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Alethea & Athena
Wondering 
5th-Jun-2017 09:47 pm
hercthinking
We had just a little bit of time to play KamiAso today, and during that time we did a Mythology Quiz, and we learned something we wish we'd known a long time ago! We found out (we actually sort of knew, but we didn't make the connection before because we knew it in English) that when Izanagi and Izanami were making islands, they used a spear! Don't you understand!? A spear!!! ...Actually more like a halberd. Does that clear it up? No? Of course not, because we didn't realize the significance at the time, so we didn't include it in the note, and it was published ages ago, so who would remember that anyway!?

The word for halberd is "hoko." Hoko is the same word they use in Noragami to describe the position of the hand that shinki use to make borderlines. Now do you see how significant that is? Well, of course if that connection was deliberate, I'm sure we'll have a chance to write a note about it later. It is interesting, though. The shinki use the same(?) thing to create borderlines that Izanagi and Izanami used to create, basically, the world. Or at least Japan, anyway.

Speaking of mythology and islands, there's been a lot of excitement over on Facebook about the new Wonder Woman movie. I think if we hadn't been completely soured to movies in general by now, we'd probably be totally stoked to see it, too. Not on opening weekend, though. We don't do that anymore, especially now that we don't like movies. But anyway, it's gotten me thinking about an old thought from ages ago.

I'll start by telling a story. We took a films class at BYU, and it was a very interesting class and we learned some neat stuff, and the teacher and the TAs were pretty great. But there was one incident that happened in that class that I look back on and wonder. One day, we were in one of the TA classes, and she was showing us a clip from...um...I don't remember what movie it was. The one about the US president who was single, I think was the premise? Anyway, the professor stopped in for about a minute, and I don't remember what he was there for, but I do remember that just before he left, he asked, "This is a girl movie, isn't it?" The TA admitted sheepishly that it was, and then tried to say, "But it's got this stuff that makes it more important!" I didn't think much of it at the time, but now it makes me sad. I kind of wish she'd just said, "Yes it is. So?"

That may or may not have been the start of my theory about the real reason Disney princesses are so often decried as bad role models. People claim that they give girls the wrong idea about women and how women are supposed to be or something. I would wonder how people could watch these movies and not see how strong and assertive the women in them really are. And then I thought maybe they weren't watching them. I noticed that a lot of the women around me who were the most vocal about the dangers of Disney princesses were women with brothers, women who wanted to fit in with the guys.

So this is my theory: Disney princesses aren't good role models because they aren't in movies that won't be shamed by men. And it seems like to a lot of people, the definition of a strong woman is "a woman that men think is awesome."

Now we have a Wonder Woman movie, and I'm sure it's amazing for people who don't hate movies. But I have to wonder if part of the excitement is that now women have a role model that's acceptable to men. (I'm sure she is awesome. I really liked her in all the Justice League cartoons I saw. I just...sometimes I like the idea of being a girly girl, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that, either.)

I don't know. Maybe I'm way off base. This is the problem with living in a cave (on the other hand, it does make me like Batman).

Today I'm thankful for getting to finish another great volume of Missions of Love, having a little time to play video games, getting to sit with Page during that time, fences full of cats, and having a Pizza Hut coupon just in time for the return of Cheesy Bites Pizza.
Comments 
6th-Jun-2017 05:10 am (UTC)
I'd have thought Mulan and what's-her-name in "Brave" (although technically she's more of a Pixar princess than a Disney one) would be un-stereotypically girly enough not to be sneered at or dismissed by guys. But I guess they're not the ones people usually think of when they start debating whether or not Disney princesses are a good influence on impressionable girls.

Of course, Mulan isn't actually a princess at all. Since I don't think her love interest was even a particularly high-ranking nobleman, I doubt that she'd officially qualify as a princess even after they got married. Not that that seems to stop Disney's marketing department from lumping her in with all the other more genuinely princess-type female leads whenever they do promotions that extend significantly beyond Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, and the heroines of "Frozen."
7th-Jun-2017 11:43 pm (UTC)
No, I'm pretty sure as soon as a movie has the "Disney princess" label on it, people have already formed their opinions regardless of actual content. It's less about what happens and more about the label.

If Chinese terminology for nobility is anything like Japanese, then Mulan is technically a princess in that sense. In Japan, any woman of noble birth, regardless of how noble, is a princess (hime). Shang was the son of the Emperor's most trusted general, they point out in the movie more than once that Shang's pedigree was an important factor in his social standing. And the fact that you seem to insist that Mulan is not a princess indicates to me that you're just as afraid of the label as anyone else. XD
6th-Jun-2017 01:36 pm (UTC)
Whaaaat, that is so cool!! (and yes, I knew what you were referring to with the spear, even before you elaborated. :D )

That film class incident is kind of a sad story. Maybe (I want to believe) it would work out differently if it happened now...? It seems like there's a little more awareness of the tendency to shame media that's "for women/girls," which hopefully also means there's more fighting back against that tendency. ...but the original tendency is still very much present. Well, I'm on your side in advocating the greatness of girly-girls!

I'm happy so many people are excited about Wonder Woman's new movie, and that seems to show there IS a need for that kind of female protagonist that wasn't being met. But we do have those Disney movies too, and we don't have to limit ourselves to just one or the other! We can have them all! (just let's stop telling each other how bad the Disney girls are—I know that's your main point!)

(on that note, just the other day one of my friends dropped the question "who's your favourite Disney princess?" in the middle of a conversation and we had some enthusiastic discussion, which reminds me again that maybe the critical attitudes aren't as widespread as The Internet would lead us to believe. there is hope!)
7th-Jun-2017 11:55 pm (UTC)
I know, right! (I'm impressed that you knew automatically that we were talking about Noragami...are we that obsessed? ...I mean, yes, we are, but I didn't think it showed that much.)

I absolutely think it would have played out differently now, more than ten years later, but I couldn't say how, exactly. I suspect she would have had a wider variety of superhero movies or something to choose from and wouldn't have had to risk it. But I'm bitter and jaded.

Actually, my main point was more about the desire for a kick-butt female protagonist, and again, I'm not against them at all--I'm against the idea that they're the role models girls really need.


Kick-butt warrior women can be found in abundance in very jiggly anime, if you know what I mean. Heroines like Wonder Woman are still feeding the male gaze. Heck, even Sailor Moon, who is heralded as being very empowering to women, helped a lot of very pervy manga artists and anime directors make names for themselves. (Ken Akamatsu, for example, got his start drawing Sailor Moon doujinshi.)

...And I had a very concise way to put it yesterday, but then everything exploded, so I lost it. The point is, I feel like, instead of saying, "No, look, you don't have to be a fighter to be strong," we're saying, "Yes! Finally a female character I can claim as my own that won't make my guy friends make fun of me!" We're still catering to men.
14th-Jun-2017 03:42 am (UTC)
I had part of a reply typed out for a few days but then my computer froze up...

I remembered the discussion about spears and other similar weapons when you were deciding how to translate it, and of course I lettered the thing and read your translation notes, so taken together it left its mark in my memory! Plus I know Izanami is kinda famous in general and all, but Noragami is still the first thing my mind jumps to when she comes up.

As for heroines and their various types... One thought I had was that maybe heroines with appeal to guys (without going overboard in the jiggly direction) could be a stepping stone toward the end goal of guys-in-genaral being able to appreciate stories with female protagonists, the way girls-in-general often accept stories with male protagonists. Regarding gaze, all I can say is I've heard that the new movie is supposed to be less male-gaze-y (than the character in the original? some? comic book interpretations), but I haven't seen the movie myself. If we get into guys appropriating empowering female characters for their own purposes, then I'd think we'd also be looking at girls who follow Shonen Jump series for reasons besides the sports/action scenes. (that is, I don't think stories should be judged too much for secondary audiences beyond their intended appeal, if that makes sense...)

On the other hand, I was kind of vaguely annoyed with the thing about Buttercup (from The Princess Bride) becoming a general in WW (because they share an actress). I guess if people think that's cool, then good for them (like, I was amused by the fan-theories a couple years ago that strung together a bunch of Leonardo DiCaprio's movie roles)... but I don't think the later role gives extra validity to the former.
14th-Jun-2017 05:08 am (UTC)
Yeah, I can see associating Izanami with Noragami.

Okay, I can see that reasoning. I still feel like that's not quite the right strategy, but I am totally lacking the brain power to figure out why. Maybe it's just because I'm stubborn, or maybe I feel like there's something messed up about the way we do gender roles in the States that contributes, but I can't work it out right now. We've heard that the Wonder Woman movie is less male-gaze-y, too, but I still have a hard time believing that because she's a warrior whose shoulders are uncovered. Technically her heart is covered, but if a sniper got her from above, they could easily pierce a lung. Also, we seem to remember hearing that real Amazons amputated at least one breast so it wouldn't get in the way of their arrow-loosing arm. The only reason a woman would need two breasts would be to satisfy the male gaze. (Or the gaze of people who are seriously bugged by asymmetry.)

We totally agree with you on the Buttercup becoming a general thing. I mean, I'm not against it, but all the excitement about it is still annoying. The meme that says, "My childhood princesses have grown up to be generals," is especially aggravating, because A)come on, Buttercup wasn't really your role model, was she? And B)Buttercup and Leia are both princesses from boy movies, which once again shows that these women just want to be accepted by the men. (This is another thing I'm having a hard time articulating. I think I want to say here I am like, "I am who I am and if you don't like it, we don't have to be friends." while all this hubbub makes me think women want to conform to, for lack of a better term, the male gaze.)
14th-Jun-2017 07:23 am (UTC)
Hahaha!! I'm giving Wonder Woman's costume a pass for what I assume is continuity/nostalgia/recognizability but those are good points. (I think the asymmetry would bug me a good deal...)

I don't have much more to add, but your last paragraph reminded me that when I was writing this comment in my head last week, there was something about being confident enough in my femininity that I don't need to worry about whether guys are impressed. (wait, that's not quite the reverse of "confident masculinity" that I first thought it was. maybe it's just confidence in myself. like what you said.)
14th-Jun-2017 06:36 pm (UTC)
Those are mostly good reasons, but go big or go home, am I right? (I don't know what I'm saying anymore. If I really wanted to argue it, I'd bring up all the different Wonder Woman costumes throughout the years, and the different Batman costumes, just so we can be gender balanced.)

Yes! What we need is for women to be confident in their femininity, whatever form of femininity that may be. I think what I'm seeing is that a lot of women are having a hard time being taken seriously by men, and they've decided it's because they haven't traditionally been given the same roles as men, so they want to see more women in men's roles, or something. Maybe this view is just exaggerated by a movement in the LDS Church to get women ordained to the priesthood. But that's a whole other discussion.
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