Anime and The Male Gaze

The Male Gaze is a term from Gaze theory that describes the tendency of works to assume a (straight) male viewpoint even when they do not have a specific narrative Point of View, and in particular the tendency of works to present female characters as subjects of implicitly male visual appreciation.

—TvTropes, Male Gaze

content warning: adult themes

Do you know what a brony is?

Ostensibly, it is simply an adult male who likes (and participates in the fandom of) My Little Pony. How this plays out, though, is truly frightening. I will tell you right now to not go research this unless you have a strong stomach, but chances are if you are part of the My Little Pony fandom you have run into one of these:

Suggestive (erotic) literature about the characters
Suggestive (erotic) fanart of the characters
Blowup dolls.
Outright porn. That someone spent hours of time animating.

It ought to make you sick: an incredibly innocent and wholesome piece of literature intended for children (girls) warped and perverted.

Now, imagine that instead of this being a niche and mocked (although pervasive) part of our culture, it was something that show creators outright encouraged.

That is the state of things in much of girls’ anime. There are very few girl power animes that I am comfortable watching with my 14-year-old sister. The catering to the male gaze is so blatant that I am concerned that her already fragile body image will be eroded. Not only that, the frequent reduction of women (girls, really) to their sexual body parts is the sort of thing that causes me to despair that I will be seen as a complete human being, and I am an adult woman.

All of this said, I do love anime (especially girl power anime) and most (if not all of them) pass the Bechdel test with every episode. I just want to remind you to watch shows critically. Even if the topic seems like it should be innocent, sometimes it merits conversation and thought.


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