Con reports, writing autistic characters, and bad gender essentialism.
Most of the AniFem team was at Otakon, and they reported back on their ups and downs with the experience.
Dee, Peter, and Vrai weighed in on how they’re feeling about the current crop of anime.
Shining a spotlight on women in production roles.
Psychosomatic Medicine Manga Imagines World Without Sexual Desire (Anime News Network)
This manga packs a lot into four pages: misogyny, heteronormativity, total unawareness of asexuality, general awfulness. It’s sure…something. Written by an actual psychiatrist, depressingly enough.
The manga imagines that a world without sexual desire would mean that the majority of high-class hotels, bars, restaurants, and brand shops would shut down. Romantic feelings between men and women would cease. Japan’s already low birth rate would decrease even more rapidly, and the state of the economy would be in danger. The high school girls are taken aback by this scenario told by one of their male classmates. He shows them a world in ruin and asks them if that is really what they want. The story ends with the girls admitting “We were wrong….”
Students confiding their gender or sexuality in teachers have wound up being outed, fostering a lack of trust and potential danger for those children (protip: do not ever out someone without their permission).
In one case, a student with gender identity issues who was registered as male at birth told a supervising teacher she wanted to be included in the female group for a school trip. But before the student realized it, the teacher told her classmates about the situation, and some of their parents later complained to the school.
Kyosei Net has seen a rise in consultations related to outing and more incidents are reported each year.
“Most of the teachers are just acting because they want people around them to be aware. But since they lack a common understanding, they are often just playing it by ear,” said Hara.
Stop Using Autistic Characters as Plot Devices (Electric Literature)
On the ways in which autistic characters are written in dehumanizing ways, often as object lessons for neurotypical protagonists, and how that perception does real-world harm.
It’s not just outdated beliefs about our internal lives or lack thereof that limit and distort autism-related narratives, though. Preconceptions about our place in the world are perhaps even more disheartening and disturbing. In life, we are often discussed in terms of the imposition our existence places on others. We are a burden to our parents, the cause of so many divorces, and a drain on education and health systems. When empathy is present in news stories or nonfiction essays about us, it is for the people who love us and must deal with us — even when they kill us.
In art, this concept of the autistic person as something that happens to someone turns us into objects, plot devices, catalysts at best. The heroes of stories that are ostensibly about us are instead the people around us, who are given humanity and character development at our expense. It’s an idea that can trip up even the most empathetic creators — “I Am Autism” was directed by Gravity and Children of Men filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón. And it’s the driving concept behind even some of the most beloved work about autism. Rain Man isn’t really about Dustin Hoffman’s Raymond; it’s about his brother Charlie’s journey and how Raymond makes him feel. The 2015 romantic dramedy Jane Wants A Boyfriend, which was somewhat lauded for its take on a woman with Asperger’s looking for romance, is truly about Jane’s sister’s journey as she struggles to deal with Jane. Atypical is at least partially Sam’s story, but it’s also about how his autism affects his family. Our characters exist to make their characters feel something. And our stories exist to make audiences who identify with those non-autistic characters feel amused, entertained, or inspired.
Great to have Wonder Woman. Now for an Asian Woman Superhero (April Magazine)
Suggestions of pre-established superheroes who could be great choices for a big-screen treatment.
Graphic novels in French are somehow more suave and complex than their counterparts in the US. Like the Corto Maltese series, an iconic BD (Bande dessinée, French for comic strip) if ever there was one, and its lone wolf sailor Corto. The whole series has an amazing variety of strong female characters. Sometimes sexualized, but almost always with unique backstories, strong wills, and independent personalities.
With a name like Shanghai Li, you might think this is just another European man’s china doll fantasy. And you’d think wrong. She is actually a young activist in a secret Chinese society, and Shanghai Li is her chosen alias. Time and time again she actively uses people’s stereotypes about East Asian woman against them, portraying a small fisherman in a boat or a sexy mistress to sneak into a villain’s lair. Her story arc is her own, and after the battles, she chooses to revitalize her hometown in China.
Shanghai Li would be a fantastic lead in a retro espionage movie, gaining long overdue non-French fandom.
The Rainbow Bridge (Gaijinpot)
A guide to the evolving terminology for LGBTQ individuals in Japan (transliterations are our own).
Of course, wherever there is a word in Japanese, someone will soon suggest an abbreviation. Unlike most abbreviated words, however, the ones associated with the LGBTQ community run a risk of losing their essence when abbreviated, thus seeming to diminish their meaning. So while ホモセクシャル [homosexual] and バイセクシャル [bisexual] have the short forms ホモ [homo] and バイ [bi] respectively, many in the community frown on the use of these abbreviations and even consider them discriminatory.
A further problem comes with abbreviating the word レズビアン [lesbian] as it is capable of becoming either レズ [lezu/rezu] or ビアン [bian] depending on which part of the word is abbreviated. According to our sources, most lesbians feel that レズ [lezu/rezu] has been stolen from them and is more likely to be seen on the cover of a pornographic magazine than an LGBTQ-friendly publication. Instead, most lesbians tend to favor the abbreviation ビアン [bian] instead.
… most LGBTQ words in Japan are still very much a matter of balancing talking respectfully with getting rid of the discrimination and intolerance…
Nazis on Tumblr Are Attempting to Make White Supremacy Hip (MEL Magazine)
A reminder that bigotry is often far more insidious than the open bigotry and violence of Charlottesville, and there are plenty of bigots expert at using progressive-sounding buzzwords to dress up ugly ideologies (see: TERFs).
While the Nazis of Twitter, Reddit, and 4chan have staked their ethos on transgressive, “triggering” action — harassment and intimidation — their Tumblr cousins have matched the mellower moods of a site where antagonism is considered a tactic of the obsessively PC. And that may be how they’ve successfully flown under the radar, quietly circulating their supposed proof of superiority instead of vocally condemning other races. Their rosy gloss on an “ethnostate,” buttressed by the black-leather glamor of SS fashion, echoes the strategy of white nationalists like Richard Spencer and Identity Evropa, who prefer suits and sharp haircuts to the fatigues and flags of the neo-Confederate set. By looking “dapper,” or just normal, they become at once more palatable and persuasive.
Notably, Tumblr’s community guidelines forbid “malicious speech,” including threats and encouragements of violence or hatred, especially based on “race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, gender identity, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation.” This would seem to omit pro-Hitler or pro-Nazi sentiments, which are malicious by implication; wearing an “88” shirt signals your take on ethnic cleansing without your speaking it aloud, which is why such codes evolved in the first place.
A list, for anyone Japanese-speaking and/or living in Japan of Japanese LGBTQ groups and communities. Okazu’s Erica Friedman also helpfully created a Twitter version.
Made in Abyss and being a role model (Little Anime Blog)
A semi-personal essay on Made in Abyss and mothers being role models for their children (contains spoilers for the first six episodes of the anime).
It was at this point in Riko’s coming to know the true-life legend, in the same breath as the audience, that I cracked. I knew the feeling, for both the mother and the child. I knew the sacrifice I could only be capable of now, and the world bending awe of the girl who wanted to be just like her hero. It gave words to what I want. To be that hero to my fearless, funny, fretful little one, whoever they may be. I want to show them that they can be just the same by my own example. It sucks that I’m not there yet. But for now, I’ve got role models to match.
Cases of child abuse in Japan have been continually rising since studies on the subject began in 1990.
Juvenile consultation centers have seen around a fivefold increase in abuse cases over the past 15 years, while the number of welfare workers responding to victims and their parents has only doubled in the same period.
The increase in cases may be attributed partly to greater awareness of the issue prompting more people to report incidents or and consult about abuse. The data also suggest the upward trend remains unchanged as more children are suffering from psychological trauma, such as witnessing acts of domestic violence within their families.
Why Is the Plight of ‘Comfort Women’ Still So Controversial? (The New York Times)
A fairly concise tracing of the ideological and political battles fought over the years to recognize the survivors.
To this day, the only site in South Korea that chronicles the experience of comfort women is the “House of Sharing,” a shelter and museum in the countryside built by a private Buddhist foundation in 1992, where survivors live and practice art therapy. Many of their paintings show women dragged by the arms and legs, bloodied and visibly in despair. The images are nothing like the innocent-looking, nearly ethereal girls of the bronze statues.
But any account that strays from exalting the purported purity of comfort women remains controversial. Park Yu-ha, a professor of literature at Sejong University, in Seoul, argued in her 2013 book “Comfort Women of the Empire” that these women’s wartime experience should not be reduced to a story about “pure innocent teen girls coerced by Japanese soldiers to be sex slaves.” A group of survivors sued Ms. Park for defamation, and though they lost the case, she was branded “a pro-Japanese traitor” by critics, including some historians.
In her book, Ms. Park argued that some of the women in military brothels were paid sex workers, and others were servants. Pointing to archival documents and firsthand accounts, she also claimed that while many comfort women were indeed forced into sexual slavery, not all of them were young girls, and that much blame for their suffering lay with the Korean men who had promised them paid work by the front. Ms. Park, in other words, suggested that at least some Koreans had collaborated with the Japanese.
This week’s talk was on women in the anime industry. We’ve gotten a few favorites and recommendations, but would love to hear some more! Hit us up in the week’s Talk Comments or on Twitter!
Yumi Kamakura, Noriko Takao, Naoko Yamada, and Atsuko Ishizuka are some of my favorite anime directors. (Sayo Yamamoto is up there too)
— Zeldaru (@OmarZeldaru) August 22, 2017
At this stage, we have raised enough money to be able to pay for contributed posts, behind the scenes admin, and audio editing for weekly podcasts. Our next goal is to pay the editors who have worked on AniFem as volunteers since before launch, making enormous contributions for no pay. Help us pay them for their work at a rate of $15 an hour by becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month!