What has sparked this post is a comment that I received yesterday on my Anime-Planet review of Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni which simply said:
"go back to the kitchen"
This pissed me off. The comment has subsequently been removed and the user responsible warned that sexist comments are not tolerated under any circumstance. And for good reason. Why should my opinion be so quickly dismissed in a five word sentence purely because I'm female? Sure, I gave the series a bad review, but that had nothing to do with my sex. That I'm a woman didn't change the fact that the show ignored its central premise in favour of dumb jokes. The show is called (in it's English translation) "Idiots, and Tests and Summoned Beings", yet it focused entirely on the "Idiots", completely ignored the "Tests", and only included the "Summoned Beings" occasionally for dumb shit they weren't originally designed for. Now although the series was aimed at male viewers, I don't need to BE a man to notice it's flaws, and had I been a guy, this user may well have decided to simply leave some kind of comment like "you're a douche" or "you have no sense of humour" or a simple "you suck", but no, because I'm a girl I should just get back in the kitchen where I belong, because clearly I don't know what I'm talking about and my double x chromosomes make me incapable of rational reasoning.
But this isn't the first time I've had comments on a review based on my gender. I reviewed Ping Pong Club and totally trashed it. I received several messages of disagreement as the show has something of a cult following, and much like Marmite, you either love it or hate it. Fair enough. I hated it. Others loved it. But one user decided this was only because I was female and left the following comment:
"Holy shit you are wrong, wrong, wrong, and you have no sense of humor. Ping Pong Club is one of the few decent comedy anime in existence; I bet you pissed yourself with laughter watching Lucky Star. How typical of a female anime fan to hate it. You have no taste."
Now this comment, doesn't offend me so much, mainly because it's trashing my view of one specific show, not just me as a whole. But this message leads perfectly to the main point of this post: what the hell does sex have to do with what anime you enjoy?
Obviously, I get that certain series are aimed at specific demographics, but that isn't to say that ONLY those people can enjoy it. Just because I'm a female anime fan, does that mean that I should only be watching shoujo and josei series? Should I be limiting myself to the likes of Sailor Moon and Nodame Cantabile (both of which I thoroughly like for the record) simply because my lack of penis means that I couldn't possibly appreciate or enjoy shows such as Naruto or anything with even the vaguest hint of ecchi in it? No, of course I shouldn't, because that kind of bullshit belongs firmly in the past.
I'm a female anime fan, and one of my favourite genres is shounen. I like... no... I LOVE anime aimed at younger boys. I love the kick-arse battles. Maybe it's because I've always been more of a tomboy than a girly girl. As a child I'd rather pick up frogs than play with a Barbie doll, and as an adult, I'd rather watch a bunch of ninja beating the living crap out of each other than see a magical girl twirling her wand and shooting love beams at her crush. But it's not in shounen that I've encountered sexist attitudes. That joy has always lay in the ecchi camp.
In my experience, if a girl is ever going to get hassle for being an anime fan from a guy, it's when they express a negative comment on an ecchi show. If a woman dares to say that a panty-shot filled series has a crap story, then don't worry. It doesn't mean the show is shit. After all, the person giving the opinion is only a woman, what can she know or understand about it? She doesn't matter. Ignore her.
Just because an anime features lots of breasts, panties, or crude humour doesn't mean that a girl can't enjoy it. Now, ecchi isn't one of my favourite genres, but that doesn't mean I don't like series where the perversion is a prominent feature, as I either just kind of ignore it becuase it isn't that big of a deal (Highschool of the Dead) or I actively enjoy the humour (Amaenaideyo!! and Mitsudomoe). Granted, the shot of a buxom female's breasts bouncing around the screen or her panties being exposed by an errant wind don't turn me on, but I can find them funny if executed well. And I think that last point is the key, whether it's executed well or not. Some girls may enjoy ecchi anime, but they may also be a little more objective. Maybe females can spot a poorly constructed narrative, or a badly executed series more easily because we aren't quite as preoccupied by the lingerie and cleavage. However, that doesn't mean that our opinions or observations are completely null and void purely because we don't have meat and two veg clogging up our knickers.
Newsflash: girls can be perverts too. So don't judge us purely on our sex, because it's not so simple. We can be crude and enjoy vulgar humour. We can laugh at fart or poop jokes without being failures as women. We can enjoy panty shots and exposed breasts and not be lesbians. So next time anyone tells us to go back to the kitchen, remember that's also where the bleach is kept, so try not to piss us off too much, okay?