[Links] 21-27 June 2017

This is a rough week for news, folks. Content warnings for sexual assault, child abuse, homophobia, suicide, and racism.

AniFem Round-Up

[Feature] How My Hero Academia confronts shonen sexism

MHA’s tournament arc uses boy vs girl matchups to at least begin questioning assumptions that female fighters are naturally secondary or lesser threats to their male counterparts.

[Podcast] Chatty AF 11: Shirobako watchalong – episodes 13-18

The watchalong discusses not just the struggles of being a young professional, but of young women’s struggles specifically.

[AniFemTalk] Feminism in shonen

There remains a glass ceiling for how active, strong and successful most women in shonen are allowed to be. Let’s talk about it.

 

Beyond AniFem

What It’s Like Being Fandom Critical While Black (Stitch’s Media Mix)

On the author’s experiences in fandom, and how their voice as a fan of color has often been dismissed or criticized when trying to engage with the failures of representation in both canon and fandom.

Fandom isn’t just fandom. It’s an institution where many people learn a lot about life since they tend to get into it from a young age. And if fandom itself isn’t capable of recognizing when it’s going wrong because desire is clouding the mind and clunking up folks’ critical thinking skills, maybe a little help is necessary. Conversation starters need to be had.
I write my posts on racism in fandom because I’m tired. I’m tired and I’m angry that fandom still isn’t interested in doing better.
I am tired of constantly having to defend Black characters from the fandoms that claim to love them even as they sideline, kill off, and desexualize them in fanworks or even just interpretations of canon.

Japanese Curriculum Guidelines Include Nod to LGBT Students (Takurei’s Room)

Japan’s schools won’t be teaching about LGBTQ individuals in any depth for at least the next decade, but at least young students learning about puberty will also be told that heterosexuality isn’t a universal constant. And even that won’t go into effect until 2020.

The topic of sexual and gender diversity is referred to in the guidelines for elementary and middle school physical education and health classes. While the curriculum states that developing students will begin to take an interest in the opposite sex, the handbook suggests that it is important to mention that it is not always the case and that there are “individual differences”.

Teacher apologizes after making LGBT comment to scold student in class (Japan Today)

If you’re wondering why better education on LGBTQ issues is necessary, this teacher used the phrase “okama” as a way of demeaning a young child goofing off in class. The passing on of shame and aversion from one generation to the next begins at a very young age.

According to Warabi City Board of Education officials, the incident took place on June 12 during 5th-grade social science class, when a male student was reading a text out loud as part of a class assignment, Sankei Shimbun reported. The student pretended to speak like a girl while reading, which the teacher interrupted by saying, “Koko ni okama ga irunoka. Dare da okama wa,” (Do we have any gays here? Who is it?).
The Japanese word “okama” the teacher used is a slang term for effeminate gays, transvestites or drag queens.

One woman’s suicide shines a harsh light on the plight of Japan’s doctors (The Japan Times)

The prized nature of physicians both as occupational and spousal ideals, and the incredibly punishing journey to reach certification, is leading to doctors taught to ignore their own health and home lives.

Kimoto’s family hired an attorney to help conduct an investigation. They discovered she had worked more than 200 hours of overtime per month for four straight months. During the nine months of her second internship, her overtime hours averaged more than 190 per month. In August 2016, the family applied to the Labor Standards Inspection Office for recognition that the cause of her death was depression brought by an excessive workload that eventually led to her suicide.
The hospital denied that long work hours had led to her suicide. Their own records, based on Kimoto’s self-reporting, indicated that she worked a monthly average of only 48 hours overtime, posting totals close to zero some months and 95 hours during the busiest month of July 2015. Regarding the discrepancy, the hospital suggested that perhaps the investigators were including her time spent giving academic presentations, writing dissertations and studying. The hospital said these self-study hours should not be counted toward her overtime hours.

Japanese publisher sparks backlash over plan to have anime voice actresses pose for bikini photos (SoraNews24)

The increased push to market (especially female) voice actors on their looks and youth is going one step further with planned swimsuit shoots supposedly meant to give the newcomers more exposure (insert own joke here).

However, many online commenters in Japan have noticed something else the six actresses have in common: none of them are particularly successful or established within the industry. Amako, whose voice acting resume goes back to 2014, is the most experienced despite her relatively short time in the voice acting game. Sasaki and Uchida only made their voice acting debuts last year, and none of the women have more than a handful of credited roles to date. This has sparked an online backlash against the Seiyu Paradise R photo shoot by those who feel it’s a distasteful way to drum up publicity for underperforming/unproven voice actresses.

Watch what you do and say: Broader ramifications of the new conspiracy law cause concern (The Japan Times)

The law is supposedly meant to prevent terrorism and the planning of it, but is vaguely defined enough to label even discussing certain subjects as criminal acts. Opponents of the law worry that it will make protesting for social or governmental change a potentially dangerous activity. And, as with many supposedly anti-terrorist laws, this will likely increase surveillance on Muslim citizens (as well as, to a lesser degree, other foreign nationals in Japan).

Student activism in particular, such as the demonstrations by Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs) in 2015 against Abe’s efforts to strengthen the country’s security measures to allow more overseas participation by Japanese troops, could be affected by the new law, says Sanae Fujita of the Human Rights Centre, University of Essex.
“Even now, young people are not engaged with political issues,” Fujita says. “In 2015, when the SEALDs movement became famous, young people were warned that such activity would have a negative impact on the students in their job hunting. Many young people were worried about that. So, it’s not difficult to imagine how ordinary young people will keep their distance from something that carries a risk.”

WEEKLY MOTION CANNON PODCAST EPISODE 08 – BRO HUSBAND AND LONELY LESBIAN (Wave Motion Cannon)

The WMC staff talks about the two biggest LGBTQ manga releases this year: My Brother’s Husband and My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness.

As Japanese poverty grows, support groups spring up to help single moms deal with harsh economy (The Japan Times)

Mama United, among other groups, will provide single mothers with free legal advice, information on single mother-friendly employers, and other resources.

 The woman in charge of running the service is a single mom herself.
“I want to help people with my own experience,” she said.
She hopes to offer all kinds of information, including tips on how to stop violent partners from accessing their resident registry data at municipal offices.
Hiroyuki Tateyama, a lawyer working with the support group, said: “Single mothers should not be distressed on their own. I hope they will seek expert help.”

Abused children find Japan’s shelters provide little comfort (Japan Today)

The shelters haven’t evolved much since their inception in the wake of World War II, and there’s a relative dearth of foster parents and other secondary supports.

Boys and girls streamed into a spacious lounge after a study time. One started playing ping-pong while several others slumped onto a couch to read comics. It was a scene that could have been in any dormitory except that almost every wall and door was patched up to cover damage from punching and kicking by the kids, according to one worker. Children weren’t allowed to whisper so that staff could monitor their conversations.
One 9-year-old girl who spent more than three months at another shelter in Tokyo last year told Reuters that she was scolded often, felt suffocated, and longed to go home despite having previously been beaten by her mother.
“When it’s TV time, you have to watch TV. If you start talking, they’ll say, ‘Look straight ahead,'” she said.
An official at the girl’s shelter said occupancy sometimes exceeds capacity by a quarter, prompting stricter supervision.

Is Japan’s Top Politician Behind a Shameful Rape Cover-Up? (The Daily Beast)

Journalist Shiori [last name withheld] is attempting to seek justice after the arrest of her alleged rapist, Noriyuki Yamaguchi, was halted by interference from “higher ups.” Yamaguchi is known to be a friend of Prime Minister Abe, and it’s suspected he had something to do with the coverup.

Shiori explains her decision: “I wanted to use my full name, but my family was against it. I have to question this situation where victims cannot talk unless they hide their face, remain sad, weak, and believe they have to feel shame,” she said in an interview with The Daily Beast.
“I believe it was necessary for me to talk about the horror of rape and the massive impact it had on my life afterward,” she said. “I am now painfully aware of how much the legal and social system fails sex crime victims. For a long time in Japan, women who have been sexually assaulted blame themselves or are blamed by others. When I was about 10, I went to a public pool in a bikini my parents had bought for me—and was terrified when a man groped me in the pool. But when I told the adults, they told me, ‘It’s because you were wearing a sexy bikini.’ So I thought, oh it is my fault. I don’t think like that any more.”
Shiori said she had met Yamaguchi for dinner in Tokyo on April 3, 2015, to discuss his offer to find her work in the United States. Shiori said Yamaguchi took her to two restaurants where she remembers having a few drinks. Her last memory before she lost consciousness was of dizzily leaning against a water cooler, she said.

 

AniFem Community

We love a good, productive discussion. One of our readers offered a very thoughtful response to this week’s feature (note that the first tweet here is a thread).

And in other responses to the topic of shonen sexism:

 

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!