Happy Halloween, everyone! I wish you all the spookiest of days! In honor of the hands-down awesomest holiday of the year, I figured I’d talk again about a true gem of musical theatre: the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I’ve covered this in the past, but I’m gonna analyze it a little more deeply today. RHPS is both a cult classic and a personal favorite of mine, and to celebrate the spirit of the day, let’s look at some of the things it does both right and wrong from a feminist perspective.
A few months ago I was at my hometown con, Tekkoshocon, in good ol’ Pittsburgh, PA, and witnessed an interesting exchange. While waiting in line to ask about prop-check, I overheard the guys in front of me asking the con staffers if they’d seen any male crossplayers. They were participating in a scavenger hunt, and dude crossplayers are apparently rare enough to merit a spot on the hunt’s item list. This set me to thinking: Why is that?
I’ve already written once about crossplay a long time ago, but I think it’s worth revisiting. Crossplay is the practice of cosplaying as a different gender than the one you identify as, and it’s extraordinarily common at conventions these days. Except for one thing: most crossplayers are women dressing as men. I chalk this up to a number of factors, including the proportionally larger number of male characters compared to women in popular geek culture, and the fact that it’s far more of a societal no-no for a man to dress in women’s clothing.
So it turns out that even though I love action-packed anime, nothing sucks me in like a potential romance. I watched two seasons of Kimi ni Todoke in a week, but it took me months to finish Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. I have a deep-seated love for shows that layer on the unresolved romantic tension.
Princess Jellyfish (also known by its Japanese name Kuragehime) is an interesting show that depends on a lot of tropes but also breaks out of them as well. Tsukimi, the main character, is one of a group of five girls who live in an all-female apartment building. Tsukimi and her buildingmates are all poorly-adjusted, socially awkward otaku obsessed with one thing or another, whether it’s trains, older gentlemen, Chinese historical drama, traditional Japanese clothing, or, in Tsukimi’s case, jellyfish. Continue reading
If you’ve read The Hobbit or any other Tolkien books or pretty much any fantasy story where dwarves exist as a separate race, you might have noticed that dwarf ladies are sadly lacking representation. Although there aren’t, in fact, any female characters at all in The Hobbit, in The Lord of the Rings at least we have examples of powerful women (or at least existing women) from every race but the dwarves. As someone (I think Gimli?) in Lord of the Rings notes, Middle Earthling dwarf women are seen so rarely, and so resemble dwarf men (sporting plenty of facial hair and… pants and axes, I guess?), that most other races assume dwarves are a single-gendered species who spring from the rock fully formed rather than one that engages in sexual reproduction.
Peter Jackson, in the scene in The Hobbit movie showing the fall of Erebor and the devastation of Dale, does show us a number of dwarf women living under the mountain with their male cohorts. I was surprised, however, that he had given them far more feminine clothing and features than I expected.
These are certainly not characters who might be misgendered as men, and furthermore, the clear difference in presented gender gives the lie to any suggestion that dwarf women are so rare/often misgendered that they are considered mythical creatures by other Middle Earthlings. Continue reading