Hey Hey Heroes, Travelers, and Wandering NPCs, it’s April and with it comes another OWLS Blog Tour! Last month during our Feminine Blog Tour we looked at the meaning of the term while also celebrating the amazing accomplishments of women. This month we’re looking at the other end of the spectrum with our April Masculinity Blog Tour!
Last month, we explored the meanings behind the terms, “feminine” and “feminism.” This month the OWLS bloggers will explore the concept of masculinity. We each have our own definition of what it means to be masculine and we will explore our definitions using “masculine” characters from various pop culture fandoms. We will discuss how these characters are “masculine” or show signs of a masculine persona. We will also share our personal stories about the amazing men that supported us in our lives as well as sharing some of our experiences growing up as a man or knowing men who struggled with the masculine identity.
Websters defines masculinity as ‘having qualities appropriate to or usually associated with a man’, but what does it mean to be “a man”? Is it physical strength? Fortitude? Having the anatomy of a man? With shifting gender norms, it’s difficult to ascribe a one size fits all definition to terms like masculinity and femininity, because there is no singular way to embody these terms. Roles that were traditionally held exclusively by men are now being taken up by women and visa versa. There simply isn’t a case for traditional masculinity or femininity in today’s evolving world, because what it means to be a man or a woman has changed. But, as a society we still adhere to a ridged gender coded system. Items associated with women and girls tend to have a pink, purple, or pastel color scheme, while items intended for men and boys tend to favor a darker color pallet. We have been conditioned to see associate masculinity with dominance, power, and strength, and femininity with beauty, grace, and poise.
The same exists in anime, shounen series like My Hero Academia, Black Clover, and Dragonball Z, with their action heavy storylines and characters, focus on more “masculine” topics, like overcoming adversity or proving one’s worth (usually through brute strength). Relationships are forged through combat or intense training, and feelings when featured are merely used to bolster a character’s drive to complete some predetermined goal. Shounen anime tend to focus on a character (or group of characters) striving to be the best at whatever it is they do, either through brute strength, dogged determination, or just plain old dumb luck. On the other side of things, you have shojo anime which tends to focus on more traditionally “feminine” topics, like romance and friendship. There usually isn’t a predetermined goal or even a “bad guy”, with the majority of these stories tackling more internal conflicts like self-doubt, finding love, or fostering relationships (romantic/platonic) with others.
But, even within these clearly gender specific genres, there is some crossover. There are plenty of shounen anime that focus on romance and dealing with more internal personal conflicts, just like there are shoujo anime that feature action and adventure storylines. These series challenge the status quo, giving us more relatable stories that speak to who we are as individuals and not so much what we are expected to be. So for this month’s Blog Tour, I went with a series that subverts the idea of masculinity, by parodying a traditionally ‘feminine’ magical girl anime genre. This time around, I’m looking at the magical boy anime, Cute High Earth Defense Club Love! and how despite it’s adherence to traditional magical girl anime tropes and overtly “feminine” themes, helps define a “new” masculine ideal.