The Final Post

June 6, 2010

This will be the last post for this blog. It has been interesting tying  together gender views with the culture of Japan. On some days it was simple to do since I have been taught some of gender related subjects of Japan in previous classes, but on other days it was difficult to come up with something relevant.

I would like to say that I am not a feminist nor am I a male that looks down on women either. From my perspective, the feminist view is trying to give women more respect and rights as women, like having more people respect woman as people rather then sexual objects. Treating women as equals is just common sense to me, and people who treat women as lower beings have little to no humanity. But I am against feminist groups when they try too hard to get equal rights for woman. For example, when a feminist turns every little action on women as oppressive, like the courtesy of opening a door for a female. Yes, I opened the door for a girl out of courtesy, but I do this for everyone to be nice and I am not being oppressive to every person i open a door to.

For the blog, the topics I choose could all be turned into discussions of oppression and sexism of women, and in many aspects the arguments that arise are plausible. For instance, the genres of shounen, shoujo, and moe are media outlets that just reestablish gender roles in Japan’s society. Maid cafes and hostess clubs do indeed degrade women in some way. But to say that all woman are oppressed in Japan because these things exist is absurd. I will agree though that these things do further the stress of a woman to act toward society’s gender norm, but many women are strong enough to ignore such media and proceed with a fulfilling life without feeling oppressed.

I believe that if a person wants to stop sexism and gender roles in society, that the feminist movements must stop. Having a feminist movement to exist just constructs the idea that the problem still exists, and without the movement then the problem will dissipate over time. Instead of trying to ban things that are considered to be immoral or sexist toward women (like the lolicon ban and rapelay ban), these organizations should create programs that will allow women to gain a high self esteem to get beyond anything that may be oppressive. If you create such bans and public upheaval on such controversial subjects as “what is equal” and “what is moral” then more problems will arise.  I think that there is no correct answer to these questions, because everyone will always have different views on such subjects.

In this world there will always be people who look down at a person for being to poor, for being a certain race, or for being a certain gender. No one will be able to change how these people think or how a society may think, because there is a limitless amount of norms that are contrived with limitless amounts of morals.  There will always be good and evil, and the definition of each will always change as time passes. To deal with such people (who are sexist, racist, etc.) who are considered evil, one must believe in oneself. With a high self-esteem one can go beyond any type of oppression and walk through life without anything bothering or hindering one’s present and future.

My message is basically this, “Walk through life with a goal in mind, do not let others get you down, and always strive for something better.”

This song from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann sums it up nicely.

Thank you for reading this blog and I hope I was able to enlighten people on some aspects of the Japanese culture.


Vocoloid:Hatsune Miku

June 4, 2010

Hatsune Miku is a character that originates from a voice synthesizer program called vocoloid made by Yamaha Corporation. The first vocoloid program included the voice of the fictional character, Hatsune Miku. Because of the incredible popularity of Miku, the Yamaha Corporation would soon make many other voices and characters to please their fans. Even though these voices are made by a computer, the characters that emerged have gained their own personalities and have even created an album of songs.

So what made Miku so popular? I would like to say that her voice entranced thousands of people to adore her, but there is another aspect of her that lures these fans in as well. This aspect would be the way she is illustrated as the perfect woman in the eyes of her fans. The fans that love her for her image constructs the ideal woman as having the characteristics of being skinny, cute, having long hair, and having a small chest. The first three characteristics can coincide with society’s normal view of what woman should be, but the last characteristic does not match up. Usually men would want a woman with large breasts, but Miku’s fans think differently. These fans see a small chest as a sign of purity and youthfulness. Thus, a woman must have the physique of a fourteen year old girl to be ideal in the eyes of these men.

First, it is bad to think that a woman must concide to a males’s defenition of ideal beauty, but in the eyes of Miku fans, women must also have a child like physique. This view of small and cute thus reinforces the argument that a woman must appear weaker to men for them to look more attractive and/or accepted.

This ideal of cute and small can be clearly seen in Hatsune Miku’s new game, where she can be dressed up in many cute and provocative outfits while singing her famous songs.


Moé

June 3, 2010

The meaning of Moé (萌え) literally means the budding of a plant, but it generally used as a slang term in Japanese that can mean extremely cute or a strong interest for a character archetype in anime/manga. Examples of categories of moé are glasses-moé, cat-moé, and maid-moé. On english forums and image boards I mostly hear the term used to describe something that is extremely cute. The plot of these moé anime/manga can be explained as “cute girls, doing cute things”.

The term moé can both describe males and females in anime/manga, but when it is portrayed in females, negative connotations arise. For example, in some cases a female character can be considered moé because of her clumsiness or lack of intelligence. In both cases it establishes the character as weak, because they presented as this kind of  moé. Thus, this leads people to think that women are fragile and males are powerful. It also shows that men see attractive women as being this type of cuteness which is refined by characteristics that are detrimental to the status of females.


Shoujo

June 2, 2010

Shoujo is a type of genre in manga/anime that is made specifically for females in the age group of ten to eighteen. Storylines in this genre can include magical powers and love. The main character is usually female, but a male lead can suffice if the plot is love driven. Famous shoujo manga/anime include Sailer Moon, Card Captor Sakura, and Chobits.

The shoujo genre can both empower women but can also re-establish their gendered role in society. For instance in the Card Captor Sakura storyline, the main character captures vicious monsters with her magical prowess, but wears cute “battle attire” while doing so. She shows girls that one can do anything if one can believe in oneself, but she also emphasizes that girls must wear the “cute attire” to stay in the gender norm of society. For the most part though, I think that the genre of Shoujo teaches young girls to be confident in themselves to get past such stereotypical gender roles. (Such as being timid, subservient, and cute.)


Laputa: Castle in the Sky

May 31, 2010

Laputa: Castle in the Sky directed by Hayao Miyazaki, was created in 1986 and was brought to America in 1996. This movie revolves  a girl named Sheeta, who is kidnapped and chased after throughout the movie for having a mysterious power handed to her by her ancestors. With the help of her new friend Pazu, she is able to understand the origins of her power and dispose of it so that no harm is done to the world.

Miyazaki wrote this story to get away from the notion that the male protagonist must always save the damsel in distress. In this case, Sheeta is supposed to be the damsel in distress with Pazu being the knight in shining armor, but Miyazaki lays out their personalities so that this cliche is not exhibited. Pazu and Sheeta both have their roles in the storyline and neither is viewed to be weak or strong on the bases of their gender. In the beginning of the movie, Sheeta escapes from her kidnappers using her own strength. At another point in the movie, Pazu realizes that he is not strong enough to help Sheeta in her quest so he joins up with pirates to gain allies to help Sheeta. These examples show how the character designs go against the notion of the weak female and the strong male.  Thus, eliminating the damsel in distress cliche from his work, Miyazaki effectively creates an interesting movie that does not involve gender discrimination.


Women are Dominent

May 26, 2010

When I went to Japan last summer, a lecturer came to talk to the international students that were in Japan. I forget what the lecturer’s name was, but she was an anthropologist that was studying Japanese pop culture. One of her claims after living in Japan for her research for five years was that women were becoming the dominant gender. Since World War II men in Japan have been viewed to people in Japan as weak and worthless, and is one of the factors that caused the gender dominance switch. She explained that she found more men adopting feminine characteristics to try to regain their dominance over women. This type of thinking more or less seems to be caused by subconscious thinking stemming from society’s pressures from men. Such pressures include becoming a successful salery-man, attending a prestigious college, and the Japan depopulation issue.

In this picture one can clearly see the evolution of the Japanese man from masculine to feminine.

Skirts have recently been revered by men as being stylish as well.

Dominance really should not exist between genders, but each society will always view something (gender, race, background) as dominant or subordinate. It is up to the person to decide whether or not to coincide their views with their society such subjects.