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Chicks On Anime - Female Crossdressers in Media


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Maidenoftheredhand



Joined: 21 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 3:24 pm Reply with quote
I find this an interesting topic but I would argue that some of the characters are not really "cross dressing". For example while Kino is androgynous making it hard to distinguish her gender I don't see her as dressing in male clothes but more ambiguous clothing. Kino refers to herself with the boku pronoun which can be used by females. If anything I feel Kino is not trying to identify as male or female but simply as a traveler. I also don't see Kino as aggressive at all but instead a very laid back character. Also if I recall she is called both male and female in the anime by different characters (although I have to watch again to confirm this).

As for Haruhi, she does choose to dress in the male uniform to stay in the host club but again it seems she doesn't care how she is seen. She isn't bothered by dressing up in male uniform because she is comfortable with her self image and doesn't care whether people see her as a boy or a girl.

However Oscar in Rose of Versailles was different. Oscar was raised as a "man" who still knew she was a woman. So in Rose of Versailles Oscar did have a conflict with identity that characters like Kino and Haruhi do not have. Oscar wanted to be respected by the soldiers like a man but she wanted to be loved as a woman. Utena also had this conflict of identity with being the prince or bringing out her feminine side. Although I sort of disliked how in RGU spoiler[it seemed Utena could not be feminine and save the princess] whereas in ROV spoiler[Oscar was able to remain a soldier but be loved as a woman.]. At least this is what I personally got from these series.

I can't comment on Haruka because I am not familiar with the character.
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Mistypearl



Joined: 03 Oct 2008
Posts: 517

PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 3:46 pm Reply with quote
Haha I was wondering the same thing, about 'traps' that is. New Show coming out this winter, MariaxHolic, involves a girl having a crush on a girl who is actually a cross dressing boy
(more or less) and many people were like "Oh goodie! Traps!"
And I was a bit confused Anime cry
Thanks for clearing that up Smile
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aluria



Joined: 11 Nov 2005
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Location: New Westminster, B.C., Canada

PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:19 pm Reply with quote
Good discussion. The only part that annoyed me was when Bamboo referred to being smart as a 'boyish' quality.

I hate when people call me a tomboy or say I am boyish. I've even had a teacher make fun of me when I wore a skirt to school.
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connarii



Joined: 26 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:31 pm Reply with quote
I think the issue of androgyny here could have been addressed more seriously. When it comes down to it, a girl dressing like a guy is no competition for a hot guy, no matter how cool their character is. (I mean, who would you pick at the Host Club? Haruhi over Tamaki or the twins? I don't think so...)
And in an anime/Japanese context, at least, I don't see the tomboys winning over moe in huge numbers either.
I think there is still an ideal of true masculinity and femininity for guys/girls respectively, but also alongside that is an dream of androgyny.
An androgynous character physically embodies the best/most attractive elements of each sex, but also bypasses questions of power and sexuality... at least during the time that their character remains androgynous. That character can be loved for who they are, rather than what they are, by male and/or female characters, while suspending the interplay of power and sexuality.
...at least until the question of their sexuality is resolved, which seems to happen in nearly every case: Haruhi of Ouran is spoiler[clearly female, with an (implied) boyfriend] by the end of the show, while Nuriko of FY resolves to spoiler[male, which is brought out by his love for Miaka]. Girl Got Game, Hana Kimi, and Tenshi Ja Nai show similar patterns.
I'd argue that there are three (somewhat fluid) categories here: You have true androgyny, in which sex is suspended, at least until the resolution of the show and character, and then clear cases of male>female or female>male situations, where the cross-dressing or ambiguous character resolves to their biological sex by the end of the show (unless it's yaoi or BL or something). Key to this is the main character's relationship status. While the 'cross-dresser' is not in a relationship, they remain androgynous, but as soon as they fall in love, they begin a process of resolving to their original sex.
So, something like... sex isn't determined until we fall in love? Or love brings out our true selves? (Men define women as women, and women define men as men?)
In that case, androgyny is a state of pre-sexuality, rather than non-sexuality, where gender and sex are indeterminate until they are defined by an Other, which is then appealing to fans because it empowers them as viewers to impose their preferences, desires, or hopes onto that character, who has the status of a blank slate?
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Maidenoftheredhand



Joined: 21 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:45 pm Reply with quote
connarii wrote:

...at least until the question of their sexuality is resolved, which seems to happen in nearly every case: Haruhi of Ouran is spoiler[clearly female, with an (implied) boyfriend] by the end of the show, while Nuriko of FY resolves to spoiler[male, which is brought out by his love for Miaka]


But what does it matter that Haruhi spoiler[ends up with Tamaki?...although that does not actually happen in the anime indefinitely]. Haruhi never said she was not a girl she just doesn't care how people view her. I like Haruhi because she is comfortable with herself to not care whether people view her as a man or a woman. The gender itself is not important This should not change no matter who Haruhi ends up with romantically IMO.

Admittedly I don't like what they did to Nuriko spoiler[because I don't see the need for everyone to fall in love with Miaka in the story]


Last edited by Maidenoftheredhand on Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ANN_Bamboo
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:56 pm Reply with quote
aluria wrote:
Good discussion. The only part that annoyed me was when Bamboo referred to being smart as a 'boyish' quality.

I hate when people call me a tomboy or say I am boyish. I've even had a teacher make fun of me when I wore a skirt to school.


I don't myself think that being smart is a uniquely "boyish" quality-- I was just pointing out that many of the tomboy characters also happened to be smart. The fact that they do well academically is, no doubt, a reflection of how seriously they take their work, and in many cultures, manly men are also very good at their jobs.

Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with being called a tomboy. Sure, no one likes being slapped with a "dude" label, but I guess as I've grown older, I've realized it doesn't matter. I have "manly" hobbies like ice hockey and what not, but I also do girly things, too. I think nowadays, girls who do "tomboyish" things are seen more as badass than anything else.
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aj525



Joined: 12 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 5:10 pm Reply with quote
About traps, they refer to a man who looks like a woman. Like a feminine looking guy in a dress. A burly guy with a mustache in a dress doesn't count. As far as I know men usually don't like them very much (I don't).
A girl who looks like a guy is sometimes referred to as a reverse trap.

I hope that helps somewhat.
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ArthurFrDent



Joined: 05 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 5:25 pm Reply with quote
"I'd argue that there are three (somewhat fluid) categories here: You have true androgyny, in which sex is suspended, at least until the resolution of the show and character" ... connarii

seems to me that where this is broken down is more about WHEN does the gender matter... it doesn't seem to matter as much when we aren't talking the actual single partnership between two people. It matters then, even if it can be transcendent.

Beyond that it's an interesting conversation, although I find the commentary on equality interesting. Especially as it applies to other countries... power is an interesting thing. "Anything you can do, I can do better..." as the song goes, but do you always NEED that? Who has the more power, the woman who won't accept my help liftng a large object, or the one who asks me to do it for her? I'd have to have a compelling reason to not do it for her, and if it gets done, who has used her power more intelligently? What is being proven?

Certainly it's a situational thing...

If genders where identical, it would be the ugliest and most depressing world I could think of... the crossing of genders in most stories we see is interesting precisely because it is the unusual, the thing not often done. In a story that was completely androgyn we would very much need the person who doesn't fit to make the story worth watching. In essence the idea of the other is always going to be the draw, 'because what's so fun about people just like you?

YMMV...
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JC90



Joined: 21 Jul 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:23 pm Reply with quote
Interesting topic. I found the discussion of South American marianismo philosophy (and its international countparts) particularly intriguing. It does bring up an interesting question: Is it a female-empowering ideal or is it, as Sara put it, a "spin on stay-home propaganda"? Is it just a way to satisfy some women into thinking they have any particularly real power in a society of patriarchs? As a woman, it is a little infuriating to think about it that way. Still, discussions of gender equality and how they should stand in society are always fascinating.

Is it even possible for both genders to be equal? Are they equal already? I mean, each gender has its own strengths and weaknesses, but does one have more strengths than the other? Which brings up another topic altogether: Is there even such a thing as a universal consensus on gender strengths? What one sees as a strength and a weakness is purely individualistic.

All of these rhetorical and hypothetical gender ponderings could fill books upon books of discussion. I just don't see how there could possibly be any resolution. Regardless, it is interesting to read about. Thanks for a great column this week. Wink
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konkonsn



Joined: 30 Apr 2008
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Location: Illinois

PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:34 pm Reply with quote
Robin wrote:
Could it be that many women don't have as many hang ups about gender as guys do? Just an idea... When you think about it, all of the serious crossdressing stories, and even some of the nonserious ones, are mainly written by female authors.


I'm sorry I always come here without proof, but I swear I don't make these things up. I think it was an article in Psychology Today about biological theories of homosexuality.

Women are much more open minded in terms of gender. Women are less likely to get bent out of shape over the idea of having a gay relationship/experience and so on than men are. If you think about something as simple as, say, kissing your best friend on the lips just to see what it's like, your average woman is much more likely to do so than your average man.

The article, however, did not say if this was a function of sociology or biology.

ArthurFrDent wrote:
Who has the more power, the woman who won't accept my help liftng a large object, or the one who asks me to do it for her? I'd have to have a compelling reason to not do it for her, and if it gets done, who has used her power more intelligently? What is being proven?


I agree that it's good to have two genders, and that both genders and sexes need to recognize their strengths and weaknesses. The problem is that things that are associated with women are always positioned as less important than those concepts that are "essential" to manhood.

Ex. Nobody is trying to say that equality in sports means women are just as good at football as men (comparing professionals; I could wipe the floor with the guys in my P.E. classes). Football tends to utilitze the parts of the body that are favored in men. But women are far better in athletics that involve long distance and flexibility. So why is gymnastics not considered as "pure" a sport as football? ^_-

Quote:
If genders where identical, it would be the ugliest and most depressing world I could think of... the crossing of genders in most stories we see is interesting precisely because it is the unusual, the thing not often done.


I disagree. I tend to like female-to-male crossdressers because they're more like me than foofy shoujo heroines. Or because they represent some sort of ideal that I'd like to have; I do think it's that "cool" factor being discussed in the article, how other girls look up to them as a "big sister" or guy-but-girl friend type of thing.
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maaya



Joined: 14 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:40 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
Most of the women who came to mind—Utena, Oscar, Kino, Haruka from Sailor Moon—are very assertive, almost aggressive women.


I don't think Kino belongs in there. She's not really crossdressing at all, she's still pretty young I think and never does she purposely pretend to be a guy. She is "Kino", a traveler and nothing else. Traveling in a skirt isn't necessarily very convenient, but especially in the spin-off Gakuen Kino she is not crossdressing.

I don't really think the author wanted her to be seen as a crossdressing girl. In the novel he usually calls her "the human/person Kino" or "the traveler Kino". I think he purposely wants to avoid her being seen as either girl or boy (in order to avoid any stereotypes?), but only as "Kino". That's only my theory though.

And I don't see how Kino is aggressive, assertive maybe, in order to survive (I'd rather call her independant), but not even close to aggressive .... she's usually completely calm and never really gets upset even when fighting for her life. Being aggressive wouldn't fit her being an "objective observer", which is what she tries to be, never get involved etc. (even if she fails something, because she can't surpress all her feelings.)

Just my opinion anyway ^^
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Cloe
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:55 pm Reply with quote
Maidenoftheredhand wrote:
I can't comment on Haruka because I am not familiar with the character.

You definitely have a point in that there is very little evidence of a common link in character motivation. My initial listing was just characters that popped into my head when the topic was brought up, but they each obviously have personality nuances specific to them. Haruka (of the famous Uranus-Neptune couple in Sailor Moon), for instance, is the only character we mentioned, I believe, who is clearly homosexual (besides maybe the movie version of Utena). Her motivation seems to be less out of laid-back, Haruhi-esque androgyny and more out of a need to convey strength and protect her girlfriend Michiru. She is also at the apex of the "tomboy" ideal Bamboo brought up: not only does she dress and speak like a boy (and race cars and motorbikes), but she loves a woman as well.

Interestingly, though, when I think about it, Haruka's greatest displays of strength and affection for Michiru are during her Sailor Uranus transformation, when she obviously looks female. The same goes for Utena in the RGU Movie, when her boyish haircut grows out into long, wavy locks while she uses the Sword of Dios.
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maaya



Joined: 14 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:57 pm Reply with quote
We just read an article in class and it was confirmed by most of the female students present.

That article was about a survey, where they asked women: If you were to be reborn, would you want to be a woman again or a man?

Woman that wanted to be reborn as male used to be more than 60 % (sorry I forgot the exact year of the survey).

Many girls are unhappy with being a girl and think life would be easier/better/less painful as a guy. Boys have more freedom (or so it seems), they don't have to pay so much attention to manners, always being elegant and not vulgar etc. They don't suffer one week every month from terrible stomach ache, because nature hasn't evolved enough to make the period painless (that seems to be a big reason at least among the girls in my class), not to mention bearing children xD And simply guys can decide more freely what to do with their lives, at least that was true for us some time ago and might still be true for a lot of girls from asia, japan and other countries (f.ex. as they mentioned in the discussion: in Japan, when you get married/get a child you quit your work and you never start again.)

I think that's one of the reasons why crossdressing as a guy is popular among girls.

PS: The article said that the percentage of girls wanting to be reborn as a guy is decreasing, because our life style is changing and more and more girls are happy with their life as a girl, which has become more freely etc.
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Cloe
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 7:04 pm Reply with quote
By the way, I love some of your responses, everyone. I really hope the column readers check out the forum thread because some of this additional discourse is very, very interesting. Thanks for your thoughts!
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konkonsn



Joined: 30 Apr 2008
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Location: Illinois

PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 7:40 pm Reply with quote
maaya wrote:
Boys have more freedom (or so it seems), they don't have to pay so much attention to manners, always being elegant and not vulgar etc....And simply guys can decide more freely what to do with their lives, at least that was true for us some time ago and might still be true for a lot of girls from asia, japan and other countries (f.ex. as they mentioned in the discussion: in Japan, when you get married/get a child you quit your work and you never start again.)


Emphasis mine.

Boys still have more freedom, something a lot of them don't recognize. I don't walk by myself at night, and even with a girl friend, I don't feel entirely safe. Most men I've told this to are shocked. It's never occured to them that they wouldn't enter their car if a huge van was parked next to the driver's side, or that they might go hungry instead of run to Wal-Mart for chips because it's 11 p.m. and your dorm's parking lot is a ten minute walk away. When one of your options is going hungry, and that's the safest option, society is freakin' messed up.
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