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

Rejecting Japanese Nationalist Gender Identities

Men and women in Japan are attempting a coup of sorts against the nationalist gender identity roles supplied by the government, whether they know it or not. Since the 1980s and 90s, women have started spending more time at school with the intention of going into professional fields afterward. In the same period, men's fashions have moved away from the traditional subdued post-War fashion and to a more feminized style made popular by musical artists from the end of the millennium and more men are finding the hikikomori lifestyle more appealing than working intense hours at a job six days a week. The government isn't going to give up its control so easily, though, which is apparent in the fact that many women's colleges only allow Master's degrees and only in "traditionally feminine" fields like English. These women also reportedly don't want to completely forgo their traditional roles as wife and mother because they still believe in their responsibility and talent for it (Lebra-Chapman, Paulson, Powers, 1978). Also, since there are fewer men in the workforce, those that remain are being overworked to the point of death (Adlestein, Yamamoto, 2017). It seems that regardless of their attempt to forge a new path, the hold traditions and historical values have on their social development is incredibly strong. The Foucauldian themes that have surrounded them as a nation for decades are hard to break away from, leading them to continue to police themselves to the point of death (at least in the case of karoshi - which is not limited to men) for the good of the nation. It will take time to see if this is will be continued or if the people will find a way to break out of the historical mold.

Works Cited:

1. Lebra, Joyce C.; Paulson, Joy; Powers, Elizabeth. "Women in Changing Japan". 1978. Stanford University Press. Stanford University, California. http://www.worldcat.org/title/women-in-changing-japan/oclc/152385315

2. Adlestein, Jake; Yamamoto, Mari. "Japan has a word for 'Working Death'". February 3, 2017. The Daily Beast, thedailybeast.com. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/02/03/japan-has-a-word-for-working-to-death.html

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