“Why does everyone have to put you in a box and nail the lid on it? I don’t know what I am—polymorphous and perverse… I’m me. That’s all I am and all I want to be. Do I have to be something?”
- Molly Bolt, Rubyfruit Jungle
The “other half” of Hourou Musuko is an interesting case. On the surface, Takatsuki seems like a mirror of Shuuichi– a girl who wants to be a boy. But the truth isn’t quite that simple: Whereas Shuu idolizes femininity and more or less ignores the world of boys, Takatsuki’s girlhood is unavoidable, and she hates it. Then again, all Shuu has to do is wear girls’ clothing; Takatsuki buys the plainest bras, but she can’t NOT buy them, nor can she help things like using pads. Masculinity, for her, seems like a way to escape the otherwise inevitable.
This is where I bring in the other side of Colette Chiland’s book. According to her, women who want to be men can scarcely even define what being a man means. They simply know that they hate being women, and that they want to feel personally empowered. Again, I completely disagree with Chiland’s implications, but the idea of inexpressible frustration is interesting.
Consider, for example, Takatsuki’s possible lesbianism. Among LGBT circles, there’s quite a bit of controversy over roleplaying among gay couples, i.e. the question of who is the “butch” and who the “femme.” When liking people of the same sex is already something that breaks the mold, some say, why this desire to continue a boy/girl dynamic? We’re supposed to have come a long way from the days when Oscar Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, wrote about “the love that dare not speak its name,” so isn’t this just buying into the same heterosexual system that condemns LGBT people as faggots and queers?
My personal answer to that is, how about we cut ourselves a little slack? It takes a long time to break centuries of gender programming. But I wonder if Takatsuki even knows that it’s possible to go outside the program. Does she understand that she can be a “boy” and remain a girl? If she wants to love women, does she understand that she can love women without being a man?
Who knows? It’s not even clear that Takatsuki is transgendered, or homosexual, or just a normal awkward adolescent. It’s not that her love dare not speak its name, so much as she doesn’t even KNOW what its name is. Perhaps this is strange of me to say for a fictional character, but I hope she finds it someday.