“Feminist Otaku” = An Oxymoron?

A "feminist otaku"
A “feminist otaku”

I have been thinking a lot about feminism lately. Specifically, I have been thinking about how gender politics relate to the anime fandom. It’s widely acknowledged that otaku culture is sexist and that the vast majority of anime marginalise women by objectifying or “Othering” them. But what about the individual people involved? Ordinary people like you and me who don’t necessarily think women are inferior to men but still involve themselves with anime culture anyway?

So I got to thinking… am I sexist for being an otaku? Am I a big, fat hypocrite for calling myself a “feminist” while also calling fictional female characters my waifus and buying merchandise featuring anime girls in sexual poses? This isn’t just a matter of enjoying ecchi anime – this is stuff I actually do, even if I intend it jokingly or ironically. Lately, I have been doing some hard thinking about what it means to be a “feminist” and what it means to be an “otaku” and I wonder if the two are mutually exclusive.

The problems arise as soon as you try to define what either term mean. They’re both very slippery. There are as many kinds of feminisms as there are feminists, although to keep things simple, let’s just say that feminism is about wanting both genders to be treated equally, with emphasis on changing how women are discriminated against. (This is putting aside, for instance, what “gender” is and on what terms this so-called “equality” should be.)

Then there’s the term “otaku”. It means something similar to “geek” (kind of). It’s a term that can be applied across all hobbies and to either gender. But in anime fandom – and particularly in Japanese anime fandom – it refers to a very specific kind of consumer, and the term has highly gender-specific connotations.

For better or worse, this is the first guy who comes to mind...
For better or worse, this is the first guy who comes to mind…

If you take the most reductive definitions of “feminist” and “otaku” possible and describe yourself as an anime/manga fan who believes in gender equality, then there is nothing contradictory about the term “feminist otaku”.

But in my case – and perhaps for others – it is not so simple. While I don’t fall into most blatant otaku stereotypes (especially as far as my physical appearance goes), I am immersed in the skeezy aspects of otaku culture, which is to say that I like 2D girls, play eroge, buy figurines, and so on. I have defended otaku culture on this blog and I value the otaku’s contribution to the diversity in the medium. Still, I’ve never gone far enough to argue that the otaku way is actually morally okay. For example, I wrote this in my post defending ecchi anime:

What I feel when I laugh at the boob jokes in [High SchoolDxD is not guilt related strictly to my questionable tastes as a fan. What I really feel, deep down, is a sense of moral guilt. I’m guilty because I’m focusing my attention on a woman’s chest rather than her personality. Along with the show, I’m objectifying the woman and seeing her as something less than human.

And then we come across stuff like this, which I wrote in my post stating myself to be an otaku:

Watching more and more otaku anime, I could see more and more of myself in it. Before I knew it, I was taking pride in my loserdom, cracking jokes at my own expense but secretly thinking I was the greatest for it. Somewhere along the line, my empathy warped into submission.

Reading over these old posts, it’s clear that I have always had an ambivalent relationship with my otaku identity. My awareness that this stuff is actively harmful towards women leads me to adopt a self-deprecating attitude. In other words, I make fun of myself for acting like a dirty creep. But at the same time, I secretly take pride in liking 2D schoolgirls because I find otaku culture empowering. I mean, why else would I want to identify with a widely ostracised minority group?

At this point, it needs explaining why being an otaku is empowering and why you would choose to become one in the first place. An otaku isn’t something you just passively are (no matter how much otaku like to paint themselves that way). Sure, there are certain traits that lend themselves easier to otakudom, like introversion and an obsessive personality, but these are definitely not otaku-specific traits. You need to make the conscious decision to embrace the otaku lifestyle, even if that amounts to small decisions that lead you down a slippery slope, as is what happened to me.

For me, the reasons why I “became” an otaku can be summed up as follows:

  • I thought the quirkiness of the lifestyle would make me seem unique and special.
  • I thought that I would be able to make friends with others with similar personality traits. (i.e. the simulated ethnicity of geek/otakudom if you want a more academic explanation of this)
  • I thought I could compensate for my feelings of alienation when compared to other members of my own gender, and so I embraced the “herbivore male” image of male otakudom.
You know, LIKE KIRITO (har har!)
You know, LIKE KIRITO (har har!)

This last point is clearly the most relevant in a discussion about feminism, because here is where I wonder if my motives for becoming an otaku are inherently sexist.

It’s fair enough that I obtain my feelings of empowerment as an otaku from resistance against macho masculine norms. This, I feel, is actually the inspiring part of otaku (and geek) culture and is in no way toxic.

Unfortunately, this desire for emancipation tends to express itself in the form of superiority over helpless 2D females. This is where the “purity” complex in otaku culture comes from, as well as the widespread depictions of infantalised females in anime. Sure, dress up the appeal of moe as “brotherly, pure feelings”, but in the end, it’s about asserting power over a group of people even weaker than you are. It honestly isn’t really about being sexually attracted to women, although the relationship between sex and power is a close one.

For the record, I don't actually find 3D girls to be disgusting, heh.
NOT my actual motive for liking 2D girls

So why my attraction to 2D girls? Why not real girls? Because I didn’t want to hurt any real women. In real life, I have female friends whom I like and respect very much. I certainly try not to practice sexism in my day-to-day interactions.  But the fact remains that 2D girls is still escapism, and the very fictional nature of anime lends itself to more extreme forms of exploitation. At the end of the day, I am still using women to make myself feel powerful, even if it’s not a conscious thing. And yes, I do think that is inherently sexist, whether real women are involved or not.

But, well, I can’t deny that part of who I am. I am human. I have immoral desires like everyone else does. It’s unhealthy to repress one’s own sexual interests, which is why I’ve always been open about it. For better or worse, this is my outlet.

Perhaps my rabid otaku fandom is something I may eventually outgrow as I become more comfortable with my sexuality. I am already starting to experience some growing up pangs, so to speak. For example, No Game No Life horrified me because I saw a lot of my own unconscious values reflected in the show. I would probably have loved it unreservedly if I had watched it just a few months earlier.

Sora is a self-deprecating character who knows he’s a sexist pig, but he also takes pride in his otaku identity and is generally awesome

This all explains the gradual shift in my recent posts towards more feminist critique. I criticised the sexism in Nisekoi and wrote sympathetically about bishonen and female fans. But actually, I’ve always wanted to believe in gender equality. One of my very first posts was an open letter of acceptance to yaoi fangirls. I think my close friendships with female anime fans and my immersion in fanfic culture has allowed me to combine masculine and feminine styles of writing in a way that challenges the masculine-dominated forms of anime blogging and criticism. (Notice, for instance, that I take shipping seriously as a form of literary consumption.)

So in the end, am I a feminist or not? I like to think I am. I want to be one. But I understand that calling yourself a feminist and actually practicing gender equality can be two different things. As contradictory and hypocritical as it is, I do think of myself as a feminist otaku. I think both perspectives offer a lot of valuable insight when it comes to how we consume media. As an otaku, I wish to seek a form of empowerment that doesn’t involve demeaning women in some way. You can be an otaku without being fixated on 2D girls, after all. I’ll continue searching for a way to empower both genders equally. That is my goal as a human being.

And on that note, I’ll finish this post here. But this isn’t the end of this blog’s focus on gender issues in fandom. Next post, you’ll be seeing the perspective of a tumblr user and her perception of sexism in the anime fandom, particularly focusing on prejudice against tumblr users. Look forward to it, guys!

(Postscript: This post was partly inspired by several reader questions. Thanks to those readers who have asked me such stimulating questions – you definitely got my brain ticking.)


  1. This maso likes anime. This maso had an anime-lover girlfriend. This maso enjoys animes,mangas, and LNs since he was 3 years old. Now the maso’s 23years old he can separate 2D and 3D. He also has some female friends that likes otaku things and proud of it. Now the maso lives happily and stalking the blog here.

  2. This is actually a really interesting topic, and I have actually encountered it in a very relevant context. Unfortunately, it’s an interview in some old issue of my university’s newspaper, so I can’t for the life of me find it, and I don’t remember exactly what was said, but I can paraphrase the important parts:

    Basically, the interview was with a Finnish comic author who focuses on feminist themes in her works, and the relevant part is her remembering the time she attended an anime/manga convention. Usually her works would be praised by readers, but the attendees of this convention mocked the author and made fun of her for the themes in her comics. The author concluded that this was because sexism is so common in anime and manga that the fans could not help but see her works as an attack on what they loved.

    While I don’t know if that las part was actually the case, it’s still interesting. I’d previously assumed that the sexism that sometimes seems to go hand in hand with otaku culture was a result of vestigal cultural traditions that just happened to mix well with otaku culture when it arrived, but as feminism has been an important thing here in Finland since long before anime and manga were first created, it can’t really be that simple(and as the author said, most people who are not otaku seem to like her comics).

    And as you said, there’s no denying that many anime and manga are very, very sexist. I recently played Fate/Stay Night, and I can safely say that Shirou is the most sexist character I’ve ever seen in any form of media. It actually bothered me so much that I had to start skipping h-scenes(which I usually enjoy only for the hilarious translations, I honestly swear) because they made me so uncomfortable. But the worst thing is not what Shirou says, it’s what I’ve noticed about other people who played the game before me. Their advice for making it through the game without dying was “You can’t be a white knight, but also remember to be nice to your girls”. This is concerning for two reasons: Firstly, the part about white knighting implies that you can make Shirou not be a white knight through your choices. But this is deceptive. Shirou is always a sexist white knight, the game just gives you the illusion of choice. Secondly, “be nice to your girls” says pretty much the same thing. You, as a player, have to treat the women as simple game objects that keep a tally of points that determines whether you live or die. On a higher level, that line even makes the person who said it seem sexist by defeat(being feminist gets you nowhere in the game, so they just stop trying in general), and that also concerns me.

    So yeah, interesting topic indeed…

    • (You should read the h-scenes they’re hilarious) Actually, Shirou (and the fandom’s reaction to him) is a rather interesting case of sexism. Somehow he both enforces and goes against gender stereotypes. He’s very “stay in the kitchen” to the girls, but it honestly seems like he enjoys cooking just as much, if not more, than his manly training. He cleans and basically acts like he would be a good househusband and there’s honestly no doubt in my mind that that’s how he ends up in UBW. I’ll note that Archer displays some of these tendencies too, especially in the Prologue, where the first thing he does as a servant is clean beyond what he was supposed to, check Rin’s cleaning habits, and then perfectly blend and serve her tea. Fate/Extra Archer is even more extreme in these aspects, somehow. We don’t get enough discussion in the Fate fandom about househusband Shirou and Archer and that’s sad, too. He’s remembered for his manly fights, but not the fact that he spent half the game cooking, preparing meals and getting complimented on them, or turning the meals into a competition with Rin/arguing with Sakura over who gets to cook.

      It honestly took until me finding the Fate fandom on tumblr for anyone to acknowledge these traits in him, and they’re pretty much all female. In that case it would be valuing masculine traits over his more feminine ones, I guess. Anyway, FSN wasn’t the point of the post, but an interesting aside.

      • (I did read some of them. The first one in particular was really funny)

        Yeah, I did notice that Shirou took on some very housewife-y roles throughout the game, and I do admit that it was quite fun and interesting to see that. That is definitely one of the things that makes FSN quite different from most other VNs in terms of the protagonist.

        However, I actually find the execution of that aspect even more discriminating towards women(and the reader’s intelligence, maybe even more so). As you said, the gender roles are swapped, but Shirou *still* finds time to be sexist and push his frankly anti-feminist agenda. By doing the cooking, he makes a stand against women doing anything at all. Of course, he lets the women cook from time to time, but in the context of his “ideals”, that’s probably just him feeling like he has to be at least a little bit merciful. And then there’s also the fact that it really feels like the writers of the game are saying “Hey, look at this MC, he fights for non-conformism in gender roles, isn’t he awesome? Please praise us for not being blatantly sexist.”

        I sincerely hope FSN is a written that way only to sell more copies to people who want a power trip instead of the writing being a reflection of the writers actual thoughts on women.

        • I think the real problem here is that we don’t see Shirou interact enough with guys he feels compelled to protect with that hero complex of his, so we honestly don’t know if he’s just like that because he feels obsessive compulsive about protecting others at the cost of his own life, or if he doesn’t let Saber fight because of sexism… It’s not like there are a bunch of male characters he’s in a position to protect, like he is with female characters. There’s Fate Archer and… UBW Archer and … Heaven’s Feel Archer… and you know his opinions on Archer. Which is why we need an Issei route. Don’t deny it; you know you want it. (I will note that his treatment of Ayako in UBW is disgusting, but the female characters shut him down so completely in that scene Nasu must’ve known what Shirou was saying). Anyway, this is definitely not about FSN but otaku culture in general, so I’ll stop here.

  3. I can’t speak as an otaku because I don’t actually watch much anime. I can appreciate dumb shit like High School of The Dead but then again I can appreciate awesome stuff like Ghost in The Shell.

    I can speak as a gamer and from what I know of the gaming industry, it is SUPER sexist against women. Terribly so, it’s disheartening. Women who are good or enjoy video games tend to be attacked because the male ego is a fragile thing. HOW DARE A WOMAN ENJOYS GAMES GET BACK TO THE KITCHEN! If a girl criticises that the clothes women are wearing is nonsense, she gets attacked. Lack of good female characters, also attacked. Wanting boobs not made of gelatin, she must be jealous!

    Video games and anime are a form of empowerment and while I can’t say I’ve been empowered by an anime (2D/3D girls debates don’t matter to me), I can sort of understand.

    Anime, as a whole, I find, is rather sexist. I haven’t count the numbers but I’m sure your stereotypical hentai protagonist with his own personal harem and/or big boob sex objects outnumbers awesome female characters like the the Major or Akane Tsunemori. Or female characters that are supposed to be badass but fails terribly at it (Asuna).

    In video games, RPGs especially, I have a 3:2 ratio when it comes to male:female characters. In fact, most of my memorable female characters. I’ve got a dual wielding rapier knightess in Dark Souls 2 and a heavy cavalry/horse archer lady in Mount and Blade at the moment. And don’t get me started the amount of successful female Sims I’ve made.

    Comparing video games to anime though, I think video games is not as terrible as anime. Part of me wonders if this is also a cultural thing. Is Japan this sexist? I hope it’s not and it’s only a small fraction.

    I don’t think I’m sexist, I’m sure I’m not. I’ve been drilled so much by Islamic teachings that even thinking women are ‘inferior’ to men scares me, as if God Almighty is judging me for thinking ‘HOW DARE YOU BE A SEXIST PRICK!’. My parents and my Islamic teachers will slap me in the head for daring to think that God made man and woman unequal. I’ve played video games as female characters that I think there’s not much difference when playing male and female and all the cartoons I grew up with showed girls can be just as good as boys and vice versa.

    Video games have a long way to go when it comes to portraying women as men’s equal, but I think anime has a much, MUCH, more work to be done.

    • Hoo boy, gaming culture is its own can of worms for sure. At this point, it’s not even constructive to figure out which is worse between gaming and anime culture since both are clearly messed up.

      I see the empowerment in geek cultures not as “hahaha! I am superior to women!” but more along the lines of, “I am empowered because I am not alone in my loneliness.” But when geek cultures become more mainstream and women come to accept it too, there’s a strong tendency in geeks to feel defensive. The things which makes them feel special are no longer special. And in order to continue feeling special, it’s easy to (unconsciously or not) preach anti-feminist speech.

      I believe that the empowerment you can feel through gaming doesn’t have to be sexist. You don’t have to subscribe to that “get off my turf” mentality. Geek cultures are great. They just have a long way to go.

      (P.S. I feel really happy to hear that your Islamic teachers believe strongly about feminism, because, well, we all know about Islam extremism and how great that is for women…)

      • My buddy who has played 40k tabletop and has done some light tabletop RPGing has told me some horror stories when girls play. If you look up forums it’s even worse. Dudes spiting female players because they’re girls and how dare they have vaginas it’s all dicks in D&D!

        Tru dat. I’ve played enough multiplayer to know that dude in heavy armor with the Guts’ style sword may be a girl and the petite mage that rains lightning on you may be a guy. It’s really hard when it comes to multiplayer because anonymity really does make you equal. Someone should do a paper on this.

        I know you’re going through a bunch of comments, Froggy but don’t be discouraged. Just because you enjoy anime where women are dumbasses doesn’t make you bad nor does me enjoying Mount and Blade with high sexist setting (yes there is a setting to enable sexism) make me terrible.

        PS: This might be of interest to you.



        That’s what Islam does to women. Religious extremism is just bad for everyone.

  4. Interesting article. Personally, I never felt significantly troubled about this particular issue. I’m a heterosexual guy with dirty thoughts, yes, but the sexual drive part of things seems to me like a small part of my anime fandom.

    In terms of database fetishes, I lean towards the kuudere and osananajimi tropes. Those characters might be strong in various ways, but there is always a meek/mellow side to them which plays into the imaginary power balance of otaku fantasies,

    But there are countless female characters I like that go completely against my “checklist”. While I might not be attracted to them in a sexual way, I would gladly serve under Nanoha (Lyrical Nanoha) or work as support in Kuroko’s (Railgun) Judgment branch. My “like” for characters like that rests in my respect for them as leaders or otherwise outstanding people. It is an attitude made possible by feminist thought, and it further fosters those ideas.

    So I don’t see a clash between feminist thought and otakudom in the general sense. But you bring up the “big guns”: fanservice shows, ero-games, figurines etc. I don’t often enjoy those forms of otakudom partly because they clash with my ideals, true. I mean, can you really read the h-scenes in a visual novel without facepalming half the time? My experience is limited, but anytime a confident or valorous female appears in those, the novel will go out of its way to prove that the character is “just a girl” underneath it all. Emphasis on “just”. You know, as if all the personal qualities women might have were just a mask hiding their universal “girl” nature. Ugh.

    • Your comment reminds me of this Best Girl/Guy thread I saw on Reddit. Despite how the users used typical otaku language like “waifu” and “Best Girl”, the way they chose to discuss their favoured characters was more along the lines of standard literary analysis and respecting the characters’ agency as human beings: http://www.reddit.com/r/TrueAnime/comments/2alat1/rtrueanimes_best_guybest_girl_contest_thread/

      I agree that on this level, feminist thought can enrich otaku-like consumption, and vice versa. The problem is when you turn overly hardcore and lose perspective. But you can say that about all things, I suppose.

  5. Such an interesting topic. I understand what you mean it is difficult being a feminist and act according to it. I am a girl and sometimes I find myself enjoying something that is sexist but I don’t think that means that I am a sexist person because I consider myself a feminist and I believe in gender equality and I fight for it.
    Anime and manga in general sexist well very sexist. They tend to sexualize girls as much as possible in order to attract males who are the biggest consumer of anime and manga (I am not saying that there is not fanservice for girls because there is in minor quantity but you can found it) because anime and manga are an industry and that’s a fact.
    So I think that the ones who has to change are the viewers if an anime with stupid girls with big boobs sells they will keep producing that. I have nothing against ecchi and fanservice is not something that attracts me but if an anime is good I will keep enjoying it.

    But the worst cases of sexism are the ones that I found written by female mangakas for example Mayu Shinjo girls with no personality and a boy who is very jeaulous and sexist but that doesn’t matter because some people consider it “romantic” when things like that make me sick.
    In conclusion, I think you can be otaku and feminism.

    P.D: Sorry if there are grammar or spelling mistakes.

    • You bring up a good point about how works written by females can still be very sexist. It’s one of the main criticisms of shojo manga, for instance. I definitely can’t bring myself to find that stuff romantic. It goes a long way in showing how females can internalise sexism, to the extent they may themselves preach for women to continue being oppressed.

      I’m glad you are open-minded and you think that you can be otaku and feminist. And thanks for commenting! Your spelling and grammar are fine :)

  6. Interesting! Strangely, one of the reasons I got into anime in the first place was because of the depictions of strong female characters. While other little girls were watching the usual girly kids shows, and wanted to be like their heroines (which usually beat the villains with singing & the power of friendship), I started watching Ghibli movies and wanted to be like Kiki, Nausicaa, and San.

    It really struck me when I first saw one of the Ghibli heroines give a determined look, or a mad look, that none of the girly kid show heroines would ever have a look like that. It didn’t make them look pretty, and that was a breath of fresh air. The kid show heroines only had two faces: “happy face” & “pouty/sad face.

    As I grew older & learned more about Japanese culture, I realised that while Japan was more sexist than the West in some ways, they were strangely progressive in others. In the English movie remake of Rose of Versailles, they made the main character (the raised-as-a-boy, captain of the french royal guard, Oscar) much less strong and more feminine. Oscar is pretty much the equivalent of someone like Major Kusanagi, and they made her so weak and pouty it made me wonder if the West was more sexist at times. In Japan, when people get married, all their finances go into a bank account which only the wife can withdraw money out of. The wife then controls all the family’s spending. I’m not sure if I would call this feminist or sexist against men. On the other hand, if a Japanese woman tries to get a job, she’s usually made to quit, by the company after she gets married.

    All in all the think the whole feminist otaku thing can go both ways. After having read and watched so many otherwise good stories where the female character is a damsel in distress, and getting used to having a male hero because most of the stories I like tend to be targeted toward males. After all that, seeing a character like Major Kusanagi is awesome. Although I know she was thought up by guys to appeal to guys, I like strong female characters like that precisely because they can dominate or stand equally with men. It’s nice to have some sort of power fantasy where the main character isn’t a male, especially in a society which seems hell-bent on telling me that I am weaker, and therefore inferior to guys 24-7.

    Can’t wait to read the next post on this topic!

    • As I grew older & learned more about Japanese culture, I realised that while Japan was more sexist than the West in some ways, they were strangely progressive in others.

      This is a really great point! I noticed a very similar thing myself. Actually, that really throws the idea of what qualifies as “progressive” into question. One of the biggest criticisms about modern feminism is that it’s still focused mainly on the perspectives of white, upper-class women. Measuring women’s rights purely by those standards would just entrench racism further by implying that other cultures need to emulate the West in order to liberate their women.

      It’s good that you can look up to women from other cultures and find them inspiring, especially through anime. Like you, I find Ghibli heroines inspiring. Major Kusanagi is cool too. I’m also watching Revolutionary Girl Utena and am really enjoying Utena’s character. While it’s true that in general anime is very sexist, you can still find positive role models if you look carefully enough :)

  7. Good article, although I must say that I don’t mind otaku’s taste so much as their utter entitlement in some parts of the English fandom. Just look at the reaction over Free!. And season two of it. It certainly did ruin anime. Kyoani should just work on shows that both genders of all sexualities enjoy, like Clannad (yes that is an actual comment I read)! …Except it’s obviously aimed at straight guys and girls pretty much just have to ‘deal’ at this point or they barely get anything…

    And the reactions of Mangagamer’s acquisitions at AX (someone actually claiming they were being sexist because two/four of their upcoming games don’t cater to The Straight Man). Then the reactions to censoring Grisaia, which even promises to add content, or Secret Game (because although it’s not a nukige, it’s not the same without loli sex, okay?!).

    There are actual examples of guys thinking that girls are lying about being into anime, and trying to quiz them to make sure they’re ‘above board’. And then of course all the hatred for fujoshi but nothing of their counterparts. There’s also straight guys getting into shows meant for little girls and drawing porn of them (I can’t condemn that enough, by the way).

    Of course, I’m talking about the lowest denominator here. They exist, though, and it’s sad. The true problem with these types of shows is when otaku shun and hurt real-world women in order to enforce these stereotypes. Generalizing all 3D women as inferior because they aren’t the same as 2D waifus is the real problem with the waifu system, I think (that “forget those bitches in the 3D world who want ~equal rights~ and stuff” type of thinking). Those are my thoughts. They’re admittedly not very organized. Sorry.

    • That part about “generalising 3D women” and “waifu system”, I have a few questions about that and I’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences on the matter.

      Are the people who act like they’re completely serious about waifus *actually* serious? I moderate a chat room where people occasionally talk about how much they love their waifus(though they don’t always use that term), and I can’t for the life of me figure out if it’s a joke or not. They know that fictional characters are fictional, so what’s the deal? What do they get out of the one-way conversation that is serious waifuism, if they actually practice that? Some of them get very defensive when I try to take the discussions into a more comical direction. You’d think I was making foul remarks about their sisters or mothers. Hell, some of them are even ok with “I fucked your sister” jokes, but not jokes about their “waifus”.

      Have you had any conversations or experiences like that, and can you help me figure out what it’s really about?

      • In my experience, it definitely depends on the person. Free airing honestly shed some light on that, as I read comments railing against the female oppressors for the 2D waifus because it was gonna ruin anime. Most of the time it’s lighthearted fun, though. I know I’ve joked with my friend about sharing husbandos. It’s just a way of utterly appreciating their character, I guess. If you want to see how great Japan gets, go look up Yomecolle. But maybe Froggy has more opinions on this than I do? I don’t actually hang out with the otaku crowd much anymore and more on tumblr, where everyone probably realizes their characters are fictional because they’re imagining them in like 10 different pairings at once, and the most I’ve seen are comments about how Makoto would make the perfect husband (while shipping him with Haru/Rin/anyone, and lots of ‘why can’t anime characters be real’, but they acknowledge they are fiction).

        Found the guy questioning whether the girl’s into video games/anime. Her reaction’s pretty great. http://cristaly.co.vu/post/91114462807

        • Ok, thanks for your insight. It seems like “waifu wars” are mostly in jest, and even Yomecolle seems like it’s more for humorous purposes than for serious enthusiasts(I kinda want to try it out right now, and maybe I’ll do so).

          That link you posted is kinda funny. The guy must be thinking “Ha, I got her”, but he does look pretty stupid during that entire exchange.

        • Oh man, that tumblr post. It’s too great.

          My take is that for most fans, including myself, the whole waifu thing is mostly a joke. I just use the word to refer to a female character I really like, not necessarily someone I would want to pursue a romantic relationship with. In the back of my mind, I know that if these anime girls existed in real life, I would find them supremely annoying. I also have my fair share of husbandos, if that means anything.

          Nevertheless, even as a joke this can be a bit… well… you end up having waifus because everyone else has waifus. It’s like a massive circlejerk except no one knows who started it. And if you joke often enough about 3DPD and if you’re really engaged with the other people who are into that stuff, you can end up spewing actually harmful stuff while laughing it off as a joke. You can see how this corner of otaku culture can be extremely toxic and why it’s difficult to tell whether these fans are actually seriously about their love for their waifus. At this point, no assumption is safe.

  8. Very interesting topic, but difficult to comment on either side of since you’ve articulated your posts so well. Not really sure where to begin expressing my own views on this, so forgive me if this all comes out rather unorganised.

    I’m not really sure how I view myself in regards to otaku-dom and feminism. I think No Game No Life actually makes a good litmus test. I never finished it, in part because of the way they treated Steph’s character. I was always really uncomfortable with how they constantly belittled her and oversexualised her and it completely turned me off the show. But at the same time, I enjoyed that aspect of it. Because it was fanservice, and because it was often genuinely titillating. I don’t know whether I felt a sense of superiority to her but I don’t think I really did. But I was definitely behind the escapism of having an attractive 2D girl whose main purpose is to fall in love with your stand-in. Basically I thought the ideas it put forward were disgusting but still enjoyed it because it was hot. Does that make me anti-feminist? I’m not sure it does.

    Sexual attraction is human nature at its most basic form. As is – and this is a pretty ugly thing to say – that desire to feel empowerment over others. As long as you recognise where you should draw the line with those desires you should be fine. I do think it’s ‘okay’ to identify as a feminist and be a skeevy otaku provided you can recognise the hypocrisy there, as you clearly have. You can’t help but enjoy all that pervvy stuff – it was designed for that exact purpose! Making light of that aspect of you isn’t dismissing it, it’s recognising it as a flaw, if you can even call it that. Probably. I think. Forget this paragraph exists.

    Are you the type who hears the latest idol singer (now THERE’S a toxic industry) has a boyfriend and the slut-shames her? If not, you’re probably okay. Or at least you’re better than the Japanese otaku. In general, I’ve noticed that I prefer my female characters not to be demeaned for the sake of appeasing the golden cow that is the otaku. Those are always the ones I’d identify as my favourite female characters and in general I wish we had more like them. So while I do enjoy the fetishising of girls prevalent in anime, I usually like it better when it’s not there. But I still want it to be there, because at the end of the day I’m still a creepy perv who likes 2D girls.

    And another thing! It kind of impossible not be attracted to anime girls – not when they’re drawn so sexy..

    Bottom line – I’m really not sure what my point was anymore but I think it’s a good thing that you identify as a feminist while retaining and acknowledging the contradiction in identifying as an otaku. Feminism is always a tricky thing for guys to properly empathise with :)
    I also hope I haven’t come across as horribly sexist or creepy in any of the paragraphs above, because I very much identify with the points you made.

    Also in other news: This was the post where I realised you’re not a girl likeI was convinced you were. Looking back it seems so obvious…

    • The way I see it, being sexually titillated by something isn’t something you should feel guilty about. Otherwise, you start feeling repressed and you end up hating yourself. So it’s not like I feel terrible for liking fanservice. It’s just going to the next level, like thinking of yourself as special for liking that stuff or endorsing the sexist merchandise that it gets problematic. I personally feel that I have crossed some lines, but thankfully, I can assure you that I’m NOT that person who slut shames an idol for having a boyfriend.

      About No Game No Life: even though I said I hated the way the show treated Steph, it did kind of turn me on too, yeah… ALSO I AM SUCH A HYPOCRITE LOL THIS IS MY CURRENT WALLPAPER (NSFW obviously): http://www.fanaru.com/no-game-no-life/image/34001/no-game-no-life-wallpaper/

      tldr; I think it’s better to be open and honest about your desires and your shortcomings, because it’s only through open communication that things like inequality can ultimately be overcome.

  9. Thanks for this honest and thought-provoking post. To me, otaku culture is inherently indeterminate from a political perspective, in a way that has the potential to be quite productive, in an affirmative as well as a reactionary direction. One’s assessment of its prospects for feminism in particular depends heavily on the kind of feminism at issue. From a liberal-humanist perspective, central aspects of it are bound to appear irredeemably problematic. Of course, that doesn’t imply that a liberal can’t be an otaku, or can’t be one with a good conscience, but it does mean that the two identities will probably remain in some degree of tension–which in itself can be productive.

    For me, feminism is not so much about nonobjectification or the minimization of power relations as it is about love, affirmation, gratitude, and the overcoming of static forms of domination–not with the aim of reducing power or hierarchy per se, but rather towards the end of overcoming their static, one-sided investment in masculinist structures. From that perspective, I find much that’s stimulating, novel, and affirmative in the treatment of gender in otaku works. A large part of the appeal of moe characters to me, for example, is the joyful, life-affirming, noninstrumentalist mode of being they portray, e.g. through their openness, passivity, naivete, their nonteleogical orientation towards the world, and yes, their eroticism. These characteristics aren’t inherently degrading of women, except on the assumption that the basic purpose of feminism is enable women to constitute themselves as successful bourgeois-rational subjects, on a level with men. Like Virginia Woolf, that ain’t how I see it. ;) Power is certainly a part of the appeal, but I find that the empowerment I get from engaging with these kinds of things enables me to be more generous with others, including women, and to feel more comfortable allowing them in turn to have power over me.

    Of course, there are also various ways in which this sort of empowerment feeds reactionary tendencies of mine, e.g. by redirecting my engagement with reality, and fostering hopes, fantasies, and expectations that aren’t readily met by nonfictional persons, which can make interacting with them more difficult. Constant struggle with these kinds of tendencies is, like you say, imperative.

    • I strongly disagree with your idea of moe. To me, the distinct lack of eroticism is one of the defining aspects of the genre(or is it a character archetype?)

      Also, if you say you feel more comfortable about women having power over you, I’d say you’re missing the point of feminism on a philosophical level. The point is not to have men and women take turns being in power(though in practice, that’s how it will have to be due to modern forms of government mostly requiring that), the point is to abolish the idea of the power hierarchy. Feminism isn’t just about equality between men and women, it’s also about equality between men and other men, as well as women and other women.

      To use an analogy: Consider sadism and masochism. in an S&M relationship, there is usually a dominant partner and a submissive partner. Looking at it naively, it seems as if the dominant partner has “the power”. In reality, however, and especially during BDSM sex, it’s actually the other way around. The submissive partner is giving the dominant partner *permission* to dominate. This is power. And furthermore, the submissive partner has a “safe word” that he/she can use to dictate exactly when the domination ends. If the dominant partner ignores the safe word, they’re doing something criminal. From this perspective, does it not look like the submissive partner has immense power?

      And that’s my point. When you say something like “allowing them in turn to have power over me”, you’re being the submissive partner. You’re saying it like you’re playing a game that you know you can end at any time. This is not equality, it’s just another way of expressing domination.

      (Note: In an S&M relationship, both roles can naturally be played by either gender, so it doesn’t correlate identically with everyday interactions between men and women. However, the underlying power hierarchy is still the same.)

      • Fair enough, your conception of moe is a legitimate one. To be clear, when I say “erotic” I just mean “harnessing sexual energy in some way.” I can’t think of any moe works that don’t strike me as doing that, but I’d be interested to hear your examples if any come to mind.

        Your conception of feminism is also legitimate, though of course it’s not the only one. To me, unequal power relations on various levels–physiological, psychological, political, spiritual–are an essential feature of life that can’t be eliminated, even by rational consent. That said, I think it’s possible–and imperative–to reorganize society such that no individuals of any gender have to be subject to one-sided domination by others. That’s another can of worms, though.

        • Hmm, I’m inclined to agree with you on the idea that the power relations cannot be eliminated completely. And I do agree with the next point as well. In that sense, equality is something that we should fight for, but it can never be perfectly accomplished. It’s an eternal uphill battle.

          And that is sad, but such is life.

  10. I am one of those who slightly suffers from the elitism syndrome that you once wrote about in this blog, so anime like Highschool of the dead are not appealing to me at all. But I totally get your point and my take on this subject is that we are all human and totally obsessing over purity is not advisable, and besides what is pure anyway, what I may consider to be pure may not be pure in your mind. And I appreciate your been honest about your feelings without saying things that are contrary to what you actually think. I like people who are intellectually honest.

    • Thanks! I actually felt really nervous writing this post because this is a really controversial issue and I thought I might get condemned as a sexist creep. But yeah, we’re all human in the end. Some of us are just a bit more willing to admit to our flaws than others.

  11. As someone whose gender politics slant towards the men’s rights activism side of things, the way men are portrayed in anime isn’t exactly better, especially when it comes to violence and deaths. While I do agree with your post somewhat, I think you should at least examine anime from a male rights perspective to get a balanced view of things.

    • While the point about violence and death is a valid one, I don’t see how a male rights perspective would balance anything out. Feminism is also about male rights, which makes the proposed exercise pointless.

    • Well. The post is about how a man can be empowered through his Japanese cartoons in a positive way, so I’d say the male perspective was not neglected.

      Men are portrayed pretty horribly in anime too, I agree. Am really not a fan of the double standard of how it’s “funny” if a girl beats up a boy, which you see all the time in harem shows. Demeaning one gender hurts both genders, I think.

  12. Your stance is hypocritical. If you call yourself a feminist and believe that the anime you enjoy is harmful to women you are a hypocrite. There are no two ways about that. I could get on a pulpit and preach about how I think you are wrong for holding that belief, but I don’t know how much you would really get out of that. I’ll try not to preach, but I think I have something valuable to share. I also invite you to read something I wrote on sexism not that long ago if you haven’t already. http://theglorioblog.com/2014/01/31/defining-sexism-in-games-and-anime/

    I think your goal of finding empowerment you don’t feel guilty about is a worthy one. Don’t think I am criticizing you for trying. This is a topic I can sympathize with as it’s one I’ve also given a lot of thought over the past ten years or so since I first started watching anime. I think you have a pretty big misunderstanding here. I’m not sure how to say what I want to say without horrifying you. All I can really do is insist that I am writing this because I’ve been there too and have some idea of the dilemma you are trying to solve.

    It’s not anime that’s struggling with sexism, it’s you. It’s you and everyone else struggling with guilt and shame over this topic. Calling anime sexist is just moving the blame away from the real problem. You will never find a satisfying answer if you can’t own up to it. I don’t know the specifics of the things you struggle with, but I don’t need to know them to understand shame and guilt. I think I can illustrate why this is really about you in a way that I doubt you can disagree with.

    Imagine you know a woman who is enjoying Infinite Stratos. Imagine being in a position where she asks you why it’s harmful for her. What can you tell her about the anime? You can talk about your shame, you can talk about your empowerment, you can talk about how you feel it’s bad because of the way it influences you and other people, you can even question the perceived notion of what the message behind the show is and what the author intended by it. What can you say about it that isn’t either about you, her or about the author/creators? Can you answer her question in a way that is inherent to the anime itself? You can’t because it isn’t capable of any wrong without you in the equation. On the flip side, this woman’s experience isn’t going to be the same as yours. If she isn’t struggling with the things you are struggling with then it may not be harmful to her at all. This is an important thing to acknowledge.

    The important point here isn’t that the person in my example is a woman. It’s that not everyone is struggling with shame and guilt over sexuality in anime. Plenty of people do, but plenty of people don’t as well. I think in western culture we have a habit of almost worshiping shame. If you are thinking that everyone who doesn’t feel guilt or shame is sexist you are fooling yourself. Guilt and shame are just not that reliable. Both emotions lie, you can feel them when having done nothing wrong and be immune to them as an awful person.

    Fiction can’t be prejudiced or discriminatory on it’s own. It can portray those things, it can even portray them in a way that is obvious commentary about the real world, but any real prejudice or discrimination belongs to the person indulging in it. We bring fiction to life, it is dead without us. It acts like a mirror and reflects our thoughts at the conflict of the story back at us. I personally believe that the blame for what fiction shows us and makes us feel ultimately belongs to us because we are the ones that create it. The struggles that come out of that are also unique to the people who create them. You talk about struggling with empowerment fantasies. You might feel like this is an inherent problem with anime, but I can honestly say that I don’t struggle with empowerment over women. In fact a big part of why I fell in love with anime in the first place is because I can relate with so many of the women in anime. I have my own struggles that I see reflected in anime, but that isn’t one of them. I can buy sexed up figures and respect women, I can even respect sexed up women. None of these things are mutually exclusive.

    I ran across an interesting question many years ago. This was back before I even started watching anime. I was talking to someone I played WoW with and making an argument about Hollywood and the way women in movies are all lame because of their role in the sexuality of the story. He threw my prejudice back in my face. “Why can’t you respect a porn star?” We weren’t talking about porn at all, but that is the question he gave me and trying to answer it drove me nuts. Every answer I could think up was all about me and my own prejudice. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that respect and sexual gratification are not mutually exclusive. Of course at that time I just decided he was evil. In part because he pissed me off with his questions, but also because of my own views on sexuality at the time. My opinion has changed a ton since then… I guess I am the guy with the annoying questions now. lol (I assume I’ve got the annoying part down at least.)

    I don’t have all the answers and I think I’ll be guilty of writing more than you have if I say much more.(I might already be…) I was originally trying to write an encouraging comment and I guess I kind of failed at that.(I swear it was in there somewhere!) I want to issue you a challenge. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t accept feminism because of shame or guilt, but don’t run away from it either. I’m not going to lie, I don’t consider myself a feminist and I’ll be happy to explain why, but I do believe strongly in equal rights and I know feminists I respect. I’ve simply found that there are a lot of politics involved in feminism that don’t add up under inspection. Sexuality is a big one. At a certain extreme feminism itself becomes guilty of prejudice against women. It happens more easily than you might think. Equality is a crazy balancing act that no one is inherently good at, even the people who want it the most.

    • Believe me, I understand where you are coming from. Still, I hope you understand that I didn’t set out to “shame” myself in order to make myself feel better about my shortcomings and to avoid honest criticism. In fact, what I tried to do was the opposite: criticise myself and otaku culture, but not to condemn. I think the desire to break free from masculine norms is a legitimately good thing about otaku culture, but I do not think that the fixation on anime girls is the right way to achieve that.

      I’ve said this in the post as well as in my response to other readers, but I don’t think repression is the answer. Having sexual desires does not make me a bad person. Banning any so-called “sexist” media would not solve any problems. Yes, there are radical feminists who advocate banning pornography and the like. I do not happen to agree with that school of feminism. That does not mean that all – or even most – feminists are like that.

      Yes, you are right in criticising feminist thought for being stifling and suppressing politically incorrect thoughts. When wielded improperly, feminism can be used to justify oppressive acts. You are also right in saying that everyone has their own biases. I personally believe that we will never achieve open communication unless we are honest about our biases. This is why I revealed my own biases, because I wanted everyone to understand my position before I criticised others.

      Now, I don’t agree with you when you claim that media can be detached from its surrounding culture. Yes, an animation isn’t somehow “inherently sexist” – it is up to the viewers to create meaning, and their interpretations say more about themselves than it does about the work. Sexism is with us, it is not inside the show. But ultimately, these interpretations mean far more and wield far more power than the “objective essence” of the media itself.

      I know that you don’t intend to say this, but your argument, if taken to its logical conclusion, denies that sexism exists in social institutions. By saying that media isn’t sexist, you’re implying that other seemingly neutral systems like language aren’t rigged to favour men as the default gender. If we want to achieve gender equality, then criticising individual people is important, yes, but entire systems of thought need to change as well, otherwise we will unconsciously fall into sexist thinking without even realising it.

      This is why criticising gender portrayals in media is important, because even something we take for granted like camera angles and scene composition can unconsciously favour the male’s representation of the world. This is especially relevant in the case of anime, where most of the industry workers are male. Sexism isn’t something you can overcome by self-reflection and pretty words. It is a social reality, one that works on a more subtle level than any of us can conceive.

      • Since I find myself agreeing with lifesongsoa main idea for the most part, I’ll comment here and not on a seperate comment. Also, sorry in advance if my thoughts are all over the place.

        “this isn’t just a matter of enjoying ecchi anime – this is stuff I actually /do/, even if I intend it jokingly or ironically.”
        – The issue here is that you use the verb ‘do’ out of context. Do to whom? 2D characters aren’t living beings. This is a parallel question with the one about violent content, hentai and loli/shouta – are they per se harmful? No. Are they connected to the real world? Yes and no. Obviously nothing is created in a void. But the creator and the consumer aren’t necessarily what they produce or read/watch. Nor does a content lead to a certain act. There are two examples that I have in mind: a. Magritte’s painting “This is not a pipe”. and b. real life porn. I think the first is obvious in its message. Real life porn is used by many teens as education. What is the problem here though? Is it the text or the absence of filter between fantasy and reality as well as a real tool/lense with which content is consumed?

        “By saying that media isn’t sexist, you’re implying that other seemingly neutral systems like language aren’t rigged to favour men as the default gender.”
        – Of course, I’m not speaking for lifesongsoa, but for myself, since I’m not sure how he thinks on this. I think you made a strawman argument here. We talked about animanga here for the most part. Namely we talked about fiction and fantasies. You jumped from one medium to all media. I think that one should seek different handling towards animanga and let’s say ads IRL with 3D people. Also, in the same sentence you mentioned language. Language isn’t neutral (I guess you agree) and very much not only reflects our ideas but it’s used to do particular actions like apologizing or bullying. Fiction’s purpose can be either entertainment or getting across a message or both. So I don’t think those two are comparable exactly. Fiction might use language but it’s framed within a specific use and rules.

        I myself cringe at every boob jiggling and echo of sexist joke in animanga. I myself consider I’m a feminist (I identify as such mostly coz I feel disheartened at the misunderstanding of feminist=dyke/misandrist) and I’m trying to improve as much as possible as a human being. But I wonder if labeling animanga as sexist is more a way to compartmentalize things to make myself feel at ease and superior than an inherent truth. Lately, I’m leaning towards saying that a series is lazy and depends on cheap tricks/jokes/fanservice or that it serves a certain audience than labeling it sexist (except when I sense the writer goes out of their way to make a negative point eg. the transphobic presentation of the defeat of a trans character in Yu Yu Hakusho; it’s evident there’s intend to carry across a message -or when something is good throughout only to ruin itself with an unintentional joke/depiction, eg. raping the male MC in Natsu no Zenjitsu; I was pulling my hair and crying the whole afternoon).

        My partner does consume lots of things that make me cringe or feel disgusted. But I understand that’s how they vent out negative thoughts and that what they enjoy is done in a form of catharsis. They’ve never ever talked to me or acted towards me like I was trash or an object. I just ask them not to make me consume things I can’t stand and consume for themselves in modesty. Therefore I don’t think you can consider yourself a feminist otaku only when you reduce your waifu doses.

        As to what can it be done? We can always ask for more of a balance, more products with well-written characters and stories, more of them that empower women and minorities. Praise what it’s a good example.And of course, IRL interfere when a person is to get hurt and challenge offensive jokes and the use of language.

        • I think Foxy Lady and I are more or less on the same page here.

          “- Of course, I’m not speaking for lifesongsoa, but for myself, since I’m not sure how he thinks on this. I think you made a strawman argument here.”

          This is basically what I would have said. Froggy you are assuming things that I am not actually implying.

          “I don’t agree with you when you claim that media can be detached from its surrounding culture.”

          I didn’t make that claim. It’s important to be careful we both acknowledge that I have been talking about fictional media. Media such as the news is analogous to real life, but fiction is not. Foxy Lady already said this more or less, but I want to add something to it. The important thing to note is that I’m not actually separating media from it’s culture. My statement is specific to fictional media. Fictional media is it’s own thing, trying to treat it as something analogous to real life is madness.

          “I know that you don’t intend to say this, but your argument, if taken to its logical conclusion, denies that sexism exists in social institutions.”

          That is a gross oversimplification of what I’m saying. My argument doesn’t lead there. Fictional media is not analogous to a social institution. There is nothing logical about the way you are comparing these two things. Sexism in social institutions is another topic entirely. One I am perfectly willing to talk about, but it’s a separate topic.

          “By saying that media isn’t sexist, you’re implying that other seemingly neutral systems like language aren’t rigged to favour men as the default gender”

          Again I will point out that I’m not saying that the media isn’t capable of being sexist. I should maybe also point out again that I don’t subscribe to feminist philosophy.(I say more on that later) I think it would be silly to make a blanket statement that all media is sexist, but you didn’t say that so I won’t go into that.

          There is nothing inherent about language, period. Some words have negative meaning, some have positive meaning and some are neutral. Language can also have gender. Language is a very powerful thing, but the context and meaning of the language we use can change at the drop of a dime. A word that is meant to mean something awful can be appropriated as a badge of honor. A title of honor can become a hostile thing to people suffering from authority. There is a lot of duality in language and it’s hard if not impossible to make meaningful statements about language without considering context.

          The thing relevant here is that language and fictional media are very different things. I’ve been saying analogous a lot, but I’ll say it again. Fictional media and language are not analogous. Language is a living things in the minds of people that is constantly changing and evolving as we appropriate meanings and as syncretism runs it’s course. Fictional media is a powerful thing, but it’s not on the same level as language. Both can be looked as tools, but even if we look at them both as tools they are still not analogous. Language is a tool we use to communicate everything under the sun. Fiction is a tool we use to illustrate ideas and entertain. The scope is dramatically different.

          “If we want to achieve gender equality, then criticising individual people is important, yes, but entire systems of thought need to change as well, otherwise we will unconsciously fall into sexist thinking without even realising it.”

          That isn’t actually true. A person can indulge in prejudice and discrimination in fictional media and come out of that experience a better person. For example a person could play GTA go shoot up some “bitches and hoes”, have fun doing it and come out and say man that was gross and as a result of playing the game stop and think about sexist attitudes in a new light. They can also then go back to shooting up their “bitches and hoes” with the net result being a positive one. I would think you would understand that since that is exactly what I see you trying to do here. Fictional media gives us a great platform to challenge ideas, but it becomes madness when we issue that challenge to fiction itself.

          “This is why criticising gender portrayals in media is important, because even something we take for granted like camera angles and scene composition can unconsciously favour the male’s representation of the world. This is especially relevant in the case of anime, where most of the industry workers are male. ”

          I’m not sure what to say about this last statement of yours. You sound like a conspiracy theorist or actually replace sexism with sin and I can say you sound like a southern baptist preacher. The male representation of the world? I’m sorry if you have a hard time with it, but sexism isn’t hard to overcome and you make things worse by implying that it is. Prejudice and discrimination are simply not that complicated. I don’t need to understand the full scope of sexism in society to be capable of seeing it in front of me every single time it happens. Prejudice and discrimination are not that hard to identify. Maybe that is what we really need to be talking about? If you are other feminist men are having a hard time identifying these things I’ll be happy to start talking about how I do it.

          “Sexism isn’t something you can overcome by self-reflection and pretty words. It is a social reality, one that works on a more subtle level than any of us can conceive.”

          Calling my words pretty is a bit patronizing… I’m going to have to call bullshit on this. Sexism doesn’t even need that much self-reflection to be overcome. You are looking at something you perceive as a wall and saying that it can’t be climbed. I’m telling you that I’ve scaled it, at least in the context of this topic.

          A note on why I don’t consider myself a feminist. It has nothing to do with seeing feminists as dikes at all. My problem is largely with feminist men actually, but also more specifically with all the logical fallacies I see feminists commit. Instead of specific meaningful examples what I usually see from feminists is something broad and ambiguous. Often feminists can’t even agree on things like the meaning of sexism, what is and isn’t prejudice and what feminism should and shouldn’t try to achieve. Feminism has told me it has insurmountable problems I can’t even begin to understand. Not only have I been able to understand them, but most of the issues I’ve looked at haven’t even been that complicated once I’ve broken them into digestible bits. That is why I refuse to call myself a feminist.

          • Okay, I think I misinterpreted your argument because I thought you were saying “IT’S JUST FICTION” is a defensible stance in a discussion about media influence. Sorry to have strawmanned your argument. I disagree on finer points about language, but those are just technicalities anyway and not really relevant to the main discussion at hand.

            Basically, I agree with you and with Foxy Lady Ayame that just pointing to anime as sexist is intellectual cowardice and doesn’t get to the heart of why gender imbalances exist. I also agree (with some caveats) that criticising fiction is an ineffective means of social commentary. It is not as much of an influence on the average person as family and education, among other things. It is, however, easier to criticise fiction because fiction reflects shared public experiences. Fiction is out in the open and everyone relates to stories on some level. I still maintain that criticising fiction from all angles is important – feminist critique is just another valid lens.

            Just one thing I want to point out is that (at least on the academic level) feminists are aware of the objections you’ve pointed out. Feminism has never been a monolithic movement. The only thing that feminists agree on is that there are imbalances in society. It’s important that objections like yours are made, because once you make the assumption that something is “sexist”, you can go on to claim that anything is “sexist”. I get the feeling that this is what you are taking issue with. This doesn’t mean that feminism “doesn’t add up”, just that feminism is not above criticism.

            I still identify with feminism because I think its very divisive nature gives it political power. The radicalism might be a bit much for some, but it’s effective in challenging assumptions. For example, feminist epistemology challenges the superiority of logical and rational arguments because they are associated with maleness and the inferiority of emotional arguments because they are associated with femaleness. Maybe it is harping on about a whole load of nothing, but it does seek to explain why discrimination – in any form – never seems to go away. I think we can both agree (hopefully?) that discrimination goes beyond what you and I can see in front of us. Sure, if overcoming sexism is as simple a matter as treating men and women with equal respect, then I’ve overcome it, just like you have. But to say something like “I’m not sexist – society is!” is shifting the blame elsewhere. We are society, society is us, blah blah blah and so on.

            Hope that clarifies my thinking!

            • I want to be clear. I’m not against criticism, but that said, not all criticism is equal. The reason “it’s just fiction” is a valid defense is because of blame, not influence. Everything we experience can be said to influence us. Questioning influence leaves us with two paths. We can either build a world for the best of humanity or build it to contain the worst of humanity. The reason this issue is so easy to cut into black and white is because these paths are mutually exclusive. It’s either or because the two are counter productive to each other. We can say that something bad might come from a piece of fictional media and take it away, or acknowledge that someone might get a bad idea from fiction and hold the person responsible for the thing they do because of that influence. It’s a rather clear cut issue in my mind. There are grey areas such as children for example who we really do take content away from them, but it’s important to realize that these grey areas don’t exist inside of equality. If you value equality this is a black and white issue, period. Children aren’t afforded equality.

              The problem with placing blame on fiction is that it’s not analogous to the way we place blame in real world. If you call a piece of fictional media sexist you are placing blame on it for being either prejudice against women, discriminatory against women or both. This is important because no matter how much you intend to talk about influence once you label a piece of media sexist you are guilty of bringing blame to the table. Blame is important, we can’t just ignore blame while we are discussing this topic. These questions have both real legal implications and real social implications, hell they have real moral implications as well. There is a lot at stake here, but the problem is not with criticizing fiction, the problem is with blaming fiction. Something you are guilty of doing.

              If for example someone walks into a bar and starts murdering random people with machine guns they are guilty of murder and a host of other things most sane people probably don’t like. If that same person goes in a bar in a video game and does the exact same thing the thing they have ultimately done is “just fiction”. This is why I say that fictional media is not analogous to real life. A person can’t be justified in walking into a bar and murdering random people. I am using my own sense of morality to make that statement, but I expect you agree. Even if for some reason you don’t, the consequences are clearly different.

              There is room to talk about the influence of fictional media, but unless we separate it from blame we end up with a hypocritical mess. Personally I think fiction provides a wonderful platform to talk about the conflict it portrays and I’ll tell you exactly how I tackle it. Look for the applicability of fiction. Talk about influence directly. Challenge people to better themselves, the thing they have authority over, not their form of entertainment.

              The issues I have with feminism are far and varied. The biggest one is simply hypocrisy. Not all feminists are hypocrites, but I end up on the receiving end of feminist hypocrisy often enough that I refuse to call myself one.

              “feminist epistemology challenges the superiority of logical and rational arguments because they are associated with maleness and the inferiority of emotional arguments because they are associated with femaleness. Maybe it is harping on about a whole load of nothing, but it does seek to explain why discrimination – in any form – never seems to go away.”

              You aren’t the first person to say this to me, but I am surprised to see you acknowledge it. I hope you realize this makes you a hypocrite just by virtue of being male. Personally I think this “logic” is reductive nonsense at best and destructive to progressive thinking at wost. Seeking to explain discrimination is fine, but valuing nonsense because of good intentions is well… nonsense.

              Imagine someone telling you they identify with the world being flat. You try to tell them they are wrong and they counter with an argument about how they feel and criticize the mean people who discriminate against them for calling the world flat. Discrimination against such people as human beings is wrong, but someone calling the world flat has no place in the modern scientific world. This isn’t even a gender issue. It’s actually discriminatory against both men and women to say that women are more emotional and imply they can’t reason as well as men can or that men can’t sympathize with emotional issues. This hypocrisy is at the core of what I don’t like about feminism. I am honestly a bit dumbfounded to see you bring this up and acknowledge it. I don’t see how you can do that and disagree with any of the things I am saying. It seems to me like you are openly embracing hypocrisy and that kind of blows my mind. Being a hypocrite is one of the worst things a person can be in my mind. I do appreciate that you are honest about it, but that just confuses me even more. I think you are the first person I’ve met who is willing to come out in the open and embrace it honestly.

              “I think we can both agree (hopefully?) that discrimination goes beyond what you and I can see in front of us.”

              I am not sure if we agree or not. That really depends on what you mean by “discrimination goes beyond what you and I can see in front of us.” If you mean to say that there is discrimination that I don’t see because it is not in front of me then absolutely. There are lots of things I don’t see because they are not in front of me. If you mean to say that I can’t identify the discrimination I haven’t experienced then I’m sorry, but you’re wrong, I can. Discrimination is a natural thing we can observe in everyone. Even small children do it! Identifying it is almost as simple as being willing to acknowledge it. Prejudice is the same way.

              “Sure, if overcoming sexism is as simple a matter as treating men and women with equal respect, then I’ve overcome it, just like you have. But to say something like “I’m not sexist – society is!” is shifting the blame elsewhere. We are society, society is us, blah blah blah and so on.”

              I’m not making the claim that society is at fault so I should be let off the hook, actually I essentially made the opposite claim earlier. I believe in placing blame on the individual and that context is always important when placing blame. I’ll go ahead and make a claim that might scare you: I’m not sexist. I don’t discriminate against women for being women nor do I hold any prejudice against women. I honestly believe that the only important difference between men and women are physical and related to reproduction. Even the whole men are stronger than women argument is ultimately bullshit in the modern world. Women are even capable of becoming body builders if they want.

              I am telling you honestly that I do not struggle with sexism. I know that plenty of people do have legitimate struggles with sexism, I could even point it out in some of my own friends and family if I really wanted to go there, but it’s absolutely not something everyone struggles with. Or maybe it would be more accurate to put it like this… Every healthy person goes through puberty, but the fact that some people seemingly never mature beyond it doesn’t mean that no one matures beyond it. Prejudice and discrimination are the same way. They are things that happen naturally, but they are also things we can mature through. As for why discrimination won’t go away? For the same reason puberty won’t go away. New people are born into this world and they need to mature through it just like everyone else. It doesn’t need to be taught, discrimination happens naturally. Prejudice also happens naturally. They are a part of the human condition. Of course this is only an answer on the individual level. Institutionalized prejudice and discrimination is a real thing that needs to be challenged as well.

              Sorry for writing books here. This is an issue I am passionate about as well as one I have a lot to say about. I am not very good at being brief.

            • “I do not struggle with sexism,” you say.

              “You are a hypocrite by virtue of being male,” you say.

              Look, Lifesong. You’ve made reasonable objections to feminist critique which I respect, but know when you’re being carried away.

            • I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I do want to clarify one point. The reason I said your hypocritical by virtue of being male… You subscribe to the idea the rationality itself has problems because men created it and yet you are trying to reason with me about your stance as a feminist? It seems to me like you are coming from both angles at the same time. I may have jumped to conclusions because I’ve seen this argument a dozen times before and it essentially translated into “you’re a man so you’re opinion can’t be trusted and is inherently wrong.” My first thought when I hear that from another man is “you’re also a man, how can make that statement?” I apologize for freaking out over that. It’s just kind of like having a door slammed in my face. Maybe I deserve it for ranting so much. I hate assumptions, but I’m also guilty of making them when I get heated. I apologize for that.

              I don’t struggle with sexism, I can see it for what it is and I can illustrate it easily. Maybe you believe that is impossible, but if you want to question me on it I am willing to explain. I don’t know why you think it is impossible unless you tell me. I could make assumptions, but I would rather not. If you think I am crazy now, well what can I say. A dozen other people think I’m crazy too. None of them willing to consider that someone who doesn’t struggle with sexism might exist.

              For the record I am not entirely anti feminism. I just think there are things about it that need to evolve and that feminist language is often guilty of creating an inaccurate representation of reality. The usual response I get to my ideas is something along the lines of “that’s nice and it makes sense, but fuck logic, I’m a feminist.” Maybe that is not what you actually said, but you came close and it struck a nerve. There are ideas that can be explained more easily then they are and good intentions that don’t need to be cheeped by saying that rationality can’t address feminist concerns. When I say that I am not a feminist don’t take that to mean that I think feminism has everything wrong. Instead I think that I can find answers I see feminists struggle with and that I can simplify social issues into understandable pieces without losing any important nuance. I also think that at a certain point holding onto a tool like feminism can actually become a hindrance to it’s own cause. I’ll gladly explain any of those things if you like.

              I apologize again for getting a bit heated. These things become frustrating when it feels like my ideas are not being understood. What is the appropriate way to go about explaining something I feel comfortable and confident about to a culture that has accepted the impossibility of it? And no it’s not just feminists. I don’t mean this as a statement toward you specifically, but I often do feel like I’m trying to tell people who believe the world to be flat that it’s actually round. I don’t want to insult anyone. I want to encourage and challenge the people who care about these issues so deeply. Instead I’m seen as an enemy for not subscribing to their ideology. That frustrates me to no end. I want to be challenged too, but instead everyone either tells me that I’m brilliant or insane. If I seem like I am really pushy with this topic then I should say that a big part of that is my own desire to learn and evolve. I’m not simply here to tell you that you are wrong. I apologize if I came off that way. I’ll stop ranting now, I promise.

        • > But I wonder if labeling animanga as sexist is more a way to compartmentalize things to make myself feel at ease and superior than an inherent truth. Lately, I’m leaning towards saying that a series is lazy and depends on cheap tricks/jokes/fanservice or that it serves a certain audience than labeling it sexist.

          I think this is the most intelligent and perceptive approach. It would be dismissive and incorrect to say something like “anime as a genre is wholly sexist”. But it’s right for us as anime viewers to observe that “this particular show is full of fanservice, which I find distasteful” or “this particular character espouses a male-chauvinist view, which I strongly disagree with” or “the female characters in this show are all infantilized caricatures, which I find offensive” and then decide whether or not to keep watching. Worrying about “is this sexist? was that sexist?” is focusing on an abstraction, rather than the issue. It’s like calling someone a failure without pointing out their mistakes or offering any advice.

  13. What interests me most about this topic is: Why bother at all with self-identifying as “otaku” or “feminist” or any other label? It might sound glib, but I’m serious.

    It seems to me that the quandary here basically boils down to “I possess some (but not all) traits of ‘otaku’, and some (but not all) traits of ‘feminist’. Some of the ‘otaku’ traits conflict with ‘feminist’ traits, and vice versa. Can I truthfully claim to be both, or either?”

    But what is a label except the ascription of traits? If you possess the traits individually, why do you need the label — especially if you don’t possess, or don’t want to possess, ALL of the traits associated therewith? If you seek to practice gender equality, then some might call you a feminist. But if you call yourself a feminist, some might make false assumptions about you based on their idea of what a feminist is. If someone asks you “Are you a feminist?” isn’t it better to be specific, to be topical, to ask “Why do you ask?” or “What’s your understanding of what that term means?” and turn it into a conversation, rather than give a simple yes-or-no answer? I feel that labels and generalizations only invite misunderstanding.

    Another question: Is it really necessary for the entertainment we consume to be entirely consistent with the values we practice?

    I enjoy violent entertainment, but I do not condone the use of violence or own any firearms. I enjoy entertainment featuring magic/sorcery/witchcraft, but I do not engage in the practice thereof. I fantasize about 2D women, but I do not act out those fantasies with real women (*sob*).

    But isn’t that the purpose of escapist entertainment: to give you access to something you wouldn’t normally have access to? Wouldn’t problems arise only if you didn’t draw any distinction between reality and fantasy? I wouldn’t actually steal a car, or shoot someone, or summon a devil, or use a woman for sex without any regard for her as a human being; I never have. Does playing GTA or D&D or watching hentai disprove that fact or render it somehow moot? Does it matter that the characters in these fantasies are only simulacra? Isn’t it possible to compartmentalize?

    • Why bother at all with self-identifying as “otaku” or “feminist” or any other label?

      It’s true that labellings of any sort are problematic, but they’re an easy shorthand and an unavoidable fact of life. As much as I’d like to have a deep, nuanced discussion with everyone I encounter about our respective value systems, you’re just not going to get that opportunity most of the time.

      I also have emotional reasons for wanting to identify with these particular labels. In the case of “feminist”, I attach importance to the label because I identify with the ideal of gender equality. In the case of “otaku”, I attach importance to the label because it helps me identify with others who refer to themselves in a similar way.

      At the same time, yeah, it’s true that I might be misunderstood because of how politicised both labels are, so take them with a grain of salt!

      Is it really necessary for the entertainment we consume to be entirely consistent with the values we practice?

      No, as long as we are aware of our own values, I think. A healthy critical distance and all that.

      In my case, watching skeezy otaku shows clearly doesn’t make me a bad person. It’s a healthy outlet for the most part, but the problem is when you take it further than that and think of yourself as entitled to it or that you’re somehow special because of it. THAT is more of the problem with otaku culture, not necessarily the sexual content of anime. I mean, sexual objectification is EVERYWHERE. Unfortunately.

  14. I…find it hard to identify with a lot of the things people say about feminism. Completely ignoring anyone that seems to think feminism isn’t about equality (or equity, depending on what you want to argue about), there are still a lot of opinions out there that don’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Maybe i’m not thinking about it deeply enough, or maybe I have yet to crest some great wave of maturity and self-awareness, but power and sex just aren’t related in my mind (though I fully admit that some people do see and act according to such a connection).

    When I see something or someone that’s attractive (whether it be 2D or 3D) and find myself admiring it or them for that I don’t feel that I am belittling them at all. The fact that they’re attractive or i’m attracted to them doesn’t change anything about who they are as a person or how I feel about their other attributes. They could be a bus driver, a personal trainer or a CEO and my feelings about their looks wouldn’t change.

    If that’s my personal point of view, then are writers and animators doing women a disservice by including fan service and/or harem plotlines? Maybe. I’ll get back to you on that one XD I struggle to find valid arguments for both sides. What i’m going to stick with for now is that it’s the response of the individual watcher that matters. Highschool DxD was a lot of fun to watch for reasons other than its fan service. Characters were likeable because they were assertive or loyal or kind, not because their clothes came off every few minutes.

    Fan service doesn’t add a whole lot to the anime that feature it, but I don’t think it takes whole lot away either.

    P.S – It was only after I wrote this that I realized i’d written something pretty much along the same lines as Lifesong but less eloquent >.<

    • I think many people are confused about feminism and what it means today, especially in the age of Tumblr SJWs who demonize men, and claim their crazy views are in the act of feminism. I still don’t know if I am feminist or not, I enjoy a lot of anime that objectifies women and there are parts of my lifestyle that are definitely not what I would call feminist. Yet, I am studying computer engineering, I’m the only female in my class, and I work and volunteer a lot to get girls interested in STEM careers because I think it’s really important and I don’t want another girl to be in my position later down the road.

      I recently showed the new Sailor Moon at our anime club, and I learned that many feminists love it because of what I guess is called weaponized femininity. Usagi and her friends are girls, they do girly things and Usagi herself is a awful crybaby, yet when the time comes, they save the world together – without the help of men. The fact that they wear miniskirts and heels doesn’t change a thing about how empowered they truly are.

      But if we were to change that, say, add a couple panty shots to the show, then we’re sexualizing these characters. Suddenly they’re not as empowered as they once were, and viewers will see them more as sexual objects rather than the heroes they are. Suddenly they’re not badasses saving the world, but characters that can be whacked off to, the skirts are there for a glimpse of their panties, and not because hey, we feel fierce in them. It’s like saying ‘these girls may be powerful, but they’re still only girls that will fulfill your sexual fantasies.’ And they’re only fourteen!

      I think it’s less about whether or not you feel like you are belittling these characters and more that these characters are being used to achieve a sexual ‘quota’ of sorts. It’s not about individuals but the community as a whole. I’m sure we can all think of one series where there’s a girl with big jugs who doesn’t contribute much to the story, she’s just there to sell figurines and be the fanservice bait. She exists for the entertainment and pleasure of men and that is where the problem lies. There may be many female characters in anime, but many of them exist for the viewer to lust over or for the male MC to save or help her. Hell, harem anime cover as many archetypes as they can so that they get as many men as possible drooling over at least one girl, and many of them hardly develop personalities past these cookie cutter archetypes.

      That being said, to me, enjoying these series is not a problem, as long as we’re aware of these things and can think critically about them. Despite the massive fan service and loli, I enjoyed Haganai. I’ve seem people say Kill la Kill is feminist because it’s about girls taking off their clothes to become more powerful. To be honest, I call bullshit to that, they just want to justify watching it with pride, which truly you don’t have to do. You can be a fan of something and see it’s flaws and think critically about it. Something can still be good without being completely in line with what you believe.

      This ended up being an essay of it’s own, I might even try to modify this into my own post about the subject, but I hope it sort of sheds some light on it. In closing, it’s not really about you as an individual, but how otaku culture as a whole treats women. Sort of like that # notallmen thing that went about after that shooting in California: no it’s not all men, but a pretty good chunk of them.

      • Having now taken some time to read some of the other views expressed in the comments, i’ve reworked my opinion on this a little. Your comment forced me to put some serious though into this but in the end I have to disagree. That’s not to say you’re wrong though, just that there are a number of ways you can look at this and i’ve chosen a different one. Keep in mind that we’re talking about whether anime (and other fictional media) are sexist, not whether their portrayal of women is realistic or morally wrong.

        First of all, i’d like to start with the idea that personality attributes are mutually exclusive. Your example of fan service in Sailor Moon transforming the character into a sexualized object simply isn’t true. Whatever amount of skin those characters choose to show by act or choice of clothing would not change the fact that they -are- badass teenagers working together to save the world without the help of men. It would make a huge difference to how they make their fans feel and it would be a terrible design choice, but it does not say that women can’t do all of that stuff they’re doing in the show as it currently is. While fourteen year old fanservice would certainly make me uncomfortable, that’s another issue at the moment.

        The second point i’d like to talk about is that the portrayal of any character in an anime does not immediately dictate how other characters in real life or other fiction are in actuality. Anime writers create a character from a selection of possible personalities in order to appeal to their audiences. Yes, those characters whose only role is to provide fan service and promote figurine sales exist but that doesn’t mean that strong, smart, mature, independent female characters/people can’t exist and anime don’t imply that that’s the case.

        Anime exists for entertainment first and foremost, not to attempt to emulate real life in a literal sense. Because most series don’t attempt to portray real life situations (as opposed to situations that could occur in real life, which is an important distinction), it cannot be claimed that they are sexist. Sexism implies a generalization but the characters and plots in anime cannot be generalized to real life. The only issue that can arise from this is if someone makes the mistake of thinking that they can act according to the way things are portrayed in anime.

        • Er, I mentioned at the start of that comment that I was talking about sexism, but it all still applies to whether anime are feminism friendly. They don’t attempt to say “all women are like this” or “men are better than women” at all, they just feature characters and plotlines that are designed to appeal to their intended audience.

  15. Thank you very much for writing this post! I’ve been silently reading the interesting posts on your blog on and off, but after reading this, I felt very compelled to comment. It was a heartening read and I’m glad that you’re open to tackling and discussing issues like these when you could very well… not.

    I believe that acknowledging the problematic aspects of the things that you love, and continuing to enjoy them despite these problems, is a completely valid solution, and something that more people should be open to. It’s not at all hypocritical to be both a feminist and an anime-lover/otaku, nor is the easiest or the most comfortable way to take as a consumer of anime, but it’s very possible with the right mindset!

    I’ve been doing gender studies for a few years now, and noticing or reading into feminist issues in anime is something that’s become second nature to me. But if I were to avoid watching an anime because it has fanservice that objectifies women, then I’d be really limiting the anime I can watch and the anime I can enjoy, simply because of how the anime world is right now. And I’ve found that there are many cases where a particular anime may have fanservice (or other sexist elements), and yet also include an empowering female character with depth, etc – these aren’t mutually exclusive things, honestly! Which is why I personally continue watching anime, to enjoy it, but also to critique it and to celebrate it when it does things ‘right’.

    Being able to voice out and acknowledge that the stuff we like is problematic and sexist is incredibly important, nor should we be ashamed for liking something because of this. I feel like you’ve been doing an incredibly great job of acknowledging flaws in the anime you watch (feminist or not) and yet exerting that you like them nonetheless! The key is acknowledging the problems in the things we consume, because it brings the issues into the spotlight, it no longer hides them or erases them.

    I’m going to disagree with lifesongsoa because I feel that anime (all types of media, actually) is strongly reflective of social issues, of how men do view women (and vice versa). Which is why it’s so important to acknowledge how anime portrays everyday issues. There is no direct way to solve how sexist anime is right now, but by understanding and knowing that it is, and spreading that message (like what you’re doing!) – we’re already putting ourselves into a better, conscious position as anime fans.

    I may have rambled, but I’m really happy you chose to talk about this, thank you very much for the post!

    • Thank you so much for the kind and encouraging comment. While I’ve never studied gender issues formally, I’ve always been sensitive about that subject because of my own negative experiences with gender stereotypes. I recently read some introductory-level textbooks about feminism, which was partly what inspired this post, and it’s a subject I’m interested in learning more about more closely.

      To be honest, I was nervous posting this. Would I get blasted for admitting to my struggles with sexism? Would I be accused of jumping onto the “feminist bandwagon”, over-analysing fiction and trampling on the entertainment of others? In the end, I’m glad I did post this. This is an issue that affects everyone and it shouldn’t be swept under the carpet. It felt very cathartic to write!

      One other thing: I agree with you that positive female role models can be found even in otherwise sexist media. It’s by no means a black-or-white issue, The best we can do is point out the flaws where we see them and focus on embracing the positive messages. That’s when we can get the most out of our media.

  16. Curiously, one of the reasons I got into anime and manga was because there were a lot more female protagonists I could relate to and found empowering, than I could find in other mediums (e.g. movies, TV, pop fiction, games, etc). Everything from Cardcaptor Sakura to Kino’s Journey, from Haibane Renmei to Hatenkou Yuugi, from Fruits Basket to Aria the Animation… I was just really glad to see stories that actually starred girls and young women, who didn’t have to act so tough and snarky all the time (what much of fiction these days equates to making a strong character) or have so much focus placed on their sexuality, which I was so tired of seeing in stories before I got into anime and manga.

    Of course, the sorts of anime/manga stories I like are… usually not the same as the ones others like. Which is fine; everyone has their own tastes. But I thought I’d mention just how vast this medium is, and how there’s a significant number of women in Japan creating popular fiction in general. (For example some of my top favorite franchises, such as Pandora Hearts and Book Girl, are by women.)

    I’m not entirely sure there’s an easy answer for you Frog-kun, when it comes to bridging your tastes in anime and your stance on feminism in general. Hence such a big post and long series of discussions in the comments? Well, various kinds of fanservice in fiction can be considered a form of objectification, and I guess you just have to decide how much to take in and how much to let it affect you. I think the fact you take the time to think about it at all though is a good thing, at the very least.

  17. I know plenty of feminist otaku… they just tend to focus on specific works while rolling their eyes at the traditional otaku/moe-baiting stuff…

    I’d have to say that based on your consumption and attitude, you’re only halfway there =P
    If nothing else, that favorite character list of yours on MAL??? Yeeeaah, no excuse ^^”

    However, as much as people bash on animango for it, keep in mind that it’s way better than a lot of other mediums. Percentile wise, I still believe anime has far more smart, capable girls than comics or (biggest sinner) action movies. At least moe promotes a concepts that are traditional virtues… compare that to MTV crap or pigs like Michael Bay… =_=’

  18. As far as your post is concerned, I think it’s about self-awareness and real-life practice. We all can enjoy problematic media, as long as we’re aware of and acknowledge its problems, and make sure that our actions because of it do not hurt real people. The danger in participating in 2D waifu culture is that it may sub-consciously spill over to actions towards real females, but as you’re constantly questioning yourself over this, that doesn’t seem to be an issue.
    It’s much like dealing with race-based humor, where only the race being made fun of has the final say on if they’re being hurt by the joke or not, as well as the insight into why.
    So there can be spaces where normally sexist language can be used in a light-hearted manner, such as celebrating power fantasy heroes as the height of masculinity, or using stereotypes to examine Hyouka’s Satoshi’s sexuality, and I think that it’s okay, as long as everyone involved understands that it’s not serious, which is admittedly hard due to Poe’s Law, and that any females that do find or are affected/influenced by that space aren’t hurt by it. (Which is different from being offended, although it’s also hard to for people themselves to differentiate between simply being offended and being angry from getting emotionally hurt)

    The longer I’ve been in these sorts of discussions and communities, the more that it seems that the issue is always going to be one of representation. Every type of girl portrayed in media can be seen as positive or negative portrayals of females, as is the case with males characters. And that’s how it’s always going to be, because humans are complex! Ideally, we’ll get the spectrum of portrayals, both negative and positive, reflecting what humanity really is like, regardless of gender.

    So the issue, for me, is that although I may find positive qualities in problematic media, (see anyone defending KLK) there isn’t enough media that isn’t problematic. Why should I have to preface introducing most anime to people with “if you ignore these skeezy parts, it’s quite good!” Hell, I’m at a point where I instinctively tune out fanservice junk because it’s so prevalent that even good shows do it. One of my gateways back into anime was Rinne no Lagrange. I loved the characters, loved the relationships, loved the writing of the first season, everything. I re-watched just a few months later and noticed how much sleezy fanservice I had habitually glossed over in my memories.There’s no way I could show this to someone not already somewhat indoctrinated in common anime elements. But why should I have to? There’s not enough representation in anime of certain positive things without also diluting them with problematic elements.
    So at the point where there isn’t enough of a balance in anime, if I support anime I like despite their problematic elements, the industry will most likely interpret it that I liked the anime because of them. People will look at KLK’s success with a female audience and say that they’re okay with the rapey elements, even if that’s not true. Because there’s no real equivalent show being made without the rapey elements, people who like actions shows like KLK watch it, enjoy its positive elements, and still end up empowering the industry to keep making more problematic media.

    I think about this dilemma a lot. (My last comment sums it up best, so make sure to read the comments. Lol, this sounds a lot like why Anno was so enraged and made the Rebuilds.)
    Here’s also what I’ve written about the dilemma as applied to idol fandom:
    Quoting grey: “And why is that we can separate them [idols] from that rather than subsume or include them in that machine? [the industry] Or do we? Do we accept their place in the machine and that they act complicitly with it?” And similarly, questions that came up when the Cabi MV came out: how far can fans separate their group members from their [abusive] producers? Is it naivete on their part to do so?
    And then the paradox: in the case of trying to support the girls separate from their producers, how do you signal what you don’t want without dooming the girls? Especially with a newer group, if you like the girls but not their concepts, you can’t not buy their product or they might disband or fade into non-active obscurity.
    I can’t exactly answer those questions because I don’t separate the machine. I accept the machine. Horrible person, yes I know. There are bigger fish to fry than the entertainment business.

    In idol fandom, real people really are getting hurt so I feel extra guilty! :D
    The issues are even further muddled because idol fans may enjoy the exact same thing for positive or negative reasons. Some might see a certain portrayal as promoting sex-positive discourse, and some of the sexual politics are side-stepped when, say, it’s a lesbian doing the wolf-whistling on a Best Girl. But others are also using the same portrayal as misogynistic fap fodder. And if the industry is favoring and catering towards the latter crowd, the former’s support isn’t going to redeem the real-life fallout. It’s the same with some of the issues surrounding Yuri/Yaoi vs. sexuality. It can act as a safe sexual-exploration space, but can trivialize the real-life strugges of homosexuals. But some homosexuals still can enjoy and identify with it. But it’s more commonly used, again, as fap fodder that reinforces old power structures. Back and forth, back and forth, and this would all be irrelevant if there was and equal amount of media taking and portraying homosexuals seriously and realistically, but there isn’t, so that why we end up quibbling over the merits of Yuri and Yaoi.

    In conclusion, while I don’t have a problem with consuming problematic media, I have a problem with the implications of showing my support for it. It’s okay for anime with skeezy fanservice to exist and be enjoyed, but it’s a problem when it makes up the majority of popular anime, and it’s hard to find an anime without those elements that I like. (It’s a little like Bechdel. Individual examples are always fine in isolation, but we can’t ignore what it means when the industry thinks that this is apparently all we want.)

  19. >mentions feminism
    >wall-of-text comments follow
    Daaang. (Though thankfully the word “misandry” has yet to really rear its ugly head.) Anyway, to add to the mess: when you say this stuff is “actively harmful towards women”, I’m wondering how exactly this is and what effect our conversations about it have. One point that I haven’t seen anyone mention (though I admit I didn’t read all of the comments) is the funny place we’re in as western watchers in particular. (I say “Western”, but that’s (a) an assumption based on the fact that we all count English among the languages we are proficient with, and (b) the concept of “The West” is a rather shaky one. But I think it suffices for my point here.) Excepting those of us who actually live in Japan, it seems to me that we’re in the odd position of caring a great deal about a medium/genre/industry that we have little to no political or economic influence over, and that is furthermore only a limited reflection of our particular societal values.

    So while it would be great to see less sexist anime (or non-sexist anime), we can’t really be the ones to make that happen. So there goes one motivation for critiquing the content of the stuff. And it’s also pretty niche stuff, so its influence on the way we see the folks around us narratize real life is going to be rather limited compared to other formats (with the exception of the English-speaking fanbase as a sort of subculture, more on which in a second).

    So I think we’re in a rather funny position here in that how we talk about anime is possibly more important from a moral standpoint (in how it affects us in particular) than the actual content of the anime we’re watching and talking about. But I doubt that this actually affects much beyond (a) our personal self-improvement in terms of what sorts of narratives we use for making sense of the world (which is obviously important but carries little public weight, so to speak), and (b) the attitudes and actions of the English-speaking fanbase (and this is sorta really important—though obviously this is a pretty small sphere of influence!).

    So my opinion in a nutshell: the power anime has on our society’s narratives is limited. The degree to which it’s a reflection of those same narratives and the society we can influence is also limited. The discussions surrounding anime seem to me to have a greater impact on what we actually do, but a lot of this is going to be limited to self-understanding and understanding of specific people rather than our hopes of positively transforming society (excepting a rather small subculture that I nevertheless do think it’s worth caring about). The actual content of the anime we watch is mainly of practical interest insofar as it forms a reflection of the viewer’s values and her/his efforts to rework said values.

    Which is, granted, sort of what I think you’re up to. A couple things I’ll point out: the reasons you gave for calling yourself an otaku all seemed to be about community and personal identity. The “herbivore male” thing is a pretty interesting example, in that you call it the most relevant in terms of this particular discussion, and question its goodness, and then immediately afterwards say:

    It’s fair enough that I obtain my feelings of empowerment as an otaku from resistance against macho masculine norms. This, I feel, is actually the inspiring part of otaku (and geek) culture and is in no way toxic.

    …which seems sorta contradictory, but I think the point here is that the way in which we’re fans (which has no necessary relation to what it is we’re fans of) has quite an influence on how we construct our identites, and fandom can offer alternative identities to ones we find elsewhere. But: is an alternative sort of masculinity necessarily a good sort of masculinity? A better sort? Is wanting some sort of masculinity at all desireable?—These aren’t rhetorical questions to be answered with “no”, but I think it’s these that give rise to what looked to me (and I could’ve been misinterpreting you, in which case I’m very sorry) like a contradiction.

    One last note: you said
    It is, however, easier to criticise fiction because fiction reflects shared public experiences. Fiction is out in the open and everyone relates to stories on some level. I still maintain that criticising fiction from all angles is importantI agree, though I’d go a step further here: fiction doesn’t just reflect shared experiences, but is a type of shared experience, and one that—thanks to the relative ease with which it may be shared—is easier and sometimes more fruitful to critique than those in Real Life, where what ‘actually happened’ is often really difficult or downright impossible to find/understand amid a morass of conflicting viewpoints (Rashomon comes to mind, funnily enough); talking about the moral implications of an event is a lot easier when you actually know what the event in question was and then can sort out the different lenses through which it’s viewed.

    But if we make sense of and share experience in large part through narratives—fictional as well as nonfictional, and it’s a blurry line at times—then I think that those narratives it’s most productive and important to critique publicly are the ones we are in some way responsible for creating and perpetuating. The ones that “only” reflect who we are as viewers/readers/etc. are of a different sort of interest.

    —I’m not really content with all the above, as it seems to rest on some rather tenuous assumptions (and too much royal “we”), and I’m not even sure how much of it I agree with! (I actually do think that analyzing more ‘personal’ narratives as viewers etc. is productive and important. I’m trying to figure out in what manner this is.) And I probably came across as a good deal more critical than I meant to (I like this post and the discussion it’s inspired, and I really admire your courage in posting it.) But I hope you might find it interesting? Way too long tho.

    • Actually, in retrospect, I really dislike the Western We above. I know what I was trying to get at, but this wasn’t the way to do it, and it also shows that I may’ve been mistaken from the very premises. Sorry.

    • re: the Western We

      I think the problem with sexism in the anime fandom isn’t purely a problem of media representation of women. It’s the problem of anime fans like myself empowering themselves and creating a shared identity on the basis of sexist values. This is not unique to Japanese anime fandom. I know that part of my development as an outsider of Japanese otaku culture was to consciously cultivate their “way” of looking at these things in myself. This made me feel special because I thought I “got” the point of fanservice on a visceral level.

      This is kind of related to what I was saying about the herbivore male. I don’t think the logic of resisting masculine norms is a bad idea (you know, fuck the patriarchy and all that) but my motives were still inherently sexist because I was still basing my masculinity around superiority over women. I basically constructed my 2D-sexuality (lol) primarily to fit in with other lonely otaku, which points to what you were saying about how fiction is a shared experience and how fandom is a means of identity creation.

      Perhaps a healthier, more productive alternative to otaku culture is developing a positive rapport between male and female fans (and male and female human beings in general, while we’re at it). I think the reason I thankfully never fell entirely into the whole “purity complex” thing is because I have always had strong friendships with females and I don’t have unrealistic expectations about what they should be like. I didn’t address the idea in this post, but next post will be about the relationship between male and female fans in English-speaking fandoms and why the perceived divide is a sign of active discrimination happening in the subculture right now.

      So yeah, this isn’t just something happening in Japan that we’re peeking in on. Some of the comments have called me out on labelling anime as sexist and ignoring the real issue here, but I’ve always thought sexist is – and always will be – about us. (As in, human beings in general.) Sexual fanservice is so widespread that criticising any individual anime for it is like “yeaaaah, okay, we get it, now what about the anime itself?” Very easy to take the moral high ground on this issue and just make a blanket statement that anime is sexist but since I am aware of it, I can go on with my life and continue thinking of myself as a nice person. Ignoring, of course, the ways anime fans can and do discriminate against each other on the basis of gender.

  20. […] J: Well it’s just mainly that a lot of the show can be seen as sort of subscribing to a lot of the views of the otaku community. You know there is female objectification, and in one episode there’s even one prominent subplot where Sora forces Steph to fall in love with him like she’s some sort of object. I mean, there are tons of other examples in the same vein, but it all can be seen as adding up to a show that tends to perpetuate some of the more negative aspects of the fandom (even if in a self-aware way) rather than confront them. […]

  21. Can I just say I think it’s really admirable and brave of you to be so open and honest about yourself and your desires. I don’t think I could do that. It’s so refreshing to see a guy be like “yeah I’m a pervert and I have some questionable kinks and fetishes” and still be a decent person standing up for gender equality. Kudos to you.

    Although the sexism in anime is directed towards women, and the target audience is boys, I have to mention that female otaku can behave in exactly the same way regarding male characters. The thing is, there are fewer female otaku, and since it’s still some sort of taboo surrounding female sexual desires, most girls won’t be so open to say they’re into anime in, like, a sexual way. That’s why Tumblr is such a popular place for people to express themselves, because one can be anonymous, and there’s less sexism going around the place. Women over there have no problem revealing their guilty pleasures, and are accepted for it (for the most part, heh). My point is women can treat male characters in anime exactly the same way men treat female characters.

    But the thing is, I don’t think sexism is exclusive for the anime media. You still see Western movies and shows where women are objectified and treated as the “weaker” gender. If you’re sexist for being otaku, then so is everyone who participates in other media too, be it movies, shows, commercials and whatnot. I’d say the entire world still has an unbalanced view on gender expectation.

    I really liked Silvachief’s comment where he said he wasn’t belittling women by thinking them attractive. It’s not like you can help it when you see a hot piece of ass. Essentially, humans are made to have hormones or whatever. Appreciating someone’s beauty, whether they’re 2D or 3D, isn’t really the issue. The real problem with sexism is when people start to behave condescending towards women, or men, just because of their gender, having different and/or lower or higher expectations of them.

    The way I see it is, as long as you’re pro gender equality, and treat people the same regardless of their sex, you are good to call yourself a feminist. And there’s nothing wrong with a few kinks or role-playing behind the bedroom door (;

  22. I am glad you are a feminist. I identify myself as one and also love the anime to an extreme.
    I wont lie I see where your going and how some anime try to sexualize anime girls.

    I suppose that is why I have a support of reverse harem anime series. Giving power to the female anime fans too with the genre.

    I think as long as you are self aware and want to improve yourself on gender inequality that is enough. After all, there are still plenty of individuals who are sexist and can’t even move beyond that which is pretty sad.

    • Honestly I wouldn’t even say that harem / objectification is the real issue. There’s [always] a level of objectification in audience-targetted materials, be it beautiful women or beefy men (female audience targeted materials often objectify just as much)… it’s the attitude of fans in treating the other side.

      As a graduate of a college anime club, I’ve seen too much of “yuri is cool but yaoi is disgusting” or similar. Not cool.

      Example: show all those Mahou Shoujo fanboys the first 5 minutes of Kamigami no Asobi (where a bishie transforms, complete with scenic shots) and see how they react ^^

      • Harem objectification is an issue since what it portrays are not exactly good values but it also tends to happen because usually women or girls who watch boys love anime are objectifying men just as a fun way to gain some power over the status quo men have put on them and in a more male dominated society.

        Men and or boys usually feel yuri is cool but then go on to say that yaoi and its forms are wrong. Which is hypocritical. It is like saying “your not entitled to watch anime and we’ll be holding you back. Not by force but by societal pressure”.

        Most male anime fans are not like that I am sure because I know of an anime blogger named lystriadensine who blogs at The True Lystria who self indentitfies as a male femnist.

        The worst thing about it all though is personally I like yuri. Yaoi too. I happen to be a female an anime fan, ,so the fact that can enjoy these two things means a lot. It means that gender doesn’t have to effect what we both can like and enjoy. If more people could be open-minded wee could all come to understand each other and makes things interesting by discussing new entertainment rather than sticking to sticking to the same genre specific shows.

  23. […] Frog’s been writing some stuff regarding how just because he likes to ogle 2D girls doesn&#821…. Whilst I’ve never truly thought he was as much of a slimeball in real life as he is on the Internet, I think he’s overthinking things in regards to something that’s been around long before anime was really a thing. I mean have you seen the stuff on Adult Swim, dude? Granted they’re terrible, but still… […]

  24. As always, I’m late to the party XD

    I read through this post and your recent one interviewing the Tumblr user (though I didn’t read through all the comments on either…just too many!) But despite both posts having lots of comments already, I still wanted to give my two cents.

    This post in particular was very interesting and I commend you for putting it out there despite it being both a touchy and personal subject. As a female otaku myself, and one who happens to like a lot of anime that a feminist might deem sexist (such as Lucky Star, K-ON, etc.,) all I can say is that I don’t care what kind of anime someone likes since it doesn’t necessarily reflect on their morals and values in real life. For example, I’ve known a lot of male otaku who like moe, ecchi, and harem anime, have certain 2D girls they consider their “waifus” and such…and just about all of them are really nice guys who wouldn’t treat anyone, male or female, in a demeaning way. The way they love their cute 2D girls is similar to how I gush over my favorite cute pokemon – it’s just comforting and fun indulgence in fiction and fictional characters with traits that appeal to you, and as long as the sexist undertones of stuff like moe and ecchi doesn’t leak into your actions in real life, then what’s the harm? I’d rather have otaku guys who can appreciate cuteness and emotional sensitivity over macho jocks any day XD (from what I’ve seen, in real life it’s the latter that’s often more sexist!)

    • Goodness, what’s sexist about K-On!

      Perhaps I’m not a very good feminist. But K-On! seems like it ought to be a very feminist friendly anime. It’s just a healthy, wholesome show about the friendships of girls.

  25. Just remember this. If you ever catch yourself saying anything like women are more naturally caring or anything that can demean your own gender in favor of another, you’re not a feminist. Not a good one at least. More a radical. You can’t self depreciate and expect to fight for equality. Once you call yourself a pig, you start to look at anyone else in your gender as a pig and being anti male in general.

    Males need to take pride in their gender and their interests. Not one or the other. It’s not your gender or interests that keep you from differentiating from reality to fiction. It’s ignorance. In reality men are not all rapists. In reality all humans are capable of being rapists.

    No such thing as one thing being “naturally” superior or better at something than the other without a physical deficiency such as a lack of a penis and balls or a womb and a pussy. Everything else is propaganda by people looking to ruin someone’s self esteem.

    • I agree with the sentiment behind your comment but I’m not sure about the nuances. You’re right that most mainstream feminists reject biological determinism. There’s a world of difference between biological sex and gender as a social construct. Feminists tend to point to cultural factors to explain things like rape. Problematic attitudes can be fixed with self-awareness and education because human beings can always strive to be better than they are. It’s quite an optimistic standpoint, I think. I don’t see anything “anti male” about it.

      Your other point about all humans being capable of rape also bothered me somewhat, because I think that whitewashes the gendered reality of rape. Of course not all men are rapists and women rapists exist too. But men are overwhelmingly more likely to commit rape against both male and female victims. That’s a fact, not propaganda to ruin someone’s self esteem. As I said before, it’s not that men are born that way. In fact, thanks in part to rape awareness campaigns, rape has been on the decline. Attempting to educate men about consent =/= insinuating all men are rapists.

      One last thing. I’m not sure why I should take particular pride in my gender. That seems to contradict your other point (which I agree with, btw) about no gender being naturally superior. Why feel the need for male pride if there’s nothing special about masculinity? Unless you’re talking about human dignity, which I think should be a given for all people :)

      • Where’s your proof of this that men are more incline to do anything? Are you basing off some website you read that on? There’s no scientific proof of it unless you do the scientific experiments yourself on any and all men in the world and any and all women in the world.

        By saying that rape has gone down simply because men are more aware, is to say the same thing as men are all rapists. Because you lack the context that is factual. And that fact is that you have no 100% undeniable proof that fewer women rape in general, and that they rape more of one thing than another. There is no proof. If there was, it’d be less of a debate online. Look at your online articles and tell me how they’re different than what I’m about to post below. It begins with quotation marks and ends with them.

        “Statistics state that less women rape in general. In 2007 there was a study that showed that women are more incline to be respectful and decent humans than ignorant men. A survey was conducted by Hilary Clinton in Tennessee where she surveyed men and women about what they would do if presented with their object of interest on whether to have sex with them while the person was drunk. 12% women said yes. 85% men said yes. Out of a total of 80 people interviewed it can be concluded that men are more likely to rape than women. Hilary Clinton is now running a 2015 campaign to convince men to castrate themselves after the age of 27.”

        Taking pride in your gender isn’t the same as viewing yourself superior. If you don’t take pride in being a man, then you can’t really say you’re for equality. Because pride isn’t about superiority. I can take pride in things that have nothing to do with being superior. Like taking pride in the fact that I have a job. So why should being a man be any different and not allowed to take pride in?

        There’s nothing special about femininity either. But no one bats an eye at a women taking pride.

        Femininity and masculinity are just social terms. They aren’t different. Just society wants us to think it is. Society wants us to think a feminine person is more caring. And yet people have told me they think it’s manly when a man can cry like, as they say, a woman.

        Being a man doesn’t make you masculine. Man is not a status that decides whether you’re masculine or not. It’s just being what it is. A man. What would you say to a woman who tells you to be ashamed of being a man? Even if you did nothing wrong?

        • I think you’re conflating interpretations of statistics with the statistics themselves. Statistics don’t represent each individual member of the population. They’re useful for showing general trends, not absolutes. In the case of rape statistics, a survey or study isn’t just performed once. They’re repeated multiple times across many years across many countries. You may pick fault with individual studies and their methodologies, but a statistician or a social scientist (i.e. someone who is trained in analysing data) would not dispute the overall trends. If you disbelieve me, which is reasonable since you don’t know my credentials, you can consult an academic who works in this field.

          Of course you can’t know everything. That’s no reason to just disregard studies. That’s why academics are always conducting new research. Skepticism and keeping an open mind is useful, but you can’t use that to discourage action in the meantime.

          Also, just because a trend exists doesn’t mean that every man is a rapist. I don’t see how the decline of rape in America at all proves that men are inherently rapists. I see the opposite – people change according to their circumstances and culture. As for what extent rape awareness programs are responsible, that’s debatable. Some say the rise of pornography has been a factor, for instance. And the rates of violent crime has been lowering overall. But at any rate, men (and women) aren’t “inherently” violent.

          So yeah, I’m not sure where you got the idea that cultural critique = being told you should be ashamed about being a man. If someone actually said that to you, that was a shitty thing and they’re the ones who should be ashamed. But that idea is not popular at all in feminist circles, so try not to interpret it that way! :)

          • The point is that no matter what statistic you pull, it’s not at all able to be proven since I just pulled something out of my ass that pretty much resembled the many articles people read about statistics and believe them.

            If I were to write an articel about that on my blog, chances are that more people than needed would believe it to be true.

            And you must not seem to understand that there is no dictionary difference between cultural critique and someone saying how much they hate men.

            The only difference is the constructive versus destructive.

            And as I stated before, just because they may “peform” studies more than once doesn’t mean they didn’t lie about the results. There’s no magic force making them tell the truth. Hence why only foolish people would believe them for simple reasons like “They did a study” or “They did it more than once”. We don’t know that to be any more true than the results of the study.

  26. I haven’t read all of the comments, and I know I’m a little bit late to this conversation, but is there anything really problematic about being attracted to 2D characters? I mean, there’s nothing wrong with being attracted to real women or men. So what would be wrong with being attracted to fictional people?

    It’s escapism, but I’m not sure it’s sexist. Some people think they don’t have much chance with the opposite sex, or same sex, or with dating at all. That’s not problematic or sexist, and it’s not blaming anyone.

    And while a lot of girls in anime as characters are not “empowered”, I don’t think that being attracted to anime characters is the same thing as wanting power over someone or fantasizing about having power over women.

    I do agree though that the representations of women in a lot of moe and moe shows could be better. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with depicting characters who are vulnerable and innocent. Being innocent is a positive quality in all humans. And a lot of Slice of Life anime are safe spaces where girls can be vulnerable, open with their feelings, and have healthy relationships with other girls. We should all be able to be vulnerable and have safe spaces. And positive friendships.

    But I don’t like how female characters tend to be depicted as more weak than male characters. And how things like “purity” is fetishized. It’s very unhealthy and one sided. And wanting to have power over women and hold standards for women you don’t hold for yourself, is exploitative and incredibly troubling and disturbing.

    But I do think you can like “cute girls doing cute things” and “moe” and otaku things, without it entailing that. I love moe and otaku things, but I’m very critical of the unfair gender and power dynamics in anime.

    • is there anything really problematic about being attracted to 2D characters?

      I’ve talked about this in some other posts, which you might find interesting: (https://fantasticmemes.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/beautiful-fighting-girl-and-otaku-sexuality/ and https://fantasticmemes.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/on-being-attracted-to-anime-girls/)

      I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong about being attracted to anime characters, but it’s impossible to ignore the broader context in which this consumption takes place. Out of context, K-ON! is perfectly harmless. Even when you take into account the otaku audience, I wouldn’t call K-ON! itself “misogynistic” or anything. But it’s definitely part of a sexist culture.

      As an individual, it’s perfectly possible to be into moe shows but not to buy into the purity complex. No one is saying “You’re a sexist for liking anime!” But of course, things like sexism are larger than the individual. So I think it’s a good thing to be critical of anime and its social context, even when we enjoy it :)

  27. I am a feminist otaku, and agree with some of what you said, I personally watch a few of the more obscure anime, that are not sexist, but I have watch and enjoyed animes that have a few sexist comments( eg. Nisekoi, SAO, No Game No Life…) Even though a lot of animes have a few sexist comments that make me feel a bit annoyed, they are not “super sexist anime” as they are not jam-packed with sexist comments, and the main idea of the anime is not sexist, and I have still found myself enjoying these anime overall and ignoring these sexist comments and sinse I overall enjoy the anime, and I like alot of animes, and am a big fan of anime, I still consider myself and “otaku”. So, even though there are downfalls in the anime this does not mean that I dislike the anime, even though these downfalls may really annoy me.

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