GS: The Deconstruction of Moe Subculture 04 – The Dark Side

"What should Mei do, onii-chan?"

"What should Mei do, onii-chan?"

You cannot discuss moe without discussing loli.

I wish I could, actually, as unlike with the previous article, there’s no way to spin it as a good thing. While there have been cases made to differentiate lolicon (short-hand for “lolita complex,” but sieved through Japanese otaku culture) from pedophilia, the discussion on that is almost purely on the difference between the animated abstract of a young girl and the actual thing – not on the conceptual grounds. Or, at least, not enough on the conceptual grounds that I can comfortably write about it.

Spinning lolicon in anything resembling a positive light is a purely… defensive posture. The fact is, the best you can say is that it is more culturally and contextually oriented than most people would think – and more so than many would necessarily be comfortable with, regardless of how socially liberal they may believe themselves to be. NAMBLA’s inability to realize this is, of course, why they’re such huge and well-deserved laughingstocks – when you get right down to it, their so-called political movement really is nothing more than a cadre of perverts with money for lobbyists.

It would be remiss, however, and intellectually cowardly, for me not to dissect this topic anyhow. And, really, when it’s become such a blatant aspect of otaku adult entertainment, there’s a lot to be said…

(articles one, two and three)

It’s not just easy to see why lolicon is considered moe – it’s simple to argue that the fundamental aspects of lolita complex may be the conceptual origin of moe. Here, in physical form, you have the outlining characteristics of the whole concept – “cuteness” and vulnerability in its distilled form. She’s cute, she’s emotionally vulnerable, she relies on you – exactly what the moe fetishist looks for.

The squick is that she’s a prepubescent girl.

This is the dark side of moe. To spell it out, there’s a damn good reason why pedophilia is generally considered a predatory evil. Lusting after girls below a certain threshold is disgusting – not only is it inarguably abnormal to find the physical proportions and characteristics of a young girl (or guy) sexually appealing, but any such relations with a person of that age is inherently non-consensual. Statutory rape isn’t just something people apply out of prejudice – below a threshold, a person is simply unable to make the sort of necessary informed judgments that is vital for baseline consent. And below a further threshold, it’s compounded by the fact that sexual activity can only traumatize them.

Remember, even in Lolita, the protagonist was not portrayed in a healthy, positive light. You’ve gotta be seriously fucked in the head to be a pedophile.

But it would be one-sided to end the dialog there. Lolita fans would argue, and quite accurately, that what I’ve described is merely the extreme edge of this particular facet of moe culture. And all culture have their fringe elements.

Again, arguments in favor of lolicon are purely defensive in measure – and, at best, eventually paints it in a neutral light. But there’s some truth to it. The first argument is, simply, lolicon isn’t pedophilia: the proportions of a real-life young girl and the proportions of a young cartoon character are not the same. While there are semblances, most of that semblance boils down to context – they’re shorter and skinnier than the other characters. And at the individual-detail level, what does and doesn’t constitute a clear case of prepubescence gets murky – does having a flat chest necessarily mean that the girl’s jailbait?

Flat, yes. Short, yes. Loli, no.

Flat, yes. Short, yes. Loli, no.

I know quite a few girls willing to hotly, if not violently, contest that. With sharp, pointy objects if need be. Or replace a chromosome in this argument – does having a short dick qualify a guy to be shota? Secondary sexual characteristics are extremely varied – and even height can sometimes be a pretty horrible indicator of age or maturity.

Note that the most common counterargument – that the direct semblances that do exist lead to a slippery slope between lolicon and outright pedophilia – suffers from a major logical fallacy. The fallacy being that while the individual steps to be taken before a lolicon is a pedophile may have a high degree of correlation between each other on an individual basis, the probability of the sum total occurring is much, much lower. Just because you’ve successfully bucked the stereotypical western obsession with large, melon-sized mammaries in favor of something more… naturally perky doesn’t mean you’re suddenly going to go off and fondle your neighbor’s kid – the fallacy of that scenario is obvious, and is directly parallel to the arguments made against lolicon.

There is also an important cultural aspect to consider, and is especially important to note if you recognize that the American cultural threshold for adulthood is actually somewhat high. Age of consent in other first-world countries actually tend to hover around the sixteen-year mark, with leeways depending on the mutual age of consenting parties. Japan, the cultural focus of this entire analysis, has it as low as 13 in some prefectures – though, notably, as high as 20 under some legal interpretations. What constitutes “old enough” is almost purely cultural – and the standards that are accepted (ie: mature enough to give informed consent) are impossible to enforce in any meaningful manner. There are simply not enough police in any society to regulate every single relationship that gets formed – not to mention, that’s a very, very easy way to instigate a cultural revolution against yourself.

The final argument is, of course, that sometimes – just sometimes – lolicon isn’t actually male fantasy. Odd, but true: some anime that depict a relationship between a young girl and older guy is actually targeted at a female audience, playing on a fetish for an older, reliable father figure as a mate. It’s hard to keep sight of that fact when we’re discussing controversial fetishes, but women have sex drives too, and there’s no natural law anywhere that says they can’t be just as perverse as us guys. Or, in some ways, kinkier yet.

Lithuania's dependable.

Russia's dependable (and sadistic).

Overall, the issue of lolicon is a fairly strong counterweight to this analysis’s overarching thesis of otaku gender relations. There’s no way to spin it positively, especially when the defining characteristics of dependence and vulnerability is key to the whole concept of moe in general. It is, however, more of a neutral topic than usually considered – and while comparisons to actual pedophilia’s impossible to avoid, correlation isn’t causation, and there are enough differences that the squick-worthy similarities are partially diffused. The differences between a protective figure and a father figure, after all, are very slight – and if the general trend of moe continues, it’ll lean more towards the former.

After all, when you consider yandere, it soon becomes obvious that, in any relationship, vulnerability is a double-edged sword

Yuno is such a devoted girlfriend.

Yuno is such a devoted girlfriend.

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~ by Gonzo Mehum on February 20, 2009.

9 Responses to “GS: The Deconstruction of Moe Subculture 04 – The Dark Side”

  1. Using imouto kryptonite to lead into this article was a low blow hahaha. Even Tomoya was effected.

    Ah well. Looking forward to yandere in the next deconstruction.
    Some inspiration for you.

  2. fffffffffffffffffffffffff- yandere Miku! Scared shitless and turned on at the same damn time.

  3. Sex attraction to pre-pubescents TRULY SICK > needs psychotherapy.
    There is something worse, MANGA with Incest+Lolicon that puts sick, evil ideas in childrens heads. Websites that promote and distribute these should be warned and, if persistent, shut down.
    Whenever i see things like this im reminded that there are sad, sad, sick, devil-ridden, sick losers out there who need serious electro-shock therapy, exorcism, and solitary confinement.

  4. […] (articles one, two, three and four.) […]

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  9. you hit the point but miss others. we live in a culture with a lot of prejudice against gender and age. you presume that a person who is – by social standards – “underage” can’t consent in a relationship. that could be true 50 years later. we can’t keep this XXI century idea that kids and teens are innocent and ingenuous. we live in XXI century, in the Net Era, our kids and teens are exposed to erotism and porn, our kids and teens have a early maturation in sex and relationship, therefore this age prejudice is outdated and obsolete. Lolita is taken as a classic literature, then Llicon, as offspring of it, should be taken as art too.

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