Hypersexualization of women in anime is not okay

Photo by Tyler Meuter

Go to an Anime Club meeting at Tech, and you might notice a disparity of women in attendance. As I took my seat at the first meeting of the year, it became immediately clear that I was one of roughly three women in an audience of at least 50 people.

The lights went off, the first few episodes played, and I began to realize why — many of the anime selected by the club board featured quite the variety of characterized tits. Not female characters with any personality to speak of, but supple, bouncy, comically large breasts. The women these breasts were attached to were not represented  by their spectacular intelligence, or their bravery in battle so much as the fact that they were in possession of breasts (and in a few cases, an ass).

Instead, many of the characters were caricatures of the typical hyper-feminine Asian woman, who young American men love to sexualize.

I do not necessarily blame the GT Anime Club for showing anime featuring an abundance of characterized tits. The phenomenon is endemic to many anime not specifically geared towards female audiences, and many of the best anime feature copious fan-service. A few of my favorites come to mind: “Code Geass,” “Gurren Lagann,” “Cowboy Bebop,” “Bleach,” etc. While not every show I’ve seen sexualizes the female form, the tendency to do so is certainly popular.

As a woman, I do not necessarily find this sexualization immediately offensive. Occasionally, it is done with good taste. In “Kill la Kill”, the concepts of clothing and both the female and male nude forms are explored. Similarly, in “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, Asuka’s sexualization plays a role in Shinji’s maturation and mimics his use of her as a sexual object.

Unfortunately, however, the large majority of times that female characters are sexualized, the sexualization demeans and objectifies them. Rather than creating a female character with a complex range of emotions, with personal goals and motivations, anime creators chose to pander to a horny, immature male audience — a choice that isolates many female viewers and distracts the audience from the show’s desired narrative.

As much as I love to watch the bad-ass characters in “Bleach” destroy their Hollow and Espada enemies, I am distracted by why Harribel’s overly large breasts are completely unsupported and how they don’t fall out of her ridiculous top. I see Faye Valentine’s tight crop top and tiny shorts and wonder how she stays warm. I tried watching “Fairy Tail” and loved the storyline! I was so interested in Lucy’s progression as a mage and Natsu’s backstory, but could hardly stand the number of bikini-wearing, large-breasted women that seemed to crowd the screen at every possible

If I wanted to view objectified women’s bodies en masse, I would go watch ecchi, the genera dedicated to fanservice. As it stands, I can’t escape the booby overload that is in most fantasy/action/comedy anime currently produced.

Not only are women’s bodies objectified, their personalities are as well. Tsundere, dandere, kuudere, yandere. Many anime girls fall into these preset tropes — so much that the terms are widely known and acknowledged throughout the otaku populace. Many times these women give off a stoic or antagonistic exterior, which hides a traditionally feminine personality just waiting to be unlocked by the male protagonist, who these women inevitably and inexplicably fall in love with.

Another frequent trope for female characters to elicit “moe” —  that feeling of burning passion otakus are known to have for two dimensional characters. Usually this feeling is accomplished via cutesy mannerisms and exhibiting traditionally feminine stereotypes. Traditionally as in “ideal woman in the 1940s”, as in “someone who will love me immediately and unconditionally, do all the housework, make me sandwiches and have no real desires or goals that interfere with my own”. These characters are unrealistic, and frustrating to watch as a woman who knows these characters only exist to be fetishized.

For these reasons, though I enjoy the anime medium, I am significantly limited to the number of anime I can enjoy. If producers could please leave the hypersexualization out of the not-explicitly-ecchi anime, and treat women as actual people, not as objects to be fantasized about, I would greatly appreciate it.