The issue of sexual behavior and imagery has long since been a source of debate and controversy among fans of Weekly Shonen Jump, but nothing has ever come of it. A bill was put before the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in 2010 to prohibit sales of “harmful publications” to minors, but was ultimately rejected. A Change.org petition titled ‘We Boys Are Not Wolves’ has, however, sparked another conversation about what should and should not be allowed in Shueisha’s boys’ magazine – to mixed results.
Launched on August 11, the ‘We Boys Are Not Wolves’ petition – titled ‘Boku tachi wa/Danshi tachi wa Ookami nanka ja nai’ in Japanese – took nine days to reach its initial goal of 4000 supporters. Organizer Manabu Sekiguchi then confirmed in an update on August 20 that he would be closing the campaign and sending the petition to the relevant parties, thanking everyone for their support.
What the ‘We Boys Are Not Wolves’ petition demands more concretely is that Shueisha better distinguish between “eroticism” and “sexual violence” in Weekly Shonen Jump and Jump Plus. This would involve placing “warnings” next to certain scenes that would constitute sexual harassment in the real world, such as groping a woman’s body without permission or panty shots. The petition also demands that Shueisha conduct a “survey” to find out their readers’ level of sex education, so that appropriate levels of sexual expression can be decided upon.
Sekiguchi also explained why he decided to launch the petition in the campaign description, relaying his story as Weekly Shonen Jump reader. He says that while many fans claim that they can distinguish fiction from reality, as a child he could not. He recalls one incident from one childhood summer where a group of boys ogled a young girl as she ate an ice cream – at the time, he brushed it off as “boys will be boys,” but later realized that it was sexual harassment. The leader of that particular group of boys was then also later expelled from high school when he was caught taking pictures of girls while they were bathing.
Reception to the ‘We Boys Are Not Wolves’ petition has been mixed, with some relaying passionate support while others have derided it. Reading Sekiguchi’s story, it does seem as if this petition come from a good place, but it is important to note that 4000 supporters isn’t really a lot of people in the grand scheme of things.
Furthermore, I think that Sekiguchi inadvertently hits the nail on the head when he says that scenes of sexual harassment in Jump are less about not understanding the difference between fiction and reality, but more about the general lack of sex education in Japanese society. While Shueisha undoubtedly has a responsibility to moderate the type of content that it puts out, a private company can only do so much.
Perhaps it would have been better for him to contact his local representatives to lobby for changes in the Japanese education system than gather signatures via Change.org, which often doesn’t result in anything!