Warnings: Mentions of murder, Mentions of abuse.
So people that know me know that I like a lot of things that are aimed at guys. I enjoy shonen anime/manga more, I love action movies(especially with superheroes), I’m finally putting myself into reading superhero comics, I love video games, and I started roleplaying.
One year, I heard how sexist this one manga was. So I was hesitant to read it of course(but I REALLY wanted to like it) but my belief is to always try something and decide for yourself on everything. So I picked up volume 1 of Bakuman and it’s possibly one of the most sexist manga I’ve ever read. Worse than Naruto and other shonen manga/anime. My general rule for manga is to always go further than volume 1 because the intro is always kinda boring and uninteresting in comparison to the rest of the series. The problem is that Bakuman wasn’t boring or uninteresting, in fact, it was very interesting and I was really into it. The problem was that it was just plain offensive. Why the hell would I keep reading a series that’s just blatantly offensive? That’s telling me it’s going to get worse later on!
And this one I got into an actual argument about but it wasn’t specifically sexist-focused(it was related though). The problem with things like comedy is that people like different kinds of humor so it can be a grey area sometimes. Sometimes. I watched through the entire (season 1) anime of Baka and Test and I thought it was funny. But it doesn’t make me think it’s any less demeaning to women. That’s essentially what stopped me from really liking it a lot. It’s still offensive to me despite the humor I did get out of it. I’m not going to overlook the con trait just because I got a pro out of it. It doesn’t always “balance out” like that. I hated how the female characters were portrayed and hated how they were used. I’m not exactly willing to try season 2 without good persuasion that the female characters have a complete revamp in representation and use as characters.
Then with video games, I have trouble really trying to want to play game franchises like Metal Gear or Assassin Creed or just…anything that takes place at a different time period because I already know the women are already treated poorly in that time period! I know it’s part of the world but it doesn’t make me feel good to be reminded of that! Games that have women dressed skimpy isn’t really appealing either because that’s heavily implying there’s a good chance the game is very blatantly sexist. It isn’t the women’s fault, but come on, if there’s a zombie apocalypse, who thought it was smart to give their female characters’ very impractical outfits?!
Finally, when I watch action films, I notice that lately I’m seeing them less and less these days. My obvious first conclusion to why is because I’m getting annoyed by the women in the films. The sad part is that superhero movies are portraying women better these days than a lot a other movies and comics are one of the most sexist things to begin with. This came up recently too when my family wanted to see Skyfall, or even Twilight, and I wanted to see Legend of the Guardians and Wreck-It-Ralph. Now James Bond is cool, but I rather not see a film where I know there’s a good chance the the women are portrayed horribly in a blatant way. I don’t care how good it is as a movie, I rather not sit through something that blatantly dehumanizes my gender (even if I get the privilege of seeing cis women). (Given, yes, I haven’t seen the film and I’m NOT saying this is the case but there is a good chance it is)
And the whole point of all this: Everything I enjoy is sexist. There’s a difference between subtle sexist/sexist…and blatantly sexist. The reason why I do have a line that technically shouldn’t be there since sexism is still sexism is because…I would have nothing to enjoy if I wasn’t a bit lenient. Almost nothing. Most of the things that entertain me are not treating everyone equally.
If I stuck with just full on equality franchises…I think I would only have one fandom which would be the Avatar series! If I had to name a feminist series, I’d say Avatar: The Last Airbender might take the crown for that. It’s a great franchise and possibly one of the few, and so far only one popping into my head, that demonstrates equality between the sexes AND races! I can go on explaining the perfection and I will use this franchise to argue that female characters can be created in equality with male characters and that PoC characters also can be created just as well as white characters! This ideal actually fucking exists!
Anyway, Naruto, among many other shonen anime/manga, is sexist but it’s not “women should know their place”-sexist like Bakuman is.
The Final Fantasy franchise is sexist mainly for oversexualizing(more so by personality though)/viewing pleasure of the female characters to the male audience but at least their female characters generally are decent characters with a point and aren’t there just for the sake of playing the love interest role. Final Fantasy is probably one of the few series that at least uses their female characters effectively(most of the time). Unlike the Agarest War franchise…
At least with the Final Fantasy franchise, SQUARE actually acknowledges they have women gamers. That doesn’t mean they’ll make better female characters, but NOW men get to see Final Fantasy from the women gamer side: seeing your sex be eye candy to the opposite sex. With recent releases of the Final Fantasy series, and Kingdom Hearts, I’ve noticed how much I’m enjoying these male characters that everyone else(mostly guys) seems to have a problem with. And if it’s not the characters, it’s how much they yaoi-ify/”Gay up” the games. Honestly…you guys have no right to complain. This whole problem with male characters with 2D personality being nothing but fanservice to women gamers is essentially the same exact thing that women gamers feel about most video games! 2 wrongs don’t make a right but in this case, at least you get a taste of something you never had to experience before! Feeling the same kind of pain makes it a bit easier to relate which would lead to a form of understanding. Not that it’s actually happening as much as I’d hope but yeah…baby-steps…
If you have a problem with it though: There are plenty of other franchises that caters to your perfect masculine-male-characters-with-horrible-female-characters-that-dress-skimpy need. At least SQUARE gives us some form of variety and caters to their female audience. And that’s the thing: Again, THEY FUCKING ACKNOWLEDGE THE OTHER SEX’S EXISTENCE! I almost don’t care at this point about how most of their female characters are not as good as their male counterparts; or the fact that they barely understand Cloud Strife or Squall Leonhart’s characters anymore (due to their, mainly Cloud’s, OOC-ness in Dissidia) to fanservice the girls(and guys) that go for that; or the fact that in Dissidia, a lot of the male characters have less clothing in alternate outfits(wait, this isn’t a complaint…); or the fact that Kingdom Hearts pushes aside female characters time and again to develop male characters and bromances-that-might-as-well-not-be-called-that-anymore game after game(except BBS and CoM); because at this point at least SQUARE has enough brains to know that they have a women audience! YES! I know most guys won’t understand why this is a big deal but recognition is a fucking deal! Fucking baby-steps!
With movies, I know there aren’t any female main character superhero movies out there (that are good). But like everything else, it’s baby steps. I’ll take the equal representation of female characters before I jump the gun on that. And again, Marvel has been doing a decent job of this…not ALL of Marvel but in terms of the Avenger’s film franchise, the female characters aren’t pointless nor sexualized. The ones that are love interests are capable of kicking your asses too. Yes, they’re under-represented. But I rather have decent female characters on screen for half hour than 100 of them dressed in skimpy outfits for the entire movie for no reason other than to please the male audience. This is one of the few franchises I’ve also consistently liked more than one female character. I think Black Widow shows she can keep up with any man(even the ones with powers), Pepper should not be messed with because she’s cool like that, Peggy is awesome, and Darcy is my favorite sidekick/side character.
Not only that, X-Men: First Class and the Avengers were not only good movies but I honestly believed they either catered to female audiences or at least wasn’t afraid to break tradition of having pointless love interests in action films. First Class literally created a love story, without the love in it. It was one of the best bromances I’ve ever seen and the female characters weren’t that bad. The Avengers brought one of the biggest waves of female comics fans popping up on the internet…ever (both old fans and new fans). To what I’ve seen at least but it’s fucking awesome to have them around. But of course, along with the good, the bad follows in terms of sexist males wanting to kick women out of their nerd/geek world (while simultaneously complaining about why there aren’t any women nerds for them to date). Seriously, you sexist douchebags need to stop ruining this for my guy friends, or any real nice guys out there, that do want to include women into their nerd culture as fellow nerds and friends.
By the end of the day: I can’t do anything about how everything is sexist because it’s almost impossible to fight. Equality is not going to happen in my generation’s lifetime for women, LGBT, and people of color as well as any oppressed groups. It’s hard when I have to decide between wanting my equal treatment now(even though I know I won’t get it) or accept and celebrate the baby-steps that happen on the way. Obviously I’m trudging along doing the latter but I feel I should be doing the former.
A lot of oppressors like the way things are, obviously people like power, even if they don’t know they’re being oppressive. I think they’re the key to the problem at hand but the fact that most of them aren’t open-minded to the problems or are completely ignorant douchebags about the problems(aka denying these problems exist or trivializing them), is essentially why we won’t progress. The oppressors have the most power. So long as they have the most power, equality is not happening. We can slowly change the numbers over time but it’s definitely not happening in my lifetime.
Fighting the media is ridiculous as there are many things wrong with it. While I’m speaking about sexism, there’s a racism and homophobia as well as transphobia in it. Everybody’s fucking white in everything and everyone’s assumed to be the default straight, default cis, default male, and default able-bodied. They shouldn’t be the default! This isn’t a good message to send! I don’t know how many times in the past I’ve assumed everyone’s the above description. I can only imagine how bad I must’ve sounded whenever I voiced such a thing out loud!
There’s progress and hope, yes. Definitely. Among all the bad shit that still goes down from murder to just your everyday abuse among other things I don’t need to name…. Progress is slowly happening in today’s times. A gay couple married in Marvel comics recently and Paranorman had it’s first openly gay character in a (successful) kids-friendly-film no less. Even something like Adventure Time is changing gender-roles and having a transgender character(even if unintentional).
In the end, while I give away these free-readings I blog to educate anyone willing to learn, I don’t think I can give much more. I WOULD sacrifice my entertainment, which brings me lots of joy, but…I grew up entertained by these things. I didn’t grow up in the perfect American-(white)-family so believe it or not, I was mostly RAISED by the media. Things that I took away as important values are mostly from my exposure to films and video games, which were the 2 things I lived on the most since I was young. It’s not a good thing that I accept(-in-a-way) sexist things from things I enjoy, and I don’t have a real defense for it (unless my above statements on how we’re kinda attached at the hip and the fact I would have nothing to enjoy myself with if I didn’t, counts). But at this day and age, I think the only thing we can do is to support things…going in the right direction. At least.
But for now, I guess all I can do is vent, spread word/awareness, and shout-outs/support to any women going to male-dominating jobs and fighting oppression and sexism on the way.
Speaking of which: 1reasonwhy tag, stay strong. You women are doing things many are scared to do or told to not do or discouraged and bullied to not do. It’s not fighting sexism without sexist douchebags on the way, but I hope the tag doesn’t die. It’s a step forward, even if it is a hard one.