Is it just me or is Japanese culture really so sexist?

Sakura Haruno
Image via Wikipedia

I recently started watching Naruto and by now, I’ve watched around 17 episodes and what has really made an impression of me is the undeniable sexism that exists in the story. You see, in these series, at the point where I am now at least, you follow the story of Naruto, a kid “ninja” who is travelling around with his Sensei and his two schoolmates, 1 girl and one boy. As is to be expected, they have to overcome any number of enemies and challenges in their travels.

Until now, I haven’t seen the girl do anything. Seriously. While the two boys have defeated enemies far stronger than them, and shown some awesome initiative and power, continuously impressing their Sensei, the girl’s accomplishments until now are: Faint, Fail to provide a weapon to he schoolmate, cry over the body of the one she loves, roundhouse kick someone (not anyone powerful mind you) who tried to steal her bag, be the object of lust for Naruto. And that’s about it. Oh no, wait, her biggest accomplishment is that she managed to climb a tree using Chakra.

I keep waiting, since the 3rd episode, to see her do something exciting. Anything. But she won’t. She politely stays away from all the battles and is dutifully impressed and scared when the true heroes, teh mens, do all the dangerous stuff. This kind of shit is so heavy it really threatens to ruin the whole show for me. I keep hoping it will get better but given past experience with Japanese cartoon, I can’t hold my breath.

You see, I’ve also been watching the Legend of the Galactic Heroes for a while now and that one is far worse at reinforcing the patriarchy. There’s basically two strong women in that show, both in some kind of advisory role, which isn’t as bad per se but given that the whole thing revolves around dozens and dozens of men, it’s really sad that the only thing women can do apparently is advise the men. But as bad as this is, it got even worse as the show moved on, one of these women got married to one of the main protagonists and then she immediately became practically his wife-slave. It would show the protagonists sitting in the living room relaxing, while his wife would cook, clean and arrange of all the social duties. Her biggest fear was that she wasn’t a good enough cook for fuck’s sake.

All the other women that were married naturally had the same role. Take care of the household while the men did the important stuff like war and politics. I was thinking if this was because this looked like an older TV show but then I learned that it run from 1988-2000 which is definitely not that old. This can only mean that Japanese culture continues to remain so patriarchal that such displays of sexism are considered the norm and expected by the majority of their viewers. Nevertheless, I was hoping that Naruto, which started 10 years later, would be more progressive, but alas it was not so.

It also makes me wonder if any girls watch shows like Naruto or if it’s explicitly targeted at boys. If girls watch it, which character could they possibly identify with an support? Can they really enjoy having their gender being displayed simply as an object of lust?

So I’m curious, is Japanese society really so sexist in the 21st century? For one of the most progressive countries out there, their patriarchy seems exceedingly preserved.

43 thoughts on “Is it just me or is Japanese culture really so sexist?

  1. Thank you for writing this. My 16-year-old sister ADORES Naruto, and as her role-model, I'm glad I can have some resources for talking to her about women's issues.

  2. Plenty of girls watch Naruto, at least from the sampling I've seen at anime conventions. Sasuke is quit the heartthrob for them.

  3. The problem itself is the genre you are watching: shounen. Shounen is aimed at boys and as such, boys will more often than not be portrayed in a heroic, but somewhat dumb manner. This is too incredibly sexist. The source for this is the target audience of shounen: young teen boys. We see a similar pattern in all shows aimed at boys. Just look at the filmatizations of Spider-Man. Furthermore, another problem which is permeating is the fact that women in stories aimed at men (boys) have to be evil in order to do anything constructive. I would argue that the reason for this lies in how we still view strong, independent women as dangerous: therefore, in fiction, only truly strong independent women can be evil. The opposite would be be the chic genre, but again, I would argue that women are portrayed in a very sexist manner, where highly intelligent women are usually only interested in shallow relationships or "freeling themselves of patriarchy", which usually ends up with them for example marrying. I shouldn't need to point out the hypocrisy. So td;lr, fiction reflects societal norms and expections. In Japan, women are less free in than in the West and there is a strong patriarchic power that struggles to make sure it remains that way.

    1. It should be noted that I do not identify myself with any woman in shounen because of their aforementioned inability to do anything constructive for themselves or for anyone else. Even when they do, it's usually for the sake of a relationship. I don't know about others, but a modern variant of the knight on a white horse does not appeal to me in the least. It's unfortunate that such kickass, independent women as Kerrigan or Sylvanas have to by necessity be evil or corrupted. (The only shounen I am currently following is Bleach because at least the women are a bit more useful there. I have a tendency to grow for the protoganist. I stopped watching Naruto because of the same reason as yours though. And I saw up to 70+ episodes where I couldn't stand Sakura being such a stalker anymore.)

      1. Yeah, pretty much my perspective as well. 

        Thanks for the information on this, however the Legend of the Galactic Heroes is not shounen (at least,I don't think) but rather some kind of Drama, and yet, it still can't show any strong woman.

  4. This is not a very good "resource" for deciding Japanese culture is sexist. Why don't you watch more of the anime? Or state that the girl in question is never afraid to stand up to those boys. May I remind everybody that in this particular anime that the girl is NOT the main character? Feminists are really starting to piss me off, the way they see one tiny little thing and start waving it around screaming "OMG SEXISM!" There are many different genre of anime and all are targeted at a certain group. Naruto is targeted at boys. You want to see something where girls kick ass, watch Samurai Girl: Real bout High School. Or Sailor Moon. Or Tokyo Mew Mew. Do some research!

    1. Just because a series is targeted at young boys does NOT excuse sexist protrayals of women. As I've mentioned before I HAVE watched other anime and it doesn't really change much.

      May I remind everybody that in this particular anime that the girl is NOT the main character?

      The second boy Sasuke and the teacher are not the main character either but they seem to be doing a shitloads more than the girl which is only capable of stunned silence and comedic effects.

      You want to see something where girls kick ass

      All these fucking anime you just listed only reinforce the sexist perception of the Japanese.

    2. true and if thay dont like it then dont whatch it and im a girl and i love anime naruto is my fav and i dont watch is for girl characters i whatch it because the guys are cool all my fav characters in anime r boys

    3. Dude he's right though. They are very sexist. They view men as superior. And honestly, they are terrible people. Let me say many of the faults:
      -If america didn't win WW2 they would still have emperors
      -women do all the work, and not seen as important as men
      -very recently a man in the government forced a woman to marry him. The whole government thought this was right.
      -they are racist; hate immigrants.

  5. omg yes, Japanese culture is sexist. I'm surprised none of the comments have mentioned this. Have you noticed that in most Anime, women are oversexualised? Teeny tiny short skirts are the norm. My mother is a therapist, and the Japanese women she works with all have horrible internalised sexism. Their traditions and culture are highly patriarchal. It is regarded as perfectly normal for a man to rape his wife, and it is her "duty" to satisfy him. This is even found in their legal system. Here are a couple good illustrations of Japanese patriarchy: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20001029http://www.examiner.com/x-24740-Norfolk-Human-Rights-Examiner~y2009m10d27-Womens-rights-and-sexism-in-Japan. The economic system in Japan is extremely male-dominated.

    As for being "one of the most progressive countries," I've never heard that before. They have one of the most racist cultures on the planet. They despise immigrants, which is one of the reasons their population is aging so rapidly. To the government's dismay, a genetic study recently revealed that most Japanese people are descendants of both Koreans and the native people there, the Ainu, both of whom are second-class citizens in Japan.

    1. As for being "one of the most progressive countries," I've never heard that before.

      Well, their homosexuals are pretty liberated afaik and they have less issues with displaying nudity or sexual fetishes.

      1. I'm proud of the Netherlands when it comes to being liberated. As for homosexuals: Marraige since 2001, and.. ehr.. I'm not sure what it's called in English. Official partnerships(?) since 1998.

        And guess what.. our country didn't collapse into a sinkhole of moral apocalypse!

      2. Nooooo! As a bisexual living in Japan, I can safely say this is not true at all. Japan has a very "don't ask, don't tell" attitude towards homosexuality and sex in general. Things like public bath houses and fetish manga give off the wrong impression to foreigners, but Japan is still very stuck in the 1950s when it comes to things like sex. I don't even know if they have sex education in school. What I do know is, companies have been known to fire employees if it is discovered they are gay. Because it puts a "bad image" on the company, or some such nonsense.

        But the sad thing about the portrayal of homosexuality in Japan is: It is treated as a "joke" in Japanese media. A punchline. Many portrayals of homosexuals are either blatantly offensive or horribly flambouyant, and they are usually used to get the straight audience to laugh. You'll rarely find a positive portrayal of homosexuality in Japanese media. And the ones that TRY to be positive end up failing or simply substituting the traditional 'female' in a relationship with an effeminate pretty boy who could pass for a girl (the 'uke' stereotype).

      3. Actually, homosexuality is highly discouraged there (I was living in Japan and discovered that). The GLBT groups are shunned, and you can barely see anything about them, even in Tokyo (I only found one leaflet for the Tokyo GLBT organization). Homosexuals are depicted as “jokes” in their media. Japan practices Confucianism, which encourages men and women marrying and having children. Gay couples are not legally recognized there, and “love hotels” will not allow a couple in if they learn they’re gay.

  6. Now, I'm no expect on the matter, but I've sampled various anime and hoo boy, indeed, there do seem to be a lot of sexist stereotypes around. However, the girl you used as an example (I forgot her name) might not be the best example available, since the writers eventually wise-up and give her a bit of a confidence-and-power upgrade.

    In season two she starts causing earthquakes and sinkholes with her punches alone, and remember, in the shounen genre, power is what the expected viewers tend to use as value-measurement for a character.

    1. In season two she starts…

      Please no spoilers, but I'm glad that she got a better role. In fact, this is why I'm keeping up with the series, because I hope she'll eventually start to do something. I'm just dismayed that up to the 17th episode I haven't seen her do anything more than faint, cry and provide comic relief.

  7. No it's not just you db0, Japanese culture is quite sexist. A friend of mine recounted a story where her friend was called to fix a computer system in Japan and the managers called the repair company and said "You sent a WOMAN to do a MAN's job?!". (Although this is just from our Western point of view, of course.)

    It's actually funny in a way; you watch a show like "Naruto" hoping to see strong female characters and female liberation, but I watched the same show to see cool male characters, awesome battles, and "sexism". Maybe it's just one of my guilty pleasures, but since I read feminist/gay liberation/anarchist stuff like your blog all the time sometimes I like to relax and watch a "sexist" show like Naruto or play a "sexist" game like FFX. And to the commenter who suggested Bleach is less sexist: have you even seen it?

    By the way, here is a list of animes with strong female characters: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?t

    If you want more anime recommendations db0 just let me know, being an anarchist also I can probably guess which ones you might like.

    1. To tell the truth, I find it a bit worrying that you need "sexism" (at least this kind of sexism) to relax. In the past, before I started having an active interest in the struggle for equality, I would have possibly seen the show without issues or realizing the inherent sexism in it, but it's because I've grown more sensitive to female oppression that I just can't relax when I see such examples of sexism. If it actually didn't have a female character in the party, it would have been far better for me, but just having one, who is supposedly of equal or similar power to them, and can't do anything else except provide comic relief, is just disturbing.

      1. Yes I find it worrying as well, but I reason everybody needs some kind of vice to round out their personality, and you can do a lot worse than reading "White Knight/Damsel in Distress" kinda stuff. (At any rate the Morals Committee of the commune hasn't shown up to confiscate all my comics/cigarettes in the name of equality yet, nor has a Christian Private Defense Agency arrived with armed goons to do the same "for God", so I figure I'm fine until then.) In any event I do enjoy animes that have strong female characters as well, so be sure to blog/comment if you like any on the list I linked.

  8. Oh, slight PS: Regardless, yes, much Japanese Anime portrays women as useless toys and many men grow up thinking so, leading to all kinds of social problems as mentioned by others already.

    Although, for many men, it's a real shock to the system when they grow up thinking women are objects and then finally getting a ring on one to realize that she controls his whole life and assets. ;-p

  9. I really enjoyed reading your viewpoints from an outside perspective looking in.

    Having lived in Japan for a while and having married a Japanese woman, I’d say that’s you’re fairly correct in your assumptions. In general, the progressive image of Japan comes under a lot of heat in many areas when viewed from the inside-out.

    Japan has never truly had a woman’s revolution. I visit corporate clients on a daily basis and find that the majority of women are still used in a 1960s-ish ‘coffee secretary’ role. I’ve been told directly by more than a few clients that they tend to hire women solely for having them around the office to meet male workers, marry them, get pregnant, and leave the workplace so they can get new, younger women in the office.

    The idea behind this is that it helps Japanese male employees meet women (which they’re fairly near utterly incapable of doing on their own sometimes) and don’t have the free time to usually pursue because of long work hours. In this way, it keeps Japan from extinction.

    On the other hand, sexual harassment is the norm, and there doesn’t exist much currently to combat such things. I’ve seen female employees treated like complete garbage by men who have never had to confront the word ‘equality.’

    So has the oppressing hand of man kept women down and successfully prevented a woman’s revolution?

    Not Exactly….

    In Japan, the workplace is traditionally the domain of men and the home is the domain of women. While men puff out their chests in public and can show dominance over their spouses there, they are normally completely at a loss to control ANY home issues.

    The woman handles all money and the man readily gives her his monthly paychecks. She normally doles out a pittance to the man to buy a bit of lunch, and dictates all monetary issues.

    I know many a man that I can deflate upon asking why they can’t come out for a drink.

    “My wife only allows me 500 yen (5 dollars) a day for lunch.”

    In this way, there’s a bit more under the carpet than can be easily seen.

    I’d argue that a woman’s revolution has never occurred because the majority of Japanese woman are quite happy with the status quo and don’t feel the need for work when they can dream of being a house wife that holds out her hand to collect her husband’s money.

    I liken it to some people on welfare in America/Australia that don’t bother getting jobs because life’s already basically paid for, but many Japanese woman seem quite comfortable with the arrangement. Perhaps they don’t know better, or perhaps it just IS better (I often wonder what life would be like if I could just collect a spouses money and maintain the house all day)

    Of course, there are a minority of woman who want to achieve a life where they can manage companies and advance in their line of work/careers, and these women truly get the shaft and have to endure a barrage of men trying to put them back in their place.

    I often get angry at it, but Japan is a place where you accept roles and stick to those roles. It’s not going to change overnight.

    It IS changing slowly, extremely slowly. Men today seem to have lost a bit of their old ways and are slowly emerging in home life. Some would argue that women’s control has actually increased due to a weaker man.

    I loved your post, totally agree, would love to see change, but am cognizant of the fact that I’m viewing the whole situation from a different cultural standpoint and perhaps could be wrong.

    -Craig

    1. Btw, would you mind if I reposted this comment on the Division by Zer0 as a follow up to my post?

  10. Is Japanese culture sexist? Err…well, have you watched Japanese porn? I think that pretty much answers it
    (sorry if I offended anyone with my political incorrectness)

  11. Well, I agree with you on the sexism in Japan, Naruto is not the best specimen. To defend my fav manga, you haven't watched enough to see Tenten's Twin Dragon Barrage, Temari (also a girl) easily deflecting the barrage, Ino's stealth, Hinata's courage, and the BIG DAMN Tsunade, the 5th Hokage, kicking ass all over the place.

    And in part 2, Sakura punches the ground and lets forth a TIDAL WAVE of…well….the GROUND. Then she and Granny Chiyo go and kill Sasori, a fucking powerful akatsuki member. And his 20 huge puppets. Then Temari, a Jonin, uses more Jonin ass-kicking, Ino kicks ass in white Zetsu's and Choji's bodies, and then there is MORE TSUNADE…….

    So give Naruto some time, it's not so bad! 😉

    PS: I am a girl and think a LOT of things are sexist, and am NOT shy about vocalizing it. So trust me, Naruto aint sexist.

    1. I dunno. I've already seen up to the 5th season or so, and it's still pretty much the same thing. Girls watch, or guard, or get into a damsel in distress situation, while boys save the day. There's a few scenes where they are more active but overall, it's a boy's series.

  12. You mean 5th season…..ah, so you’ve seen all that and still think it’s sexist? I think

    A. There are going to be less female characters because women are less interested in being ninja– I’m just saying, it’s like how no girls at my school take martial arts or football. Anyways, 1 in 3 ninja is a girl seems pretty realistic to me.

    B. And secondly, we see more guys ‘cuz Naruto IS a guy. So he would probably hang out with guys more. In a manga with a male main character, there will be more guys than girls. Just as in Sailor Moon, you don’t see many hero guys but the girls kick ass frequently. In Claymore, it explicitly states that women make better soldiers than men, but no one says THAT’S sexist!

    1. A) In a fictional world, that argument doesn't hold water. The reason why girls currently don't take interest in sports and martial arts is because of culutral conditioning, which does not seem to exist in Naruto's universe. And if it does, it just means that they created a sexist world. I don't see why 1 in 3 female ninjas is realistic when more than 50% of humans are females.

    2. B. And secondly, we see more guys 'cuz Naruto IS a guy. So he would probably hang out with guys more

      Again, doesn't make sense because Naruto does not choose who he hangs out with and it doesn't change the fact that all ninja teams have 2 boys and 1 girl.

  13. Hmmmmmm…. I’m a girl who watches Naruto… I can identify with Temari, who’s really strong, and so is the Mizukage.

  14. I love anime and I feel that as a feminist that it often sucks that there isn't that much shonen styled anime for girls or shoujo styled anime for boys. That said this is pretty typical of shonen Dubzy there are stronger male characters that do stuff than the female characters. For instance take Death Note, the first half of that anime is a fucking masterpiece but Light is a much more interesting character than Misa. Dragonball, another good series tainted by the subtle sexism(Goku is more awesome than Bulma, in DBZ Gohan is more awesome than Videl). It is a feature of shonen to feature males as better and more interesting characters than females. I love shonen and as much as I think characters like Seras Victoria are well done and great characters, there is never any female version of Alucard.

    Another core problem is shoujo which relies on female stereotypes and continue the sexist portrayals of female sexuality. I mean don't get me wrong, there are good shoujo animes(and I like some of them) but I have more issues with shoujo which is with the stereotypical portrayals of female sexuality, romance patterns, and even the implicit misandry against the guys that don't stack up with the "dream guy".

    That's just addressing anime and my opinions based on me being an anime fan.

    (Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex comes to mind as an anime that is better for women but I still have issues with the beauty standards)

  15. I think I’m getting better db. I’ve been checking out ‘One Piece’ and was excited by the strong female pirate Nami. Unfortunately when she was going to actually do something and kill the guy extorting her the main character stepped in and did it instead. In all while ‘One Piece’ is a good anime I can’t recommend it for any gender portrayals that exceed the norm. In fact there is a second female character whose clumsiness is mocked as a running joke (her doppelganger died from falling down stairs). Lots of great action and storytelling otherwise however.

  16. You’re observation is very accurate. Japanese culture is highly sexist. I’m reading all the volumes of Ranma 1/2 right now and am struck by how Ranma’s love interest, Akane, starts off as a strong young woman who literally lifts statues and hurl them across town when she is angry. As the chapters progress she becomes Ranma’s caretaker, nurse, cheerleader, and in a way, mother, who tends all his injuries while constantly obsessing over his safety, happiness, and other needs. She thinks about no one else except him and willingly fights over him with three other girls in the book. All the while he demeans, insults, mocks, and torments her. Still, she falls in love with him. I think this is why I couldn’t finish reading the Ranma 1/2 comics the first time around 10 years ago: it was just too insulting to women. While Akane’s sole other suitor is a boy who secretly tries to romance her and another girl at the same time, Ranma’s three other potential love interests are staunchly focused on him and no one else. Funny, I don’t recall reality ever looking like this. I’ve lost count of the flirtatious girls I knew in high school who randomly flitted from one boy to the next. Ranma 1/2 is truly fictional and designed to assuage the fragil egos of fearful high school boys (and adult men) who are unable to find love in real life.

    1. I would have to disagree with everything you said.

      As you said in the beginning yes Akane did start of as a girl who’s anger would give her strength but then the strength was uncontrolled, pointless and reckless, even though she was strong enough to fling statues about it’s pointless rage and pointless power which we see in both male and female characters and even in real life is exactly that pointless, although I’m not derailing her strength and I apologize if I am but it was also mostly for comical effect. However the strength she find later on has more meaning, more purpose and more value it takes more strength than flinging a statue in that it’s not just physical strength but emotional and mental strength which is much harder to achieve and more rewarding to control as well as have although the three can work in tandem with each other she achieves much more through her change. However this isn’t to say that physical strength is useless it’s very useful but it needs to have purpose or meaning behind it for it to have meaning, just as emotions or thoughts need to have purpose and action behind them as well.

      Taking care of Ranma and caring for him requires much more strength and means a lot more than just hurling statues around; It’s a fact that it takes a lot of strength to care and nurture someone in that way, perhaps if you look at it in a different way Akane falling in love with Ranma gave her more control over herself and more strength to be able to control her strength while gaining a new strength which was much more useful than mindless destruction, to take care of Ranma who sometimes didn’t treat her too well. At first may have made it look like she was being weak but she was being the stronger one, regardless of his rudeness she still cared for him and took care of him, she didn’t have to but she still did which is another important aspect of it. In that same way he will learn to appreciate her and in that he will gain emotional and mental strength, and learn to respect and love her as well and will change for the better, it’s a story of change for the better in both characters involved.

      Perhaps it’s also a difference in cultural values in Japan and other non western countries the will to sincerely care, serve and help and serving, helping and caring are seen as good things even in desperate times to serve is seen as strong even if you don’t have to to make that choice to do something for someone else consistently is seen as strength.
      In the west serving yourself or to serve someone else expecting something in return is seen as strong and willingly serving someone else is seen as good, but as somewhat weak, instead to help yourself in any situation is seen as primary and to help others is secondary. Again personally I think the Japanese way is tough but more preferable but again just cultural difference.

      Perhaps it is even meant to teach the reader the value of this kind of strength and patience with a bit of comedy in the story, the three other love interests are purely comedy based they’re not necessarily supposed to be realistic just funny; It is supposed to be a rare situation which wouldn’t happen most times in real life although it is possible and does happen it’s just rare. also I think the girls you knew and the character types in the story or even the mindset of the characters in the story are much different, everyone knows that high school students tend to be fickle and high school relationships most times tend to be short and have little to no meaning.

      I don’t think it’s meant to boost anyone’s ego as again as it’s not only fictional but there are many boys who were interested in Akane as well, in a lot of manga/anime series you have a character either male or female who a lot of people are interested in yet you wouldn’t say it boosts the egos of fearful high school girls or adult women either.

      To be honest I think this article is an extension off all of you over looking things completely and then when you don’t understand you typically say the culture is evil or misogynistic.
      Firstly their culture is indeed THEIR culture it is their’s to change an not yours no ones suffering or dying, or maybe in Japan they just see things differently you have to except that, understand that and move on; Try not to assume that the way your culture treats women is the only way. I apologize if I was aggressive but I’ve been seeing this kind of thing for a while and it’s a bit too much.

      Lastly I apologize for the late reply.

      1. I don’t know about Ranma so I’m not going to discuss that, but only the last part you said

        Firstly their culture is indeed THEIR culture it is their’s to change an
        not yours no ones suffering or dying, or maybe in Japan they just see
        things differently you have to except that, understand that and move on;
        Try not to assume that the way your culture treats women is the only
        way.

        Misogyny is misogyny. Just because it’s a different culture, doesn’t excuse it.

      2. I agree that Akane’s strength was wild and out of control and that Ranma helped her change for the better. But herin lies the problem–the underlying message of this story is that this tomboyish girl who has powerful strength requires the help and guidance of the wiser and more self-controlled boy. He is better than her in every way possible–smarter, faster, stronger, is more capable, and is a better martial artist. We could argue that it is just this particular manga that conveys this message, but this theme–of male characters being more competent and just “better” than female characters in every way–is a near-universal sexist theme in manga and anime. I was an anthropology major in college and learned that every society has its storytellers–individuals that teach the lessons and morality of a society through the stories they tell. In a society as large as the modern world the stories are told through TV, movies, books, including anime and manga.

        If we think about all the people we have ever known, all of us will be able to find examples of girls or women who were athletic, smart, talented, capable, diplomatic, or had shown sound judgment in a difficult situation. Many of these girls and women were more talented than their male peers. If we witness this fact–that many women and girls are equal or superior to their male peers in ability–why don’t we see this reality portrayed much in anime and manga? The repercussions of this delusion/fantasy that men are better than women at everything is a huge barrier against recognition of the talents of women and girls. At work I have seen female colleagues be shot down for promotions even when their accomplishments far exceeded those of their male colleagues. At my gym (I enjoy martial arts too) I watch new members approach male beginner students after brushing off offers to learn from female semi-professional fighters.

        Taking care of Ranma also feeds into the sexist belief that women ought to take care of their male love interests. As if these men are incapable of caring or themselves or that it is somehow a woman’s desire or even duty to take care of men. Once again this mythology conveys to the reader that a woman should and ought to take care of men as well as everyone else around her (Kasumi) since, according the myth, women are not good at anything compared to men (in spite of what the real world shows us).

        Perhaps we could argue that Akane is “the stronger one”. But I can speak for myself and many female fans of manga that we’ve pretty much had it with manga’s definition of the stronger woman. We want to see a *real* stronger woman–a female Ranma that is born biologically female!

        Regarding the difference in values between eastern and western cultures, I’m Chinese by ancestry and can vouch that subservience is subservience no matter where you live! Japanese culture is also as much “their’s” as much as American culture is “our’s”. The world is a diverse, interconnected place and with the global popularity of manga that is welcomed by many Japanese people and the manga publishing industry, they have an obligation to realize that many female fans will be unhappy and turned off by the extreme sexism in these books and anime, and find other types of entertainment that are less denigrating to women and girls (female Thor, anyone?)

  17. These comments reveal a high level of r.acism, bigotry, and supremacism from white people . American media is much more full of sexist imagery which caters to men.

    1. This comment reveals a tendency to read things between the lines that don’t exist. The article mentions nothing about American media and makes no attempt to compare Japanese media with that of any other culture. OF COURSE other countries, including the US, have highly sexist media. It’s a prevailing problem worldwide.

      Japan faces unique problems relating to its highly homogenized society and a historically very conservative political outlook. These problems tend to exacerbate stereotypes seen in media and to prevent counter-culture from gaining significant popularity. It’s also worth noting that many anime and manga series seen in the US are those that US media import firms have specifically chosen for their perceived appeal to US audiences. Therefore, the blame is inherently shared. (Also note how I can make these claims while continuing to say nothing about American media.)

  18. It’s really annoying. I’m at the last episode from classic Naruto and now she’s a medical ninja. Ok at least she’s not just waiting behind a three for fight to be over, she’s waiting behind a three to heal the heroes… On the plus side, it’s a different set of skills and it can offer a different dimension to the fights, althought she still has no use on the action part. And now Ino also wants to be a medical ninja. Suprise, suprise. She actually had an interesting power and they could develope new techniques for her around that power, but by being a girl she has to be a medical ninja…

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