BJD a vehicle for social change?

Nov 24, 2009

    1. I have seen a lot of threads on here about social issues around the world, from things like environmentalism, homosexuality, crossdressing and gender issues, copywrite law, international law and the impact of national laws on international trade....

      So my question to you all is this:

      Can BJD be used or seen as a vehicle for instigating social change?

      Face it folks, we BJD people are a subcultural set that is little understood, but we come from all walks of life, and a LOT of cultural deviation happens on this board, one of the big reasons the debate section exists. Societal norms can vary not just internationally and culturally, but within the same town depending on where you live, where you went to school, who you are exposed to. In our hobby however there are a lot of subcultural, socially deviant (no I do not mean that in a negative way, i mean differing from the norm) and culturally challenging themes getting a lot of exposure. Given this can we consider BJD to be a vehicle for social change and cultural understanding? Do the people on the board get exposure to new concepts, take them out to their normal lives, and create a ripple effect that can lead to change within the larger culture?

      I believe we can instigate, promote and further social change for the better, just through expressing the understanding and tolerance we gain through exposure to new ideas on the boards.

      I guess I should add a couple of other questions to the mix in the name of fairness:

      If BJD can be considered a vehicle for social change do you feel this is a positive thing or does our hobby risk social assimilation?

      Is the cultural appropriation that happens in our hobby a positive thing? or do you feel it is insulting the way we absorb and adopt the cultures of others for our own use?
       
    2. I have to admit, I'm a little confused by all that, but I'll do my best! ^^
      Can BJD be used or seen as a vehicle for instigating social change?

      I honestly dont see BJDs as a large enough subculture to cause much social change. What kind of social change are you expecting to see here? More people buying dolls? :D I hate to sound kind of negative, but I don't really think we're saying or doing anything on here that's big or important enough to constitute social change. For example, just because a lot of people on this forum have homosexual dolls doesn't, in my opinion, mean homosexuality is any more socially accepted than if we didn't have them.

      Perhaps I'm wrong though. After all, if dolls are art, then art can change people, and people can change the world. I truly believe that to be true :)

      If BJD can be considered a vehicle for social change do you feel this is a positive thing or does our hobby risk social assimilation?
      As I said, I think we're too much of a minority group to risk much social assimilation. And is social assimilation such a bad thing anyway? I don't understand the way some people seem to enjoy the "exclusiveness" of the BJD community; so I suppose I would see any social change as a positive thing.

      Is the cultural appropriation that happens in our hobby a positive thing? or do you feel it is insulting the way we absorb and adopt the cultures of others for our own use?
      No, not really ^^ I think dolls are just fun, pretty little resin figures that we enjoying looking at and playing with and so on. I don't think absorbing cultures is insulting- in fact I always feel flattered if people absorb and adopt my specific culture! I think the words "for our own use" are rather misleading. It's for our own enjoyment and appreciation, surely.
       
    3. Can BJD be used or seen as a vehicle for instigating social change?
      I believe so. Not for sweeping social change, but as always, we - as individuals - can be instigators for change around ourselves in small ways that can then become bigger changes, depending on whether the change is widely accepted.
      The dolls become the starting point for conversation, and the conversations then allow you to put forth your ideas for social change.
      Personally, I would love to see the stigma of skin color go away.
      Whirled peas, baby. :)

      If BJD can be considered a vehicle for social change do you feel this is a positive thing or does our hobby risk social assimilation?
      As all change, it can be good or bad, depending on how it's used.
      In my previous example, making the world colorblind would be a wonderfully positive change. But if instead, hate and discontent are spread, then yeah, negative there.

      Is the cultural appropriation that happens in our hobby a positive thing? or do you feel it is insulting the way we absorb and adopt the cultures of others for our own use?
      Cultural appropriation happens in all facets of our lives, it adds spice to life.
      It's only insulting if you use the bits of culture in an insulting way by making fun of it or misusing it.

      Dolls as tools for change! I like it! :)
       
    4. One thing this hobby does for me personally, is to bring me in contact with much younger and very different types of people than myself. I have discovered all sorts of things I would never have known about otherwise. On the whole, this has been a positive force for change for myself and has made me more understanding and tolerant of other people. I totally agree that art can change people.
       
    5. Any hobby has the potential for bringing about small-scale social change. Hobbyists interact with a cross-section of people they otherwise may not have met, develop new skills, collaborate creatively, and challenge their problem-solving, social, and business skills. In this sense, dolls are no different than bird-watchers, coin collectors, and motorcycle enthusiasts.

      Assimilation is, in my opinion, not something to be feared. Even if everyone on the block owns a BJD, it doesn't change the beauty of your own, nor will it change your feelings toward it. At least, it won't unless your feelings for it depend entirely on it making you feel unique and special.

      Assimilation just means that there will be more options available in the hobby, more competition between companies to encourage them to improve, and more people to interact with. It's true that cultural assimilation will result in the loss of some of that "small town" feel, where you feel like you know the entire hobby community, but IMHO the benefits more than make up for that.

      I view assimilation as a good thing. The more the merrier, especially when variety does nothing but benefit my own enjoyment of the hobby. Assimilation might make the hobby less attractive to drama-llamas looking for something to make them edgy, but I'm fine with that. I'm here for the dolls, and the number of people who know about them isn't going to change my stance.
       
    6. Hm, I couldn't say a HUGE change, but I see what you're getting at.

      I've met more people through the hobby, and even though all of us have different backgrounds, customs, opinions, etc, we all can agree on something and have tons of fun.

      Many cultures, however, view that dolls in general are either for children or damn creepy :\
       
    7. I don't think that BJD themselves are a vehicle for social change. I think the people that collect them can be.
       
    8. I think anything in the hands of a motivated person can be a "vehicle for social change."

      I have to say, though, that I like my BJDs to just be for fun. A little escape from the cares of the day, and not be part of anything big or earthshattering.

      If I want to bring about any sort of social change, I usually go out and work for it myself or join an organization that's devoted to that change. I don't tend to use my hobbies, such as dolls and music, as instruments of social change, though I know some people do. It's just not my style, not what I use hobbies for.

      Edited to add, I'm not sure what the whole "cultural assimilation" issue is all about. I certainly don't feel like I'm picking up on the culture of anyone else by buying a customizable doll and doing what I want with it. Rather, it's all about me!
       
    9. I can kinda see what effigy's getting at. Let me try to put it another way: not so long ago the video game crowd was pretty small, "ineffective" subculture too. But now games (and gamers) are everywhere. And there are fundraisers like Child's Play that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for childrens hospitals. While it's the people who made the difference, it's the shared subculture that brought them together. Does that make sense? :sweat

      If that's what effigy's asking then my answer is: yes and no. "No" because I'm not sure if the BJD group has enough "oomph". However, if you combine the BJD people with all the other doll people then yes, you have plenty of influence.
       
    10. Is the cultural appropriation that happens in our hobby a positive thing? or do you feel it is insulting the way we absorb and adopt the cultures of others for our own use?[/QUOTE]

      I imagine that a number of people have been inspired to learn more about the countries where these dolls are produced, just as interest in anime/manga is often a springboard into learning about Japan's history and culture. Learning more about the world is never a bad thing!

      However, as we incorporate other cultures into our own (and reflect this in our dolls), it's important to recognize the difference between cultural norms, subcultures, and sterotypes. As long as people recognize that certain subgenres of a given population (say, Japanese girls in lolita or gay men in women's clothing) are not necessarily reflective of that population as a whole, then it's all good :)

      (The above example arose from an experience where I was asked, after a 3-month stint in Japan, why none of the people in my photos were wearing frilly dresses or carrying parasols..)
       
    11. Can BJD be used or seen as a vehicle for instigating social change?
      well, i dont really think we are large enough a group to do any real change other than inside our own group. even on the interwebs, the only people that really come here belong to our group, and since this is such a special and specific hobby, outsiders rarely hear of us. also, the questions posed on here are not really hobby specific, they can be raised about anything really, so i dont really see this as a "social change" hobby, more of a doll collecting thing. nothing more.
      If BJD can be considered a vehicle for social change do you feel this is a positive thing or does our hobby risk social assimilation?
      i do not think i want these dolls to be everywhere, social growth or not.
      Is the cultural appropriation that happens in our hobby a positive thing? or do you feel it is insulting the way we absorb and adopt the cultures of others for our own use?
      learning about other cultures, or anything in general, is never a bad thing, and i'm sure we all are better off from taking things from others and assymalating it into our own lives, making us more rounded, whole person.
       
    12. I don't think so.

      A lot of people have "socially deviant" dollies, but that doesn't mean a lot. A person who is already cool with dressing their boy doll in dresses is going to continue being cool with it, but that won't make other people cool with it. And the caricature of sexuality that is depicted by the majority of doll owners who have "sexually deviant" dolls is ... well, just that: A caricature. The teenage girl version of male homosexuality is not male homosexuality just as the porno version of lesbianism is not lesbianism. Just as I don't think "lesbian" porn has done a lot for the lgbt movement, I'm pretty sure the "pretty boys who rape each other a lot" version of homosexuality I see people depicting with their dolls isn't doing a whole lot to advance the rights of gays.

      There are plenty who already think that men who are gay do nothing but hit on each other and have sex with each other. Extending that mindset via the yaoi route to dollies does not really change that mindset. It perpetuates it.

      As far as cultural appropriation, I think the rule is that you can depict whatever culture you want, but you better do it 99% perfectly or else you risk insulting the crap out of someone. I've seen a lot of Native American dolls, and that could be great, but if it's more along the "cowboys and indians" version, then that could be problematic. And if you choose some kind of look or outfit or makeup just because it "looks cool" without actually researching what the real meaning or use of that look is, and it turns out to be something pretty sacred, that could be bad on several levels. Not only are you potentially offending someone, but you are sharing this with everyone who looks at your doll or pictures of your doll and kind of saying, "Hey, it's okay to do this because I did." If you used it as a teaching moment--"This is the xxx which was used by the yyy tribe for zzz purposes," then that would be fine, as far as I'm concerned.

      Two cents.
       
    13. Nope, never. Forgetting their lack of influence of other people, even the fact that some people's dolls may exhibit unusual behaviour (from societal standpoint) doesn't even vouch for the owner.

      Just because a fangirl loves yaoi or a doll-owner dresses their pretty femmy boy doll in girl clothes doesn't mean they are okay with people who do it in real life. I have seen/heard many, many yaoi fangirl make the statement that they think real gay men are gross because they are not "pretty bishies" but in fact real male-looking men. And it's one thing to stick your flat-girl-with-male-genetalia-boy doll in a dress, and another to interact with a physiologically male human in a skirt who doesn't have long flowing blond hair and perfect skin and long eyelashes and beautiful everything else. Not to mention, as others have pointed out, that often times people have a really skewed perception the lifestyles which they attribute to their characters, which is full-out stereotyping based on nothing but fantasy and is quite detrimental to the cause of those who choose to live their life that way.

      This is one really narrow, narrow niche hobby and while I have met lots of people from lives different from mine while attending meets, I didn't "expand my horizons" or anything like that. This is hardly the hobby to do that.
       
    14. I agree with Lelite. Portrayal on a doll does not equate social change in the owner.
       
    15. Can BJD be used or seen as a vehicle for instigating social change?
      Sure, why not? The merest idea of something can really inspire someone to explore things they might not have otherwise. A mind opened just a crack is infinitely preferable to a mind opened not at all!

      If BJD can be considered a vehicle for social change do you feel this is a positive thing or does our hobby risk social assimilation?
      Learning/education/exposure to the Other is always a good thing. If it means bjd are assimilated then it only means bigger better things are on the horizon. Remember... Barbie was once a scandalous harlot and considered dangerous for little girls. Now she's ubiquitous and passe'.

      Is the cultural appropriation that happens in our hobby a positive thing? or do you feel it is insulting the way we absorb and adopt the cultures of others for our own use?
      Once again... anything that expands one's horizons is a net gain, imho. There are always those who'll go out of their way to be offended by just about anything. As long as one remembers one's ignorance and strives actively against ethnocentrism then you're doing the best you can, and that's good enough.

      Raven
       
    16. I'm gonna have to agree with monkey cancer, Lelite, and irezumifan and say no.

      Most of the stuff on this forum are marked via the clever little icons. If there is something you don't agree with like homosexuality you can avoid it and even if you're willing to accept it in dolls doesn't mean you will accept it in "real life".

      Another thing is that if people don't like something they're most likely not going to say something and be rude if no rules are broken. If I see a doll that I don't like the look of I don't go and post "ew what an ugly doll", the same could apply to someone who is homophobic and sees two guy dolls posed romantically. As long as there is that sort of reserve I don't think there will be any social change caused by our community.
       
    17. I have to agree with alot of the comments above and say that i don't think the dolls or their portrayal are going to bring about social change. As Kiyakotari mentioned though, the interaction of the people in the hobby may have the potential to influence perspective.
      Also as mentioned above, alot of dolls are portrayed in ways that would reinforce stereotypes and so maybe it's a good thing that alot of us don't feel they will socially influential.
       
    18. No, I don't really see our dolls as being a vehicle for social change, at least not on the larger level. On a personal level though, they can & do institute change as we are exposed to people from different backgrounds, cultures & ages than our own & all new knowledge affects us in one way or another. On forums such as this we come into contact with people from all over the world & if we keep open minds, we can learn a lot from them. I certainly don't see anything insulting in absorbing parts of their cultures into our lives. It's more of a flattering thing to find another's culture fascinating enough to incorporate it into our own, even if it is only part of dolls' worlds.

      What actually surprises me though is not our differences but our similarities, the characters we develope, the alternative lifestyles of our dolls, even our choices of clothing trends. And the incredible creativity of almost all BJD owners. When I was young, I knew no one who had characters in their minds, that developed entire worlds around them. I thought I was competely weird & alone in this, even among the art crowd I hung out with, so it amazes me how many people in the BJD world do this very thing.
       
    19. I have seen an interesting cross section of answers here, I mean of course the answeres come down to "yes" "no" "maybe" and "it depends" but the reasoning behind this is the part that intrigues me, the human element brought into it.

      This is what I was thinking of when I first started considering the idea. Because we are such a broad cross section brought together by a positive thing (doll love and enjoyment) I was wondering if our expression of our own ideas allows people exposure they might otherwise not have had, if it changes or broadens points of view, and if that exposure can then be taken into their borader life, thus creating a ripple effect. Nope it is not large scale change, but change none the less.

      This however is a very interesting and relevant point of view. What is acceptable to someone when it is a doll prtraying it may not be acceptable to them when it is a human, but my question here is can that little give of leeway to make it acceptable for a doll slowly become a change in thought, that may, over time, make it more acceptable on a human?

      Also folks I keep hearing homosexuality brought up as the primary thought here, but it is by no means my intent to focus on this one topic, I mean social change on a much broader range of topics. There is a wonderful debate talking about the impact of scalping, and one on bootlegging. I have seen one on pollution due to shipping, and the tibetan sheepskin issue was also very interesting to me Homosexuality is an obvious one, and one very close to my heart, but lets think further than just this. Remember, it was not that long ago when a woman was shunned for wearing jeans, trying to drink in a public bar or vote. Hell if you REALLY think about it we are not that far from slavery in America or Aboriginals classed as animals in Australia!

      Big changes start with little changes and due to the internet people have a huge exposure that they once did not have. Hobbies and fandoms such as BJD I feel form a part of that. I may be an optimist but I think that changing one person's mind changes the world.


      I have often been surprised by this myself, there is something miraculous in the way that no matter who we are or where we are from there is a common ground and a common thread of thought.
       
    20. I guess I'll go out on a limb here. o.O

      I tend to agree with a lot of those who disagree with dolls promoting social change, and I will start with this. I am actually more comfortable with some of these 'alternative lifestyles' expressed in real, flesh and blood people than I am in dolls. [All arguments about personalities/souls/etc. in dolls aside] I have a few friends who are gay, and while I am not always comfortable with every aspect of their lifestyle choices, I know many people who aren't comfortable with mine. That's life. But I find their realism and reality more comfortable than the 'Bishies' and other alternative lifestyles displayed in Anime and BJD.

      My best friend is a Yaoi fan, and it confuses me, because none of her characters are at all like any gay male that I know, and many dolls are the same. I don't think that we can socially change a reality that we don't exactly line up with. Many men who find other men attractive don't 'look' that part, at least, not what so many teenaged girls seem to believe they should look like. I think that it would be more detrimental to people who live alternative lifestyles to have their cause heralded by people who may not really understand what their lives are really like.

      I think dolls are more likely to create personal changes. Individual lives. This hobby [like many others] pulls together people from all walks of life, and [perhaps somewhat uniquely?] across many cultures. We have a lot to learn from each other, and so much to share. Sometimes a connection like that can irrevocably change a person's life, and I think that the BJD hobby is certainly capable of that, although certainly not exclusively.