Violence: A Double-Standard

Violence is never the answer.  Unless we’re talking about Japanese anime and manga.  In that case, violence towards men, especially when inflicted by women, is totally fine.  This is a double standard!  Why and how is society fine with this?

People may shrug off my concerns by saying, “it’s a joke” and “it’s lighthearted; loosen up!”  But these responses just further bewilder/annoy me.  Yes, we’re talking about cartoons.  But imagine if the roles were reversed.  If it were men, even (in fact, especially) in animated form punching and kicking women “just for laughs,” would anyone be laughing?  Oh my god, it would be the apocalypse; a total faux pax of social norms.  There’d be concerned parents everywhere protesting at school board meetings and writing breathless op-eds.  As there should be.  But if it’s men on the receiving end of physical violence, then there’s total silence and outrage.  Is this how we want to educate our children?

I honestly hate when I see double standards like this in modern times.  Yes, in the past– society’s sensibilities were different.  And so there existed tons of sexist material that denigrated and objectified women.  But nowadays, we preach equality everywhere, right?  We know better.  If we want genuine equality between the sexes, we need to actually start treating everyone the same and not condone/encourage double standards.  This starts with, “saying no to violence towards everyone.”  Violence inflicted upon men for laughs is despicable and teaches our children the wrong values.

More broadly, I’ve actually wondered about something for the longest time– here’s a question for all of the sociologists out there who actually study these kinds of things:  I don’t know if it’s exactly true, but by my observation, I’ve noticed that in the hierarchy of what is “generally acceptable”– a historically marginalized group or class bullying the current “in-power” and more dominant group is usually okay.  But not vice versa.  Eg. It’s okay to laugh when black people tease or jokingly make fun of white people.  But not vice versa.  Or:  It’s okay to watch female cartoon characters violently assault male cartoon characters and share such content with children, but not vice versa.  Again, I’m not exactly sure if this is true but it is pretty much what I’ve observed.  If I’m wrong, please let me know!

Edit:  Okay, someone has brought to my attention that the violence in anime and manga apparently does go both ways.  I don’t consider myself sexist but watching this video did make me deeply uncomfortable.  Yes, I know they’re just cartoons.  But my social indoctrination is pretty strong at this point.  Even I think (or maybe, feel, is the better word– I think these are more emotional responses than anything else) that women beating up men in anime is kind of funny (despite intellectually detesting it) while watching it go the other way is actually just disturbing.  Man, I’m conflicted.  This is a tough one.

Rent-a-Girlfriend: An Encomium to Anime & Manga

Reaching into my bag of analogies, here’s what I’ve got for you today:  Sometimes you’re on a high-protein diet.  You’re eating nothing but healthy foods:  Lots of Kashi cereal, quinoa, fruits, asparagus, spinach, and broccoli.  You’re a machine and your body’s a temple.  You only shop at Whole Foods, eat organic, and nothing but the best of the best enters your system.  You are, after all, what you eat.

And then, there are other days:  Häagen-Dazs Double Chocolate Chip and Rocky Road, Kettle Salt & Vinegar chips, beer, wine, the worst of the worst.  You know the diet is awful but it just tastes so good, at least initially.  You’re fully cognizant, in your infinite wisdom, that you’ll pay for such extreme decadence later and that you’ll regret having consumed such unqualified abject garbage into your body.  But you simply don’t care.  YOLO, etc.

Reading manga, I essentially equate, to consuming garbage.

Very little of it is, shall we say, intellectually or spiritually nourishing.  And much of it, at least the material I like (Rent-a-Girlfriend; Code Geass; The Pet Girl of Sakurasou; My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected; Bakuman) is at best, “problematic” and at worst, outright sexist. And I don’t even mean, “of-its-times-sexist.” I mean, content that is literally being produced today, in 2020.  (It’s important to keep in mind that Japanese culture is, in many ways, different than here in the west and I encourage everyone to not immediately leap to judgment.)  But in summary, the conclusion stands:  This isn’t James Joyce or Bleak House.  I generally pride myself on being a well-read and deep thinking individual.  But I’m telling you, no human being is able to operate in the highest gear, that redline gear, all the time.  If you try, you’ll simply burn out and die.

Thus, that’s why I’m a big fan of anime and manga.  Like anything else, there are tons of flavors of the mediums– some extremely deep and philosophical (eg. Death Note).  And while I do enjoy such fare, that genre of anime/manga is definitely not my default, go-to content.  Nah.  At the end of a long day when I’m at the end of my rope and am running on fumes, I reach for the light and feel-good stuff.  And I regret nothing!  Mwahahaha!

Possible to Adapt Anime for American Audiences?


It’s always struck me extremely unfortunate that Japanese cartoons and comics (anime/manga) possess a second-class-citizen status here in America.  Sure, there are definite fandoms.  And I’ve met many Americans who are super-passionate about the genre.  But I’ve also met many who are unfamiliar with the genre and think of anime and manga as “weird” and “perverse.”  I’ve met both men and women, especially women, who hold the genre in extraordinarily low esteem– they’ve either never watched or read anime/manga and/or the little they have, they’ve only seen lewdly drawn art that blatantly objectifies women; and/or they’ve only read storylines that verge on pure male prepubescent fantasy– Eg. A number of female high school students pursuing an entirely unremarkable male protagonist; whatever the gender opposite of the “Mary Sue” trope would be (and the fact that this is even a genre –called “harem”– is alone troubling to many.)

Anime and manga have another challenge in American culture in that cartoons, almost overwhelmingly, Americans think of as a children’s medium.  Obviously, there are Disney and Pixar– but even when you visit slightly “more mature” fare like content from Dream Works, Blue Sky, Sony Animation, or WB Animation, it’s still virtually entirely family-friendly.  There may be some “inside jokes” thrown in for the parents that get a laugh or chuckle.  But it’s all still material that children enjoy.  A safe weekend, family outing enjoyable for all ages.

In Japan, things are just different.

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