Sexism in Naruto: About the Females (Minus Tsunade & Sakura)

Upon writing this section, I realized that it ran pretty long, so this will be broken up into two parts. (I can still go over 10,000 characters! I can’t do that on NF.)

Like the males, I will write a rundown of each female character I think was shafted in some way. I will start with Hinata in this post.

Hinata

I liked Hinata quickly soon after she was introduced. For one thing, she was one of only a few people to be nice to Naruto early on. She was also sort of an underdog. Hinata was this über shy and practically subservient girl who was overshadowed by her cousin Neji (and her younger sister, Hanabi). Her father dismissed her and said he wouldn’t mind if she died on a mission. There was basically this undercurrent of, “How dare Hinata be in the main branch?” I wanted to see Hinata grow beyond those traits and eventually earn her place as head of the Hyūga clan.

In all fairness, I have to mention Hinata’s performance in the War. She did perform admirably for the most part, albeit in a very limited role. She kept her stamina and composure in comparison to Neji. She helped Ino get a temporary jump on Obito at one juncture and literally slapped some sense into a Naruto who was tempted to give up after seeing Neji’s death.

However, that didn’t erase a net-negative overall development. Hinata’s troubles were at least four-fold. Three problems were the marginalization of the Hyūga clan, the marginalization of secondary characters and anyone below that, and Kishimoto’s terrible track record with romance. Girls in the manga were also more concerned with romance. When that is taken into consideration with the fact that she was so infatuated with Naruto, Hinata would largely be defined by how she viewed him. Naruto would be mentioned just about every time Hinata showed up on panel and her every action was thus connected to him. Even worse was that Naruto never reciprocated the feelings Hinata had in the manga proper. Specifically, Naruto never directly addressed Hinata’s love confession from the Pain Arc.

Ino

Throughout her appearances in the manga, she was pretty much presented as a shallow girl who was hung up on Sasuke. I personally hated what she said to Chouji about him needing to lose weight. It was rude and stupid considering that the Akimichi carried extra weight in order to use their clan jutsu. The attraction to Sasuke was ridiculous, because he had never shown any interest in Ino (let alone held a conversation with her) and has pretty much been absent from Konohagakure since he first left at the End of Part 1.

Nothing much was given to Ino early on. Again, her fight against Sakura was one of the worst in the manga and it ended in a stinkin’ draw. Ino should have won if not for Inner Sakura, oh, and even that was aided by Naruto (Chapter 73). In Part 2, Ino was given no real role in the Immortals arc and her being an understudy to Sakura — in learning medical ninjutsu — was rather pointless. Before the Fourth Great Shinobi War, two male clan members (including Inoichi) had been shown making better use of their clan abilities.

Even given the above, I will say that Ino’s development is net-positive. The early flashback with Sakura showed Ino as an intelligent, self-assured girl who had a meaningful and positive effect on Sakura. Years later, Ino intervened and dragged Shikamaru (who dragged Chouji) into the fray when Team 7 was struggling against Dosu, Zaku, and Kin. Ino was the most valuable member of Ino-Shika-Chou once the KinGin brothers were taken out during the war. She also showed that she could use Shintenshin on the same level that Inoichi could — and possibly better than he could — when she had to step up.

Still, the aspect of romance nearly erased all those gains. There was still the unexplained and unwarranted attraction to Sasuke. As I mentioned in the post for the males in Naruto’s generation, this was of course carried over to Ino’s subsequent marriage to Sai. It should be known that Sai was someone who previously thought that Ino was unattractive.

Click for a larger image

Tenten

If you’ve read any wiki based on the Naruto series, you would read that Tenten believes that kunoichi can be just as good as shinobi. However, that statement was never made by Tenten in-manga. For some reason, that line was inserted in Episode 47 of the anime as Tenten was scolding Neji for making a remark about Ino and Sakura. He said that girls could not be as good at taijutsu as guys. What possessed the writers to put that there, anyway?

What was shown in the manga was her goal to be a legendary kunoichi like Tsunade. Not a high bar considering and I say that as an honest fan.

Anyway, Tenten is the least-seen member of the Konoha 12 and is overshadowed by her teammates. We do not even know what her family name is. She has never had a featured fight in the manga and has been given no discernable taijutsu skills. She had her weapons and those could be easily defeated.

In the war, Tenten provided two odd, laughable moments. First, she picked up one of the seven weapons from Rikudo (the fan) and quickly sapped her own energy immediately. Next, she found the gourd yet nothing came of that.

At the end of the story, Tenten was shown alone in a weapons shop with no customers.

Kurenai

She was once the strongest genjutsu user in Konohagakure, but she had the misfortune of having to go up against Itachi. That was not the best case to showcase her ability with genjutsu and sadly, it was the last. As the sensei of Team 8, the most ignored team from Naruto’s generation, she thus shared the same fate.

I won’t complain that she was effectively sidelined due to becoming pregnant in Part 2. Reasonably, she had to be a mother, yet there was an issue of wages since the father of her child was killed. What I do hate, as I stated for Asuma, was that there was no development or disclosure of their relationship until after he died.

There was also that line in a chapter during Kushina’s flashback. The line came from Kurenai’s father and she said that she must give him a grandchild, as she was still a woman.

That second sentence was entirely unnecessary.

Mei

There was just no excuse for the beating this character took. Tbqh, Mei became a character I liked after rereading the Kage Summit Arc and learning her name. She was a polite, somewhat flirtatious (but not to Ao on both counts), yet powerful kunoichi. The fact she had two Kekkei Genkai offered a lot of promise, in terms of fighting and historical significance. Kirigakure had once been known as the Bloody Mist Village and during that era, there was an attempt to purge all the wielders of Kekkei Genkai. How she survived and became a Kage would have been a nice little side note in-story.

But alas, Mei showed nothing great as a fighter or generally as a character after the arc in which she was introduced. I would mention that she did nothing against Black Zetsu, but he only showed up to stall until Madara could be resurrected. She showed nothing against Madara except for blocking his Gōkakyū no Jutsu with a suiton. Madara was only toying with them, and that was an insult, as well. Anyway, Mei was the first of the Five Kage to flinch and she suggested giving up although that was not a real option for them. There was of course the running gag that Mei was single and since she was estimated to be around 30 (31 according to the final Databook), it pained her to be reminded of it. That insecurity manifested itself in her Mugen Tsukiyomi dream; it should also be noted that Tsunade was jealous in that dream. In Chapter 700, an aged Mei was shown to be alone and miserable.

Haha, very funny!

Karin

At one point, I respected this character. That all went to shit during the war.

When she first appeared, Karin was a raging Sasuke fangirl who was staying behind in one of Orochimaru’s prisons. She respected Oro and was carrying out the job he assigned to her despite rumors of his death. That respect notwithstanding, she still followed Sasuke to wherever he wanted her to go and did whatever he wanted her to do, whether it was sensing or healing.

Karin’s role would be limited in the Kage Summit Arc. We say sensors who were nearly as good as her and her efforts were rendered useless when she picked up on something about Danzo that Sasuke figured out on his own. Saying that she lived past her usefulness, Sasuke dumped her, impaled her to get to her hostage-taker (Danzo), and left her for dead.

Karin did return for the war. She was finally revealed to be of Uzumaki descent, given her red hair. She also exhibited chakra chains like Kushina (yet I felt that Karin’s usage was asspullish) and she helped Tsunade by letting the latter bit her. Much of Karin’s rule here was treated as comic relief, though.

Looking back, it seems that much of Karin’s personality was meant to be humorous. From the fangirling to her apparent feelings of ecstasy over being bitten, numerous things were never treated with the weight I thought they deserved. After being near death after Sasuke impaled here, Karin went back to fangirling over Sasuke once they met again. He gave a half-assed apology and she quickly forgave him, and she eventually said that being impaled felt good. Ugh.

That said, Karin’s character looked somewhat better by the end of the Naruto Gaiden. She had a good amount of maturity considering the overall plot. She no longer appeared to be a fangirl, but Sasuke’s happiness was one of her priorities.


There were ladies in this story who had a net-positive development, including Temari, Tayuya, Chiyo, Konan, and Kushina. Now, keep in mind that four of those women are dead.

Temari

When Temari did get to show off, she was impressive. Despite being the [understandably fearful] oldest sister to a crazy Gaara, Temari was handled early with an amount of respect. As one of the Sand Siblings and the daughter of Yondaime Kazekage, it was understood that Temari was one of the strongest operatives that was sent to conspire with the Sound Village. She was one of the few characters to show a mastery of futon and she a highly impressive tactical fighter as well. Temari was geometrically brilliant and had an excellent gauge of her abilities and those of others. This could clearly be seen in her fight against Shikamaru in the Chunnin exams. Later on, Temari would save Shikamaru from Tayuya in the Search for Sasuke Arc.

That said, Temari was largely ignored in some respects. For one thing, her preliminary against Tenten was not even shown. That may have more to do with how Tenten was ignored, but it hurt Temari, too, imho. Second, while Temari won that fight against Shikamaru, it was only due to his retirement from that match. In Part 2, there was a noticeable disparity in her panel time, even compared to Kankurou. While her brothers got to lead divisions during the war (in Gaara’s case it makes sense since he was a Kage), Temari serve as more as a hype(wo)man for Shikamaru, Gaara’s second-in-command for the First Division. She was also somewhat upstaged by Naruto when it was established that a strong futon user was needed to defeat Sandaime Raikage.

Tayuya

She was the only female member of the Sound 4/5 who had the young Nara on the ropes. Tayuya was a hot-tempered, foul mouthed young lady with an impressive fighting style. I liked her use of a flute. (Sound jutsu were only really used 4 times in the manga.)

There’s not much to complain about with Tayuya. Like the others in the Sound 4, she was only meant to last an arc, not counting the short appearances they made before.

Chiyo

When talking of Kishimoto’s female characters, Chiyo really is the best example. There’s really not much to complain about here. As I mentioned in an earlier post, she is one of my favorite characters from the manga for a reason. Chiyo was one of the best written characters in Naruto, imho. In the Rescue Gaara Arc, She gave much needed exposition on Gaara’s history and the concept of a jinchuriki. Along with Sakura (who acted as a living puppet), Chiyo put up a brilliant fight against Sasori. In the end, she was needed to revive Gaara, so her death was bittersweet. She was the MVP in that entire arc. While only lasting one arc (let’s forget about her being brought back as an Edo Tensei summon during the war >.<), her development was complete.

I do have one complaint, though. Chiyo and Sakura’s victory was somewhat marred by the insinuation that Sasori let the ladies win because he missed his mommy and daddy. Come on Kishi, he was a flipping puppet for crying out loud, and so were those representations of his parents. You could not just let the girls have that victory?

Konan

Yeah, I wouldn’t mind if anyone would classify Konan’s development as net-positive, yet barely. She had a touching backstory and a devotion to her closest friends. Her fight against Obito was impressive and she got very close to killing him and fully unmasking him.

There are three major complaints about Konan, though. One is that she didn’t have much in the way of personality. She was basically there to support her friends and did little on her own, until Nagato died. Another complaint is how she was portrayed in Nagato’s flashback. Konan was grabbed by Hanzo and used as a hostage, i.e. yet another damsel in distress. Most importantly, was how baby girl failed to destroy the Rinnegan. Forget about it being a “treasure,” if Obito was coming for those things and Konan would have died anyway, those were needed for Obito to further his plans.

Kushina

In some ways, she was a pleasant surprise. She was a jinchuriki for the kyuubi and had a mastery over it to an extent. Minato was only able to seal Kurama inside Naruto because of the few moments Kushina held the bijuu down with her chakra chains. She was also a needed influence for Naruto, if only for a short time. The chapters with Kushina were some of the best in the manga.

The only complaints I have a three. First, Kushina had a similar personality to Part 2 Naruto, who I disliked overall. Second, was how she became a damsel in distress when Kumo nin kidnapped her; her hero was of course Minato, whom she would later marry. Third was how Kushina hated her own hair until the boy she liked told her it was beautiful.

Next up, I will be elaborating on Sakura, the “detestable” heroine of the series, and her mentor, Tsunade.


 

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