Thursday, 27 November 2014

A glance at Sailor Moon through the lens of Feminist Literary theory

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I'm no expert on feminist theory, far from it. I have been consulting it a bit in preparations for and during my studies and while it is the one theory of literature I will rarely opt for writing about for reasons undisclosed, I really got to thinking about it while I considered why it is I enjoy the sailor moon series and genre so very much.

When I was a child Sailor Moon did so much for me. It was grand looking up at a screen and seeing a super hero fighting crime that looked like I did. By looked like I did I do not mean hair or breasts specifically but inherently female. Usagi is introduced as a very young girl, she doesn't like school nor is she very good at it, she longs for love and friendship, pretty and yummy things. She is care free, Usagi is flawed, in the process of growth and  is unapologetic about it.

When the sailor senshi transform, it could not be more 'girlie', they swish into a ball of pretty pink light that accentuates their curves, shows of big oversized bows, elegant tiaras and lipstick and nail polish. Does that stop them from kicking some major scum bag tush? Not in the least.

Feminist literary theory seeks to explore the norms and culture of society in relation to their expectations of women, that is of course putting it very shortly, if you really want to know more here is a site you can check out.

I am not trying to create an argument for crime fighting girls in mini skirts here, be not confused. I'm am just trying to put into perspective the things that stood out to me and reached me through this show then and now.

When I was seven years old and cramped out in front of my television set watching these young girls twirl into protectors of the universe it did not matter to me that they were in mini skirts as much as it did that they  were both pretty and strong. They were allowed to be pretty and strong. As a woman you are allowed to be both pretty and strong. This is a message nobody was saying! In fact, quite the opposite.

The sailor senshi were cooks who were also tom boys, they were aggressive women who liked martial arts but also longed for love and acceptance. They were superstars that had low self esteem, they were future princesses of planets that could not yet figure out how to get passing grades on tests and women who had been taught to hate themselves for the way they stood out because society told them that their strengths made them unique, different and by extension...made them wrong. Then they took that message and defied it. 

There was a sailor senshi for all of us at some point, so many character strengths and flaws were spread out amongst them I can not say that I identified with just one...In fact through many episodes the way I felt rickshawed between the lot of them. I would tell you then and can still tell you now that Sailor Mars - Rei Hino is my favourite secret senshi and the one I relate to most.

So you best believe I will be watching the less censored remake with eyes and ears well peeked. I am not saying of course that sailor moon is completely free of gender stereotyping notions, often little is. I am saying that for me, an introduction to sailor moon reinforced the belief I have always had in my heart: That just because a woman likes pink, flowers other things considered soft and squishy, does not make her inherently weak, it does not make her less able to use her abilities, her thoughts and yes even her emotions to do good and to protect the things that are important to her.

I remember reading a sailor moon quote that said 'women must be strong to protect the men they love' and it rang so true to me. I know that many may read this as an insult, why must she be strong to protect a man they may say. I say, that once you love someone, regardless of their gender you are bound to want to protect them.

Too long it has been perpetuated that when a woman and a man are in love she sits back and receives that protects gleefully. Love, as I believe it, exchanges those powerful feelings. If he protects you, your heart will certainly move to protect him. Sailor Moon thought me that is was not just normal to have those feelings as a woman but that it was quite possible to achieve this level of protection you hope to provide to the ones we love and that such protection can present itself in unique ways just as important as the strengths of anyone else, even if your strengths come in pink ;)

That's why sailor moon, as 'dizzy' as our dear sweet Usagi was brought across, will always have a very special place in my heart.  A female crime fighter kicking serious butt and making it look cool? I'll take it.

I am thankful for Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon and the Sailor Senshi solidifying my personal truth, that you can be a fighter and a dreamer at the same time.

Oh and by the way happy thanksgiving America.
Peace. Love. Protect.

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