Being offended over Japanese sexuality is dumb.

Recently, I saw someone ask a sensible question: “Why does Hideo Kojima gets ruthlessly attacked for making a ‘overly sexual’ character in the latest Metal Gear game, while other examples of sexual behavior in games manage to fly under the radar?

My guess is this: Kojima is Japanese, and since Japanese culture is uninhibited about sex/sexual desires, it fucking TERRIFIES the people who want to be the new gatekeepers of morality.

To these gatekeepers, any expression of male hetero sexual desire is something shameful, but the salacious, steamy gay sex of Dragon Age is to be saluted as the ultimate act of social courage (even though Bioware, the game’s developer, has been catering to that crowd for over a decade now – their work hardly qualifies as courageous at this point).  To the sort of people that think any expression of straight male sexuality is dangerous, Japanese sexual mores are the Antichrist – their entertainment openly jokes about male perversion.  Watching an anime like “Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!” would probably send these people into fits of apoplexy.

Indeed, whenever anime, manga, or otaku culture comes up in certain circles (the sort of circles that hype sites like The Mary Sue, Polygon, or Kotaku) there will inevitably be a lot of sighing and disappointment regarding how “weirdly sexual” certain Japanese entertainment can be.  A good semi-recent example is how The Mary Sue tried to shame the Soul Calibur devs for hiring a hentai artist to make a sexy outfit for Ivy.

My question is: why are people bothering to attack Japan for being “weird” and “too sexual,” when Japanese entertainment is so even-handed about selling sexual entertainment?  Unlike American comic books (which tend to be overwhelmingly be marketed towards men) manga has entire GENRES for female readers.  Shoujo manga like Fruits Basket is aimed squarely at young women, while Josei manga like Nana covers the teen demographic. There’s also stuff like yaoi or “Boy’s Love” manga, which caters to the sexual interests of fujoshis.  There’s apparently even a genre of hentai made specifically for gay men.

I can understand people getting frustrated about how certain forms of popular entertainment are so focused on a particular type of sexuality.  But that doesn’t make it right to attack the entertainment catering to the that crowd, especially when you attack industries that already provide material for all types of people.  Japan is miles ahead of the west in that regard (even though there can still be a lot of tension between male and female manga fans) so I can’t understand or condone the “why does this exist” shaming circle-jerk that forms around Japanese entertainment.

Moreover, I have yet to see a convincing argument about how one type of sexual fanservice (aimed at women/homosexual/bi people) is good, while another other type of sexual fanservice (aimed at straight men) is bad. Indeed, I think that if we were going to be honest about ourselves, we would admit that everyone has sexual desires, and let artists design entertainment around them instead of furiously wringing our hands about how certain desires are “perverted/shameful” whereas other desires ought to be treated like sacred cows.

You know, just a thought.


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