On Traps and the concept of being ‘broken’

I love traps =)

This post was prompted by reading this post by TheBigN where he talked about the term ‘broken’ and what it exactly means, although it made me think about why the term is even used at all, as the word ‘broken’ has negative connotations in addition to its obviously negative denotation.

The otaku community… contains a lot of weird stuff, at least in comparison with the dominant cultures of most of the non-Japan countries which hold the bulk of foreign anime fans (China, America, the Phillipines, etc.). Panty flashes in shows that are ostensibly for kids? Check. Girls making out? Hell yeah. Guys doing each other? Yeah, that happens quite a few times in my manga collection. Sexualization of children? Well, quite a few of us might find it distasteful, but it exists in the community nonetheless. Sibcon? Bring it on. Video games with the sole purpose of getting to see your character do all the pretty girls/guys in the cast? Yeah, most people are going to think your adoration for that is a little strange. I could also add in the things which, to us, aren’t obviously ‘weird’ any more, like girls with robots for boyfriends and reanimated corpses hunting down other reanimated corpses.

And yet there appear to even be limits in what would seem to be a fairly tolerant community – the important word here being ‘seem’, as the truth is, as anyone reading this should know, pretty different. However, even as fans screech at each other over who is the coolest character in Generic Shounen Adventure 5, and even as yuri fanboys make negative remarks over yaoi, one doesn’t find a reduction of humanity as one can find in the aforementioned epithet sometimes hurled at trap fans.

‘Broken’. It is truly a dehumanizing term, one which allows someone to sneer at another person because they aren’t really a full person. It also implies that they never were exactly human, as to be broken is to have a quality of mechanical nature to something – we do not speak of people with broken legs as being broken – their leg is broken, but they are not, because they are human. Humans don’t get broken. Clocks get broken, microwaves get broken, cars get broken, but people don’t. When people get broken, they have lost humanity, and if they are broken, they couldn’t have been a real person in the first place precisely because they are now broken.

Anyway, the reason that trap-loving incites such a

derogatory term for the lovers of traps is due to the fact that, in general, ambiguity is not a welcome thing (one could make arguments that Eastern cultures can more easily tolerate ambiguity, although I would counter that this is very much over-stated). Even in a subculture that is so pervaded by odd things as otaku culture, traps tend to make people feel a little uneasy, unless presented as something humorous (Seiko, above, is presented as a humorous character because he pursues a male character of the cast of Lovely Complex, and the male character is not entirely unwelcoming of it… until we discover that Seiko is actually a guy). But what really gets under people’s skin are the otaku who love traps.

While traps are in and of themselves somewhat threatening to the gender norms of modern industrialized societies, people loving them present even more of a threat. They are a threat because, by admitting attraction to a cross-dressing character, they are stepping outside of the dichotomized view of sexual orientation that many societies hold. They know that that girl is really a guy, but they’re still attracted, so does that make them gay? But it looks like a girl! So they’re still straight? But they also know that it’s a guy, so… where does that leave us?

I would compare this with the fact that bisexuality is seen so negatively. People are bothered by bisexuality, because they feel that those who make claims on such an orientation are refusing to ‘choose’. Bisexuals are seen as greedy, as indecisive, even as attention-seeking. Lesbians accuse female bisexuals of either being straight girls looking for attention, or as lesbians who are giving in to the patriarchy by pretending to like guys also. Straights often accuse them of being ‘disgusting’. Bisexual orientation challenges the dichotomy, and so makes people uncomfortable, much like trap-loving challenges the ‘traditional’ modes of sexuality – ambiguity bothers people deeply.

Guys who like traps – are they straight? Are they gay? (You’ll notice that wonderances about whether they may be bisexual rarely make an appearance.) And what about girls who like traps? If that yuri or what? It throws everything and everyone into a conundrum because it violates the normal views of sexuality in our societies.

As for myself, I adore traps and reverse-traps, although I wouldn’t claim a sexual sort of attraction to either – I think I just like the curveball it throws and the way it forces us to reconsider our preconceptions. There are also the obvious, superficial reasons, like that often trap and reverse trap characters are more attractive than their non-trap co-stars. And then there are the nasty, schadenfreude –inducing reasons, like watching fanboys go into tailspins over the fact that they have the hots for a character whom is a trap (that we don’t see this from fangirls in regards to reverse traps brings up interesting points about the differences in how sexuality is conceived of for guys and girls… but that’s for another post).

Speaking of tailspins… I think Sunoko is more attractive than Sunohara. Except I’m not in a tailspin about it, haha.

I guess his personality in a girl is more… amusing? I mean, Sunohara’s hilarious, but he’d seriously irritate the crap out of me in person; on the other hand, I think I could be friends with Sunoko because she’d be a girl and not a guy, if that makes any sense. Like… a guy making Sunohara comments to me would tick me off, but Sunoko would be making those types of comments in regards to guys instead of girls, so I’d be smirking along and going, “Yeah, I’d hit that.”

Also, cosplaying as a genderbent version of a character – fair or foul? Sunoko would be fun.

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4 Responses to On Traps and the concept of being ‘broken’

  1. Guys who like traps – are they straight?

    That one’s relatively easy, I think: if the trap’s a half-decent trap then obviously a guy who’s attracted by the trap is attracted by something that is, to all intents and purposes (this being 2D) female.

    Just another reason to like Turn-A Gundam, I guess.

  2. TheBigN says:

    although it made me think about why the term is even used at all, as the word ‘broken’ has negative connotations in addition to its obviously negative denotation

    That’s what I was trying to get at when I made that post. Why I don’t see otaku calling fans of traps/genderbends “broken” out of spite or angry (it actually seems to be a term of endearment in some cases. :P), it makes it seem like it’s “wrong” in a way to like them. That’s what bugs me about the term: how it implies there’s something negative about liking them. And though I don’t see it used in that way when it is, I feel like there could be a better term. 😛

  3. omisyth says:

    Well, it depends on what you mean by the term “like”. I don’t really like or dislke traps, it’s just something that’s kind of there in the world of anime. Perhaps I’ve bvecome desensitised to such things after being immerse in such a weird, odd and at times disturbing subculture.

    As for the term “broken”, it seems to me that at this point it has, as many words do, lost it’s weight and original meaning just from being over-used so much. Take for example, Derailed by Darry, that blog “breaks” people on a regular basis, and yet the commenters there frequentaly joke about being broken (as I myself have done, actually). I couldn’t really take the term “broken” seriously anymore after seeing that blog.

    Oh, Yuri = YES btw.

  4. adaywithoutme says:

    @ The Animanachronism – I think this is something that seems to be pretty simple on its surface, but nevertheless still operates as somewhat threatening to quite a few people. I honestly don’t really care what it means about the person in question, because I have seriously liberal views on sexuality, and I guess I figure as long as one is happy and isn’t causing another harm, who cares?

    @ TheBigN – I definitely think there needs to be a different term even if people don’t mean any harm by it any more; even seemingly harmless rhetoric can be damaging, in my opinion, which might seem extreme, but I feel that words are pretty powerful things.

    @ omisyth – Well, in this case I meant ‘like’ to refer to those referred to as ‘broken’, therefore people who find traps to be a turn-on.

    And, basically the same thing I said above about the term ‘broken’ itself – maybe its lost some of its more negative connotations, but I still believe there could be a better term for it. I’m a religion major, so I get a bit insistent about avoiding damaging language (not to say I argue in favor of political correctness, though, as that stuff is just throwing glitter on a cow pie – covers it up a little, but nothing gets solved).

    We could call them trapsexuals…? 😉

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