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On figure collection and female objectificationOn figure collection and female objectification

This was posed as a question on a comment to this thread (goo.gl/QTsl2e) so I wrote an answer here: goo.gl/kBczQT

I'll also repost it here to see what thoughts MFC folks have. Feel free to reply to wherever you feel comfortable.

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"Do anime figures promote the objectification of women?"

Perhaps the short answer is indeed "yes". Especially when viewed from an outsider's perspective.

But it's of course more complicated than that. On one level, figures are a physical representation of something that's abstract. It's indeed literally an objectification :).

Girls are the majority target for figure representations. They're often dressed, in some cases undressed, in attire meant to attract the male (and female) gaze. They're designed to tap into the notion of kawaii and will trigger people to want to collect them, for whatever personal reasons, which will certainly include the desire to simply have something that looks good.

Often times, people get these figures as a way to represent, adore, commune, "own" the character it represents. They're acquiring a physical token of a character that means something to them, as a personality. The character may not necessarily be "real", but that connection people have with the character is what often motivates them to find these representations of them in various forms.

Or it can outright be appreciated as art. The design resonates with the owner's artistic taste. There's an appreciation of how it was crafted or the design that was chosen. There's a certain satisfaction with being able to own something, much like a piece of art by a painter, even if in mass produced form, that brings that certain sense of satisfaction and appreciation for what was produced.

And what about the male figures? The gunpla? The really abstract ones? Vehicles? Sculptures? These are also often times in the arsenal of those that collect female anime based figures too. Figures almost always are part of the whole of what people appreciate and collect. It becomes a form of art, often put on display and regarded as something worthy of having, not just of oogling at.

Yes, there are, as with anything, always going to be situations where female objectification happens. Whether it's in advertising, posters, art, TV, figures, anime, books, that's just the way society works.

Does it promote this type of objectification? That's a little harder to say. I think it can, especially given the medium and the target audiences (high percentage of young males). But I think it also is an interesting medium that allows people to grow out of that phase eventually. Unlike posters, books, even porn, acquiring figures have a certain level of cost to them. They require an investment beyond what cheap oogling will usually allow.

Sometimes you're spending well over $100 to acquire a figure. At this point, for most, I don't think they're getting it because of the objectification and oogling factor. It starts to come from a place of appreciation, or even from a collector's sense/need of acquisition.

Does that still count as female objectification, or does it start to come from a different place/need/desire? Or is that just an excuse? In some sense, we are indeed reducing the female figure to nothing more than an object to collect, but are we doing that because it's a female form to look at, or because it's an artistic expression we want to own?

Does it then translate to our views of women in general? By means of owning these "cute girls", are we now putting our expectations of what is being objectified towards how we expect the women in society to be like? Does it make us see the female gender as nothing more than just cute dresses and back breaking poses? Does it alter our expectation of what women are supposed to be?

Does this become something no different than what Playboy, Seventeen, Vogue, W, or any other magazine promoting an unrealistic female form as the "norm"? No different than stereotypical women in movies and TV? No different than those book covers, whether in the romance section or science fiction, depicting obvious male gaze tokens. No different than games with women playing out their "expected" roles in that attire?

I think like with everything, there's always a yes and no, and it's just a matter of how each person deals with it. It's just that, on the whole, it's never as clear as a yes or no dichotomy.

But can it be a source of female objectification? Certainly. I don't think there's much to argue about that point. But at least I think it can, as with other forms of art, be considered something beyond that.

So, perhaps the answer is a resounding "maybe". Which puts it squarely in the pack with pretty much every other form of visual (and some non visual) arts. Which I think is at least better than a "yes" :).
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Selected Comments
25pt
Quite an ambitious blog entry...and perhaps a bit of over-analysis?

I just collect figures (and anything else for that matter) that I find interesting and/or visually appealing.

Simple enough.
4年前
Recent Comments
4pt
fgrthiuy (4年前) #1916741I think there is a lot of good points brought up here, as well as some pretty good looks at various aspects of the issue as a whole. The idea of sexualization often being misinterpreted as objectification is a good point, and seems to be a common focus of the dabate.
Personally, I'm a bit of the opinion that a lot of the issues of stuff like objectification of women is a fabricated issue for the most part.


I can give you lots of good examples of female objectification. For me the term means treating a person as something exists only for your personal gratification rather than thinking about how they feel. This includes being sexually harassed in public places- I suspect there are few women haven't experienced that. We have female politicians in the media being disproportionately described in terms of what they are wearing rather than what they have to say compared to their male counterparts.

I don't know your friend and so I can't really judge him but if he is seeing the women he dates merely as a means to and end then he pretty much by definition is objectifying them. Its kind of like what pick up artists do. Yes their techniques depend on the woman responding to them but at the end of the day they don't really think about the woman's feelings but rather see her as a goal.
4年前
0pt
WonderWaffle (4年前) #1916473I agree although some figurines go into what I believe the op is talking about...but then again their origins are from hentai media like: ITEM #100075 or item/118029#tab...
Now is that taking it too far? or is just another thought of liking the character from said media?


I can't look at the figure you linked because I'm in work but I'm sure there are items that go too far, say depicting non-consensual sex or underage sex. Personally I don't have a massive issue with hentai- it actually bothers me less than live action pornography firstly because you know that no real person is being exploited and secondly it draws the boundaries between fantasy and reality more clearly. I think the OP is right in that figures are literally objectification but there's that sort of subjective space as to whether particular items are taking things to far or not.
4年前
0pt
And an interestingly timed finding: goo.gl/6yrzr7
4年前
2pt
So, to recap, in case someone wants to close down a repeat topic post for next month:

* Objectification is not automatic just because figures are literally objectified females (or males)

* Sexualization is not the same as Objectification. Neither is art or sex "dirty" or "demeaning", but context and your own personal taste is a determining factor that is unable to be universally applied.

* It's much more about personal taste than anything that can properly be quantified. Hence you can't have a "yes" or "no" answer to this type of question. Asking to take a stand on something like this on one side or the other is a failure to account for the fact that objectification lies with the people, not with the material.

* The problems aren't whether figures objectify, because, quite frankly, *anything* can objectify something, it's much more about what you do with that objectification and if that starts to translate out to how you view the world. Does it form your basis for what you consider "pretty"? Does it create fetishes for you that you want your partner in real life to exemplify? Does it begin to reaffirm what you like and thus move those desires to how you may view people?

I'm sure there are some other points made that I missed. Feel free to add.
4年前
0pt
I'm a female collector, myself, and I can pretty firmly say that I don't feel like figures promote objectification of women. (And I just did a photoshoot with a castoff figure in the snow yesterday so it's not like I'm ignoring the existence of NSFW figures). Really, figures are a form of artwork. They're sculptures. Mass-produced, sure, but plenty of art is. See; prints. The human body has always been a popular thing for art to depict. Sure, maybe some male collectors out there "objectify" their figures, but I don't really feel like it's worth being concerned about if they don't act that way towards actual women.
4年前
0pt
Chloe-tsundere The louise otaku
Riesz (4年前) #1916623I actually don't consider that figure over-the-top lewd, and I'm a straight female. To me, the character is posing and seems to be enjoying the situation. She dressed herself in sexy lingerie and put on a show for the observer. She's not crying or being forced into anything. In my opinion it's perfectly OK. Women can definitely be as sexual or perverted as men and when a figure captures the playful and sexy spirit of a woman I think it's pretty cool. Some might consider this figure raunchy but this woman right here actually thinks it's kinda empowering. Misugi Ran is going for what she wants!

Well whats lewd anyways? It is just a matter of taste and how you look at it.
I really hate it when people just calle you a pervert for liking half naked girls.
Or call me a pedo cause i own lolis..

It is not reality right?

And ran indeed is just giving herself away.. Not being forced. I mean like giga pulse figures.. Totally different ^^" just a matter of perspective of the viewer..

One consideres it lewd or even find a bikini figure already revealing, others might understand and see it as art like i do
4年前
1pt
Paulichu Sailor Senshi of Wisdom
Riesz (4年前) #1916623I actually don't consider that figure over-the-top lewd, and I'm a straight female. To me, the character is posing and seems to be enjoying the situation. She dressed herself in sexy lingerie and put on a show for the observer. She's not crying or being forced into anything. In my opinion it's perfectly OK. Women can definitely be as sexual or perverted as men and when a figure captures the playful and sexy spirit of a woman I think it's pretty cool. Some might consider this figure raunchy but this woman right here actually thinks it's kinda empowering. Misugi Ran is going for what she wants!

I agree completely. Being sexy isn't humiliating for a woman unless she's forced into it. Sure... sometimes it's a little embarrassing when you're new to the game, but it's not humiliating unless you don't want to do it. She looks totally into it.

In the case of this figure vs objectification... I think something like this depends on the owner.
4年前
3pt
Paulichu Sailor Senshi of Wisdom
First, you have to distinguish the difference between human attraction and objectification. It is NATURAL for people who have an attraction to females to enjoy them. The difference between enjoying and objectification is treatment of the women around you. If you think women should be eye candy as much as your figures are THAT is where the issue lies.

As a female bisexual... I hate objectification, but I LOVE women. That doesn't mean I objectify them. It doesn't mean that as a collector of female figures that I want to place the women I enjoy looking at on a shelf (although sometimes I'll draw them lol).

Being a female bisexual figure collector means that I love my partners differently than I love my collection.
4年前
0pt
tachola loves you!!
look, don't get me wrong, i'm a shsl feminist and everything, but i'm pretty sure that figures don't promote objectification of women.
4年前
0pt
I think there is a lot of good points brought up here, as well as some pretty good looks at various aspects of the issue as a whole. The idea of sexualization often being misinterpreted as objectification is a good point, and seems to be a common focus of the dabate.

Personally, I'm a bit of the opinion that a lot of the issues of stuff like objectification of women is a fabricated issue for the most part.

To be clear, my opinions on this, and my experience in the matter comes only from my own personal experiences and interactions within my own social circles. I'm having a tough time deciding how to word what I want to say, I don't want to be offensive or anything, but political correctness isn't a strong point of mine, heh.

When I watch peoples' interactions and actions on subjects like this I can't help but be of the opinion that, dare I say a majority, of people who are going to decide that something is objectification and have a real problem with it are those that aren't being objectified.

A prime example of this is the attitude I always hear from a great friend of mine who, for only the sake of my example, would not be typically described as "pretty". This girl is constantly berating those girls who would be typically described as "pretty", over how they act, how they dress, that they would show off their "assets", etc... The entire overtone of her complaints tends to imply that it is men's fault that any woman would want to dress nicely, or get made up,

I feel that a lot of times there are completely different issues going on, like in my example case above my friend has self-esteem and self-image issues, which rather than accepting and working towards dealing with, she simply justifies by arguing that those who closely fits the societal image of "pretty" or "sexy" are simply objectified by men.


As a man myself, I have a tough time seeing true objectification of women carried out by other men as well. I've got one good friend who's a 'player' type, dating a different girl every time you see him, and always only dating what would be most simply described as 'cute little petite girls'. He fits closely to the stereotype of those who are prime suspects of objectifying. Does he objectify all these (sometimes almost random) girls? I really don't think so, if he were treating them like mere objects, he wouldn't likely be nearly as successful in his dating adventures.

The whole concept of societal views as a factor in the determination of what constitutes objectification I think is another important factor to consider. My buddy mentioned above was a good example, where he only will date girls that meet a certain physical description (of petite and pretty), and is often the target of accusations of objectification because of his preferences. Another friend of mine is at the opposite end of the spectrum, he likes the "big" girls (big girls have big tits, and the bigger the better (his words, not mine)). Is he accused of objectification for his, just as narrowly viewed, preferences as my previous buddy? Not even close. This makes for an obvious double standard in what a lot of people seem to consider objectification, and points back to my opinion that there are often different issues at play, which are dismissed by a quick claim of objectification.


Now, If I were to sit back and consider what I would see as the real issue of objectification, I'd have to look away from most of the developed world and into countries and societies that actually still consider a woman to be property. These women have virtually no rights as they're considered property rather than persons, and this makes for a true case where these poor people are truly objectified.
4年前
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