[Links] 21-27 November 2018: The Toxic History of the “Rising Sun” Flag, BL Artists Arrested in China, and the “Closeted Homophobe” Trope

By: Anime Feminist November 27, 20180 Comments
12 year old idol Lily on stage and smiling to the camera

This week: the toxic history of the “rising sun” flag, BL artists arrested in China, and the “closeted homophobe trope.

AniFem Round-Up

[Feature] Horimiya and experimenting with kink through fiction

Caitlin highlights this shoujo romcom’s positive, if imperfect, depiction of a couple exploring a dom/sub relationship.

[Editorial] What happens if we don’t meet our crowdfunding goal?

Amelia lays out the stakes, both for the site’s finances and reputation, if our upcoming campaign fails to meet its goal.

[Versus] Trauma or Titillation? Perspective and assault in Belladonna of Sadness and Perfect Blue

Molly Brenan dissects these two narratives about women whose lives are changed by sexual assault, particularly the issues of framing the protagonists’ bodies—whether in empathetic, alienating, or sexualizing ways.

[Editorial] Who will get the money we crowdfund?

Amelia details how the money we raise will be allocated, and which collaborators will help us achieve our upgrading goals.

[Podcast] Chatty AF 77: The Vision of Escaflowne Rewatchalong – Episodes 1-6

Dee, Caitlin, and Vrai revisit the 90s classic that they’ve seen and loved before, but cannot remember a damn thing about. Newbies welcome.
[AniFemTalk] Do you have questions about our fundraising campaign?

A place to ask any questions not answered by previous editorials.


Beyond AniFem

“Traps” Don’t Exist And Here’s Why (YouTube, PedanticRomantic)

An explanation of the harmful term’s roots and why trying to claim it’s differentiated as a descriptor from trans women is fallacious.

Woman Receives 10-Year Prison Sentence in China For Writing Boys-Love Novels (Anime News Network, Kim Morrissy)

The arrest has resulted in outcry and many BL/GL/porn artists removing their work from the internet.

The woman, named Liu, sold BL novels on Taobao, China’s largest online shopping website. Her novel 攻占 (gōngzhàn, lit. “Attack and Occupy”) sold around 7,000 copies from November 2017 to May 23 this year, earning up to 150,000 yuan (approximately US$21,000). She was arrested under China’s obscenity laws for “obscenely describing male and female homosexuals” and for “violence, abuse, vulgarity, and other behaviors related to sexual perversion.”

According to Chinese reports, the police began an investigation into Liu in November of last year. The room of a hotel in Wuhu County was discovered as a delivery point for the novels. The police then searched the data from companies such as Alibaba and Tencent. On the 21st of the same month, they found the residence of Liu and arrested her. Afterwards, the police stalked and arrested several of her publishing partners.

Why the “Closeted Homophobe” Trope Needs to Die (Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories, Vrai Kaiser)

A brief history of the trope, how it became increasingly decoupled from real problems of toxic masculinity in queer communities, and its predominant usage as a comfort object for straight people.

The archetype of the closeted homophobe has been dogging the queer community since the 90s, with roots going even further back. Internalized homophobia and toxic masculinity (because these “secretly closeted” narratives overwhelmingly focus on men) are real issues that queer communities face to this day, so it’s easy to see why this particular narrative sticks around.

Something like The Boys in the Band, for example, is full of self-loathing gay men. When it premiered as a stage play in 1968, it was revolutionary simply to depict gay characters not required to off themselves before the curtain fell. But By the time the play became a film in 1970, the Stonewall Riots had happened, and queer communities were fighting not just to live but to thrive—suddenly, BITB seemed hopelessly outdated after only two years.

That’s how quickly narratives about marginalized communities can change, and why the best, most nuanced pieces of fiction about those struggles will almost uniformly come from within those communities.

So, what about the closeted homophobe?

Tokyo Medical University stripped of accreditation (NHK World-Japan)

This new information will likely not be much comfort to the 55 women previously rejected based on rigged test scores who’d recently been rightfully accepted.

A private organization, called the Japan Accreditation Council for Medical Education, made the decision at its board meeting on Thursday.
The council grants accreditation to medical schools in Japan, which they consider to have reached international standards. The accreditation is based on a 9-point assessment of the quality of education and governance. The council currently has 80 medical schools as its members.
The organization says this is the first time it has revoked accreditation since it started the system last year.
The council says the revocation is likely to prevent students or graduates of Tokyo Medical University from applying for doctors’ licenses in the United States.

Terrace House reveals dark side of Japan’s attitudes toward consent and women’s sexuality (GaijinPot, Annelise Giseburt)

An analysis of a romantic subplot in reality series Terrace House, and how its female cast member is pressured into accepting attention from a man she’s not interested in.

The Terrace House case is complicated by Seina herself saying, before any kissing happened, that she wished Shohei would be more aggressive as he tries to woo her. To me, it couldn’t be clearer that she meant she wasn’t sexually attracted to him. She tries, awkwardly, to articulate this lack of attraction without saying it outright. Is it more acceptable to say that only Shohei’s actions leave something to be desired, rather than the sum of his parts? In the end, Seina, either unwilling to speak of her own lack of attraction or simply lacking the words, can do no more than fall back on toxic stereotypes.

Her eventual rejection strategy — “I just see you as a friend” — is a near-universally understood euphemism for a lack of sexual attraction, but even then panel members Shono Hayama and Ryota Yamasato resentfully say that wording hurts a guy’s feelings. Thankfully, they are called out, and the panel does realize that “maybe Shohei’s kiss didn’t turn her on sexually” (Tokui) and that “nothing he could have done would have changed that” (Triendl). The saga illustrates just how difficult polite rejection is for women, especially toward a friend or housemate, or when so many people are watching. Because women — not just in Japan — are taught that male feelings take precedence over their own.

Ladies & The Law: The Case That Got Sexual Harassers The Punishment They Deserve (Savvy Tokyo, Vicki L Beyer)

A 2015 case where two male plaintiffs attempted to argue that their punishment for harassing female coworkers was too harsh, only for the courts to reject their complaint.

The Supreme Court overruled the Osaka High Court. The Supreme Court reasoned that the employer’s anti-harassment policy, the training the men had received, and their relatively senior positions meant that they should have been well aware that their conduct was unacceptable, even without being specifically told to stop. Doubtless the fact that their harassing behaviors preyed on their weakest colleagues, predominately took place in situations where there were no witnesses, and continued over a prolonged period of time also influenced the court.

This case is important because it clarifies the validity of punishing sexual harassers, rather than just slapping them on the wrist. It is a statement that Japanese society has come to the point that harassing behavior is impermissible and deserves punishment. Men (in this case) should know what behaviors are unacceptable in the workplace and should refrain from engaging in those behaviors, even in situations where they think they can get away with it.

7SEEDS Manga Gets Anime on Netflix (Anime News Network, Jennifer Sherman)

The sci-fi shoujo classic, written by the same mangaka as Basara, ran for 35 volumes from 2001 to 2017.

Tamura launched the series in 2001 in Bessatsu Shōjo Comic magazine, before eventually moving it to Monthly Flowers. The series ended in the magazine in May 2017. The original manga’s 35th and final volume shipped in August 2017, and a limited edition included a drama CD.

The original series centers on Natsu, who suddenly wakes up one day to find herself in the middle of the ocean. She’s with six other strangers, and none of them remember how they got into their current situation. They end up stranded on an island, where a “guide” explains to them that they are part of a government project to cryogenically preserve groups of people to ensure humanity’s survival after scientists predicted the destruction of the world. Natsu’s group finds that they are in Japan after a catastrophe, and must learn how to survive in their new post-apocalyptic reality.

‘The Apology’—stories of strength and hope after WW2 sexual slavery (April Magazine, Marj Ostani)

An interview with the documentary’s director, which explored the lives of three women who had survived being forced into the role of “comfort women.”

How can viewers help? Say someone like me, who’s also just learned more about sexual slavery in WWII. 

There are several ways, not just on WWII sexual slavery but more broadly. It’s important to connect with the issues, because we can’t forget about past issues that haven’t been resolved yet. I took the momentum of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, and focused it on the grandmothers’ experiences. The grandmothers are still very much living the consequences of those events today. They’re still waiting for the official apology that they deserve, one that actually recognizes the roles of the Japanese Imperial Army.

I can think of five ways to help.

  • first, the hundred million signature campaign.
  • second, sharing reliable links about the events.
  • third, sharing the grandmothers’ stories with as many people as possible, to start a conversation about how we as a society silence others so that we can start creating spaces for women to talk about their experiences with sexual violence.
  • fourth, personally hosting screenings in their communities spreads the word.
  • fifth, donating to the grandmothers or other places helping survivors of sexual violence around the world.

These are all practical steps to create a better world now, rather than waiting for a time when women no longer experience sexual violence, no longer fear sharing their stories

Thread: A discussion of the western depoliticization of Japan post-WWII and how that contributed to its fetishization

Thread: A history of the “rising sun” flag and its connection to genocide and sexual violence

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