While Kasuga’s pining for Saeki is not unfamiliar to anyone who’s been to high school, it’s important to note HOW it’s filtered through his understanding of classical western literature. Society at large works to place girls and boys socially apart, so it’s not surprising that he’s got very little insight into what he considers very different people (I was guilty of this for years until I got to high school, I have to admit). So, he turns to romance poetry and literature to bridge the gap. And here, he culture fails him.
See, the works he’s reading tell him that women are strange, wonderous, and unknowable creatures leading to a picture as fundamentally divorced from reality as the “women as sex object” line pitched by his cruder friends. Kasuga doesn’t object to their discussion of Saeki on the basis that it’s no way to treat a person, instead he speaks on her behalf of her purity and innocence.
As you watch the series going forward, it’s important to remember both that 1. Kasuga’s behavior displays prototypical tendencies of “nice guys” who make women into objects of worship instead of objects of lust and that 2. his reading of literature partially helped him to get there. The second lesson highlights the reason why feminist critique of all works is important. Absorbing bad ideas wrapped in good prose can still cause harm.
This seems like a deliberate misrepresentation. The point should be that nobody has the right to tell individual women what they must wear in order not to be raped, and also that female characters in the media shouldn’t exist just to be eye candy for men.
A woman choosing to wear revealing clothing is not the same as female characters being drawn/portrayed with revealing clothing. You can’t objectify yourself. So unless you believe that comic book characters draw themselves, this argument (or whatever it is) fails.
*edit* To extend the argument a bit, this is like the difference between a woman being told by her employer that she must wear a revealing outfit to work (for instance, as a waitress or wherever else this might be applicable) and a woman choosing to go out in a revealing outfit. No, revealing clothes are not inherently misogynistic and objectifying. But pressuring or forcing women to wear them, or portraying women in the media that way, is misogynistic and objectifying, because it implies that women should exist in order for you to look at them.
In a perfect world, there would be plenty of female characters who happen to dress revealingly. There would also be plenty of female characters who do not dress revealingly. And the only difference between these two groups of characters is that one likes revealing clothes and the other doesn’t. One is not more “slutty” than the other, one is not more attractive than the other, one is not smarter than the other, one is not more “pure” and “good” than the other. That’s all.
And you know what? I think that’s a far, far, far healthier attitude than so-called vanilla porn with people that look obviously reluctant, or that say “no” before the scene begins, or who are “tricked” into having sex. That kind of vanilla porn normalizes the idea of rape and presents it as part of the spectrum of ordinary sexuality. It treats ignoring someone’s “no” as a commonplace, everyday thing that just sort of happens sometimes and isn’t really a super-big deal, and if that is not completely terrifying to you I don’t know what is.
A Guest Poster on The Border House talks about her experiences with Harassment at Anime Boston. This really strikes a chord with me and I really need to redouble my efforts to notice this shit at the conventions I attend.
Welp, that was a long hiatus. Blame League of Legends. But we’re back thanks to the Girls Und Pazer OVA. Remember, I wrote a little bit about the show on Altair and Vega, claiming that it’s version of femininity was no more progressive than our own, but here we have something else: Fanservice.
It’s worth noting that so long as anime does stuff like this, it’s hard for the medium to claim that shows seek appeal across gender lines. True, the core show isn’t brimming with ecchi and passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors (more on that maybe in a later post), but then stuff like this OVA happens.
Minus pandering, beach-episode, swimsuit-focused material, you can maybe claim that the show exists in a limbo along the lines of K-On! or Ichigo Mashimaro (okay, Ichigo Mashimaro is a little on the creepy side) where the “cute girls doing cute things” is mitigated slightly by a lack of male-gazey visuals and content that focuses on their activities not their bodies. HOWEVER, extra installments like this one strain that assertion.
This episode and ones like it make it hard to take the show’s non-objectification seriously. The idea is that what people really pay for is to see high-school girls with their clothes off, not those same girls engaging in fun tank battles. In the wake of the episode, it’s nearly impossible to defend the show as non-fetishizing despite it’s mostly mild content in the TV run; the OVA assumes that what we want is to see these girls in sexy poses. It undermines any claims that these girls are not intended as objects of desire.