In 2013, when it was announced that Beate Sirota Gordon, contributor to the Japanese Constitution, had passed away, there was scant information available about this singular woman’s life. I detailed my struggle getting my hands the English translation of her memoir in this post. But now, I’m excited to report, there’s not just one book on Beate Sirota Gordon, now there’s two! TWO! (I’m not even being sarcastic!) Publishing this month, we have a biography written by Nassrine Azimi and Michel Wasserman. As someone who devoured Beate’s memoir, I was eager to see what new information this book reveals.
Usually Otakon is my go-to con, but after my friends kept raving about Anime Boston, I decided to switch it up a bit and try it out this year.
Me and my Better Half left Friday morning on Amtrak. We love traveling by train!
Are you excited for Anime Boston 2015?! I sure am! I’ll being doing two panels at Anime Boston this year. Here are the deets:
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.