Why is Japanese culture sexist

Feminism in Japan - The fight against Japanese sexism

Japan has a reputation for being a sexist country, with gender inequality and some cultural factors that favor machoism. This raises many questions and doubts. Are there no feminists fighting for equality in Japan? In this article we are going to talk about sexism and feminism in Japan.

The history of sexist Japan

Japanese society was never made to be built under the idea of ​​gender equality, at least not in the western sense. The Japanese sociology class itself speaks about such a topic. There has been a hierarchy between the sexes since the beginning of Japan.

During the Tokugawa era, women were subordinate to men and were required to obey the men in the family, be they father, father-in-law, husband, and brother. They just learned to look after families and be a good mother.

Despite the fall of the Tokugawa regime and the Meiji Restoration, the status of women in Japanese society has remained unchanged. To date, women play a strong role as mothers, except culturally, women take care of the finances at home.

The Meiji Constitution of 1889 granted no legal rights and kept women on the condition of subordinates and under the legal responsibility of "parents and householders." With Westernization, Japanese women began their struggle for rights.

Despite the slow pace in resolving some egalitarian situations, such a reform banned trafficking in women, allowed women to get divorced, and extended primary education to both sexes as early as the 19th century.

The history of feminism in Japan

The history of feminism in Japan is quite old, but the struggles started along with feminism in the west. Many historians argue that Japanese feminism originated in the Heian period about 1000 years ago.

However, this idea can be rejected as most of the Japanese during this period appeared to have no awareness of gender equality and more as a result of cultural phenomena.

A more accurate date would be the early 20th century, when Western ideas infused Japanese society. However, at no point in its history did Japan have a major feminist movement.

The only reason women are protected by the same laws as males was Beate Siota Gordon, a European-born American civilian who drafted Article 24 of the Japanese Constitution.

As a result, many concrete changes have been made, including voting rights and reforms in the marital systems. In fact, Japan allowed women to vote faster than most other countries.

Japan's economic boom in the 1990s also brought women into the labor market, which today may be independent of men. Unfortunately, the gender inequality can be seen in the pay gap between men and women.

Absence of second and third wave feminism in Japan

Second wave feminism is often viewed in the mid-20th century as a popular movement focused on educating women, particularly employment and affordability.

Women demanded access to privileges that previously only men had. Hence, this can be described as women chasing masculinity rather than gender equality.

Society has become tolerant of girls who seek masculinity, e.g. B. cleaning their science academic career, wearing men's clothing (such as jackets and pants), and having hobbies such as shooting and driving, which has become a trend in the last century.

However, this movement never reached Japan, at least not on a large scale. It seems generally accepted that Japanese culture values ​​an entirely different approach to gender equality.

Japanese feminism differs from Western feminism in that it places less emphasis on individual autonomy. That's because Japan is a team-based society, so things like individualism are not widespread in Japanese culture.

The resistance of the Japanese people to the struggles of feminism is deeply entangled in the culture of enduring the worst situations without complaining or making a scene. Even with the battles of Shizue Kato and Chizuko Ueno, we didn't make much progress.

Do Japanese Women Feel Inferior?

According to a survey that asked people if they would like to be reborn with a different sex, 46.7% of men and women responded that they want to stay who they are. Women seem to benefit greatly from this gender difference.

This becomes clear when you look at Japanese teenagers. When you go to Tokyo Disneyland, or to music schools, art schools, and language courses, most of the teenagers in attendance are women.

Girls have many more opportunities to enrich their teenage lives than boys, as girls are freed from social obligations that are placed on boys, such as academic / professional success and family traditions.

While boys are stuck in cram schools and after-school curricula that are often butchered by their teachers, girls can follow their passions or go out with friends. So the kind of inequality in Japan is not 100% bad.

Japanese teenagers also have a huge impact on our culture, which is being felt not just in Japan but around the world. They are often the protagonists of many novels and mangas that even define young fashion and vocabulary.

In addition, gender inequality in Japan is often exacerbated by women themselves. Many older Japanese women tend to vote for conservative politicians. Shintaro Ishihara, a former Tokyo governor widely considered ultra-conservative, was elected with the support of older women.

There is also this arms race among women, especially housewives, to be a perfect woman. Obento is a clear example of this. That said, women don't try to be men because they like to be women.

Kikokushijo - Returned Children

Kikokushijo [帰 国 子女] refers to children of Japanese expatriates attending their education outside of Japan. It often refers to immigrant children who have returned to Japan, or simply Japanese people who had a Western life before Japan.

Feminism is gaining strength in Japan through the Kikokushijo, who have experienced feminism and freedom in foreign countries and are particularly passionate about changing the system. Much like the Brazilians who complain about Japan and its culture.

There are many feminists in Japan, but the vast majority of them are repatriates, immigrants or people with international experience. We have seldom heard of an all-Japanese activist. As a minority, its influence is limited.

Japanese feminists

Women with strong personalities refused to accept the role of "good women" and paid with their lives for their radical activism. Among them, Kanno Suga (1881-1911), Kaneko Fumiko (1906-1926) and Itô Noe (1895-1923) stand out.

Some other women tried to fight fairly by seeking support from liberal men, but did not get good results trying to change politics. Of course, there are some movements that deserve to be highlighted in this article.

Prominent feminist scientists in Japan in the past few decades are the sociologist Ueno Chizuko and the feminist theorist Ehara Yumiko. Today we have mentioned many women who have independent careers Kyariaūman.

Mitsu Tanaka She was the most visible individual in Japan's radical feminist movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She wrote a number of brochures on feminist issues, the most famous of which was the liberation of toilets.

Misako Enoki was a pharmacist who organized activists to promote the legalization of birth control pills. His approach was to get media attention by forming a protest group called Chupirswho wore pink helmets.

We also recommend searching for:

  • Chizuko Ueno, a scientist and activist;
  • Sayaka Osakabe - founder of Matahara Net;
  • Minori Kitahara, owner of a sex toy store for women;
  • Mitsu Tanaka, feminist, acupuncturist and writer;
  • Hisako Matsui, film director;

Feminist movements in Japan

In 1970, in the course of the anti-Vietnam war movements, a new women's liberation movement called ūman ribu emerged in Japan from the New Left along with radical student movements.

This movement coincided with radical feminist movements in the United States and elsewhere, and catalyzed a resurgence of feminist activism in the 1970s and beyond.

Japanese feminists are so cool that in the midst of the freedom movement they not only wanted equality with men, but also stressed that men should be liberated from the oppressive patriarchal and capitalist system.

In 1979 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The convention was ratified by the Japanese government in 1985. That wasn't enough, of course.

Sekirankai - Red Wave Society

Sekirankai was the first socialist women's association. Yamakawa Kikue and others organized the association in April 1921. The Red Wave Manifesto condemned capitalism, arguing that it was turning women into slaves and prostitutes.

Rural families were forced to employ their daughters for factories due to financial difficulties. These girls had to live in dormitories and could only go to work. They worked 12-hour shifts in poor condition.

Sexism in language

Often times, women in Japan are expected to speak by traditional standards onnarashii (女 ら し い). In the language, Onnarashii uses an artificially loud tone of voice, polite forms of speech, and the frequency of words that are considered feminine.

Feminists differ in their responses; some believe that such language is based on gender and find it "unacceptable". Other feminists argue that history and gender vocabulary differences are not linked to equal oppression in the West.

The Results of Feminism in Japan

Throughout history, the influence of Japanese and Western feminists has made great changes in Japanese society. Below we will give a brief overview of these changes:

  • 1986 - Implementation of the Equal Opportunities Act;
  • 1919 - Founding of the New Women Association;
  • 1921 - The law allows women to participate in political meetings.
  • 1923 - Establishment of the Federation of Women's Organizations in Tokyo;
  • 1946 - Women could vote for the first time;
  • 1948 - Abortion allowed in Japan;
  • 1976 - Men are allowed to use the woman's last name;
  • 1985 - Approved draft law on equal opportunities in employment;
  • 1999 - The birth control pill has been legalized in Japan.
  • 2016 - Yuriko Koike became the 1st governor of Tokyo and was re-elected in 2020.

I intend to update this success story, remember an important date, just comment ...

Further successes in favor of women were the introduction of exclusive cars and other facilities that made safety possible. Another much discussed topic is the safety of women in Japan against perverted men.

Article 14 says: "All people are equal before the law and there will be no discrimination in political, economic or social relationships on the basis of creeds, gender, social status or family origin."

Japanese Constitution Article 14

The influence of women in Japan

Women in Japan are superior in many ways. I don't get the idea that some extremist feminists, in some ways, want to be equal to men. I don't see men wearing a skirt or wanting to go naked (without generalizing, I'm talking about extremists).

Women have been voting in Japan for more than 70 years; in fact, more women than men in Japan vote for national elections. If Japanese women were seriously dissatisfied with their situation, they could support candidates who put "sexism" first.

Sexism and feminism are not a hot topic in Japan, although the media does cover such topics frequently. We can see the presence of women in Japanese media culturally, they are protagonists of games and are seen as leaders.

Take with you every American game, cartoon, movie, and TV show. Most of us have macho protagonists or stories that focus on men. In Japan, most of the stories have female leadership and leadership.

Speaking of culture: Murasaki Shikibu, the world's first writer, wrote the "History of Genji" in the early 11th century. The literature of the Heian era (794-1085) was more or less predominantly female.

Japanese education was free for the upper class at such an early and difficult time in history. In contrast to many western industrialized countries, all of this was due to low barriers and equal educational opportunities.

Japan's richest and most influential celebrities are women. Women have more social freedom and less pressure than men. Perhaps the fact that it is easier to be a woman than a man in Japan contributes to feminism's lack of power.

Is Japan Really Sexist? Is there inequality between the sexes?

To sum up, there is a social structure within the country that prevents feminism from occurring, and the empowerment of gender bias comes not only from established men but also from women themselves. The system works whether you like it or not.

There are efforts to change the system, but most of them are foreign-run or foreign-run and have limited influence in Japan. Those who proclaim "sexist" Japan are predominantly foreign men and women.

If they are not a foreigner, they are usually high-ranking career women. You won't see interviews with ordinary Japanese women. You won't see quotes from ordinary Japanese women talking about sexism or feminism.

If you're a Brazilian complaining about gender inequality or sexism in Japan, you know that Brazil ranks 94th on the GII and 79th on the HDI, while Japan ranks 22nd on the GII and ranked 22nd on the HDI 19 lies. In other words, Brazil is more sexist than Japan.

These calculated values ​​show that Japan is losing 0.103 in development due to gender inequality while Brazil is losing 0.407. Before questioning cultural values, you may want to change the way you think a little.

There is no denying that there is inequality or sexism between the sexes in Japan, Brazil or any other country in the world, and cultural factors denote it. Even so, it is better to look at the navel itself before criticizing the culture of the countries.

In fact, I've seen several Japanese people ask the same question about Americans and Brazilians. You should be wondering why people are sexist and calling the Japanese or Japanese sexist. Every culture and society has its own way of solving things.

A Japanese woman told me that people only consider Japan to be sexist because they don't have enough knowledge of the history of "sexism", the "women's liberalization movement", "machismo", "chivalry" and others.

Excuse me, I did not want to be unpolitebut I am honestly tired of so much generalization that people do on a particular subject. It seems to be in Brazilian culture to complain about things, so such phrases are only intended for those who question Japan in a gross and unfair way.

This text was written based on responses from several women on websites such as Quora, in addition to in-depth research into articles, books, and academic research on feminism in Japan. It's not my words, but people's words!

To complement this article, we recommend reading our article with one topic: "Japanese women, respected or despised?". I hope you enjoyed reading this! If you want, share and leave your comments.

Categories Japan, Japanese

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