When I was a kid I took cello lessons. These lessons were offered in the local RLDS (now Community of Christ) chapel. I remember seeing pictures on the wall of women participating in blessings and feeling uncomfortable. There was also a smug sense of superiority– I knew better than to think that women could offer blessings.
Sometimes I wish I could have a nice long conversation with 12 year old me. I would tell her all sorts of things. One of the things I would tell her is that feeling superior to others is very rarely a good thing. Another thing I would tell her is to watch Inuyasha. No really.
Watching Japanese cartoons, and reading manga are some of my more embarrassing habits (a friend of mine once said he’d be less embarrassed to admit to watching porn). I blame Avatar the Last Airbender. It is the gateway drug to anime addiction.
Right. Back to Inuyasha. Inuyasha is a cartoon about a middle-school age girl who time travels back to Japan’s feudal era and encounters a dog half-demon (or hanyo) named Inuyasha. They travel around battling evil demons (yokai) and getting up to all sorts of crazy hijinks.
So why would I encourage smug, self-righteous, 12 year old me to watch this cartoon? For the Miko characters. Miko, commonly translated as Priestess, are women who have spiritual power and duties. They wear ceremonial clothes, perform religious rites, and are seen as authority figures.
Now, I’m not saying that watching anime will cure sexism. Ha! Hahahahaha. I wish. What I am saying is that seeing situations, even wildly foreign, occasionally silly, cartoon scenarios in which women exercise religious authority will help young women see that they, too, have spiritual power and gifts. Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.