Embodying Japan: Cultures of Sport, Beauty, and Medicine 2017

Divides In Sexuality From Gender and Race

Amazing as it is, the higher intellectual issues of modern Japan still come back to the power struggle of trying to keep women in their “proper place.” Even in 2017, Japan still remains far and away a patriarchal society. Through notions of race, gender, and cultural uniqueness, Japan lays heavy pressure on women to fit neatly into the idea of what it means to be a proper Japanese woman. The largely capitalistic and patriarchal system of Japan has a strong monetary/capitalistic and political interest to keep the notion of “authentic Japaneseness (the notion of what Japanese society determines to be authentically Japanese)” and “authentic Japanese womanhood” intact, as the ideal that women should aspire to show themselves as legitimate in the eyes of their fellow countrymen. The reasons for these methods of control over women range from as simple as making money off women as the ideal consumer to things as deeply archaic as fitting women into the stringently gendered roles of wives and mothers, all in a purpose of constructing female identity.
The angst that the typical patriarchal male in Japan feels over the changes that Japan has faced in recent years and the changes that are on the immediate horizon only create a hardening of these more harmful authenticity mindsets. “Moveover the deeper logic underlying this cultural imagination rests on twentieth century theories and feelings about a quite distinct Japanese race or people, whose survival hinges on the successful sequestration of pure-blooded and dedicated young Japanese mothers” (Kinsella 149). This archaic imposition though is far from disappearing. Japanese men and women are entering into relationships less and less as time moves forward. To think this is creating less anxiety between the genders would be naive. It is certainly causing more. Division in life often galvanizes more attempts at control by those who fear losing their power (in this context the Japanese male).  “My informants insisted that their preference for white skin derived from ‘traditional’ and ‘domestic’ aesthetic values or standards of beauty. In the midst of globalization, Japanese aesthetic values and standards of beauty cannot escape the influence of ‘universal’ standards of the beauty. Yet Japanese women, through the practice of whitening their faces, are aiming at being beautiful Japanese women, rather than merely beautiful women” (Ashikari 85). So even in this world of globalization, where Instagram models, exotic vacations, and international chic are fawned over by people around the world, the Japanese woman still often feels pressure to set herself apart as Japanese first, a model woman and mother figure second.
To explore this concept further and in greater detail: Ganguro Girls - Sex and Sexual liberation

Ashikari, M. "Cultivating Japanese Whiteness: The 'Whitening' Cosmetics Boom and the Japanese Identity." Journal of Material Culture 10.1 (2005): 73-91. Web. 1 Apr. 2017.
Fabienne Darling-Wolf (2004) Sites of attractiveness: Japanese women and westernized representations of feminine beauty, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 21:4, 325-345,
Kinsella, Sharon. "Black Faces, Witches, and Racism Against Girls." Ed. Laura Miller and Jan Bardsley. Bad Girls of Japan (2005): 143-54. Web. 2 Apr. 2017.


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