Gender MashUp at Anime Conventions
Posted by BroadBlogs
Wanna see a gender-bending mashup? The world turned round? Or at least halfway around? Then check out an Anime Convention.
Anime is Japanese cartooning — a stylized way of drawing that appeals to every gender. At the conventions fans dress as their favorite characters. It’s called “cosplay” from costume + play.
The conventions are remarkably egalitarian, and possibly tilting toward matriarchy.
Yes, there are plenty of scantily clad females, but there are also scantily clad males, and they often switch gender roles.
Anyone can wear a costume of either sex. A friend I’ll call Anne is a huge cosplayer. She usually plays males. Some ask if she portrays male characters because she’s ugly or boyish or gay (so yeah, some backward gender notions can still be in play here), but they’re simply the characters she most relates to. Nobody remotely questions this and she’s known as one of the best cosplayers.
Many women who attend these cons are also fans of Yaoi. Yaoi is homosexual anime comics called manga. They feature strong yet feminine men who have sexual relationships with other men. There’s actually a surprisingly small amount of girl-on-girl content.
While the anime subculture is one of the most accepting places you’ll find, we face prejudice from religious groups. Every year protestors plague our conventions, preaching that we’re a dangerous group of sinners.
Maybe that’s not so surprising. These folks are prude and patriarchal and here we are doing sexy gender-bending, and welcoming the LBGT community.
In another gender-bend, females have more leeway in what’s considered an attractive body type. Men’s standards are more narrowly drawn: lithe, thin, tall, and preferably feminine.
I personally meet this standard and have been subjected to all types of sexual harassment.
Women have run up and jumped on me (a tactic normally called “glomping,” it’s a very physical hug). With a rule change, permission must now be given before attempting a glomp.
Girls have grabbed my junk, slapped my butt, catcalled me with a demand to “shake that booty,” and made sexualized comments. When one woman stared at me with incredibly intense eyes to the point that I felt uncomfortable, a female friend called it “eye rape.”
A girl once came up to take my picture (which is fairly normal) and then told me “I think you’re totally rape-able.” When I saw her later she shouted, “Hey it’s you, the totally rape-able guy.” This was the only time I honestly felt a bit unsafe. It gave me a sense of what women can feel in the real world.
There’s also the Fanimaid Café. A few years back a Butler Café was created to compliment it, but that met a quick demise because female customers got so out of hand harassing the guys.
Like I said, the conferences are a world turned around – not perfect. And it’s unfortunate that instead of dwindling away, sexual harassment has become an “equal-opportunity” threat. And so much so that a movement has risen up, with people holding signs that say, “Cosplay ≠ Consent.”
Still, women may dress however they wish, even “slutty,” without being called a slut. No one condemns a revealing costume, and if it’s well done, it’s revered for being close to the original. For the most part, men do flock to sexy women, whom they mostly revere from an intimidated distance.
My girlfriend once wore a revealing costume — a monk, who in game is very strong. Comments consisted of, “awesome” or “badass” or “Jesus, she looks like she could kick our asses.” But when we walked outside men who were obviously NOT con-goers shouted obscenities or told me, “Better protect that piece of ass ‘fore I tear it up.”
While the conventions switch things up quite a bit gender-wise, they are not matriarchal. But they are by no means patriarchal either.
Oddly, I find the conventions refreshing. Here males, females and transgendered folk meet on an even cosplaying field, and the only negative judgment comes from not wearing a costume well.
Demon Ted wrote this while he was a student of mine and gave me permission to post it.
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