Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why I don't talk about sexism in games/manga/anime

I'm going to get this out of the way right now: no, I don't think that sexism in gaming is a topic that shouldn't be talked about, nor do I think the people who criticize such elements in videogames/manga/anime are in the wrong. That said, this post is about why I don't write about such things in this blog, even when it seems like something relevant to what I'm writing about. Now, this isn't a subject that I completely ignore. I do talk about it from time to time in forums and with my friends, but only when it it brought up; rarely, am I the one to bring up this topic, and the reasoning as to why is what this blog post is about.

Now then, the reason why I don't discuss sexism in gaming comes down to only two points:

1) I don't get it.

What do I mean by that? Well, simply put: I don't get what counts as sexist and what doesn't most of the time. Now, of course, there's the obvious stuff where women are objectified and disrespected, but it seems that sometimes the line blurs between what is OK and what isn't. For example, why is it that a character like Samus is ridiculed for her portrayal in Metroid: Other M, but Juliet Starling's character portrayal in Lollipop Chainsaw is just fine? Why is it that Nami and Robin in One Piece are criticized for their clothing in One Piece, but the female characters in Fairy Tail aren't? Why is it that I am a pervert for watching Queen's Blade, but suddenly I'm cool for watching Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt?

I'm not looking for an answer for these questions, because I know that answer: that's just how it is. There's no fighting against the vocal majority. Some things are established as fine and good before they're even released, while others are ridiculed far after they see release. Why? Well, my guess is that the reasoning behind if something is OK or not comes not from the people who do know what they're talking about and should be determining if it's OK or not, but rather, the vocal majority that lies within the sea of fandom known as the internet. If a fanbase is larger than another, it doesn't mater what the smaller fanbase says, the larger fanbase's opinion is what the majority of people will see and hear, and thus it will soon become fact. It's in this sea of chaos that is thousands (if not millions) of people's opinions that I just find myself not understanding the logic of this chaos. Why is it that Panty & Stocking, an anime that literally made me sick to my stomach, is a cool and awesome anime to watch? I don't know. And that's the answer I find myself coming to when faced with the many other questions that delve into subjects like portrayal of female characters and sexism. I don't get why some things are OK and others aren't. And, you know, I'm fine with that. I have my own values and opinions on the subject of sexism, and I stand by them. I feel that as long as I stand by my own opinions, I'm doing fine. I'm not going to change my values just so I can try to understand something that confuses me; after all, in doing that I'd feel like I'm betraying myself in a way, and, furthermore, I basically just don't care much. I mean, yes, I respect women very much, but as I said in my fanservice discussion post a while back, we have to understand that these are creations of fantasy and there are limits to how much fantasy can be limited and criticized. This leads to my second point ...

2) It doesn't matter.

Now, don't get me wrong, discussion on the subject of sexism and portrayal of women in games has made great strides in how women are portrayed in the entertainment medium, but what needs to be understood is that there are limits as to how much can change. Just because female characters are getting more respect in the media most people see, doesn't mean there won't always be manga like ToLoveRu and Air Gear that but T&A center stage in their portrayal of female characters. "Bad Fanservice", as I called it in my previous post, is something that will always be present in all forms of social media. Sex sells; it always has and it always will. Now, I'm not saying we should tolerate everything bad with a female characters portrayal, but we have to understand that there will always be smut in the world.

These two points come together and basically form how I take in such subjects of sexism in gaming. For example, when everyone complained about Samus' portrayal in Metroid: Other M, I thought about it for a while, but ultimately came to the conclusion that I just didn't get what everyone was talking about, and whether that was due to ignorance on my part for not seeing something that was there, or ignorance on other's part for not fully understanding the story was something I just couldn't pinpoint in the sea of chaos that is the internet and a vast amount of people's opinions. But, in the end, it didn't matter, because the majority group had spoken (on the internet at least) and the game was labeled as a poor representation of Samus and her character. Do I disagree? Of course. Does anyone really care? No. And for that reason, I don't really care. I know it's the coward's way out, but that's just how I feel about the subject. I have my own views and I stand by them, but I don't plan on dealing with the madness that is the internet in order to voice such opinions. That may seem hypocritical to say because I'm writing this in a blog on the internet, but, in all honesty, I don't really expect anyone to take my views to heart, as I'm doing this to basically vent my thoughts, not to make a statement.

Now, I'm not saying that people should just sit back and let the entertainment medium do as they like when it comes to the portrayal of women. I'm just saying that I have no place criticize such matter because I am simply too ignorant on the subject itself, too far flung from the sea of chaos that is the internet, and simply too set in my own views on the subject that I really have no place to criticize the subjects of sexism and portrayals of female characters. Thus why I don't discuss the subject. I'm not ignoring it, but I don't believe me discussing the subject will do much good.

Bottom Line: people can like what they like and hate what they hate, and that includes me. I like Samus' portrayal as a female protagonist with weaknesses and strengths in Metroid: Other M, and I hate Panty & Stocking for being a perverted mess of teenage boy fantasies with female characters who are simply sex-crazed sluts. I don't get why people don't like Samus' character portrayal, nor do I understand why the anime Panty & Stocking has such a large fanbase, but, in the end, it doesn't matter, because anime like P&S will always exist, and fanboys will always hate change in videogames. These things will never change. I may disagree, but such opinions on the internet just don't fly; so, I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't. Sure, there's a world out there where if I try my damnedest, I might get some people to understand my opinion, but, for a normal guy like me, that's just too much work. I'll leave that people like femalefrequency @ Youtube.

In the end, all I gotta say is: don't worry, be happy.


  1. It matters because it influences people who are still developing opinions. It's similar to the lack of diversity in the media or the portrayals of minorities.

    I'm not saying you need to care, but a bunch of people would be happy if you did. Even if you don't always agree with them.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it, and understand where you're coming from, but sexism is a touchy subject, and while I may occasionally give my input on the subject, I would hope people don't take my opinions too close to heart (though, of course, I hope my opinion isn't completely ignored), as I feel that while I do have a voice it is not necessarily one with enough wisdom behind it, at least for this particular subject. I am still a youth after all.