Silly Grins

Friday, January 4, 2013

Gender Equality 101: Not Quite Here Yet



Dower's Embracing Defeat features a few of the posters used in an educational awareness campaign carried out by the occupational authorities. The top two are actually from the same poster. Presumably about Article 14 - the one that supposedly dismantled the feudal system (or did something like that).

And the second half of her artistry was kind of alluded to the other day.

Take a look.

simply a masterpiece

Article 24.

Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis.

With regard to choice of spouse, property rights, inheritance, choice of domicile, divorce and other matters pertaining to marriage and the family, laws shall be enacted from the standpoint of individual dignity and the essential equality of the sexes.

So, what did this mean at the time and what about now?

First, a look at then.

From Tokyo and Points East.
(bits from p.71-3)


Hasegawa was the most unabashed lecher I have ever known. He was a round, Buddha-like man with a cherubic face and an unsettling way of smiling beatifically while offering his American friends “100 per cent virgins.”

Hasegawa had five wives. His No. 1 wife lived in Tokyo; No. 2 in the nearby seaside resort of Atami, where it is the custom of wealthy Japanese to keep their first-string mistresses. Nos. 3,4, and 5 were strategically dispersed through outlying provinces so that no matter where he was Hasegawa would not lack for the comforts of home.

For fifteen years Hasegawa kept the existence of Wife No. 2 from Wife No. 1. Then one day it happened.

The worst possible thing had happened, said Hasegawa. It was not that his wife had discovered his infidelity, for that was taken for granted. But she had read in the papers that under the new Constitution, a document written in the Dai Ichi Building by MacArthur and a host of his aides, wives had rights. Acting upon this intelligence, she had moved out of Hasegawa’s big house into the little house in back.

This, however, was not what distressed Hasegawa, for Wife No. 1 had long before lost her youthful charm. What did distress Hasegawa was that she would no longer cook for him, and of all Hasegawa’s five wives Wife No. 1 was the best cook.

And now?

It really depends on who you ask.

A number of recently retired teachers once told me, over dinner, about how each of them had met their wives.  Arranged marriages apparently. Like an agreement between families with only about a week before the big event where bride and groom actually got to meet.

One fellow talked about how, when he was sent off to teach at a high school somewhere, how this family shows up at his door with their daughter and they just kind of bow. Deeply.

That was one of my ‘oh fuck’ moments.

None of the teachers had more than one wife. 

As for the current generation, people tend to prefer Chritian-esque weddings ‘cause they are kind of romantic with the bride and groom as the stars of the show. It’s about them. Not their families. Not like before. But families still pay dearly. That's assuming anyone is still interested in tying the knot. 

No matter how you s/l/i/c/e it, things could be better.


(cleanup later)


  1. Not worth the paper it's printed on. We know the current state of affairs. That's sure not because the women are all so fucking happy.

    1. So ornately wrapped, the disparity between the contents and the packaging can come as a shock to those who have actually looked up close at what is inside.

      Also from that chapter THE UNASHAMED LECHER, AND OTHERS:

      "It seemed to me then, and it seems to me now, that if more than eighty million literate Japanese surrender their freedom to totalitarianism again it will be because they want it that way. Or because they don't care enough to stop it from happening."

      The above is taken from one of the pages where Keyes discusses an 'other', Yoko Matusoka, who is described as "honest, idealistic, intense - and tormented - a woman who couldn't make up her mind."


  2. Looking at gender (in)equality in your post forces me to take a look at the same thing for the country in which I live.

    This specifically: "With regard to choice of spouse, property rights, inheritance, choice of domicile, divorce and other matters pertaining to marriage and the family, laws shall be enacted from the standpoint of individual dignity and the essential equality of the sexes."

    Equality when it comes to marriage and family law; especially in the case of divorce in my country, is pretty skewed here. Usually in favor of the woman when it comes to custody of children/child support. Sometimes to the detriment of the man and children. Custody granted to women because they are more 'motherly' is a common sight here and it's quite frankly hogwash. Sometimes the better parent is the man and because the woman traditionally fills the role of the parent the child is often misplaced.

    As for the objectification of women... you are right. No matter how you slice it, it could be better. Even here :/

    1. Visiting the States is always a pleasant shock for me in that I feel like I can just have plain conversations with women. Here, it ain't so. At least from my experience. The roles of men and women are so entrenched that it often feels like there's a cold war going on. Lots of self-imposed misery.

      This concept of gender equality in the US (and perhaps elsewhere) seems to be geared toward the idea that a people should not be denied the right to develop themselves to their full potential if they so chose. There's room for that kind of growth.

      Here, in the land of harmony, people are pressured to get along, fit in, know their places.

      Here, family law sucks big time. If a couple gets divorced, virtually all the time, the wife is given custody of the children and the father zero visitation rights. Period.

      Had I known this before, I'm not sure I would have invested so much of my time/life in this place. But here I am.

  3. Societal pressures trump rights guaranteed by a constitution in Japan every time... However, I've met plenty of strong, independent women here in Japan who are also in seemingly happy relationships. Like, you said, their future is in their hands at this point...

    1. Independence and strength only go so far where rural geriatric bureaucrats suck their teeth at the mere sight of anything not compliant; it does happen. But not always... and hopefully not on a bad day.

      Although there is a price to be paid for the more urbane life, the city must be nice.

      At this point, I'm becoming more interested in focusing attention on people who are actively taking hold of the now with the understanding that the future is in their hands. Passive acceptance and compliance are ugly thoughts I don't want to spend too much time dwelling on.

      I enjoy being in the presence of strength and independence when combined with understanding and humor.

      As far as the constitution is concerned, Article 9 seems to be followed as closely as the two mentioned this post. People just don't seem to realize what's been going on and what is, in all likelihood, about to happen.

      Fortunately, Beate's masterpiece looks like it will remain.