Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Sayaka Akimoto vs AKB48 and the Eastern Stereotype

Sayaka Akimoto

A Team K original member and AKB48 second generation member.

A huge inspiration not only to AKB48 members but to women all over the world.

She's been criticized a bit recently. From anonymous haters on the confessional blogs to forums and even by fellow AKB members for her 'masculine qualities'. In my opinion, this is only compared to other Japanese girls and members of AKB48.

She used to be a senbatsu member but was slowly and silently pushed aside for younger and 'cuter' members. This saddens me, she even fails to appear in B-sides these days and when she is in the song, she'll barely be in the PV. Why? Because AKB management are too focused on their wota or male fanbase? They should be aware of the members that women like the most, and Sayaka is surely one of them.

This post came up on a confession blog lately and it made me so angry I had to write a long spiel about it. Why would you hate on someone who is clearly so different from the rest of the AKB girls? Sayaka is strong, utterly gorgeous and definitely feminine, the fact that she likes fitness and has a deeper voice than that horrid 'cutesy' crap a lot of the idols put on, does not make her masculine or 'manly'.

I have this feeling that it is mainly because in Japan, women are meant to be soft, malleable, weak creatures who bow to the pressures of men and all get married before the age of 30. No feminism culture exists over there except in very small quantities and it's very sad watching women become mocked on television and in the media because they are older. Hearing Megumi Ohori being called 'old' because she was an idol at 25, or hearing Kayo Noro's weight being mentioned...AGAIN. They would never mention these things to men, but because women are not meant to fight back, they'll just laugh along and pretend it's fine, event though it might be hurting them inside.

Recently, I watched a clip (could have been from AKBingo) where a man was dressed as an AKB member and Yuko Oshima said it reminded her of Sayaka. I was shocked. Yuko, Sayaka is meant to be your friend! Why would you say that? It made me angry that even women themselves are mocking and making fun of their fellow women and Yuko even dropped a few places in my rankings purely for that unnecessary comment.

Sayaka, I think, would do well in the Western industry if she ever got a chance. Over here we know that mixed race women are among the most beautiful in the world. She would also do well in the fitness industry, working so hard to become fit and healthy that Japanese magazines airbrush her abs out in bikini shoots. This is unacceptable! Strong women are not to be feared but embraced, I'd love to see Sayaka speak out about women's rights in Japan as I think she would be a good ambassador, but maybe after she's left AKB as it could get her in trouble while she's in it.

I feel that she has the support of the Western fans of AKB48 and I really hope she knows just how much she is appreciated. She has so, so much to offer AKB and to continually get snubbed is affecting her senbatsu position. Last year, if it was the 21 member senbatsu, she would have JUST made it. Not in high undergirls but in low senbatsu. I'm almost certain she will drop again this year due to so many former Team 4 girls being pushed, but she will take it in her stride. Just like everything she does. She is an inspiration to me and I hope we get to see more of her in 2013.