Sorry Spiller Guys, this post is about feminism, but I hope you will read it also.
Feminism is about empowering women, equality and social justice . . . so why is it so unpopular with young women and girls ? ? ? Most girls I know either deny they are feminists or are embarrassed to admit it. Why on earth should this be so ? ? ? What is wrong with feminism ? ? ?
A new series of Sailor Moon has started in Japan and it has caused a lot of debate about the nature and role of this manga ( and later anime series ) People seem divided equally between those who think that Sailor Moon is an icon of feminist literature and those who think the complete opposite.
Sailor Moon was first published as a manga ( Japanese graphic novel ) in 18 volumes which sold over a million copies and later made into an anime series which was one of the most popular ever.
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is the story of an ordinary middle school girl who through a magic talking cat discovers she is one of the Sailor Guardians of Princess Serenity who was in the distant past the Princess of the Kingdom of the Moon.
She discovers she has a mission to find the other Sailor Guardians and a magic crystal and defeat the evil threatening the world and also find and protect the Princess. Quite a job for a middle school girl ! ! !
So, a typical anime or manga story . . . . . and in many way it is ! ! ! But Sailor Moon was on a different level to most manga and anime. The characters were really well described and the relationships between Sailor Moon and the other Sailor Guardians friendship and caring about each other was paramount.
In most magic girl manga and anime, the character transform into some sort of masculine space armor wearing power ranger type of character.
But watch the transformation of the middle school girl into Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon.
Middle School Girl Transforms Into Cosmic Superhero ! ! !
I will talk a little more about the significance of that transformation later but first I want to talk about power.
In the 1990 decade when Sailor Moon was first published and the anime series was made this was revolutionary. Power is a masculine thing, particularly in Japan. Femininity is associated with weakness. In order to be taken seriously women had to become more masculine. I read an article recently which showed that women newscasters in the USA had lowered the tone of their voices over the last 25 years to become more masculine and even the first female British Prime Minister Mrs Thatcher had voice coaching to sound less feminine. To be taken seriously girls dressed in more masculine ways, and cut their hair short and did not wear make up or girly things.
Also girls literature ( particularly western girls literature ) is full of spunky tomboys climbing trees and beating the guys at soccer or whatever. Feminine girls are usually shown as dumb, weak, shallow or manipulative even in stories for girls.
Actually, the entire iconography of power in developed economic counties is masculine.
I do understand why girls would want to be seen as more masculine, as after leaving a sheltered upbringing in a rural environment followed by an idyllic time at an all girls boarding school I moved to Tokyo to attend university and was confronted with all the preconceived ideas about feminine girls ! ! !
Which brings me back to school girl Usagi’s transformation to superhero Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon.
The transformation starts with a manicure ! ! ! She starts the transformation by calling for make up ! ! ! She gets new ear rings, ribbons for her hair nice boots and a mini skirt. She does not transform like a female power ranger into some masculine figure
The power of Sailor Moon comes from her femininity. To move from klutzy schoolgirl to the super powerful Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon who will save the princess and the world, she actually becomes more feminine. The source of her power is her femininity.
For me, I saw no conflict in being a feminine girl who likes make up, fashion, shoes, handbags jewelry, nail art and accessories and being someone who believed in empowering women, social justice and equality. I did of course realize, I had to overcome peoples idea of what I was like and I had to prove myself as being intelligent and strong as people would normally just assume the opposite. But I did not really see it as a major problem for me.
However my first contact with Feminism as an ideology was when I went to the USA for a year to study and I had to take a compulsory Gender Studies class.
It was frankly the worst experience of my life until that point. The whole concept seemed alien to me. The feeling of confrontation towards men was something I could not understand, but most of all the rejection of anything feminine seemed totally alien.
Clothes needed to be masculine, the tones of voice and manner of speaking and acting was masculine and aggressive. What I believe to be feminine values of love, caring, nurturing, and the validity of feminine choices to be a home maker as a positive choice were totally rejected. and some of the views on topics like abortion were frankly shocking to me. In the class I was ridiculed and bullied for being feminine in the way I dressed, acted and spoke, not only by the other students but by the teacher also.
One year of Gender Studies ( and the only F ever in my academic career ) and I had learnt to hate feminism.
But I had forgotten Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon ! ! !
I believe traditional western feminism is being rejected by girls and young women around the world because it portrays our femininity as weakness. Actually, many western feminists are just like men in this respect because they also see femininity as weakness.
I think the real fight now is not to gain power by being more like men in the way we behave and understand power, but by accepting femininity as our nature and source of strength.
Sometimes, on a bad day, I actually believe that the efforts to get girls to play with gender neutral toys, avoid pink and cute things and all the other things i read about in the Guardian about gender, is at best a form of surrender and at worst is joining the the patriarchy in their war against girls. What is wrong with femininity ? ? ? I think it is a positive alternative and a necessary balance.
I am a girl, and guess what . . .I run like a girl and hit like a girl, but just like Sailor Moon, I do not need a white knight to save the Princess – I can do it myself thank you ! ! !
For me, this is what Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is all about.
~ ♥ ~ ♪ ~ ♫ ~ ♪ ~ ♥ ~
As this is a music blog I should share some music ! ! !
So here is Miwa, the most feminine of feminist girls, singing like a girl, performing like a girl, and kicking some grass in concert like a girl ! ! !
I hope you brought your towel ! ! !
~ ♥ ~ ♪ ~ ♫ ~ ♪ ~ ♥ ~
By the way at some point in this song she sings:
Okashi konna sekai jan
Jibun ga dare nanoka wakaranakunaru
Wafuu ni hanaritakunai ka
Kimetsukenai de yo
In English this is:
This is such a crazy world,
Sometimes it makes me lose sight of who I am
Do you want to leave the traditional ways?
Just don’t make that decision for me
Miwa – Change