So I had an interesting exchange with a Facebook friend. I have fair number of Facebook friends who are also fellow anime fans and I enjoy interacting with them about anime & manga and such, but some of the guys in particular are guilty of a kind of whiny, self-pitying tone and are passive-aggressively a little on the misogynistic side, though they'd hotly deny it of you called them on it to their face. Some of them are to greater and lesser degrees susceptible to various flavors of MRA strains of thought that is sometimes worrisome. I had to unfollow (but not wholly de-friend) once such fellow anime fan because reading his whiny MRA screeds on my Facebook feed was such a daily aggravation I could simply do without.
Anyway, this recent interaction sparked my intellect and imagination because I thought it might make a blog-worthy post and an object lesson in basic empathy.
My Facebook friend posted this image jokingly, with the caption: "Girls are WEIRD"
I joked with him at first, saying something like well, definitely seems to be the case in anime-world, doesn't it? He replied "and IRL?"
Well, sh*t, he would have to go there. *Sigh*
So I thought about it then composed my thoughts thusly....
Walking around in a bikini in public is socially acceptable.
Walking around in frilly underwear in public not so much;
Hence it normally only happens in anime (and presumably IRL) when the boy accidentally walks in on the girl while she's changing outfits, getting ready for bed, etc, invading her privacy uninvited. It's about consent & respect, not objectively how much flesh is showing regardless of context. Context matters. Nobody likes their privacy invaded, whether intentionally or by accident. If it was a genuine accident and the boy is profusely apologetic, the girl might forgive him later, but you can't expect her to in the heat of the moment, when she's surprised and embarrassed and caught off guard. If he invaded her privacy *intentionally*, he's a creep and she'll never forget it (nor should she).
He made some offhand reply about life imitating art, yada yada and I said while it's an overused comedy trope in anime, I'll usually still laugh at it. We left it at that.
Not a hostile exchange, but one in which I wonder if he really absorbed the point I was trying to make in challenging the simplistic views of the original artist who drew the image. He seemed to want to deflect my comment with a joke rather than acknowledge it.
What I'm saying is that I "get" what the artist is *trying* to say with his juxtaposed images. He is (and I'm sure it's a HE) trying to say something along the lines of "haha, women are crazy, inconsistent hypocrites. Look at this funny example."; Which would be compelling only if you're completely tone deaf and don't think of women as real people with real emotions and try to put yourself in their shoes for a hot second. That's all I had to do to come up with my analysis above. It doesn't require a graduate level education (though I have one) to figure this out, just an exercise in basic empathy. It works, even if you have a penis and are usually a bit of a horn dog like me. I dunno, maybe because I was married once, have had girlfriends before, have often had more close female friends than male friends, that I think about this more than the average dude who hasn't.
The girl in the bikini WANTS to show off her body. She's putting herself out there as an act of her own free will. She is an autonomous agent, in control of who sees her and in what context. The same girl, in her frilly underwear, feels vulnerable and self-conscious if she were to encounter a male in her presence when she didn't invite him. She's frightened, embarrassed, angry, and these are all valid emotions REGARDLESS if the male interloper spied her intentionally (creeper) or totally by accident (how many, many MRA's and nominally pro-MRA guys see themselves and how most anime protagonists are portrayed, for laughs). They want to see themselves as misunderstood innocents and the girls as overreacting because they've already seen as much or more of the girl's body earlier in the day when she was in her bikini which so fantastically misses the point.
I hate to have to pedantically spell this out but with some guys I really do wonder, and I say that AS a guy.