The Japan Women’s Institute of Contemporary Media Culture has issued a response to the UN proposals about banning certain media. In it, they detail their disagreement with the idea, feeling it would only harm women more.
Ah, the UN, what an amusement you are. A shining example of what bureaucracy can become when given enough of someone else’s money; an inept mess that’s all talk and no show. The UN is the pinnacle of “feel-good” movements, throwing proposals left and right, whilst implementing precisely none of them. They hardly stop to consider the ramifications of what such proposals would do before they’re already focusing on the next big thing.
These ramifications include the likes of a recent proposal made to Japan. Those of you who follow our coverage of government antics will remember our previous article on this topic , where we discussed Japan’s Women’s Rights review. The review, which took place on the 16th of February, dove into Japan’s record for women’s rights, hoping to propose ways in which they could improve. One of the proposals was to ban the sale of video games that depicted women in a negative light.
That spotlight was mainly targeted at games which portrayed violence against women, which the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) felt were damaging to women and girls. How, and indeed why, this was the case, nobody really knows. As we discussed in the article, fiction is just that – fiction. It doesn’t really occur, and it’s been proven to have little impact on the way we act in real life.
It looks as though the Women’s Institute of Contemporary Media Culture (WICMC) share the same sentiment. In a statement made on the 28th of February, the WICMC discussed the review, initially making it clear that “We are absolutely in agreement that the protection of the rights of women in Japan is important.” This is indisputable, of course: our human rights should always take top priority. That goes for everyone, regardless of their race or creed.
The WICMC continued on however, and added, “On the other hand, we think it should be carefully and seriously evaluated whether the measures taken to ensure those protections are valid ones or not.” As we discussed in our older article, we have to ensure that the harm is real before taking action, something which the WICMC would attest to here. They continued on, asking the question of whether they felt banning the sale of manga and video games were proportional, answering “we must reply that that is an absolute ‘no’ “.
The WICMC gave two reasons in particular for this response. The first stated that because of the nature of manga and video games, it “does not threaten the rights of real people; therefore, it is meaningless”. Secondly, the WICMC explained that “these are creative fields that women themselves cultivated”, and by banning their sale it would instead “create a new avenue of sexism toward women”.
Of course, the first reason is fairly obvious. The WICMC went into more detail on this too, stating that due to the lack of legitimate harm, such a ban would be inconsequential. “We should focus on attacking the problems that affect real women”, they said, preferring to concentrate on issues that have a tangible impact here in the real world. The second line of reasoning is also obvious, particularly to fans of Eastern games, who will know that many women create and work on these titles.
The reality is that women are a large part of manga and video games, whether they create the content or read it. There are genres dedicated to the numerous female audiences and there are many artists who contribute to it. In banning such media, the WICMC feels that it would only lead to fewer career paths for women, and would likely just result in real discrimination. Special protected classes rarely gain sympathy, and a lot of women like violent games – we don’t all play Farmville.
The WICMC did concede that some people will find some aspects of media unpleasant; however, they argued against the point by saying “to ban expression and commerce unilaterally based on feelings […] is not to be condoned”. They continued to add that feelings “will differ based on the individual or their region and that culture’s segmented society”, stating that to force such things would only strike discord. We’ve seen that on our own shores too with recent releases, where someone else’s values are imposed over those of the creator.
The WICMC feels of the same way most of us probably do. “There is nothing to be gained from regulating fictional sexual violence”, they said, stating that such a focus ends up “leaving the human rights of real women to rot”. By detracting from legitimate issues, we waste time and effort in pursuing things that generally do not need fixing. The WICMC put emphasis on “the greater freedom and rights of women”, something which the UN may wish to look into, though, they may have to look beyond the C Drive.
It looks like the UN has been given its marching orders once more, and by a women’s institution no less. If you want to check out the response in full, you can find it on the WICMC Blog or you can find a translation here (thank you, RyanoftheStars!). Hopefully, this is a continuous trend, though, with the UN’s ineptitude and excessive focus on unimportant issues, we may just be in luck.
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