Good afternoon everyone! A fairly quiet week in the mailbag once again, but one of our regular correspondents has got in touch and provided plenty of food for thought, so rather than holding fire until we have a few more letters I thought we’d take the opportunity to have a good old mull over some interesting and thought-provoking issues raised in the letter.
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There are two kinds of everything
The West is having a major feminism crisis right now.
I don’t mean more games are getting banned, like Omega Labyrinth Z was. Or like how Japanese feminists and rainbow flag accounts got Qureate’s upcoming Massage Freaks delayed indefinitely, and all the preorders refunded, just last week.
What I mean is, abortion is now illegal across much of the US. Gay marriage and contraception are explicitly next on the chopping block, with interracial marriage probably not far behind. And a lot of Western gamers are calling the people responsible “based,” even though if they got their way yuri would be illegal. And for many of them, so would dating Japanese girls.
The problem, as I’ve said before, isn’t that feminism got TOO progressive. The problem is that it’s never been a monolith, any more than “gamers” have.
Everyone reading this site knows someone else who plays video games, and thinks you’re disgusting for having a waifu. Or watching Maidragon. Or not looking away during Blue Reflection’s fanservice scenes.
They play games, they call themselves gamers, and they resent how normies think Apex Legends causes school shootings in the US. (And only the US, for some inexplicable reason.) But every time something you love comes up, every time they see anime figurines in someone’s battlestation, the INSTANT they catch a glimpse of your dakimakura they have to socially distance themselves from you. Whether they’re saying it’s “sexist” and “problematic,” or calling you a virgin who lives with his mom.
That’s how it is with us feminists. All of us are aware, on some level, that women are unfairly treated. But the KIND of feminism that’s ascendant right now is the kind that’s got acronyms for it on Twitter.
The kind that thinks women are defined by the ability to have children, and are then shocked when they can’t get an abortion.
The kind that thinks trans women are monstrous perverts, and therefore kids should have mandatory genital exams.
And most relevant to us weebs: The kind that think being turned on by anime tiddy is gross and demeaning to women, always, no exception. And they’re sure of their opinion, because rare is the lesbian who will admit to liking it.
Do you know why? Because this kind of self-proclaimed feminist is just like Joe Gamerbro, with his mancave and his FIFA or COD habit. They love trashing scary foreign art, in conversation and in scarily long Reddit or YouTube essays. And if any girls in their online communities ever admit to liking weeb stuff, ever try to explain what’s so amazing about Neptunia and Nekopara (both female-led series), they’re driven out.
Ask me how I know this.
They will go behind your back and insinuate to their LGBTQIA+ friends that you’re a groomer for liking Madoka Magica. Then 2022 comes along and surprise surprise, calling every one of those letters a “groomer” is now a way to win elections. And the same people who got cartoonists fired for having a private smut account are now being fired from teaching jobs, just for having a wife. Or having their Wholesome Queer Narratives banned from book stores and school libraries.
Just like our games.
So like I said, there are two kinds of feminists. The kind who realize we’re all in this together, and the kind who don’t.
The kind who realize our enemies see ALL queerness as obscene, ALL female pleasure as immoral, and ALL anime as hentai. And the kind who don’t, and are surprised when they’re next in line, even though they tried so hard to get the normies to like them.
There are two kinds of gamer otaku, too.
PS If someone were to end up writing an essay in the Rice Digital mailbag every week, by pure happenstance, is there any chance she could get paid for it? I’m asking for a friend, who is also me.
Hi Tama, and thanks as always for your detailed thoughts. Regarding possible payments, regrettably we are a pretty small operation with not a ton of budget to spend on stuff like “letter of the week” prizes or suchlike, and on a similar note we are also pretty much fully stacked with paid freelance writers right now. I will, however, most definitely keep you in mind should we find ourselves in need of another member of the team because you’re articulate, you’re smart and you raise interesting and thought-provoking points in what you write. That is, I’m afraid, the best I can do right now!
Anyway, to move on to the main points of your letter, once again you tell it like it is. The world — and particularly the US — is in a pretty sorry state right now, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for feeling genuinely afraid about their own future, be it in terms of sociopolitical issues or simpler, “natural” things like the climate and whatever deadly virus might be about to wipe us out this week.
The sensible thing to do during any sort of crisis period is for people to come together and to fight things that are obviously “wrong”, and in doing so have a better chance of doing something about them. Yet that seems to be very difficult to make happen these days.
It’s saddening that there are people who really do have views as odious as “women shouldn’t have a say in what happens to their body” or “couples who love one another shouldn’t be able to marry if they happen to be the same gender” — but it’s almost as frustrating and saddening that there are also people out there who say such things in order to get a reaction, for “edgy humour” or whatever. The spreading influence of 4chan-style culture over other parts of the Internet — particularly social media — is not what I’d call a net win for anyone.
And yes, you’re absolutely right about nothing being a monolith. If pressed, I’d call myself a “gamer”, but equally I want nothing to do with the “gamers” who behave badly in multiplayer games, harass people online and suchlike. I’d probably even describe my sociopolitical views as having feminist tendencies — and yet saying that out loud online these days is tantamount to yelling “I’m an SJW soyboy cuck and proud of it” and then wondering why the very worst people on the Internet start calling you an SJW soyboy cuck or whatever their insult du jour is this week.
Feminism is a particularly tricky one, as you say, because there are those feminists who are exceedingly militant about things, and there are those who, like yourself, recognise that while there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms the way women in general are treated in the world, we’re living in a good time for things like media representation — particularly in video games.
Thankfully I’ve learned over the years that being feminist or counting yourself in the LGBTQIA+ umbrella certainly doesn’t preclude someone from, to put it crudely, appreciating the anime tiddy. A few years back one of the most interesting discussions I ever had on gaming was with a person I can only describe as a “powerful lesbian”, and how she found the specific story of Katsuragi from Senran Kagura to be truly inspirational in terms of figuring out her own identity — not just in terms of sexuality, but in terms of figuring life out in general.
Likewise in the last few weeks, I’ve been chatting with a YouTuber who is preparing to make a lengthy video essay/analysis series on the subject of the Rance games — she’s partly the inspiration for me finally kicking off our own exploration of that series here on Rice. As a transgender woman who, regrettably, has some experience with matters of sexual assault and suchlike, it would be easy for her to write something like Rance off as “problematic”, but she’s also smart enough to be able to spot the nuance in that series when it comes to its erotic and violent content. I suspect her videos, when they happen, are definitely going to be something special.
The most important thing, as you say, is that we’re all in this together. And that is something that everyone could do with remembering. I think about this every time I see pointless arguments over localisation and suchlike online; those people are fighting completely the wrong battles, because they’re inevitably fighting against people they don’t understand — or refuse to recognise — are on “their side”.
I suspect it’s not a coincidence that the people who endure the most abuse in that regard are also women. Compare the response that the (female) localisation coordinator for the Persona 3 and 4 rereleases got to the response that the (male) localisation coordinator for the new Class of Heroes/Adventure Academia game got when making essentially the exact same announcement: “this is a project I’ve been working on”. The former response was exceedingly ugly. The latter was largely ignored by the abusers in the former instance — replaced entirely with supportive comments from peers and genuine enthusiasts. Strange, huh?
I suspect this particular instance is an example of the Joe Gamerbro and Josuke Turboweeb demographics meeting, and the results not being pretty. Either way, it’s one of many problems we could really do with cleaning up in our modern cultural landscape.
Anyway, I’m sorry to hear you’ve had shitty experiences in that regard — I suspect most people reading this will have had similar experiences to one degree or another, because I know I certainly have — and would reiterate to you and anyone else reading that Rice Digital is a cool place to hang out and just enjoy our favourite media without pressure and without pointless arguments. Just don’t shit the place up by being a dickhead and we cool, yo.
Now, I prescribe a fun-packed weekend full of the prettiest anime girls you can find in the most compromising positions you can get them into. That’s certainly what I intend spending my next couple of days doing!
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