"Sometimes a girl can’t stop loving, even if she knows better. She’ll find a love that she wants to believe in, no matter how painful it is. A girl always wants to believe that love conquers all."
My usual approach to social justice issues is to find out what the marginalized group in question thinks of a thing and then support that position, because I know that the vast majority of the time I don’t understand the issue well enough to form an opinion more complicated than “people shouldn’t be marginalized”.
However, I’ve done a lot of reading today- about intersectionality, about confirmation bias, about entitlement, about intents and consequences, all kinds of stuff. (I recommend N K Jemisin’s blog to anyone who wants to learn more- it certainly helped me!) So this is one of those rare occasions when I feel like I can develop my own position.
In a perfect world, this narration wouldn’t be gendered. “You can’t always control your feelings”, “love is a good thing to believe in”, and “sometimes reality doesn’t live up to an optimistic model” are all messages that are equally true for boys, girls, and nonbinary individuals, so ideally they would be presented without specifying a target audience.
That point I made just now? I made it because I’ve internalized problematic aspects of the culture all around me- specifically, the idea that male is default and female is specific. (“Boy toys are for everyone; girl toys are for girls”, for instance. There are a lot of analogous problems regarding race, sexuality, etc.) If the narration had said the same thing about boys… well, that would be notable in a different way, but I probably wouldn’t have reacted with “this shouldn’t be gendered” first, because I might not even have thought of it as gendered. That’s a problem with me, not the show, and it’s one I need to watch for and work on solving.
In a perfect world, it wouldn’t matter if this narration were gendered, because viewers would understand its content and accept it as intended for them regardless of which third-person singular pronoun it used. This is already an option for writers today- think about how many of the stories you read as kids gave you moral messages by defining them as the way People Like The Protagonist behaved, whether the protagonist was a girl, a boy, a Power Ranger, or a Berenstein Bear. The “she” in this narration can easily be read the same way- the message can be taken as Usagi’s description of People Like Her, not necessarily of just girls.
It’s also important to acknowledge that because of problematic trends in our culture like imposed gender roles, girls are a marginalized group. So even if Usagi is sending a message of approval and affirmation to them specifically… great! They have a relative shortage of those, compared to boys, and even fewer which approve of the things they’ve been trained to value (traditionally feminine attributes like empathy, romance, etc.) and don’t just reward them for shunning what’s been pushed on them all their lives. This is a step toward shrinking that disparity, and that’s a positive change.