Fan Service in the Anime, Sexism in the Fandom: Why Fan Service in Anime is a problem
Fan service is a rather infamous thing in anime. It seems to be, well, almost everywhere. Yes, there are plenty of series that are blissfully free of fan service, but it is one of those things that pops up more than it should.
We define fan service as the hyper-sexualization and objectification of women’s (and sometimes even young girls’) bodies within anime. Fan service is framed in a highly sexualized context and is aimed at a male audience. It should be noted here that not ALL “revealing” outfits are fan servicy. Misty from Pokemon, after all, wears a bare midrift and very short shorts, but isn’t fan service.
Fan service takes the form of panty shots, boob shots, useless bikini armor, and is deliberately framed in a sexualized male-gazey way.
So, why is that a problem? Who cares? Isn’t is just good fun? Well No.
Fan service turns women’s bodies into a PRODUCT to be sold to men. It is a SERVICE after all, remember? It frames women as simply eye candy, there for men to drool over, a ploy to male boys by DVDs because there’s tits on the cover.
That’s dehumanizing and alienating to many female fans, and it often leads to very poorly written female characters in the text.
Not only is it just a problem within the text however, but it bleeds into the fan community as well.
There is a very real problem at many cons surrounding Cosplay harassment. Female fans is cosplay are seen as fair game for harassment, unwanted groping, and the like. After all, the characters these women are dressed up as exist as objects for men to droll over, so men see women dressed like that as objects to drool over too.
It is important to remember than fan service does not inherently RUIN an anime or a character. But it is a problem, and the sooner we confront that problem as a community, the better.
try to take my fan service away and i will gut you.
Why do you feel SO entitled to sexualized images of women’s bodies that you feel THREATENED by women criticizing objectification? Threatened enough to threaten others?
Bless this post
Okay, let me tell you what is wrong with this post. Lets take an example from one of my personal favorite anime: Bleach. Now, we’re gonna look at the character of Orihime, and explain her impact on the fanbase. Orihime, as you all know, is your prime example of the shallow, fanservice character. That being said, the majority of the fanbase - yes, this includes us men - HATE her. She does not contribute to the plot in the way as other female leads such as Momo and Yuruichi provide. She does conflict other than her undying loyalty to Ichigo. If you look through the fanbase, you’ll find that many people ignore her as a whole. Yes she has big boobs, and yes she’s supposed to be “hot”, but that does not necessarily mean that we buy into it. Just like any other “trade” there is supply and demand, and in the anime trade, fanservice isn’t big in demand. Next time, I suggest looking at the majority, instead of attacking the minority and treating it like the majority.
1. I would argue that Orihime is considerably less objectified than many many many characters I can think of. Bleach itself doesn’t have as big a problem of this in my experience as many other shows (like, for example, Love Hina)
2. Your point fails. Not only is Orihime objectified by the narrative, she is also disempowered by the narrative as a character, AND the fandom completely refuses to respect ANY accomplishment she has. Character bashing + objectification = double shit.
Bleach is a sexist fandom. That’s part of the reason I left it.
3. One example does not nullify the problem for the ENTIRE medium or community.
Basically says it all. Nearly everything else would be pedantic nitpicking. It is worth saying, however, that the NEED to make women available through sexualization makes it hard to stand behind characters like Yoko Littner or Erza Scarlett since their characterization says one thing and their clothing says another.
But the dynamics play out in different ways. Because it happens more to women than to men, the cumulative effects–the fear and self-objectification and distrust–are different. Because so many women are socialized believing that their looks are all that matters, it’s different. Because so many men are socialized believing that they must want sex all of the time, it’s different. Because women are so much more likely to be sexually assaulted, it’s different. Because men are more likely to have learned how to fight back and defend themselves, it’s different. —
Miri M, It’s Not About Gender
This! This right here! Sure, you can assault Kouta all you want, but it’s not the same. It’s important to talk about, but it is not the same.
Finally: I find utterly reprehensible the idea that, if only we try hard enough!, we can somehow sexually objectify men just as effectively as we do women, in order to justify the continued objectification of women’s bodies. That’s not progress. That’s a step forward only in a race to the bottom, and there is little to be gained by pretending that service to the lowest common denominator is a favorable equalizer. —
I think it’s important to note this as I head into the panels in two days. We think objectification itself is an overall negative part of our media. Objectifying men wouldn’t make it okay EVEN IF the structural inequalities of society would allow the net result of said treatment to be in any way equal.
We want everyone to have a fun but also safe weekend. We’ll have these posted around the convention center. Remember if you see something, say something. Anime Boston staff, MCCA staff, and Boston PD are there to help you!
Visual Narratives and the Amazing Camerawork of The Idolm@ster's Producer -
Before he managed idols, perhaps the enigmatic Producer produced films instead. He certainly seems to have some prior experience, if the first episode of The Idolm@ster is any indicator. Impossible…
My copanelist for Anime Boston identifies HOW IdolM@ster plays at “candid” in a produced way. Emily discusses the way in which you can see deliberate framing in supposed “casual” or “amateur” shooting, helping is see how gaze is constructed, even on a metatextual level.
Have I mentioned that she’s awesome?
Tell me someone more eloquent than be has started a feminist look at Aku no Hana so I can just reblog zir.
Might be fun?
I dunno. Who would go to a panel like that? What kinds of things would you like to see at a panel like that?
Since your ask box is closed and I have more to share than can be contained in a “reply” I am reblogging so I can provide some general thoughts on what to panel based on having spent the better part of two years thinking about it.
In the broadest sense, there are two core subject areas when paneling about anime and its intersection with feminism.
1. Subject matter - this is about how sexism permeates the medium and the ways in which it undermines good storytelling and characterization, and how it works to marginalize the growing fanbase of women in girls who love it anyway.
2. Fan interaction - there is a lot to talk about in fan interactions from shipping to behavior at conventions which includes stories about cosplayers and average LGBTQ fans’ treatment when they come in contact with the larger fanbase.
Both topics can make a panel on their own, and both can be combined, just be aware that the amount of time you have to devote to each will be less if you choose to do both (this includes questions. Panels that talk about fan reaction will get you a lot of storytelling during Q&A, so be prepared for that).
You can also split the subject matter panel into a bunch of different pabels. Grandogyny (tumblr handle) gave an amazing panel focusing solely on LGBTQ issues in fandom, media, and Japanese culture at large (see if she has video it’s from Otakon 2012 and it was stellar). I have divided mine into a 101-like sexism in anime that (at least in the next two incarnations) is going to focus on gaze, sexualization and how it interacts with character portrayal (since it’s really what gets AJTheFourth going) and one on rape culture in anime that’s 18+, focusing primarily on consent issues, virgin/whore and predator/prey dichotomies, and the complex interactions between hentai and mainstream anime/manga.
But that’s what works for me. Every convention I’ve submitted to has accepted these panels so far (well, sexism was rejected from Katsu and Waitlisted at Boston, Katsu declined, and Boston eventually put us on the schedule), and we filled a room at Otakon in 2012 (Lauren Orsini was an amazing copanelist).
Sooo…. yeah. I would reflect a lot on what kind of panels worked well for you and what about them really stood out and work from there.
There are similar narratives about men who only shed tears over/with male teammates, or men with whom they served in the military. And similar narratives about fathers/sons: I have heard a man tell the story of how he “held it together” when his daughters were born, but “lost it” when his son was born. He told this story in front of his kids, as if it might not negatively affect his daughters (or the wife who birthed them) to know he was singularly overwhelmed by the birth of a son.
This isn’t a neutral narrative. It reinforces the idea that women’s value to men is less than men’s value to other men. And in a film that barely features female characters at all, to see Spock explain to his partner that a lack of emotion is evidence of his care for her, then weep for his male friend, is problematic, to put it politely. (Which is to say nothing of the fact that his partner is a black woman, and his friend a white man—in a film already engaging in whitewashing.) —
Melissa McEwan, writing about Into Darkness on Shakesville.
I am struck by this call out since “MANLY TEARS” are a THING in shounen anime. Obviously Alex Louis Armstrong subverts by crying about everything, but you can see where I’m going.
And overwhelmingly, what institutions want women to be is virginal. Pure, innocent. Sure they may demand that we perform sexuality—but a la Brittney Spears, what is expected from women is a sexy virginity. Be pure… for as long as I want you to. —
Jessica Valenti, Yes Means Yes
This points directly at moe culture’s implicit requirement of chastity. We saw it when Minami Minegishi shaved her head and we see it every time we watch a show like K-On! or Yuyushiki and there’s not a boy in sight.
These gazey shows offer up coy, adorable girls for us to coo over, but go to great lengths to maintain them as pseudo-sexual creatures. Sure, they discuss sex and act sexy on occasion, but they’re never shown pursuing men (or women!) in earnest, since that would ruin the illusion of their availability.
When society equates maleness with a constant desire for sex, men are socialized out of genuine sexual decision making, and are less likely to be able to know how to say no or to be comfortable refusing sex when they don’t want it. —
Jill Filipovic, Yes Means Yes
Arguing that ecchi only provides negative stereotypes of women and girls misses out on the important work it does in teaching boys that they want sex all the time. Notice how shows like Kanokon or even Demon King Daimao make their protagonists seem “girlish” when they turn down sex and how (especially in DKD’s case) a turn towards sex usually yields a more confident and “manly” man. These character arcs are considered positive.
It’s important to realize that you can become confident and comfortable in your own skin regardless of your relationship towards sex. As a man, woman, or whatever gender you choose.