Anime fans around the world hold more power than they might imagine. They are spending big money and Japan is raking in. As potential movers and shakers in the world of popular culture, what then should these fans do with their strong influence? Ask for more and better quality anime?
It seems so. Recently I attempted to reach out to a pioneer in critical anime reviews “naturalfemale” who runs the Twitter page “anifem” to see if she was open to looking at child sexual abuse themes in anime and received an “Awe…I’m so sorry, but I can’t help you…” type of response. To her credit, Ms. Fem expressed that she was inundated with fan mail and couldn’t keep up. It seems my email about how Japan’s normalization of children as sex objects had impacted our family was just one of hundreds she received everyday and a bit TMI heavy. After all, when you are busy watching and reviewing cool anime who cares about reality?
As the parent of a child who was molested by a Japanese fan of lolita anime, a lolikon in the original sense who liked kawaii (cute) young girls, I am constantly seeking support to fight child idolization and its negative effects, but no one in the anime fan world seems to really care. While many admit some themes or scenes are inappropriate and cause them to pause or change channels, few are openly critical or extrapolate what they are seeing might just be in some form occurring right under our noses…in the “so-called” real world. It’s like I’m fighting some sort of social mind warp.
Here’s the deal. Almost everyone agrees that child porn is bad and pedophiles are creeps, but when it comes to watching virtual children being inappropriately touched or raped, it seems that fans are too afraid to say much of anything. Maybe it’s censorship that they fear…some kind of wicked ban that would ruin their visual experience, but what I’m actually talking about is good old fashioned capitalist control over what is produced via loud and clear like/dislike messaging to the creators and producers that “outs” their trash for what it is. The Japanese won’t do this on their own…they won’t. It will take a great deal of global shaming to get them to budge. Shoot it took Japan until 2014 to ban the sale and procession of child porn and it was only under a great deal of international pressure that they finally caved.
I’m not sure what’s up, but if this shit (sorry for the vulgarity but I think this is the appropriate term) was being manufactured in the US I’m reasonably sure there would be an anti sex trafficking-like coalition crying foul. Are the Japanese just that good at fooling us into thinking that they’d never act on their fantasies? I’m here to tell you they will and do. It is just that the culture doesn’t support victims coming forward and statistics are lagging. Families keep it on the down low…I know.
While I recognize the progress “anifem” is making when it comes to raising awareness about female stereotypes in anime (I was thrilled when I found her blog and Twitter posts), there are real children out there being victimized by the normalization of child idolization that is present in anime/manga and the commodification of schoolgirls in general. For the love Japan, can anime fans and critics alike step up and acknowledge that what they are seeing is not part of some innocent cultural difference, but an honest to God crisis?
We are coming close to the Tokyo Olympics and the time is ripe. There are just three years left to hit Japan hard on its archaic, third-world attitudes towards school girls. Even if you don’t know anything about this subject there are a few basic facts that should cause you to pause. As you read these, remember that Japan is a first world country…a place that supplies all of us with wonderful products that we use everyday.
- child porn was legal to produce in Japan until 2011
- child porn was legal to possess in Japan until 2014
- the age of consent in Japan is 13– the lowest of industrialized nations
- school girls are openly for sale in Japan with maid cafes (and the like) existing as fronts for trafficking
- virtual child porn is legal in Japan (as it is in the US by the way…)
Don’t fool yourself into thinking innappropriate touching or rape of a virtual child is victimless. Life imitates art no? Educate yourself, keep your eyes open and spend your money wisely. Be openly critical of “bad art” when it compromises the safety of children. What is normalized in fantasy becomes reality. Trust me I know.