|In defense of IchiHime against allegations that it's "anti-feminist".
||[Jul. 31st, 2013|05:38 pm]
In Support of Hated Pairings
So there's been talk in Bleach fandom about how the IchiHime ship is "anti-feminist" and how anyone who supports this ship isn't a true feminist. These come from the false assertions that the character Orihime Inoue is "weak". In their eyes, they believe that Orihime is "weak" because of her love for Ichigo. They claim that it makes her "delusional", "incapable of making decisions for herself", "immature", "foolish", among other demeaning insults. However, these claims couldn't be more off base. In fact, I am going to go so far as to say that IchiHime shows itself to be pro-feminist and encourages Orihime Inoue to become more independent and to find her own voice.|
That's right. You heard it here, folks. Contrary to popular belief in the Bleach fandom, IchiHime actually supports feminist ideals rather than tarnishes them. And I'm going to explain exactly why that is.
Feminism is defined as the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Equality in social and political structures, support and understanding between sexuality and genders, and the ability for a woman to choose is the basis of what feminism stands for. Feminism embraces supporting others and their choices in life in whatever makes them happy. Feminism encourages bonds between other women as well as bonds between men and women. Orihime Inoue and her journey through this story have proven to show these qualities if one pays attention to how she has interacted with Ichigo and with other women in the Bleach manga.
While many criticize the bond between Rukia and Orihime and Orihime's insecurities, these criticisms are countered by how the manga emphasizes how both women are fine just as they are. They might have different personalities and ways of going about things, but in this series, this is seen as a good thing - a necessity if you will. In essence, Bleach encourages the variety in women instead of saying we all should be pegged into one stereotype. This can be seen in a manga panel where Rangiku Matsumoto comforts Orihime by reinforcing this idea that both women should be accepted as they are:
And instead of discouraging Orihime's feelings about Ichigo, Rangiku consoles Orihime about how strong and mature she is for handling any insecurities she has on her own. How it is admirable she'd rather deal with her feelings than lash out at anyone else spitefully.
In this simple scene, the manga is emphasizing that Orihime is strong for not running away from her feelings. For instead tackling her emotions, sorting them out, and responding in a mature, positive fashion. And in fact, Orihime being able to reflect on her emotions and actions is far from being "foolish" as some claim; rather Orihime is insightful. And instead of making Orihime pitted against Rukia, the bond of friendship only grows from here. This is a huge boost in support of feminism, which encourages female friendships! There are later moments in the manga that show Rukia and Orihime's bond with each other and how both have grown to deeply respect and appreciate one another, as seen below:
Orihime has fallen in love with Ichigo, however she does not force him to return her feelings. In fact, she respects him enough to accept that he might not feel the same way. And that his happiness means more than forcing any feelings on him. Likewise, Ichigo is single and therefore a free agent who has the ability to choose who ever he fancies. Orihime understands and respects that. Feminism is about equality and respecting others, not superiority. This is demonstrated right here with how Orihime feels. Ichigo and Orihime see each other as equals and they strongly respect each other. Not only that, but Orihime shows extreme amounts of empathy for the suffering of others - including Ichigo. This is a feminist trait, seeing how feminism encourages supporting a great deal of other groups since we are all affected by the society we live in.
People who think Orihime is "weak" for crying and feeling sympathy for another person's suffering really do not fully understand the meaning of feminism. Feminism is all about feeling compassion for others, because it is through this that we can create change, respect, and understanding between one another. We will never make any progress by being cold-hearted and cruelly shutting others down while screaming about how right we think we are. The only true progress is through positive change and being able to reach a mutual understanding. So Orihime's compassion for others is a strong trait that correlates with feminist ideals, rather than going against it.
Likewise, Orihime's feelings for Ichigo has given her a voice against antagonists who try to intimidate her through violence. Her love for him has empowered her rather than crippled her. This can be seen in her defiance against Grimmjow who gives her an order so he can torture Ichigo.
Grimmjow grips his hands around her neck and strangles her. He calls her a bitch and threatens her with more violence for not doing what he wants her to do. And instead of giving up, Orihime's love for Ichigo is stronger than any amount of force Grimmjow uses. She refuses him again and again until Ichigo intervenes and stops any more violence against Orihime.
And in the new arc when Orihime heals from her time in Hueco Mundo, she flat out defies any villain who tries to harm her friends with no hesitation. She has a determination to do what she pleases and protect the ones she loves. Her bond with Ichigo and her friends has only made her stronger, giving her motivation to keep improving her skills to fight against any threat.
She is not afraid or intimidated. She is determined. And even though Orihime-bashers try to paint her as "sadistic" now, Orihime is simply fighting in order to protect. This was even foreshadowed early on:
And now, she's finally making it a reality by stepping in and protecting those she cares about. It is because of her concern for others that she has improved so greatly. You can see the difference through the years in how secure and grounded she has become in her abilities and strengths.
This is all due to the encouragement and support Orihime has had from her friends (including Ichigo)! Because of this bond, we see the positive change in a young woman finding her voice and what she wants to do in life. Orihime is even pursing one of her dreams in becoming a baker! And look, Bleach is far from perfect, but I do think that the bond between characters, the variety of women, and Orihime's development has been really well done.
So in conclusion, I refute the idea that IchiHime is anti-feminist, because the manga has shown otherwise!