We are very pleased to announce that Anime Feminist and Sakuga Blog are collaborating to add more diversity to sakuga content creation! Over the next 12 months we will work together to increase the recognition for and numbers of women blogging on sakuga through our new Women in Sakuga Programme (WiSP).
Why focus on women creating content on sakuga?
Now we at AniFem have committed to pay all our contributors from January 2017, we can begin to curate our content to make AniFem more comprehensive and inclusive. As we considered which voices we need seek out and which topics we need to start covering, we realised we know no women creating content on sakuga. At all.
We asked bloggers, YouTubers and high profile sakuga fans, but none of our contacts were able to suggest a single woman already writing or making videos in sakuga fandom. Even if these women exist (we know that some must and hope they will make themselves known so we can signal-boost their work!) such lack of recognition is clearly a problem.
Sakuga is an exciting and varied field of analysis. Unfortunately, it looked like we would have no choice but to commission cisgender men to write about it for us or have no content at all. Faced with this choice we began to wonder: why don’t more women create content on sakuga?
Why is sakuga fandom so male-dominated?
One of the AniFem team asked this question on Twitter. In the resulting conversation between high profile male sakuga bloggers, women interested in sakuga blogging, and other sakuga fans, we identified three possible causes:
- Comment threads, typically more hostile to women than men, might not seem worth dealing with in male-dominated corners of fandom
- Impostor syndrome might be convincing some women that they are unqualified to speak about sakuga, particularly given the current fandom inclination to put certain sakuga bloggers on a pedestal
- Women may just have not considered analyzing anime from this perspective before
In that conversation it became clear that men creating content on sakuga are very keen to see more women join their ranks. So how do we make that happen?
At AniFem we know we can alleviate concerns about comment threads. We were certain the support of sakuga content creators would offset impostor syndrome. All we had to do was give women an incentive to start creating sakuga content and see if it would increase the numbers of women in this area.
What is the Women in Sakuga Programme?
The Women in Sakuga Programme (WiSP), an Anime Feminist and Sakuga Blog collaboration, is a 12-month initiative to increase fandom awareness of women creating content on sakuga. As it seems like there aren’t many, our first goal is simply to increase the number of articles about sakuga written by women.
To accomplish this we will 1) actively recruit women to write about sakuga for us, 2) work with them to develop an article that is a good fit for AniFem, then 3) pay them for their work at the same rates as every other writer. The Sakuga Blog team will mentor each contributor, offering advice, information and draft reads to ensure the author feels confident with their finished piece.
By December 2017, we want anyone asking for recommendations of women creating content on sakuga to be able to come up with multiple names easily. This could mean discovering next year that the causes we identified above are all wrong, then working with the Sakuga Blog team to come up with new ways to increase sakuga blogging diversity. We could learn of women already creating sakuga content in a different corner of fandom, and start raising awareness of their work. However we achieve it, in 12 months we want there to be widespread name recognition for multiple women creating content on sakuga.
Now over to our Sakuga Blog partners for a little more information about what sakuga blogging is, what value it brings and why women should get involved…
What do we mean by ‘sakuga’?
Sakuga discussion has evolved a fair bit over the years. Once upon a time it was largely centered on the animation within a show and the people responsible for it, largely due to the fact that there were very few venues talking at length about it. Nowadays it has become just another lens with many applications; one can focus on the nuance in an episode’s visual direction, the very production process, or the usage of animation as core narrative rather than a coat of paint. There’s no real limit to the topics you can explore, it even allows holistic analysis of creators and their work.
Why should women blog about sakuga?
This leads to two very specific whys, though. Why do we do this in the first place, and why is it important to increase diversity in this area?
In terms of the former, delving into the intricacies of animation is helpful on a personal level as it allows you to identify and learn more about creators whose work resonates with you most, which then can lead to write-ups that help other individuals go through a similar experience, too. This is actually a topic others have discussed previously, and one worth reading into. Of course, that’s not to imply there’s a need to be into sakuga. Like all things, a certain level of investment is required, but if the curiosity is there, then there’s no harm in diving in!
As for the latter, there’s inherent worth in a diversity of points of view, so even though a lot of the time these sakuga essays are structured around comments by women creators, we’re limiting the community to a degree by only having men controlling the discourse.
Where do you start?
All that being said, wandering into the land of sakuga equipped with little to no knowledge can prove to be a tricky venture, but thankfully people have taken care in making the journey somewhat easier for those interested in doing so. Kevin’s ending credits guide on ANN serves as a solid introduction to the multiple roles involved with the production of anime, and Kraker2k created a handy guide over at Sakugabooru itself with 101 knowledge and links to other blogs where sakuga serves as the major focus.
There’s never been a better time to take the plunge than now — and it’s likely to only get better from here on as well — so if you find yourself interested, then go for it! Back to AniFem for more details on how to get involved…
Who can participate in WiSP?
While we are targeting self-identified women we also warmly welcome submissions from people who do not fit so neatly into the gender binary. WiSP is designed to address lack of diversity, and while women are the easiest starting point we would be thrilled to support greater representation of other marginalized voices within sakuga fandom. If you are not a cisgender man and you are interested in creating content on sakuga please get in touch!
What kinds of topics do we want WiSP applicants to pitch on?
As stated above, there’s no real limit to the topics that you can explore. We just ask that you explore them through a feminist lens. Examples of the types of Sakuga Blog content we could easily adapt for use on AniFem:
- Profiles on lesser-known women creators
- Information on working conditions in the industry
- An in-depth look at specific design elements
- Explaining how different animation styles are used most effectively
You can focus on marginalized creators, the strengthening (or weakening) of representation of marginalized characters through their animation, analyze how visual direction can be used to create subversive subtext – there are so many possibilities we won’t even have thought of yet. We look forward to your pitches on how you would apply sakuga analysis for feminist purposes!
What will be the process for WiSP participants?
Involvement in WiSP will be almost identical to our standard submission process, except that the Sakuga Blog team will be involved from the pitch stage. We will select pitches as usual according to our own criteria, then forward any we select to the Sakuga Blog team to check that the idea is solid. When we both agree the idea has potential, we will contact you to assign you an editor as usual, but also a mentor from Sakuga Blog.
You will work with your mentor and editor to flesh out your idea and build a detailed outline to be approved by the AniFem editor-in-chief. Once the outline is approved you will be commissioned just like any other writer and begin working with your mentor and editor to develop your article. Your Sakuga Blog mentor will be on hand to answer any questions and check your draft before submission. Your AniFem editor will ensure the article stays in line with AniFem’s mission and ethos. The result will be a post you can be proud of, new contacts, and the confidence to pitch other posts to other sites or start up your own.
How do I get involved?
Head over to our submission form and let us know you’re interested! We can’t wait to hear from you.
We need you to help us pay more diverse writers to create content in areas of fandom where they are under-represented. If you want to support this initiative, or enable us to set up others like it, please become a patron for as little as $1 a month!