion is promoted in the GrimmGirl community hate filled comments will not be tolerated. When voicing your opinion please make sure to do it in a respectful way that promotes enlightened conversation.
Thanks for reading everyone, I know this was a long one!