Thoughts on Bakuman: One of the Most Sexist Shonen Manga
By ShadowYin-Yang (5/1/12)
So I heard Bakuman is over…
About F*cking time.
Alright time for the explanation before people start mobbing at me:
Bakuman was one of the series that I WANTED to like. I really enjoyed Death Note and my friends like it. I was all pumped and excited to look at such beautiful artwork along with a story only this duo can do…and obviously I have a huge distain for this thing. Now…the series…is good. I only got as far as Volume 1 and if I was a (straight, white) guy who doesn’t understand oppression, or just plain ignorant to the issue at hand, I probably would love it. Given, I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, duh. I’ve met men of color that enjoyed Bakuman, though I haven’t run into any girls that have yet. I’m pretty sure they exist too though. And not everyone that does like Bakuman doesn’t mean they’re ignorant to the issue of sexism…maybe. I haven’t actually had a discussion like this with them yet but I should…
As I stated, the series is pretty good and I got that just from Volume 1. I really would want to continue it. I want so badly to continue it if it weren’t for the fact that I would probably chuck the manga a few dozen times for each volume because that’s probably how many times the manga will stab in the chest for being a woman.
Now, shonen manga and video games ARE sexist(and anything in the media really). I know this. Even something like Kingdom Hearts was sexist too up until Birth By Sleep, which came out almost/roughly 10 years after the first game did. Death Note, Naruto, and anything by Michael Bay, etc…yeah, they’re sexist. The difference between those series and Bakuman is that they weren’t so blatant about it…except for the occasional scenes in Naruto or something…
So my issue with Bakuman is that it’s a GOOD series EXCEPT for the fact it’s blatantly sexist. Because that it’s good, the only thing it’s doing is reinforcing the “it’s okay to treat/view women this way” a lot stronger than other series. At least now that it’s ended, the hype will start dying down.
Now, how is it blatantly sexist? People have actually asked me this which shocked me. Here’s the short version: ANYTIME anyone says “Women this/that” or “Men this/that” it says blatant sexist statements. EXCLUDING or PUTTING down someone’s opinions based on their sex is also sexist. The series did this in volume 1 with the mother.
Then there’s outwardly shutting down someone’s goals/dreams based on their sex alone. One of the characters outwardly spoke about how smart girls, grade-wise, are stupid and girls like the main-girl are intelligent because she purposefully gets average grades and focuses on being an ideal girl to men. Okay…this is actually a debatable issue which I’ll save for the next paragraph. But the obvious undertone of this is that to the guy stating this stuff: Women shouldn’t be intelligent. They shouldn’t be out there getting an education and working for their own living. They should be busy focusing on dumbing themselves down to be available to men. In other words, this manga is showing that it’s the CORRECT DECISION to dumb yourself down and NOT strive for education and dreams/goals beyond what women are expected to do because you’re a woman. At least in other series, Naruto for example, there are ACTUALLY some female ninjas!
Now the debate about the “dumbing yourself down thing” can equal to manipulation and not so much intelligence. I’m gonna bring in a non-sexist show, it’s called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic(yes, I’m actually saying this with a straight face). Yes, it’s a show aimed at girls(though I think the viewers are at least at the 50/50 mark, if not there are probably more males). Now there was an episode that involved lady-like pony, Rarity, in a situation that required her to use her intellect to get herself out. Another episode she uses a similar tactic to get her friend something from somepony else. Is this intelligence or is it manipulation? Is manipulation a form of intelligence? Still up for debate really in my head.
Now the first thing my friends tell me after I say it’s sexist(other than give them examples), is that there are these 2 girls that are shonen manga artists. So I did some research and this is what I concluded:
-They’re blatantly criticized for being a man’s world/world of shonen as if it’s wrong. Now it’s a separate issue if they actually become accepted, but…yeah, they’re just portrayed like they don’t belong
-They’re degrading themselves to this manga level b/c of jealousy towards men=they’re doing this out of action b/c of a man
-WHY THE EFF ARE THEY MOTIVATED OVER A STUPID CRUSH ON THE MAIN CHARACTER FOR NO GOOD REASON?! (jealousy/anger is NOT a good reason!)
-They’re pretty much humiliated b/c they’re girls and treated like they don’t belong in the world of shonen manga. I’m gonna use Naruto again b/c it’s easy to. The female ninjas, while they all suck except for like 2 or so, they aren’t blatantly humiliated that they do suck. And at least Naruto actually has women that aren’t motivated by men(Temari, Tenten)
-They can’t do anything for themselves. One of them freaks out from stress and someone else(male I believe) had to do it for her. Yeah…very inspiring there you stupid bimbos.
-It almost seems that the author is trying to make this not sexist but only making it worse. The only thing I’m seeing is that these girls can’t do anything for themselves when it comes down to it, are motivated by love/men which equals stupidity b/c they don’t think for themselves, and want nothing more than to be (house)wives in the end.
Something else I found out: Author didn’t even mention any real shonen manga made by women mangakas
I’ve also heard stupid arguements using this logic: “It’s aimed at guys.”
Oh, so b/c it’s aimed at guys it’s totally okay to portray women in a sexist manner? Yeah that’s totally not sexist you stupid nimrods.
In conclusion, I still won’t read Bakuman(or watch it) nor will I accept it as “Okay.” I’m not exactly proud for finding other shonen stuff “okay” even though they’re also guilty of sexism. The thing is that Bakuman took a few steps backwards and that’s why I was so offended. When I read a manga, I don’t go looking for sexism, I KNOW it’s there. There’s almost no way to avoid it. I just happen to catch them. But with Bakuman, I didn’t have to catch them, they outright say it. In a way, yeah, I’m missing out on a great slice of life kind of story about manga…but I know I would regret it if I ever gave in. I know people already have their beliefs set in stone so I don’t expect people that do like the series to suddenly change their minds after reading this. But I do hope people walk away with a LITTLE more awareness that sexism is still a huge issue all over the world, and not just Japan(even if more so there). The problem is that anyone that does say they care, most of the time, they don’t really do anything about it and feel it’s taken out of proportion…it’s not. And most of the time, it IS with guys. You guys have no idea what it’s like to be treated differently based on your sex virtually every single day for many women. Some might have a better idea when judged on the color of your skin, but they’re still male. They still have more of an advantage than women and women of color.
Am I blowing this out of proportion? Try doing this then: imagine every female character, but the main girl, in this as African Americans and look at how they’re portrayed. Now imagine the main girl as white(remember, everyone is Japanese). See if it comes off different in any way for you.