CW TRANSMISOGYNY, HOMOPHOBIA, MISOGYNY, SLURS ——
Jesus Christ I didn’t think this post was going to be necessary but I’m so fucking angry—
Yeah, sure, gay basketball animanga, we all know. But it’s very ~~interesting~~~ to me that part of the reaction to the first canon queer basketball character is transmisogynistic slurs and sympathy/acceptance for a blatantly homophobic statement.
First of all, “shemale” is a SLUR. A transmisogynistic slur. There’s a lot that’s been written about it by people more qualified than me. Here’s a post on the topic, here’s a press release condemning the New York Post for using the term, a variety of official journalism guidelines prohibit its use except in quotes to demonstrate bias, and you can even read the fuckin wikipedia article. it is PRETTY GODDAMN CLEAR that this is not a term that should be used. The fact that the Japanese word used may not literally translate to the slur (OR that the Japanese word may not have exactly the same cultural connotations) has no bearing on whether or not the slur should be used to describe Reo. The answer is NO.
Secondly, from this point in the narrative, it seems like the entire point of Reo’s rivalry with Hyuuga is to champion masculine heteronormativity over feminine-coded queerness. (This point stands regardless of the exact translation of the Japanese word; the narrative’s construction doesn’t change.)
Discussion/criticism of misogyny in KNB under the cut—
A few notes on this.
I understand where you’re coming from with the “shemale” issue. It is a very real issue that can pose very real problems, but the rest of this post has quite some holes that should be considered. They will be addressed in order. I use the words feminine and masculine within quotations throughout because they are used to refer to things that are generally thought of as such, and not because of my own opinion. I have tried to keep this post as bias-free as possible. Of course, I’m not trying to instigate anything with this. I do not mean to offend or cause any harm. I simply want to point out flaws that cannot be ignored in these arguments.
(Warning: Very long post.)
- Both Riko and Momoi have grown up in conditions that did not allow their femininity to fully thrive. Riko grew up accompanying her dad to the gym and observing athletes and while it is wrong to assume that that kind of world is traditionally “masculine”, it isn’t exactly “feminine” either. The world of athletes is one that is indeed full of males and really, someone who is involved in it just won’t be that interested in what is traditionally “feminine” due to a lack of exposure to it, which can account for both Riko and Momoi’s “feminine skills.” Momoi grew up with a boy as her best friend, and having a male best friend can be vastly different from having a female best friend. Even then, maybe Momoi just doesn’t have an interest in traditional “feminine” things because she just never did (which could explain why she had a male best friend in the first place.) She would much rather spend her time involved in the world of sports than, say, obsessing over boys, which other females in the series have been shown to do. (it isn’t limited to females of the series, though; Moriyama is quite obsessed with girls, and Okamura stated that he started playing basketball to get a girlfriend.) And there’s nothing wrong with that! The “feminine skills” the Bible was referring to was the fact that neither of them particularly care for what is traditionally ruled as “feminine.” They just do what they love, which happens to be traditionally ruled as “masculine”. I can see where the fault lies in calling it “feminine skills”, but what we know of their lives can really show us why exactly they scored low on that particular category.
- Momoi and Alex may have overwhelming male gazes, but then again, Kise Ryouta and Himuro Tatsuya have overwhelming female gazes. Kise’s fans seem to pop up everywhere he goes, and if they were more important characters I’m sure we would hear how great Kise’s biceps/abs/some other part of his body look. (I believe there is an argument floating around that biceps get just as sexualized as breasts do.) But since they are absolute side characters, we don’t get to hear much more than squeals and the like, while Seirin’s thoughts on Momoi go more in depth. Moreover, those two get attention because they are beautiful women, just like Kise and Himuro are beautiful men. Momoi got hit on during that date with Kuroko just like Himuro receives love letters from a multitude of girls and has little girls fight over whose husband he’s going to be one day (that one is from one of the Replace side stories.) People who are physically attractive go through this treatment, whether male or female. Although one could argue that females have to go through more unpleasant treatment because of how Haizaki treated Alex, Haizaki doesn’t exactly treat people right anyways. He treated Kise horribly. Could it have been out of spite for Kise’s popularity with the female population? Who knows. There are plenty of analyses on Haizaki, but unfortunately this post is not one of them.
- Many people have the habit of lounging around their home naked. While Kagami’s apartment isn’t Alex’s home, she is an open and friendly person; the type to make herself at home easily, especially if it’s the home of someone who she mentored and held so dearly. I don’t recall Alex being shamed for her habit, though. What I do recall is Kagami telling her to put clothes on because he felt uncomfortable having his old mentor—someone who is almost like family to him—naked around him, especially when his teammates are around. He is just a little aggressive about it because he would probably be the type to get a bit aggressive when flustered in some way. Again, this isn’t a character analysis, but certain character traits can lead us to be able to assume some things. And anyway, Alex’s habit never comes up when she is not partaking in it. If her habit were being shamed, it would possibly come up when she is acting normal. If it were being shamed, Kagami would tell her that what she is doing is disgusting and she should stop and would just be out to make her feel bad for doing it, which he does not do. That is what shaming is, and that is not what is happening here.
- I am a little confused on this point. To me it sounds like much more of a bias. That Kuroko inherited his misdirection from his mother is not a bad thing. It does not make misdirection “feminine”. That would be like saying that a stoic personality is “masculine”, which is another argument entirely, but if this is truly what you mean to say then it is contradictory to your original intention. And about the second part of your point, Kuroko’s misdirection does serve as a strength to him. Strengths can be lost through growth just as weaknesses can. Whether misdirection actually is a strength or weakness does not matter because it obviously served as a strength for him. Even still, misdirection is not “feminine” because he inherited it from his mother. Is blue hair “feminine” too, then, since he inherited that from his mother as well? If his father has black hair, is that “masculine”? What if his father has pink hair, which is a traditionally “feminine” color? Would that therefore make it “masculine”? This argument is heavily flawed. Traits that women have are not automatically “feminine” and traits that men have are not automatically “masculine”, and you are once again contradicting yourself by giving this argument.
- While I do agree that this is a little ridiculous, it is quite a normal thing in the highly competitive sports world. Opponents make jabs at each other like this a lot of the time. It is a low thing to do, yes, but it is not without reason. Riko and Momoi go at it like this probably because while the boys are actually playing against each other and taking part in action, the girls can only guide them and hope for the best. It’s easy to see why they feel like they have to compete with each other in some other way. The reason it’s this particular issue could be blamed on the problem of women’s images in society, yes, but don’t forget that Momoi was the one who instigated the little competition, and Momoi has an obvious advantage over Riko in that aspect, allowing her an easy win. Momoi is a sharp woman, and she can tell that Riko is sensitive about her chest size. If Riko were to choose to not be as self-conscious about this part of her body as she is, Momoi would quickly move onto something else. Something else where she has a good advantage over Riko. She’s in it to win it.
- Fujimaki is not openly putting misogynist aspects into this manga. The aim of this manga is not to demean women or give them any negative image. Riko, Momoi, Alex, and Masako are very strong women. They deal with teenage boys on a regular basis without a scratch, which is a tough feat to pull. They have other redeeming qualities, which shows that Fujimaki is making an effort to putting the women in a positive light. Anything that is found to be “misogynistic” in this manga is only perceived as such and is probably not put there on purpose since that is not the aim of this manga at all. Therefore, there is a highly unlikely chance that Fujimaki would make Hanamiya a symbolism of feminism. My knowledge on the Japanese naming system is limited, but isn’t the purpose of Hanamiya’s name to emphasize the absolute irony that he is actually a total bastard? Something “flowery” is not necessarily something “feminine”. A “flowery truth” does not mean a “feminine truth”, it just means a soft, delicate truth. Again, my knowledge is limited, but I fail to understand why Fujimaki would waste his time making Hanamiya a symbol for feminism in a manga where the purpose is to show Seirin’s growth and their hard journey to the spot of Number One in Japan. Even narrowing our view down to just the KiriDai vs Seirin match it just does not make any sense. There are absolutely no elements of gender issues anywhere near this game. This game is about Hanamiya being an evil piece of shit who is having a grand ol’ time beating Teppei up. Nothing else. There are no themes of “masculinity vs femininity” in this game because they are just not present in this manga. Hanamiya’s name is meant to be ironic in its meaning. Even if the “flowery” part implies “feminine” qualities, that isn’t his full name. His full name is an allusion to the fact that he is an evil man. The argument that you put forth is the same argument you would have to use when referring to Fujimaki’s choice to make Yosen’s uniform be pink, which is a “feminine” color. (It might have shown signs of being purple in the manga, but ultimately it came out to being pink in the anime, which of course Fujimaki most likely had to approve.) You say that Hanamiya represents feminism and the notion that “FEMININITY IS DANGEROUS”, and maybe you would go further and say that him losing also supports the idea that “femininity” is weak, since that is what he represents, after all. But then, wouldn’t you say that Yosen, whose color is the very epitome of “femininity”, and Yosen’s loss also says the same thing? What about Touou’s loss? The Touou colors could just as easily be considered “masculine.” Would Touou’s loss say that masculinity is weak? Where exactly would that leave Seirin? Is Seirin “masculine” or “feminine”? Is this starting to sound ridiculous yet? And yet your argument would agree with everything I just listed. I certainly would hope that it is starting to sound ridiculous.
- When are these jokes ever made in the series? They are running gags, but so is Takao pulling Midorima around in the rickshaw, and Kasamatsu kicking Kise around, and Moriyama looking for pretty girls, and Izuki making puns, and Kuroko startling people with his lack of presence, and Teppei being slow to understand things, etc. Yes, Momoi is intelligent. Everyone in the series acknowledges it. They comment on how scary she is and how you’re screwed if she’s your opponent. She is just as relegated to “‘lol a girl who can’t cook” and “look at how big her tits are’” as Kasamatsu is to “that guy who likes to kick people” and Izuki to “all he’s good for is horrible puns”, and Kuroko to “his invisible ability is completely useless”, all of which we all know to be completely false. There is so much more to all these characters. Whoever can’t see that really needs to open their horizons to be able to truly appreciate this show for what it is: a sports manga where the only themes that the author wants to include are themes of working hard and doing what you love and just your regular shonen sports manga.
I can understand that some of these issues can be found if you look hard enough, but they are just like headcanons. They could be true, but they are probably not. Even if they are, the author most likely did not intend for them to be present. You, however, argued that Fujimaki purposefully included themes of “masculinity vs femininity” in Kuroko no Basket. Since this theme is never openly addressed in any sort of media related to the series, chances are this is not a theme of the work. There is reading between the lines, and there is fooling oneself into thinking that there is text in the undoubtedly blank spaces between those lines.
Again, this post is not meant to touch upon the issue of Hyuga and Mibuchi at all. And once again, I do not mean to offend you in any way. No matter my opinions of your views, I am glad that you have openly expressed them, because it has given me a chance to openly express mine.