I’m Lost in a Sea of Strangers, and Someone Told Me They Were Sexist

Updated: to format references correctly.

Over the past week I have been lurking on the Reddit board r/anime (Reddit 2014). Every day, I have been perusing the top 100 posts in an attempt to familiarise myself with anime beyond what is shown on Australian screens. In short, the experience was isolating.

Scrolling through the posts felt like walking past strangers. The content I viewed was varied but seemed to be primarily focused on image. Characters were presented either in stills or as fan drawings, with little explanation to where they are from. Reddit, as a platform, is well-suited to this sort of image heavy board (Fenn 2013). But this format made it harder for me to engage with the content and the community. It is easy to scroll past strangers, just as it is easy to dismiss dialogue you don’t understand and jokes you are not apart of. As it is rightfully allowed to be, the board and community within is clearly geared at an experienced viewing audience, rather than hooking in new viewers. Perhaps, for this reason alone, it is not the best place to start my viewing experience.

Aside from the board layout, I also suffered from my own bias. Last semester, I conducted a small-scale research project with another UOW student into Reddit’s AdviceAnimal memes (Bauer & Shalavin 2014). The results showed that some of the memes did show women in a negative light but were deemed not offensive as they were of a joking nature. As such, I began viewing the board with the assumption that some content would in fact be misogynistic. This accusation has been thrown around the anime community before with fans pointing out the hyper-sexualised construction of female characters (Cross 2014). However, while I believe I was searching for this over the past week, I do not believe I found it. While most image-based content featured female characters, they were hardly ever represented as overly-sexualised. Instead, they were largely drawn in empowered stances or situations and praised in the comment sections

My experience was hindered by both myself and the site I attempted to engage in. It is, of course, not the community’s fault that I felt isolated as I was a novice nor that I walked into experience with a poorly informed view of female representation in anime. Perhaps this is a site to return to after I have begun my viewing experience. 

Reference List:

Bauer, E & Shalavin, C 2014, ‘Gender and Digital Dissent Followup’, presentation, 14 May, Prezi, viewed on 12/8/14, <http://prezi.com/slmouolsnvmf/gender-and-digital-dissent-follow-up/&gt;

Cross, K 2014, ‘Sexist Static: How a lust for misogyny is hobbling an important artform’, weblog post, 24 April, Feministing, viewed 12/8/14, <http://feministing.com/2014/04/24/sexist-static-how-a-lust-for-crude-misogyny-is-hobbling-an-important-artform/&gt;

Fenn, M 2013, ‘Reddit is becoming an image board – Here’s why’, 20 March, The Daily Dot, viewed 12/8/14, <http://www.dailydot.com/news/reddit-imageboard-pics-study/&gt;

Reddit 2014, ‘Anime’, Reddit, viewed 12/8/14, <http://www.reddit.com/r/anime&gt;

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4 comments

  1. Hey Courtney,
    I definitely agree with what you say about Reddit being a great platform for image-based content. I also feel as though it does have a heavy sense of community and cliques when you go on the website… I haven’t used it a great deal although the times I have been on it, I have felt as if I was being excluded from some kind of personal joke all of the users were in on except for me!
    This is awesome when you understand what the posts are about – but as you say, it is hard to exactly get into it if there is no trigger helping you to understand content, especially if there are just stand alone photos with no real explanation as to where they came from, why they are there, and any real context at all!
    I really like how you comment on your own bias you may have toward certain parts of anime – its great that you can admit that about your own perspectives, I know I would be the same! We can’t help when our personal afflictions get in the way of seeing something objectively.
    This is such a great topic and will be really interesting to see it develop over the semester.
    -Keely 🙂

    Like

  2. “Just as it is easy to dismiss dialogue you don’t understand and jokes you are not apart of”. I totally agree.

    It seems to me that the pinnacle of reddit is the in-jokes. It takes a while lurking before you can fully integrate into most subs.

    I feel this theme may be common as a westerner immersing them-self into eastern digital culture. There may be some roads of obscurity, however that’s half the task!

    Like

  3. Hey Courtney, you raised some great points about your experiences on reddit and anime. I don’t know much about anime so I think I would shared that same feeling of isolation. Maybe you could also look at Pinterest and see if you get that same sort of experience as you did with reddit.

    Does this help?

    Like

  4. Hey Courtney,
    I think it’s very interesting how isolating it is and it made me think of how sometimes language and culture differences also have a similar result.
    In the case of the portrayal of women, i think it’s all in the eye of the beholder and women are against most forms of being made of as an object so i find it very interesting that in your search for it, you found powerful stances, maybe it’s a sign of the times? I do agree with you on that point, the expectation of misogyny and maybe that’s a reflection on our society and culture.
    -Kristy

    Like

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