Apologies to Hynavian for janking her idea and going all SRS BIZNES with it.
So I felt like taking a serious look at the question of why most girls don’t collect figures (with a few notable exceptions).
There are a few obvious reasons right off the bat – not as many girls/women collect figures simply because there aren’t as many female anime fans as male fans, particularly overseas. This also enables another facet which leads to less female collectors – if less anime fans are female, then less figures are made aimed at their general interests, e.g. attractive male characters – let’s face it, lesbians and bisexuals don’t make up a very large segment of the anime fan population, and while female fans might be more willing to drop cash on a cute girl figure than are males to drop cash on a cute male figure, the majority of female fans aren’t going to spend money on that half-clothed leading lady from H-game XYZ. The whole thing ends up being a self-perpetuating cycle, as toy companies put out figures that mainly sell to a male audience and then if asked about the female audience shrugs and says they just aren’t into figures.
There’s also a matter of social stigma – yes, there is social stigma attached to male fans who obsessively collect figures, but there’s also a certain degree of eye-rolling and “boys will be boys” mentality in regards to it. A lady, on the other hand, who has a large figure collection will receive more than an eye-roll and shrug of the shoulders – female figure collectors are much more likely to be seen as socially deviant and flat-out “weird”, especially if their collection contains scantily clad girls like the one above – which, incidentally, I would love to buy, except for the fact that a. I’d feel like a skeeve, b. people would think I’m a skeeve, and c. oh, hey military inspector checking out my room, no, just ignore that sixteen-year old in the bikini figure, I swear I’m not violating Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell… (and, while you’re at it, you can stop eyeing the Maria Watches Over Us DVD’s I have on my shelf… and the volumes of Aoi Hana…). But the fact of the matter is that if figure collecting raises somewhat of an eyebrow if a male is practicing it, it raises both eyebrows and provokes a negative remark if it is a female collecting it.
Even Kamina isn’t safe from the extra-scrutiny the female collector must bear – yeah, we might all recognize him as being manly and GAR-tastic, but to the untrained eye he’s just an action figure toy that a woman is far too old to have on her shelf, let alone prominently displayed on her mantel. Let’s face it – “geeks” aren’t exactly the most loved members of society (until someone’s computer or cellphone stops working), but female geeks are liked even less so, for they violate traditional gender norms in a manner which male geeks do not; about the only part of figure collecting that even remotely approaches traditional female gender norms is the fact that one must obsessively dust their collection to keep it in good condition.
There is also the matter of economic cost. On the face of it, this is an issue that would come up for anyone, regardless of gender. However, it becomes more of an issue for the potential female collector because women still earn less on average than men do – the latest figure for Japan is that women make, again, on average, 65% of what men make for the same job (in the U.S., that figure is a similarly distressing low of 77%). Amongst high school students (in Japan, the U.S., Canada, and other “first world” nations), girls are less likely to be employed than boys – and employed high school students usually use their wages in disposable form, e.g. they spend it on non-necessities. While high school students certainly do not make up the entire anime community, they do make up a sizable portion of it, further rounding out our picture of why the female fan so rarely collects. Furthermore, married women in Japan still do not commonly work outside the house, and while their husband obvious shares his wages to support the family, married, unemployed women simply do not have the cash required to indulge in such a hobby.
Personally, I’d love to collect figures, but I just don’t have the money for it – I’d rather get the DVD’s, manga, and OST’s than the figures, because they’re nice to look at, but they just aren’t the same as watching anime or reading manga. I currently own one figure, and that’s only because a friend gave it to me many moons ago. I’m also trying to save up for this, along with making my usual anime purchases and Christmas ones, so I’m not terribly flush with cash, which is pretty important in buying figures. I do plan to buy this one when it comes out, though:
Ha, snap, he’s not even an anime character – but Captain Jack Harkness kicks ass and is super-attractive, so… If you’re wondering he’s from the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood, a.k.a. the only thing I watch on TV any more. He’ll cost a fraction of what an anime figure would ($15) and, uh, I’d hit that, so it works out pretty well.
yay i’m an exception to the norm! does that make me extra cool? or extra weird? :9
Hmm… I dunno. If convention attendance is any indication, I’d say the M/F ratio of otaku has been evening out. If the size of my sequential art/comics class this quarter is any indication (10 girls, 3 guys), manga in general has opened the floodgates to more and more female readers. Social stigma? Fuck it! I’d like to think that most female anime fans take enough social stigma as it is (anime is for kids and perverts, gaiz!!) to not really give a shit about any more, y’know? It’s true that women still don’t make as much as men, but that’s changing fast enough for it not to be a big deal anymore to me. As for practicality… I would totally buy a figure before I bought a DVD, OST, or manga, but maybe that’s just me and wanting pretty things in my room.
Ah well. You put forth some good points, I’m just thinking that a lot of them are starting to erode as times change. For the while, being an exception to the norm is still awesome. Figma’s Lelouch figure is going to be added to my shelf soon and then he’ll be posing pretty with my Axel, my Sora, my Gundams, and my three dozen Lapras figures. 8D
I think the social stigma applies equally to everyone. Outsiders don’t see collecting figures as a geek thing; they see it as a kids thing (and probably more of a girls thing).
It also depends on how accepting the society is towards “Otaku-ism” and figure collecting as hobbies. In Japan, the Otaku has negative attributes attached to him and figure collecting is not looked up upon. However for the US, opinions are not as negatively based as compared to Japan and gals collecting figures might just be able to pass it off as their hobbies.
Im a guy.. but its okay for me to see a girl collecting anime figures.
Perhaps. Both my sister and I own figurines, though she’s never put under as much scrutiny as I, though it’s probably due to how mine features a scantily clad lady while hers is Shana. Oh well.