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Archive for April, 2011

(Read on; this title will make sense shortly, I promise.) I must admit, I’m a huge geek when it comes to manga. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, manga (mahn-gah) is the Japanese word for “cartoon,” but here in America it is more specifically associated with comic books from Japan. Americans commonly think only of big-eyed, cute manga girls, but it really ranges to every genre imaginable and some are quite sophisticated and complex. But as much as I love manga, it certainly isn’t the leading force in promoting strong, realistic women. Instead I’m often assaulted by the usual flimsy, submissive girl-next-door types, damsels, and sex kittens, all of which make me cringe in unbelievable frustration. All is not lost however. In manga and other medias of fiction characters are being pushed outside the cheap, crammed little box that is stereotyping and stronger female characters are popping up like refreshing daisies after a long winter.

Unfortunately, some of these characters start at hopeful buds and, as you will see in this article, bloom into…big boobs.

Recently, I’ve been running into female characters in manga that have all the potential to act as the powerful, admirable characters only to fall victim to heavy sexualization. Literally. These female characters are presented as tough, reliable in a pinch, commanding and are even, in cases, in very powerful positions in the story…and have breasts the size of melons on bodies as toned as Barbie‘s. Like over-sized, fleshy badges of power (that only undermine respect), these massive chests are worn proudly and openly and as often as possible. These are what I like to call “power boobs.”

Tsunade lounges in the background. Does that image say “respectable leader?”

Tsunade proudly shows off her power boobs.

Take Lady Tsunade from a well-known manga by the name of Naruto. In a world of ninja, she’s extremely powerful physically, one of the most skilled and knowledgeable in medicine, and acts as the leader of what is essentially a large, bustling community. She is also one of three of the most famous ninja in this fictional world and the only woman of the three. That is certainly a profile worthy of what I’d consider a type of strong female character. But she is also equipped with a chest that could give even Barbie a run for her money! They hang disproportionate and exposed for all eyes to see and see them we do (although at least the artist applied gravity). I looked up some statics on what Tsunade’s chest measurement would be and, although I never got an official source myself, the recurring number was 41.7 inches. To put that number into perspective, Barbie‘s notorious monsters would supposedly be a whooping 39 inch chest, an FF bra size. Ding! Ding! Ding! I think we have a new queen of topple-you-over boobs! Tsunade must be physically strong to hold up that amount of weight!

The skill it must take to wear that shirt all day without mishaps.

It is not that Tsunade has a big chest that bothers me per say. It is the body these mammoth-sized melons are on, a body that would never naturally have such a large chest. The result is awkward. Also, although it would be impossible to mask the unrealistic size, that fact is only accentuated by a shirt that acts more like a sling for Tsunade’s weighty luggage. This makes her acceptable to the masses that may not accept a realistic, strong woman and makes Tsunade just another woman with big breasts among the many in manga, certainly not a threat that pushes the limits of society.

Not only are people going to be unavoidably drawn to her busting bosom, but Tsunade is actually a 50-some-year-old woman who, through the use of what is basically magic, keeps the appearance of a 20-year-old. There are occasions when this magic wears off, however, and each and every time this occurs, Tsunade’s face is conveniently blocked from view so as not to ruin the beautiful voluptuous 20-year-old image that the readers are used to seeing. Now does that say she is to be known as a powerful woman or a sex object?

Tsunade when she really was in her 20s. Note that she’s not nearly as sexualized then (before she was a main character).

This is the animated version of Tsunade. Though she’s just as busty, her shirt does have slightly more coverage.

Don’t get me wrong; I am actually an avid reader of Naruto which I do believe has some fairly strong females (a couple of which are older women). And while I do have my beefs with what I feel are female characters that have all the potential to reach great heights only to be frustratingly held back, I do recognize at least an effort to introduce stronger female characters. I would also like to point out it’s not just manga that falls into this trap. Tons of top-heavy, stick thin female superheroes litter comics from Marvel and other American comics. It’s like women can’t have the power if they don’t have the boobs to match, as if the bigger the breasts, the bigger the amount of power or strength they are “allowed” because as long as these female characters are presented as sex objects, society will accept it. “Power boobs” are the literal embodiment of this weighting down of strong female characters and though many boys drooling over these page fillers may disagree, there are far too many female characters with “power boobs.”

(Stay tuned for more installments of strong female characters weighted down by heavy cleavage! I have a feeling it’ll be hard to miss.)

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Wow! Now thats evidence! A cheap pic combo of "feminism" and the Nazi symbol!

At this very moment, we are under attack by an irrational group of people. They are bringing about the downfall of our country and all reason!  Now, wait! Stop! I am not referring to the people who hang on Glenn Beck’s word with cult-like mindlessness; I am speaking of the real threat. Feminazis (also known as militant feminazis, lesbian feminazis, etc.)! Though they call themselves feminists, radical guys who have big mouths (all the better to spread the truth with) and radio shows like Rush Limbaugh are there to tell us the truth. But how do we spot these dangerous usurpers of nature?

The basic key to spotting feminazis is simple: stereotype and draw presumptuous conclusions! If you can do that, you are ready for the following steps:

1. Feminazis are easy to spot by their comical ugliness.

Wanted: Feminazi

As any good feminazi-watcher knows, feminazis are ridiculously unpleasant to look at. I mean, what is attractive about a woman who blubbers about being treated like a fellow human being and talks back? Nobody wants that! (Just watch Stepford Wives; the best looking women will always do a man’s bidding (as mindless Barbie robots should).) One key sign; Feminazis commonly grow mustaches as to openly denounce their femininity. It might be a tip-off if it’s shaped like Hitler’s infamous little ‘stache (I hear it’s all the rage with any group you disagree with).

2. Feminazis lack feminine, womanly behavior.

Because feminazis are so unfeminine (evidence we have based on the many fervent squawks of insult cried by advent feminazi-watchers), it has been discovered that they are actually man/woman hybrids (one man from the blog Kevnice even suggested feminists, as feminazis like to call themselves, complete the job and “get a sex change”). According to these experts, feminazis are loud about their opinions, irrational when arguing their points, and mow down anyone who disagrees with them without question or care of the people they’re running over all in the effort to reach their goal. Oops! Maybe I’m mixing that up with a description of the feminazi experts like Rush instead of a description of the feminazis they’re watching out for…

3. Feminazis hate children.

It is a well-known fact that feminazis plan to uproot the family ideals. No one who wishes for something so outrageous as for society to get rid of harmful, stick-figure ideals could care an ounce about children. They’re not thinking of the young girls who are starving and mutilating themselves in an effort to conform to unrealistic expectations for beauty. No, it’s obviously some selfish motive. I mean, what kind of mothers would they make, wanting their daughters to receive the same pay rate as their fellow male employees?

But of course, as Rush Limbaugh kindly explains, “A feminazi is a woman to whom the most important thing in life is seeing to it that as many abortions as possible are performed.” He elaborates further, saying that abortion is “a modern-day holocaust.” Yeah, because feminazis couldn’t possibly be thinking of the rights of girls and women that have been raped, women pregnant with a baby so unfortunately diseased that allowing it to be born would be cruel (ever heard of anencephalic infants?), and the other sad circumstances surrounding abortion and that it is the woman’s right to decide to keep the child despite circumstances or not. But I’m sure Rush must have thought of these things (carefully), of course; just as sure as I am that Rush must have had the experience of carrying around a child for 9 months as he is so knowledgeable on the responsiblity and impact of it.

HOW TO HANDLE THEM

A typical day in the life of a feminist. (Hrm. I wonder why I can only find a pic like this as a cartoon?)

Be a real man.

Feminazis seem to be able to sense fear; fear of letting a gender rise to equality (nothing more or less) because it can only mean change for instance. Strangely, they only become agitated when aggravated by those with boyish immaturity and insensibility and fear of cooties. So, the good news is, real men have nothing to fear!

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Slut. The word is like one of those neon billboards, blinking tastelessly back you. It’s hard not to just gape at it as it burns the letters into your mind so that even after you’ve left it behind, it’s still there when you close your eyes, blaring on the backs of your eyelids. It sticks with you.

My mind started buzzing about the term after I came across this article from Sociological Images titled “Resistance, Language, and the Toronto SlutWalk” (click here). According to Lisa Wade, the women and men of Toronto formed the “SlutWalk” event “in an effort to bring attention to word and  its use as a mechanism of control[ing] girls” a couple of weeks ago. The “SlutWalk” was apparently trigger by an unfounded comment made by a local police officer essentially blaming women for the way they dress–“dressing like sluts”–for being victimized.

Of course, there is the whole issue of the fact that the way one dresses is no excuse for inexcusable treatment of them. When people see business suits, suitcases, and well put-together men, should they link these business men with Madoff and take their angry out on them? No, that would be stupid and uncalled for. Yet obviously some think that is completely and uneqivically acceptable, at least in certain situations (such as a woman dressing in a way they consider “slutty”). But today I’m more curious about the term than the stupidity.

What does “slut” mean in today’s society?

It’s become too common in today’s society, much like fast-food chains and advertisements. It echoes through the halls at schools and has been smeared all over the internet like some kind of black plague on sites. Just check out these statistics on the usage frequency of slurs against women on some notorious game sites brought to our attention by Go Make Me a Sandwich (Google Results-misogynist language used on major game sites).

When was the last time you saw a male politician photoshopped into a sex object?

Whether or not everyone knows the precise definition of the word, I think we all understand the meaning and how it is commonly used. Most of us probably know it as a put down, a nasty label that degrades a girl or woman to something less than others, something dirty, cheap, and easy that deserves no respect. I use the word “something” on purpose; the term “slut” is just another way to dehumanize someone and take their power away. Take female politicians for example. If someone doesn’t like a female politician, what better way to take away her dignity and power than to label her a “slut.” Some buried deep in the depths of their man caves even add the extra touch of taking the time to photoshop pictures to add to the point.

Although fictional, "Mean Girls" did portray the behavior of some young women, including calling each other sluts.

But aside from the ugly usage of it, did you know there is a movement by some women to try to “reclaim” the term “slut?” This does not mean it would be ok for a woman to use it against another woman, but instead reinvent the meaning of the term. Some have cast away the meaning of “a dirty woman” or “immoral woman” for a modern revamp of, basically, a person who is at ease with sex and feels it is nothing to be ashamed of. Here are some I came across:

“in the pursuit of their own pleasure”–The Sluts & Goddesses Video Workshop (sex info video)

“a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you” —The Ethical Slut (sex and lifestyle book)

(On the other hand, there are other women and girls that are trying to adopt “slut” on as a joke term that would be ok to use on each other, much like the word “bitch” is used by some nowadays. Honestly though, does it make a person feel good to hear that from her friends, even as a joke?)

While it is an interesting and worthy endeavor to change the usage, I struggle with the concept of wiping clean the repulsive term “slut” into something good. It is certainly not out of humankind’s reach to completely reinvent the idea of a commonly used word, just look at what we’ve done to the term “gay.” But can we flip a word from a stinging slap into a pat on the back instead of the other way around for once? I have to wonder if the reinvented term of “slut” will be wholly embraced or if it will simply become a poor cover up on the black stain that is the history of the term.

What do you think?

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T-shirt and jeans? I guess Ree had enough substance that they didnt have to sex her up.

If aliens used fiction to collect data on the human race, they would think women are either creepily saintly, unintelligent creatures straight from a Disney princess movie or extremely shallow, vindictive vixens. That’s why, whenever I see even a hint of possibility for a hopeful female heroine in fiction, I leap to my feet screaming “Hallelujah!” (ok, maybe I don’t actually do that, but you know what I mean). It’s like I am drowning in a sea of sex kittens when someone finally throws me a desperately needed lifesaver and I receive an epiphany; the world hasn’t forsaken me to a slow and dreadful death by stereotypes!

Luckily for me and the rest of you drowning out there, we have been given some great examples of this in movies this year; True Grit‘s Mattie, The King’s Speech’s Queen Elizabeth, and Ree from Winter’s Bone just to name some.  Unfortunately, society must have realized somewhere out there, someone was being deprived of one more movie of boob shots, paper-thin characterizations, and damsels in distress. Once again, the movie trailers seem bursting with too many Bellas and Britney Spears.

Tell me they do not look like strippers w/ guns.

Sucker Punch just hit the big screen last week. The basic story line is about a young woman who is sent to an insane asylum by her “wicked” stepfather (always have to have an evil step-something). Unable to accept this horrible reality she and several other girls at the institution use the dream world to (physically?) escape. From the trailers, it’s obvious the female characters in this movie are not waiting on their butts, dreaming of a prince charming to save them and promotions for it on TV insist that you’ve never had a dream like this. Wow, they’re right! I can’t remember the last time I dreamed I was platinum blonde!

I can make no comment (yet) on the content of the story, but the more I look at the photos, trailers, and promotions I am unable to shake the idea of strippers and porn stars. Even the names screech sex kittens! Alone, the names are nails-on-the-chalkboard cutesy, but together Babydoll, Sweet Pea, Rocket, Blondie, and Amber make a perfect showgirl troupe! One would have been O.K., but giving them all odd, show-type names, the creator had to know what kind of image that would give the characters. I would be quite contented with a Jill or Sarah in there.

Here we have a naughty schoolgirl and wicked militant(?).

Naturally, sexy Japanese school girl uniforms, visible garters, and cleavage help amplify this showgirl image ten-fold. Yes, the messed up, sexed up military uniforms only come out of the dank sea of deranged getups in the dream world, but is that not just a reflection of reality? If these dreaming girls were real, they would have some serious image issues.

Wow. I never want to see a sexy samuri again.

The clothing and the names are not the only thing that make me double check that this movie has nothing to do with porn stars. The girls in this movie are littered with fake eyelashes that may as well be brush bristles glued onto their eyelids. Also, why do they have their hair in pretty ponytails, their cheeks peachy-pink with blush, and their skin almost radiating if they’re supposed to be in an insane asylum?  Is this a special place just for cases of young girls and women pushed to the brink by the pressure to be beautiful 24/7?

Id really like to know the justification in the plot for this lovely number.

Reading through the reviews for this movie, it’s definitely attracted some guys who want to waste their lives staring at fake, photo brushed girls in skimpy outfits. On Metacritic.com, the average Joe is allowed to leave a review as well as the critics. Whether they liked the movie or not, the word that kept on popping up like some kind of slogan for the movie was “hot girls.” Yeah, I think we got that. As you can see from the mishmash of pictures, that fact is the clearest part of the movie. Before you know Babyboll is trying to escape a horrible reality, you know she’s one hot girl! The girls from Sucker Punch may be a far cry from damsels in distress from the looks of it, but the sexualization has gone rampant and slobbered all over the movie.  Whether these girls are trapped in a mental institute or dodging bullets, they look like they could move to Los Vegas that instant. And that’s why Sucker Punch is one punch I think I’ll be able to avoid. Their photo brushed, much exposed skin radiates so brilliantly, I’ll be able to see it coming from a mile away.

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