July 24th, 2012

The degradation of the shoujo hero.

Something got me to thinking this morning when I started comparing anime.

In a typical shounen anime, you have the main hero who seems to be a bit of a screw off, but however has this power inside. That power gets unleashed and then this kid is many layers of awesome. In no way is the main hero ever degraded the same way a shoujo hero is. Even in the ecchi variety, it is the women who are truly degraded. Even so much that these harem women take on traits of the degraded shoujo hero. While the hero might get slapped or kicked, the knowing male viewer can wink and this and say “At least he violated her personal space without consent!” However never does this happen in a shoujo anime. The men in a shoujo anime will never be violated this way.

In a shoujo anime, we are taught to laugh at the hero getting degraded right from the start. Usually the shoujo hero will be late to school, be shown as clumsy, or do horrible at school. Sometimes this even expounded on by creating an in-between for the viewer. The little brother that will comment to the parents about the grades, or in the case of clumsyness, comment on the color of underwear she’s wearing. In a school setting, this comes to us in the form of the “Jealous Girl Posse”. Not only is the JGP there to remind us that “wimmin be crazy!” throughout the anime and that us women are so unfathomable to men and thus we should probably act like them and not the degraded hero, but they will also degrade the hero in some way. Spread false rumors, set up a situation where she has something fall on her, etc.
In some cases the shoujo hero will be contrasted to a male hero and she will ALWAYS be second. She will try to attempt to best this male hero and never make it. It will be set of as romantic that he is better than her, but still here we have her humiliation that we see her struggle so hard, yet she will never be able to make it. She will be second best. We are told to fawn over this as “well at least you’re getting A MAN!”, even though the story writer has written it that it’s a no win situation.

For a shounen hero, there will never be a “Jealous Boy Posse”, we will usually get some thugs who get beaten up and then either become sad reoccurring villain characters, or join the party having seen the error of their way so they can worship the awesome that is shounen hero! The shounen hero will always be number one and if there’s a female cahracter that gets the best of him, she will be the one that needs to be rescued later and thus fall to number two!

Back to the shoujo! Now that we’ve humiliated out shoujo hero, while our shounen one is either being a jerk or being oblivious. If it’s a combat mahou shoujo show (really that’s the only kind of combat shows girls will get to see), when given the mighty powers of HENSHIN! and SAY THIS ATTACK NAME GO! After a sexualized sequence showing our shoujo hero naked and spinning for our male viewers. What you thought that the anime was for the girls first? Nope, still have to please those (otaku) men who will be buying the Kotobukiya statues. She will falter and might even be crying. She will have no clue what to do and will usually just stand there as the enemy starts thrashing her. The shoujo hero will be themed in something feminine such as flowers (Pretty Cure Splash Star), cooking, cheerleading, art (Shugo Chara), and beauty (Pretty Cure Smile, Heartcatch). Did we mention the enemies are going to be non-threatening? The whole monster theme will revolve around music (Pretty Cure Suite), circuses (Sailor Moon SuperS), or storybooks (Pretty Cure Smile). The items will be records, cakes, and vaccuums. Our shounen hero will get dragons, sword monsters and even ghost-type enemies if not ROBOTS! Now that out shoujo hero has stopped being humiliated even in battle, we get to see the attack sequence! The attack will rarely ever be a physical attack and never with something deadly. It will probably have a name with hearts (Heart Lock-on, Open Heart), rainbows (Rainbow Therapy), or beauty (Moon Gorgeous Meditation) involved. It will also be some kind of beam attack or distant explosion. While shounen heroes get these two types AND MORE!
Also, in our shoujo series, we will usually be presented a male character that is to be the romantic love interest of the main shoujo hero (Wedding Peach, Sailor Moon, Pretear), usually the pink one because ALL girls love pink amirite, which she will fall in love by the seasons end.

If it’s a non-mahou show, then our shoujo hero will be doing something womanly such as trying to become an idol (Pretty Rhythm: Aurora Dream) or cook (Yumeiro Patissiere). Rarely will she be doing something considered manly.

All monster collection shows will have a male lead! (Digimon, Pokemon, MonColle Knights, Devil Children)
All online gaming shows will have a male lead! (Sword Art Online, Accel World, Net Ghost PIPOPA)
Shounen Hero will NEVER wear pink or ever be “The pink ranger!” Pink is for those other followers.

Our shounen hero however can make it alone. Their theme will be dragons (Mushrambo), robots (Gundam), cars (Initial D), ninja (Naruto), samurai (Samrai Troopers) and animals (Chouja Reideen). Their attack will usually involve weapons and some will even physically hit the enemy. If they are in a non-combat anime they will always be the best at whatever they do all the time until about the middle of a season arc where they will have to power up, much like their combat anime counterparts.

Shoujo heroes will never get the “itouto” anime. Shounen heroes have a ton to pick from. Shouo heroes will always be shown to be needing someone to get something done. Shoujo heroes will never be found groping or being shown to want sex. As a matter of fact they will run into men and be told they are stupid (baka!) and to watch where they are going. They will be the ones groped (Mitsu X Mitsu Drops). They will told that they are “marked” and thus property of the male interest and have thier behavior controlled (Kachou-wa Maid-sama). They will be told not to worry the male characters (Hiiro no Kakera), or to be more careful if they accidentally fall or are pushed DO TO NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN. They will be treated like a pet! And this is in their OWN anime. It gets much worse in the shounen hero anime. The shoujo hero will have her beauty or lack there-of (another degradation technique) commented on, while the shounen hero’s appearance will be given a pass. If the shounen hero’s face is compared to a monkey’s, the shounen hero will give back in kind, while the shoujo hero will stand there and take it, or even worse, apologize for it!
The shounen hero will rarely say “I’m sorry”, the shoujo hero is expected to say it all the time.

In the end it is the shoujo hero that is routinely degraded in her anime, while the shounen hero will be lauded in his and even gets to degrade the women around him!


12 responses to “The degradation of the shoujo hero.”

  1. Very good article but I think you missed a point

    “In the end it is the shoujo hero that is routinely degraded in her anime, while the shounen hero will be lauded in his and even gets to degrade the women around him!”

    The shoujo hero is praised at the end but at the ultimate housewive, therefore the world’s best woman. She’s special because she tamed the hot rich asshole with a sad past who treated her like shit during the entire manga. The jealous gilr posse may bully our heroine but she’s the one who gets the hot rich asshole’s attention. Our heroine is special because the a needs her.

    Shoujo is empowering toward teen girls but for the wrong reasons. Despite decades of feminism, female fantasies are the same of a century ago. Girls like 50 Shades of Grey, think about it.

    • How is that missing the point, I think it’s really on point. In the end the shoujo will still be miserable, only she’ll feel that she made the right choice / actually won when.. not really.
      “I still get to be degraded by this asshole only I ENJOY it now!”
      As for 50 Shades, yeah, women today seem to be fed rape culture as the norm. Being loved and accepted by a man is better than knowing who you are, setting boundaries and expecting people to respect them.

  2. “Frankly the justice system is really messed up where rape is concerned.”

    Tell me about it. This mostly pertains to a story I heard about a victim who described their trial as “being raped again.” She committed suicide afterwards.

    I hope I don’t come across as pathetic, but I’ve been sincerely upset about it all day.

    [TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-129105/Rape-girl-driven-suicide-ordeal-court.html

    Just look at this.

    • It’s not pathetic at all. It truly is an upsetting thing. It was also her father that described it. :c It’s very sad we live in a world where rape is encouraged.

      EDIT: I added a trigger warning to your link for anyone else that might read it.

  3. “If he is saying that feminists are slut-shaming when they are like etc.”

    To be fair, he/she does actually address this in the comments, and in addition notes at the beginning that sexism in the media (and in public) is indeed a problem.

    The problem he/she has is in the approach of how the issue being solved, not the literal eradication of it.

    He/she is saying that in the recent desire for gender equality in the media, any interpretation of even innocently portrayed attraction is being coldly and unfairly classified as degrading objectification.

    There are indeed some recent articles on IGN that clarify this; men assuming they know better than feminists, that they have a right to tell women what and what not to wear.

    Feminism makes a distinction between attraction and objectification. He/she’s saying people don’t seem to understand the difference, and what’s seen as justifiable actions are In fact objectifying in themselves. That’s all.

    The male-gaze is of course another matter entirely (such as unalterable camera angles directed at female characters posteriors, ha-ha). I’m not sure how they address that issue, but I digress.

    He/she has informed others that his/her wording may have inaccurately projected his/her concerns (god, sorry about the repetitive usage of “his/her”, ha-ha,) and that the article would most likely be misinterpreted by readers.

    I know I know, your perception of the article probably remains the same. We’ll agree to disagree, but I hope you menially understood what they were trying to convey.

    On a more personal note, I’m distressed at the moment regarding some comments about rape and the justice system. Could we discuss this? I’m genuinely upset and need to talk to someone who understands.

    • Well the problem with “innocent attraction” is innocent for whom? Considering how women are treated by the major media outlets, is it really innocent or just the tip of the iceberg. If that person feels they aren’t being understood, maybe they should go back and make a few edits to clarify.

      As for the last part, I’m not sure if I’m the best person to talk too. You can vent though if you wish. Frankly the justice system is really messed up where rape is concerned.

  4. “Anyone like that who hasn’t taken the time out to read ANYTHING feminist recently shows me that I’d just be copy pasting the same old arguments.”

    That’s a conjecture you’re asserting as objective; you’re establishing your entire knowledge of their character based on you’re presumption that they’re attacking feminism.

    As I said, you don’t know the angle/motivations behind the article. Even if you feel they don’t understand the sincere basis of the issue (which is fine,) the article pertains to the shaming of sexuality in the media (or to use the feminist term, slut-shaming.) I think it’s unreasonable to instantly assume they’re exclusively defending unadulterated objectification of women.

    “Saying that I am afraid of them also tells me you that you’re trying to bait me into something. It’s the good old what are you? Chicken?”

    Oh god no! It was intended to be ironic, it’s blatantly obvious you‘re not afraid. I bestow my sincere apologies for any offence that may have caused. The last thing on my mind is attacking you.

    “No thanks, and stating that most of the points have been adhered menially to by women tells me a lot of those women have some internalized sexism to work through.”

    Some commentators have privately criticised the article. Even those that haven’t have only “menially” adhered to it, they still raise concerns (I have to.)

    Those that do may simply be attempting to breach a form of understanding; they realise their initial interpretation of the article may be incorrect, and the author may have legitimately charitable concerns regarding the shaming/misinterpretation of sexuality in the media.

    If you want to see the pure embodiment of a sexist, misogynistic, heterosexual man, type in “the nobility of slut-shaming” on Google. I guarantee the author will fuel you into destroying some furniture (he has for me.)

    My apologises again for the “afraid” comment.

    • They are basically making the round about case of “Stop saying things about what the women are wearing!” Proof of this is the statement is

      “To re-iterate, it’s a solution that puts the human body at fault, rather than the accusers respectively immature inability to accept that sexual attraction is natural.”

      It’s the old time troll comment of “Well men just like to look at sexy things!” doctored up and repackaged. THAT is why I dismiss the entire post. Saying people are immature when they are pointing out the disparity of what the women are wearing to what the men are wearing.

      In final I am saying that there is nothing to be gained from going and posting there. It’s a fairly unmoderated forum with a post that reeks of prettied up troll commentary. If he is saying that feminists are “slut-shaming” when they are like “Uh.. boob armor?” “Uh.. plate mail bikini in the middle of battle?” “Uh.. the guys look like an armored tank but the women are swimsuit models?” Then the author did no research and is trying to defend sexist portrayals of women in media.

  5. Meh, you should try talking to them if that’s your interpretation.

    I think it’s unfair to swiftly categorise someone as a surreptitious misogynist/sexist etc just because they formally oppose some common viewpoints. Their concerns may be coming from another angle, you shouldn’t judge so swiftly.

    You should talk to them.

    Don’t be afraid, she/he is willing to salvage and formally consider ANY opinions!

    Given that many of the comments have menially adhered to her/his points (some being women), you should add your viewpoint! It would be new and interesting ;)

    • I have to deal with enough of this in my life and I pick my own battles. Anyone like that who hasn’t taken the time out to read ANYTHING feminist recently shows me that I’d just be copy pasting the same old arguments.

      Saying that I am “afraid” of them also tells me you that you’re trying to bait me into something. It’s the good old “What are you? Chicken?” No thanks, and stating that most of the points have been adhered menially to by women tells me a lot of those women have some internalized sexism to work through.

  6. Meh, I sometimes consider FMA to be considerably sexist. I’ve never seen this anime, I’ll have to check it out.

    Anyway, when I was observing Anita’s Tropes VS Women, I came across this article in the response section.

    I just thought pertaining to your responses on articles such as ICO, you may find some of her/his points considerable.


    I personally admire what she/he is trying to delineate (i’ve also posted a comment, she/he’s very kind), but I’d like to know your honest opinion. Or even better, let them know for yourself ;)

    • From what I’m reading they seem to be defending the sexualization of women FOR male pleasure with the common response of “But men NATURALLY like sexy things! Go away!” In a lot of words with the tag of “You all are the REAL misogynists by not wanting women sexualized, etc.” It reeks of heterosexism and cissexism and totally misses a LOT of points that many other people have brought up already.

      As for FMA, I honestly haven’t watched much of it, but I’ve seen people point to characters and say “That one is feminist” though I’ve also seen the opposite.