Deb Aoki has some damn smart things to say about DC's New 52, Catwoman, Starfire, and manga.
The article is long but well-worth a complete readthrough. Among one of the issues that Aoki tackles is the question, "Why are female comic book readers so upset about sexist depictions of Catwoman and Starfire, but never express rage at exponentially more vile manga fare like Tenjo Tenge
or High School of the Dead
?" The answers are actually pretty simple:
Maybe it's because I'm not as emotionally invested in who these characters once were or what they represent. I never had memories or expected the characters in TenTen or HSotD to act a certain, more virtuous way. These characters are never concurrently marketed as 'kiddy versions' for younger readers.
As Mikey San from the One Piece at at Time Blog (@OPataTimeBlog) mentioned, "There is no way I am letting my 9 year old bro pick up that Red Hood title. He knows Starfire from the Teen Titans cartoon and really...Yeah. I rather not bust his bubble about her."
In a related note, David Willis, creator of Shortpacked! expressed similar sentiments, albeit in webcomic form in this comic strip.
No-Stances Emperor (@sdshamshel) added: "I think part of it is that DC's characters all have to share a universe, and as a result, a cumulative message. HOTD girls were built from the ground up to be cheesecake and fanservice, and they don't impact the titles around them."
And Omari's Sister (@Omarissister) chimed in: "Because TenTen never claimed to be sexually liberated. You know going into that one that it's a violent skinfest."
Or maybe it's because stories like TenTen and HSotD that cater to male fantasies co-exist with manga content that is written by and for female readers, vs. being the dominant voice/house style of the medium in their country of origin.
Shorter version: Manga readers (both male and female) who care about not reading crappy depictions of women can easily ignore the existence of titles like High School of the Dead
and its ilk, because these titles a) are niche series rather than mainstream/dominant genres of manga - yes, even in Japan, b) are conceived of and marketed from the beginning as male wish-fulfillment fantasies that never try to pass themselves off as "lolz empowering wimmins!", and c) do not include characters that are much-beloved by female (and male) readers from other mediums or
several decades' worth of past comic books.
I would also add that when a mainstream manga series gets enough of a fanbase to say that it has honestly produced some iconic badass female characters - like Sakura from Naruto
or Rukia from Bleach
- then you WILL actually start to see Fanrage On the Internet when those characters are portrayed in a sexist manner within their title series. Because we all care a lot more about female characters who are awesome being portrayed poorly
than we do about female characters created to be masturbatory fantasies being portrayed as, well, masturbatory fantasies.
Anyway, that's just one of the issues that the entire article tackles. Aoki also has some very insightful things to say about Tiger & Bunny
and Sailor Moon
, too. So go, read!