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Sexism in the Anime Fandom: A Case Study of a Tumblr User

A "stereotypical" female anime fan

A “stereotypical” female otaku

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my last post, I discussed my stance on sexism in male otaku fandom. I described my ambivalence about my own fan activities and how I have always felt complicit in sexist attitudes despite my desire for gender equality. It is certainly easy to point out that anime fanservice objectifies women (among other things) and in doing so turn your critical eye away from yourself.

This time, I want to focus on the female anime fan’s perspective. In doing so, I hope to show that sexism in the anime fandom lies far beyond what is shown in anime itself. The sharp division between anime communities “for boys” (i.e. Reddit and 4chan) and anime communities “for girls” (i.e. tumblr and fanfiction sites) does not help. There is a distinct lack of open communication between both genders online. This enforces gender stereotyping on both ends.

This post is a collaboration with my friend AquaJet. She is an insider of both female otaku culture and tumblr culture. I decided to feature her writing on my blog because I feel this is a perspective that needs to be shared to a wider audience.

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“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.

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