Extra: But it was the past so it’s ok…

rideback rinAs a writer, I have personally run into some really nasty arguments by fellow writers and readers trying to defend sexist texts and media. But probably one of the most common excuses is “historical accuracy.” This kind of response is given to defend all kinds of horrible writing, half baked “research”pieces and outright racism and sexism. But when it’s broken down, it’s an excuse that holds less water than a thimble.

As I mentioned briefly in my review of Joker Game, a very sexist comment by a lead character at the very end left a rather bad taste in my mouth. The line was the leader of the spy devision speaking to his subordinate after closing a case: “Do you know why we only hire men? Because women kill even when it isn’t necessary, for foolish reasons like love and hate.”

My issue with the above quote should be very obvious. However, this is where many would gleefully chime in with, “But it was in the past! During WWII and that’s how people viewed women so it’s accurate!”
That is a lazyass excuse for a sexist show.

You see, while there have been toxic opinions about women on and off for hundreds of years, this particular show was written in today’s world. On one side, they had no reason to have any character voice this viewpoint. It was unnecessary. It added nothing to the story besides making the main heroic mastermind a sexist jerk. And on the other end, if they felt they HAD to include a line that is clearly sexist by today’s standards, they should have shown through the female characters of the show that the statement wasn’t true and that the man who said such was blindly wrong (characters can be wrong, including heroic ones and I’m all for that). But that’s not what occurred. Once the line was spoken I mentally went over every female character in the show. There aren’t many. And, sadly, they are all lead completely by emotions. Not a single one puts their personal feelings aside for the sake of their country/mission. The men in the show, on the other hand, are shown to be capable of both. Many are led by emotion, but some do sacrifice all emotion and personal agenda for their country. And there in lies my big issue with this show (besides the fact that they couldn’t keep to one MC).

See, when your media takes place during an era where a group is discriminated against, you need to take care to make it clear that such sentiments are not true. Yes, women have been seen in a bad light by many throughout history and by many today. But it’s not true. Women are just as capable as men as soldiers, spies and formidable enemies not led by impulsive actions. And if this show had made that clear by having such female characters present, we could then write off the old windbag’s quote as his personal opinion and that such an opinion is trash. But by having all the women in the anime live up to such a sexist statement, this show, a modern creation, establishes that the statement is seen as truth as it is all that exists in that world. In other words, it makes this show sexist in nature.

Again, it’s ok to have incorrect viewpoints and assholes in your stories. But just be very clear in your writing, through other characters, world building or confrontations, that such views are incorrect. Otherwise you run the risk of appearing to justify those sexist agendas.

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About inrosegalaxy

Raised on everything from Moby Dick to the Star Wars X-Wing books from a young age, it came as no surprise to anyone who knew me that I’d become a literature graduate and avid writer. But my love of a good story wasn’t restricted to the written word in my early years. Star Trek, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and badly dubbed Godzilla flicks helped shape my love of science fiction on screen as well. I wrote my first story while in the second grade. It was a horrifying tale about murdering a fairy-eating dog via a slice of pizza (in my defense, my only exposure to pizza was in the cafeteria and I swear you could legitimately kill someone with those things). I was a special snowflake. Today I write science fiction, fairy tales, Gothic epistolaries, fantasy and anything else that pops into my bizarre and twisted mind. I write new articles for my blog every Tuesday and Thursday. And if you happen to fancy Japanese animation, I also run an anime review blog, RRAR, which updates every Monday.

3 thoughts on “Extra: But it was the past so it’s ok…

  1. I also had a real issue with that line and the portrayal of women in Joker Game. It wasn’t enough to make me hate the show (though I found plenty of other reasons to be rather indifferent to it by the end of its run), it did make me hate that characters and also wonder why it was necessary. It added nothing to either the character or the plot and just seemed like a dig thrown in for the sake of it.

    • Yeah, it’s a pretty gross statement. But because this is a period piece, I felt I had to address that angle as many use it as an excuse for this BS.
      Plus I kept waiting for female spies the whole show and never really got em (the only ones we see are essentially traitors out for vengeance, so I don’t count those).So when THIS line landed I wanted to flip a table.

  2. I’ve always made time to your blog, since I like trying to understand why people think the way they do and you tend to make meaningful points. WE all put up a façade for various reasons, all of them part of who we want to be. However, if you are going to make up a false narrative to raise holy hell, then at least try to understand the other side.

    I am a little disappointed. Did the last MC present an argument of the show’s building or your observation? Does a show HAVE to speak against a moral for the audience to correctly identify it or make it wrong? Would diversity have truly made a difference to the MC’s words or just blunted the blow? And why does the statement have no merit? Could it be an axiom in specifics or a meme invented by an evil historical generation?

    You focused on the emotions as if they are inherently bad, where I part ways temporarily. But is this argument an appeal to modernism or something worth dying for? Why do emotions play at all in life and how are you able to connect this to why the character should be seen as disgusting? Can you be sure your argument avoids stemming from pride or how you see yourself as a person, a woman, that it grates you so?

    Personally, your world-view is imperative in this post, since that is how the reader can connect themselves to you, comprehend some of your pain, and spot truth from modernism, traditionalism, or any -ism that denies the egalitarian value of men and women.

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