It’s been a while since I last updated! I’ve been pretty busy with an essay and then lots of work for my Classical Japanese class. I’ve also been busy working on fanart of Danny Choo’s mascot Mirai, which should be finished soon. She’s really cute, so I wanted to have a go at drawing her even though my style isn’t really typical to the art style people normally draw her in (my female characters don’t have much moe appeal when I draw them – I usually go for sexy and/or tough).
Now I’ve got the good stuff out of the way, I’m afraid I have a rant for today’s post, and I’m going to be opening a rather large can of worms ^^;
There’s been quite a bit of discussion lately on some of the larger otaku blogs over the Equality Now vs Rapelay debacle (short story for the unaware: Japanese company produces game where aim is to rape women which somehow ends up being sold in the UK, game comes to the attention of the public in English-speaking countries, American feminist group moves to have it banned, otaku rage ensues). I’ve already expressed my opinions on banning games like Rapelay over on DC, so I’m going to put that aspect of the debacle aside because it’s a different issue I want to tackle here. I realise that I’m just inviting drama and trouble here because I’m probably going to express some unpopular opinions, and no doubt insult some people while I’m at it, but I don’t like having to push aside my personal opinions all the time just to be able to play nice with the rest of the otaku fanbase, and I felt that I needed to express myself on this topic.
Disclaimer: if you are an otaku and you don’t hold the points of view I will be referring to, then this post isn’t about you. I am well aware that not all otaku are like this – after all, I’m an otaku myself.
In my experience, most otaku like to think of themselves as being very open-minded – people in general don’t like to think of themselves as narrow-minded, but it’s particularly among otaku that I see a strong attitude of pride in their perceived open-mindedness. However, the thing with many of the otaku weighing in on the side of the company that produced Rapelay is that they are very open-minded and accepting, but only within the fairly narrow confines of their own hobby which means that they aren’t actually open-minded at all, they’re more likely engaging in some Geek Social Fallacy #1.
My main issue with the recent discussions is the attitude towards feminism. The amount of hate being thrown at feminists every time a topic such as this one actually doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, it just disappoints me. ‘Feminist’ has long since become a dirty word in most cultures, and those of us who identify as such must constantly battle the fallacies and stereotypes that are attached to us before we even have the opportunity to express our opinions. I don’t think otaku who express hatred and disgust towards feminists based on ridiculous stereotypes even realise how hypocritical they are being. They are no better than somebody who thinks of otaku as sick and socially inept without actually talking to real otaku. None of the people talking about how feminists want ‘domination over men’ or ‘special rights’ or ‘the good parts of equality without the bad’ have any idea what real feminists are like, and come across as incredibly ignorant and needless to say: narrow-minded. Nobody needs a PhD in a topic to have a reasonably competent debate about it, but having at least a basic idea of the topic is essential, and I’d love to see people who argue against feminists actually educate themselves a little on current feminism before they pull out the unfounded assumptions and tired clichés.
Here are a few starting points on feminism that depressingly few otaku seem to be aware of:
- Feminism is neither perfect nor uniform – it’s a huge, diverse movement full of individuals with their own cultural backgrounds and their own opinions. Feminists don’t always agree with one another on everything, and in fact I frequently see feminists arguing with one another over a variety of topics. For example, I was highly disappointed a couple of weeks ago to see feminist commenters on a major feminist blog engaging in transphobic comments, and I can say from experience that non-trans feminists are usually very ignorant on such issues. However despite being transgender myself, I don’t hate or make generalisations about feminism, and I identify as a feminist myself. So if you do happen to encounter someone who calls themselves a feminist, and they believe that women are superior to men, before deciding that this must be what all feminists are like, please remember that one person is not a spokesperson for a whole movement, and that every movement has its extremes and less pleasant aspects. (And just for the record, the vast majority of feminists do not believe in the superiority of women, and in fact I have never encountered one who does! They probably exist out there somewhere, but they aren’t the majority by any means.)
- Just because a straight white man happens to have problems in his life, and there are some women out there having a great life doesn’t mean that feminism is now irrelevant, or that women have all the power in society now. There are all sorts of factors that play into how successful/happy a person is, and the average feminist is hardly going to tell people that life is great in every aspect for men, and terrible in every aspect for women. Everybody has their own problems and feminists tend to realise this. I have never encountered a feminist who does not believe in the idea that the patriarchy hurts men too.
- Feminism didn’t end at the right to vote. There’s more to equality than just laws – it’s the culture that led to the creation of unfair laws in the first place that needs to be tackled as well, and that’s why there are still people fighting for equality in countries like America.
- Feminists are not out to get otaku/crusading to take away eroge and people’s right to their own opinions. Aside from actual feminist otaku, feminists don’t really care about otaku and most probably don’t even know what the term means. There are some out there who have grossly misinformed ideas about Japanese culture as a whole, usually influenced by exposure to some sort of otaku product such as Rapelay. This is an example of feminism not being perfect as I mentioned earlier, and really shows precisely how little feminists are interested in otaku when they can’t even separate it from mainstream Japanese culture. Feminism is looking for equality, and obscure subcultures aren’t exempt from this, but neither are they specifically targeted.
And that’s only beginning to touch on what I’ve seen. It’s really quite difficult sometimes to balance being part of the general otaku fandom and being a feminist. I get on fine with most people when it comes to hobby-related things, but as soon as somebody touches on real life issues – particularly with regards to women – suddenly everyone’s baggage is hanging out for all to see, and I find myself disappointed to see people I respect as hobbyists expressing such uninformed views on other things that I find important to me, such as feminism. I certainly don’t expect them to be clued up because realistically most people aren’t, but it’s a shame to see anyway.
I’m sure this rant isn’t going to make me too popular, and most of the people who hold the points of view I talked about probably won’t learn much or anything for this, but I’ve said my piece.
Tl;dr: learn about actual feminism before blindly criticising it, please.
And now back to the usual anime, manga and figures ^^;