Friday, May 16, 2008

I'm a "Female Cowboy", Not a "Cowgirl"

An important part of my thesis project was the title of the "Cowboy" piece.

If a studiomate passed by and mentioned something about the "cowgirl," I would have to correct them— it was important that the subject was a girl playing the part of the male cowboy, not the female version of the profession. There were "cowgirls" in existance. And that is not what I was representing.

Two of my favorite animé in the whole wide world are Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon and Shoujo Kakumei Utena, and I've mentioned them before. They both had prominent female characters assuming male roles, and not merely the female version of those roles.

Looking to Sailor Moon first, I'm going to talk about Sailor Uranus. Her alter ego, Haruka Tenoh, was a race car driver. She was not a female race car driver, she was a male race car driver that was female. It makes sense to me at least, so bear on. I'm not sure if there were female drivers in japan sixteen years ago, (I doubt it) but if there were, thats not what Haruka was. It helped that she was actually happy to lead others to believe she was male, which many did.

Five years later, and under the same director, was male-uniform clad, pink haired Utena Tenjou. Utena wanted to be a prince. Straight up, no messing around. Her mission was much louder than Haruka's. Haruka seemed to want to live the male life quietly with her partner, while Utena made much more of a statement about equality and rights and saving others and the whole nine yards or it. If she wasn't enough, the series also included Juri Arisugawa, the lesbian of the series who had a quieter existence like Haruka.

I thought the concept was pretty cool, the female being a male character, thus my sincere desire to see Takarazuka Revue one day. I don't think I quite understood it until recently, though, when I thought about what the cowboy character represented.

Perhaps this is about the difference between being a transexual and a transvestite. In the end, Haruka was living the life of a man, and Utena was living the role of a prince (though to be honest I think she identifies as female. Utena is set in damned near an alternate universe so the rules are a bit hazy.) Growing up, I thought that female animé characters dressed in male clothes was freaking awesome, but I don't intend to just wear male clothes in my pieces, I plan to play the male. And for that Haruka is pretty much the best inspiration ever.

Top, Haruka Tenoh ; middle, Anthy and Utena ; Michiru and Haruka.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this post! I also completely understand what you mean when you say Haruka is a female cowboy, as opposed to a cowgirl. Ahhh, this post makes me so happy. X)

(I hope the thesis went well! I'm currently writing my own... or trying to. :P)