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So, it’s common sense by now that the patriarchy hurts women by holding them to all manner of impossible standards which, even if some of them are met, do not guarantee happiness (often the exact opposite, in fact). It’s also understood that the patriarchy hurts men too, even as it gives them all manner of rights and privileges that it denies women. Countless stories exist of women destroying themselves by trying to live up to the patriarchy’s expectations—yet very few such stories exist for men. The story of Furuichi from “Xam’d” I believe is one such story. People love to bash and hate on Furuichi for his sexism, his militarism, and the way he treats his friends Haru and Akiyuki, but when you really look at his character arc (disregarding the influence of the Xam’d itself for a moment), he comes across as a well-meaning young man who tried to do everything right, but who suffered and died once he learned that “doing everything right” didn’t get him where he had thought and hoped it would.

Consider the story from Furuichi’s point of view. Put yourself in his shoes for a moment. You’re a teenage boy living in a sexist society. A good boy, so far as anyone can tell. You’re a bit serious and intense, but you have a playful, nurturing side. The kids at the local martial-arts school look up to you as an instructor. You may have grown up without a father, but that just makes you more independent and self-reliant. Your mother, friends, and teachers can always count on you. You have a dear friend, Haru, whom you’ve nursed a crush on for some time. Haru has a little sister, whom you enjoy playing with and who trusts you implicitly. She’s got an injured leg, but you’re strong enough to carry her on your back. As far as you’re concerned, you’re everything a good young man should be, and would make the perfect man for your beloved Haru.

Now enter Akiyuki. Akiyuki isn’t like that. He’s a bit of a jokester, a bit of a troublemaker. He’s willing to race with Haru. He doesn’t follow the rules about how a man should treat a woman, or a child should treat his parents. Yet Haru likes him. In fact, she likes him more than she likes you, the one who’s doing everything right. So you become confused and not a little resentful. To make matters worse, at one point Akiyuki lets a suicide bomber onto your school bus. As a result, you and Haru get injured, Akiyuki goes missing, many of your classmates and their families get injured and/or killed, and the war raging between the North and South gets brought to your previously peaceful doorstep.

So you enlist in the army. So does Haru. You want to fight to defend your island home. The only reason Haru joined the army is to use their resources to find Akiyuki. She’s completely oblivious to the fact that you’re right here, and care about her, and are so much better a match for her than he ever was. That’s okay, though—you just have to try to convince her harder, right?

Unfortunately, Haru’s willing to put her life in danger. In fact, she’s even willing to disobey orders if it’ll get her closer to Akiyuki, or just because of her own principles. For some unfathomable reason, she doesn’t think the humanforms and Xam’d who keep trying to kill you are enemies. Sometimes you push her around on missions—but you’re just trying to protect your beautiful girl from harm. Sure, maybe you were cruel to her when she tried to run to Akiyuki—but for all you knew, Akiyuki was dangerous. Isn’t it your duty, as a man, to protect your woman? Wasn’t that what you’ve always been told? By now you’re becoming seriously frustrated with Haru. Why does she still want Akiyuki when she has you?

To make matters worse, you yourself are a Xam’d—but you can’t tell anyone about this because as far as you and most everyone else you know is concerned, the Xam’d are evil monsters. You can’t even tell your own mother, or your dear friends, and so you isolate yourself and become depressed. Eventually Haru takes pity on you and comes to visit, and she offers you sympathy and comforting words, and promises (emptily, you’re sure) that things can go back to the way they were before—but she can’t offer you any real help. And she still doesn’t like you the way you like her.

And so you get the idea that you should just take Haru by force. After all, this could have been avoided if she’d just forgotten Akiyuki and thrown herself into your arms to begin with. When Akiyuki comes to town again, you try to kill him and squirrel Haru away—but it ends disastrously for everyone involved. It becomes apparent to you that Haru will never love you the way she loves Akiyuki. You get arrested for being a Xam’d shortly afterward, and, unwilling to bear any more misery, you take your own life.

See what I mean? It gets even more interesting if you consider that men are much more likely to commit suicide than women, despite all the rights and privileges they receive for being male. I find this extremely cool, actually. Yes, the world that most of the “Xam’d” characters live in is sexist, but despite this, the women manage to go about their lives accomplishing what it is they want to accomplish. They may suffer because of their gender, but they’re not destroyed because of it—but this one male character is. It’s a perfect answer to the victim dilemma illustrated in this article, and I wish we could see something like this more often.

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redwoodalchan: Silly Drifloon from "Red Sun" fic (Default)
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