On Emotions and Social Justice Modus Operandii

by karauma

Chp. 3: Suffering as identity and religion

There are two major concepts in social justice spaces and those are ‘privilege’ and ‘intersectionality’. Privilege, unlike intersectionality, has taken a very negative connotation; it’s not rare to see it thrown around as an accusation, and being ‘privileged’ is synonymous to being an asshole. To be exact, there are three instances where ‘privileged’ as an adjective comes up:

  1. when someone is thought to fail at empathizing with what a sjw says and it’s a way of cutting off a discussion that is considered futile;
  2. when preaching about what privilege means, while forgetting all about intersectionality, and
  3. when one becomes a human rights advocate and he/she is expected to admit to being better off than some groups on the base of sex, skin color, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.

In all cases, there are generalizations made. Like we mentioned before, generalizations are the seeds of prejudice. Despite the fact that this type of prejudice might not have institutionalized power, it doesn’t mean it does no harm. For example, saying that all men benefit from sexism harms queer/ poor/ POC/ disabled men. Or male rape survivors who already are hard to reach and help due to societal perceptions about men and sex. On top of that, such an approach dismisses their struggles and belittles the suffering other people are going through simply on the basis of gender.

Speaking on behalf of all women is equally problematic, in that it creates dichotomies (men vs women) and it doesn’t address the need for women to reflect on their own internalized misogyny as well. Ostrich mentality won’t help anyone. I will never forget an interview of a Greek actor who said she cares about human history, not women’s history, or how our grandmothers had more fulfilling lives by focusing in the few big events. She talked like she hadn’t ever faced sexism. I also had a female middle school student telling me that when boys are jerks there’s no mean intention behind their actions in contrast to girls. And I need not count the times I’ve heard a woman slut-shaming other women or trashing them because they were “on their periods”.

These oversimplifications put the blame on every single individual, stripping them of their ‘face’. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter how well you behave towards others; your identities are enough to hold you accountable for the past, for acts you actually didn’t commit. Collective responsibility is both the norm and it’s also compulsory. This not only causes reasonable defensiveness but also minimizes the chances of gaining allies or just more people acting the way you want them to. It minimizes the chances of helping people learn. Saying that nothing better is expected from men and that they couldn’t possibly understand doesn’t promote understanding; it doesn’t challenge their values; it just causes more self-fulfilling prophecies. It is different to suggest that a child is bad than it is to say that the child has done some bad things. Don’t expect a behavior to change if you attribute it to a person’s characteristics. RAINN, a well-known American organization that helps abuse victims, said that we need to call out the rapists and not put the blame in something as abstract as rape culture. I think that’s a good point.

Besides, what is the gain if someone admits their privilege? If one helps people in need and raises awareness wherever they go, then why should they trap themselves under a label? I have the luxury to not be discriminated on the base of my skin color, but I have to put up with sexist and homophobic comments in my family environment on a daily basis. A person of color won’t have less trouble if I plaster the label ‘privileged’ on me. In a lot of ways, this demand could be a power play which attempts guilt tripping. “It’s not us who are disadvantaged; it’s you who are greedy and enjoy things we don’t, and for that you should feel guilty”. It’s a game of tagging the ‘enemy’ so as to have easier targets to hate.

On top of that, it’s not unusual to see a bad mixture of the concepts of privilege and intersections. This mixture leads to what could be called “the Oppression Olympics“. I think the quote below is an accurate description of the emphasis put in victimhood. This is not about facts and statistics but about the attitudes towards them.

People are competitive about how unfortunate they are. But the truth is, the one who loses his life is the most unfortunate. They feel as if they’ll lose, if they have pity for someone else. Maybe feeling like the most unfortunate person in the world gives you the very same pleasure as being the happiest person in the world. And when someone denies you that, it makes you angry. You don’t know why they’d say such a thing when you are already so unhappy.

~ Shoukei, 12 Kingdoms, episode 38

Abstractness, exaggeration, assimilation, guilt and martyrdom are basic ingredients of religion. Religions are sets of beliefs and practices, though, that rationalize the irrational and throughout history have been used as tools to oppress and justify discrimination. Social justice activists theoretically try to fight and break down oppression and discrimination and yet, here there are some who operate in this poisonous, religious way.

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19 thoughts on “On Emotions and Social Justice Modus Operandii

  1. I don’t think Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica was the best example: you sell your souls and kill your sisters?
    Soul gems can’t be cleans without grief seeds (dead magical girls).

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  2. You’re such a good writer! I hope one day I can as eloquently write as you do. You also did a great job of summing up the problems with the mentality that many social justice warriors on tumblr end up having. As you just wrote to me not long ago, we are all works in progress. I hope they’ll grow up and mature, and realize their mistakes.

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    • Thanks a lot for the compliment and the comment. Of course you will! It’s only a matter of time. It took me 5 years to reach this point where I have solidified more or less my ideas and lots of courage. It’s always good to be optimistic, but we should have in the back of our minds that only those open to change and dialog are work in progress. I’ve accepted sadly that some people just won’t change. Like the professor I mentioned? I was keeping contact with him in the hopes that through arguments he’d shift his values, but alas… When I thought he understood what’s wrong with his worldview, everything crumbled.

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  3. Well… reading the intro warning…. I just had to read the whole thing! haha

    Actually, my goal is to slowly go through the posts you’ve written over the recent years to catch up, so it will take time!

    Thank you for writing such posts! Most blogs focus on anime specifically, but you tend to incorporate anime examples into important real life issues. I love that! It is a pleasure to read!

    Let’s see…

    Angels are probably complex and flawed too! 😛

    Omg! Spoilers from FMA! 😛

    “Eye for an eye leads nowhere.” That’s not true – it leads somewhere! It makes the whole world blind! 🙂

    “Don’t expect a behavior to change if you attribute it to a person’s characteristics.”

    This is also related to the Fundamental Attributional Error.

    Hmm… That satan looks like FFXIV Garuda.

    I do hold a view that all people have some (“some” being the key word) responsibility for their creations. On the other hand, personal creativity should never be suppressed. It is a question of tradeoffs. If you want to draw something, do it by all means. Then comes the question of dissemination. Are you going to post this picture all over your city? What about the internet? What is the content of that picture? Does it promote something terrible for the humanity? Taking this to the extreme, we can think of Nazi propaganda for instance. Art in any form, be it pictorial or written, can have a strong effect on society. Thus, a creator should always consider the impact of their work. Nevertheless, the grey area is very wide.

    I do not see any problem with that satan art. I think it is very beautiful! There is nothing “demonizing” about it. Just think about it. Anyone with some sense of graphic design could easily come up with a much more sinister depiction if the goal was to demean or demonize a certain group of people. This artwork does nothing like that, and the fact that the person was insulted by it is somewhat perplexing to me, just as perplexing as the response the fans displayed.

    The artist should have never wavered. It can be hard,though, especially if it is a young person with somewhat low self-esteem. The artist could have apologized (it is a polite and a right thing to do), but kept the work. and continued posting, just as usual. It is a right of an artist to express her/himself as they want. Although the content might have steered into a somewhat grey area, by no means it should be insulting to anyone. It is not the artist who is ignorant and should be educated, it is the spectator who should learn more about art and, perhaps, do something proactive about their insecurities…

    As for Go Nagai responsibility argument, I don’t quite buy it. Let’s say someone written or drew something terrible, whatever that means. You copy it or modify somewhat and post it. It is completely your responsibility for disseminating “harmful” material. As usual, to make this more clear, you can take the extremes we’ve seen in the 20th century. Again, I am not saying that the artist did something bad in this case, I am just pointing out that this Go Nagai blaming argument does not quite hold. However, I do think it would have been helpful to mention who the original creator of the character was.

    “Art’s influence is a very small factor.”

    I respectfully disagree with this statement, and it just might be that our definitions of art somewhat differ, but I do agree that it is ultimately the responsibility of individuals for their own behavior (however, even that can be disputed – see the video I posted of Michio Kaku). I do not claim that all art has a substantial impact on behavior, but art can have a strong impact in some cases, both good and bad. However, I do not see art produced by a creative process with no conscious sinister intentions to have a big impact. To have an impact a work has to be meticulously designed – otherwise there will be only a minimal effect. Such works have been produced in the 20th century. Are such works and their artists completely responsible for the terrible atrocities? Absolutely not! Have they contributed? Almost surely.

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    • I’m so very glad the post managed to capture your interest despite its length! This kouhai is not just thrilled but overjoyed *incoherent mumbling, hiding my red face in my hands* Thanks so much for dedicating so much of your time to our work. Makes everything so worthwhile 😀 It may have taken awhile but I think that slowly I’m finding my ‘brand’ in the community by having sexuality and lgbtq issues as my niche.

      Now about the topic at hand, I’ll have to point out that Nazi propaganda isn’t any kind of art and it’s pure politics so it should be jugded as that. If you’re referring to the fact that posters are made by graphic designers, who aren’t artists in the wide sense of the word but in the sense that they master some tools. I’ll let Neko-chi answer more extensively on that.

      I can see where you’re coming from about the Go Nagai responsibility argument. And I agree with you on the main premise of your counter-argument, but since we talk about a depiction of a single character from a fictional work, I don’t think that applies. As you noticed there wasn’t any demeaning situation portrayed (btw did you find the original artwork? or do you refer to the one in this post?). But even if it did blaming the knife for being used to stab someone is fruitless (guns are a bit of a whole other story though).

      I need to delve deeper into social psychology it appears. I’m also going to check that Michio video.

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      • Yay! I am so glad that you are thrilled and overjoyed! 😀 It is very likely that many people like and appreciate your work, but they are just silent about it. It takes some courage and time to reply to posts like this. Oh, speaking of sex and gender, here is a recent article http://www.pcgamer.com/sex-and-bioware/

        As for the picture, I originally thought that the embedded art is the one you referred to, but, apparently, I can’t read 😛 Sorry about that. I think I found rvsa painting in question with red and yellow colors mostly. This person is on pixiv now http://www.pixiv.net/member.php?id=4907502 I do prefer Yu Knutani’s illustration, but rvsa version has more character to it, and still I do not see anything offensive about it!

        I see. Just as I suspected, it is mostly a matter of definitions. You are saying that everything that is political or educational in nature is not art.

        The essence of my argument as an example is that drug dealers should be responsible for their actions: distributing a harmful and illegal product. I think most people would agree with that. Similarly, this should apply to artists if – and that is a big “if” – the work is “harmful”. Things can become more clear if we just use a word “illegal”, but then we have another issue of what type of government it is, and how “good” in whatever sense of the word their laws are. So let us just use the word “harmful” for the moment.

        All people who distribute harmful materials should be held accountable.
        Artist A is distributing harmful material.
        Therefore, artist A should be held accountable.

        This is a valid argument. However, you may argue that it is unsound. Soundness and validity of an argument are two very different issues and should not be mixed. You can argue that the first proposition is not really true. Also, you can argue that what an artist A distributing is not really harmful, so the argument is unsound. This is perfectly fine, and I agree with you in the particular case in that the work is not really bad or offensive in some sense. I am merely pointing out the distinction between the validity and soundness.

        In terms of social psychology, I might have mentioned this already, but this textbook is quite good: http://www.amazon.com/Social-Psychology-David-Myers/dp/0078035295/ It is one of the oldest and continuously updated books in social psychology, now in its 11th edition. I learned social psychology in college from the 7th edition (about 10 years ago). Moreover, it is very easy to read and is excellent for self-learning. This book also contains an entire section on media influences specifically. Most people severely underestimate such an influence, and I too was surprised to learn about it at the time. The book is very expensive though, so you might find it in your library or consider an older edition.

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        • I’ll read the article and let you know my opinion on twitter.

          Oh it’s nice that rvsa is on pixiv! Thanks for the heads up!

          “You are saying that everything that is political or educational in nature is not art.” –No, not quite. Art CAN be political or educational, of course. But here is where I take in account the intentions of the creator. Although I’m fully aware of the author’s death, unless it’s stated otherwise, I think of art primarily as entertaining and beauty for the soul to feast upon.

          That said:
          “I’ll nag when I think though that the creator was promising one thing and then doing another (eg. the fanservice in Wizard Barrister) or they go out of their way to be nasty (e.g. the transphobia in Yu Yu Hakusho) or when they have stated their work had a message and they mess up big time (e.g. CLAMP who have stated to support all kinds of love in CCS but include pedophilia and their queer characters are either fantastical creatures or have really bad end). I’ll also complain when the products I want to consume get hindered or not produced any more.” –as I mentioned in an earlier comment. I’ll also hold accountable that comedian who makes sexist/racist/homophobic jokes as they perpetuate and contribute to the everyday discrimination; one could say it’s a form of hate speech.

          The distinction between soundness and validity is very interesting! But there’s something else there, too: clear definition of the terms in your propositions. What is ‘harmful’? Under what circumstances (is it between consenting informed adults)? Why is it illegal? Alcohol and cigarettes are very similar to drugs and yet the regimes where these goods were prohibited by the law didn’t help individuals in any sense both quality-wise and economically. Plus the appeal of the ‘forbidden fruit’. Mind you, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs and I drink a cocktail once in a blue moon. So there’s nothing much on steak for me when I’m arguing this way. I’m just laying this on the table for contemplation.

          I downloaded Social Psychology for Dummies and I found this wonderful youtube channel –do you approve? Oh I just found a pdf of your recommendation on its tenth edition!

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          • I see. So you are saying that the intentions of the author can make the art political or educational. What if the author did not intend to make it this way, but people were educated or somehow their political opinion has changed as a result? That’s a fine line, isn’t it? As I mentioned, I do not think it is possible to induce a very strong effect unintentionally in most cases, but we did see some scary examples with introduction of TV in some developing countries and crime rates skyrocketing subsequently.

            “Although I’m fully aware of the author’s death, unless it’s stated otherwise,” I don’t quite understand this statement.

            Yes, you are absolutely correct, and all these are good questions! I meant “harmful” in some sense, for the purposes of demonstration. To make it more precise, I’ll need scientific evidence on whatever particular thing we are considering to designate it harmful. For example, we now know that smoking is very harmful.

            Here is one famous example on the effect of media.

            As for the legality of alcohol and smoking. There are at least two effective ways to combat them – none of them involves prohibition. Economical sanctions and early education are the key. Alcohol is not bad in moderation (I don’t drink at all though), but there is nothing good about smoking (perhaps, with some rare exceptions of medical pain alleviation).

            ahaha I remember that guy! These types of videos can give a quick general impression probably. I am glad you found a PDF of the 10th edition 🙂

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            • “What if the author did not intend to make it this way, but people were educated or somehow their political opinion has changed as a result?”
              That’s extra good alright. Still extra though.
              “Although I’m fully aware of the author’s death, unless it’s stated otherwise,” refers exactly to this. People extract from a text a meaning of their own and that’s absolutely legit, but unless the creator has made a statement about the political/educational message they try to relay or it’s obvious they try to push an agenda, I won’t hold a fan’s interpretation whether positive or negative as THE interpretation.

              “For example, we now know that smoking is very harmful.”
              Indeed, but not everyone smokes the same quantities and not every organism has the same reactions. There are people who smoked quite heavily but didn’t die out of lung cancer.
              I remember reading in a text from those we get in proficiency examinations that smoking was good against Alzheimer but don’t get my word on it since I never researched it thoroughly.

              I appreciated the videos, especially the second (the first had no sources and I’m suspicious of anyone talking about ‘conspiracies’) and I understand the point you’re trying to make. It’s nothing new that image holds power and how branding creates bonds between a product and an alluring idea/desire to sell. That’s why important to get tools from school -if possible- that keep you thinking and processing the inputs you receive. It’s the absence of these tools in combination with other (mental health) factors that lead to ‘bad’ decisions and possibly ‘bad’ actions. We have to remember that we are talking about advertisements in these videos, while in our post we talk about art whose main objective isn’t necessarily to teach/change society etc.

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              • “I won’t hold a fan’s interpretation whether positive or negative as THE interpretation.”

                Yes, it is kind of like giving a medicine: you know that it is positive in general, but there is a small probability of side effects.

                “Indeed, but not everyone smokes the same quantities and not every organism has the same reactions. There are people who smoked quite heavily but didn’t die out of lung cancer.”

                This is true. Whether a person will develop a disease is a complex issue, involving biopsychosocial factors. If we know that some factors contribute substantially and deleteriously to the probability of developing a disease, we would do well to avoid them.

                It sounds like we both agree that education is one of the most important things in making the world a better place in numerous aspects! 🙂

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  4. Uh, sorry for the wall of text.

    One thing I have been pondering over that is relevant to this is blackface performance. In America, it is automatically taboo due to historical associations, but what about in other countries? Some sidestep this question by defining blackface in a very specific way to only include the type that plays up harmful stereotypes, but what about the type that doesn’t conform to that definition, such as white actors that portrayed black characters, like Shakespeare’s Othello? Fred Astaire’s Bojangles tribute in the film musical Swing Time also did not include the regular blackface stereotypes, in favor of highlighting his dance talent.

    Setting aside the representation/appropriation issue, do these portrayals fall under the same problems as regular blackface? Is it an inherently racist practice, in countries without the same kinds of historical backgrounds? Do the intentions matter, if the blackface artist was just trying to celebrate a black performer?
    In another situation, is it possible for someone to do Yellowface, or any of the like, without it being racially insensitive? When I think about how I would feel seeing any form of Yellowface, regardless of the intentions of the artists, I feel uneasy. (Such as with Cirque Du Soleil’s show “Ka.” The acts themselves are undoubtedly amazing and deserving of praise, but it’s all framed within a very Orientalist aesthetic, for the purposes of playing up an exotic and foreign atmosphere.)

    Therefore, I’m not so sure I can fully disagree with that trans person’s anger at the Ryo fanwork. It is not our place to dictate what a minority is allowed or not allowed to feel oppressed by.
    Similarly, I’ve felt uneasy at the treatment of Ruka in Steins;Gate, Arisu in Maria-sama Ga Miteiru, or Fire Emblem in Tiger and Bunny, even while I recognize that their characters were handled well within the context of their respective works, and don’t condemn the works for it. But I can’t control my emotions, no matter how much rationalization or self-reflection I mentally do to come to terms with a work’s problematic elements.

    So while I wouldn’t want to eliminate works or fanworks, it is important to put my feelings out there, so that it becomes part of the conversation, and help with the progression and evolution of art and society. Take Ryo into context, but realize and teach that accepting Ryo is not a free pass to continue with such problematic new characters in the future. Don’t condemn Ryo, but have others learn from the problems of Ryo.
    Taking each instance of a problematic element in isolation will always lead to giving them a pass, but that attitude is what has allowed for certain discriminating tropes to become standards in media, because we keep passing them on an individual level. At some point, someone has to put their foot down, or there will be no progress.

    Similarly, I always struggle with what it means to show my support for a piece of media, through fanworks or analysis, or any sort of public record. Because that goes beyond simply engaging with the media and becomes actions of the individual, which can be judged. And actions of the individual do not exist in a vacuum, either. As I said elsewhere:
    So at the point where there isn’t enough of a balance in anime, if I support anime I like despite their problematic elements, the industry will most likely interpret it that I liked the anime because of them. People will look at KLK’s success with a female audience and say that they’re okay with the rapey elements, even if that’s not true. Because there’s no real equivalent show being made without the rapey elements, people who like actions shows like KLK watch it, enjoy its positive elements, and still end up empowering the industry to keep making more problematic media.
    I think about this dilemma a lot. (My last comment sums it up best, so make sure to read the comments.)

    In that context, if I make a fanwork that celebrates positive aspects, (in my limited interpretation) but I know that doing so indirectly helps empower negative aspects as well, is that [action, not the art itself] not somewhat irresponsible? This is different from simply consumption of media.
    Putting myself in rvsa’s shoes, if I make a fanwork celebrating what I think are positive aspects, and later someone teaches me how it might propagate negative aspects I was not aware of, I can’t say that the positive outweighs the negative, or vice versa. Probably, I wouldn’t take the fanwork down, but perhaps acknowledge and address concerns in a disclaimer or another post. Because even if art can’t be held accountable, I put that fanwork out there, so that deed is on me.

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    • @arbitrary_greay I won’t be answering to every part of your comment, mostly because I think Foxy Lady can reply to some of your thoughts in a more articulated way. That being said, here goes my train of thought.

      “[…] I’m not so sure I can fully disagree with that trans person’s anger at the Ryo fanwork. It is not our place to dictate what a minority is allowed or not allowed to feel oppressed by.”

      A minority doesn’t have feelings; its the people, its members that do, and they rarely have the same opinion on any given thing. Thus, what the woman who bullied rvsa felt -that somehow Ryo’s fanart insulted her- is in complete contrast with what I, also a mtf, felt when I saw it -love and admiration for Ryo’s beauty. Since when and why exactly does she have the right to speak on behalf of me, negatively label art that empowers and inspires me and stigmatize an artist? Since when does her interpretation that she so awfully expressed and tried to enforce is the one and only appropriate one?

      “So while I wouldn’t want to eliminate works or fanworks, it is important to put my feelings out there, so that it becomes part of the conversation, and help with the progression and evolution of art and society. Take Ryo into context, but realize and teach that accepting Ryo is not a free pass to continue with such problematic new characters in the future.”

      It’s both acceptable and desirable to like and dislike works of art for the reasons that matter to you. That is not what we discuss here. The very idea that fictional characters of a certain kind are supposed not to exist in the future because they make someone, somewhere, for some reason uncomfortable is what this blog writers against. Ryo may be problematic to your eyes and so you can avert your look from this character. He is not to mine -not that I see how can an object, something that exists only as a painting, be problematic- and, so long as people are inspired by characters like him, I hope we get more and more of it. I, at least, would be greatly happy for this.

      “At some point, someone has to put their foot down, or there will be no progress.”

      What sort of progress? Are you talking about representation in art or ‘social progress’? If you’re talking about the latter, that is totally unrelated to the subject at hand -you can put as much political correctness and diversity as you want in comic books or literature (those are just examples), but I am confident it’ll hardly make a change on how progressive society is. If you’re talking about progress in art, that is not a must. It is optional and if people don’t want or care enough to support it, it may as well never happen.

      “In that context, if I make a fanwork that celebrates positive aspects, (in my limited interpretation) but I know that doing so indirectly helps empower negative aspects as well, is that [action, not the art itself] not somewhat irresponsible? ”

      Absolutely not. You, me or any given “artist” is not a social worker, a politician or any sort of fighter for social change. It’s neither in your power nor in your responsibility to be “socially responsible” (whatever that pretty abstract term may mean) when making art. Wanting to try and take on that role is one thing -that’d be the path you choose for yourself. Thinking of this as every artist’s duty is both dangerous and extremely limiting to art content and the people involved in it.

      That is, in a very brief form, my thinking on the matter. Even though we disagree, I want to thank you for sharing your view.

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    • Don’t be sorry for the length of the comment. Some topics need space after all. Thanks for actually taking the time to read and comment.

      I’ll start from the top about blackface. I’ve encountered it on my fb wall once and had freaked out especially because it was done in school frame (during a summer camp) by a private school I attended. They painted the faces black and the lips red and they actually took a photo all-smiley and such. I tried challenging what they did because I guess it was more something based on ignorance, but I didn’t get any response. Since I know a person or two from there though I’ll retry talking to someone personally. This was no doubt racist especially combined with a caption about Mao Mao. The history didn’t matter. They actually promoted a primitive view of black people which is inexcusable. But the acting thing? It isn’t racist in a caricaturistic way but it’s problematic as in why not find a person who has the experience and real life traits? Why keep marginalizing these people?

      The intentions don’t matter always; I still struggle at having a steady opinion on this issue. But when you know the intetion wasn’t bad you have the opportunity of making a difference by explaining your point of view.

      “The acts themselves are undoubtedly amazing and deserving of praise, but it’s all framed within a very Orientalist aesthetic, for the purposes of playing up an exotic and foreign atmosphere.” I know the power play isn’t the same, but consider the fascination with the West in Japan which is reflected in early shoujo. Exotifying the other is human nature actually and as long as real life people are treated equal it shouldn’t be that bad.

      “It is not our place to dictate what a minority is allowed or not allowed to feel oppressed by.” -It’s not anyone’s place to dictate anyone’s feelings. I think Neko-chi has me covered in this aspect. Of course everyone has the right to express upset over anything yet we shouldn’t forget that up to a point our feelings are our own. Yes, I’m sorry you feel this way, but I don’t think I can help you much beyond that. Especially when there’s an option in what you consume and comes your way, you can get positive feelings from other sources. I am highly sensitive to rape and homophobia but I’m not going to order around people to erase and/or change the vast majority of non-con yaoi. I won’t consume them and I’ll just promote those I find positive. Difference is made through positivity be it a rechanneling of attention to certain products or being creative and producing the things one likes.

      I’ve written a post on Fire Emblem and transgenderism in Japan.

      “But I can’t control my emotions, no matter how much rationalization or self-reflection I mentally do to come to terms with a work’s problematic elements.” I hear you. I totally feel you. But I won’t judge something for not being the way I want it. I don’t find it productive to nag about the same old thing. I’ll nag when I think though that the creator was promicing one thing and then doing another (eg. the fanservice in Wizard Barrister) or they go out of their way to be nasty (eg. the transphobia in Yu Yu Hakusho) or when they have stated their work had a message and they mess up big time (eg. CLAMP who ahve stated to support all kinds of love in CCS but include pedophilia and their queer characters are either fantastical creatures or have really bad end). I’ll also complain when the products I want to consume get hindered or not produced any more.

      “if I make a fanwork that celebrates positive aspects, (in my limited interpretation) but I know that doing so indirectly helps empower negative aspects as well, is that [action, not the art itself] not somewhat irresponsible?”
      The message is ALWAYS ‘opened’ and interpreted by the receiver. And the receiver is responsible of themselves and their actions. Is the creator of the knife responsible for every murder on earth committed with a knife? That sounds silly to me at least. Also, do read the Your Taste Is Bad And So Are You. Although we can’t completely separate ourselves from the media we consume, we still can put a distance and that’s very important. What we need isn’t less ‘problematic’ art but more educational tools. I may want a sadist man to pin me to the wall in my dating sim (just saying), but certainly not in real life. Plus I can even do campaigns against domestic abuse and still be true to myself. I won’t be contradicting myself nor will this be a sign I’m confused and fucked up.

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      • Thanks for the replies from the both of you. I had a great reply that got lost during editting. >.< I've tried to re-construct it here, to the best of my memory.

        Concerning "What sort of progress?"
        I'm talking about calling for more/better representation, which can include critiquing certain tropes. Foxy Lady Ayame says that "Difference is made through positivity," and I largely agree, but sometimes in order to promote more things I like, it may involve saying what I don't want to see anymore. Technically, there's nothing wrong with making Yet Another Batman Movie, instead of a female-led superhero movie, but to get one of the latter, it might take "rejecting" Yet Another Batman Movie. Sometimes it's even a matter of writing quality, as with the critique of the fridging trope.

        Looking back at the rvsa section of the original post, it does seem that the accuser overstepped when they accused rvsa of being transphobic, and the like. However, do you find anything wrong with their original critique, as a statement of their feelings?
        I saw a situation where someone blew up at another for using the word Engrish, saying that it perpetuated negative racial stereotypes like "nigger" or "gypped." I'm Asian, I don't find the word insulting, and even use the word in my casual conversations. Does that mean that the offended person is wrong for speaking for me, or does it perhaps indicate that I have some internalized racism?
        At what point can we accuse someone of being __ist or ___phobic, internalized or not? There will always be someone disagreeing with us, including those that "we speak on behalf of." There are females who support GamerGate. Does that invalidate the claims that the movement is largely sexist? Is it just a matter of privilege , "punch up not down"-type stuff, that "not all men" is ridiculed, but "not all feminists" is legitimate?
        Similarly, I've been mulling over ableist language and how language use struggles between meaning and aesthetic through polyphony. Certain curses and insult words are popular because they use combinations of letters that simulate, say, spitting, and so alternate less problematic terms just don’t “sound right” for the same purposes. But do I have the right to declare a word or a piece of art as divorced from its past and present associations, just for aesthetic reasons, because I feel that my own intentions are benign?

        I’ve read Bobduh’s article, and I agree with it. However, it is mostly dealing with direct consumption and engagement with media. My concerns are more about actions beyond that. Reactions to reactions, interactions with other people as a result of, or influenced by media. My frame of reference for this is as a fan of idols. Idols are actually getting hurt within the industry as the result of couch casting, slut-shaming, overwork abuse, and the propagation of many archaic gender roles I don’t care for. I still love idols, and I won’t apologize for liking idols. But I can’t in good conscience give money to the industry, even under the guise of supporting the idols, who are not responsible for the problems, because I don’t have the clout to direct the industry to only use my money for “good” purposes. This is the situation I was trying to make an analogue for anime with my KLK example. I might like a show despite elements I don’t like, but odds are the industry will assume that my support of the show validates, or even supports those elements. No one is saying “Females liked KLK for these reasons, let’s make another show like KLK, except without the rapey elements,” they’re saying, “Look at these females defending KLK! Clearly females are okay with rape culture after all! I knew those crazy feminists were just overly-PC.”

        So it’s not that I’m holding KLK or idols responsible for bad behavior of others, but that my own actions with regards to them are not in a vacuum, and I struggle with the implications or consequences of what I do with regards to media, because of how it interacts with the actions of the greater community.

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        • “sometimes in order to promote more things I like, it may involve saying what I don’t want to see anymore”
          YOU don’t want to see a certain trope but what about the others? It’s not that I don’t understand your frustration but such issues are very complex and one’s garbage is the other’s treasure. I believe that nowadays especially more than ever before creators can’t close completely their ears to what the audience wants since nowadays people have access to social media and can send a message/tweet/pm to the creator concerning their work or plain comments and feedback in the comment section. Not sure if you are aware of this http://thiscouldhavebeenfrozen.tumblr.com/ but I found it an excellent way to productively draw attention to your needs as audience.

          “do you find anything wrong with their original critique, as a statement of their feelings?”
          Well, it did put things out of context and context is important when criticizing. It also forgets that most people have no idea that Satan is depicted as having sexual characteristics of both sexes (even I, raised in a Christian family, had totally forgotten) and that most people aren’t aware of intersexuality let alone what term to use about it.

          “I saw a situation where someone blew up at another for using the word Engrish, saying that it perpetuated negative racial stereotypes like “nigger” or “gypped.” ”
          In Greece when someone writes ‘Greek’ but with latin alphabet we call that Greeklish and I’m sure this can be found in other languages as well, so I don’t think it’s that racially charged as the accuser seems to imply. Plus when big Japanese companies who are professional fail to hire a person proficient enough in English to make a release of a product in that language, there’s a much tangible problem rooted in reality and not just prejudice.

          “At what point can we accuse someone of being __ist or ___phobic, internalized or not?”
          This is a good question and a tough one but perhaps the most obvious things are things where the line can be drawn like gays talking pejoratively about ‘sissies’ and women slut-shaming other women. When it comes to reclaiming then there’s no problem. When we also talk about preferences, especially sexual ones, accusing someone of internalized sexism etc is also highly probably inaccurate (eg. a woman participating in BDSM doesn’t make her a ‘traitor’ or ‘sick’).

          “There will always be someone disagreeing with us, including those that “we speak on behalf of.” There are females who support GamerGate. Does that invalidate the claims that the movement is largely sexist? Is it just a matter of privilege , “punch up not down”-type stuff, that “not all men” is ridiculed, but “not all feminists” is legitimate?”
          I’m afraid I don’t quite understand what you’re saying here.

          “But do I have the right to declare a word or a piece of art as divorced from its past and present associations, just for aesthetic reasons, because I feel that my own intentions are benign?”
          The problem with this question is that you compare two quite different things with different purposes. Language is very much a mirror and a tool of society in ways art might not be. Consider that historians don’t accept art (literature, architecture) as very valid sources and mostly as hints or as complimentary sources of evidence.
          Your post about ableistic language is very interesting, but I need some more time to look at it. The one thing I can point out from my skimming is that the word idiot is Greek and when it was first created and used it was associated with ‘private’ things. Idiot was someone who didn’t care about public matters and only cared about personal stuff.

          “My frame of reference for this is as a fan of idols. Idols are actually getting hurt within the industry as the result of couch casting, slut-shaming, overwork abuse, and the propagation of many archaic gender roles I don’t care for.”
          See? You do the same mistake again her. You compare a fictional work with something in real life and which concerns people with flesh and bones. I think that people within the industry should perhaps organize and protest and fans from the country of origin of idols should make sure there’s an escape for these women and men. If they, as the immediate costumers, complain, some managers will want to cater to their needs. That’s the best I can think of.

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        • Even though Foxy is writing her own response, I’ll leave a short comment of my own here.

          I will have to disagree with you on the quality of tropes. Even though they may often look cliche, tropes can be useful for many stories. Many titles that I know of and love use tropes, be it the fridge or the damsel in distress trope. In other words, tropes are nothing more than tools; some use them wisely, others don’t. To wish to criticize them because they don’t always provide a good result, is something I don’t understand.

          “However, do you find anything wrong with their original critique, as a statement of their feelings?”

          Yes, because she didn’t express her personal disapproval but rather labeled the work under a political term. Her critique wasn’t one of taste but of ideology.

          “At what point can we accuse someone of being __ist or ___phobic, internalized or not?”

          In my opinion, only when the accused person is taking initiative with the intent of hurting a group of people. Anything else is about using a label to attack someone.

          “No one is saying “Females liked KLK for these reasons, let’s make another show like KLK, except without the rapey elements,” they’re saying, “Look at these females defending KLK! Clearly females are okay with rape culture after all! I knew those crazy feminists were just overly-PC.””

          And that is 100% acceptable. There are many women, among them feminists, who enjoy stories with rape elements, even stories that clearly go to a totally different direction than the “rape is wrong for this and this reason”. Why? Because they can tell apart their real life believes from the fiction they consume. I am not saying that you must like the rape elements. If they don’t work for you, that’s cool. But claiming that these elements must disappear because you dislike them and/or that others must not enjoy them, is simply put wrong.

          “So it’s not that I’m holding KLK or idols responsible for bad behavior of others, but that my own actions with regards to them are not in a vacuum, and I struggle with the implications or consequences of what I do with regards to media, because of how it interacts with the actions of the greater community.”

          (If I understand the argument correctly) that is a matter concerning the path you wish to take for yourself. The correct approach for you may be to take off your work elements that, in reality, you’d consider harmful. That may work for you, but not for everyone. For example, if I were to tell myself not to enjoy/create stories with torture/discrimination/rape/etc. because society doesn’t deal with those issues correctly, it’d have no result but to suppress myself, take away something I enjoy and that gives a positive boost to my life. In other words, a choice that is empowering to some people might be degrading for others.

          To put it simply, some people like mixing what they do with their ideology/ies. Others don’t. The point is to take judgmental behavior off of people’s back and let them choose freely what suits them best.

          p.s. I am sorry if some parts of my response don’t make sense, I feel exhausted at the moment. If there is something I misunderstood or I didn’t state clearly enough, please let me know.

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