Oh boy, let’s get spicy. To be frank, I want to say that the only reason I’m covering this “news” is because we have already had some discussions in the blog section surrounding this topic. After all, reporting on some wild shit happening over at reddit is like writing an article that “The Sky Continues To Be Blue Today”. However this news corresponds so closely with Kinky’s “Is Trap A Slur?” article, in which he talked about the use of “trap” in anime culture, that I wanted to talk about it and hear from you guys. In fact you guys chimed in a lot in the comments and provided a variety of viewpoints for that article which was pretty interesting and I’m quite curious what the reaction to this will be.
So what happened? As of August 2, the subreddit Animemes (which is for people to post anime memes to) has banned the usage of the word trap as a way to describe someone who looks feminine but is a boy. The mods stated that they had been receiving messages from trans people who were hurt by the word’s usage in the subreddit which prompted them to make this change. It’s interesting because in Kinky’s article he talked about hearing people complain about the word trap, and until that article I personally had never seen anyone take offense to it. Now here we are two months later and it’s beginning to be banned completely in some spaces. Reactions to this move seem to be mixed on reddit. There are plenty of users who say they’re trans and they greatly appreciate this move. A lot seem to be indifferent. And some are saying this is censorship and unfair.
The main things I want to cover are some of the questionable new rules outlined in the update post, as well as some interesting hypocrisy. In the post a bunch of FAQ are answered, here is an excerpt:
I wasn't using it offensively, I didn't mean to hurt anyone, and I didn't do anything wrong.
It’s true that you didn’t intend to hurt anyone. In the vast majority of cases, the word was not intended to be hurtful, and you might've even used it as a term of endearment. We are not blaming you for this, you are not the bad guy. It's entirely possible to spend a lot of time in this community and not hear much of how the word is hurtful.
However, even we didn't intend to be hurtful, the fact of the matter is simple: our tolerance for the word was making this place less welcoming for transgender and gender-nonconforming people.We as the anime community do not get to decide whether this word is appropriate, and it is our responsibility as curators of the community to ensure that r/Animemes is welcoming to all anime fans that are willing to act in good faith.
“We as the anime community do not get to decide whether this word is appropriate” now that is pretty interesting to me considering the popularity of “trap” in anime culture. As I think, I can’t even come up with another space in my life where the word is used at all. Outside of “damn that Astolfo trap is pretty sexy, I’d fuck that bussy” that is. So does that mean that if a term is used by one community, but another finds it offensive, the initial community has to stop using the term? That statement seems like quite the slippery slope. But let’s look at one I find much more humorous.
What should I say instead?
While the word "trap" may be on the way out, there are multiple terms that carry the same meanings, sans the derogatory connotations, which you can use for all of your memes about these characters. For example:
Femboy: Term for a (usually) cis man that presents as traditionally female.
Otokonoko(男の娘): A common Japanese term for a male who presents traditionally female; crossdresser.
Josou (josō, 女装): A Japanese word meaning "wearing female/feminine." Often used interchangeably with Otokonoko.
Tomgirl: Opposite of tomboy - a boy that acts/looks like a girl/carries feminine mannerisms.
Cutie: Objectively the best descriptor.
Don’t worry, the mods provided a list of alternatives baby. Need to use the infamous Admiral Ackbar meme? Just change the tagline to “It’s a 男の娘!” Works the same. Now what I really want to know is how crossdresser made the list. To my understanding it’s the trans community who was hurt by the word’s usage, but I’d think they would be even more hurt by “crossdresser”. That sounds sort of like trans people are playing dress-up rather than changing their gender. Personally I don’t think any of the provided words adequately fill the space that the absence of “trap” leaves but that’s open to interpretation I suppose. I’ll leave a list of the FULL FAQ HERE in case you want to read all of the mod’s responses. Let’s move on to the meat and potatoes.
A community wanting to ban the use of a word? I don’t think it’s the best solution but I’m not ready to grab my pitchfork just yet. After all most redditors are probably between the ages of 14-18 so they don’t know what the fuck they’re doing anyway. I was about ready to leave the site and never write this article and then I saw this:
That picture was posted the day AFTER the trap ban was initiated and earned 4.7 thousand upvotes and a 91% upvote rating. It has been up for 11 hours at the time of writing. What the fuck? So it’s okay to joke about the deaths of millions of Jews with a post titled “Uzaki Commits Cleansing” but not okay to refer to Astolfo as a trap? It was this post that pushed me over the edge from my previously “on the fence” position. The problem with slurs and shit these days is that nobody wants to go all the way. You either have to say “Hey, we’re making a PC community space where everyone needs to be careful about what they say to not offend ANYONE (similar to a children’s MMORPG), or fuck it, this is an open space where anyone can say anything, if you are offended it’s your fault”. This balancing act of trying to create a community between the two spaces comes across as horrendously disingenuous and displays immediate favoritism. Even if the post is removed at this point, it seems crazy that tons of users have already made claims that their post or comment was removed due to containing “the T word” yet this post managed to survive for 11 hours and counting.
At the end of the day I found this whole ordeal a really interesting case study on how a community reacts to the banning of a word and how it attempts to enforce it online. While I’m currently on the side that trap is not a slur worth banning, I don’t mind hearing opposing opinions in the comments to change my mind. Really my main problem is the uneven treatment that banning certain slurs results in combined with the fact that censoring a community doesn’t make people spreading hate change their beliefs and usually only serves to place more restrictions on the average participant. Do you think trap should be banned? Are more places online going to ban the word trap? Take your 女装 self down to the comments section and leave your feedback below!