One of my goals with Shojo Power! is to learn more about feminism from the Japanese perspective. I’ve learned about how Beate Sirota Gordon wrote women’s suffrage into the Japanese constitution during WWII. Raichō Hiratsuka became a leader of the women’s rights movement in the early 1900s and fought for women’s suffrage twenty years prior. For my next exploration, I wanted a book with more recent information. This lead me to Broken Silence: Voices of Japanese Feminism by Sandra Buckley. In Broken Silence, Buckley, an Australian academic, interviews prominent Japanese feminists. Unfortunately, the interviews weren’t as recent as I hoped; published in 1997, the interviews in Broken Silence occurred from 1988 to 1991. However, I realized two things 1) This would give a good picture of the state of feminism in Japan just before Sailor Moon appeared in 1992 and 2) many of the topics covered are still relevant today.
The Dark Kingdom arc has concluded with Act 14 and Sailor Moon Crystal is moving full force into the Black Moon arc. The reception of the first arc has been mixed. The animation has never been prettier, but the flaws never more obvious. We’re getting the manga plot line, but all its flaws as well. I’m not sure if I would describe myself as an optimist, but in times of mixed reviews, let’s all do our hearts a favor and spend some time dewelling on the positive. So without any further ado, ten reasons to love Sailor Moon Crystal!
Sailor Moon draws from many different myths, folktales and legends. The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. The moon goddess Selene and her human lover, Endymion–just to name a few. Sailor Moon also draws from classic western fairy tales. In Act 4 of the manga, Takeuchi-sensei draws from Sleeping Beauty to render the first kiss between Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask. For feminists, the Sleeping Beauty story is a problematic one and this re-telling is no different.
By now I’m sure you all are familiar with the recent so-called shirtgate. If not, here’s the quick and dirty: Dr. Matt Taylor, lead project scientist for the Rosetta Mission, wore a shirt covered in very sexy space ladies during a press event. As you can imagine, the feministy internet was none too pleased.
On February 10th, 2014, the above Google Doodle created by Katy Wu graced the Google landing page. Google has been criticized in the past for heavily featuring white men. From 2010 to 2013, only 17.5% of these doodles were women. My interest was peaked.
The woman in the center of the image is Raichō Hiratsuka, feminist writer and activist, who co-founded the literary magazine Seitō (meaning Bluestocking). In 1920, she founded the New Women’s Association and speared headed the first attempt to win women’s right to vote in Japan. Previously, I’ve written about Beate Sirota Gordon, the young woman who wrote women’s suffrage into the new Japanese constitution in 1945. But who was Raichō Hiratsuka? What was the state of women’s rights in Japan before 1945? I had no idea. Luckily, I was able to find an English translation of part of her autobiography called In the Beginning, Woman was the Sun.
I was not disappointed.
In February 2014, a Virginian State Senator, Steve Martin, wrote on his Facebook page calling women who abort their pregnancies, “the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers).” His words stripped these women of their humanity; he reduced them to objects because of their actions.
At the time, I had just finished re-reading the Infinity arc of the Sailor Moon manga. Words like “host” were swirling around my mind. In this arc, the Big Bad is Master Phaoroh 90 who seeks to steal the souls or “hostes” from the people on Earth, leaving them as empty “vessels” so his underlings can take over their bodies. Talk about being a host! Fortunately for us, pregnancy does not require people to remove their souls–which, perhaps, is the “problem” for people like Senator Martin: Pregnant people are still humans.
While Sailor Moon does not directly touch on the issue of abortion, our heroines do find themselves faced with a similar question. Does saving the world justify ending the life of an innocent child?
Sailor Moon is the champion of love and justice. With her Silver Crystal, she saves the world over and over again. But take away her transformation brooch, her Silver Crystal and who do you have? Usagi Tsukino, an average 14 year old girl who hates homework, is constantly late and who is a bit of a scaredy cat. Usagi is nothing without her powers–or is she? Guest writer Dina Inds explains how Usagi, herself, is the real hero behind the magic.
A year ago, I attended a small anime convention dedicated solely to Sailor Moon. At that convention, I gave a panel explaining how Sailor Moon can be looked at through a feminist lens. The enthusiastic response from the attendees lead the the creation of this blog. The first post on Shojo Power! appeared on July 7th, 2013. I cannot believe it has been a whole year! Time flies when you’re having fun, right?
In celebration of Shojo Power’s first birthday, I thought this would be a good time to take a look at what Shojo Power! has become in its first year. On to the statistics!
Anime Expo has always been on my bucket list. C’mon, the biggest anime convention in the United States?! Of course! I knew the cast of the 90s Sailor Moon English dub would be attending, but I thought maybe, maybe I could see them at Otakon. However, once VIZ announced their acquisition of the franchise and the new English dub cast would be appearing at AX, I was sold!
At Shojo Power! I’ve talked broadly about whether or not Sailor Moon promotes fat hatred. I found Sailor Moon has a complicated relationship with body image, some positive and some negative. I touched briefly on episode 4 (Sub: “Learn How to Be Skinny from Usagi”/DIC dub: “Slim City”) in that post, but since the original episode is now available on Hulu.com, we can talk about it together! I sat down to watch VIZ’s sub and the old DIC dub to see what kind of message it sends.
[Content Note: fat shaming, dieting]