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VN from the perspective of gender rebellion


zxdvas
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I have read some VN to form a more critical perspective, and I think this is valid to some extent even in other form of entertainment. I begin with this deliberate exaggeration.
Male is sent to hell for thousands of reason: cowardice, cruelty, malicious, murderous. But the female is condemned for only one reason: promiscuity.

In VN a female can do almost nothing wrong, because what is considered lewd in real life is cute in VN. What is snub is chaste. What is condescending is tsundere. Even massacre is somewhat alleviated in the name of love. The only exception is betrayal in love, which rarely happens in VN. By betrayal I mean not those forced by threat (i.e. NTR) but voluntarily relinquishing a relationship to start a new one. And lets be fair, the male have no more right to demand the female to be loyal than the female to male.
The entire moral burden is shifted to the male, and most frequently the protagonist. This is one of the most universal criticism against VN. The protagonist is criticised as too passive, too weak, too childish more than any other complaint. This I view as an attempt to locate an/the original source of evil or sin, echoing the approach in religion. Largely successful and potent, yet is not the whole story.
To conclude, VN has sublimed the female due to vast market audience of male. The remnants are shared by male or in some occasions an external race. I for one welcome a VN that defy this not because I am male, but because staying in impunity would diminish moral worth of female. Though I admit that subtlety would concern almost no one. The breakthrough could be coming from a top quality otome game. A genre of VN that I think lies the biggest unexploited potential.

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Uhhh, this might be true if you just look at moege, but in better plotge, some otome and much of yuri you'll easily find female characters with actual agency and whose actions have clear moral weight. The picture is not this black & white. Just don't expect a "breakthrough" when it goes to typical eroge - those games are like this because they cater to very specific needs of a very specific audience, and deviations from the formula rarely pay off for them. 

Edited by Plk_Lesiak
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I do want to respond yet I am at a loss what to say. It is times like these that makes me wonder if setting up a VNDB page with VNs I read would lent me a little bit more credential. I appreciate some suggestion that would change my mind though.

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3 hours ago, zxdvas said:

It is times like these that makes me wonder if setting up a VNDB page with VNs I read would lent me a little bit more credential.

Well, it definitely wouldn't hurt your case. 

3 hours ago, zxdvas said:

I appreciate some suggestion that would change my mind though.

I think [redacted (:p)] break these stereotypes to an extent, as do many other chuunige with proactive, strong heroines. Plot-oriented yurige like Fatal Twelve or Shadows of Pygmalion also create a different dynamic, from the sheer lack of male leads. Many otome VNs are, in a way, mirroring eroge, trading the passive heroines for a passive, spineless protagonist (but also, the heroes in them are often absolved from moral judgment, even if they're literally rapists or murderers - yandere love interests are plenty in otomege). There are important exceptions though, like Code: Realize or Cinderella Phenomenon (the last one being an EVN and those generally treat female characters differently).

Maybe I'm fixating on agency a bit too much, but I see it as a broader rule. Wherever characters are just romantic or sexual objects (most moege and nukige, and also most otomege), they'll be absolved from everything as long as they love the protagonist and stay faithful to them (I mean... The romance wouldn't really work otherwise and most VNs go for wish fullfilment over anything else). When they're actors influencing a (proper) plot, what they do and how they behave will have a lot more weight.

Edited by Plk_Lesiak
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24 minutes ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

Well, it definitely wouldn't hurt your case. 

I think Type-Moon games break these stereotypes to an extent, as do many other chuunige with proactive, strong heroines. Plot-oriented yurige like Fatal Twelve or Shadows of Pygmalion also create a different dynamic, from the sheer lack of male leads. Many otome VNs are, in a way, mirroring eroge, trading the passive heroines for a passive, spineless protagonist (but also, the heroes in them are often absolved from moral judgment, even if they're literally rapists or murderers - yandere love interests are plenty in otomege). There are important exceptions though, like Code: Realize or Cinderella Phenomenon (the last one being an EVN and those generally treat female characters differently).

Maybe I'm fixating on agency a bit too much, but I see it as a broader rule. Wherever characters are just romantic or sexual objects (most moege and nukige, and also most otomege), they'll be absolved from everything as long as they love the protagonist and stay faithful to them (I mean... The romance wouldn't really work otherwise and most VNs go for wish fullfilment over anything else). When they're actors influencing a (proper) plot, what they do and how they behave will have a lot more weight.

Strong heroines in Type Moon games?

Are you sure? Their heroines are the typical damsels in distress, and MCs are chauvinistic af.

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Just now, kokoro said:

Strong heroines in Type Moon games?

Are you sure? Their heroines are the typical damsels in distress, and MCs are chauvinistic af.

I think there's more than that to characters such as Arcueid or Rin... But I guess I'm making assumptions, didn't go through the VNs themselves, only the associated media.

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41 minutes ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

I think there's more than that to characters such as Arcueid or Rin... But I guess I'm making assumptions, didn't go through the VNs themselves, only the associated media.

Spoiler

Arcueid gets raped, killed, or completely ignored by Shiki depending on the route you're playing.

And Rin is kinda useless. She doesn't get as mansplained as Saber though.

 

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4 hours ago, zxdvas said:

The protagonist is criticised as too passive, too weak, too childish more than any other complaint.

This is because it's difficult to write a good, active MC. Just look at english fanfiction, and you can see the opposite but similiar problem. Tons of active, edgy, but poorly characterized protagonists.

 

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I've made this observation before, but Otomege, for all that they profess to be directed at a female audience, are in fact simply directed at a different male audience.  Almost all otomege protagonists are passive, helpless, or have some form of DIDS (Damsel In Distress Syndrome).  There are (a very few) otomege that manage to escape this to one extent or another (my favorite being Sanzen Sekai Yuugi), but those are even more of an exception than the charage where the protagonist has a real personality.  I don't like to be a bastard about this, but the reason I end up only finishing one path or not finishing most otomege is not because I don't like female protagonists... but because the female protagonists are all beta personalities who are just short of being airheads (and some of them are airheads too).  Alpha personality (dominant) female protagonists are about 1 in 50, in my experience, in otomege, to the point where I'm starting to think the industry is trying to brainwash female otakus outright (except more female otakus play BL than otomege in Japan).

Now, the tendency to find it difficult to forgive promiscuity in females is, in fact, the very reason why most charage have 'all virgin heroines' tags.  This is partly a leftover of pre-modern  society that seems to linger in most cultures across the world that profess equality of the genders, but it is also hard-wired into the male brain.  Games where the heroine is a rape victim are easier to find than ones where the heroine is 'experienced', has an affair, or goes back and forth between the protagonist and other men (if you exclude nukige).  In fact, the percentage of that type of game is vanishingly small, to the point that I can only think of about twenty-five games off the top of my head.  Most of those were horror, had dark elements, or had some kind of brainwashing element involved, so you can see how strong the aversion to NTR in non-nukige is. 

To explain some of the cultural background... Japan, despite it's 'modernized' culture, is in fact still a culture only a century and a half away from an age where wealthy and/or powerful males were actually more or less expected to keep multiple partners (in the case of the Shoguns, multiple wives outright, most of them chosen for political reasons), all of whom were considered legitimate under the law as long as he had the means to support them and their children.  Even now, most don't think much of it when a wealthy businessman has a mistress or two, as long as there is agreement or approval from the wife (it is the act of hiding another sexual partner that is considered to be dirty, as opposed to  having one).  Oh, if he flaunts the fact that he has multiple partners, it might become an issue (seen as a sign of a lack of proper modesty/humility), but most of the time it doesn't. 

However, if the female, on the other hand, was with another male, it was pretty much standard to see them beheaded, hanged, or otherwise killed out of hand, along with the man in question.  Modern Japan's taboos are a product of the active encouragement of Western influences after the Meiji Restoration and after WWII, as well as the fact that a huge portion of the privileged castes vanished outright after the Restoration (thus vastly decreasing the number of males that were considered 'entitled' to multiple partners) and the newer castes were eliminated completely after WWII.

The fact is that Japan is not as progressive in this matter as the urban West even now (the rural West still being generally chauvinistic for various reasons, with exceptions).  Women's choices are questioned if they don't marry by age 25, and there is still a cultural assumption that females will retire early to have children.   While aggressive female personalities are accepted there (outside of non-management work, where aggression is generally discouraged in both genders), aggressive female choices aren't. 

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Aside from the cultural background of Japan, I add an observation.

It is the biological cause. I don't know why but nature ordained female to carry the burden of pregnancy. In days when there is no DNA, no blood type (which is not even effective and decisive at all), the parenthood of a child is ambiguous to say the least. Not even to the potential father, if the mother has several partner, she would find it difficult to attribute her pregnancy. This would not be so severe but in an aristocracy, where knighthood, heritage or other privilege is inherited by birth, promiscuity is almost equivalent to betrayal to an entire family. And I think I need not name examples of brutal assassination.

I should really read The Second Sex by Simone Beauvoir. Though I am not sure to what extent her analysis is applicable to non-western society.

Edited by zxdvas
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13 hours ago, Clephas said:

I've made this observation before, but Otomege, for all that they profess to be directed at a female audience, are in fact simply directed at a different male audience.  Almost all otomege protagonists are passive, helpless, or have some form of DIDS (Damsel In Distress Syndrome).  There are (a very few) otomege that manage to escape this to one extent or another (my favorite being Sanzen Sekai Yuugi), but those are even more of an exception than the charage where the protagonist has a real personality.  I don't like to be a bastard about this, but the reason I end up only finishing one path or not finishing most otomege is not because I don't like female protagonists... but because the female protagonists are all beta personalities who are just short of being airheads (and some of them are airheads too).  Alpha personality (dominant) female protagonists are about 1 in 50, in my experience, in otomege, to the point where I'm starting to think the industry is trying to brainwash female otakus outright (except more female otakus play BL than otomege in Japan).

Now, the tendency to find it difficult to forgive promiscuity in females is, in fact, the very reason why most charage have 'all virgin heroines' tags.  This is partly a leftover of pre-modern  society that seems to linger in most cultures across the world that profess equality of the genders, but it is also hard-wired into the male brain.  Games where the heroine is a rape victim are easier to find than ones where the heroine is 'experienced', has an affair, or goes back and forth between the protagonist and other men (if you exclude nukige).  In fact, the percentage of that type of game is vanishingly small, to the point that I can only think of about twenty-five games off the top of my head.  Most of those were horror, had dark elements, or had some kind of brainwashing element involved, so you can see how strong the aversion to NTR in non-nukige is. 

To explain some of the cultural background... Japan, despite it's 'modernized' culture, is in fact still a culture only a century and a half away from an age where wealthy and/or powerful males were actually more or less expected to keep multiple partners (in the case of the Shoguns, multiple wives outright, most of them chosen for political reasons), all of whom were considered legitimate under the law as long as he had the means to support them and their children.  Even now, most don't think much of it when a wealthy businessman has a mistress or two, as long as there is agreement or approval from the wife (it is the act of hiding another sexual partner that is considered to be dirty, as opposed to  having one).  Oh, if he flaunts the fact that he has multiple partners, it might become an issue (seen as a sign of a lack of proper modesty/humility), but most of the time it doesn't. 

However, if the female, on the other hand, was with another male, it was pretty much standard to see them beheaded, hanged, or otherwise killed out of hand, along with the man in question.  Modern Japan's taboos are a product of the active encouragement of Western influences after the Meiji Restoration and after WWII, as well as the fact that a huge portion of the privileged castes vanished outright after the Restoration (thus vastly decreasing the number of males that were considered 'entitled' to multiple partners) and the newer castes were eliminated completely after WWII.

The fact is that Japan is not as progressive in this matter as the urban West even now (the rural West still being generally chauvinistic for various reasons, with exceptions).  Women's choices are questioned if they don't marry by age 25, and there is still a cultural assumption that females will retire early to have children.   While aggressive female personalities are accepted there (outside of non-management work, where aggression is generally discouraged in both genders), aggressive female choices aren't. 

Yeah, I noticed this as well. Yamato Nadeshiko is a type of womancthat only exists in Japan.

Tbh, Japan must be the only country where cuteness is as important as sexiness.

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24 minutes ago, kokoro said:

Tbh, Japan must be the only country where cuteness is as important as sexiness.

Nah, I think a good portion of Asia is like that. That's how people explained Barbie flopping spectacularly in China for example, while the super-cute brands like Hello Kitty sell wonderfully.

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